Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What's In A Name

In my last post, I mentioned that the hardest part of making my Ebb & Flow quilt was coming up with a name for it -- and I meant it!  So many times I finish a quilt only to find myself completely at a loss when it comes to naming it.  In my mind (truly a scary place), the perfect name should be clever or charming and definitely original.  It should evoke a mood, or convey a meaning or reference the quilt's inspiration or even its color palette.  And it can't be too cutesy or corny or cliched.  It's possible that my requirements may be a bit unrealistic.

As usual, when creativity eludes me or I'm wracked with indecision, I turn to my family for help.  Sometimes it pays off.  My daughter, in particular, is occasionally willing to help me brainstorm quilt names and has actually come up with the names for a couple, most recently Metro.  But if she's not in the right mood or if I approach the men in my life, it's a different story.  I get that quilting is not their thing and that I'm probably being a bit overly optimistic asking advice from my sons (12 and 13), my 15-year-old daughter and my 40-something husband, but honestly, some of their ideas are appalling -- so bad that I've recently started keeping track of them.

Here's the first installment, in no particular order, of my family's worst quilt names:

     Orchid Jungle

     Bubble Gum Delight

     Watermelon Sunshine (the watermelon idea is compliments of my older son and has absolutely no relevance to any quilt I've ever shown him.  He just throws it out there every time I ask him for a quilt name idea -- totally phoning it in.)

     Watermelon Fiesta

     Carousel of Color (my husband has a thing for alliteration)

     Poinsettia Perfection (more alliteration)

     Simple Snowflake Starflower (guess who!?)

     Joyful Raptureness (my daughter likes to create new words by adding "ness" to the end of existing words)


     Fields of Meadows (just a smidge redundant)

     Leaf n' Geese (catchy, right?)

     Lots-A-Balls (no comment)

     Deck the Balls (there were a lot more "ball" related names thrown out for this particular snowball quilt, accompanied by the requisite little boy giggling, but I think you get the idea)

As I re-read this list of quilt names, I realize that I should probably stop asking my family for ideas -- I'm not exactly sure their hearts are in it (case in point:  "Lots-A-Balls").  But somehow I don't think I will.  I might not be able to count on them for the perfect name, but I can always count on them for a laugh.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Quilters Newsletter's Best Modern Quilts Blog Tour

Welcome to Day 3 of Quilters Newsletter's Best Modern Quilts Blog Tour!!

Wow!  As a self-proclaimed traditional quilter, I never thought I would be a part of a modern quilts blog tour!  I love traditional quilt blocks -- log cabin, Ohio star (or is it sawtooth star? I can never be sure), Irish chain, and flying geese -- and my color preference typically runs to darker, more muted colors -- reds, browns, navy blues, even blacks.  But the times, they are a-changin', and when QN offered me the opportunity to submit projects for their Best Modern Quilts special issue, I jumped at the chance.

And I'm so happy I did!!  Stepping out of my comfort zone and re-imagining quilting was unbelievably inspiring.  Once I started sketching on graph paper, the ideas came fast and furious.  I found myself thinking about scale, contrast, and color in totally new ways.  Even shopping for modern fabrics was a new experience.  I felt like a first time quilter among the large, graphic prints and bold color -- which is probably why I ended up using mostly solids!

In the end, and to my delight, QN chose three of my projects for their special issue.  And what an issue it is!  It's full of beautiful, colorful, and easy projects that are sure to fill you with inspiration and may even change you as a quilter. If you don't already have a copy of QN's Best Modern Quilts 2014, it's available now on news stands, in bookstores and quilt shops, or online through www.quiltandsewshop.com.

Let me tell you about my projects...

On page 66 you'll find my Green Tea pillow.

I used machine appliqué for the first time when I made this pillow and it's such a time saver that I may never go back!  But I think it's the quilting that really makes this pillow shine.  I chose to make this block into a pillow, but wouldn't it be great to sew three of these blocks together to make a table runner!?

Speaking of table runners, check out Metro on page 64.

My daughter named this quilt "Metro" because she thought it looked like the view of skyscrapers from above.  This fun and easy pattern is the result of one of my graph paper sketches and the color palette was inspired by one of my favorite bags -- a summer tote that I bought at Old Navy probably 10 years ago.  You never know where you'll find your inspiration!

And finally, check out page 41 for my Ebb & Flow lap quilt.

I have to say, I think this was my favorite project.  The idea for this quilt literally popped into my head one morning in the shower (I do my best thinking in the shower!).  This quilt is so easy to make.  In fact, the hardest part was coming up with a name for it!  I went back and forth about how to quilt this project, initially planning to simply echo the horizontal and vertical seams.  But I remembered a sort of modern giant dahlia quilt I'd seen at the Vermont Quilt Festival that had different quilting patterns in each section.  I thought the extra texture might work for this quilt and I couldn't be happier with the result -- Joyce Lundrigan did an amazing job!!  And because I used a cross weave woven fabric (almost like a linen), the quilt feels soft and broken in, despite the volume of quilting.  I think this quilt would also be great in pink and orange.

And now, patient reader, the moment you've been waiting for, the fabric/magazine giveaway!!  If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Best Modern Quilts 2014 and a fat quarter bundle of Kate Spain's Daydream fabric, leave a comment on this post before 11:59 pm MST tonight (1/15/2014) by clicking on the word "comments" in the blue box below.  I will draw one name at random, so please make sure I have your email address.

Daydream by Kate Spain for Moda

Good luck and happy modern quilting!

*****This contest is now closed.  Thank you so much for all of the wonderful comments!!*****

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again

Happy New Year!

I realize it's a bit late to be saying that, but for me, today seems like the first day of the new year.  I just put the kids on the bus for their first full day of school since December 20th (thanks to some crazy New England weather).  My husband is traveling for work this week -- he's somewhere in The Netherlands.  I've got a submission deadline in just eight days and a stack of freshly washed and pressed fabrics waiting for me on my cutting table.  It's go time.

And when I need to really be productive, I love to turn my brain off and my auto-pilot on by playing movies in the background.  Not new movies that I need to watch to follow, I'm talking movies that I've seen or listened to so many times, I know them by heart.  Old friends that take me away, that make me smile, that inspire me.

So here they are, my current top ten quilt-along movies:

1.  "Pride & Prejudice" - the Keira Knightley version that came out in 2006.  I want to be Keira Knightley -- is that wrong?  I know I wrote that I play these movies in the background, but I have to look up every time Mr. Darcy helps Elizabeth into a carriage, just to see their responses to their hands touching.  Now you know the truth, I'm a total romantic.

2.  "Sense and Sensibility" - why not get all of the Jane Austen's out of the way at once.  I've loved the 1995 version of this movie, starring Emma Thompson, since I first saw it in the theater -- it's beautiful and subtly funny.  Emma Thompson actually wrote the screenplay which makes me like her all the more.

3.  "Baby Boom" - let's change genres and get some of my '80s movies out of the way.  Diane Keaton moves from NYC to the country and starts her own wildly successful gourmet baby food business.  "Baby Boom" is funny and sweet and mildly inspiring, especially to a quilt designer living in the country...

4.  "Funny Farm" - Chevy Chase also leaves the city for the country to try his hand at writing a novel and hilarity ensues.  Hmmm, am I sensing a pattern here?

5.  "Groundhog Day" - now into the '90s with a great Bill Murray/Andie MacDowell movie that's not only funny, but surprisingly inspiring and moving.  And it takes place in small town Punxsutawney, go figure.

6.  "The American President" - Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen and Michael J. Fox -- how can you go wrong?  I love Annette Bening's strong, independent character Sydney Ellen Wade (maybe I should start using three names) and Michael J. Fox is, as always, irresistibly charismatic (also love him in "Doc Hollywood" -- oops, there's that country theme again!)

7.  "Notting Hill" - Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant and a cast of British actors whose names I do not know, but who absolutely steal the show in this funny, sweet movie.  The role of Hugh Grant's friend "Bernie" is actually played by Hugh Bonneville who is Lord Grantham in "Downton Abbey" -- one of my favorite tv shows, but that's a story for another day.

8.  "Under the Tuscan Sun" - Tuscany.  Need I say more?  Who doesn't want to go live in a villa in Tuscany??

9.  "Julie & Julia" - I love this funny, upbeat, inspiring move.  Meryl Streep is, as always, amazing ("Out of Africa" is also one of my favorite movies, although maybe a bit heavy for quilting) and I especially loved how the movie portrayed Julia's relationship with Paul Child (Stanley Tucci).

10.  "The Hunt for Red October" - now I know this movie seems strange in a list of period movies and romantic comedies, but in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit to a strange attraction to submarine movies.  Whenever I decide to repaint a room or stain a piece of furniture, this is the first movie I reach for.  I throw it in the portable DVD player and get down to business.  But seriously, Alec Baldwin was amazing in this movie and then, of course, there's Sean Connery.  Maybe it actually has nothing to do with submarines.  Although I do also like "Crimson Tide," another submarine movie starring Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, and Viggo Mortensen.  It's still not clear to me.  Is it the submarines or is it Alec and Viggo.  Mmm, Viggo.

There it is, my current top ten list.  There are many more movies that I could mention, but I really must get to work.  Time's a wastin' and I've got a date with Alec.

Happy Quilting!