Deep Into Winter

Being a bit of an introvert, I relish winter months here in upstate NY. Short on daylight and long on snowfall, these months practically beg for hand work, hot drinks and quiet reflection. My sketchbook is brimming with new quilt designs, my work table is heaped with fabrics of all kinds, and the dye pots are simmering away. I'm most productive when I don't have to leave my studio for days at a time, much like having a few snow days in a row!

So far this year, January saw the release of my free EPP template, Striped Octagons, and I've been floored by the positive response it has received. For those of you who have featured it on your blogs, reposted it on Instagram and shown off your talent at #StripedOctagonEPP, thank you from the bottom of my heart! I love interacting with you, and look forward to seeing this talented online community spread its wings. 

With February in full swing, and your positive messages fueling me to charge ahead with more quilt designs, I'm knee deep in pattern design and testing! Pictured here is a test run for one of those new patterns. It's during this stage that I work out design flaws and make construction notes. As I'm stitching, I'm asking myself, is this a pleasure or a pain? Is this shape awkward to stitch? How does this fabric respond to this technique? Is there a better way? It's YOU I have in mind as I'm testing and scribbling notes. Your happiness stitching any of my patterns is paramount. 

Freezer paper for reverse applique. Nice!

Freezer paper for reverse applique. Nice!

The colors used for this test pattern seem to be an excellent remedy to the cold winds blowing around outside my window. Well, that and connecting with all of you! For now, I have a few more samples to stitch up before releasing this beauty later this year.  

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A Spectacular Year

Overall, 2016 has been a positive year, and looking at both the highs and the lows provides the perspective I need to plan 2017.  Before I get to the milestones, I'll say that this year saw the passing of my beloved uncle and my father-in-law. Shortly thereafter, my constant companion, Stanley, whom you may recognize from his IG cameos, also left us. Loss of loved ones always reminds us what really matters. 

Having said that, I've given all I've got to this little business, and am happily seeing the fruits of my labor. I have nothing but excitement and eagerness about the year ahead. My company is two years old now. My first year, 2015, was filled with all the necessary tasks for a small business start-up: defining my mission and setting goals, intensely researching and developing product, marketing, branding and building a website. My first year was fully funded out of my own pocket. I'm proud to say that 2016 has seen my business fully funded by online sales and vending. I'm grateful to each and every person who showed their belief in what I'm doing by making a purchase or sharing a kind word, or both! You and my love of textiles are the reasons I do what I do.

2016 milestones: what a spectacular year! 

January-May saw the release of 13 natural dye colors on three substrates. Pre-cuts were added to the product line. Oh, and there was that ridiculously cold, February photo shoot when I thought my camera wouldn't survive, let alone my fingers.

A glimpse of the joy and talent in Enchanted Paper Cutting. Shiny happy faces!

June: Teaching Enchanted Paper Cutting Workshop at Squam Art Workshops! While there, I took a remarkable book making workshop with the completely delightful Rachel Hazell, as well as  sewed Sarah Waldo Jagger's Ondawa Wrap with her personal guidance. Vending at the Art Fair went above and beyond my hopes. New friendships and outpouring of support through sales and kind words sent me home on cloud nine.

At the end of June I drove to the Vermont Quilt Festival, where I met the very talented and sweet Trista Dufresne, @trista_deee! Another highlight was seeing the festival founder's private collection of antique quilts was my favorite exhibit. Maybe this will be the year I actually begin sewing my tiniest scraps?

July: I attended AQS in Syracuse and found a supplier for Japanese yarn dyed wovens. Since then, I've been able to find these fabrics a little easier in the US. I've been stitching my own sampler, a few blocks at a time, and I'm considering offering the sampler as a pattern. Working with these fabrics is an entirely different experience than traditional quilting cottons. I'm a huge fan of Yoko Saito, and would love to take one of her workshops. Some day. 

Fabric colors from left to right: Tobacco and Journey; Lagoon, natural and Golden Age; Lagoon and Lake. Glue basted and copier paper templates.

For much of the year, and mostly under the radar, I've steadily made progress with English Paper Piecing. I've been teaching myself. I've been testing various wrapping techniques; exploring a variety of fabrics, from my own hand dyed fabrics (photo above), commercial cottons and Japanese wovens; and trying a wide variety of templates, from plastic to copier paper. I'm putting myself through these rigors with an eye on offering workshops, templates, patterns and/or kits. More on this in 2017.

Sugar Maple leaf from the back yard.

September-October: I produced my first limited collection of eco-dye fat quarters (a few are still in my shop) using India Flint's method with a few of my own modifications. These fabrics have been so well received, and I'm grateful for the feedback and sales. I will offer them again in the fall of 2017. Seeing what you'll make with them is the BEST!

My design is a reproduction of an antique quilt shown in the book, Infinite Variety: Red and White Quilts.

Also in the fall, I participated in Sherri Lynn Wood's #MakeDoChallenge. My quilt is awaiting quiet winter evenings for quilting. I have to say, my eyes have been opened to the process of reverse engineering a quilt. I learned a great deal starting with only a set amount of fabric and then figuring out a design, size and construction techniques. This is just the way that I went about the challenge. We're spoiled by today's quilt designers who provide all of this information in their patterns! This is a great challenge with no deadline, and I encourage any quilter  to give it a try!

In Havanna with my mom.

October - November: Visiting Cuba with my mom. This trip inspired a new quilt collection that I'm just beginning to work on, hoping to make the patterns available later in 2017, or 2018. 

November: I enjoyed working with paper, scissors and ink on Sunday mornings throughout Rachel Hazell's online PaperLove e-course. Working outside my norm was beneficial in many ways. Thank you for a splendid workshop, Rachel! 

Eco-bundle example from my one-day workshop. 

December: Presented and vended at the Quilters Consortium of NYS year-end meeting. I had the best time meeting with and showing my work to so many talented quilters from across New York State. What a fantastic way to wind down the year! 

2017 Goals:

  1. Design and make quilts for everyone, not just children. Taking a look back on the year has shown me that my original model focused solely on children is too limiting for me as an artist. I need room to spread my wings and explore the wealth of design ideas in my head and stitch the stories waiting to be told from my heart.
  2. Strike a better work-life balance. Working from home, I tend to work seven days a week. I love what I do, so that's not a complaint, rather, an observation based on a need to take better care of myself. Sundays will be my day to recharge, turn off the computer, and stay out of the studio. 52 Sundays. Let's see if I can stick to that!
  3. Share my knowledge of the natural dye world and stitching. Spread the joy of coloring cloth safely, naturally, beautifully. I'm aiming for early February to offer dye kits for sale in my shop. I'm working on finding a location for teaching stitching to youth in my community. 
  4. Make at least one quilt during the year for the #MakeDoChallenge. As quilter Sherri Lynn Wood says, imagine if every quilter made even one quilt a year from found fabrics the positive impact that would have on our landfills, water and soil. 

I'm ready for 2017! Are you?

 

The Ondowa Wrap

While at Squam Art Workshops this past June, I took Sarah Waldo Jagger's class sewing her Ondowa Wrap. Sarah recently released her pattern to the public, and what a beauty it is! This modern take a classic wrap dress flatters many figures, looks great in both prints and solids, and is easily modified for your personal style. Wear it as a studio smock, beach cover up, office attire or for a night on the town - truly a wardrobe staple!

The Ondowa Wrap, designed by Sarah Waldo Jagger Shown here in Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen, Plum, 55% Linen 45% Rayon Pattern modifications: I chose to sew this garment without the shoulder caps. Check out Sarah's IG feed for the original design and options!  #sarahwaldopatterns #ondowawrap

The Ondowa Wrap, designed by Sarah Waldo Jagger

Shown here in Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen, Plum, 55% Linen 45% Rayon

Pattern modifications: I chose to sew this garment without the shoulder caps. Check out Sarah's IG feed for the original design and options!  #sarahwaldopatterns #ondowawrap

Sarah's teaching style is relaxed and easy-going. She moved effortlessly from one student to the next, helping each of us where ever we were in the sewing process, and always with a smile. While we benefitted from her in-person tips and tricks, the pattern itself is very well written, clear and with many helpful photos. The garment has beautiful details, especially the collar. For me, the pocket construction was a fun surprise. What a wonderful teacher, designer, sewer and mom (follow Sarah's IG feed @starfishing). 

You can purchase The Ondowa Wrap at Sarah's shop: http://sarahwaldo.bigcartel.com/  

Find plenty of inspiration and options for making this pattern your own: #sarahwaldopatterns  #ondowawrap

Collar detail with contrasting batik binding, also used at the pockets. 

Collar detail with contrasting batik binding, also used at the pockets. 

Loving the double tie at the side, perfectly positioned for a flattering fit. Here, I used jersey strings.

Loving the double tie at the side, perfectly positioned for a flattering fit. Here, I used jersey strings.

This view shows the two vertical darts at the back. While they're not difficult to sew, Sarah had great tips for us to ensure accuracy. 

This view shows the two vertical darts at the back. While they're not difficult to sew, Sarah had great tips for us to ensure accuracy. 

The wrap shown in these photos is actually my second one. Not only was the first one so enjoyable to make, but my friend Angela Hoffman surprised me by modeling my first wrap throughout the Squam dining hall, looking amazing!!, so I had to make one especially for her. Thank you @angelalynn114! 

Of all of the splendid details this pattern holds, I felt the collar was the most satisfactory to make. 

Of all of the splendid details this pattern holds, I felt the collar was the most satisfactory to make. 

#MakeDoQuilt Challenge

In the spirit of the challenge, I've pulled from my fabric stash two feed sacks and some left over hand dyed silk noil. From my closet, I've pulled one dark teal blouse and a pair of red pants, both past their prime. 

In the spirit of the challenge, I've pulled from my fabric stash two feed sacks and some left over hand dyed silk noil. From my closet, I've pulled one dark teal blouse and a pair of red pants, both past their prime. 

If you're a quilter and are on Facebook or Instagram, you likely know about Sherri Lynn Wood's #MakeDoQuilt Challenge. I'm joining the challenge, and sincerely hope you will, too! 

In a nutshell, Sherri Lynn's challenge to quilt makers is to make at least one quilt in a year's time using only found textiles; for example, discarded clothing and household linens, garage sale and thrift shop finds, clothing swaps with friends, etc.. She states that you get extra points for salvaging the batting and backing, too! Read Sherri Lynn's post for all the details and thoughtful back story: http://daintytime.net/2016/08/11/make-do-challenge/

Her challenge resonates with me on a few levels: as a quilter who loves a challenge; as a dyer who is seeking best practices for our health and the earth's health; as a textile artist who wants to leave as small a footprint as possible. I'm both compelled and excited to participate! Plus, there's tons of inspiration already happening on Instagram, #MakeDoQuilt, by other talented quilters joining in. What a great idea - thank you Sherri Lynn Wood!

This challenge already has me approaching the quilt process in a new way. I'm keenly aware of the variety of textures and weights of the fabrics I've pulled (photo above). The quantity of each fabric now plays an integral and critical part of the design process, designing according to what I have. Quilt strategy at its best!  

Pursuing my interest in feeling closer to our quilting heritage, I'm looking to antique quilts for design inspiration. Here are three from "The American Quilt" by Roderick Kiracofe: 

Since making letters for a special commissioned quilt in December 2015, I've wanted to do more with words - perhaps piecing a beautiful quote or poem.  This challenge might be the perfect opportunity to get going!  Inscription, 1874-1876, made by Cornelia Catharine Vosburgh, Red Hook, NY

Since making letters for a special commissioned quilt in December 2015, I've wanted to do more with words - perhaps piecing a beautiful quote or poem.  This challenge might be the perfect opportunity to get going! 

Inscription, 1874-1876, made by Cornelia Catharine Vosburgh, Red Hook, NY

As a natural dyer, indigo quilts and Turkey Red quilts always steal my heart. From this challenge, I'd like to learn a new technique or a new block. The feathered star might be the ticket! Feathered Star, c.1840-1860, found in eastern Ohio; cottons, pieced, with stuffed work and cording, 82 1/2" x 91". Collection of Gail Binney.

As a natural dyer, indigo quilts and Turkey Red quilts always steal my heart. From this challenge, I'd like to learn a new technique or a new block. The feathered star might be the ticket!

Feathered Star, c.1840-1860, found in eastern Ohio; cottons, pieced, with stuffed work and cording, 82 1/2" x 91". Collection of Gail Binney.

Hawaiian Quilts make me weak in the knees. They're always stunning, and they certainly speak to my love of paper cutting. What I'm most curious to try is echo hand quilting. So beautiful. Unnamed pattern, c. 1940, Hawaii; cottons, appliqued, 81" x 85". Robert and Ardis James Collection.

Hawaiian Quilts make me weak in the knees. They're always stunning, and they certainly speak to my love of paper cutting. What I'm most curious to try is echo hand quilting. So beautiful.

Unnamed pattern, c. 1940, Hawaii; cottons, appliqued, 81" x 85". Robert and Ardis James Collection.

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/feb/23/marie-kondo-joy-decluttering-waste-recycling-clothes-peak-stuff

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/feb/23/marie-kondo-joy-decluttering-waste-recycling-clothes-peak-stuff

In addition to pushing one's own creative limits, there's a second element to Sherri Lynn's challenge, and that is increasing one's awareness of the huge problem the world is facing regarding fabric, landfills and our soil and water supply.

Overconsumption is a problem for us all. As a quilter, if the making of even one quilt can begin to affect change, then I'm all in. Every effort counts! Recently, I posted about how each piece of cloth is handled here in the studio, and the truth is, every scrap is accounted for. None of it goes in the trash. 

100% of my quilt making scraps over the past 22 months, and all of it is safe for my compost bin.

100% of my quilt making scraps over the past 22 months, and all of it is safe for my compost bin.

I'll post my #MakeDoQuilt updates here and on my IG feed. Do you have any questions for me? Are you participating, too? Let's get some conversation going, and I'd love to hear and see how you're meeting the #MakeDoQuilt Challenge!

The Westwater Tunic

My tunic is linen with my own eco-dyed silk at the back yoke (detail, right). Do you see a butterfly/ moth? The drape and weight of linen makes it a nice choice for this garment. The tunic can be worn so many ways, it's a real wardrobe work horse! Sam gives options for handling View A's front closure. I chose the one-button closure.

While at Squam, my tunic didn't actually have a button. At home, I tried both antler and horn buttons from my stash, but they all felt too masculine. Who saved the day? Sarah Waldo Jagger! While sewing in her class at Squam, she came over to my side and held out the perfect button, explaining that she found it at the bottom of her sewing basket. That's Squam love right there. Thank you Sarah! 

In the months leading up to Squam Art Workshops, Elizabeth Duvivier announced the release of the Westwater Tunic pattern co-designed by herself and Samantha Lamb. I bought my copy, chose my fabrics and eagerly set to work. 

I loved the process and the end result so much that I decided to bring my finished tunic to Squam and show Elizabeth and Samantha.

They were both so kind, and made me feel good about my work. Personally, I credit Sam for her exceptional technical writing, not to mention loads of helpful photos. The collar (which I had been fearing) was actually a breeze! I would definitely make this garment again, and would try View B, which is a pull over rather than button front.

In this time of indie designers, social media and movements like #whomadeyourclothes, being able to connect one-on-one with the designer is important. For me personally, meeting the designer makes the process and the finished piece even more meaningful, bringing me closer to the garment.        

I'm especially grateful to Elizabeth Duvivier for creating Squam Art Workshops, a most magical, soul-filling experience deep in the woods of New Hampshire.