Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week Seven: Nadia Barksdale, Quilt Top Queen

Hi everyone! I'm Nadia, @nadiashae on Instagram, and I've had a blast as your Week 7 quilter. I sew and play with my dog in Columbus, Ohio, where I am an Academic Advisor at the Ohio State University.

I began quilting in 2013 as a way of coping with depression. My best friend introduced me to her new hobby - sewing - to help me, and it did! We both bought machines and dove in together, attempting to make our own outfits, sick of years of dresses and shirts from the mall not fitting our bodies well at all.

This didn't last long. I attempted a skirt and failed miserably. My measurement skills are miserable, and I didn't have a good grasp on seam allowances. But, I'd already invested in a machine, so I tried quilting, which wouldn't require me to measure my body at all! Here are my first sewn/quilted projects (don't laugh at me):

really had to dig through the IG archives for these - 189 weeks ago, or something like that
I hit the ground running and I've been quilting like crazy ever since! Just kidding. There's a running joke with my friends that I don't finish quilts. I guess it isn't a joke, since it's true. I'm a quilt top queen - cutting and piecing new quilts constantly, Instagramming them, feeling proud of myself, and folding them to put into my IKEA cart.

Since I started and moved on from quilted pillows, I've finished maybe 8 quilts, most of them baby-sized, even though I've started maybe 20 (probably more). The quilt top part is my favorite - I find measuring and cutting very therapeutic, a practice I enjoy as it reminds me of my original love, book-binding. Piecing is fun, especially since most of my projects are chain-piece-friendly. I can shove pretty fabric through a machine for hours while watching Netflix, and my day is made. For me, nothing beats the feeling of seeing the top done and running it outside to try to get a good picture of it. My pretty fabric is finally off the shelf and has been transformed into art! Instagram it! Add it to my Wordpress blog! Fold it! Shelve it!

and then I'm done.

I'm not sure why I am often so lazy with the next steps. I think part of it is that I'd rather spend my craft budget on the pretty fabric instead of the batting that goes between the sheets. I do know that a big part of it is that the only place I can really baste is my basement, and my basement is scary. I've had an aversion to basements ever since I saw Home Alone as a kid.

Here's my latest quilt top. I actually finished it this morning! The pattern is Jeni Baker's Vast from her Patchwork Essentials book on Half Square Triangles. These aren't usually my go-to colors but I was inspired by a random curated bundle I bought.

not sure when I'll finish this one... #quilttopqueen

So, I guess what fuels me isn't having something warm to snuggle. Mostly, it's deadlines. And it's probably got something to do with my love of design. I love huge blocks, large-scale prints, bold graphic statements, unexpected color combinations. I want to work on making this more apparent in my work this year. As a quilter, my style tends to run a little simple. A lot of the time, I'm drawn to basic or traditional blocks that I then make with modern fabric. I have a huge appreciation for the history of quilting and the meaning behind it. I'm really interested way that many vintage quilts weren't meant to be art, but ended up being art anyways (like those of Gee's Bend).

I'll share a few pictures of some of my favorite makes below. Like I said, I've had a great time this week on 52 Quilters! I hope you'll check me out as I head back to my own realms:

IG: @nadiashae

modified Swoon quilt for my little sister's college graduation 
Tula Pink Snow Globes quilt

Broken Dishes quilt in Carkai for Ben, just because

Saturday, February 4, 2017

RJR's What Shade Are You by Lesley Storts

Even though my quilting experience goes back many years, my use of solid colored cotton for projects was limited until a couple of years ago. I caught glimpses of people’s quilts with solids and realized that I wanted to play! Several projects have been started, some completed, and then I was asked by RJR Fabrics if I would like to participate in their What Shade Are You Blog Hop. The answer was a resounding yes! I had already sketched out a project that I wanted to make with solids and after reviewing the abundant array of colors on RJR’s color card, I knew this project would have the variety needed to pull it off.

Cowboy  383
Chocolate  199
Marmalade  304
Custard  265
Martini Olive  343
Neon  348
Grove  407
Chalkboard  382
Silver  125
Golden Topaz  285
Chili Pepper  49
Tangerine Dream  276
Banana Cream Pie  336
Lucky Green  406
Turks & Caicos  292
Jacaranda  317
Goldenrod  92
Electric Blue  296
Scarlet Letter  325
Aloe Vera  349
Rhododendron  181
Lake  427
Orange Crush  372

In answering the question, What Shade Are You?, my answer is that I am shade competitive...but just a shade. My solid fabric quilts have ended up being stories about my life and experiences. This quilt is no different and reminds me of happy times in life. My mom taught me to play backgammon and Chinese checkers when I was a kid and my aunt and uncle taught me how to play Othello (yes, that’s Othello in the bottom right corner). We played these games often. Just a quick round or two but mostly 3 because we wanted to see who won the best 2 out of 3. Growing up, I played cards with girlfriends at camp, at sleepovers, or solitaire by myself. When I was dating my husband, I was introduced to Euchre. It’s against the rules to live in Ohio and not know how to play this game. At least that’s what I was told when we moved here and I was just compliant and learned - haha! Our family and friends play all kinds of games on a regular basis when we socialize.

My quilt, Game Night, originated from these happy times. Backgammon was made from a foundation paper piece template that I created. Top right is the traditional block, card trick. Chinese checkers is based on the Star of Bethlehem block and I created a foundation paper piece template for the triangles. Othello is a classic checker board pattern.

RJR’s Cotton Supreme Solids are fantastic for many reasons. As mentioned before, the color choices are exceptional and just as vibrant in person as they are in the pictures. The weight of fabric and how it lays makes it so easy to quilt. There is minimal fraying or stretching. Using RJR’s solids for this project was exactly what I needed. 

Last year, a quilt friend of mine showed a “potholder” quilt at guild. I was intrigued. Potholder quilts date from the US American Civil War and were created from individual blocks that are completely finished and bound then stitched together. I had wanted to try this technique and this project was ideal.

Constructing the quilts was fun and sometimes challenging, but the quilting was the best part! I tried hard to elicit the feel of the different games through the quilting. Both backgammon and Othello have fairly minimalist game boards so there are a lot of straight lines. 

Chinese checkers is round! I was thinking and talking about how I could make the circular game board work and my daughter suggested quilting it in. Creating an image with the thread was especially satisfying. 

When I think of traditional playing cards, I think of the swirling designs on the card backs and tried to replicate that with free motion quilting.

The fabric is so vibrant it almost looks electric! The only rule for picking the back was that it be bright and fun. I love the way that RJR’s solid fabric showcases the quilting.

Are you ready to have fun playing with RJR’s Cotton Supreme Solids? Head on over to Instagram and find @rjrfabrics or me @lesleystorts for details about a giveaway with all of the colors I used to create Game Night. You can also find me on my blog at

Giveaway closes on both IG accounts at MONDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 7PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME.

Quilt Details:
Finished Size - 54" square
Fabric - RJR Supreme Cotton Solids
Thread - Variety of colors by Aurifil

Happy Quilting ▶︎ ▶︎ ▶︎

Friday, February 3, 2017

Thread Thoughts by Lesley Storts

In my previous post I talked about some tools that have helped me improve my quilting in the past couple of years. After the post, I wondered why I didn't include thread. Here are some thoughts.

My goal, when I first started quilting, was to make my money go as far as it could by buying all of my supplies on sale.  I was a young mom, staying at home and trying to be responsible with my money and to my family. I bought a lot of supplies at a national chain fabric and craft store and I was always happy with my purchases and what I was using. I had a large variety of thread colors and never really thought that using a different thread would make a difference in my quilts and quilting. So for almost 16 years, I sewed with the cheapest cotton thread I could buy. Fast forward to meeting my friend Shayne, a fellow quilter. Shayne swore by Aurifil thread. "She's just over exaggerating," I kept thinking to myself. She needed to be cost conscious because her husband was still in school but still swore that the cost was worth the thread. After several comments by her over many months, I was preparing to make my Any Direction quilt, and I decided to take the plunge and spend the "big bucks" on Aurifil thread.

Guess what happened? I never went back. It has been my goal to find this thread in as many colors as economically as possible. I watch for sales and have gotten great sets and deals on individual spools on Craftsy. But there have been times when I needed to get just the right color and headed to my LQS and paid full price. It's that good! And if you're wondering, no, Aurifil isn't paying me - haha.

Here's what I like about it:
  • Very little lint. Until I started sewing and quilting with Aurifil, I had no idea how much lint I was generating from the thread. I like less lint because it does not clog up my machine or get all over my quilt.
  • Minimal breakage. Here's the thing, I thought the thread breaking was something I did - not what I was using. Surprise! I do not have to deal with that issue hardly ever.
  • Long Lasting. Shayne told me I would be surprised at how much sewing I could do with a spool of Aurifil. It's a little like magic how long a spool lasts.
  • Very smooth. Silky. Soft. Frictionless. Okay, I will stop with the synonyms, but you get the point.
A year ago, I was searching for information about thread and came across this blog post by Nancy Purvis of Owen's Olivia. She has pictures of many threads magnified. It's really cool! From her article, I see that there are other quality threads I can try - and other quilty friend swear by other threads.

The biggest lesson I learned is that I should always listen to my friends. Wait...let me rephrase that. I should listen to other people who might know something more than me. ;-)

Happy Quilting >>>

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Week 5: Lesley Storts, Tools, and Techniques

Hello Fellow Quilters!

My name is Lesley Storts and I’m enjoying my takeover this week on 52 Quilters! I’ve been quilting for over 18 years. I started quilting right after my first child was born. My mom had been quilting for a couple of years, setting a good example and I was finally ready and had time to take the plunge. Utilizing the library, I checked out a lot of books and looked at the patterns and beautiful pictures. I found a simple star and 9 patch block pattern, changed the colors and fabric to a Christmas theme and made a quilt. I still use that quilt! I’ve learned so much since then, but I still love it and all that it represents.


In my quilting journey and becoming a better quilter, I decided I would share with you a couple of tools and techniques I’ve become acquainted with in the past year that have immensely improved my quilting.

Quality scissors are a must and the red scissors, on the right, are made by Karen Buckley. I’ve purchased several different scissors made by her, but the curved scissors are my favorite. The have a slight lift upward at the tip. When you are clipping threads on your quilt, you can get really close without jabbing a hole in the quilt. Additionally, they have a finely serrated edge which grabs the threads. You can find these scissors on Craftsy or watch MassDrop because they occasionally offer them for sale.

Have you ever heard of a spiral eye needle? It is a needle that threads on the side. I purchased them online here. 

I was introduced to the spiral eye needles through a fellow guild member when we had a demo at our meeting. The idea of burying threads in a machine quilted quilt was new to me. With this technique, my quilts immediately improved! I use to just pull the bobbin thread up, then holding the thread, place 2-3 stationary stitches. It was an okay technique for starting in the middle but almost always left nests on the back of my quilt. I knew there had to be a better way. Threading the needle for dozens of threads was tedious but worth it. Now that I have the spiral eye needle, it’s even faster. The image below is the from the first quilt that I buried threads. I would not have been able to be successful with this type of quilting without burying the threads.

The Clover Hera Fabric Marker is another "must have" that I use constantly while sewing, and especially quilting. I prefer to not use any pen, chalk, etc. when marking my quilt if I can use this fabric marker instead. To make the above lines on the yellow, I lined my ruler up and scored along the edge. You can even see some score lines on the green fabric where I sectioned off the block. The opposite end has a blunt point which is also useful.

The Ghingher scissors are a favorite and so sharp. And the golden picker - that’s my nickname for it - is actually brass and is weighted just right. But even better, it is the sharpest seam ripper I have ever owned. Absolutely indispensable! It is available on Amazon.

Do you have a favorite tool or tip? I love learning from others and would love to hear from you!

You can find me at my personal blog at on Instagram @lesleystorts and @stortsmarket, and also on Twitter @lesleystorts.

Happy Quilting ▶︎ ▶︎ ▶︎

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Social Media for Quilters

had the pleasure of giving a presentation for my local guild on Social Media. I think a lot of people use it casually, adding anyone they might know and want to keep up with, but I also knew some people were kind of stumped as to how to become more integrated in the quilting community on the various networks.  I kind of poked around some of the networks I wasn't as familiar with and put together some ideas for my fellow guild members. (I'm skipping YouTube altogether because if anything, it deserves its own post.  You can learn anything on YouTube!)

~What Is Social Media?

Social Media is a term that refers to websites and apps on which people can interact with each other by uploading photos, typing updates, or sharing articles, memes, and other information.  These sites include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In, and Ello, just to skim the surface.

Linked In, I understand, has a vast quilting community, however I have not gotten myself lost in it yet, and the same is true for Ello, which is a site exclusively for makers.

Pinterest is fantastic for gathering ideas from all over the internet.  You can search "blue modern quilt," for example, if you want to make a blue modern quilt, and then save the ideas that pop up for future inspiration, or even full-on patterns and tutorials.  You can save these ideas on their own "boards" so they are easily retrievable.  Pinterest is mostly for visual inspiration or short bursts of information, like recipes.Twitter is largely verbal.  It's a great way to guide people over to your blog or your instagram page, but you can also share photos there.  I like it as a place to follow politics or comedians, as well as writers who are adept at getting their full point across in 120 characters (or whatever it is).

Facebook can be a great place for quilters.  There are large "groups" to join in which you can ask specific questions related to your craft and REACH THE RIGHT AUDIENCE for your question.  More about that in a minute.  On facebook it's very easy to share information that you want other people to see.  You can write, with words only, or you can share a picture with no caption, or you can combine them.

Instagram requires a photo which you can then add a caption to.  Because it is all photos, it's a great place for artists, who are visual people.  They're aren't a bunch of words in the way of our pretty pictures!  We can look at fabric and quilts all day.

~How Can I Control What I See On Social Media?


Like what you like.  Heart what you heart.  Comment when you have a comment.  Downvote what you want to downvote.  You can tell Facebook "I don't want to see this."

Follow the people you want to follow.  If you're creating a new account this is very easy.  If you have an existing account that you want to shape into a quilting haven, that might require unfriending people who might get their feelings hurt.  For this reason, I keep facebook as a personal family and friend sharing place, and instagram as a public forum for my art.  I was able to create my instagram account from scratch and mold it into what I needed it to be.

~How Can I Get More Likes and Followers?

Find the right audience.  When I post a picture to my personal page of my mail art, I might get ten likes.  When I post to a Jamberry Nails group with 20,000 nail fanatics in it, I might get several hundred likes.

The same goes for quilting!  Maybe not all your personal friends understand what goes into a quilt, but everyone in "Quiltville's Open Studio" certainly will!  Obviously, your worth is not determined by likes and followers, and you certainly can't rely on the opinions of strangers to feel validated in your art, but if you're trying to reach the right people and receive more exposure on the internet, it's important to find the right audience.

Use hashtags!  Hashtags are a method of categorization.  They immediately fill your post into the appropriate category.  If I post a picture of the Fancy Forest Quilt I made out of Moda fabrics, I'm going to hashtag it #fancyforestquilt #elizabethhartman #showmethemoda .

This way, every time ANYONE searches those hashtags, they will see my quilt!  This might provoke them to go to my page and see what else they like, and frequently this is how you get new followers.

Tag the appropriate people!  In the same post I might also tag @ElizabethHagh, the pattern designer, so she can see what someone has made with her design.  If I'm using Alison Glass or Kate Spain Fabrics, I'll tag them as well.  This has occasionally resulted in that designer sharing your photo on their own personal account!  Suddenly your exposure has increased exponentially.  By tagging the Fat Quarter Shop in my Snapshots Quilt picture last year, I had my photo shared by the Fat Quarter Shop and Moda Fabrics.  Thousands more people saw my quilt than would have if I had not used the appropriate tags and hashtags.

Participate in swaps!  Swaps are one of the most fun parts of instagram.  When you see a swap open, fill out the form and you're in !  You make something for a stranger, a different stranger makes something for you, and almost everyone else in that swap will follow you!  They'll do this because you clearly have similar interests, AND they want to see what everyone is making and guess which one could belong to them!  They're a really fun way to meet new people and make beautiful things.

~How Do I Find People To Follow?

Click on someone's profile who is a quilter (hint: I'm one).  On the top part of the screen you'll see how many people they follow.  You can click on "following" and you'll get a list of all the people they follow!  If it sounds like they're a quilter, sewist, or fabric designer, follow that person!  You can always unfollow them later if you're unhappy with the content.

~How can social media actually help me as a quilter, though?

Because of instagram, I was introduced to Alison Glass and Elizabeth Hartman and found fabrics and patterns I really, really, loved.  Because of Facebook I learned of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilts and Leah Day's Free-Motion-Quilting designs.

Simply by existing in the community you will see and be exposed to new patterns, new fabrics, new techniques, and new people!  It's really fun to see what the designers and big manufacturing companies have coming out soon and what they're excited about!

Maybe you, 52Q follower, already knew all this, but I bet you know someone who hasn't taken the plunge yet who could stand to read this!  Give it a share and see what happens :)


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Week 4: Jackie Marks: When do you sew?

Hi!  I'm Jackie Marks and I'm thrilled to be hosting the takeover this week.  I've loved following 52 Quilters for almost its entire run and it's such a great way to become exposed to new quilters!

I'm a Florida Girl, major Harry Potter and Star Trek nerd, and a military wife.  Moving to new places a lot gives me a rare look into various quilting communities and styles of art.  It's been the best way for me to "plug myself in" to a new community since my kids started school.  The midwest is serious about their quilts so Northern Minnesota is a great place for me to be right now!

One of the questions I get asked most, in person, is "when do you do all this?  When do you sew?"

I don't always know how to answer this with a better response than "ummmmmm literally always."

So here's a rough breakdown.  My girls are 5, 7, and 9, so they do still need some attention and care but they can also entertain themselves for long periods of time and help me out with chores.

After school dropoff on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I'm home from 8:30 to 2:30 by myself.  That's six hours!  I get some dishes and laundry done, but then, you know what?  I'm gonna sew.  My house will not be spotless.  If your house is spotless, that's cool, but mine is, um, not.  One day a week my husband and I go out for a day date during his lunch hour but even on those days I get at least an hour or two to sew.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I work a part-time job and my girls have extra-curricular activities in the afternoon, so there's only a little sewing on those evenings - usually a pattern cut out or some chain-piecing done.

And then weekends, I gotta say, are mostly sewing (and definitely some putting away laundry).  My husband will sometimes take the girls to a movie, the gym, or ice skating; and sometimes we'll go do a family thing, but normally we're pretty low-key and we hang out at home.

It's just important to me, and my family understands that I need the time and the creative outlet.  I'm also pretty fast (read: impatient) so I think people may be over estimating the time it takes me to do these projects and they think, gosh, where do you get all this TIME?  I just do it! I start, and I can't stop until it's done, which I'm certainly not advocating as a healthy way to balance life and hobby, but it's what works for me.

What works for me, though, may not work for you and that's okay.  It's important to figure out what works for you and embrace it.  Some people work best in the mornings and some people work best in the evenings.   Some people need a clean house, and some people are able to let that part go.  It's all okay!

When do you sew?  What works for you?


Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Week 3: Reene from Nellie's Niceties

Hello All, I'm Reene Witchard and I'm really excited to be taking over this week.
I live in the East Midlands, UK with my hubby and teenage daughter. I've been blogging as Nellie's Niceties for about 7 years, along with my Mum, Yvonne, but these days I spend a lot more time on Instagram as Reeneatnelliesniceties.

Patchwork has been a huge part of my life for about 8 years. It started purely as a therapeutic hobby when I was struggling with my chronic neurological illness and caring for my daughter who was bed-bound with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Over time this wonderful hobby has developed into so much more. I've been designing the block of the month programme for Quilt Now magazine for the past 3 years which is a blast. This is the first block of the month quilt that I designed; a 12 month technique sampler that is now called "From Nellie, with love" and currently running as a BOM through our website.
From Nellie, with love BOM
The second BOM I designed was a more traditional single block a month sampler using Kona solids. Completely different from the first one but I love it just the same.
This year I've designed the BOM to include two monthly blocks; one machine pieced and one English Paper Pieced. Here are some of the blocks that I have made for the print version that I am sewing along with.

I am really excited to have sneaked some EPP in there as it is my latest obsession. Whilst recovering from surgery a few years ago I needed a sewing fix but couldn't use the machine so a hand project was essential. Once I discovered that I could draft my own patterns using shapes other than hexagons I was off and running in no time. The house is now full to bursting with EPP cushions.
I love saturated colour, vibrant prints and quilt designs that produce secondary patterns. One of my most favourite designs is Kaleidoscopic which was originally featured on the cover of Quilt Now magazine.

I have since gone on to make a couple more versions of this pattern and I love them all equally.

I'm really fortunate to have a dedicated sewing room where the majority of my creativity takes place but I'm a messy crafter so projects often spill out into other rooms around the home. I'm currently working on a new EPP design that I've called Hidden Hearts, you can see my progress on Instagram using the hashtag #hiddenheartsepp. So far there are pieces of this in my front room and bedroom along with my sewing room so it's well travelled.

If you're a fan of EPP you can find lots of free PDF templates for various designs on our website, Below are a few examples and if you're really keen on EPP you can find more patterns in our Payhip store.
I'll leave you with another of my favourite makes, this time a quilt and cushion set that I designed for Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine: Candy Chains. All that Cotton and Steel fabric makes my heart sing.
I hope you've enjoyed this little glimpse into my creative world. If I get chance I'll pop back in later on this week to share a bit more. Catch you soon x