Sunday, August 28, 2016

Meet Your (quilt) Maker: Gretchen Stares

Have you ever looked through your stash and wondered who designed a fabric or what collection it belongs to? Whether it's too old to find in print anymore or just came out last season? We recommend asking Gretchen - she has an encyclopedic memory for these things. AND she's super crafty. This afternoon she'll be teaching us to make those clothesline baskets they're selling at local museums for upwards of $100. 

Meet Gretchen Stares:



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

I listen to a variety of music depending on my mood: country, pop, alternative, etc. I often put on a show on Netflix and listen.

What sewing skill are you most proud of?

My ability to make things work. I can work my way out of many of my mistakes. I get a lot of "Mommy can you make this" as well, like Lion and Backup Lion's super hero costumes I pulled together quickly from fleece (my son isn't original with stuffed animal names).




What skill are you itching to master?

 I really want to get better at needle turned appliqué. 

Do you sew for a living?

No, I'm a software designer for electronic health records. Between that and shuttling my son around, I squeeze in sewing when I can, but quilt gifts get finished just in the nick of time frequently.  The ones without deadlines sit for months and years.


What kind of fabric are you most attracted to?

I love vibrant modern fabrics and some specific designers.  I always pick up some Cotton + Steel, Heather Ross, Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander, and Lizzy House when new lines come out. I've gotten better about knowing what I'll use from my stash versus just look at, I use non-directional tone on tone the most. 



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!

My son and I have always loved Lego. He asked for a Lego quilt for his big kid bed and I spent some time figuring out the best way to go about it. I came up with a paper pieced head and a 24" block and it worked out so much easier than I thought.  I tried to calculate and ended up just going for it.  The final block only had two seams to match!


You can spend the rest of your life practicing and becoming close to perfect at one of the following: piecing or quilting. Which do you choose?

I'm happy with my piecing skills but would love to be better at quilting.  Straight line and echo quilting are my stand by.

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?

I love picking out the perfect fabrics to go with a design/pattern. That may explain the fabric selections in waiting to become quilts in my closet!

What do you do get over a hump when you get stuck on a quilt?

I usually go work on another project and let it sit for a while.

What kind of other crafts are you into besides quilting?

I suffer from "I can make that myself".  I like making bags and clothing and knitting.  I have plans to make a putz house from our house blueprints as a winter decoration (and then a quilt too).  I'm about to refinish my first piece of furniture.  I'll give anything a try.


Where’s your fave place to eat in Cambridge?

I don't live in Cambridge but grab a bite to eat usually when I drive in for meetings. I love the tacos at Olecito and brunch at S&S.


Do you have any favorite blogs/insta accounts we should know about? And where can we find you on the internet?

I like Made Everyday in my blog feed.  Dana likes to keep things simple and fun. Her faux chenille quilt is a favorite. Many of those I follow on instagram are from my mini quilt swap summer.  I'm on instagram as gretchens42.  It's private, but if you have quilty/crafty photos I usually accept the follow requests.



Friday, July 22, 2016

Meet Your (quilt) Maker - Taslim (Taz) Sidi

Have you been wondering who is behind those awesome logos popping up on our blog and social media sites? You know, these:




Meet Taslim (Taz) Sidi - the designer behind the CMQG logo that we conceptualized at our March meeting AND our Sew Boston logo.  We are so appreciative of her talent and willingness to volunteer her time!




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

Hmm, I’m either listening to Spotify (Chill Hits playlist is a current favorite) or watching the series du jour on Netflix if I’m cutting or pressing. 
 
What sewing skill are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my fabric curation - haha is that a thing? 


 
What skill are you itching to master?

I’d really like to try my hand at needle turn appliqué. When I first started quilting 5 years ago I never would have thought that would interest me. But to see the modern designs that are possible with appliqué I’m dying to give it a whirl!
 
Do you sew for a living?

Nope! Its my creative escape :) I’m a photographer by day. I shoot mostly newborn portraits, weddings and commercial. So ironic considering I’ve never taken a ‘real’ photograph of any of my quilts- oops! I’m usually breaking out the iPhone five minutes before wrapping up a quilt for its recipient. 

Photography is creative in a whole different dimension than quilting and mentally demanding. I love the physical process of quilting - stacks of fabric, pressing, cutting, piecing units - it's not always about the end result for me.


 
What kind of fabric are you most attracted to?

Lots of modern options! I love bright and bold colors but tend to use mostly single color geometric prints and combine them myself. I’m really into the Cotton & Steel Basics and Carolyn Friedlander lines. To contrast all that color I use a lot of low-volume prints as well. 


 
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!

Gosh that is tough! There are so many quilts that others have made that I admire, I’m constantly feeling inspired. One of my favorites is Latifah Saafir’s ‘Neon & Neutral’ - it encompasses so many elements that I love and would love to include in my own quilts - curves, bold colors offset against neutrals and straight line quilting. 
You can spend the rest of your life practicing and becoming close to perfect at one of the following: piecing or quilting. Which do you choose?

Quilting. I have a long way to go! Thus far my quilting has been pretty basic but I have seen how quilting can make a quilt design come alive, especially in the negative space, and I’d love to master that.
 
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?

I love nearly everything. Well, except for basting ;) I would say designing and selecting fabrics is my very favorite though, based on the number of WIPs I have. I have a bit of what I call ‘starter-itis’ - I get so excited picking out fabrics and drawing out my design that sometimes I jump to a new idea before the current one is finished. Most of the quilts I’ve finished have involved a deadline :) 


 
What do you do get over a hump when you get stuck on a quilt?

I dive into my scrapbin. Either by sorting my scrap basket into color piles, cutting scraps into 2.5” squares (I use these for leaders & enders) or a bit of improv piecing. The plethora of color and pattern is the best way to get my sewjo flowing again. 
 

What kind of other crafts are you into besides quilting?

Hmm, I’ve been knitting a scarf for 7 months, haha- that one might never get finished. The next craft I have my eye on is sewing related - making garments. I would love to work on making myself a dress that I would be proud to wear outside the house. 
 
Where’s your fave place to eat in Cambridge?

Oooh, so many great places! A favorite is Greek Corner - love their gyros and tkatziki. In college I spent a Summer semester abroad in Greece so I have a soft spot for those flavors. 

Do you have any favorite blogs/insta accounts we should know about? And where can we find you on the internet?

I’m at @taslimsidi on Instagram for my daily life/quilt stuff. And also @bringtolightphoto for my photography. Some fav insta accounts are @suzyquilts, @owensolivia, and @ihavethisthingwithtiles.


See you all on July 31st!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June Meeting Recap

Craftiness usually slows down in the summer as everyone gets distracted by Walden Pond and homegrown tomatoes and generally getting out of the house. But all this sun doesn't seem to have slowed the CMQG down! Many of you channeled your feelings about the shooting at Pulse into heart blocks to help the Orlando MQG in their endeavor to make quilt tops for friends, families, victims and first responders.



We collected 60 blocks at our June meeting and are looking forward to meeting up with the Boston MQG on July 16th at the Lexington Community Center to make more and turn them into quilts. 

Next, there was the Raspberry Block Lottery (won by Dalia - congrats! Can't wait to see that king-size quilt), and the kickoff for our Sheepfold Block Lottery - entries due at the August meeting. 

Then T took us through quilting with leather and spandex... and fur. 

The spandex side of T's sample pieced pillow...

and the leather/linen side.

We can't wait to see what you all come up with for Alternative Materials Quilt Challenge now that you know how to quilt with just about anything. 

Finally, if you've been eyeing that new long-arm machine at Gather Here, sign up for a training session (they're starting in July) and show us your creation at the next meeting! 

Now, for your monthly show and tell:

We saw Jen's halftone quilt at our last meeting, and after many questions about
how she designed it, we got a quick tutorial on the making of this quilt!

Reva is donating her adorable sheepy quilt to Project Linus.

The back is just as fun as the front!

Jane's cool cranes from our last sew in!

A few flying geese from the "Flight" pattern Jean is testing for Sam Hunter

Jean's sweet Seuss-ian alphabet quilt

Rebecca took a needle-turn applique class on creativebug and came up with this...

And this....

...and this!

Gretchen's bright and beautiful take on a Sherri Lynn Wood technique.

Allison got sew into the Raspberry (or blueberry?) Kiss lottery block
that she made a whole fabulous quilt top!
Hope to see you at our next sew-in or meeting - happy summer sewing!



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Meet Your (quilt) Maker, T Lawrence-Simon

We are lucky this month to have a professional circus artist and costume designer teaching us the art of quilting (or just plain sewing) with spandex! Meet T:

T on his trapeze, in a costume he crafted.

What's your favorite podcast/music/audiobook genre to listen to when you sew?

I'm a giant Harry Potter nerd, I read/listen through them at least once a year, so that helps a lot. I also have an affection for Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! If I run out of podcast ideas, I'll just find a TV show I don't really care about on Netflix and leave it on next to my machine while I sew.

What sewing skill are you most proud of?

Hmm, I would say my eclectic fabric choices that most people think is crazy, until they see the finished product, and they have a change of heart (most of the time). Ooooh, or my ability to put invisible zippers into spandex costumes.

This pillowcase I made that I feel really demonstrates my aesthetic quite well. 

What skill are you itching to master?

I would love to confidently sew curved seams. When I have to do a curve seam, I pin so much, and I sew really slow. I would love to be one of those people that can just magically whip through them.

Do you sew for a living?

Not completely. My main career is that I'm a professional circus artist and coach. My degree is costume design though, and I make costumes for circus artists as one of my side jobs.

A costume I made for my friend Sarah Waggener.


What kind of fabric are you attracted to?

I'm a big solids fan. My dream would just be to have bolts of the entire Kona solid line as my stash. But I do like mostly solid prints with geometric features, not big into swirls or organic features (animals, nature... etc.).

The first ever quilt I made. I just decided one night to bite the bullet and stop making random blocks that were heading nowhere, and just make a dang quilt. Two different charm packs. Slap em together into hst's and there ya go.

Tell us about the quilt that means the most to you and why. This doesn't have to be one that you made.

One of the most striking quilts I've ever seen is the Gravity Quilt by Jaybird Quilts. I still haven't made one, but it's a goal of mine this summer. I want to do MOSTLY solids, but with bold prints thrown in here and there. It is such a powerful image, with the scattered hue-play all over it. The radiance and scope of the shape is really stunning to me. I am gonna make the border fade out to gray, and not white though, cause white fabric is usually not for long.

Gravity Quilt from Jaybirdquilts.com


You can spend the rest of you life practicing and becoming close to perfect at one of the following: quilting or piecing. Which do you choose?

I'm a much happier piecer, quilting kind of stresses me out. But hmm, this is an intriguing psych question.

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?

Can I alter the question a little bit? I love every step of the process, except for the measuring and cutting out of the fabric part. I have been looking into using laser cutters to cut out quilts. Though that would only work for quilts with a lot of the same pieces. I am an imagination-driven person at heart though, so I would say the design process is really my favorite. But that includes seeing how it comes together in real life.

My favorite quilt so far. It took a lot of love from design concept, to making the pattern, to piecing and finally quilting (that damn spiral). Inspired by the Bohr model of the element Silver for the Modern Metallic Challenge.

What do you do to get over a hump when you are stuck on a quilt?

I do silly little things, sometimes it's just grab a bunch of the scraps from the project and improv piece them. Make a bracelet out of some scraps. Sometimes I'll just take a piece of leather and see what I can make with it using sewing, hardware like grommets and rivets, snaps... etc. Improv art.

I got to be a feature on Sara Lawson's Sew Sweetness blog for her Bag Month.
This was the bag I made (using Elizabeth Hartman's perfect zipper pouch pattern).


My lovely zipper pouches. I love them so.



What kind of other crafts are you into besides sewing?

Well, I sew a lot of circus costumes, and I like making purses, wallets, handbags, zipper pouches. Occasionally, I'll dip into couture fashion. Mostly different branches of sewing. Every winter, I go through a knitting phase that doesn't last too long.

I make a lot of these for customers, they are called Trapeze boots or Chevaliers.
This is my favorite pair so fair. Silver and turquoise.


Where is your fave place to eat in Cambridge?

I go on dates with my circus school boss at Ginger Exchange in Inman a lot.

Do you have any favorite blogs/Insta accounts we should know about? And where can we find you on the internet?

My internets are FlyingStitchLabs.com (seamster) and HoopArtist.com (circus). My Instagrams are @HoopArtist and @FlyingStitchLabs. My quilting heroes are Angela Walters, John Q. Adams and Libs Elliott (I don't know her, but I think the world of her design concepts).

My label that I got from Etsy custom woven...I love the glitter threads.

Anything else we should know about you?

Come take a circus lesson from me at ESH Circus Arts in Somerville! Whatever reason you think of for why you can't is mostly ridiculous. The circus is welcome to anyone.


See you all on June 26th!




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

May Meeting Recap

Hey Quilters, if you missed our May meeting, not to worry - we will be sending out a summary of Maritza's tips for quilting with unconventional materials soon. And if you found the idea of quilting with knits and double-gauze exciting, then you definitely don't want to miss our next meeting on June 26th when T will be instructing us on how to quilt (or just sew, for that matter) with spandex! Check back in the next couple of weeks to learn more about T in our Meet Your (quilt) Maker series.

All this instruction in quilting with unconventional materials is just background for our Alternative Materials Quilt Contest. See our Projects/Challenges page for all the details.

And now, for your show and tell:
Gwen started us off with this lovely Crayon Challenge Quilt

And this one for her lucky son

Jane shared this happy log cabin quilt using Anna Maria Horner Loominous

Julie continued the colorful trend with this quarter circle flower inspired by a set of children's blocks

T already had to deliver this special order speedo - but we got to see a picture!

Abigail shared this sweet baby bunting quilt

That's Sandy peering over her eye-catching Carolyn Friedlander Art Quilt

Jenn shared her organic square quilt that she designed to play with scale.

Charlotte's star quilt had invisible binding and a great background fabric.

Her improv quilt had really cool arced and straight line orange quilting that invoked the Key West sun.

Allison designed this cute kitty square

And we got to see the whale quilt quilted with waves!

We finished up with Allison's perfectly pieced triangle quilt.
We look forward to seeing you at our next Social Sew In on June 25th, or at our next meeting on June 26th.