Thursday, July 24, 2014

Creative Blocks

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” 
 Maya Angelou

This month I had the opportunity to speak at the Westside Modern Quilt Club, a group of quilters who meet at the Pine Needle quilt shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The theme of my presentation centered on design and creative process. I spoke about inspiration and how I came up with ideas for quilts and quilt blocks. As I was speaking I passed around a basket of white charm squares and asked folks to write me a message. I suggested it could be a thought about sewing or a statement about inspiration or they could just simply sign their name or draw me a picture.

My plan was to take their creative thoughts and create a series of 'creative blocks!' A few quilters I know have been building versions of friendship quilts: asking for signatures or quotes on small blocks to assemble into a larger piece. I was inspired to make one of my own! I took the blocks from the presentation and added "stitch and flip triangles" on the corners with scraps from my Color Carnival quilt. I first learned this technique from Katy Pederson aka Sew Katy Did.

Going through a creative block can be real and frustrating experience. As a professional artist and designer I have learned techniques to power through those blank moments in order to finish jobs, meet deadlines and still do my best work. Creative blocks are a real thing, no doubt about that. From now on I am on a mission to collect them -- or at least this version of them! 

Thanks Westside Modern for inspiring this fun idea! And thank you to Generation Q Magazine for donating issues for everyone who came to the meeting. That was incredibly generous and folks were super excited about it!

Have machine, will travel.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Color Carnival Row-Along Rows 1-3

I am so excited to have my Color Carnival quilt featured in Generation Q Magazine this month! I put together my favorite piecing techniques, gave them each a little twist and named them after my favorite carnival rides. 
The GenQ quilt-holding team: me, ScottTracy and Bev.

Each week in July the instructions for the next row will be revealed. I arranged the rows in color order which was inspired by Marie from Cool Cottons. All of the blocks were made with Dear STELLA Confetti Dots. I twisted the arm of the uber talented Rachel aka 2nd Ave. Studios to work her magic and quilt it. Do I feel lucky? Why yes I do!

Here are the instructions first three rows:

Row 1: Tilt-a-Whirl
Row 2: Log Ride
Row 3: The Scrambler

GenQ cover pup! (Thanks Tfairy for the great photo!)
How about that cute dog on the cover! That is Ryder - my 5 year old yellow lab. We adopted him after he was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes (Type 1) at 3 months old. Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune disease and unlike type 2 diabetes there is no cure. Ryder is insulin dependent and gets multiple daily injections. To be honest, raising a puppy was much harder than managing his diabetes! He is a great guy and I am thrilled that he is the July cover model!

Stay tuned for the next rows and a give-away!

Have Machine, Will Travel -

Monday, May 26, 2014

Shoreline Throw

Maui was fresh on my mind when I got the Stitch Summer call for projects. My family had just taken a trip there and I had several quilt ideas in mind when I came back. When I saw that one of the issue themes was Maui that I knew I had to get to work!
I thought about the colors of Maui: there was the clear blue sea, green shady palms and sun bleached sand. I wanted to design something that was graphic with an Island feel. I had recently seen the Mosaic Collection by Marcia Derse for Windham and knew I wanted to use her fabrics for this project!

I started playing around with a half-square triangle technique where you slice up the HST and then rearrange the slices to form a new block. By rotating that block and making mirror-image versions I could create the diagonal zig-zag shape across the quilt. It took some brain power to figure out the layout and I admit I made quite a few blocks that I ended up not using, but I think the result is really exciting!

I quilted it on a BERNINA 710 which we have on a quilt frame at Modern Domestic. I drew rows of 'Es' and 'Ms'  -- I was going for a traditional Hawaiian Kapa cloth feel. The whole time I was working on it I was thinking about how it would look in the bright Hawaiian light. The colors had to be strong and vivid and the design had to have movement that felt like the wind on the north shore or the waves washing up on the sand. When I look at it now I think it has a bit on an 80s surfer-vibe which is totally awesome and something I hadn't planned on happening!
Imagine a version of this in hot pink and lime green! Wouldn't that be stunning? The magazine pattern I wrote is for a throw size, but it would be easy enough to build it out to a full or queen by increasing the number of blocks. Meanwhile I am going to go make a Mai Tai and dream about the next time I get to visit our 50th state. 


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sewing Onions

"...because sometimes sewing makes you cry"

Here is what happens when you haven't admitted that you really do need to wear glasses all the time.  

Tracy writes, "I need sewing minions"

I respond, "Sewing onions? What are those? I want one!"
Tracy corrects, "Um... minions, honey, not onions."

Which of course sends me into ridiculous fits of laughter! As we continued to banter I decided I would bring the sewing onion to life. I drew this cute little Kawaii-inspired onion and I came up with a tag line:

"Sewing Onions, because sometimes sewing makes you cry..."

I loved my little sewing onion so much that I made pins (aka lanard swag) to bring to my Sm'ass bee mates at market. They were a big hit! Several folks suggested a sewing onion was the next generation of those cute little tomato pincushions. Of course I have to make that now too. Once I get back on my feet after my sixteen page 'to-do' list from Pittsburgh I am going to draw a cute little Spoonflower Sewing Onion print with tears and seam rippers. I drew a red onion version too - on tiny red pin dots. It is so dang cute it's killin' me!

I gave away all the pins  but I plan to get a new batch or two over at Portland Button Works - who are pretty much the most awesome button makers in the universe. Until then, feel free to grab my onion and post it on your blog! 

Have machine, will travel.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Creativebug Giveaway Winner!

Giveaway day is so much fun! I have enjoyed reading all your thoughtful comments. I wish I could give each of you a three month subscription!

Without further ado, the lucky winner is:

#71 TexasQuiltingGal

Congrats! I have sent you an email and please reply to claim your prize. Thank you all for visiting my blog
Stay in touch,


Have machine, will travel.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Creativebug Log Cabin Quilting with Susan Beal Give-Away

It is Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day and I have a three month membership to Creativebug to giveaway! You can take any classes you want, as many times as you want for three months! How cool is that! Just leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite sewing or quilting class. My favorite class was Susan Beal's Log Cabin Quilting, which I took several years ago when she taught it at PNCA. Now she has a new version of this fab class on Creativebug!
Creativebug's Log Cabin Quilting with Susan Beal is a super fun, four-part on-line class -- the first class goes live on May 6, and new classes premiere every Tuesday all month. After that the class will be available to watch any time with a membership. This is week two and her Log Cabin Baby Quilt class is premiering on Tuesday May 13th.
I can't wait to watch this class! I spent an afternoon helping Susan sew blocks for this quilt and I can't help but feel a little mushy that my hands were involved in getting to stitch this together! I love how she set this off-center and how there are little pops of pink to really make this bright and cheery!
Each class is going to include a live chat at 11am Pacific time with Susan on the Thursday after it premiers. There are lots more details on the class page with the dates, times and supply lists. .
Here is a little trailer for Susan's class. If you watch closely, you just might see me for a quick second over at Modern Domestic with Heather Davidson. I am feeling pretty lucky to have been a part of this fun project. And congrats to Susan on this really fun class! Check out Susan's facebook page and #cbuglogcabin on Instagram for fun posts and announcements. 
P.S. I will ship anywhere, because this giveaway can be emailed! 
P.S.S I read each and every comment but I don't respond until after the drawing - that way I get an accurate count! Good luck everyone!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Stitch ‘N Swap Blog Party!

I can't believe it has almost been a year since I began working with Generation Q Magazine. It was a memorable first week, that is for sure! I was at Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon, freelancing as a writer for a blog, working at the Pendleton Booth, organizing a party for PMQG at Modern Domestic and on the floor learning the ropes of selling advertising. Oh, did I mention I also did a half-marathon that weekend? Literally. I did 13.1 to raise money for Type 1 diabetes. It was a bit nuts. 
At the end of that weekend, Jake asked me if I would like to contribute a project for Stitch 'N Swap - and since I was on a crazy adreneline high, of course I said yes! I'm glad I did, because I am super excited to be part of this book! We have been having a little blog party to celebrate and there are some crazy-talented folks participating! The book releases on May 19th, 2014 and you can get signed copies from GenQ here!

And what's a blog party without a little give-away? GenQ is giving away three copies of the book to winners drawn randomly from commenting on THIS post. If you live in the U.S., you’ll win a hard copy of the book. If you live outside the U.S., you’ll get a digital version. Winners will be selected on Thursday, May 8, around "noonish New York time".
My contribution to Stitch 'N Swap is a three piece sewing kit. There is a needle book, a rotary cutter-holder and a drawstring bag to fill up with goodies. There are some really super ideas in the book. Each project has instructions as well as swap ideas! I really love Heather Jones Beach Glass Pillow Top. The colors are so pretty and it would be fun to do a favorite-color pillow swap (that is my twist on the swap ideas!) and there are some other great suggestions in the book too.
I will be at quilt market this year with the GenQ team and I am looking forward to it. I vowed that I would simplify my goals, so I will only have one job while I am there and I won't be running a half-marathon. Well, not literally anyway...!

Have Machine, Will Travel
-- Michelle

Monday, March 31, 2014

I Left my Heart (Quilt) in DC

Twice a year I travel to Washington, DC to advocate for funding for the Special Diabetes Program, which funds research for Type 1 diabetes. Since 2009 I have been volunteering with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Advocacy team. My staff partner from DC announced he had accepted a new position in the company and I also knew he was expecting his second daughter, so I decided to make him a little congratulations quilt.

My friend and co-worker Annie designed this sweet little heart quilt (you can get her free pattern at Cool Cottons) and I knew it would be the perfect project for DC. I also couldn't wait to use the BERNINA 820 that I have been borrowing from Modern Domestic to piece and quilt it.
I finished binding the quilt on the plane, which made the trip go by fast. This time I pinned my thread to my sewing kit. It was one of those things I learned the hard-way after I dropped my thread during a previous flight and watched helplessly as it rolled down the aisle and under a seat and I wasn't able to retrieve it until we landed... (that makes me think of that meatball song - you know the one!)
I snapped a quick photo in my hotel room before I gave the quilt away. It is fun to share my quilting side with my Advocacy friends. I promised to bring a sewing machine next time and give sewing lessons in the bar. I can't imagine what ridiculousness that would be!
The trip was successful and I brought home a few souvenirs (these pens are priceless!) The Senate is voting on the Special Diabetes Program as I type this post. My fingers are crossed that our funding is renewed for another five years. 

*Update - the SDP was renewed for one year yesterday as a part of the 'doc fix' and the President (yes, that President!) is expected to sign it into law today! I am so relieved. Losing this funding would be devastating for important research and for the diabetes community. I have decided to make another heart quilt to celebrate this good news - this time for our JDRF auction. Off to get fabrics!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Trip Around the Sun Quilt

I am excited to share my new free quilt pattern 'Trip Around the Sun' The pattern for this quilt will be available at Cool Cottons and the quilt will be hanging there in March. This is my second quilt I have made for Marie. The first one was a quilt called  'Off the Wall' that I made way back in 2011. You know those quilts you wish you had never given away? Off the Wall was one of them...
Trip Around the Sun soaking up the rays
For this quilt you use 5 different 1/8 yard cuts of analogous colors (colors that are next to each other on the color wheel) and a solid neutral. The initial blocks are pieced together using the method made popular by Bonnie Hunter for her Scrappy Trip Around the World, which sparked the #scrappytripalong Instagram craze at the beginning of 2012. I added my own little twist and voila: the Trip Around the Sun was created! 
I heart FMQ and making pebbles with the BSR
I have been borrowing a Bernina 820 from the generous crew at Modern Domestic and I have been learning how to drive it. The big areas of negative space were crying out for me to be brave and use that BSR. It was completely hypnotizing to draw all those little circles. I can't wait to practice some more!
Trip Around the Sun basking in the glory
One fun thing about this quilt is that you can easily increase the size of the quilt by making more pairs of blocks. I am planning to start collecting blue fabrics for a project that has a deadline in April. Oh, and the name of this quilt was inspired by the Montessori tradition of celebrating birthdays by 'walking around the sun' and maybe a little bit by the Jimmy Buffet song of the same name. It is a gift for my sister's best friend who is expecting her first baby in March.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quilt! Knit! Stitch!™ Modern Metallic

Last spring I participated in a brainstorm session with the show producers for Quilt! Knit! Stitch!™ They were interested in showcasing an exhibit of modern quilts from the Pacific NW MQG Meetup Guilds at their event in Portland, OR in August 2014. I thought about what trends excited me and what would be inspiring and different and also what would represent the Pacific NW. Together we arrived at the Modern Metallic challenge.  
Robert Kaufman Quilter's Metallic fabrics available for Modern Metallic
Here are the details for this exciting special exhibit:

Quilt! Knit! Stitch!™ presented by International Quilt Festival will be presenting Modern Metallic at our show in Portland this summer. This exhibit will premiere at Quilt!Knit!Stitch!™, August 14-16, 2014.
Modern Metallic will showcase modern quilts made by members of Modern Quilt Guilds in the Pacific Northwest. Quilters are encouraged to feature the use of metallic design details including but not limited to fabric, thread, and themes.  

Follow this link for more information:

Modern Metallic is sponsored by Robert Kaufman. Robert Kaufman is offering participating guilds gorgeous fabric from their new Quilter's Metallic Collections: Quilter's Tussah, Quilter's Linen, and Quilter's Burlap. Leave me a comment if you want more information about participating and how to get fabric for your guild. And make sure to tag your posts so we can see all the beautiful things you make! #robertkaufman #quilterstussah #quilterslinen #quiltersburlap