One of my biggest (and scariest!) goals for 2015 was to learn to quilt. I grew up sewing and collecting fabric, but I’d never made a quilt before. It’s no secret that I would love to design my own fabric collections one day. Part of being a fabric designer (at least for quilting cotton collections) is making them into quilt patterns and quilts, so it was something I needed to learn to advance my career professionally. It was also something I wanted to know how to do. I studied quilts a bit in college and incorporated elements of them into my painting and art work. I even made a quilt top in college (that turned out rather horribly! I wish I knew then what I know now!), stretched it, and painted on it for my abstract painting class final (it is hanging in our living room!). I love quilts and the history in them. I love the mix of fabrics and the ability to put time and effort into something that can be used to cuddle up on the couch with and also pass along to children and grandchildren. Such beautiful works of art! I had also amassed a nice collection of fabrics and needed something to do with them!
You might remember this photo (above) that I posted on Instagram around this time last year. Last year for Christmas, I asked my dad to buy me a couple quilting books I wanted (LOVE this one) and some new fabrics from a local (to Southern IL) fabric store (the amazing Hancock’s of Paducah) to use in a quilt I wanted to make. My caption on this photo was, “Love, love, love all these new fabrics that I’ll be using this year as I teach myself to quilt! #2015 #makeithappen #starttoday” I’m so happy to say that I made it happen! I not only used those fabrics above (and more from my collection) to make this value quilt, but as you already know, this past summer I attended a Patchwork Weekend Workshop at Anna Maria Horner’s Craft South in Nashville with all the designers of Cotton and Steel. I learned some additional quilting tips there and pieced my Mod Hexagon Quilt. I did all the piecing on that quilt, but was nervous to do the quilting and binding myself, so I sent it off to a lady that I met at the workshop to long-arm quilt and bind it for me. It turned out wonderfully! But I’m happy to say that on my Value Quilt, I conquered my fears and did every single bit of it myself!! I pieced it (even designing a few of the fabrics myself!), quilted it, and bound it! I’ve done a lot of cool things this year, but making this quilt is perhaps my proudest accomplishment of the year!
Here are some photos from the process (with pretty afters!):
Pulling out fabrics from my collection and organizing them into light, medium, and dark values.
I had to set my old desk back up in my office to have a cutting table.
One of my greatest quilting fears was not getting the seams on the squares to line up correctly. I had a rather frightening experience with this when making the quilt top I painted on in college. But thanks to Alexia Abegg (one of the designers of Cotton and Steel), I did it! At the workshop I attended last summer, I asked her to show me her secrets to getting those intersections to line up perfectly. Turns out, it isn’t that hard! The secret is in making sure your blocks are the same size (I already knew that part), and then making sure you press your seams for the rows in opposite directions so that they nest into one another at the intersections. Before you sew, you nestle them together and pin in place. It worked wonderfully!
I was also really worried about whether or not I would even be able to quilt this on my basic Singer sewing machine. But it worked just fine! I did simple, straight line quilting on either side of the diagonals. Quilting it on a diagonal helped to reduce some of the bulk stuck under the neck of my sewing machine. Drew helped me pin baste the quilt sandwich together (you are the best, love!).
I also have to give a shout out to JoAnn Hinkle of In Stitches in Lebanon, TN. I fell madly in love with that black and white fabric (Faye Burgos of Marcus Brothers Fabrics, Medallion Trellis in Black from her Quartette Collection). But when I went to buy more of it online for the backing, it was out of stock everywhere! I guess it isn’t in print anymore. I searched the Marcus Brother’s fabrics website for retailers of their fabrics to see if I could find someone with it in stock. There weren’t any quilt shops that had it in New Orleans, so I looked around Southern IL (my hometown). Hancock’s of Paducah didn’t have it either. So I started looking at Quilt Shops in the Nashville/Lebanon, TN area (where my older sister lives). I got in touch with JoAnn of In Stitches and she tracked it down for me at a warehouse. Thank you so, so much JoAnn!
I had never made binding or bound a quilt before either, but it turned out wonderfully! These clips were great (there they are in a handmade bowl I threw in my ceramics studio!). The dark pink/wine colored thread that I used to hand sew the binding on the back of the quilt actually belonged to Marie, my first cousin twice removed (the daughter of my Papaw’s uncle Courtland). Her niece passed along a lot of her sewing things to me, mostly colorful spools of thread. Marie grew up on the same land that I did. Love that little extra bit of history included in this quilt.
Drew holding the finished pieced top up in City Park in New Orleans so I could get a nice photo of the top!
And now, the after photos:
This quilt is a memory quilt of sorts in that it contains fabrics from my collection through the years. Some of these I collected as a child for various sewing projects, some I bought in college for art projects, some I’ve collected as I’ve traveled – a cute fabric shop we went to in Portsmouth, NH on our honeymoon, some fabrics from Portland, OR, some from here, some from back home. It also contains fabrics from many of my favorite fabric designers, some of which I’ve had the opportunity to meet or get to know in the last year or two. I also designed a few of these fabrics and had them printed on Spoonflower. That rose pink floral on the eggplant background above is mine. That is a little rose I illustrated from the rosebushes we planted in the front yard of our apartment.
The handwriting fabric, above, is my Mamaw, Evelyn’s, handwriting. It is her telling me “I love you” on a note she gave me when I was little. I turned it into a pattern and had it printed. There is also another fabric in this quilt that is my handwriting saying “I love you” back. The small blue and white check next to it is actually a bit of one of my Papaw’s shirts.
I love the mix of colors along with bits of black and white (and metallic gold!). I have a slight obsession with black and white. I feel like you don’t see a lot of quilts that use black in them, but I love the sophistication it adds and helps to balance out the colors a bit. This quilt is so me!
I just love the way it came out so much! I love the simple diamond pattern on the back from the quilting.
I just finished sewing on the last bit of the binding last night. I can’t wait to snuggle up under it on the couch for movie nights! Violet loves sleeping under my last quilt, I’m curious if she’ll like this one just as much.
The flowers my dad gave me for Christmas look so pretty with it!
I put together this basic instruction guide on what I did, in case you want to make your own:
Last weekend, a dream of mine came true. I was able to attend Quilt Market!
For those of you that don’t know, Quilt Market is an international trade show for the fabric industry. Manufacturers, Fabric Designers, Pattern Makers, etc. are all there with their booths decked out displaying their newest collections for shop owners to see and order fabrics for their stores. This market was in Houston, TX.
If you’ve followed my blog or known me for a while, you might know the obsession I have with fabric, the fabric designers that I adore and have mentioned on here before, and more importantly, my dream of becoming a fabric designer one day (or more broadly, a surface pattern designer). I work full-time as a graphic designer now, and between that and my art background, it has been a long-time dream of mine to gradually move in the direction of surface pattern design. I’ve been so busy working since I finished college that I haven’t had a lot of time to put towards that dream, but lately that dream has been invigorated as I’ve taken Bonnie Christine‘s Design Surface Patterns from Scratch Course on CreativeLive. (I highly recommend her course and her Roost Tribe!)
Bonnie Christine (above) is one of the sweetest people that I’ve ever met and I was so happy to be able to chat with her in person this weekend! She immediately felt like an old friend that I’d known forever! (Although I guess I have followed her blog for almost 5 years!) Her story is so inspirational to me as her background and goals are very similar to mine. I also just love her work (and her passion for sharing with others to help make their dreams come true too!).
The entire market was full of inspiration everywhere. I love Leah Duncan‘s patterns and style (above). I also loved seeing Katarina Roccella‘s patterns in person as well (I didn’t get a good shot of her booth, but you can see part of it in the second picture, above). I also saw Elizabeth Olwen‘s fabrics in person for the first time here as well (I thought I got a picture of her booth, but can’t find it, so it must not have taken!). All three of those designers are pretty new to me, but I loved seeing and being inspired by their work!
One of the highlights of my visit was getting to meet and chat with Amy Butler (probably one of the most well-known fabric designers!) and her husband. They were both so incredibly sweet and were more than happy to answer my questions about the industry and what inspires them. Amy Butler was so encouraging of my dream, she told me to work towards my passion and great things will happen!
Anna Maria Horner (along with Heather Bailey and Sandi Henderson) was one of the first fabric designers that really caught my eye. I started following their blogs years ago and they are a good part of the reason that I also want to design fabric. It was awesome to meet Anna Maria Horner in person after all these years of being inspired by her work!
I saw Heather Bailey‘s booth, but didn’t see her. Next time!
Many of my favorite designers have also come out with ribbon collections. These are seriously so beautiful and I was so glad to see them in person since I don’t think they are sold in any stores around where I live.
Aside from meeting and chatting with designers, I walked around, checking out booths of designers I’d never heard of before and just admiring all the beautiful colors and patterns. The quilts were so gorgeous, as were all the other cool things designers had made with their fabrics.
I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity. It gave me great insight into the fabric design industry, into how quilt market works, and the chats I had with the designers were so helpful and encouraging (and also had a good dose of reality too). It really has started to make something that always seemed like a long lost dream a truly achievable reality!
Thank you Bonnie for making it happen!
The last week or so I’ve been in Southern Illinois visiting my family. Every time I’m back home, I try to squeeze in a trip to my favorite fabric store in the area — Hancock’s of Paducah (in Paducah, KY). I absolutely love fabric and could spend all day in a fabric store. I love all the prints, patterns and possibilities of things to make out of all the prettiness! I had several house projects in mind that I needed fabric for, so I was definitely in need of a trip to the fabric store while I was home! (New Orleans doesn’t have any great fabric stores.)
Hancock’s of Paducah is a completely different store than the Hancock’s chain of fabric stores that are found around the country. This one is so much bigger and better! They have a wonderful selection of cotton and home decor fabrics (I believe their main market is for quilters in the area). This isn’t your place to go for silk or apparel fabrics.
I love that they carry higher quality cotton fabrics, especially many by well-known fabric designers.
Here are some of Sandi Henderson‘s newest “Secret Garden” fabrics:
And by Amy Butler:
So many pretty fabrics to choose from!
I’m especially loving large-scale floral prints right now. I love this blue one below. I actually ended up buying some of the pink version of this fabric! Stay tuned to see where it ends up in my house! I’ve actually already been working with my mom on several fabric projects while I’m here!
Here is what my cart looked like once I had made several trips through the store:
Isn’t that champagne metallic dot fabric neat? I ended up buying some of several of these fabrics in my cart. I can’t wait to get back to New Orleans and get them incorporated into my home!
Speaking of the home, they have a great selection of heavier weight home decor fabrics as well. I would love to buy some of these for my home! It is so hard to choose between them though! I kept envisioning beautiful curtains made out of many of these:
Love this green quatrefoil pattern:
I am really, really in love with the combination of this warm grey floral and this rasperry ikat dot fabric. I think they would be lovely to make into layered curtain panels like in this picture here.
So many great options! I just made new curtains for my office (I still need to share pictures), but seeing all these gorgeous fabrics is making me regret choosing the fabric I did!
They also have a few great bargain bin areas where they have fabric remnants for discounted prices. I found a great white and cream check fabric in that pile, enough to make a throw pillow out of for $2.50. Can’t beat a pretty couch pillow for $2.50!
Of all the wonderful options, this is what I left the store with:
Can’t wait to show you what I end up doing with these!
If you live in the Southern Illinois (IN-KY-MO) area, you should definitely check out Hancock’s of Paducah! I’m always a little sad if I make a trip home and don’t get a chance to go! They even sell a lot of fabrics and quilt kits online as well.