Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sewdown Nashville - Retreats end up being all about the people

Nashville - Lower Broadway

Last Friday morning I was walking along Lower Broadway in Nashville with Rene and Victoria. Despite it being just around lunch time, this part of Nashville was humming - people were everywhere and there was music pouring out of the clubs as we walked.

Nashville - Painter's Alley

Printer's Alley has undergone several changes from its roots as the printing district. Now its full of clubs.

Victoria and I - Nashville

A couple of photos seemed in order, Victoria and I.

Victoria and Rene - Nashville

Victoria and Rene.

Boots in Nashville

An other thing we saw on this walk was cowboy boots, store after store of them, mostly all offering you free pairs too. Now, being from Alberta, I live in the wild west but I have to say that there are a lot more colourful boots to buy in Nashville, should you be looking for a pair.

Anna Maria Horner's kitchen

On Friday at 4 p.m. sharp, all the quilters boarded large buses and headed off to Anna Maria Horner's house. Truly, the Horner's are fantastic, they had lovely food and beautiful music and they let the quilters wander all over their beautiful home.

Anna Maria Horner's studio

That is part of Anna Maria's studio. I so want a wall of embroidery thread like that one. I was too busy visiting to take many other photos, and everyone had a fantastic time. On the way home, we stopped at The Fabric Studio and then it was time for open sew until midnight.

Soak nail polish

I spent some time that evening with the lovely Jacqueline from Soak chatting and getting my nails painted Lizzy House pearl bracelet style. Soak teamed up with fabric designers who curated the cutest nail polish sets and of course I had to buy two of them.

Carolyn Friedlander - in class, Sewdown Nashville

Saturday morning my first class was with Carolyn Friedlander. We learned to make her Ariel quilt - look at those fantastic samples on the table. I adore Carolyn's fabrics and her patterns are great too. It was so nice to get to know her  better over the weekend.

The group was broken into 4 sections of 20 so we all rotated through the classes all weekend. These fantastic teachers taught their workshops 4 times in a row, and were fresh and inspiring each time.

Anna Maria Horner - in class Sewdown Nashville

Saturday afternoon was a workshop with Anna Maria Horner. Everyone was spreading out on the floor creating collages. I teamed up my new friend Beata, and we actually finished my pillow top which I will share later.

Anna Maria Horner and Jen Carlton-Bailly - Sewdown Nashville

Here is Jen with Anna. Jen, who blogs at Bettycrockerass, was one of the three Modern Quilt Guild organizers who hosted this weekend and I am so glad I got to know her better.

There are a lot of things I have no photos of. We had fantastic meals - all of them were included. There were three inspiring lectures too, by Elizabeth Dackson (Don't Call Me Betsy), Alexia Abbeg (Green Bee - she wrote Liberty Love), and Maddie Kertay (BadAss Quilters Society). Saturday night was another free sewing night and I lasted almost till midnight, sewing and visiting.

Angela Walters - Sewdown Nashville

Sunday morning Angela Walters shared free motion quilting tips and designs. I was especially looking forward to this class, given all the quilting I have been doing.

Angela Walters and me - in class, Sewdown Nashville

There I am on instagram with Angela. I really enjoyed this chance to learn more about fmq designs and Angela is a wonderful teacher.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe - in class, Sewdown Nashville

On Sunday afternoon, I got to Play with the fantastic Victoria Findlay Wolfe. Victoria taught us many techniques, and encouraged us to be creative with fabric and design.

Victoria and Rene - Sewdown Nashville

There is Victoria with Rene.

Carolyn Friedlander, Anna Maria Horner, Victoria Findlay Wolfe - Sewdown Nashville

Janome, together with a local Janome dealer, sponsored the weekend and provided two models of sewing machines for everyone who wanted to use one in all the classes. There were two Janome trainers present the entire weekend who were fantastic and fun too. Several folks bought a machine, and at the end of the weekend, there was a flurry of machine autographing.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Anna Maria Horner, Rene - Sewdown Nashville

Of course, quilters and designers had all the sharpie colours out.

Anna Maria Horner, Elizabeth Dackson - Sewdown Nashville

One of a kind sewing machines were created.

Elizabeth Dackson and Heather Grant - Sewdown Nashville

There is Elizabeth Dackson and Heather Grant. Elizabeth, Heather and Jen were the Modern Quilt Guild hosts of the weekend. I cannot say enough things about these women. They are dedicated, funny, helpful, interesting and inspiring. And they all worked hard, every minute of the retreat, so that everything went well all of the time.

Jen Carlton-Bailley - Sewdown Nashville

Jen signing Rene's machine. (And no, I did not buy one, I already have a Janome Horizon which I use every day.)

Shelby, Carolyn, Rene, Victoria, me, Beata - Sewdown Nashville

This is the group I spent the most time with. Shelby, Carolyn (Carolyn was my sewing partner, I would love to sew next to her anytime), Rene, Victoria, me, and Beata. I really had the best time getting to know these lovely women.

So, yes, I had a wonderful time. It was a lot for one weekend, and like most folks coming home from a retreat, I felt overwhelmed for a few days. I would totally go again - the smaller but not tiny retreats work really nicely for me, with lots to learn and many but not too many people to meet and get to know.

Thank you to Jen, Heather and Elizabeth and the Modern Quilt Guild. Thank you to Janome and Soak and the sponsors who filled the goody bags.

And thank you to Nashville, everyone was so friendly.

I hope you are having a lovely Easter weekend, I am sewing and tidying and today I have to work a bit, because tomorrow I am off to Vancouver. When I am not working in my real job, I get to hang with my friend Krista (Poppyprint) again who is taking me to two different quilt guild meetings with her. I am so looking forward to that, I have not seen her since the Fat Quarterly Retreat in London last summer.



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Decipher Your Quilt - How to decipher a 16 patch

Decipher your quilt

After a bit of a break, Jess from Elven Garden Quilts and I are deciphering quilts again today. Jess will tell you all about how to identify a 16 patch block and I will share the math behind a 16 patch block and a quilt using 16 patch blocks. 

Ocean Waves - top

So you are looking a quilt top, you want to make one like it but don't know how to make it. Let's look at the quilt top above.

First, take a good look at the top. You can see big circles and also big Xs in the pattern. But if you take your eye to a corner and look for a while, you will see that the unique block that makes the pattern has 16 equal squares - that 16 patch repeats throughout the quilt.

Ocean Waves block for me

When you look at this block, you will see that it is made of background squares and then HSTs which are background fabric and feature fabric. This block is called Ocean Waves and is an old traditional block. You can refresh on making the HSTs from our earlier DYQ post here.

I hear some of you saying, "Wait a minute Leanne, how big do we make the 16 pieces of the block? Don't we need a pattern?"

The truth is you don't really need a pattern. You know that you want the block to be 16 equal sized squares, 4 across and 4 down. Given that quilters like easy math, a 16 patch is normally made to be a finished size that divides by 4. So the finished blocks will likely be finished at 4", 8", 12", 16", 20" or 24" block.

The pieces would be as follows:

  • For a 4" finished block, each of the 16 units will finish at 1" (4" divided by 4 = 1"). Remember to add seam allowances of 1/2" per unit after we calculate the block dimensions - so you make 4 x 1.5" squares or HSTs (units) for the example block and then sew them together.
  • For a 8" finished block, each of the 16 units will finish at 2" (8" divided by 4 = 2") - then add seam allowances of 1/2" and make each unit 2.5" and then sew them together in the order you need to make your 16 patch.
  • For a 12" finished block, each of the 16 units will finish at 3" (12" divided by 4 = 3") - then add seam allowances of 1/2" and make each unit 3.5" and then sew them together in the order you need to make your 16 patch.
  • For a 16" finished block, each of the 16 units will finish at 4" (16" divided by 4 = 4") - then add seam allowances of 1/2 and make each unit 4.5" and then sew them together in the order you need to make your 16 patch.
  • For a 20" finished block, your units will finish at 5", for a 24" finished block, your units will finish at 6", and so on. You could make a huge single block to be the whole quilt if you wanted to do so.
But, again I hear one of you with another question: How will we know what size block to make to get a quilt like yours?

Ocean Waves - top

One way to figure out the block size is to take the size of the quilt top and work backwards to the block size.

For example, if you read in my description of my quilt top that it is 72" x 60", then:
  • Look at the quilt top and count the number of blocks. For this quilt we see 6 blocks across and 5 blocks tall.
  • Take the longer side measurement and divide it by the larger number of blocks: 72" divided by 6 = 12.
  • Take the shorter side measurement and divide it by the smaller number of blocks: 60" divided by 5 = 12. 
  • To make a quilt top like mine, you need to make blocks that finish at 12"
Another option is to make the blocks a size that is pleasing to you and then make enough blocks to get the size quilt you want. 

For example, if you want a quilt that is 100" x 120" and uses large blocks:
  • A nice oversize block is a 20" finished block (don't forget, you will be making the block to be 20.5" unfinished, but this math uses the finished block sizes). Make one block to see if you like its look.
  • So if you liked that 20" block, then to make your quilt you need 100" divided by 20" = 5 blocks on one side. The other side is 120" divided by 20" = 6
  • For your quilt, you will need 5 blocks across and 6 blocks down. That means 5 multiplied by 6 blocks = 30 blocks in total.
You can use this math to make quilts of any size. However, again quilters tend to avoid difficult math, so use the number of blocks to reach close to your desired size. For example, if you want to use 12" blocks and want a quilt that is 100" by 120", the math is:
  • 120 divided by 12 = 10 blocks on one side.
  • 100 divided by 12 = 8.33 - so instead either finish this side to 108", which is 108" divided by 12 = 9 blocks on this side, or finish this side to 96", which is 96 divided by 12 = 8 blocks on this side.
The Picnic Quilt

A popular 16 patch quilt on the internet is the St. Louis 16 patch. The clever tutorial for making these quilts quickly is over at Sew with Sass here.

If you are looking for another 16 patch tutorial, you can check out the Ocean Waves tutorial on my blog here.

As always, if you have any questions on this post - it is about math after all - just leave them in the comments or email me at shecanquilt [at] gmail [dot] com.

I hope you will head over to read Jess's post at Elven Garden Quilts, which will help you to identify more 16 patch blocks. Next time on Decipher Your Quilt we will be deciphering 25 patch blocks.

By the way, I am home from Sew Down Nashville and I had the best time. I hope to get my pictures sorted so I can tell you all about it tomorrow.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sewdown Nashville - the day before


I went for a long walk today in Nashville. After strolling through a beautiful university campus, I came to this small little enclave, Hillsboro Village.


After spending an entire day travelling here on Wednesday (I had to make a stop in Toronto), I was glad of the beautiful spring day to just walk for miles.


This sign, together with a vague statement from my husband, about having had the best ice cream ever somewhere in this area, led me inside.


It was lovely, and indeed, Jenis Splendid Ice Cream was splendid - best ever I think. I had one scoop of Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Cherries and one scoop of Yazoo Sue with Rosemary Bar Nuts (Yazoo Sue is a Nashville brewing company and the ice cream was made with wood smoked porter). If you live in the USA, you can get this ice cream delivered by courier, truly.


There are quilt inspirations everywhere - look at the bricks. Oh, and also pancakes - I had sweet potato pancakes which were recommended, and also fantastic.


This store was amazing. A 40 year family business, cluttered and full of wonderful stuff.


Beautiful old buildings, some with decorative ceiling tiles. More quilting inspiration.


You don't see signs like that one in Canada. Made me think.


Seriously, more quilting inspiration.


Old signs.


And yet more quilt ideas, look at those windows.

Wednesday night I enjoyed conversation and wine in person with one of my internet quilting friends - Jen - also knows as BettyCrockerAss. Tomorrow I get to go to Anna Maria Horner's house for a studio tour and social with the whole Sewdown Nashville group. And on the way home, a stop at a new fabric shop.

And then, the weekend includes classes from Anna Maria Horner, Carolyn Freidlander, Victoria Findlay Woofe, and Angela Walters. Lectures from Alexia Abegg, Elizabeth Dackson, and Maddie Kertay. In between times there will be time to meet a lot of quilters, some of whom I have met on the internet. I will do my best to report back after it is done on Sunday - the Modern Quilt Guild has put together a fantastic plan for the Sewdown.

You might have noticed Jess and I deferred Decipher Your Quilt for one more week. Jess is up to her armpits with sick kids and a wedding quilt deadline, and I am in Nashville, so look for deciphering 16 patches next week.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Q2 FAL and AYOLF lists

Finish Along 2014

It's Q2 already in the 2014 FAL - time to make and link up our lists of works in progress that we hope to finish this quarter. Again, I have a very long list, but it is in part because I just cannot pick which things I want to work on the most. I hope you are making your list too, it is time to link it up over at Katy's blog, the Littlest Thistle.

A number of these are carry forwards from last quarter. Here is my list:

Modern Stitching Bee top

1. Modern Blocks Bee quilt - The top is done, but for a couple of mistakes in the bottom right to fix. She needs a back and some quilting.

Pickle dish progress

2. Pickle Dish - This quilt was a big factor in getting my new long arm machine. So it is time to get it finished.

Asterix and other symbols - in progress

3. Asterix and other symbols quilt - I have all the blocks back from the talented quilters in Always Bee Learning, and have made no more progress. Time to make a quilt.

Improv Sampler - in progress

4. These Free Bee blocks have now been sewn together. I pieced this top but now I am going to take it apart and add a few bits of background. Then to finish it off.

Stonehenge block quilt - in progress

5. This block is called Stonehenge from the 99 Modern Blocks book and was made for me in the now finished Modern Blocks Bee. The top is now pieced, so it just needs quilting and binding.

No - for the No quilt

6. The No quilt is a project near to my heart, and has sat mostly stalled. I am putting it on the list because I really, really want this quilt finished.

Emerald Irish Chain

7. Emerald Irish Chain - Truly should be done already. Enough said.

Placemat in progress

8. Placemats - There should be four finished, not just one.

Mystery Quilt - basted

9. Mystery quilt - This is the most beautiful quilt top I have made - Sheila's pattern and teaching have a lot to do with that. I have been too scared to quilt it, but now I have the long arm. Time to finish this one off.

Ocean Waves - top

10. Ocean Waves - these are the blocks are from my bee mates in Always Bee Learning and I made a few more to finish this top. As I look at this photo I am wondering if I should add another row at the top. Whether I do or not, it is time to get it all finished.

Colour Study pillows in progress

11. Colour Study Pillows: one front is quilted and the other has the quilting half done. They will be 20" pillows when they are done.

Colour Study in progress

12. Not solid, industrial look Colour Study: Her borders will be expresso brown Essex Linen. I hope to have the pattern done soon too. This version of the Colour Study quilt and also finishing the pattern for it are on both my Q2 FAL list and also my April goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes.

Hopefully I can get all of these done, at least more than four like Q1. And I am spiffing up the blog, if you are reading in a reader, click through and let me know if you like the new look - which is coming together so nicely wholly due to the assistance of my friend Kat.