Join me at Empty Spools…

I am teaching a 5-day Independent Study class, March 19-24, during Session III of the Empty Spools Seminar. Empty Spools Seminars are held at Asilomar, a wonderful facility on the Monterey Peninsula. There are a variety of classes taught during each session.

In my independent study class you are free to work on anything, not just appliqué. Your project can be art or traditional, hand or machine sewn, pieced or appliquéd. Draft a new quilt from scratch or work from a pattern. I am there to help you with any questions or problems you might have. Click here and here to see what students did in my 2016 and 2015 Independent Study classes.

This is one of my favorite classes. The room is always happy and full of energy. Asilomar is one of the prettiest places on the planet. There are still some openings in this year’s class and I encourage you to join me :-). Click here to go to Empty Spools.

Independent Study Class - 2016

Independent Study Class – 2016

Ask, and you might receive…

I learned a lot from watching this TED Talk by Jia Jiang. He thought about what made him fearful (rejection) and he figured out how to overcome it. His experience makes you realize, yet again, that we are for the most part good and giving people, willing to help each other. Enjoy!

He did it!

I remember when our oldest son, Christopher, first went to school. He was cute, and smart, and on the quiet and serious side.

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We were proud of him then and we are proud of him today, on his last day of school*. He has successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at SMU. Oh happy, happy, very happy day!

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This was a long time coming. Chris and Lorna have had 3 children, bought and remodeled a house, and worked hard to survive during his journey through higher education. Steve and I are proud of his achievement on every level. Way to go, son!

*Chris’s area of study is the long 18th century of British literature. His dissertation is currently titled Primal Filth. I have not yet read it, but Chris is an excellent writer so I expect to be entertained.

Weeding tips…

anudge asked for tips on how I weeded out my stash. Here goes:

I used to keep my linen, vintage, hand-dyes, etc., in their own separate groups. I realized that I forgot about them when I was pulling fabrics for a quilt so I decided to merge all of my fabric.

I emptied the top shelf in my closet. I worked standing up at the long dresser in the bedroom where my fabric lives. I worked with one stack of at a time. I touched every fabric and decided to keep it, or not. The ‘nots’ went into bags.

The keepers were sorted into stacks of solids, lights, mediums, or darks. Where it made sense, I grouped similar shades of a color together. For example I have yellow-greens in one stack and blue-greens in another. I know that my stacks are going to eventually get messed up so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on this.

Next I pulled my ‘special’ fabrics, sorted them and added them to the cottons in the closet. 1-yard big print pieces that will be used for backings are still separate.

Fabric Weeding 4

Let me show you how it works with a much smaller group of fabrics. The back story is that I have been inspired by friends to work on a quilt using Liberty of London fabric. My friend, Kathy (hi Kathy!) sent me a fat quarter bundle from the Liberty shop in London — how cool is that! I do love these fabrics from the bundle…

I don’t love these 4 fabrics. If they were just plain old fabrics in my stash, they’d be gone.

But I’m going to make a Liberty of London quilt and can’t afford to be picky! Plus all the fabrics in the bundle actually do play well together. (It goes to show that you can make just about any fabric work, but that’s another story.)

And the bundle fabrics look really good with my other Liberties…

So what does this mean? It means that there are some fabrics I like and some that I like less. When I have too much fabric, I have to decide what no longer fits. Making decisions is hard and it can wear you out if you over-think it. So I don’t think too much as I’m sorting. I put the cast-offs in a bag so that I’m not tempted to bring them back.

If you have more fabric than I do (and that’s a real possibility) I would suggest tackling one color at a time. If you start with yellow, pull all of your yellows, from everywhere. Put them on a big table or bed. Work through them. Put your tidy stacks on the shelves, ignore the cast-offs, move on to the next color. Don’t give up (you’ll be tempted). Power through it, you’ll be glad you did

 

Weeding out your stash…

My color lecture always includes the suggestion that it’s important to weed out your fabric stash. This idea is often met with skepticism, but it’s something I learned from Linda long ago and I stand by it. I usually weed out my stash once a year and/or when there is lots of fabric stacked on the floor.

Fabric Weeding 1

There’s more fabric on the floor than you can see here.

The shelves inside this closet are about 5′ wide — you can’t see the far ends of the shelves unless you are in the doorway. There are shallow shelves inside, to the left of the door that face the main shelves that also held fabric.

I arrange my fabric by color and value. Over time, however, the values get mixed up and the colors don’t always end up in the right place. The fabric is squeezed between the shelves so tightly in places that it was hard to get to it.

With the unicorn quilts finished last Friday, I turned my attention to this project. Over the course of 2 days, I removed 44 lbs of fabric from my stash.

Fabric Weeding 3

Here’s my newly-clean stash:

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I didn’t stop with the closet. I also cleaned out drawers with hand-dyed and hand painted fabric, vintage fabric, silks, and more. I found appliqué blocks that I don’t have any idea what to do with, and more. So much more that I’m going to have an online Studio Sale next Tuesday morning, January 10. I’ll send a newsletter* reminder. I’ll also put a Studio Sale link in the menu bar that Tuesday morning at pieceocake.com.

*If you aren’t on my newsletter list, go to pieceocake.com, scroll to the bottom of the page, and sign up in the newsletter box.

Now that this job is done, I get to think about what’s next. I’m excited!

Happy new year!

Have you wondered where I’ve been? The short story is that I have been chained to my sewing machines. Well, not really ‘chained’, it only felt that way because I was on a very tight deadline.

Last summer when we were in Germany with the kids, Celia (DIL) asked me to make her a special, magical quilt — for Christmas. That was in July.

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Do you know what makes a quilt magical? A unicorn! Yup, that’s right, she asked me to make her a unicorn quilt. Celia doesn’t make quilt requests often, so I said “Sure, I can do that!”.

I was traveling a teaching a lot, but I got to work on it late August. Once it was drawn and on the wall in September I realized that this really is a magical quilt and that others would want the pattern. C&T agreed to publish it (next spring) but they wanted to show it in more than 1 size, with and without a border. That meant I needed to make a 2nd quilt. Again, I said I could do that without really thinking through the time it would take.

As it turns out, having 2 quilts in the pattern is better. I met my deadline for everything (2 quilts, the manuscript, the models for photography, etc.) with a few days to spare.

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Celia got to see her quilts on Christmas morning and she truly did have a tear in her eye. I can’t show more of the quilt because I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but trust me when I tell you that you are going to want to make a unicorn quilt of your own this spring :-).

My year is off to a very good start and I hope yours is as well!