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.