Sunday, January 27, 2013

QuiltCon charity quilt progress

Hi Everyone,
I just wanted to thank everyone again for making blocks for the QuiltCon quilt for the Austin Children's Shelter. Our crack team of Pat, Jessica, Cortney and myself, with some crucial design input from Beth, managed to nearly finish the top! Rather serendipitously, our blocks made a cheerful scrappy top that I just wanted to quickly share with you today. Next steps are to make the back and get it off to Diane for quilting. I'll be in touch via email about scheduling for next Saturday with those who volunteered. Happy Sunday!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Meeting is NEXT Thursday, 1/24/13, at Rock Paper Scissors

Hi all,

Reminder that our meetings for Jan through Apr will be on the 4th Thursday instead of the 3rd. The blog is always updated with the correct meeting dates.

Please bring:
  • folding chair
  • name tag
  • if you have volunteered for the QuiltCon charity quilt, also bring your block(s) and/or any fabric you would like to donate for the sashing, backing, binding. Be sure to follow the guidelines for the colors, size, etc. (Blocks may be delivered to Rock Paper Scissors before the 24th if you won't be able to attend.)
Since Rayna and I will both be in Arizona (teaching at Quilting in the Dessert and visiting my sister, respectively), some of our members have volunteered to help out:
      Stephanie will be handling the sign-in. Please look for her.
      Melanie has taken over the QuiltCon project. Her contact info is on the Members List which was sent to all members after the December meeting.

Finally, Jessica and Margy will be updating our blog after each meeting with notes about what happened, pictures, etc.

Thanks to everyone!


Friday, January 11, 2013

NNJMQG Profile... Peggy Kelleher

Guild members will recognize Peggy from her passionate effort to coordinate our contribution to the QuiltCon charity quilt drive, and that is no doubt fueled by her overall passion for quilting. Here, she shares her thoughts on what modern quilting means to her, an intriguing personal history and copious quilting resources. If you'd like to be profiled, email me at melintheattic(at)gmail(dot)com. Happy New Year!

Name and location:  Peggy Kelleher, Montclair 

What do you do in your non-quilting life?
Bookkeeping/accounting on a freelance basis for small businesses and individuals. In my former life (i.e.. pre-children) I was a programmer/systems analyst/project leader in IT. I have 2 grown daughters: Moira is a Veterinarian who works at a big emergency animal hospital in Robbinsville, NJ, and Deirdre is a PhD candidate in Archaeology.
When did you start quilting? How?
I actually started quilting when I was about 20 – many, many years ago. I couldn’t tell you how that came about, just that a group of my friends and I were quilting maniacs for about a 10-15 year stretch. In fact, I started a quilt group in Montclair back then which is still meeting to this day – which I didn’t know until I met Rachel Cochran again at the first meeting of our Guild in June!
I stopped quilting when my older daughter was 2 ½. Suffice it to say that the reason involved straight pins and a 2 ½ year old who needed constant attention! I thought I’d go back to it in a year or so, but then came daughter # 2 and then PTA, soccer, Girl Scouts, swimming, lacrosse, etc. etc. etc.

Last winter I had to get baby shower gifts for my niece who was expecting twins. I ordered 2 baby quilts on Etsy and when they arrived I loved the way they looked, but was somewhat horrified at the poor quality of the workmanship. I thought “Wow – I can do better than that!”, and … here I am!

How would you describe your quilts? Do you have favorite colors, fibers, designs, techniques?
I don’t have any one style of quilts, at least not yet. Since coming back into the fold, I have been reading everything in sight, taking courses, and trying new things with every project. In fact, my main criteria in choosing projects at this point is what I can learn from it -  a new technique or a new concept to try out. I have 30 years to make up, and quickly!
I love all kinds of quilts – traditional, contemporary and modern. It seems as if just the fact that it’s made with fabric of some sort is all that I require! (Except for Sunbonnet Sue – I draw the line at Sunbonnet Sue.) Though I much admire art quilts, for myself I prefer making “useful” quilts; one of the things that most intrigues me about quilting is the marriage of beauty and function. For me, the physical comfort that a quilt can give is almost as important as the visual appeal. I feel connected to the thousands of talented and creative women quilters over the past centuries. Honestly, it’s almost a spiritual thing.

As an aside, I’d like to give my two cents regarding the “What is modern quilting?” controversy. The definition I like best is the one espoused by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr, that it is “expressive of the time in which live”, as Weeks wrote in an article in American Quilter magazine (Sept 2012). Nice and vague – which is how I think it needs to be. Whether that means the use of new styles of fabrics (ex: big, bold prints), new techniques and/or tools, new designs or re-thinking of traditional designs (blocks and/or layouts), new subject themes – they are all modern quilting. To me it boils down to being inclusive and accepting, rather than setting detailed, specific criteria about what constitutes “modern”. That smacks of “rules” and “quilt police” to me!
I don’t have any particular favorite colors, but I do prefer value contrasts in quilts. I love working most in high-quality quilting weight cottons and lean towards geometric designs – ever the Math person, I still love that Geometry!  That being said, I am trying all kinds of things, trying to expand my sensibilities. Ask me tomorrow and you may get different answers.
What inspires you? 
At this point, I’d have to say the great fabric that’s available is what inspires me most. Great architectural design is a close 2nd. Nature? Not so much. I’m just too much of a city girl.

Do you have a favorite quilt, or one that you are most proud of?
I haven’t actually completed a full quilt yet! As part of my intensive re-education, I’ve been working on 4 queen-size BOM quilts.
I’ve also done many, many smaller sewing and quilting projects. I guess my favorite is a ring bearer’s pillow I designed and made for my older daughter’s wedding of which I am inordinately proud!

It was my first only-somewhat successful attempt at free motion quilting. When I quilted the Claddagh ring symbol on the pillow, I inadvertently made the two hands at the bottom very different sizes. I was going to rip the stitches out but my daughter insisted that I leave it alone. She loved that one hand was like her small one, and one was like her then-fiance’s much larger one (he’s 6’4”)…serendipity! So now I really understand what Rayna means when she says “There are no mistakes!”
What are your favorite fabrics to work with?
Way too many great fabric designers and collections to single any out! I’ve also recently become enamored of hand dyes such as those from Cherrywood Fabrics.

Where do you sew? What is your workspace like? What kind of machine do you use?
I use a Janome Horizon Memory Craft 7700 QCP which I absolutely love. Well worth the investment if only for the stitch quality and built in dual feed device. The one drawback is that it weighs a ton, so I just bought a tiny Janome Jem to bring to classes.

My workplace is my dining area. Luckily I live alone, but unluckily the bins of fabric and projects are overrunning my little apartment. Not that that makes me unhappy – far from it! Sure, it’s messy but it makes me so happy to be surrounded by what I love! My fabrics are in plastic bins (cat-proof!) on shelves and all my millions of books and magazines are all in the dining room too. The dining room table is large, and I can leave my cutting mat and sewing machine up at all times. I also have a “Big Board” ironing board – also a great investment. It is placed perpendicular to the dining room table and has made it possible for me to work much more efficiently. Just bought a portable design wall – I hope that proves to be less interesting to the cats then the flannel I had hanging on one wall! 

What is your favorite part of the quilting process? What is your least favorite?
Though I actually love all the parts of the process, my favorite is design. Because I had so much technique catching up to do, I really haven’t given myself much time to do it. I guess I felt that I had to be actively sewing during my quilting time. Now that my skill level is so much improved, I’m committed to spending more time on design. I am a great fan of the Electric Quilt software, btw, and will be working on mastering that as a design tool over the next year.

What are your favorite quilt-related websites? Books?

Wow – this is really hard since there is so much great info out there now.
Websites and blogs
    •    True Up – a blog devoted to fabric - – by Kim Knight
    •    The Electric Quilt blog -  - always fun project and quilt ideas, EQ7 info
    •    EQ community site -
    •    Missouri Star Quilt Co site – like their tutorials for easy projects -
    •    E-mails from Christine Barnes – color expert – sign up for e-mails on her web site;
    •    JWD pattern company blog – lots of inspiration and interesting articles - Joen Wolfrom
    •    Weeks Ringle’s blog -
    •    eQuilter newsletters – you can sign up on their site – lots of info re new fabric lines coming out – the couple who owns eQuilter do a lot of community outreach
    •    Quilters’ Newsletter blog -
    •    Also, the Quilters’ Newsletter site has free TV episodes
    •    Fons & Porter site also has link to lots of TV episodes – you can pay a small annual fee to get access to all of them
    •    Wendy Sheppard’s blog - she is the most prolific quilter imaginable. Seems like she makes a quilt a day! Lots of free patterns too.
    •    Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s blog

    •    Anything by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr – they teach concepts, they don’t just spoon-feed how-tos. They are also aiming to create heirloom modern quilts incorporating excellent craftsmanship and materials.
    •    The Quilter’s Color Club – Christine Barnes
    •    Any of Rayna Gilman’s books
    •    We Love Color – Susanne Woods
    •    Anything by Ruth McDowell (I love how she tells you her thought processes)
    •    Gee’s Bend – The Architecture of the Quilt
    •    Finally, the bible for craftsmanship - The 4 volume (thus far) Quilter’s Academy series by Harriett Hartman. Though I don’t actually practice half what Harriett recommends, at least I am doing it from the standpoint of knowledge, and I have great respect for her.

    •    Quilters’ Newsletter – has both traditional and modern quilts
    •    Modern Quilts Illustrated by Weeks RIngle and Bill Kerr – each tiny issue is a jewel. The patterns are impeccably prepared.
    •    Quilting Arts
    •    The Quilt Life
    •    American Quilter
Do you have a blog or online photo album of your work?
Not yet, but maybe this year!

What are you working on now?
In collaboration with one of my sisters and a friend I’m making a quilt for the Hurricane Sandy relief drive organized by Since we are geographically dispersed (northern NJ, central NJ and PA), we decided to try doing a quilt-as-you-go log cabin quilt. It is turning out well, but (imho) it is more work than actually quilting! The design is a traditional Log Cabin which we thought would be quick and “safer” – i.e., that it would, possibly, be more universally accepted/appreciated given that we have no idea who the recipient will be.

I just finished up a bunch of Christmas-gift sewing projects – A-line skirt, tree skirt, coasters, minky scarves, flannel PJ bottoms, etc. I learned something new with each and used lots of new types of fabrics for me (minky, flannel, silk, etc.) – all things I can apply to my quilt making.

As I mentioned earlier, I am finishing up 4 BOM quilts. One was an online Craftsy class taught by Amy Gibson; the other 3 were run by Pennington Quilt Works. These were great because each block taught me a new, “modern” technique. The 3 for Pennington were all the same blocks, in different colorways – which turned out to be helpful because it often took me 3 times to get the hang of it! All the blocks for those tops will be finished over the next few weeks. Then I’ll have to figure out the settings I want and how to actually quilt those babies!
I’ve signed up for a Craftsy class given by Leah Day to quilt the Craftsy BOM on my home machine – free motion quilting. Will use what I learned to finish the other 3 as well. Also plan to use EQ7 to design the settings for the 3 Pennington BOMs.

I have almost finished designing a quilt for the Rock Paper Scissors Newbies quilting group, using all solids. It is based on a Jacquie Gering design in We Love Color, but incorporating the transparency techniques from the RIngle/Kerr book Transparencies.

I am about 1/3 finished piecing a quilt top using a ripless paper piecing technique I learned in an online class on, taught by Daphne Greig. I designed this quilt using EQ7 and I love how it’s coming out so far. Has a sort of Deco-ish feel to it I think, unplanned of course.

I’m continuing taking courses, mostly online (currently courses by Leah Day, Weeks Ringle and Jean Wells). Gotta love the Internet! How else could I possibly take courses from so many talented people! In addition, I’ve signed up for some in-person courses via the Garden State Quilters guild and a few at the Quilt Festival of New Jersey. I’m also taking a ½ day class at the “Quilting in the Desert” quilt camp in Scottsdale, Arizona – that was all I could squeeze in during a visit to one of my sisters out there. (Rayna is teaching a 5-day course at this camp too.)

My major goals for the the year are: mastering EQ7, learning Adobe Photo Shop Elements (I have a photographer friend who’d like to work in collaboration on quilts based on his photographs), and learning to quilt well on my home machine. I’m also considering taking a long arm quilting class at Olde City Quilts in Burlington. At some point, maybe not this year but the year after, I’d like to try my hand at teaching or writing – I get very excited about sharing what I have learned with other quilters!
So…I am very, very busy and loving every minute of it! I feel a great sense of accomplishment with each new thing I learn to do well. I want to get to the point where if I can imagine it, I can make it – so I need to keep learning every day, with every project.
I have a sign on my fridge which I think sums up my wish for myself and all of you:
May the work of your hands delight your soul!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

As we enter the week of 2013, I have to wonder how many of you actually make New Year's Quilting Resolutions and how many of those will actually become reality?  Did anyone make a resolution to make more quilts, or to at least make modern quilts?  Did you promise yourself that you wouldn't buy any more fabric or supplies until you use of at least some of what you already own?  Did you decide if you would finish up those UFO's from years past before starting new projects? 

I wish I could say that all of the above was true for me.  I would love to finish up all my old, incomplete quilting projects before starting new ones, but, life events get in the way of that and I know that I will need to start some unplanned project due to the early birth of a friends baby, or some technique that catches my eye that I want to try myself.  And the reality is that I have so many UFOs and unquilted tops that it would take me most of 2013 to finish these up before I could make anything new.  Okay, so maybe I should just strive to finish up one UFO per month and at the end of the year, I'd be down 12 UFOs.  That sounds like a reasonable goal to try and reach.

I did promise myself I would make more charity quilts this year than I have in the past two years. This is a dual purpose promise.  1)  It will help me reduce my stash to a more manageable level.
2)  It will help me reach my charitable giving goal for the year in the textile department.  I have been doing a litle research on the some of the local charities that I could select as recipients and was surprised that so many of them exist today.  I also promised myself to donate some of my fabric stash to organizations or other persons that will make quilts for charity.  I've even agreed to teach a quilting workshop to the local girl scout troop in March.  If I can inspire even one little girl to love the needle half as much as I do, then I will be a happy camper.  If nothing else, they will at least earn their sewing badges that month!

One other thing I have set a goal to do is to start blogging on a regular basis and share my thoughts and ideas with others.  This is a new world to me and would you laugh at me if I told you I just started to learn how to 'twitter' this past weekend?  My tweets were not quilting related, but it was an attempt to keep track of the scores at a distant college gymnastics meet in which my favorite gymnast was competing. 

Back in the quilting world, I am going to try and make more original design quilts and far fewer commercial or traditional patterns.   There are hundreds of ideas rolling around in this head of mine.  Far too few of them become actual finished projects.  My best works so far have been those quilts that I made from my own ideas and this will be the primary focus of my stitching growth for 2013.

Hanging by a thread--Diane

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A new year,  an essay contest worth entering!  Go to the national MQG website to find out the details!!
If you're a Kaffe Fasett fan you'll want to enter.