Last year, I made a Clifford quilt for Max for his 2nd birthday for his big boy bed. When my mother-in-law saw how much Max loved the quilt, she asked if I’d make one for my niece G. for Christmas (which falls right before her 2nd birthday and her move to a big girl bed). I consulted with my sister-in-law on what my niece would like, and we decided G. would love an animal theme. Farm, circus—whatever, it was all fair game. The only requirement was a hippo—G.’s favorite animal.
I had made a small animal-themed quilt for my friend Kate several years ago, so I re-used many of the appliques that I had found in the book B is For Baby by Suzonne Stirling: the zebra, the hippo, the tiger, the lion, the kangaroo. I also found some good ones in 100 Applique Motifs by Deborah “Ismoyo” Green, like the elephant, the sheep, the kangaroo, and the porcupine. For the embroidery (the owl and the butterflies), I turned to the classic, Sublime Stitching, by Jenny Hart. And finally, I searched online for images to make the rest of the appliques, modifying them.

I used the satin stich on my machine to do all the appliques. I also did some raw edge appliques for the flowers and the bird cutouts (those are from a piece of fabric I picked up at Hobby Lobby a few months ago). The quilt looked a little flat the first time I laid it out, so I punched it up with some embellishments, like giant polka dot cut-outs and flowers. I also added some blocks made from strips pieced together. But my favorite thing to do was the hand-embroidery embellishing. I love sewing and applique, but there is something so relaxing about the rhythm of hand embroidery; it’s a great way to chill at the end of the day.
I never did a final measure, but the blocks are each 12 inches (4 across and 7 down, except for the two places where I did 12 x 24 blocks, just for variety) and the border is 5 inches. I had so much fun making this quilt! I’ve got another year until my own little one, Georgia, is in a big girl bed, and I’m already thinking about it . . .

Have a great holiday, everyone! A shout out to all of you who bought Sew Retro as a gift this holiday season. Remember, if you want to buy a signed copied directly from me, you can do so right here, and if you want to keep up with business announcements and the like, head over to Facebook and like the Sew Retro page and my business page.


 
 
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So, as the first two posts in this series illustrate, I enjoyed myself shopping at the fabulous International Quilt Festival last weekend! But that’s only half the story: the show was also a display of the best, most innovative and beautiful quilts from around the world.

I wish I would have had more time to really soak in these quilts. But I knew that my toddler, Max, was sick at home (and my husband desperately needed a break).  I sped through the exhibits much too fast, and I missed some categories altogether. But I left feeling sufficiently inspired in the end.

I’ve tried to identify all of the quilt names and artists (except for that shot above, which I just snapped quickly on my way out without writing the names down. oops.). Photography was prohibited on about one-fourth of the quilts, so there are some things I can’t share. But here are the ones I loved the most, all for different reasons, and in no particular order.
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This one is from the Text on Textiles category. How genius is that as a category? It's a quote from Oscar Wilde (if you're going to quote someone and make an entire quilt from it, I can't think of anyone better than Oscar Wilde). It's called "Wilde Ideas - Strings Attached," by Lisa ONeill.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love purses! So this one jumped out at me from across the room. It's called "Fashion in Motion," by Diane Dempsey, and was inspired by Matisse (I can definitely see that).
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People were gathered around these tumbling blocks in awe (the quilt is called "Tumbling in Space,") and I don't know that my picture really represents how 3D they actually looked. The artist, Marva M. Swanson, used hand-dye gradated fabrics to get the effect. Regina Carter quilted it.
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These next four are from the Oh, Canada category. Oh, Canada indeed. It's seriously beautiful country, as these artists have shown. My pictures, in order, are of:
1. "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow," by Carol Steely of British Columbia (this is her favorite west coast vista).
2. "Vancouver City Scape at Dusk" by Terry Aske
3. "Call it the Blues," by Helena Scheffer of Quebec
4. "A Parliament of Owls," by Carol Goddu of Ontario
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I think my love for yo-yos is pretty well documented at this point, which is why this quilt—handmade entirely out of yo-yos—fascinated me. There's not a single machine stitch in this quilt (which is really, really large). It's called "Good Morning Sunshine" and the artist, Marion Gagliardi, was inspired by a yo-yo quilt her grandmother made 100 years ago. Thanks for keeping the tradition alive, Marion!
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These next two are positively radiant in their color choices. The first one is called "Marilyn" and the artist, Andrea Stern, was inspired by the water towers near her house and how they look different in different lights and seasons (I wonder if she wasn't a little inspired by Warhol, too?). It's totally brilliant. And the other one is "Stairway to Heaven," by Sally Wright. She was inspired by Wells Cathedral in England.
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I'm going to close with "Florilegium," by Pat Kroth. It reminds me of everything I love about my garden (everything but the 10 bags of mulch sitting in the driveway, still waiting to be spread). Looking at this quilt makes me feel extremely optimistic.

So, thank you, amazing quilters, for sharing your visions and your talents with the quilting community. And thanks for bringing it right to my doorstep!
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Let's see, where did I leave off? In the middle of shopping, I think. I was actually very restrained at the show and hardly bought anything. Now, as I recount everything and review all the pics of cool stuff I took, I'm having non-buyer's remorse and wishing I would have snatched more up. I'm still thinking about those awesome vintage plastic buttons. Ah well, flea market season is just around the corner.

So, back to my favorite vendors.
  Betsy Ally/Charmography had a really awesome booth. The Betsy Ally bags were so pretty. These broaches from Charmography were so lovely, and the cupcake display was genius. 
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Why didn't I buy one of these adorable broaches? Sigh.
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Cupcakes are the new best marketing strategy for pretty much anything and everything.
Have I mentioned the fabulous wool yet? Two that caught my eye were Woolylady  and Handbehg Felts. These pillows from Woolylady are little jewels. I want that bird pillow bad! Luckily kits are available on her site, too, right here.
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The felted balls at Handbehg Felts made me absolutely giddy. It’s amazing what you can do with these little hand-felted wool balls they sell (their tagline is “a project waiting to happen”—which really is perfect). They sell them in various sizes and colors, and you can re-shape them according to what you're making. They also sell kits. How adorable are these Easter eggs? And the pillow would look pretty great on my couch.

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I’ll leave you with a few more of my favorite images. Up next, the quilts on display!
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Pattern by Johna Lee Burk from the Scrappy Apple Yard
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Also from the Scrappy Apple, I think (can't find a listing for that booth either though)
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So my little town of Cincinnati finally did something right! Somehow, Cincy bagged the International Quilt Festival, held this past weekend at the Duke Energy Convention Center. When I heard about this last year, I circled the weekend on my calendar, and had visions of spending the entire weekend downtown. But as it turned out, between a sick kid, work, and two birthday parties, I only had a few hours on Saturday to go. So I tried to pack in as much as I could. I wasn’t disappointed.

I’ve never been to any of the Quilts, Inc. quilt shows or quilt market events, so I didn’t know what to expect. The shopping side of the Festival is aimed at consumers (versus to the Trade, like Quilt Market), and the quilts themselves on display are amazing works of art. I’m going to do a series of posts, starting with the vendor-side and what struck me the most. Here are a few snapshots from the walkway that overlooks the convention floor. There was a couple standing next to me when I took this shot, and the guy turned to his wife and said, “See honey, there’s not one single man down there.”
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I saw women of all ages (including a Girl Scout troop), but I’d say the average age was about 55, which is similar to the CHA SuperShow I went to last year. I feel like an event like this skews slightly older, and many of the vendor booths seemed to support that demographic. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t variety or that it felt “old” or out of touch with what’s going on. In fact, it felt vibrant and exciting, and there was truly something for every taste. It was focused on pretty traditional quilting (versus clothing or tons of accessories), but no sewer would walk away uninspired. There were a lot of machine exhibitors and demonstrations, along with gobs of fabric, mixed media stuff, felt and other specialty stuff, accessories (like buttons), and then gobs more fabric.

As it turns out, my favorite booth was the second one I visited: Things Past & Present (no web site, since they focus on selling at markets. Too bad, b/c now I wish I had bought more from them!). I chatted with co-owner Tom Orr (his wife Cheryl is his business partner). Their display of vintage buttons called to me. It screamed at me, truthfully. I mean, look at this gorgeousness.
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I wound up buying some 1940s plastic buttons, along with a lovely French button from the 1950s, and one of the cameo buttons. Tom and Cheryl have spotters all over the country looking for stuff for them. They get feedsacks like this one from the Midwest (they had a nice selection, but they were pricier than I pay for feedsacks), and lots of antique quilt squares from New England. They also buy from Brimfield (I MUST go at some point). I also loved the 19th century French fabric they had; Tom told me that designers usually snatch this stuff up because it’s so old that it’s not copyrighted anymore, so modern fabric designers can re-do it.

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There was plenty of love everywhere for Kaffe Fassett. Fat quarter, half-yard, and one-yard cuts were on sale everywhere. Love fests of color everywhere!
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Kaffe Fassett from The Sampler (www.the-sampler.com)
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Great hand-dyed fabric
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rows of orderly color!
The Vogue Fabrics was hopping. I could get seriously lost in this stack of batiks.
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But the piece of fabric I absolutely could not walk away from was this Melody Miller print, which I bought at the Artistic Artifacts booth (where everything was eye candy, like the great vintage trims and mixed media vignettes). (They sell it at their web site too, right here.)
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 The stuff at Hmong Pan Dau Needlework booth blew me away. I fell in love with these tiny purses, crafted in such exquisite detail.

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I was trying to find a reason to get one of these little quilt squares. I almost bought one, but instead, it was the mermaids I couldn’t walk away from. I actually did walk away, and then I had to come back five minutes later to buy one. I have no idea why. I’ve never had a mermaid fascination before. But I HAD to have one of these little creatures.
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More later! I still have more booths to report on, and of course--the many, many amazing quilts. Stay tuned . . .
 
 
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The Clifford quilt for my big boy!
Three things are on my mind today. First, my baby slept in a big boy bed for the first time last night! All went well, except he somehow fell out (even with side rails) around 7:15 this morning, and then didn’t go back to sleep. Though he did lie there and talk to himself and play with his animals for almost an hour while I tried to go back to sleep in my room. I’m counting it as a success that he didn’t get out! He’s been super excited about the bed because I made him this Clifford-themed quilt, and gave it to him for his 2-year birthday a few weeks ago. Clifford is a big deal at our house, and Max was completely giddy last night when he finally realized that the Clifford quilt was going on his very own big boy bed!
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I used both raw-edge applique and embroidery to make the Cliffords and Clifford-themed stuff.
I hope to do a tutorial about the quilt (I did both appliqué and embroidery). I’ll definitely offer some how-to in some fashion though, either actual templates or an explanation of how to make templates and transfer them.

  Secondly, I’m working on Max’s backpack; he starts preschool in a month. How is it possible that my little boy is both sleeping in a regular bed and starting school?! We picked out the fabric for the backpack this weekend (he’s completely obsessed with saying “backpack” and every time he hears the word “school,” he shouts: “Backpack! Backpack!”).
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   I’m using a free pattern from Indietutes  and doing a caterpillar appliqué from 100 Appliqué Motifs  by Deborah “Ismoyo” Green  (I can’t recommend this book enough for instant appliqué inspiration!). I'll post more on the backpack after I finish it.

And lastly, tonight at 7 p.m. is my book signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati! I have the feeling you have when you’re throwing a party and you think, “what if no one comes?” At least I know my family will be there! I’ve been so impressed by everything the wonderful people at Joseph-Beth have done to promote Sew Retro and the event tonight. I’ll be back with a full report on how it went!