Sunday, May 29, 2011

Yard Sale Finds

The Memorial Day week end means a different things to different people. Here, in my neck of the woods, in additon to visiting graves and planting flowers, the Memorial week end means Cochranton's annual community garage sale. Most years I miss it, but not this year.

On my way to work at the Library yesterday morning, I stopped at an interesting sale in the yard of a very old and battered house that I had driven past the day before. It looked intriguing. Of course the first thing my eyes saw was a tumbled quilt tossed on top of a worn out table that leaned. The young guy having the sale told me the "rules" -- fill a back for a buck, a crate for $3, or a tote for $5. My heart began to pound as my brain wrapped around that information. I asked him about the quilt and he said a buck! One single dollar bought me a circa 1900 quilt.

Of course, it's not a valuable quilt -- it's smelly and tattered with holes and wear, but it is an old quilt. It is simply roughly six inch squares sewn together. Hand quilted with black thread and not-so-tiny stitches, and backed with a once-lovely turkey red decorator fabric. Washed and folded just right, it would make a lovely decorative piece in a primitive pie safe. Or, I could salvage the useable bits and create something else -- a pillow, Christmas stockings, a jacket, a wall quilt, or?????? An antique damaged quilt can yield much creativity.

Additionally, as a new fabric designer, I spied several interesting fabrics that could provide inspiration for future fabric collections.

I didn't have enough time to dig in the tons of boxes before work, but a few hours later, my boss offered to watch the library so that I could go back. One my second trip, I adopted an upside down triangular little shelf painted apple green for $1. I also rooted throuhg boxes and suitcases and found lots of vintage embroidered linens as well as few pieces of interesting fabric. A whole back of goodies for a buck.

So what's the moral of this blog? Never pass by a yard sale outside a decrepid old house because you never know what you'll find. 'Nuff said!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Catching Up

So sorry -- it's been almost two weeks since I last blogged. I have a good excuse, though -- I've been working very hard to get completely caught up on projects. I finally completed my two projects for the Dec 2011 Quilter's World magazine issue AND the instructions. Sent them earlier this week and they arrived safely at the office today. Whew -- I always get a little nervous when shipping quilts.

The two quilts really took quite a bit of time to finish -- particularly the miniature quilt. I put as much time into the mini quilt as I do several larger quilts -- the piecing alone took over nine hours (not all at once, thank goodness!).

Of course, writing project instructions is nothing to sneeze at either -- it's exacting and time consuming.

Then of course after the projects are done and the instructions are written, then it's time to prepare for shipping the quilts. This process takes some time too -- printing ALL instructions/patterns, emailing ALL instructions/patterns, completing submittal forms, packing slips, addresses, inspirations......Are you as tired as I am yet???

I just wanted to show a little bit that goes into the planning and execution of quilt designing for those of you who might not know the process. It's a lot of hard and challenging work, but of course it's fun and rewarding too. Hopefully the next time you look at a quilt project, you might take a second to think about all of the work put into it. Perhpas it's something you'd like to try for yourself....

To change subjects, I'm still diligently working on fabric designs. My design director has been travelling all over going to all the big shows and hasn't had a chance to get back to me with feedback yet, but I still keep plugging away, hoping that I'm on the right track.

I think I see a distinctive style evolving -- my designs are grounded in actual antique, vintage, retro fabric designs, but with a little extra something....Can't wait to post images of my first collection for Northcott, Louetta's Garden, as soon as they are available.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fabric Designing 101

Well, after the craziness of the last four weeks, I'm finally getting back to designing fabric. My first collection, Louetta's Garden is at Northcott already and I anticipate it to launch this fall and to be in quilt shops in spring 2012. Hopefully soon I will be able to post digital images of the fabrics in the collection

In the meantime, I've been working on four more collections. Along the way I've learned how to create repeats, to reduce colors, and lots of other things that I can't remember the names of right now. But right now I'm trying to figure out how to separate my designs into different color layers. Luckily my design director sent me a disc with sample fabric files on it so that I can see what the correct format is (but now I'm trying to figure out how to reproduce the correct format).

I watched a few videos on youtube that gave me a little bit of a better understanding about the importence of separating color layers (it's kind of like creating the color screens for the printer). Then I checked my book, Adobe Photoshop for Textile Design by Chipkin, and got hung up on spot channels which are not the same thing as color layers.

I began to get a little frustrated so I started looking through the differnet pull down menus and playing a little bit. I think I might have stumbled onto the right thing and if I am correct, it's really quite simple.....I emailed the image file to my design director to find out if I did do it correctly. Keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dianne's Orphan Quilt

Recently, a friend of mine sent me this photo. Dianne used the Art Deco Quilt Design from my book, Orphan Block Quilts, to create her own version of the table runner. She used a wonderful scrappy appliqued sunflower block and contemporary coordinating fabrics. Well done, Dianne!

If you've made any projects from my book or have designed your own orphan quilts, email pictures to me and I'll post them on my blog. My email is:

In the meantime, keep rescuing those orphan blocks and making more quilts!

One last thought for today -- check out the newest issue of Quilter's World magazine. I have a placemat design as a web bonus that features the twist and turn ruler..... CHECK IT OUT!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Programs and Lectures, Oh My!

Whew -- I am still recovering from last weeks craziness. I had the program in Warren, PA on Wednesday and then I did a lecture, "Saving History One Quilt at a Time" at the Library. Since I was going to talk about how to repair/clean/care for, I had to go digging for some examples to use in deep storage. I think I must have moved twenty 18 gallon storage crates to get to the ones I wanted to. It was worth it, though.

Once I had selected the quilts and tops that I needed to take with me, I began to notice all the wonderful fabrics in the quilts/tops. I was already inspired and I hadn't even taken photos yet.

The lecture went great at the library -- a small group, but very interested, nonetheless. Between their questions and the info I wanted to share (with examples, of course), I talked for about two hours. I was definitely tired after that. It never fails to amaze me how tired I feel after doing a lecture or trunk show -- it's like I ran a marathon (with my mouth/brain, I think)....

After the program I couldn't wait to take photos of the fabrics that interested me in the quilt and top examples that I had unearthed. The first evening I took around 180 photos. The second time I took around 200. That is a lot of inspiration for designing fabric and quilts.

Speaking of fabric design, I am hoping to have images of the fabrics in my first collection soon -- can't wait to share them!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guild Program Review

Whew -- am I exhausted today -- in a good way, of course! Last night I did a trunk show/lecture for the Quilter's Night Out Guild in Warren, PA. It was a bit of a drive, about 1.5 hours each way, but it was a super positive experience.

About 40 or so people came for the program (gasp -- me!). I even got to wear a cordless microphone so everyone could hear me. After a while I actually forgot about it and had a lot of fun telling the guild the stories of my orphan quilts, because of course each one has its very own story to share.

They were a great group -- very curious about my "orphan block" quilts and how I went from quilter to author/designer. They had a lot of great questions too! A few members showed me recent projects, including a central embroidered block surrounded by mini pieced blocks -- the mini pieced blocks were made from vintage fabrics salvaged from a 1930's ninepatch quilt top. One member even told me that she had boxes of orphan blocks stacked on top of each other, rescued from an attic, and she was now inspired to perhaps "cut them up" to make a new project..... Hopefully, they'll email some pictures so that I can post them on the blog.

If you go the Quilting Around Chautauqua event in September at Chautauqua Institute in New York state, look up this guild's display. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed -- it's always one of my favorites. Last year they moved to a different location from the colonnaded building to a cafeteria down towards the lake (near the gymnasium). Don't miss it and tell them The Orphan Quilter sent you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cochranton Quilt Show

Okay, here are pics from the Cochranton Quilt Show. Saturday's weather was really nice so the show was busiest in the morning. Sunday was a bit rainy so there was a nice light steady flow throughout the afternoon. I promoted my book at the show. I had some of the book quilts with me for display as well as my current magazine pieces with the magazines. It was nice to talk to so many people. On Sunday, I even gave a short spur of the moment demo on miniature English paper piecing because my newest take along project is a mini Grandmother's flower garden quilt which will finish at about 9" x 11".

I had some quilts in the quilt show, too. I won a first place in the original design category with my 2011 Barns and Hexes and Stars class quilt and a second place in the novelty category with a hand-pieced hexagon Christmas table mat.