Thursday, January 20, 2022

A new Tunic

Every now and then I get the urge to return to my roots and make myself a garment. These days, due to some hard earned weight loss (Go me!) all of my clothes are baggy on me. I'm trying to put off buying new clothes, but thought a fun make or two might be in order. 

I'm really happy with how this tunic turned out! I used McCalls pattern #7284 and by adding french seams to the side seams it is nicely finished on the inside which is always a plus for me. The fabric is Modcloth by Free Spirit Fabric with Grunge that I happened to have on hand as the placket.... a nice match.

Now I have the itch to make more garments! Hubby gifted me a beautiful African wax print for Christmas that I think will become a full skirt soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Exploring Collaboration: part 4

Today is the fourth installment of Exploring Collaboration, a series of blog posts offered up twice a month by Karen Bolan and me. We've really enjoyed sharing our thoughts with you and look forward to future conversations about collaboration with many fellow quilters.

For this week's exploration of collaboration, I have a specific idea that you might try with a group of friends.  Hopefully the world will soon begin to open up again and we will be more able to join with fellow quilters on retreats, for quilting days, workshops and other in person activities. Here's a collaborative activity you and your group might like to try! A friend and I came up with this idea a couple of years ago (pre-pandemic). It will work best with a group of 4-8, if you have more just split into two groups!

To begin this activity, each participant arrives with an already completed 24" block. For my example, we each start with an improv log cabin. They can be wonky (or not), symmetrical (or not), prints, solids, you name it. The important thing (for ease) is that all of the beginning blocks are 24" square. Each person also needs to bring a 2 1/2" strip of their "signature fabric" cut into 4 6" rectangles.  

Participants should be seated in a circle of sorts so that projects can easily be passed from one to the next. First up, everyone passes their block to the person next to them (clockwise passing works well!) Now take the block you have received and cut it into 16 equal 6" squares. If you have a 6"x24" ruler this will be easy to do!

Now gather up the squares you have cut and pass them to the next person in line.

Mix up the squares you have received. Randomly choose four of the squares, add one of your signature rectangles to the mix and sew them into a strip (you can insert your rectangle anywhere you want. In this example, the orange strip between blocks 3 & 4 is the signature strip).

Now pass your strip and the remaining squares to the next person. Repeat the strip sewing activity until each block is in four strips. Can you find the four different signature strips in the photo below?

The next person gets to rearrange the strips into a pleasing arrangement of their choice and sew them all together.

Return the completed, reconstructed block to it's original owner to be quilted and bound. 

It would be fun to try this activity with other kinds of blocks too! If you try it, I hope you'll share your process and results with me on Instagram @ellynz.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Building Community through Collaboration


Have you received your copy of Curated Quilts in the mail yet? Mine came this weekend and I've been pouring over it, reading every word. I always enjoy it, but especially this time, as it is all about Collaboration! So many wonderful articles and beautiful group quilts.

Oh, and look at that, on page 49.....

Karen Bolan and I collaborated on an article! I'm delighted to be included in this beautiful magazine and happy to spread the joy I find in collaboration with others. 

You can order a copy of the magazine here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Exploring Collaboration: Myths

If you've been following along, Karen Bolan and I have been exploring different aspects of collaboration together, then reflecting on our conversations on our blogs. You can find the first two entries in our series here on my blog and on Karen's blog as well.

 This week Karen and I are exploring some of the myths that might keep you from jumping on the collaboration bandwagon. If you're like me, you might make up stories in your head about things that "might happen" if you collaborate with other quilters. And, I'm not going to lie, some of them might! But there are ways to avoid them and ways to deal with them when they do. Here are just a couple of collaboration myths that I've faced.

#1 Others in the group might not follow through.
Possible. However, in my experience, it doesn't happen as often as you might think! Most people who sign up for a collaborative experience really want to be there. If you've carefully selected your collaborative partners and established clear rules for the group as I discussed in my earlier post, chances are everyone will do their best to participate fully. 

What do you do if members are not reliable? Here are some things to consider...
- if you are in charge of the group, you can talk to the person and work out a solution. Often life just happens and the collaborator might be overwhelmed or embarrassed that they can't do their part. Communication is key! Can a deadline be extended? Can someone else fill in for the person until they are able to rejoin? Does the person really need to back away permanently? All are valid.

- show lots of grace! I've found that this is an important factor in all aspects of life, but especially when I'm collaborating with others. Forgive and move on.

#2 I won't end up with enough blocks to complete my quilt.
This is closely related to myth #1. First of all, you will ALWAYS have enough to make a quilt. It may not be the king sized bed quilt you envisioned, but it will indeed be a quilt! Some things to think about...

- try to go into collaboration with an open mind. Expect the unexpected! You may end up short a few blocks, blocks may be different than you had originally pictured. Colors may vary, sizes, techniques... it's ok. Whatever you receive reflects the group you are working with.
- if you want the quilt to be bigger, add more blocks of your own, add sashing or borders to the blocks you receive or even lots of negative space. It's your quilt in the end! 
This bee quilt was intended to be for my queen sized bed, but some blocks did not arrive! I added tons of negative space. When folded right, it makes a beautiful bed runner across the foot of my bed.  When a few blocks arrived late, after I had already pieced the quilt, I made some matching throw pillows and was able to use them all.

I wanted my Japanese x and + quilt to be bigger. Making one giant block added interest to my quilt and went faster than creating four extra blocks
- you can always make a smaller quilt! Small wall quilts can be very impactful.

These are just a couple of collaboration myths you might encounter. Karen is addressing different myths on her blog today. Check back in two weeks when we'll have more thoughts about collaboration!