Member Spotlight: Ellen M.


Tell us about yourself.
Single mom, adorable 11 year old daughter, cat named Buttercup, work in the Marketing profession, born out East, grew up in Chicago, here since 1993

Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?

Craftandchat.wordpress.com


Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
YES! Too many: knitting, crochet, gardening, needlework, reading
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
Started in 2000 when daughter was born. Took a class at a local quilt shop.
How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
About 20. About 4 UFOs. 1 million quilts that I want to make!
How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
0-10—but I always want it to be more. Also… depends if it’s gardening season;
Describe your first quilt. (a photo would be nice, but is optional).
A pink pastel traditional pieced crib quilt that I made for my daughter. 

Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
My Teddy Bear appliqué, hand quilted wall hanging – all done by hand- from the book Alphabears by Linda Hohag.
Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments
My basement sewing room or upstairs at my kitchen table. I far prefer the latter! Coffee is a must! Sometimes I listen to the radio.
Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
I keep my stash in rubber totes. I have way too much so am trying not to buy more for a while.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
I love working with my hands and making things. I love handwork—hand turn applique or hand sewing the binding on. It is hard to get started or make time to quilt because there are always other things to do like basic housework, work, paying bills, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, caring for a child, etc., etc.
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
To quilt more! To finish more quilts. To start more quilts. To put quilting before housework! To learn more techniques! To have better, more consistent ¼” seam allowances. To learn free motion quilting…Too many to list…
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of? Machine quilting larger quilts on my basic sewing machine.
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
Teeny tiny pieced and/or hand appliquéd or hand quilted quilts.
What advice do you have for new quilters?
Just do it and don’t worry about it being perfect!

Stash Organization

Hello, there! I'm Flaun of I Plead Quilty! guest posting about fabric.

Do you organize your stash at all? How do you do it?

After months of creativity, not much cleaning up, and a general dislike of how my fabric was stored, I decided it was time to reorganize my stash.

Keepin' it real
See that stack of fabric? Lazy!

I sorted all the fabric that had been piling up into color groups (I had my stash already sorted that way), and decided to refold the whole shebang.

Stash
Organized, but still a bit untidy.

First, I ironed any wrinkly fabric and laid it out on my cutting table.

GEDC1230

I lined my long, straight ruler up with the edge of the fabric...

GEDC1232


...and started flipping!

GEDC1235
Line the edges of the fabric up as you flip.
GEDC1236
Keep the fabric taut.
GEDC1238
Done flipping!

Once I reached the end of the fabric, I slid the ruler out of the end of the fabric...

GEDC1240


...and folded it in half.

GEDC1241

After a week of folding, here's the stash!

GEDC1247
Pretty!
Okay, keeping it real. I still have three more shelves to fold, but won't it look lovely when I'm done?!

GEDC1247 - Copy
There's another shelf below this on that didn't fit in the pic.

Member spotlight: Kristin L.

Kristin is the current Web coordinator for the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild.

Tell us about yourself.
I live with my husband, my three children (one girl and two boys, aged 5, 4, and almost 2), and my two rescued shih-tzus in Minneapolis. I have had a few different jobs, but right now I am a stay-at-home mom.

I grew up in Calgary, but then moved to Palo Alto, Boston, and then finally to Minneapolis about 5 years ago for my husband’s job. 
Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?
I had a blog long ago, but let it slip when my second was born. I might get back to it someday as I kind of miss it.
I do have a non-quilty bead shop on Etsy. I don’t make a huge amount of money, but it pays for my crafting stuff, which is why I opened it in the first place. Beading was one of my main hobbies before quilting took over.
Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
I think I have been crafting practically since birth, and have tried just about everything. I started out crocheting and sewing when I was very young. I also occasionally knit, paint with watercolors (even though I can’t draw), do beadwork, and do paper crafts like bookbinding and paper decoration. I also like to cook, but that is about the only hobby I have that isn’t craft related.
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
I have been quilting for about 6 years. My Grandma quilted for years but I thought it would be too hard to learn so I didn’t ask her to teach me. Sadly I started getting into it just as she decided she could not manage to do it anymore. It was actually a visit to my Mother-in-law’s that got me started as she convinced me that I should just try it. I taught myself how to quilt from books and the internet.
How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs unfinished objects)?
I have made about 25 quilts so far, mostly large crib or throw sized. I have only made around 5 twin-sized quilts.

I have been working on my UFOs lately, and I think I am down to 3. One is a doll quilt or wall hanging from a "Piping Hot Curves" class I took in 2008. It would be easy to finish, but I don't know what I am going to do with it so it is kind of stalled. It might turn into a part of a backing as a surprise shock of color.
Piped curves quilt
One is a full-sized raggy quilt where I didn’t read the directions right and is kind of a disaster—I cut the batting squares the same size as the fabric squares so the batting shows at the fringe. This might wind up looking fine when I finally finish clipping and washing it, though. 
Purple raggy quilt
My last UFO is the first quilt I started, which is basted and I hope to finish quilting very shortly (photo below). 
These are just the UFOs that are really started. If you count the fabric I have bought while thinking of making a specific quilt that is still in my stash mocking me, the number would be higher, maybe another 6-8 more? I don't have the heart to count.
How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
This varies so much as my mood and energy level changes. Some weeks I get overexcited with a new project and put in close to 40 hours, and some weeks I feel burnt out and don’t touch my machine. I would like to aim for 15-20 hours and be more consistent.
Describe your first quilt.
It was just a sampler out of a beginning quilt book. I absolutely hated it because one of the colors that I thought matched wound up looking hideous. It sat for years until I got into fabric dyeing and I actually painted dye onto the hideous color pieces to fix them (below, the green was an awful olive-y taupe). Now the color is better, but it still needs to be quilted. It isn’t really my style anymore, but I should just finish it.
Sampler quilt
Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
Strangely one of my favorites is one of the simplest. The stacked coin quilt I made for the upcycle challenge for my middle son is incredibly soft and snuggly. I used men’s dress shirts for the front and flannel shirts for the back and it feels amazing. I had to include a photo of him in it :)

Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
I briefly had a sewing room when we first moved here, but I never used it because it was too far away from the rest of the family. Now it is my daughter’s room and I sew at the dining room table. We have a built-in buffet in our 99-year old house that I have pretty much taken over the top of for my quilt projects. It is very handy to sew in the middle of the house because I can sew a bit during the day as well if the kids are occupied. In the evenings when I sew I usually set up my laptop on the table and stream tv or music.
Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
When I first started quilting, I would buy fabric just because it caught my eye. I quickly figured out that this did not work for me. When I look at a big stash of fabric, I don’t feel inspired, I feel overwhelmed. I also have a lot of trouble combining patterned fabrics so I like keeping my options limited—then I am not constantly paralyzed with indecision. It is much easier for me to choose from say 3 greens than 30 or even 300. I also find it very satisfying to “make do” instead of trying to maintain a fabric store in my small house.

I mostly stopped buying patterned fabric when I learned how to dye my own about 5 years ago. I also don’t tend to accumulate a lot of fabric because it takes work to make it, and after that work I don’t like to see it sitting around. I have one small rolling 6-drawer thing from Ikea that holds all of my thread, notions, and hand-dyed fabric, and that is my limit. When the drawers start to get full, I piece a back for my next or current quilt from them. When I dye a specific group of colors for a quilt, I try to use all of the scraps together too, often in the backing, because they are already grouped together and match.
The majority of my stash up until recently was my own dyed fabrics. I still have one Rubbermaid bin of fabric that I bought when I started quilting that now I will probably just turn into charity quilts as I am not crazy about the fabric anymore. 
This year I also inherited my Grandmother’s fabric stash and thread, and while she didn’t have a ton of fabric, I am not really sure what to do with it all as she was a fairly traditional quilter. All the colors are muted and traditional. I am thinking of making a queen sized star block quilt for my parents with it, but that might be a 1- or even 5-year project.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
My favorite part is designing a pattern and figuring out the best way to sew it. My least favorite part used to be basting before I discovered basting spray and my basting time was reduced to 15 minutes. Now my least favorite part is quilting. It is hard work to wrangle a quilt through the machine, and I still struggle with the quality of my quilting stitches.
What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
I just want to keep improving. I want to get much better at free-motion quilting. I also want to keep designing my own quilts and possibly start selling the patterns (more than just the handful I have sold so far). I might have to wait until all my kids are in school to really try for that, though, which is still 4 more years.
What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
I would like to try some smaller wall hangings and “art” quilts. It is tough for me to fight my practical side and make a quilt that is not actually functional.
Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
I would have to say nature. From repeating patterns to color combinations, nature is a great source of inspiration. I also occasionally spend time on color porn sites like Design Seeds (although there are several good ones) as choosing colors is not my strongest skill.
What advice do you have for new quilters?
I used to read quilting blogs and feel terribly inadequate, but often the people with quilting blogs sew a lot; some sew 40 hours a week or more. I wasn't putting in that kind of effort, so of course I was not going to get those kind of results. 
And, if you are not great at first, stick with it—you will get better with every quilt you finish. I think it took me about 6 quilts before I started being happy with the finished results, and about 12 quilts before I started relaxing and improvising. I feel like I learn something and get a little better with each quilt I finish.
Also, I will repeat Lisa’s advice to ignore the quilting police. They would be horrified at some of the stuff I get away with and I don’t care :)

Getting rid of pesky puckers

I'm Vanessa of Punkin Patterns -- back to give you one of my quilting tips!

I haven't been quilting for very long.  One thing that I always have trouble with is pinning my front, batting and back together WITHOUT gathers, puckers or wrinkles.  The top I can always get ok (mostly because when I'm pinning, that's the side I see so I can smooth out any bumps) but the bottom, I have trouble with.  I end up pinning a few times in order to get the bottom and top nice and smooth.

There are a lot of different products out there to help you with this (and simple solutions).  Some people just stretch and tape down their backing -- my surface to do this on is a nice hardwood floor.  I worry so much about the tape I'm using on the floor and scratching the floor with a pin, that this method is cumbersome and stressful.

There's also some great spray on adhesives people use and swear by it -- for me, I don't like that stuff.  (I'm a chemist by trade, and I shy away from airborne spray cans as much as possible.  Plus I would only ever consider using that outside and more often than not, there's snow on the ground.)

I've also tried lots and lots of starch.  That just ends up icky and the air wreaks with the perfume they add.  Perhaps I'm a bit sensitive??  I know people who make their own spray starch and that's something I haven't tried yet, but intend to.  

The method I'm about to discuss is something that's worked for me -- it may not work for you and that's OK.  It's all about what you like.  There's no right or wrong way to do this.  I don't like using airborne chemicals and the traditional methods don't work for me.  This is what I like and I thought I'd share it with you.

So as I mentioned above, I have trouble pinning the back piece nicely and smoothly.  I don't have the problem when I use a single piece of fabric for the backing (i.e. no piecing together), but that rarely is the case.  More often I have a quilt backing that has several pieces sewn together in it. 

To stiffen my back fabric to make it easier to sandwich my quilt together, I use a very, very inexpensive fusible interfacing.  Specifically, I use a product called JAS VAL-U-FUSE from pellon.  It comes on little bolts of 10 yards for $10.  It goes on-sale quite often.  The cheapest I think I've ever gotten it for is $2 for 10 yards on the day after Thanksgiving.  Needless to say it's inexpensive.  (There are products like this that wash away, but they're more expensive and I've never tried them so I can't speak to that.)

10 min tip MMQG

This interfacing is very light.  I fuse it directly to the wrong side of the quilt backing.  It is single sided and doesn't fuse to the batting, but it makes pinning much easier.  I can easily pin my batting and top to the bottom without wrinkles.

The batting itself isn't that stiff and doesn't add much weight to the final product.  After a few good washings (and having little ones drag it around the house a bunch and make forts with it), it gets so soft you can't even tell it's there.  I also find that when I'm quilting, the extra bit of stiffness actually makes it a bit easier to move through the machine.

So do you think you'll give this method a try??  What method have you found that works for you??  I'd love to try something new!


Member spotlight: Lisa T.

Lisa is the current Treasurer of the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild.

Tell us about yourself, e.g. family, kids, pets, day job, have you always lived in MN?
I moved to Minnesota from Ohio in 1986, and other than a few years in WI for college and a six month stint in Jamaica, I have lived here ever since. My husband Ted has been very supportive of all of my "endeavors" and is starting to develop a pretty solid understanding of quilting terms. We have two daughters who are 6 and almost 8. They dabble in sewing now and then. We also have two smelly but lovable dogs. 
Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business? If so, please include a link.
I have two Etsy shops. I sell finished sewn products in Pixiespit and fabric yardage in FreshStash. I also have a blog called pixieSpittings where I write about fabric, sewing and life in general. 
Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
At this moment I only have dream hobbies that I would like to find time to pursue. They include international travel, reading novels, mountain biking and photography. 
How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
I have been sewing since I was 5 years old. I started with barbie clothes as a child, jean patching as an adolescent and moved to quilting as an adult. My Mom and her quilting friends taught me how to quilt in 1996 and once I had a handle on the basics, I started breaking their rules. They never understood why in the world I used so many solids! 
How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
I have made more than 100 quilts in the last 16 years. Most of them were very simple baby quilts that I gave as gifts to friends and family. After a solid effort to eliminate my UFO's, I am proud to say that I have zero! 
How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
Lately, I haven't spent too much time quilting. Once the kids go back to school in the fall I plan to make at least a few of the quilts that are floating around in my head right now. 
Describe your first quilt. (a photo would be nice, but is optional)
My first quilt was a nine patch with the least hideous fabric that I could find in 1996. I am SO glad the fabric world has changed since then and we now have more choices than I could have ever imagined to work with! 
Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why? (a photo would be nice, but is optional)
My most favorite quilt is always the one I am currently working on. That excitement of starting something new is what keeps me at it.
    Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
    I am so grateful to have a fantastic new sewing space to work in. It was a dream of mine for years to build a garage with a studio space above it and that dream came true this summer. I'm still getting settled and having fun trying to decide where everything should go. One splurge I made in the new space was some fantastic speakers. iTunes DJ is my best friend most days.
    Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
    Since I started my Etsy fabric shop, I haven't been able to justify too much shopping for any other fabric. I do still love to go to brick & mortar shops in town and see what else is out there. We are so lucky to have so many great shops in town!
    What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
    My favorite part of quilting is the moment when something new starts to take shape. The pieces of the puzzle suddenly fit together and it makes sense! My least favorite part of the process is the actual quilting.
    What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
    I have never free-motion quilted a quilt. I have never even tried it on scraps. That is how afraid I am of it!!
    I am also afraid of zippers.
    Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
    I am most inspired by other quilters. I have really enjoyed being part of a guild and participating in challenges. I love to get pushed out of my comfy box and try something new!
    What advice do you have for new quilters?
    My best advice for all quilters is to ignore the "quilt police". There is no one right way to do anything. The way that works best for you IS the right way. Experiment with different techniques and stick with what works best for you.

    Bento Box block swap with Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild

    Hi, Nikol here from Sewtropolis.

    In case you missed the July MMQG meeting, I announced a Bento Box swap with the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild.

    Not sure what a Bento Box is? You can see pictures of quilts made up using this block on Flickr.

    Here are the Rules:
    • Make as many blocks as you'd like. Please use modern, Quilt store quality fabric only. Some solids are fine, but not an entire block's worth. Please do not use a white solid. It doesn't read well in the final quilt.
    • Use this tutorial from Film in the Fridge Blog as your guideline.
    • Cut your finished (15.5") block into quarters, each measuring 7 3/4". If it doesn't measure up, please don't send it.
    • Keep one quarter for yourself, one for the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild swap and 2 for the Baltimore swap.
    • Use up those scraps!
    • If you're making a bunch, it's tempting to want to use the same fabric and make these assembly line. If you must do it this way, to keep variety in the blocks, please at least change up the placement of the fabrics within the block.
    • Blocks are due at the October 18th meeting. Blocks can come in earlier, or left at Sewtropolis, but will not be accepted later.
    • Place all of the blocks you are swapping in a large Ziploc bag with your name clearly labeled on the bag and the number of blocks (7.75" size) you are swapping. This is how I'll know how many to give you back.
    • Once blocks are received, they will be shipped to the Baltimore Guild. $1 - $2 from each participant is requested for postage.
    • When the blocks arrive from the Baltimore Guild, they will be divided up, and hopefully be ready for distribution by the November meeting.
    Remember you’ll get back as many blocks as you receive so if you want lots of variety – exchange lots of blocks.

    July 19th meeting minutes

    The meeting started out with Nikol reminding the members that we will be charging dues to become members of the Guild. As a reminder we would like to bring in guest speakers and hold other events and as a part of that we will need funding.

    The Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild Bylaws were then adopted by all the members present.

    Nikol then introduced the Guilds Executive Board: President: Nikol Gianopoulos, Vice President: Jennifer Madsen, Treasurer: Lisa Taglia, Secretary: Flaun Cline, Website Coordinator: Kristin Lawson.

    Kristin Lawson then provided updates about the Guilds website/blog. There is now a public page and a private page for members only. The main/public blog now has a calendar page, a page for details of challenges and swaps, and a page for member blogs and shops. The private, members-only blog requires an invitation and has a member directory page, a blog posting schedule page, a 10-minute tip schedule page, and a page with a list of blog post ideas.

    Nikol discussed the Jacquie Gering visit planned for September 16. We agreed to do the Hexagon quilt show in her book.

    A update was provided by Nikol about the sewing event. Two quilts were completed. One will go to a family who lost everything in the floods in Duluth and the other will go to a local women’s shelter.

    Nikol provided an update on the QuiltCon event and we showed off and collected blocks for the QuiltCon challenge.

    Nikol then discussed the Bento Block Challenge with the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild. Blocks are due at the October meeting.

    One of our members, Elise Peters, has suffered two personal losses recently so the group talked about a social sometime in October in her honor.

    Jennifer Moore of Monaluna fabrics will be in town and members were invited to a dinner with her.

    We then held a show and tell and turned in our membership dues.

    Member spotlight: Flaun

    Flaun is the current Secretary of the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild.

    Tell us about yourself.
    By day, I'm an executive assistant at a PR firm, by night I am the frequently confused and/or exasperated mother of a teen-aged girl and partner to a scientist. Our two cats keep us heavily supplied in fur, tracked litter, and love.
    I grew up in Central Washington with horses, scads of outdoor cats, a couple of dogs at a time, and the occasional hand-caught horned toad. (I would always release them when they got too skinny.) Until about 11 years old, our closest neighbors were 5 miles away. That made for a lot of imaginative play time, which my 5 1/2-year-younger brother didn't necessarily appreciate. My teens were spent in Eastern Washington, but Western Washington always felt like home to me. As an expecting mother, I moved to be closer to my own mother, who had a year previously gotten a new job and relocated to Vancouver, WA (basically a Portland, OR suburb, though most residents wouldn't thank me for saying so). I've also lived in Texas and the DC area.
    Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business? If so, please include a link.
    My blog can be found at http://ipleadquilty.blogspot.com/ (that just rolled over 10,000 hits!!!) and I have a Flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ipleadquilty/. My honey keeps telling me I should set up an Etsy account, but it's so hard to make a living with finished quilts. Maybe some day, I'll publish a pattern or two. I have created a few commission pieces for clients who sought me out, specifically.
    Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
    On a ninth birthday trip to the "big city," my mother and I visited the Flour Mill (think Pike's Place Market on a much smaller scale), where a woman with a cart was selling counted cross stitch kits. I may even still have my first project in my mementos - a cute little owl perched on a branch. I've completed several other projects throughout the years, but most things seemed just too cutesy country for me...until I found Subversive Cross Stitch. I was inspired to create this piece for my sweetie's Christmas present last year:
    Subversive Cross Stitch for my honey
    How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
    My grandmother started teaching me how to sew when I was around 10. The first thing I made was a shirt for my little brother, though I think Grandma may have really done the bulk of the work. My mom frequently sewed garments while I was growing up, because, as I'm sure you know, quality clothing is either hard to find or really expensive. She helped me with a few bits of clothes here and there, when I got the urge to stitch for myself, and I even made my own prom dresses. It sounds impressive, but I really wasn't that great at it.
    I first began quilting back in 1997, but running after a little girl was too exhausting and I put it on hold, for the most part, until September 2009. Since then, I've been going like gang busters! With basic garment sewing under my belt, I've mostly taught myself how to quilt, though I have taken a couple of FMQ classes.
    This was my first quilt back in the game, before I really found my style:
    Dragonflies in the Marsh

    How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
    Isn't asking about UFOs kind of like a woman's age or her weight?! Yes, I have the dreaded UFO or two in my closet. There are just so many ideas in my head, I have to jump to the next, but I keep thinking about the flimsies and half-finished quilts, coming back to them to finish one, occasionally. In fact, just a couple of months ago, I completed a hand-quilted Around the World quilt started about seven years ago. Interestingly enough, the top only took one day to put together. This was the first one I tried to machine quilt, but even using a walking foot, I had a LOT of wrinkles, so I tore out all the stitches and began hand quilting.
    Around the World in a Day


    I've made somewhere close to 40 quilts of varying sizes, with at least 3/4 complete. That's not too bad! Right?
    How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
    That's so hard to gauge! Some weeks, I'm too exhausted to do anything other than fall asleep on the couch after dinner, others, I'm completely obsessed and work myself into the ground on something that has lit a bonfire under my behind. I guess if I'm forced to average, it works out to about 15 hours a week. Yes, that's a lot - and only an average! There's a reason my house is a little grubby. I'm just not Wonder Woman.
    Describe your first quilt.
    My first quilt was a beautiful Around the World in muted oranges, reds, and greenish-blues for my mom. I picked all her favorite colors and knew it was for her the whole time. I hand quilted it because I thought that was what "real quilters" do. It really was lovely, though traditional, when done. I don't have a picture, unfortunately, and it wouldn't look the same, now, as it has been the dog's blanket for years. I'm a bit outraged, frankly, and tell her all the time, but she loves that stinky dog, so I guess it's not much different than giving a baby a quilt, right?
    Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
    They're my babies! How could you force me to make a choice? (It's totally Mondrian Dream, but don't tell the other quilts, okay?)
    Mondrian Dream WIP front
    Mondrian Dream has been very challenging for me, interestingly enough. It isn't about construction or technique, since that's all very straight-forward. I mentioned once or twice on my blog that it took me a long time to wrap my head around the design so that I felt I wasn't doing Piet Mondrian's art a dis-service. I'm really proud of the result. It looks just like tiled Mondrian pieces, to me. I hope you think so, too. I'm taking my time quilting this beauty.
    Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments.
    I am lucky enough to have my very own studio. The windows face south, so I get a lot of light when the sun is shining. Unfortunately, when it's not, I turn on 4 lamps, a ceiling light, the regular sewing machine lights, and an extra LED stuck on my sewing machine just so I can see what I'm doing. It makes for a hot room. I've been known to open the windows during a snow storm to cool off.
    On one wall, I have a gorgeous pickle dish/double wedding ring that I visited three times in a Stillwater antique shop before deciding it was worth every penny of the asking price and talking my pocket book into coughing up the scratch. Under/in front of that sits a dining room table, for which we do not have any proper room, covered by a large cutting mat. On the other side is my heavily-used design wall with the ironing board and prized Rowenta sitting close at hand. I have an entire book case full of fabric, which I am currently re-folding and re-organizing, plus a chair full of the recent additions and fabrics I've pulled for various projects. (Look for it soon on the MMQG blog!) There's plenty of room for friends to come play with me and I promise to straighten up if you come over.


    (Photos of my slightly messy sewing space. Just keepin' it real!)
    I like to "watch" movies or TV shows (either streaming or DVD, no cable) while I sew. If I can't find anything I'd like to watch, though, I'll turn on The Current or play music from my iPod - silence is not good for my creative activities. When I'm doing free motion, I find a good drink - wine, beer, or mixed - helps loosen me up. Of course, I don't advocate drunken quilting, unless you're into the uber wonky look.
    Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
    As of the beginning of 2010, I had no stash. It built rather quickly (with visits to S.R. Harris, various online shops, and LQSs) and I've now attempted to put on the brakes. My resolution this year was to only buy solids or fabric necessary for finishing a project, in the off chance I didn't have the right type of print in my stash, already. I have faltered, but only for prints I absolutely love and cannot live without. I don't tend to buy less than a half yard of fabric and, for those that I really love, I have been known to buy 2-3 yards. I also buy bolts of the solids I go through the most (Kona Medium Grey and White). I guess what I'm saying is that my stash "management" has mixed results. I'm going through it right now, re-folding, taking out prints I don't love any more, and reorganizing everything.
    What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
    Let's see... My favorite thing about quilting is that at the end of a really satisfying creative process, there's this functional piece of art sitting on my couch or bed. I really love the process of designing the quilt, seeing it take shape and morph while piecing, and the first pull out of a fresh dryer is sublime.
    My least favorite part is definitely basting. It hurts to crawl all over my hardwood floor pinning quilts. I can't do it well on my table, as most quilts I make are a functional size and not wall hangings, so floor it is. After hours of smoothing, layering, and pinning, my back, knees, shoulders, and head ache. I've tried to enlist basting help from my daughter and partner, but my partner usually has better things to do and it takes more energy to convince my daughter to help me for 1/4 of the quilt than it does to pin baste it myself.
    What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
    If only I could get through every quilt I have in process today, I would be a happy woman! Other than that (which is completely unachievable), my only goal is to have fun and try to learn a little more every year.
    What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
    I would love to be better at Y seams. I've done them a few times with less than stellar results. Any tips for me?
    Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
    Architecture really inspires me, though I rarely get around to finishing a quilt that was inspired by it, strangely enough.
    What advice do you have for new quilters?
    Don't dwell on every little thing you see as "wrong" in your work. It is a process. You will improve and chances are, unless they are a jurist for quilt shows, the people you share your quilts with won't notice where you went wrong unless you tell them. Don't tell them. Take all advice with a grain of salt, whether quilting or life. Don't worry about the quilt police or what "they" say. Enjoy every little bump and mistake that leads to something beautiful. And remember, if you're not having fun, you're not doing it right.
    Anything else you would like to share?
    I am not perfect, no matter how it may seem on my blog. My studio is usually messy (see me keepin' it real above) and I still make lots of mistakes while sewing, but tend to roll with the punches. Sometimes, a misplaced bit of fabric really makes a modern design pop. Embrace the unexpected in your work. You never know when it may take a piece to the next level!

    What the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild Means To Me

    Hello- My name is Ellen and I am new to the MMQG. I love anything crafty: quilting, sewing, handwork, knitting, needlework, etc. I consider myself a beginner at quilting-especially compared to others in this group! I started quilting in 2002 with a traditional pastel crib quilt for my then two year old daughter.

    I don't ever have enough time to quilt. I haven't made many quilts, but the desire is there. And, I have never made a Modern quilt, but want to. (One reason I haven't made many quilts is that I've been intimidated, e.g., "maybe my corners won't match." But Modern quilting seems to be about letting go of the traditional rules- and I like that!

    I've also never belonged to a quilt guild. I'd thought about it and even visited a few. But they weren't the right "fit." Many met during the day when I was at work...or their members were retired with grandchildren-- and we just didn't have much in common. But the MMQG members seem to be a lot like me! So...that's my quick intro and now here are my thoughts on the MMQG and Modern Quilting.

    What the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild Means To Me


    THE GUILD

    • FRIENDS 
    • CAMARADERIE 
    • Women with similar interests getting together 
    • Quilters like me--many with full-time jobs and young kids 
    • Quilters who live in urban areas, mostly… 
    • Being able to communicate 24/7: our Blog, Facebook page, etc. 
    • Charity Sew-ins 
    • Sewing Sew-cials 
    • Sharing ideas 
    • Doing things for others in the guild and in the community 
    • Learning new techniques
    My QuiltCon block--this block symbolizes what Modern Quilting means to me. I made it for the QuiltCon challenge. It's done in the "wonky" style- I had no plan, I just randomly cut and pieced.
    MODERN QUILTING (what it means to ME)

    • FREEDOM to quilt without boundaries 
    • No fear of the “Quilt Police” 
    • Using fabrics together- even if they don't "match" or "coordinate" 
    • Using maroon thread to piece…if I want 
    • Not having perfect pieces, all the same size and shape 
    • NO NEED FOR PERFECT CORNERS! 
    • Letting loose and having fun with quilting!

    Member spotlight: Jen M.

    Jen is the current Vice President of the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild.

    Tell us about yourself.
    I’ll start with my family. I’m a wife to a fabulously supportive and all around fabulous husband (Eric). I’m also a mom to a charming two year old son (Chas) and a mischievous but loveable 16 year old tabby cat (Gabe). I am originally from the small town of Strasburg, which is located out near the mountains of northwestern Virginia. My parents moved to Hudson, Wisconsin when I was 11 and after graduating high school, I moved back east to go to school in DC. After graduation, I moved back to the Midwest *temporarily* (I vowed at an early age to live some place with less brutal winters), but then I met my husband- who is a true Minnesotan and can’t imagine life without weekends at the family cabin and Vikings football, so I stayed. That was about 12 years ago and I can honestly say living here has grown on me (plus I work from home now and I don’t have to worry about driving much in the winter- that really helps)
    Do you have a blog, Etsy shop, or other quilt-related business?
    I own and run an online fabric shop called Stitch Simple that specializes in prewashed and (if desired) precut fabric for sewing and quilting. We also support other small businesses with our low minimum wholesale purchasing program aka the Stitch Simple Reseller Program. In addition to the work I do with Stitch Simple, I teach sewing through the Minneapolis Community Education Program.
    Do you have any other hobbies, crafty or otherwise?
    I love to cook and while I dabble in baking, I’m definitely a better cook. I also love to garden and read- but those hobbies don’t get much attention at this point in my life. I’m attempting to grow fruits and vegetables on my little balcony. This year I tried potatoes and strawberries. The strawberries are doing OK and will hopefully fare better next year, but the potato experiment wasn’t so successful. I think I spent $30 (not including my labor) to get 1/3 pound. They were delicious, but I know now that organic potatoes are worth every penny you pay for someone else to grow them!
    How long have you been quilting, and how did you learn to quilt?
    My grandfather bought me a sewing machine for my ninth birthday, so I’ve been sewing for 26 years now and I started quilting right away. I have taken some pretty long breaks from sewing and quilting while I was in school and when I had some jobs along the way that were non-sewing related and very demanding, so I haven’t sewn for the last 26 years solid. My machine came with a class and during that class they covered basic straight line quilting and patchwork.
    Other than that, I’m pretty much all self-taught. If nothing else, I’m brave when it comes to learning new things, so I would just go to the quilt store and pick a pattern and do it. It didn’t always turn out, but I would inevitably learn something new from each pattern. I would also take basic quilt patterns and make them huge (like Alice in Wonderland huge). It is harder to hide mistakes on such a large scale, but it made a quilt go together a lot faster (plus I think it made me a more precise cutter since I knew my mistakes were more likely to show) and there is something to be said about getting quilts on the other side of the machine when you are first starting out. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment and energizes you to take on new and more challenging projects.
    How many quilts do you think you have made? How many are still UFOs (unfinished objects)?
    I’m really bad about keeping track of this kind of thing, plus most of my quilts are gifts to other people so I don’t have them around any longer. I can solidly count 18 quilts (35” x 35” or larger) that I’ve made (and completely finished) in the last four years. That doesn’t include small projects like my infamously teeny MMQG challenges. I don’t have a ton of UFOs (right now I have two- both from MMQG challenges or swaps)- not because I finish everything necessarily, but because when I’m stuck on something or don’t feel like finishing it I just turn it into something else or donate it and move on. A huge UFO pile is a real inspiration killer for me. I makes quilting feel like work and I don’t do my best when I feel like that.
    How many hours a week do you spend quilting on average?
    On average I only get about 1-2 hours of sewing time in per week- and depending on the needs of the household I might not spend any of that quilting (little man is growing like a weed and I always try to have at least a few mama made things that fit him at all times). My job sometimes requires I sew for 40 hours in a week, which isn’t common, but is sure awesome (mostly) when it’s needed.
    Describe your first quilt.
    My grandparents had a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina where my brother and I spent many summers. I can remember so many women from there who made quilts. I was really inspired by the simple aesthetic of plain square patchwork made from colorful scraps, so my first quilt was a doll quilt (for my Cabbage Patch dolls) and was made from various calico fabric squares. I don’t have it any more and I don’t have photos of it, but I’m pretty sure I’ve still got some pieces of the fabrics I used somewhere in my stash.
    Which of your quilts is your favorite or are you most proud of and why?
    This is a tough one. If forced to pick and choose I’ve had to say I’m most proud of a king size quilt I made for my brother. It is an enlarged version of the Stitch Simple Create Your Own Quilt Kit Number 3 (a stacked coins inspired design) and I’m proud of it because of how it all lined up perfectly (the secret is in using die cut pieces- I’m not bragging J). I keep meaning to get a photo of it when I visit him, but it never seems to happen. I wish I was better at photographing my quilts (better at actually taking them AND at taking good shots). I think I’m lackadaisical about it because I’m never happy with how my quilt photos turn out.
    Where do you sew? Describe your space and your favorite quilting accompaniments (music, tv, wine, etc). Add a photo if you are brave.
    I sew in a small corner of the Stitch Simple studio. I don’t do music, tv or wine when I sew. It is just me and my sewing machine in a quiet space (though I do enjoy an occasional cold beer or Manhattan when I’m done sewing for the day). Here is a photo. It is pretty cluttered, but I know where everything is. I see so many well organized, polished sewing spaces on the internet and while I’m drawn to them, my space just doesn’t look like that and I always end up feeling kind of bad about it. Hopefully my piles of this and that will make at least one person feel better about their sewing space.
    Describe your fabric buying habits and stash. How do you manage your stash?
    Because I own a fabric store, I don’t generally buy much fabric from anyone but Stitch Simple. There are of course exceptions because we don’t carry a large selection of fabrics that aren’t basic quilting weight (like utility fabrics, flannel or other specialty fabrics) and what I do buy I generally use up right away. I of course always have scraps to organize and there are a few special collections and vintage prints I’m sentimental about that I hoard, but I’d say I have a pretty small personal stash. For me, a huge stash has the same effect as a pile of UFOs- it stresses me out to feel like I have so much to do so I try not to overwhelm myself. Ideally, I buy something for a specific project and use it right away or else I make an entire project from scraps. I don’t like to have fabric around just for the sake of it- since I have lots of fabrics at Stitch Simple that I can use if I want to.
    What are your favorite and least favorite things about quilting?
    Hands down my favorite part is piecing. I just love seeing all those little pieces come together and I get such a charge when things line up like I want them to. My least favorite part is the actual quilting (which is why my local long arm quilter loves me so). I actually joined the MMQG with the intent that I would quilt more, and I’ve definitely done that but I’ve still yet to fall in love with that part of the process.
    What are your current and/or long-term quilting goals?
    To get really good at free motion quilting on my regular sewing machine.
    What is one (or more) quilt technique you would like to learn or are afraid of?
    I’ve never tried dying fabric, unless you count some attempts at batik from my childhood, and well, let’s say I still have a lot to learn in this area.
    Who or what inspires you most in quilting?
    Tile work is by far the most inspiring for me in quilting. I love surfing the internet looking at various projects made of tile. From mosaics to simple geometric patterns, I’m always inspired by what you can make with a few basic shapes and lots of color.
    What advice do you have for new quilters?
    If there is some part of quilting that doesn’t jazz you, hire it out or find a friend to swap the work with. I find that if I actually finish a project before I start on something else, the new project gets my full attention and turns out better- but at the same time I don’t think anyone needs to torture themselves by doing some part of the quilting process they don’t enjoy. I mentioned before that I don’t love quilting- and at first I honestly really dreaded it- so much that I stopped wanting to start piecing a new quilt (and that’s the part of making a quilt that I LOVE)… and then I found a long arm quilter who I trust (I hardly have to give her any instruction, I tell her my idea and she always picks exactly the right size repeat and thread color) and getting the quilts back from her really inspired me to keep going. It was a totally different feeling than when I was trying to do it all myself and WAY more enjoyable. There are lots of folks out there who like different parts- so celebrate your strengths and save the other stuff for later when you have more experience and more momentum to tackle it.
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