Monday, July 25, 2016

Week 30: Laura McDowell Hopper of Sonic Stitches

Hi 52 Quilters! My name is Laura and I’m thrilled to spend this week making new quilting friends by participating in this project. You can find me on Instagram @sonicstitches and on my blog. I’m a modern quilter living in the suburbs of Chicago. I’m also a museum curator specializing in textile preservation, so most of my life revolves around my passion for textiles. 

After spending years feeling inspired by the beautiful quilts I saw in museums where I’ve worked, I finally decided to make my first quilt in 2014 and fell in love. I learned to sew in grade school, but had always been intimidated by quilting. Little did I know it would become one of the most important things in my life!

My first quilt, Elizabeth Hartman's Hazel Hedgehog pattern
I am inspired by music (hence Sonic Stitches) and have made several music themed quilts in the last year. Most recently, I made a quilt for RJR Fabrics titled “The River” inspired by one of my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs.

"The River," designed by Laura McDowell Hopper and Mitch Hopper
Vinyl Quilts is a project I started in January to create a series of mini quilts the size of LP covers. Each mini quilt will reproduce an album cover by bands and musicians who have made an impact on my life. So far I have only made two, but I’m hoping to make my third Vinyl Quilt this week during my 52 Quilters take over!

"Blackstar," inspired by David Bowie
"The Bones of What You Believe," inspired by Chvrches
If you scroll through my Instagram feed, you’ll see a lot of rainbow quilts, and a lot of quilts made using patterns. I love finding exciting and interesting patterns and I love making colorful quilts as gifts for friends and family. But the longer I quilt, the more I am finding my own style and voice. I love using black, big shapes, and a limited number of colors and prints. My style continues to evolve, but I love a strong visual impact and I’m hoping to design more quilts myself in the future.

Many of my favorite quilt patterns are by Jaybird Quilts. One of my favorite quilts I’ve made from a pattern is her Gravity quilt. Made as a gift for my best friend’s wedding, the Gravity quilt was my first truly big quilting challenge. When I finished, I couldn’t believe I had made such a big and complicated quilt! Making that quilt made me feel like I was up to the challenge and could push myself to try new and difficult techniques as a quilter. I also love Elizabeth Hartman's patterns and recently finished a huge Fancy Forest quilt that I made as a sample for my local quilt shop, Quilters Quest

Gravity Quilt, pattern by Jaybird Quilts
Fancy Forest, pattern by Elizabeth Hartman
I’m participating in 52 Quilters because I love the quilting community! Since I started quilting, I’ve been so lucky to meet amazing new friends. I hope to meet new quilters online and find more inspiration from the amazing talent in our community. So follow me on Instagram @sonicstitches, check out my blog, and have fun learning about my quilts!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Day 6: The Day of No Sun

So, as those of you who follow along on Instagram may know, we are in the throes of a wildfire here and I woke today to an eerie, hazy sky....where there's fire, there's smoke and right now, we are tucked under a very heavy blanket of smoke and ash.

So because I rely on all of the gorgeous Southern California sunshine to sew in my dining room (the lighting in here is dim at best), I am a little stumped as to what I can do instead. I've already been out to run the few errands I had today and I came home with a terrible headache and sore throat from the smoke.

So I will be puttering around the house today, finishing up some other projects and trying to stay away from the smoke. I will try to post some more picture to IG if I can!

Take care,
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Day 4 and 5: All Caught Up!

Ahhhhh! So I finally have a day off and can focus on this project 100%!

I went to a "chain" fabric store last night (posted a couple of shots to Instagram, check it out!!) and picked up some new fabric - because when can you go into a fabric store and **NOT** pick up some new fabric?? - as well as a pattern for a caftan dress that I am dying to wear this summer.

One of the posts I made to Instagram was commented on by a follower that I had posted a picture from a "chain store", with a somewhat snarky emoji. I was shocked! I live about an hour outside of the center of Los Angeles and I don't think we have any local quilting stores (or if we do I don't know about them) and I only had a few minutes after work yesterday to stop in for some inspiration. It makes me sad to think that in this day and age, we can find something so small to pass judgment on!

For those of you who do not have a local, small business owner-type quilt shop to spend your money in, what do you do? Do you shop at the (gasp!!) chain stores? Or order online? Swap with friends? I am very interested, because I know that, for me at least, some of us must not have a big quilty community that we can rely on easily at our disposal. I have found a lot of inspiration online - through Pinterest, Instagram, online forums, etc - and I am so grateful for that!

Make a comment below - or jump over to IG to comment there - if you support your online quilty sisters (and brothers!) no matter where they shop!

Be kind to each other,

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Day 3 - The Day that Got Away

Ever have one of those? A day, like any other day, until it's 9pm and you wonder - WHERE DID MY DAY GO???

I had one today - an early day of work, followed by a long drive to an appointment, followed by a rushed (late) dinner and a failed quilt block. Maybe it was my scattered thoughts that kept my seams from marching in straight lines. Maybe it was just the wrong block to try on a day that got away. So instead, I can show you some pictures of squares that I did on days that did NOT get away...Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day 2! The Day of All Things

Good morning again, quilters! Today is a busy day for me - I have to walk our dogs this morning, go to work, pick up Taco Tuesday tacos on the way home and THEN, hopefully, get some crafty time in.

Anyone else have a full schedule? How do you make time for all of the things in your life that need attention? I have tried so many different ways - a written schedule, making appointments with myself in my phone calendar app, just dropping everything to do what needs to be done in that moment....maybe that last one isn't so much a plan, but you get my meaning!!

My goal quilt block for tonight is Farmer's Wife Quilt Block #48 - Homeward Bound. It speaks to me today, since from the moment I leave the house, home is the only place I want to be. :)

Take care today quilters! And check back later for some pics of my crazy day!!

Take care of yourselves!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Week 29 - Day 1: Hello from sunny Los Angeles, CA!!

Good morning quilters! My name is Courtney Andrews and I am the week 29 host for 52 Quilters! I was so super excited to be chosen as a guest host/blogger, I did a little happy dance when I got the email.

A little about me - I am a wife and mom. My "day job" is as a Practice Manager for an extremely high volume veterinary hospital (hence the profile pic - cute puppies are a work perk FOR SURE). The work is demanding and sometimes emotional, so I have to find an outlet for all of that - so I sew! (See what I did there?!)

My grandmother is my eternal inspiration. She was a farmer's daughter, born and raised in Indiana. She was the most stylish woman I have ever known. Always pulled together and super organized. Like most women in her generation, she was thrifty and didn't waste a thing. I think I get a bit of my hordiness from her.....oops! But most of what I got from her was an abiding love for all things crafty. She taught me absolutely everything I know (and many things I probably have forgotten, only to my detriment) about being a maker. She used to sew clothes for my Barbie dolls. Gorgeous bedding and clothes for my baby dolls. She made quilts for every single member of our family - kids, grandkids...everyone. She passed away in 2009 and I miss her every day. I have the quilt that was on her bed for as long as I can remember and it is one of my most cherished possessions!

In her memory, as she would have turned 100 in 2015, I started the Farmer's Wife Quilt. I've hit a few rough patches - where there is more work than time in the day - and I am about halfway through the squares. I plan to finish it this year, and I will share some of the work with you this week! I've also made quilts for my two sons, and my cousin's baby. I mostly just love to make. I love paper and I LOVE pens and I am a chronic hoarder of all things beautiful.

Like I said earlier, I am so happy to have been chosen! Check me out on the 52Quilters IG page and if you'd like to see what a circus it can be with 2 moms, 2 kids and 3 dogs, feel free to IG request me at cmandrews13 too!

Here's to a crafty week!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Goodbye and thanks for all the fish! (actually fun - but that wasn't a Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy quote!)

So my last day is here already. And I really just want to thank you all for all of the fun, interactions and chats. It's been so great to meet you all!!

So my last share is a very special collaborative quilt I worked on, in fact the best project I've ever worked on.
I have popped this on Insta - but here's a bit more to the story.
Our good friend Ange (@alittlepatchwork) had some medical challenges coming up for her family.
We all felt we wanted to send her a big hug, but given I live on one side of Down Under, Ange on the other, and Denise, Jonna  (@bespokeoutlaw) and Lisa (@lisaannslife) in the US we just couldn't quite scrape enough money together for a private #tinyfloralsanonymous jet to take us.
So Denise (@iquiltsewwhat) suggested we make her a quilt. Each of us made 3 blocks and Denise pieced and quilted the whole thing!
Isn't it amazing!!

Denise from @iquiltsewwhat made these stunners!

Lisa from @lisaannslife made these pretty hexi flowers

Jonna @bespokeoutlaw used all the math to make these pretty blocks (sorry I only have a pic of 2 of her blocks)
And mine @tamaraharrisondesign,  You've got mail blocks

In case you can't tell, we all love PINK and Ange especially so. It was a wonderful project to be part of, with such wonderful women whom I have only met online. They have become a fabulous support network and 'braintrust' that I am honoured to call my friends.
To find us or share in your work we use a few quirky hashtags #tinyfloralsanonymous, #whymakeonewhenyoucanmakeahundred, #tinyeverythinganonymous, ##aintnothingcoolerthanpatchwork, #saturdaynightcraftalong

So to end with my second favourite (and quirky) quote of all time "So long and thanks for all the fish!"

I can't believe my time here is almost done.
What a fast paced week of trying to show you as much as I could about what I do.

Here are a few pics of what went up on Instagram.

My 'day' job involves flowers, flowers and more flowers.

There there were some of my favourite things.

$1 Spotlight fqs

 My addiction to needles

 The pre piecing layout to my daughters quilt

 Happy mail day!

 Hand piecing

My favourite tools - thread conditioner, pins, snips, rotary cutters, quick unpickers, seam roller, binding clips, forceps

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Day 3 How to make realistic flowers out of fabric

So I have this thing with flowers.
Goes back 30 plus years, a long time to when I first trained as a florist.
Now I express my creativity with different mediums (instead of only fresh flowers) but still find myself drawn to the floral form.
Because of this I decided to teach myself French Flower making. It is a traditional millinery skill which involves heated brass tools to shape and stretch fabric.

Below are a few pics of construction to guide you in the process. The best advice I can give you is to look at lots of pictures of flowers, especially roses, to see the natural form and look of the blooms. This will really help you when you go to assemble yours!

Cut petal shapes out of your fabric
Cut lots
Paint with watered down pva glue (you'll get a feel for this, I use a thick mix as it 'feels' better to me than a runny mix)
Allow a few hours to dry completely
Shape each and every petal with heated french flower making brass tools
Keep shaping till they are all done!
Now the fun bit - assembly of bloom! Take flower stamens (google stamens to find a local seller)
 Add a thin wire (I used a 28guage) at the halfway point, twist tightly and bend stamens in half to form a bundle.
Glue or stitch your first petal into place
Then keep adding (see how they overlap a bit?)
Keep going!
And going!!
This is what it looks like from the side.
Ta da! Finished! Now if you glued it, set her aside to dry, if she's stitched display her in a vase!
Like this!

 So I hope you have enjoyed this little peek into one of the many things I make and do!