Friday, October 28, 2011

Author Interview & Review | Modern Basics by Amy Ellis

Author and co-founder of the Sewing Summit, a sewing and blogging conference for the modern sewist, Amy Ellis has made a name for herself in the quilting stratosphere with the release of her book, Modern Basics: Easy Quilts to Fit Your Budget, Space, and Style. Published earlier this year by That Patchwork Place, an imprint of Martingale & Company, Amy's book celebrates the creative person who lives in a busy household. For those of you who tell yourselves, "I don't have the time or space to quilt," yes you do!

In her book Amy showcases 14 different quilt projects each constructed from one repeating block design. Beautifully photographed and filled with great tips, Modern Basics would make the perfect gift for a beginner or someone who's interested in quilting, but needs a little nudge to take the leap. We all know that quilting can get overwhelming sometimes, even inconvenient. To help, Amy includes several tips throughout her book about topics like design walls, choosing fabrics, organizing your projects and encourages you to enjoy the process.

Filled to the brim with 63 pages of original, contemporary quilt designs I recommend this book to non-quilters, confident beginners, all the way up to advanced quilters looking to share their love of quilting with the younger generation. I encourage you to grab a copy of Modern Basics today. You or someone you know might just be inspired to make your very first quilt!

A few months ago I had the opportunity to email Amy a few questions about her book. Here's a transcript of the interview:

RWQ: Thanks for talking with me today Amy. Modern basics is a wonderful book for people looking to fit quilting in their busy schedules. In your introduction you mention most often the people who say they don’t have time to quilt are most in need of a creative outlet. Would you say this book came about because of your own need to express yourself creatively while trying to manage a busy household?

Absolutely! My house is non-stop, like so many other moms, yet I have this deep desire, or need to create on a regular basis. I’m fortunate enough to stay home with our four kids (3 in school this year), and am so thankful, as it has afforded me opportunities I never could have dreamed of!

RWQ: How long have you been quilting Amy? What design/fabrics did you use for your first quilt?

My oldest is eleven now, and that’s how long I’ve been quilting. I used simple charms, but living in Southern California at the time, I skipped the batting, didn’t want her to overheat! Next I moved on to tiny 9-patches alternated with a white on white fabric - simple and fun! I didn’t learn about designer fabrics for a few more years, so those were made with less quality fabrics. I learned to sew garments as a girl, and love the methodical process of quilting now, as it is the only thing that stays done around our house.

RWQ: My favorite quilt in your book is the Basic Puzzle featured on page 33. Can you tell us how that design came about?

Basic Puzzle is one of my favorites too! I actually was watching Project Runway, and I saw a wall in one of the apartments that had wood in the same shape repeated. I had to pause the tv, and grab my sketch pad! From there it was just a matter of getting the proportions to a size that I liked, and sorting out the puzzle as I pieced it!

RWQ: What quilt in your book was the most fun for you to make?

Hmm, that’s tough! Modern Maze narrowly wins over a couple others. It’s a simple quilt to piece, yet it’s so dynamic! I remember staying up, even later than planned, to watch it come together into a quilt top.

RWQ: What is your most favorite part of the quilting process, what is your least favorite part?

I love finishing the binding (by hand) and watching the final product as it transforms into a quilt, finally. My least favorite is cutting, but only because my back usually hurts when I’m done! I need a taller table.

RWQ: Are you a one quilt at a time type of person or do you have multiple projects going on at once?

Both! Usually I’m working on my next deadline, while something fun is catching my eye in my fabric drawer. So I try to stay focused, and get what needs to be done, done. However, while working on the quilts in my book, I learned I was faster when I simultaneously pieced three quilts, instead of cutting one, piecing one.

RWQ: When you design a quilt do you already have the fabrics in mind that you want to use or do you select fabrics after the design is complete?

In the last year, I’ve started designing in solids first, then once I’ve found the right overall look for the pattern, I’ll add in fabrics until I have it just right. Instead of a sketch pad, I’m now designing on the computer, which makes this so much fun! I’m always designing something new, and when I see a group of fabrics I like, I look over my designs to see which I like best for it.

RWQ: Please tell us about the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival you host. I always enjoy visiting your website, more so during Quilt Festival time!

Bloggers’ Quilt Festival is my bi-annual event scheduled around Quilt Market, for bloggers to showcase their current favorite quilt! I love reading the stories behind the quilts, so often the making of a quilt is emotional, or healing in some way to the maker. And quilts are always made with love, so having that understanding, makes each quilt even more special! And that is what I always find lacking when I walk the halls full of quilts at a “live” festival - the emotional connection. Anyway, any one can join, there’s no judging, just a fun community of quilters, sharing, and connecting with one another. Oh, and I have fantastic sponsors each time, with an abundance of giveaways!

Visit Amy's Creative Side during the week of October 28th thru November 4, 2001 to see the quilts featured in this seasons festival!

The first Sewing Summit has come and gone. Amy shares with us a little insite about the included activities:

"Earlier this month a group of 200 sewists gathered in downtown Salt Lake City, for a non-stop weekend! The Sewing Summit is the brain child of myself and my partner Erin - we planned, and made decisions for an entire year before the event came to fruition. It was an amazing time - imagine a room full of your blogging friends, whom you've never met, but "know". There were lots of nervous butterfly's the first evening, but once everyone started chatting, the rest of the weekend was a blur of activity! We offered classes in garment, bag and quilt construction; with lots of inspiration in every class. I hope you will make plans to join us next year!"

Links :
Amy's Sewing Summit Recap
Official Sewing Summit Recap
Erin Singleton's Website (Co-Founder)

To learn more about Amy and her book, Modern Basics: Easy Quilts to Fit Your Budget, Space, and Style, please visit www.amyscreativeside.com. Amy has generously offered a copy of her book to one of my lucky readers! If you'd like to win, please leave a comment on this post. Only one entry per person. All duplicate entries will be deleted!

I will draw several winners using the Random Number Generator and announce them here in an upcoming post!


You can purchase a copy of Modern Basics at the Fat Quarter Shop!

Happy quilting,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Block For Amy & Sarah

Back in August, fellow quilting blogger and friend Sarah Fielke put a call out for anyone who would like to participate in a special project for her friend, Amy of Mrs. Schmenkman Quilts. Amy's husband Dan, a well known Rolling Stone writer and techno Journalist, passed away on August 29th.

A Block for Amy

I was compelled to make a block for Amy's quilt after reading a post she wrote the day Dan died.

A Block for Amy

Sarah's idea was to have everyone make baseline themed blocks because of Dan's influence and participation in the music industry. The block is on its way to Quilt Market with John who offered to pass it along to Sarah. Thanks John.

Amy, my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family during this difficult time after Dans passing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Designer Spotlight | Terrain by Kate Spain for Moda



Designer Kate Spain is returning today to speak with us about her newest collection, Terrain, just released from Moda Fabrics. Boasting a robust palette of jewel tones, foliage, and a small hint of geometrics, this collection is quickly becoming a favorite of many and would look wonderful included in any Fall project you may have planned.

I caught up with Kate via email recently and asked her what her inspiration was for Terrain. This is what she had to say:

"Thanks for inviting me over to your blog, Ryan! I am so excited to have a chance to share some of the inspiration for Terrain with your readers.

It’s hard to believe, but it was over a year ago that the very first sketches I did for this line appeared on paper. It’s always fun to look back at them and see the progression from the very beginning to the fabric here on my shelf. You can see traces of some of these same shapes/motifs resonating in patterns such as Stonecrop, Footpath, Aster, Seedpod and Dahlia.

The color palette and theme for Terrain emerged on a hike with my husband as summer transitioned to autumn with fruits and flowers sprinkling the landscape in vibrant hues. We have a favorite trail we like to hike in northwestern Connecticut that meanders through fern-covered woods, across open fields of wildflowers, and over pebble-studded streams. The various "terrains" struck me with their unique colors, textures, foliage and blooms that i knew i wanted to incorporate some of these ideas and forms into my designs. The name for the collection came almost immediately.

I also knew Terrain was going to be a fall collection, but i really wanted to highlight that fall is a season filled with vibrant color. On our walk, and even in our garden, I noticed how some flowers fade to softer versions of themselves and others become even more saturated in their appearance as the cooler weather sets in. The colors I eventually selected were from seasonal plants/fruits such as hydrangea, dahlias, sedums, hosta, moss and apples.

These are some photos I took of the natural colors that inspired the line:


And here is how they "stacked up" when they finally made it to fabric:


The Terrain precuts (shown below) feature the Stonecrop print as the cover fabric, inspired by the intricate blooms of the sedum plant. I consider this and Forest Floor as the signature prints for the collection since many of the supporting prints were derived from these two.


Here’s a close-up of Forest Floor, Aster, and Seedpod.


Seedpod was inspired by the shape of the milkweed plant as it sends its seeds off with the wind.


One of the things I am thrilled about with this line is that there are many exciting possibilities for color combinations. You can pull the blues, teals, and greens to make something in a harmonious and cool palette, or extend the range to include a pop of orange or bright pink. No matter how you combine them, these colors sing! Here is a picture of two quilts I've made with Terrain.




For Spring Quilt Market 2011, I designed the “Stepping Stones” quilt as a project sheet for Moda to go with the collection. It's offered as a free download from here or here! I had some amazing help from Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life and Judi Madsen of Green Fairy Quilts who collaborated to make a sample of this quilt that hung in the Moda booth. These two women are so talented and I am grateful for their incredible work that brought this quilt to life.


Since the release of Terrain only a couple weeks ago, there are already a bunch of beautiful sewing projects that have popped up in my flickr group and i've had the pleasure of featuring a few on my blog recently as well. I encourage people to share what they make so we can all see (and oooh and ahhh)!

I am also really excited that Moda selected 2 combinations of prints from Terrain that will come in double-sided quilted fabric which would be perfect for quick quilts, lightweight slumber party sleeping bags, or pre-quilted totes. And there are also 3 prints that will come in coated fabric that is great for tote bags, table covers, place mats, or anything you'd like to be able to wipe clean. So many possibilities!

I really can't wait to see what people make with Terrain and hope that they are inspired, excited and have lots of fun sewing with it!

Thank you, Ryan. See you again...soon! *wink*"


All photos and images are © Kate Spain. Reproductions in any form are prohibited.

Kate, it's always a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks for allowing me to share this information with my readers.

Kate sent me several mini charm packs of Terrain to give out. If you'd like to win, please leave a comment on this post. Feel free to let us know what you'd like to make with it! Only one entry per person. All duplicate entries will be deleted!

I will draw several winners using the Random Number Generator and announce them here in an upcoming post!

If you'd like to purchase Terrain yardage or precuts, it is available from the following sponsor shops:

Fat Quarter Shop
Hip Fabric

Happy quilting,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Announcing the NEW and IMPROVED Designer Spotlight Feature!

Hi everyone! I apologize that the posts have been so sporadic as of late. It seems I'm going in many directions and a lot of my time is spent emailing and coordinating. I can't seem to find the time to actually sit and post and pass all the info along. I'm working on it...

Today, I want to announce the second of many new additions I have planned for the RWQ blog.

I've been struggling for the longest time trying to think of how to bring you MORE information about the latest and greatest fabrics. It just seems there aren't enough weeks in the year to fit in everything I want to show you. I think its not only important to show you the fabric, but to actually include a personal note from the designer to help you get a better understanding/appreciation of the line.

The Designer Spotlight series has appeared here in the past when I wanted to share an interview with a designer who's fabrics weren't carried in my main sponsor's catalog. I've decided to bring it back as a permanent fixture where I'll quickly introduce an upcoming/new line and bring you a small amount of information that the designer wishes to pass along to you guys! This format will be particularly great for returning designers who we've already featured. This way we can focus on the fabric and what inspired it.

The possibilities are endless and hopefully the posts will be many! This will also be a more sponsor friendly post as I can list which sponsors are carrying (or will carry) the featured line. I've been getting A LOT of feedback from folks with concern that I am featuring a particular sponsor more than the others. I've taken this in to consideration and am working to make the appropriate changes. So, if you are a fabric shop and want to become a sponsor, now is the time! Feel free to check out my sponsor area and give me a shout.

Did everyone enjoy the Fall Magazine Review Special last week? I had so much fun writing it. My new magazine review post will return every month and I've been working hard to get publisher participation. So please look for specials and RWQ exclusives from your favorite magazines soon!

A new book review series will debut in the next few weeks. I'm currently working with 3 authors and have signed up for several blog hops to celebrate the release of new titles.

Speaking of books, did you see that Sew to Swap by Chrissie Grace is now available on Amazon? I contributed to this great book along with many other talented bloggers. Have you ever wondered how you can go about starting your own online block swap? This book has several projects and instructions for creating and facilitating a swap. Neat, right? You can order a copy here.

I'm currently working with my graphic designer on a complete website overhaul including an all new magazine-like format. It will be easier to navigate and completely customizable.

Please stop back tomorrow when I'll share the first new Designer Spotlight post featuring Kate Spain and Terrain for Moda Fabrics! Kate was generous enough to send along a few prizes to share too!

And if you think I forgot about the last few giveaway drawings, I haven't. I'll post the winners this weekend. Promise ...

See you tomorrow morning!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall Magazine Review Special

Did someone say Fall?

That's right! The Fall issues of your favorite magazines are hitting the news stands now. I've done my best to scour them all to let the RWQ readers know what's hot and what's interesting.

Welcome to the very first RWQ magazine review special!

The Fall 2011 edition of Fabric Trends was surprisingly lacking a certain male quilter's name this month. Mark, where did you go? We miss you when you're not around...

Filled with 11 projects and several well written profiles, the cover quilt this issue features Joel Dewberry's new line, Heirloom.

Included among the pages is a designer profile of Joel on page 28. In the article Joel's wife Laurie is quoted as saying, "[I will change] the entire decorating scheme in our living room just so I can make Joel's [Heirloom reupholstered] chairs work in there!" Wow, now that's what I call dedication! A pattern of the cover quilt is available on page 24.

Other items of note in this issue: A designer profile on page 64 of Mark Cesarik. Mark and his fiance Cara talk about their first trip to Spring Quilt Market 2011 in Salt Lake City, UT, and how Cara was the inspiration for him getting into fabric design. You may remember Mark was a guest on Fat Quarter Shop Friday. You can read my interview with him here.

Deborah Moebes of Whipstitch Fabrics presents an article on page 78 about the failed cotton crop in China and the importance of shopping at your local quilt shop.

Fun projects in this issue and some fabrics you may recognize: An article titled, "5 Fun Projects for a Fall Weekend" on page 14. Miscellany Organic Cotton by Cloud9 fabrics is highlighted in a quick lavender sachet project. A pattern for an e-reader cover features Mark Cesarik's Calypso Swing for Free Spirit. Indygo Junction's Tech Pocket & Portfolio pattern is shown using Geo Grand Organic by Daisy Janie.

Fabric Trends, Fall 2011 is available on news stands now until 12/13 for $6.99.

From the editors of Quilt Magazine comes a Winter 2011 special, Simple Quilts & Sewing. 36 projects are highlighted throughout and several fun crafts using modern fabrics.

The editors kick things off with the stunning and oh-so-contemporary "Gone Fishin'" cover quilt on page 8.

This quilt designed by Pamela Goecke Dinndorf makes good use of vintage shirting cotton and stripes and is definitely on my manquilter holiday wish list.

Past Fat Quarter Shop Friday Guest, Pat Bravo (interview here) has two projects included. Her "Roll With It" bolster pillows pattern appears on page 28. Featuring several of her lines from Art Gallery Fabrics, these fun pillows are a great alternative to their square cousins. Pat's second project on page 56 is called "Little Fashionsta." Utilizing her Dreaming in French line, Pat put together this cute bag pattern for a special little girl who's growing up way too fast. A kit for the bag with fabric only is available through the Fat Quarter Shop.

RWQ sponsor Jackie Kunkel of Canton Village Quilt Works has a quilt featured on page 36. "All Stacked Up" is the perfect quilt to use up your leftover scraps. Take a closer look at the photo and you will see Jackie used strips of fabric in the binding as well as in the body of the quilt!

Looking for something to do with old pairs of jeans? The thrifty project featured on page 40 by Jenny Wilding Cardon utilizes 3 pairs of "retired" blue jeans to create a classic "Tic-Tac-Toe" game!

Jan Di Cintio of Daisy Janie introduces her Market Fresh Tote on page 76. Her pattern features a quick way to transform a fat quarter into a reusable fruit and veggie carrier.

All in all, this issue is filled to the brim with quick gift projects you can make and give for the upcoming holidays. Well worth the spendy price they ask for the publication.

Simple Quilts & Sewing, #122 Winter 2011 is available on news stands now until 01/16 for $9.95.

Quiltmaker's Fall 2011 Small Quilts and Gifts features 13 original projects by several quilting celebrities including Jo Morton and Jennifer Chiaverini.

Sandi Henderson's Meadowsweet fabric is a great addition to the background of an adorable modern Holiday table runner featuring nesting Santa's called "Nesting Nicks" by Diane Harris on page 22. I also recognize the border fabric she used in her project from Denise Schmidt's 2011 DS Quilts Collection for JoAnn Fabrics.

Fellow blogger Vickie Eapen has a neat "Sew Petite Pouch" pattern on page 51 featuring half hexagons. Her clear instructions will have you stylishly toting around your sewing projects in no time.

Make several to give as gifts this year!

On page 30 you can find a simple, modern "Tannenbaum Forest" wall hanging by Electric Quilt designer Heidi Kory. A strictly geometric triangular design with appliqued circles, this project is great for the modern quilt lover. Quiltmaker has bonus content for this pattern on their website for readers and EQ users.

Looking for a fun Spring table topper? Canadian blogger Sonja Callaghan put together this adorable paper pieced "Carrot Topper" and shares her pattern on page 46. I hear Sonja has an adorable woodland paper pieced project in the upcoming Nov/Dec 2011 issue!

All of the projects featured in the magazine would look wonderful in modern, colorful fabrics and with the large assortment of new, original projects I recommend getting a copy of this one!

Quiltmaker's Fall 2011 Small Quilts and Gifts is available on news stands now until 11/14 for $6.99.

One of my absolute favorite seasonal publications is Stitch Magazine by Interweave Press. The Fall 2011 issue just arrived and is loaded with 38 projects and a hand full of useful and informative articles.

Look for a piece on page 20 written by Alissa Haight Carlton giving you a behind the scenes peek at everything Project Runway. In her article, Alissa interviews several past winners of the reality television show, including season 7 winner, Seth Aaron Henderson, season 8 winner Gretchen Jones, and season 1 winner Jay McCarroll.

Nicole Smith shares an instructional how-to article on page 12 called "Seams Right." A really well written and photographed tutorial piece, Nicole shares instructions for how to accomplish 6 common sewing seams including traditional, corner, flat-felled, bias-bound, french, and welt. This lesson is a great addition for anyone's sewing arsenal.

A one page interview with Thomas Knauer, fabric designer for Andover appears on page 8. In this touching article by Tricia Waddell, Thomas opens up about family and his second career as a surface and textile designer due to being ill with a rare neuromuscular disorder.

Thomas' first line with Andover called Pear Tree will release later this year. The article includes a sneak peek at some of the fabrics.

Rachel Hauser who blogs at Stitched in Color, shares a fun, modern "Alphabet Soup Quilt" on page 109 that's great for gift giving. The quilt can showcase the first letter of a child's name. Rachel says the quilt was inspired by none other than what else? A bowl of alphabet soup!

Projects in this edition for friend, baby and canine include fabrics from Cloud9 (Kimono Baby Swaddle page 84, Nested Storage Boxes page 129), Ty Pennington (Double-Bolster Dog Bed page 85), Anna Maria Horner (Studio Satchel page 92), and many more!

I always think of this magazine as more of a book or mini publication. Well worth the price tag. Stitch Fall 2011 is available on news stands now for $14.99.

See you in a few days for more current issue magazine reviews and a new edition of Fat Quarter Shop Friday!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Quilt Uber-Fest Block 6 | Watch Over Me by Ryan Walsh


Happy Thursday everyone! Today is my stop on the Quilt Uber-Fest train! Are you all having fun following along? Yesterday Amy shared a beautiful block she called Home. If you didn't yet see her block, please check in and let her know what you think.

If you're reading this and saying, "What the heck is Quilt Uber-Fest?!?", you can check out Scott's intro post here. There you will find the whole schedule. Each day, 16 different bloggers will be hosting a different block design that will eventually end up together in one quilt. Neat, right?

The fabrics used in all the blocks are selections from Nel Whatmore's Sleeping Beauty line for Free Spirit Fabrics, Kaffe Fassett's Wovens, and a solid of our choice.

The block I chose to make includes a log cabin center and several half square triangle blocks (or HSTs) arranged around it.

Without getting into too much detail the basic premise for my block is this: In her interview with Scott here, Nel was explaining the fantasy and childhood story of Sleeping Beauty that inspired her line. Picture a princess locked away from the outside world, surrounded by beauty she can’t see, waiting for her prince to rescue her. I interpreted her interview into my block.

From one view you can see an eye peering at you watching. The world seeing sleeping beauty, if you will. From another view you can quite literally see sleeping beauty on her bed (as depicted by the log cabin center of my block), the tower walls surrounding her, and 4 squares on each corner all representing her rescuers.

Quilt Uber-Fest Block 6

I call my block, Watch Over Me. You can download a copy of the PDF instructions here.

Please be sure to post a photo of the block you make in the Quilt Uber-Fest Flickr Pool! Lots of great blocks are already appearing in the group. Great job everyone!

Thanks again, Scott for inviting me along for the ride! Please go visit Scott's blog tomorrow (October 7) where he will be posting block 7!

Happy quilting,

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ryan's French Onion Soup

There's nothing better than a nice bowl of soup on a crisp fall day. Make yourself a pot of this French Onion Soup, curl up on the couch, pop in a movie and RELAX! This is my own personal recipe that I developed after testing many others.

And the best part ... It's EASY!!

Ryan's French Onion Soup

serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

5 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 sweet onions, sliced thin
2 red onions, sliced thin
1 32 oz. carton low sodium beef broth
1 32 oz. carton low sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup red wine
2 tablespoons low sodium Worcestershire sauce
3 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 whole garlic clove
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

4 slices french bread
8 slices provolone cheese
4 slices Swiss cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onions and salt. Cook until onions are translucent and tender.

2. Add chicken broth, beef broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, thyme, garlic and bay leaf to the onions. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Reduce heat and add balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Discard herb sprigs, garlic and bay leaf.

3. Broil the French bread slices in the oven until well toasted. Rub with discarded garlic and some olive oil if desired prior to toasting.

4. Arrange 4 oven safe bowls on a cookie sheet, fill with onion soup. In each bowl place a slice of toasted French bread and top with 1 slice of Swiss and 2 slices of provolone cheese.

5. Broil in the oven for several minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Serve right away, but be careful cuz it's HOT!!

I'd love to hear what you think if you give my recipe a try.

Have a great weekend!
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