Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Peppered Cottons Sampler Quilt

Over a year ago I responded to an email from my boss Scott Fortunoff at StudioE Fabrics. He'd asked all employees/consultants/sales reps to think about new marketing efforts. Scott is pictured at right. That wasn't a stretch for me as a longtime quilter in that I knew "many hands make light work." Short translation: ask your friends to help. So I did and sent out emails to my quilting designer buddies and asked the following:

Would you be willing to make one quilt block for a sampler quilt? There would be only four rules: #1) the block when it's mailed to me should measure 16 1/2" square so that it will sew to 16". The #2 caveat: use only Peppered Cottons in the block. The #3 rule) make sure the style of the block 'looks like you.' Tie it to some class you teach, book you're written or pattern you sell. Finally #4) Get it to me on time! 

To my delight, almost every one I wrote to responded. Then the blocks started coming in and by October 2017, I was ready to unveil the concept of the Peppered Cottons Sampler to the world. At Fall Quilt Market, in a Schoolhouse presentation, I displayed the blocks each as separate matted works of art and introduced the designers individually. I explained the concept of this quilt was something called Reciprocal Marketing. Simply speaking, it meant that the designers all got publicity for themselves and their work while StudioE got a beautiful quilt to display to show off the Peppered Cottons line.
The block pictured left is Featherberry by Robin Koehler.

I was the 'glue' that held this project together. I did the correspondence, cut and sent the fabrics and then received the blocks and prepared them for their Fall Market debut by having custom-cut matting made and then mounting each with thin batting behind the project and posterboard backs. At this point each block could have been hung as an individual work of art. Here's a link to that Schoolhouse where the blocks were shown as individual works .

After Market, I took the blocks out of their mountings and carefully ironed and set them aside as I designed the perfect 'set' for them. The word 'set' in quilt lingo means two things: the quilt's block arrangement and it's eventual size. I went through a large pad of graph paper as I experimented with the challenge of displaying twelve beautiful 16" square blocks that were all different colors and styles. And sewed, ripped, sewed again two different times. Then I realized I'd hung the blocks on my design wall in a natural and quite traditional arrangement and that it worked! 

Falling back on my North Carolina roots, I sewed triple-strip sashing units (1" wide by 16" long) united by common cornerstone blocks 3" square. The sashing strips were of different colors (just like the blocks) but a calm neutral (Pepper #44-31) anchored the strip sets and appeared as all the cornerstone blocks. Interesting that although Pepper is one of the top-selling colors in the Peppered Cottons line, none of the designers had used it as a major player in their blocks. Thank goodness I had this quiet color to work with! 

In January/February 2018, I put together the sampler quilt. In March the quilt top went to Laurie Mayo, an extraordinary longarm quilter in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Then I breathed a sigh of relief as I knew Laurie would do an excellent job. We talked several times about quilting styles, thread color, and placement of designs. On the tray you see all the different colors of threads Laurie used to quilt the sampler.

Here are a couple of pictures of Laurie's glorious quilting as seen from the back of the quilt. Notice the thread changes. Left is Janice Pope's block and right is the border of the quilt/

By the end of April the Peppered Cottons Sampler quilt was ready. All that remained to do was to hand-sew the binding down. Rod and I took the Sampler into the back yard to photograph it against his shed as I had no wall big enough to accommodate the piece.

It's natural when viewing a Sampler quilt to choose your favorite block. If you do, the text following the picture has all the information you need to contact the block's maker and see more of her work and to purchase her patterns and books.

From left to right starting at the top row: Crazy Quilt by Valerie Bothell of the Facebook page Joyful Embellishments  . Author of  the book Joyful Daily Stitching. Center block: Pieced star by Bonnie Hunter, www. , author of numerous quilt books. Right upper corner: Pineapple applique block by Kathy Delaney, . Author of several books, teacher, and quilt judge. 

Second row left to right: Featherberry by Robin Koehler of Nestlings by Robin . Center block: Kelly Ashton, Kellyquilter Designs . Right block: Applique Tulips by Sue Pelland of Sue Pelland Designs, .

Third row left to right: Antique Vase pattern by Allison Aller of Allie’s in Stitches Author of Stained Glass Quilts Reimagined. Center block: Janice Pope of Anything But Boring Designs Right block: Ginko Love by Robin Koehler of Nestlings by Robin .

Fourth row left to right: Gyleen X. Fitzgerald, Colourful Stitches .
Author of Bricks, Cobblestones, and Pebbles . Center block: Susan R. Marth of Suzn Quilts . Author of The Dresden Quilt Workshop. Right block: Barbara Black of My Joyful Journey: My Life as a Quiltmaker and Quilt Teacher, /. 

To all my quilting friends who contributed to this beautiful quilt, my deep and sincere thanks. As we do in the South, I'd have you all over for supper!  

                                         Photo taken in 1959, Grand Lake, Colorado.

Friday, May 4, 2018

All Sorts

As soon as I saw the fabric line called Licorice Candy from StudioE Fabrics, I knew it was something special. And as is often the case with my left-of-center choices, the line was not wildly popular with quilt stores. Licorice Candy came out last Fall and has been all shipped to stores--although there may be a bit left in the warehouse or floating around on ebay or Amazon. But I only was able to get a little bit of each of the fabrics. Most of the samples I sorted right away into their color bins--the yellow and turquoise for instance went straight to their respective tubs stowed away on the Great Wall of Fabric. 

I knew there was a quilt waiting to happen in the Art Deco-inspired geometric print and the widely-spaced floating posies of Licorice Candy. These two prints remained in view in the studio as I didn't want to lose them in the general chaos. And I made a drawing of an old familiar quilt pattern using Drunkard's Path blocks, my favorite quilt block since the 1980s. 

These two prints from the Licorice Candy line have no special names other than 3353-09 and 3353-91. In my mind I called them 'all sorts' prints since they reminded me of the classic British candy by that name. 

All Sorts candy was supposedly invented in 1899 by a clumsy salesman named Charlie Thompson who worked for Basset's Candy Company. Charlie tripped when he was showing a tray of separate licorice candies to a potential customer and the resulting colorful mess delighted the customer who ordered the 'all sorts' mixture. Whatever the quilt I made was going to be, its name would be All Sorts.

The working drawing was on graph paper but informal. It's the way I usually plan my quilts. You realize that in letting you see this drawing, I am revealing that I don't plot out my quilts down to the details nor that I am even very precise. I like the idea that I might change my mind at any time. In the meantime, my friend Mary Frankle was a good sport and cut out pieces, stacking them on paper plates.

Here was the teaser picture I put up on Facebook a couple of days ago. Just two of the blocks side by side.

Little did the FB friends who commented know that the blocks would shortly be joined by seven other blocks and not all would show the same background print. After all, I had only 1 1/4 yard of each print and this was looking to be a queen-size quilt.

Meet All Sorts, a queen-size quilt top that we could only photograph by clipping it to the side of Rod's shed in the back yard.

The individual blocks are large (24" square) and the border adds another 12". It's a whopping 84" square.

Have no idea exactly how I'll quilt it right now. A combination of hand and machine work is likely. The backing will be the same charcoal grey but the binding will be eye-popping purple.

Feeling quite pleased with myself today.