Monday, March 20, 2017

Meet Your (quilt) Maker: Abigail McMurray

Spring is here (or so the calendar is telling us) and it's time to try something new! At our March meeting this Sunday, CMQG member Abigail McMurray will be teaching us how and when to use a Silhouette to cut fabric for that new project you've dreamed up. 

Meet Abigail:

What’s your favorite podcast/music/audiobook genre to listen to when you quilt?

I really enjoy the podcast Seamwork Radio. The episodes are all sewing-related, but more about the people and their process.
What sewing skill are you most proud of?

I think I'm mostly just proud that I know how to sew! I've come across people, here and there, who have never had an experience with needle and thread. I helped a co-worker re-attach a button one day and it was like I'd performed some sort of magic - his mind was completely blown! 
What skill are you itching to master?

Do you ever really master sewing skills? I guess I'd like to be more confident in my free-motion quilting. My design/art background gives me a good foundation, but I want to work on the technical aspects that just come from repetition.
Do you sew for a living?

Nope! I do other creative things for a living, so my rule for sewing is that it can be for me or for a gift, I'm not taking your money.

This is a wedding gift I designed and made for some friends who really like bugs.
What kind of fabric are you most attracted to?

Anything linen (I haven't made a quilt with linen yet, but it's my most-likely fabric impulse-buy). I love mustard yellow. I have to buy anything that references paper or origami, and I do really enjoy cats.
Tell us about the quilt that means the most to you and why. This doesn’t have to be one that you made. 

My husband's grandmother made us a wedding quilt. She's still with us, but I think this is the last big quilt she had enough energy/strength to finish. It's currently packed away because it needs some mending - I should bring it to a meeting to get some advice!

This is the first quilt I finished and kept for myself!
My cat, Bash, is pretty sure I made it for him.

How/When did you start quilting?

My earliest quilting memory is a "learn to sew" workbook my mom bought me when I was quite little - the projects involved sewing pieces of paper together, and I remember spending many hours patching together little paper quilts. While I've know how to sew forever, I haven't actually done a lot of sewing. Now that I'm running my own creative business, I've found that sewing and knitting give me a way to be creative that doesn't have the stress/pressure of trying to earn a living, so I've been more intentional the last few years about trying new projects and taking classes.

These are the first two blocks I made as part of
the Quilt Block Cookbook monthly class at Gather Here
From designing and picking fabrics to watching a recipient’s face when they see your quilt for the first time, what is your favorite part of the whole process?

The design and fabric selection part is the most fun for me, I think -- I am terrible at following patterns, and generally will just get out the graph paper and figure out how to make what I'm picturing in my head. I'm enjoying free-motion quilting more the more I try it, though, so that's probably a close second.
What do you do get over a hump when you get stuck on a quilt?

I tend to take a break and work on something else for a while. I'm an excellent procrastinator!
What kind of other crafts are you into besides quilting?

I usually have one or two knitting projects going, and I'm always working on a freelance design project and/or product development for my paper business. I have embroidery aspirations, because one can never have too many crafts.
Where’s your fave place to eat in Cambridge?

Only one? For actual real food, Area 4 Pizza in Kendall Square. Ice cream is probably Honeycomb Creamery. Coffee is either Forge Baking Co. or Bourbon Coffee.
Do you have any favorite blogs/insta accounts we should know about? And where can we find you on the internet?

I spend a lot of Internet energy on my day job, so I don't really follow quilting/sewing things online, but you can find me on Instagram @yeiouamp (where you'll find cats, quilts, and food) and @yeioupaperobjects (my business, mostly paper).

Thanks Abigail, and if you're as intrigued as I am by the paper projects, you can find Abigail's shop here

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Meet Your (quilt) Maker: Sue Brown

WHO'S EXCITED FOR QUILT CAMP?!? WOOT WOOT! (hear that in the voice of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). We are! And we have Sue Brown to thank, not only for making it happen, but for making it happen in such an organized and informative way!

Meet Sue:

What’s your favorite podcast/music/audiobook genre to listen to when you quilt?
Thanks be for the podcast!!! I gravitate to culture-oriented podcasts. My current favorites include The New Yorker Radio Hour, WTF, Bookworm, Here’s the Thing, and Pop Culture Radio Hour. The New Yorker issues a terrific short story podcast, but listening to fiction seems to take up just a bit too much brain space for me -- I can’t follow along while I’m also sewing.

What sewing skill are you most proud of?
More and more often, I’m able to control seams and points. A few years ago I joined the Quilter’s Way (RIP) block of the month challenge. I didn’t always like the colorways, but putting a block together was satisfying. Using the shop’s tips and tricks, and my own determination, I learned how to be a lot more precise with my seams. Is that a “skill?” Or is it OCD?

What skill are you itching to master?
Handwork, including hand-quilting. One of my WIPs is a sashiko-style, hand-quilting learning object. I’m really trying to be satisfied with the rough-hewn look (practice, practice, practice).

Do you sew for a living
Sewing is a creative pursuit that improves the quality of my living... Yes??

What kind of fabric are you most attracted to?
Fabrics with rich texture and deep color. I was into Japanese taupes and indigos for several years. Last summer I gifted myself a couple of shot cotton fat quarter bundles. I pet that shot cotton a lot; I’m a little challenged in getting it off the pedestal and into a project.

Also: Marimekko…

Tell us about the quilt that means the most to you and why. This doesn’t have to be one that you made. And we’d love to see a picture!
The first bed-sized quilt my mom ever made (1982). Even though I was in that awful stage of girlhood when I didn’t adore my mom, I adored that she made this quilt for me. Its calico glory is in my bedroom today.

My mom started quilting in the late 1970s and joined a guild around that time. She made fast friends with 6 ladies, who, going on 35 years, meet once a week to sew and chat. When I look at the quilt my mom made for me, it warms my heart to know my mom’s quilting ladies share these decades of creating and laughing and loving; these friends sustain one another.

How/When did you start quilting?
First, I had to get over the idea that quilting was a square, non-feminist activity my super-square mom did. (It was a different time, and I was a super-super square person.)

I saw a picture of an Amish around the world quilt in the early 1990s and absolutely fell in love with its unfussy directness (aka “modern”?). I completed my version of the top, which was likely made of a poly-cotton blend and also quite as likely lost in an apartment move at some point. Thinking about it makes me itchy to make another one...

(I love this: it’s not mine.)

From designing and picking fabrics to watching a recipient’s face when they see your quilt for the first time, what is your favorite part of the whole process?
Design is the best. I get a flash of inspiration and want to go make something. I usually go to graph paper and color pencils to play around with an idea. Maybe I get lost on the internet while I do this idea-churning. I’m really good at starting quilts, not so good at finishing. The satisfaction of transitioning from one project phase to the next is why I like to make things; yet I have trouble pushing through those transitions. Maybe this is why I have so many UFOs… Or maybe I have so many UFOs because I have trouble “committing” to my creative decisions…  

What do you do to get over a hump when you get stuck on a quilt?
I tend to pick up a project for a focused period of time, and then set it aside when the nonsense of life intrudes. So “getting stuck” is most often about “getting started.” Practicing the habit of doing something creative every day works best for getting unstuck. Yet committing to a daily creative practice is definitely a challenge -- namely because I over-prioritize boring things like work and my M.Ed. school work and vacuuming.

For 2017 I’m challenging myself to finish two of my UFOs.


What kind of other crafts are you into besides quilting?
I like to knit and needlepoint and cross stitch. I’m consistently slow at all my crafts. (True story: I take the Acela to NYC every 2 weeks or so, and am on a first-name basis with Johnny, the 6:05am Bos-NYC conductor. He said to me on one trip: “Susan [actually, he calls me “Susan” because that’s the name on the ticket he scans, so maybe our relationship is more formal that I had thought before telling this story]. “Susan: Are you EVER going to be done knitting that shawl? Just be done with it. We’re all tired of watching it grow.”) I *did* finish that shawl in 2016.

I’ve just ordered some pot holder looms because I saw some excellent ones Complete Cauchy makes. (When I grow up, I want to be Chawne Kimber…)

Where’s your fave place to eat in Cambridge?
Love Amelia’s on Portland St.

Do you have any favorite blogs/insta accounts we should know about? And where can we find you on the internet?
(Insta? I’ve been calling it “Insty”....) Back when blogs first got big, I lost *hours* of every week chasing the knitting blogs. I weaned myself from that addiction, and try not to lose myself in the interwebs -- there’s too much in the real world to do!! I check in on many of the CMQG members on Insty from time to time -- thanks for being generous with sharing what you are up to!
Anything else you want us to know about you?
Essentially I’m an enthusiastically  OCD, commitment-phobic, expensive-fabric-hoarding, crazy cat lady!! I’m so grateful to the support of the CMQG community, because along with you, I belong here!

Kitties in the sewing room. 
If you can't make it to Quilt Camp this year, we look forward to seeing you at our March meeting... Join in and share some of your sewing with us on Instagram this weekend, and you will be with us in spirit. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

February Meeting Recap

First things first, a HUGE congratulations to CMQG member Maritza Soto for winning the Freespirit award for sewing excellence with her quilt, Go North, at QuiltCon 2017 (that's basically like second place in the WHOLE SHOW)!

Maritza Soto's award-winning Go North

Our February meeting may have coincided with QuiltCon, but that didn't stop many of our members from showing up to socialize and prepare for Quilt Camp - a 48 hour sewing extravaganza. 

Show and tell was full of Jelly Roll quilts - in part because of the quilt tops we started putting together at our January meeting for Camp Erin, a free overnight camp for kids who have lost a loved one. These quilts will be take-home gifts for their campers. The Jelly Roll piecing is addictive though, so folks are starting to throw these together for themselves too!

Jordan made this happy triangle quilt for his lucky niece.
This top taught him to use thimbles (look how precise his points are!)

This beauty, started by Team 2 during the Jelly Roll Race of 1/2017,
was completed and quilted by Jordan at GH. Jane F. will be binding this!

Can we talk about how lucky Jane's daughter Leah is to be receiving
this bright quilt that was begun at the BMQG retreat last year?

Carolyn turned a pile of fabric that Taz gave her into this stunner.

Dahlia finished off this Jelly Roll top for Team #2. She is looking for a volunteer
to quilt it (Allison, and Kaemene will bind)

Carolyn's impressive first attempt at foundation paper piecing
in prep for our mini-quilt challenge. 

Charlotte's awesome answer to the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge
has binding that will align perfectly with the front

Rebecca's quilt centers around the Kona Highlight color,
employed to highlight the sparkly fabrics!

We love the fabric choices Rebecca made for her
Modern Hexagon Pillow from Modern Handcraft.

Sandy made this scrappy wonder at a Timna Tarr workshop,
though she enjoyed wandering off in her own direction.

 The cool sketch feel on this quilt is part of Sandy's air pen series
 using a single piece of fabric with paint and quilt lines

Lisa's Riley Blake warm Roly-Poly Jelly Roll quilt.

Maritza channeled the Gee's Bend feel for tossing colors together to make this
beautiful bear claw quilt. Her son is in love with this, and we don't blame him!

Allison shrank her blue and white scrap bins by making 3 fun "vomit quilts”
and quilting 5 tops at Laurena's for Camp Erin!

We are busily preparing for Quilt Camp this weekend. Hope you are all staying warm!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

January Meeting Recap

We tried to bring our competitive spirits to the jelly roll race at our January meeting - but no one can remember who, if anyone, won. We do know it was a fun way to mix it up with old and new members as we made quilt tops for Camp Erin.

Bloodthirsty crowds pushing and shoving to get just the right strips for their quilt tops...

It takes four people to sew a jelly roll strip: one to count, one to clip,
and one to carefully balance the next strip on your shoulder.
Thank you to the generous members who offered to take the tops home for finishing, quilting and binding. We can't wait to see the finished products!

 And now for your show and tell:

Sue's first finish (of many to come) in 2017 is this adorable baby quilt,
made from the charm pack she received at SewBoston

There's something especially nice about the quilts we make for
ourselves - like this pleasingly-pink offset heart top from Taz
Lisa's brother may have eloped, but he still got this
beautiful wedding quilt to commemorate the day.

Lisa's cheery Christmas quilt is all ready for next winter.

A pretty pink mini for Lisa's Instagram swap

Another lovely mini-swap entry from the prolific Lisa

Laurie's tranquil Spin Me Round baby quilt top

Laurie's awesome retro-modern entry for an Instagram swap

Another colorful swap quilt for some lucky recipient

The first Violet Craft quilt we've seen out of the CMQG - we are loving
Laurie's choice of green for the background on this quilt she made for her dad!

Kim's 12 days of Christmas table runner with
beautiful beading detail inspired by our November meeting

Hildy's working on squares from this book

but somehow things aren't lining up as expected.

This pretty scarf, designed by Hildy herself, however, came out perfect!

Jared is learning the Tarot Cross Spread
and designed this cool quilted mat for mapping out where the cards go.

Kaesmene's sweet bee block (see what I did there?)

Kaesmene's color choices make this Hunter's Star so soft!

Jessica's feather quilt is so lush it looks like it could be velvet.

Gretchen's lovely I Love You quilt from V & Co. uses ombre fabric brilliantly.

Sarah's firefighter/union quilt is full of subtle meaningful references -
and those yellow lines are only visible from the side when it covers a twin bed!

Maritza will be teaching a class on this happy lion quilt -

Maritza's interesting and modern take on a log cabin

Christine has been working on these pouches made from mini-pieced quiltlettes
 as "a palate cleanser" between bigger projects. Great idea!

Mary's creatively-contrasted circle square quilt
will be featured in an Australian quilt magazine

and finally, T gives us a preview of his Valentine's Day Cupid role - tix available HERE.

And special thanks again to Taz of Bring To Light Photography for the awesome photos!

 Looking forward to seeing those of you that can't make QuiltCon at our meeting on February 26th. Happy quilting!