My Quilt Story

Are you familiar with the Quilt Story blog? Every few days they feature a quilt and it’s story (gee, is it that obvious?). There have been some beautiful quilts and fantastic stories, and it started me thinking… I think the story behind my Neapolitan quilt is worth sharing, and I’m pretty darn proud of the quilt, too. I submitted a link to my recent Neapolitan blog post, and in just a day or two I had a response. They were interested in my quilt and liked the story, but they needed more photos. (Just what I love in a quilt blog – lots and lots of photos!) I promised more photos the next morning, and (practically) first thing I hauled it outside and proceeded to drape it over everything in sight. We have a beautiful garden (maintained entirely by my mom – hi Mom!), and I love taking photos of quilts out there. Once I sent the link to the pictures, I waited impatiently until they confirmed that they were going to feature my quilt. Woohoo! Today I received an email with the feature date – Monday, July 5th! For two days, it will be the featured quilt. If you’d like to check out my quilt, just click the link above to go to the site on July 5th and it will be the first entry. I’ll add a link to the individual post later.

Be sure to check out the many other wonderful quilts featured! And you can see all of the Neapolitan garden photos in my Neapolitan Flickr set.

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Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Spring 2010

Amy is hosting the third Blogger’s Quilt Festival from May 21 – May 28. It’s not too late to join, so click on over to check it out. She already has links for over 450 entries – places you can click to see what other quilters are doing. I love the quilting/crafting blog community!

My entry is my Neapolitan quilt.

Neapolitan quilt crop

In July 2008 I was out of work, out of money, and out of my mind. Out of my mind in the sense that I was dealing with anxiety and depression, and I couldn’t get my head around much of anything. I wasn’t sewing, wasn’t doing much of anything but sitting in a recliner and reading. I think I read about 50 books in 3 weeks. It wasn’t good. One day I decided it was time to change, so I gave myself a task, something that required attention to detail and focus, but had no real consequences if I failed. I decided to design and sew a complex quilt block. Using EQ6, I came up with a block that I named Anxiety. It opened me up to the possibilities of quilting as therapy, and I pushed on to design the quilt above. It is a modified log cabin, with different widths for the cream and the pink strips. I added a half-rectangle triangle on the ends of the strips, popped the block into a quilt using EQ6, then started rotating blocks using the Serendipity tool. When this arrangement appeared, I thought I might be onto something. I printed it out and carried it around with me for a while. A week or so later I was at a local quilt shop (I was helping with her website and writing patterns for her to pick up a little extra money), and showed her the illustration. She liked it enough to offer me the fabric if I would write up a pattern! She gave me the fabric to make the sample quilt, and then she kept the sample until all of the kits that she made for it were sold. I used a new line that had just arrived in her store – In the Pink II from Buggy Barn for Henry Glass. The fabric reminded me of Neapolitan ice cream, hence the name. I finished the blocks in just over two weeks, and finished the entire quilt in less than a month. (That’s possibly a record for me, since I am a terrible procrastinator.) There were a few issues here and there (thread choices, anyone?), but looking back, I realize that this quilt is full of firsts for me. It’s my first original design, my first pieced back, my first pattern, my first quilt on public display (and it was on display in the vendor booth at a large quilt show, the Wisconsin Quilt Expo), my first experiment with free motion leaves, the first completed quilt I posted on this blog and the first quilt pattern I listed on Etsy.

I love this quilt. It isn’t huge – 63″ square – but it’s big enough to throw over a lap. Best of all, it’s MINE – mine from the conception to the reality. Here are a few variations from EQ6 – I still might make another one (I really love the blue/green and black/red ones).

Neapolitan Variation 1 Neapolitan variation 2 Neapolitan variation 3 Neapolitan variation 4 Neapolitan version 5 Neapolitan variation 6 Neapolitan variation 7

Catching Up

I’ve fallen out of the habit of blogging recently, and I really need to get back into it. I think it’s a little bit of that old anxiety coming back. It’s so easy to let things drift, even when I have all sorts of interesting things going on. So, in the interest of putting my head back on straight, here’s what happened recently:

The monthly stitch & bitch session was a big hit this time around, as it included three aunts, a mom, a friend, and my aunt’s daughter’s husband’s mother. Seven of us crammed into our basement and talked, sewed (although not as much as we should have!), and scarfed down some really incredible coffee cake. Hmm… gonna have to use that recipe in a future pattern.

Speaking of patterns, my blog was listed on a quilt pattern site and today’s traffic increased to more than 10 times the number of hits I had yesterday. Um, thanks! I don’t know where it came from, but it’s pretty cool to see that almost 1200 people looked at my blog today. I even had a couple of people ask about my patterns, prompting me to renew my Neapolitan pattern and list the Basket Case and Icicles patterns on Etsy. If you’re interested, you can check them out at my Etsy shop.
Icicles Neapolitan quilt Basket Case Buttercup 1

Another thing we discussed on Saturday was our next “meeting.” We’ve been getting together on the second Saturday of every month, and the April gathering happens to fall on the Saturday of the International Quilt Festival in Chicago (Rosemont, IL). Mom and I have attended every one except the first, and even though funds are tight, we’ll be going to this one, too. It helps that it’s just a short hour and a half-ish drive from our house. Six of us will be joining up and sharing gas money for an all day quilt extravaganza. (Should that have been in caps?) If you haven’t been to the show and it’s even remotely within your driving range and/or budget, I strongly recommend to go. Set a spending limit, though, because there are enough vendors there to give even the most disciplined quilter a case of credit card wrist. And please, do me a favor – don’t wear a backpack. It’s a snug fit on Saturday, and even though quilters are some of the nicest shoppers, it’s still annoying to get smacked by an over-enthusiastically wielded backpack.

We’re still working on blocks (make that whole quilts) for the Bushfire Quilt Project. I’m not as inspired by the Wonky Stars as I’d hoped to be, so I’m trying some other things, possibly in combination with the stars we have finished. I expect to have at least a couple of completed quilts to send to Tia in the next week or two.

However, I AM inspired to finished my Family Star Block of the Month quilt. Why am I inspired? Because my mom finished her quilt yesterday! Well, it’s all done except the binding, and it’s amazing. Now we’re thinking about next year’s BOM (of course we decided to do another one), and we’ve pretty much decided on a basket theme. Time to get planning!

Big weekend plans

This weekend is the Wisconsin Quilt Expo in Madison – actually, it started Thursday, but we’re spending the day there tomorrow. If anyone is within a reasonable drive of Madison, I highly recommend this show. This is only its fourth year, but they’re done a wonderful job organizing it. The vendor mall is 75,000 square feet – large enough that you can spend a full day, but not so large that you miss half of the vendors because you’re racing through the aisles to finish before they shut off the lights. They have very good food available – much better than the big show in Chicago. There’s the usual pretzels and hotdogs, but they also have several small carts with pastries, coffee, ice cream. Best of all, they have an affordable, nicely catered buffet with a variety of hot dishes, salads, and sandwiches.

Don’t forget about the classes! They have 3 hour sit and sew workshops for $30 (plus the pattern or book) where you can play with various machines and make cute, fast projects. For only $10 you can attend a one hour lecture on just about any subject imaginable. Their instructors include names you will recognize: Sharlene Jorgenson, Kaye Wood, Jennifer Chiaverini, Billie Lauter, Nancy Zieman and Eleanor Burns, to name just a few. The Expo runs through Sunday and they are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can find more info here:
http://www.wpt.org/quiltexpo/

For more details on the lectures and stage presentations, scroll down and click the 2008 Advance Registration Guide (PDF Format) link (or just click this link!).

And, if you’re going to be there be sure to check out my Neapolitan quilt at the Loose Threads booth!

In other news, is it weird that I’m competitive at my temporary assembly job? (Notice that I always preface it with “temporary”?!) I don’t want to continue any longer than I absolutely have to, although when I’m there and working on a larger job I can zone out and I don’t mind the work. My hands hurt, my back and feet hurt, and I still can’t get the grease off of my fingers, but I’m pleased when I get a job that I can do well. I check the baseline rate and try to beat it, and I’m all “woohoo!” when I do.

Butterflies

Oh, my stomach is churning. Nerves, you know. I just created an Etsy account and listed the Neapolitan quilt pattern for sale. Why does this make me so nervous? I don’t want to shove my Etsy stuff down everyone’s throat, so I’ll just mention it here and then drop the subject. Except, of course, if I actually sell something, and then I’ll have to come crow about it just a little.

The pink and brown butterflies aren’t the only ones fluttering around in my belly. I also have job butterflies – big ugly black ones with beaks and scary red eyes on their wings. And claws. Talons. Hey, they’re my butterflies, they can have talons if they want! My cousin’s workplace is looking for temporary assemblers, so I applied, interviewed, and toured the facility. It isn’t difficult work, and the people seem nice, but it is SO not what I’m familiar with. The pay is adequate, although I have to drive to Madison, about an hour each way. That’s a big deal when you’re accustomed to a 13 minute commute. It certainly isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life, but right now I need the money and it’s a perfectly respectable job. I’m nervous about doing something new, though. That’s always been difficult for me. Not change, but doing something with which I have no experience. I hate feeling stupid. I’ve avoided a lot of things because of this, and I’m trying to force myself past it. I will know if I get the job in the next couple of days, I think. They sent me to a local clinic for a pre-employment drug test and physical, and once they get the results, they’ll let me know. The drug test isn’t a problem – geez, I’ve never even had a full glass of wine or smoked so much as a cigarette my whole life! The doc told me I passed the physical, too.

Finally, I signed up with ANOTHER employment agency today. They also said the jobs were slow to come in, but thought that it would pick up as the college kids went back to school and employers started looking for help. I’d take temp work right now, just to stay in the area. I figure I could take a job in town that paid $2 per hour less than the one in Madison and still come out about the same. My car gets decent gas mileage, but that’s still a lot of driving.

It’s official

The Neapolitan quilt is finished and has been turned over to the quilt shop. I’ve printed and folded and stuffed and punched the patterns. They’re working on kitting it up – most of it has already been cut, but they needed to add a couple of pieces. Best of all, she has confirmed that they will be taking the quilt, the kits, and a couple extra patterns to Quilt Expo in Madison, WI in September! Woohoo!

Now I’m on to my next project, called Basket Case. Mom is going to do the sample for this one since I need to focus on my string blocks for the Summer Stash Challenge. I also need to finish up the website I’m working on for my brother’s boss. I’ve been putting that off for far too long.

Then I can finally get back to new quilt ideas! For some reason I’m really driven by names. I like the naming of the pattern almost as much as designing it. For Basket Case, the name prompted the design, and I have another idea in my head for a simple batik quilt called Sweet Potato Fries. I think that will be my next project. I also want to build a quilt around my Anxiety block.

I just read in Camille Roskelley’s blog, Simplify, that their Cotton Blossoms fabric line has just been released. This is one of my favorite new lines and I hope to be able to work with it. Since I’m not allowed to buy any new fabric, that means I hope I can put together a great pattern and the quilt shop owner will suggest I make a sample quilt!

Oh, back to Basket Case – Mom and I dug through my stash and pulled tons of fabric, but nothing really jumped out at us. (Now my stash is in desperate need of reorganization since about a quarter of it is on the floor.) Then Mom remembered some fabrics she picked up a year or two ago, and it’s perfect for the pattern! I added just a touch of green from my stash, and we’ll probably have to pick up some solid creamy yellow background fabric. The main fabric is from the Picket Fence line by Chloe’s Closet for Moda. It’s a retro 40’s look in soft blues, reds, and creams.