Friday, June 30, 2017

Beach Therapy

Who doesn't love the sound of the waves crashing at the beach, or the smell of the salt air, or wiggling your toes in the wet sand?  This is what inspired my June quilt.  As an Island Batik Ambassador, we are given an assignment each month to complete with fabric that they sent me back in January.  This month the theme is Curvalicious! 

How perfect for me and my Curvalicious template!  

I have created lots of different Curvalicious items, so I thought it would be fun to create a different quilt for this monthly challenge. I had a stack of Island Batik fabrics that just arrived in quilt shops.  They had lots of fun designs.

 There was a wide variety of fabrics and  I pinned a few of them to my design wall and let it marinate for a few days.  With the 4th of July coming up some of the fabrics made me think of the beach, so I pulled out the lighter fabrics that reminded me of sand. 

I thought this would be a good opportunity to share a tutorial to create another variation on a Curvalicious quilt.  Usually the quilts are vertically oriented, but what  would it look like if the strips were placed horizontally? The concept behind a Curvalicious quilt is a pieced background with fusible appliques placed over the background.  The first step is to piece together 5- 1/2" strips.  I used 8  cream colored fabrics to make strips.

The next step is to cut 4" strips, the same length and iron paper backed fusible web to the wrong side.  I used pale blues.  

Remove the paper, fold it in half with the fusible side out.  

Place one edge of the Curvalicious  template on the fold and cut out the Curvalicious applique using a 28mm rotary cutter, The result is fusible curvy strips - one less than the number of pieced strips.

Start at the center and place on the of the applique strip over the center seam.  Press.

Stitch the strips down as they are fused with a machine blanket stitch.

This Superior Fantastico  thread was also given to me with the fabric.  It's a shiny polyester and I do love shiny.  It really stitches beautifully and I will definitely add it to my thread acquisition list.

Proceed to add the rest of the fusible strips, working out from the center, using Curvalicious for placement. Press.

Keep going until all of the seams are covered  with the fusible strips.

For the top and bottom borders, I used the font AR Christy, font size 500, to create fusible letters and stitched them down with the same blanket stitch that I used above with a blue/green Fantastico thread.

Then add the word borders to the top and bottom and quilt!
Wouldn't this look great in a beach house?

I grew up on Long Island and we called the ocean/sane the beach.  I live in the Philadelphia area and it's called the shore. I'm curious, what is it called where you live?

If  you are interested in seeing lots of other quilts that you can make with Cirvalicious, check out its website:
You can buy Curvalicious from my Etsy shop.  Click HERE.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Stitchography with Leni Weiner

One of the advantages of being the Program Chair of a quilt guild is that you get to spend time with some wonderful quilters.  Leni Weiner was one of the speakers that I invited to visit my guild, Calico Cutters in West Chester, PA.  Leni is a very talented quilt artist and our members really enjoyed her lecture and workshop, and I am thrilled to be able to call her my friend.
1. Please introduce yourself (actual and professional name) and describe your areas of expertise

My name is Leni Levenson Wiener and I live just outside NYC.  I consider myself a fabric collage artist (although many call what I do “art quilter”) focusing on the depiction of the universality of human body language.  I work from photos I take of strangers out in the world without their knowledge, capturing people at their most honest and unconscious selves. 

My work all begins with a photo which I manipulate on the computer to make a full sized working pattern; using only commercial printed cotton fabric, all my work is executed in raw edge machine applique.  One of the things I most enjoy is finding an unexpected print that gives the illusion of the texture I want to convey and layering lots of patterns so the photo is elevated, not just translated.

2.  What is your background and how did you arrive at your current job(s)

I started out with a BA in Art History and Archaeology (and was lucky enough to spend a season in the field at an archaeological dig) and an MA from Florence, Italy in Museology and Restoration/Conservation, but unfortunately, never found the museum job I so badly wanted.  I ended up in the retail business, first as a buyer and then a product development manager for a major retail chain.  When my boys were small and I wanted to be a stay at home mom, I began working as a free lance photographer, which is where my artwork from photography took root.  When they were teenagers I took a job teaching quilting at a local quilt shop and from that my current “career” got started.

I don’t consider what I do now a job.  I make artwork, have written four books, I teach and give talks and coach emerging artists.  But it is all what I do because I want to do it, and because I love it—and it doesn’t occupy every single day. 

As a happy consequence of everything else, I also represent BERNINA as one of their professional Ambassadors, doing presentations at BERNINA dealers and contributing articles for their “we all sew” blog.  I have also been honored to be on The Quilt Show and Quilting Arts TV and just last year released an online class with iquilt.

3.  How many hours a week do you devote to your job?

It varies.  There are times I am really involved with a piece and can’t wait to get back to work on it, so I tend to work every day for several hours at a time.  Otherwise, I spend my time writing or on other sewing projects like traditional quilts, garments, home dec and that sort of thing--just for a change of pace and to clear my head.

4.  Where do you physically work?

When my older son graduated from college he moved directly into an apartment and started his first job and I took over his bedroom as my studio.  It isn’t a huge space, but I painted the walls a color I love, put in lots of work tables and made it my own.  It has great light during the day and the best part is, it is my private sanctuary where I can leave works in progress and nothing is disturbed.

5.  What do you sell and how do you sell it? (It can be a service)

Although I do occasionally sell my work, the subject matter of my work does not make it appealing to galleries.  Having come to that conclusion some years ago, I don’t make sales a primary focus of what I do.   From my website I do sell books, a gray scale value card designed to make the technique I teach easier, a pattern service and the art voice coaching.

6.  What are you working on now? 

Right now I am working on some pieces for an art group I belong to—every month we make a piece for one of the other members of the group so by the end of the year we all have ten wonderful small artworks we have traded.  Once that is done, I am excited to get to work on a new series I am formulating and tentatively calling “conversations” which focuses on people interacting with others.

7.  What do you do when you are not working?

My second love is writing, so I often contribute articles to quilting magazines and blogs.  In addition, I spend a lot of time looking at art and thinking about art and since I am still fascinated by archaeology, reading as much as I can about new discoveries.  And here is something out of left field, about two years ago my husband and I discovered ballroom dance, and we are really enjoying learning and dancing together!

8.  Perhaps an indelicate question, but people starting out want to know - what are your income sources?

I will be honest, I could not live on what I make doing what I do.  I like to say that I literally have a very supportive husband.  My income comes primarily from book and online class royalties and teaching/speaking fees, supplemented by website sales of the few products and services I offer.  I am not interested in being on the road all the time, so I accept that my income is limited by the fact that I only really travel to teach every year for a short time in the spring and again in the fall.

9. If you could give one suggestion to someone starting out, what would it be?

I have several suggestions:

Take what you do seriously.  When you move from hobbyist to professional artist, you will need to spend time building a reputation and developing a voice that is unique and recognizable.  Once you have developed a “brand”, everything you do must support and advance it. 

Find a dedicated space in which to work.  It doesn’t need to be large or fancy, but it does need to be a place that you can work without distraction and that doesn’t require you pack it all up at the end of a work session.

You can only do so much; decide what you want so you figure out how to get there.  Set a long term goal and annual goals that help you stay on track.  Every year, reevaluate what you have learned and whether you need to shift your focus to get to the final goal line. 

Finally, and most importantly, be realistic.  If you need to support yourself on your earnings that means teaching often, developing products or selling at art shows and/or craft fairs.  Don’t expect to be an overnight success, it takes time and effort to develop a name which then opens up other opportunities.  There are easier ways to earn money, do this because you love it and NEED to do it—pure and simple.

10.  Where can people find you and/your products? (FB, blog, website,IG, Twitter, stores

You can find me at my website:, on FB at , and my online class is

If you don't want to miss any of these interviews:

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Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Monday, Again

The Mini Mosaic Quilt kits are now available in my Etsy shop. I apologize if you receive my monthly email newsletter and this is not cutting edge news to you.  Since I'm not sure how much crossover there is between my blog readers and newsletter subscribers, I thought it was worth a repeat.  I want everyone to know about this fun new technique.
I spent the winter in Key West developing  and designing the patterns and directions for a dozen designs that include the lighthouse above, a bicycle, tiny town and more.  I've been selling them at quilt shows and quilt guilds that I visit.  They have been so popular and hard to keep in stock, that I finally have enough to put them in my Etsy shop.  

The most popular one has been the giraffe.  
It was created well before April was a social media darling. I think giraffes have always been popular.

And how about Bailey?

I filmed a video that I posted on Youtube to give an overview of the technique. In the video you can also see the cutting guide that I designed to cut fabric into the small pieces that I use.
Click on the arrow to watch it.

Currently there are 12 different kits with many more on the drawing board. I'll be sharing the newet one in July.  Here's a hint: Meow.  If you'd like to find out as soon as new ones become available, sign up to receive my newsletter HERE, or "Favorite" my Etsy shop.

And if you have a request or an idea for a new pattern, please leave your suggestion in the comment section.  Maybe, I'll choose yours!

I also think there are a couple openings in my class at Quilt Odyssey in Hershey
 on  Saturday, July 22nd.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Stitchography with Helen Stubbings

This week, my guest is from Down Under.  Helen Stubbings and I are both teaching on a cruise to support The International Quilt Association, sailing out of Galveston, TX in November after Quilt Festival in Houston.  I can't wait to meet her in person.  She does beautiful applique and handwork.
1.   Please introduce yourself (actual and professional name) and describe your areas of expertise

 Hi, Im Helen Stubbings of Hugs ‘n Kisses (I also own Pattern Press- the wholesale division of Hugs ‘n Kisses and also publication/distribution for other designers and Quarter Inch – my shopfront and cafĂ© in Hobart, Australia)  I’ve been operating as my brand Hugs ‘n Kisses since 2001 and specialise in a needleturn applique technique, embroidery/stitchery, English paper piecing and Colourque®. I have also written many books, two for different publishers and 4 self published and completed many commissions for various magazines around the world. I also design fabric for what was Red Rooster, now P&B textiles. Oh and I’m also a Craftsy instructor. 

 2. What is your background and how did you arrive at your current job(s)
 I'm a born country girl, growing up on a sheep farm. My childhood was full of music and craft but my first career took the path of music – becoming a professional musician in the Australian Army for 13 years. I married an army musician and being posted all over the country and without family support, once I had children I had to leave the job and pursue a transient option. Hence I took my hobby and passion of all things stitching and turned it into a business.
3.  How many hours a week do you devote to your job?
At least 70! And that doesn’t include my actual hand stitching time… to make it in this industry you have to treat it as a full time professional business, and now having three, I am well overstretched.  But my
4.  Where do you physically work? 
Mostly in my home studio in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia – at the bottom of the world.
5.  What do you sell and how do you sell it? (It can be a service)
 I sell my patterns and books, and I sell my products to make them – ie applique paper™ and a unique new version of English paper piecing templates – EPP Iron-ons™ – iron on leave in templates. And I sell my teaching skills – teaching around the world, sharing my methods and love of stitching. I sell directly from my website/s (one for my brand, one for my store and one for wholesalers), from my storefront, and through Distributors to stores worldwide. I also sell a little from my Facebook page and

6.  What are you working on now?  
Deadlines!!!! An Australian magazine commission, a group quilt for our Quarter Inch family entry into our state show, two projects for an upcoming retreat, a US compilation book project, the next fabric line and believe it or not, my new patterns/samples and booth display for Fall Quilt market – plus Im sure there’s several other things on my list!  Yep, I’m stressing just listing them…. Too many ideas, not enough time..
7.  What do you do when you are not working? 
Ummmm eat and sleep! Pretty much. Try and put some family time and friend/socialising time in there….
8.  Perhaps an indelicate question, but people starting out want to know - what are your income sources?
 Pattern sales, book royalties, fabric royalties and teaching fees.
9. If you could give one suggestion to someone starting out, what would it be? 
If your plan is that your business is going to be your income stream (and not just play money) then you have to make the decision to treat it as a business. Invest startup money – branding/logo, websites, brand personality and quality packaging and presence that all works as one story. Be prepared to put the time in – and not just to startup – it will be ongoing – marketing is the biggest time suck, but the most important necessity – read, read, read – learn as much as you can about business strategies in today’s world. You have to be up with them or you just won’t be seen or noticed.
Photo courtesy of Craftsy

10.  Where can people find you and/your products? (FB, blog, website, IG, Twitter, stores

Other websites:
FB: quarterinch

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Monday, June 12, 2017

It's Monday, Again

It truly is amazing how quickly Monday rolls around, week after week.  I am often juggling paper work, designing, kit making, sewing and correspondence so I often work straight through the weekend.  I do think about the saying that 
"if you love your work, you'll never work a day in your life", and I love my work. 
But this Saturday I left my studio for a multi-faceted visit to Philadelphia.

Gaffney's is a great fabric store in a part of the city  called Germantown.  It's got a little bit of everything with great prices.  And when they have a holiday sale, it's irresistible.  I am constantly on the search for cream colored batiks.  At Gaffneys, they are usually $6.99/yd.  Take off $1/yd on sale days and I buy whatever remains on the bolt.  I hit the motherload on Saturday.

Driving to the Famous 4th Street Deli for lunch, we found a huge surprise!  A couple of mosaics 
were located on  buildings on Bainbridge Street.

They reminded me of my visit to Philadelphia Magic Gardens a few years ago, filled with mosaics by Isaiah Zagar. He makes murals out of recycled found objects.  I found out there's a mosaic mural map of his mosaics  all over Philadelphia.  You can see it HERE.  This really opens up many road trips to different parts of Philly.

And then there was lunch:
I LOVE corned beef and a good kosher style deli.  It's in my DNA! Unless you share at the  Famous 4th Street Deli, I always go home with a doggie bag and a meal for the next day.  One of their desserts is enough for 4-6 people. It's a very dangerous place, but I love it.

But, my favorite part of the day was watching my favorite little boy playing in the dirt on the T-ball field.

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Friday, June 9, 2017


I hope you are enjoying reading Stitchography as much as I do.  There are surprises in some of the answers and there are many little gems of knowledege throughout.  It is interesting to read about people's backgrounds and especiall their advice to those starting out.  
This week Lee Chappell is my guest and if you're not familiar with her patterns, you must check them out.  And I just found out she is teaching at Quiltcon 2018 in Pasadena!!!

1.  Please introduce yourself (actual and professional name) and describe your areas of expertise
Hello! I’m Lee Chappell Monroe of May Chappell! I design quilt patterns and the occasional bag pattern. I also travel around and teach. My business is named after my great grandmother; she taught my grandmother to sew, who taught my mother, who taught me. I come from a sewing and quilting family. I love creating things and sharing my passion with my students. I teach a lot of classes that focus on color and precision piecing. I’m a Craftsy Instructor; my class is Quilt Faster: Accurate, Streamlined Piecing and is full of tips on perfecting your points and speeding up your piecing. I write about my teaching adventures, plus lots of tips, tutorials and fun quilty things on my blog (  

2.  What is your background and how did you arrive at your current job(s)
I started off in graphic design. My LQS asked me to teach a class on color and everything else grew from there! I started designing patterns so that I could teach classes from my designs. My design background definitely has helped a lot with developing patterns. Slowly the graphic design job became less and less time and the quilting became more and more. The quilting is certainly more fun! Plus, I still do all the things that I loved about graphic design.

3.  How many hours a week do you devote to your job?
Yikes! I try to work 7 to 7 with a break. I think the most surprising thing is how little of that time I actually spend sewing. When I develop a new pattern, I would say that 70% of the development is doing the writing, graphics and photography, while about 30% is making prototypes and samples. 

4.  Where do you physically work?
I work in my sewing studio in my house. My computer is on my dining room table because I am all kinds of fancy! My space is not huge, but it’s efficient. I clean out my supplies and stash at least once a year so that I only have what I use. Or plan to use…I still hoard fabric that I love!

5.  What do you sell and how do you sell it? (It can be a service)
I design quilt patterns and the occasional bag pattern. I also teach! I love to travel to guilds, retreats or shops. I post the next few months of teaching gigs here: There is also information about my class offerings. 

6.  What are you working on now?
New patterns are coming out (or maybe just came out depending on when this posts!) You can see them here: I always have at least 2-3 new patterns in the works. Plus, I have the bin of “works in progress” that every quilter is required to have! I try to sort through it once a year and get rid of anything that no longer inspires me. I put them in our guild garage sale. 

7.  What do you do when you are not working?
I love to travel and read. Then, of course, I do my fair share of hand crafts- knitting, embroidery, cross stitch and all other forms of needle and thread. I’ve never met a crafty endeavor that I didn’t feel the need to try! 

8. If you could give one suggestion to someone starting out, what would it be?
Find what you really love and focus on that. If it doesn’t feel right for you, don’t do it! To make a living in this industry, you have to do more than one thing, but find the areas that feel genuine to you. I love teaching and designing so those two areas are always my focus. Many opportunities will come along and you need to choose what is right for you! Do not feel like you should say yes to everything. If you love writing, then write a blog. If you hate writing, then focus on other areas to connect with your customers. I love writing and photography so my blog works well for me. 

9.  Where can people find you and/your products? (FB, blog, website, IG, Twitter, stores
My website:

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Monday, June 5, 2017

It's Monday, Again

I just returned from a great long weekend at the Quilter's Unlimited quilt show in Chantilly, VA at the at the Dulles Expo Center.  It was my second year to vend there and I saw lots of familiar faces.
This was the 44th annual quilt show put on by 11 chapters of Northern Virginia.

It was an amazing show and should be put on your road trip list.  This year the members exhibited 500 quilts and there was a great special exhibit of 179 quilts titled "Fly Me To The Moon".  There were also 70 vendors  as well as the raffle quilt of the Virginia Quilt Museum.

I tried to get to the Expo Center early each day so I could walk around to see the vendors and the quilts before the show opens.  There were lots of fun quilts made by the members.
 Great bird varieties.
 This was a great use of  the row by row license plates, by Cheryl Miller.
I love this simple 3D effect.

 I wish I had a collections of these vintage crochet goodies, like Carolyn Lynch (no relation).  
What fun they must have been to make, inherit or collect.

This is a great use of B&W fabric.

The special exhibit, "Fly Me To The Moon" was just amazing.179 quilts inspired by the moon, including astronauts, space vehicles and even songs! They were created by quilters from all over the world, and were all the same size, but so unique.

It's so inspiring to see these varieties of quilts.  I can't wait to see what will be on exhibit next year.  Put it on your calendar: June 1-3, 2018.
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