Saturday, June 27, 2015

There's Gold in Them There Hills

Quilting by it's very nature is an isolated sport. We sit in our sewing spaces and we make quilts. Sometimes we might be sewing in a space that's being used by a few people at once, but even then we're in our heads thinking about what we're crafting. We listen to our internal dialogue and we have a conversation between our hands, the fabric and the sewing machine and that doesn't leave much space for a conversation with anyone else at the time.

Sure there's times when we all get together and work in big groups, but even then our heads are often down looking at our hands and the work that they're undertaking.

Before the world's population pushed forward and stretched out across the lands our communities were small and central, now they're diverse and span the globe. Where we were once able to talk to those in our own towns about our quilting a lot of us find ourselves isolated and relying on the internet to make those quilting connections.

While the internet cannot replace actual human contact it can provide us with the next best thing and for quilters I think we can never underestimate the power of that connection.

There's something really beautiful and strong in a friendship that's formed on a shared passion for creating. To find someone else who understands the pull to make, that understand our need to do things with our hands and our need to own every piece of fabric we fall in love with.

Instagram Meet Up at Craft Alive Bendigo
These friendships can provide the support, freedom and encouragement for us to take those first tentative steps when we're listening to our muse. The can build us up when we feel like the world is tearing us down. They can provide perspective when we're lost in the wilderness of self-doubt.

Social Media can help you meet those people that become part of your creative community. It can be a wonderful place to share your work, learn new things and connect over a shared passion. Whether you like to use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram Social Media is our new town square. It's where we can go to share our work, laugh over a shared understanding of the frustrations of a sewing machine eating your fabric and be a part of each others lives regardless of geography.

For me, Social Media has given me so much goodness in my life that I find it hard to even comprehend a world where it doesn't exist. It allows me to connect with people in a way that I would never do if left to my own devices.

Yesterday I had the most amazing privilege of meeting some of the people who I have a relationship with via Social Media. It was such an uplifting experience and I never could have imagined that by just putting myself out there on Social Media that I would ever have been blessed with being able to share in the lives of these wonderful people.

My reason for sharing this with you today; "Use Social Media to reach out and connect".

It can be daunting to put yourself out there, I get that and I share those same fears. It's not always going to be peaches and cream, there's going to be one or two times when you meet someone online who you just don't vibe with. That's fine, that's the beauty of the world we live in - it's the differences that make the world special. How boring would it be if we were all the same!

Try not to take those moments to heart, learn from them and continue to look for those whom you do connect with. Finding quilty friends is a little like mining for gold - you're going to have to put a lot of effort in to get them, but when you do you'll be richer than you could have ever imagined.

Post by Angie Wilson - Week #25: 
Angie is a passionate Australian quilter who loves fabric the way that Carrie Bradshaw loved shoes. She's got a weakness for trashy television, processed sugar and hugs from her boys. Follow her on Instagram @gnomeangel) or visit her website  to find out more.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Week #25: Quilter #25 Angie Wilson (GnomeAngel)

Hello! Hello! 

My name is Angie Wilson and I blog at It's my own little virtual home that's filled with tales of quilting, baking and life in the capital of Australia, Canberra (not Sydney!). 

I've been sewing now for just over 3 years. Sewing isn't something that comes naturally to me. In fact, I failed Home Economics so fabulously that I think my Home Ec teacher probably still has nightmares over it. 

She's A Rainbow
If you were to ask me 4 years ago if I was in to sewing I would have laughed heartily in your general direction. This is not something I ever thought I would end up doing, but I now can't go a day without doing something sewing related. 

My primary outlet is patchwork, although I've been known to make a bag or two in my day. I avoid sewing clothes, but deep down it's something I really wish I could do. I've only ever quilted mini quilts, and only a few of those. But I'm growing in quilting confidence and it's a goal of mine to have a longarm of my own one day. 

The Feather Beast; Slayed
Sewing keeps me sane. I've realised that having a creative outlet is the key to a happy life for me. I just can't get enough of mixing all the amazing colours, patterns and fabrics that are out there in the world. 

I'm not sure what my style is, but I tend to work a lot with bold, highly saturated colours. I am known for having fun with fussy cutting, although I'm no where near as skilled with it as some people out there. I love graphic quilts and I dream of one day being able to do a "subtle" quilt. I've also never found a rainbow that I didn't love. 

Fat Bottom Girls Mini Quilt
I consider myself to be the Jon Snow of quilting; I know nothing. I'm learning every day and it's one of the things that I love about the craft. I am in pursuit of craftsmanship. Nothing makes me happier than seeing points line up. 

When I'm not sewing I'm hanging out with my amazing Husband and cheeky little 3 year old Son. We have a beagle called George and she's just a walking food disposal unit really... I work a day job for the Australian Public Service in their IT Department. I've been known to spend a weekend playing World of Warcraft, reading too much or binge watching crappy reality television. 

Bob & Hazel Hedgehog Quilt
This week I'm off to Bendigo (a regional town in Victoria) to host a Meet Up at Craft Alive. It's the first time Craft Alive have hosted an event like this and I'm so excited to be going and to be hosting! I'm really excited to be sharing my road trip (it's 7 hours from Canberra to Bendigo) and all the hi-jinx that I'll be getting up to.  

If you'd like to virtually stalk me you can find me in the following places: Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest 

Post by Angie Wilson - Week #25: 
Angie is a passionate Australian quilter who loves fabric the way that Carrie Bradshaw loved shoes. She's got a weakness for trashy television, processed sugar and hugs from her boys. Follow her on Instagram @gnomeangel) or visit her website website to find out more.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Give Yourself Some You Time

It's easy to look at quilters and ask how do you get all that done. Even I do it as I scroll through Instagram and see quilters that crank out way more than I ever do in a day. The reality of it is that they probably don't. Social media comes with a filter and it's really easy to forget that we don't always see the hard parts. It's why I like hashtags like #honestcraftroom or following jankyquiltco. You get to see the nitty-gritty of people's spaces or the hard parts of quilting.

There always has to be something you give up when you sit down to sew. The laundry piles up, breakfast dishes stay in the sink way too long, and your kids are playing on screens, you haven't showered and are still in yoga pants. Every choice you make takes time away from something else. It's easy to feel guilty about it. Here's the truth--all of the small things will still be there later.

I truly believe that when you give yourself permission to do the things you love--even over the chores--you are a happier person in the long run and you'll have more to give to your family and partner. There just has to be some give and take in the choices you make.

I joke around that I have a surefire formula for quilting balance. Let's call it the 10/5/5 for now. Devote 10 minutes to the project you're working on. Really focus for those ten minutes and try not to get too distracted. Then spend 5 minutes tending to kids, doing a chore, whatever. This should be something that gets you moving a little bit too. The blood will flow to your brain and make it easier to focus when you get back your project. After your task, do 5 minutes or less of scrolling through Instagram or sending texts.

There is flexibility to this formula. The ten minutes can stretch to 30 minutes and if I'm really lucky, an hour. This tends to be true as I'm working through a tough pattern, tricky block, or doing a fabric pull. I'll look up to the clock and realize that an hour has gone by. This is rare unless the kids are at school, summer camp, or on a playdate.

Tending to kids could take way longer than 5 minutes. I like to move my machine to the kitchen table. For some reason I am way less appealing to my kids if I'm in the mix rather than "hidden" away in my craft room. It buys me some more time too if I'm close to where I can get snacks, juice boxes, lunch or whatever. Maybe it's time to teach them to make their own food!

In reality, the time spent looking at my phone should be way less, but I'm working on that.

Here's what it all means. Put yourself first. I don't mean all the time, everyday, but don't be afraid to up the amount of time you give yourself to quilt. Try my formula to see if it buys you a little more time. Later this week I'll share more about how I get my kids involved in the sewing room.

Post by Denise von Minden - Week #24: 
Denise von Minden is a school librarian by day, mama of three (including twins), and quilter/crafter in the in-between moments. Balance is the name of the game! Follow her on Instagram @denisevonminden) to see more.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Week #23 Carrie Hanson

Hello everyone!  I'm thrilled and honored to be a part of 52 Quilters, so thank you for having me.  My name is Carrie Hanson, known around social media circles as Gotcha Covered Quilting. I'm a mom to 3 trying-to-grow-up-kids, ages 15, 19 and 24, and mom to fur baby, Sofie (who you will undoubtedly see pictures of on IG).  I live in Carlsbad (San Diego County) where the weather is almost always nice and the beach is very near by.

I started off quilting what feels like a life time ago when I moved to the San Francisco area to be with my then husband.  I knew no one  and figured joining the quilt guild was a great way to learn to quilt, something I had always wanted to learn, and a great way to meet friends.  Of course, the guild was held through the senior community center so I was the youngest by about 30 years.  It worked out ok though because they took me under their wing and taught me a thing or two.  Those women even threw a baby shower for me when I had Ally and made the sweetest Sunbonnet Sue baby quilt, which we still have.

I made my first quilt for my oldest daughter, Katelyn, when she was 8.  It was an appliqué tulip quilt.  I did my shopping at Joann's and came home with a full assortment of calicos.  My "then husband" was quite bothered, telling me I'd never finish the quilt and it would be a waste of money.  Have I mentioned how happy I've been the last 6 years since divorcing?  Ha!  Well, I finished that quilt for Katelyn and about 30 more over the course of the following 3 or 4 years.  I guess I showed him, didn't I?

Quilting became not only a passion but the glue that was holding together my sanity.  I was away from family, away from friends, living in a difficult marriage, had 4 little kids (including my step-daughter).  I lost myself in the cutting, rearranging, creating and sewing together of fabric.  My sewing machine became the anchor that kept me grounded and the local quilt shop was my haven.  I made quilts for friends and for family.  I made charity quilts and baby quilts.  I quilted for happy occasions and as a source of comfort for others.  Quilting is just what I did.  Period.

Very soon after completing my first few quilts I taught myself how to free motion quilt on my domestic machine.  It didn't take long before I was FMQ as a means of earning enough money to continue the process of hoarding fabric.  I quilted for almost everyone in my guild and I loved it.

And then I hurt my back...tore the disk in my L4-L5 not once but twice.  I was totally out of commission for quite some time and then time just marched on.  And it marched without my machine or my fabric or my creativity.

Life changed dramatically over the years and finally about 2 years ago I found myself back to quilting and boy had things changed.  What's this thing called modern quilting?  And who are all these amazing quilt designers?  And the fabric!   And what?  People sell and buy full fabric lines and they do so on Instagram?  My head was spinning.  Holy cow it was amazing and overwhelming all at the same time.

Gotcha Covered Quilting was born in November 2013 and has steadily grown since that time.  I sell modern quilt fabric in my online shop (or in my garage if you live locally) and I machine quilt on my Handiquilter Avante.  Sometimes I even have Instagram sales to help reduce inventory and make room on my shelves for new fabric coming in.  If you care to follow along there (I'm having a sale starting today, Monday) you can find me there at @gcqsale.

I have met some amazing people because of this shop of mine...face-to-face friends who started as customers and turned into friends and people who started as friends and have allowed me to enable their fabric obsession.  I have made deep and lasting friendships on Instagram, friendships with people I've never actually met but know for certain we'd be best friends if we lived near one another.  All of this because of the wonderful world of quilting and the world of Instagram that connects us.  I can't begin to describe how blessed I feel to have started quilting to begin with but then to have jumped back in when I did.  Wow!  I'm in awe regularly at the talent that exists around me and the good that gets done when we bind together for a common cause or to help a friend in need.  We are an amazing group, this group of quilters...a group I'm proud to be a part of.

Feel free to visit me at
Shop/Blog:  Gotcha Covered Quilting
Instagram:  @gotchacoveredquilting
Sale Instagram site:  @gcqsale
Facebook:  Gotcha Covered Quilting
Twitter:  @GCQuilting

Post by Carrie Hanson - Week #23: Carrie Hanson is owner of Gotcha Covered Quilting, online fabric shop and custom machine quilting. When she’s not cutting, packing and shipping orders, she can be found honing her skills on the Handiquilter. Visit her on instagram @gotchacoveredquilting or visit her website.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

New Skills and Inspiration

Foundation paper piecing has been a skill that I’ve had on my to learn list for some time.  Projects created with paper piecing have a level of detail that seemed impossible to learn without taking an instructor led course.  Little did I know that this method is insanely easy as long as you have the right tools and a great pattern.  I highly recommend the pattern I showed on the IG feed from lillyellasworld.  The beginner version will teach you how to do it even if you are clueless as of right this minute.  (I asked permission to mention it here- she knows I love it so.)  I could go on about how lovely the pattern is and how delightful the finished products look hanging up on the wall, but what I really want to do is to inspire you to tackle that project you’ve been putting off or finish up that pile of neglected WIPs.  If you follow along on my personal account on IG you’ll see that I love to begin new projects, but I also have a good amount of follow through.  I know a lot of crafty peeps let the WIP pile and to do list grow, but life is short my friends, get busy creating.  So many of us spend all of our time buying and buying fabric and patterns just to stack up in a hoard.  Cut that fabric you paid $10/FQ for and start stitching.  What is the point of all this price gouging insanity and binge buying on Etsy and desatsh if you aren’t going to use the fabric?  ($80/yard Tula raccoons, really??)  By the way, all that fabric will look much better in your living room being used by your best friend or child to snuggle up during a movie than shut away in a closet in nice neat stacks carefully guarded from sunlight.  If you love it, use it.  There will always be something new coming out next week if you run out… and we all know none of us will EVER run out of fabric! 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my week at 52quilters and I hope my IG posts were not too overwhelming.  I am not much for blogging (or reading blogs for that matter) so I’m keeping this short and simple.  I hope everyone has a fantastic week and I look forward to meeting many new quilty friends! 

Post by Elizabeth Knestrick - Week #22: 
I'm a thirty something wife and mother of two in the American Midwest. I'm a professional in the scientific/pharmaceutical field by day and a quilter/sewist any time I can squeeze it in. I've been sewing for 24 years. I enjoy trying new projects often without patterns. I love national parks, coffee, Anna Maria Horner and dark dark chocolate. @lizzymakes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Week #22 - Generational Quilting (backwards!)

Quilting is historically a skill passed down through the generations from mothers and grandmothers to their children.  In my family we like to do things backwards.  This week my sister and I are collaborating to teach our mother how to quilt/sew.  I’ll first give a little background how I got my start in sewing.

I first found myself behind a sewing machine when I was in the fourth grade.  My mom never learned to sew as she came from a family where her mother worked long hours. Mom decided to put both my sister and I in lessons since she considered it a good skill to have and always regretted not picking it up herself.  I still like to joke that she wanted to make sure I had a marketable skill in case college didn’t work out.  (I say that as a joke and I hope saying it here doesn’t offend anyone.  I like to get a reaction out of my mom as all children do.)  We made all sorts of clothing and modeled them in fashion shows at our school and entered them as 4-H projects.  I cannot even imagine how silly those fashion shows probably were.  Once I made MC Hammer pants.  That is not a joke!  Mom definitely allowed us to choose any project and fabric we desired helping to nurture our creative spirits.  I also recall a pale yellow sweat suit with a bunny ironed onto the shirt.  I’m sure I turned out quite a few interesting 1990’s outfits by the time I got to high school.  Toward the end of high school mom signed me up to learn how to make a quilt as my 4-H project.  Choosing the fabric for my garments was already my favorite part of sewing and introducing me to quilting is where I got my start in fabric hoarding.  That is a topic for another day.  I took a break from quilting during college, but picked it right back up once I was an adult with a typical 9-5 routine and no children.  Currently I am much like many other young-ish quilters trying to cram all our crafty dreams into nap times, early bedtimes and random days off work.

This week I spent two days at my parents’ house along with my two daughters and my sister.   We set up a machine/cutting/ironing station in their dining room and got to work on the lesson.  Mom has very limited sewing experience so my sister gave her a quick lesson on the machine and I chose a very simple looking project.  (I kid, I kid)  My sister had not paper pieced before (neither had I before last week) so she caught a lesson from me at the same time.  We used @lillyellasworld’s take wing mini pattern and chose a scrappy pink and blue palate with a black background.  This pattern is fantastic in all ways.  It yields a beautiful end product and will teach you how to paper piece if you’ve never done it previously.  I have always been intimidated by foundation paper piecing, but Nicole explains it so well I was off and running after reading it one time.  I definitely recommend checking out her IG feed and her two versions of the pattern.  She has a link to it in her bio if you’re interested.  By the end of our sewing session, my sister had taken over and she and mom were finishing up the bottom wings before I knew it without my input.  We did run into one hiccup with the background fabric and I graciously tackled the task of picking out all the stitches so we could switch colors.  I can never leave a mistake/bad choice alone!  Currently, as far as I know, we are at a standstill on our quilting lesson since I forgot to take any backing fabric for the project and I am now back home guarding my fabric stash diligently.  Mom wasn’t as interested in the process as much as she was in the finished product, so we will see if she continues to be interested in tackling projects on her own.  Hopefully some day soon she will get as invested in projects as my sister and I do.  I will post pics on my personal IG account when her butterfly is entirely finished.

Post by Elizabeth Knestrick - Week #22: 
I'm a thirty something wife and mother of two in the American Midwest. I'm a professional in the scientific/pharmaceutical field by day and a quilter/sewist any time I can squeeze it in. I've been sewing for 24 years. I enjoy trying new projects often without patterns. I love national parks, coffee, Anna Maria Horner and dark dark chocolate. @lizzymakes.