QuiltCon – Day 1 (in photos)

QuiltCon:  I knew it was going to be amazing.  I didn’t know just how amazing.

I have been to quilt shows before, but none of them have been “modern.”   And while I don’t get caught up in the what’s modern / what’s not modern debate, I have never been around so much quilty inspiration for my own creative journey.  I wanted to post really quickly before I get ready for Day 2 (Carolyn Friendlander workshop!)

Since QuiltCon is such a visual experience, I think it’s best to just share some shots of my favorite quilts from my Instagram feed.  More words and thoughts later.  But for now, here are some of the works that stood out to me.


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Love this. Quilt by Laura Hartrich #quiltcon

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Catenary #carolynfriedlander #quiltcon

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Lauren Palmer #quiltcon

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Paint Chip by Sarah Lowry #quiltcon

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The Definition of a Stitch by Sarah Fielke #quiltcon

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Texas Forever by Corinne Sovey #quiltcon

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Phased Circles by Michelle Wilkie. (I spy lots of #carolynfriedlander ) #quiltcon

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gRadient by Elizabeth Balderrama #quiltcon

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City Center by Angie Henderson #quiltcon

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Lowcountry – Charleston Modern Quilt Guild. Take note PhillyMQG.

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That Twitch by Caro Sheridan #quiltcon

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Modern Mojo by Linda Theilfoldt -stunning quilting. #quiltcon

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Fly Away by Heather Jones (I love how bold this is.) #quiltcon

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Self Study #4: The One for T by Chawne Kimber #quiltcon

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Eggs and Darts by Amanda Lewis #quiltcon

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January’s Bee Blocks (2015)

For anyone living in the NorthEast, there comes a time in Winter when you’re just so tired of bare trees, rotting leaves, mittens, cold noses and salt clumps all over you house.  I usually hit this funk in February, and even though we’ve had a pretty tame season (knock on wood), it my Winter-funk came early for me this year.  My husband and I went to Puerto Rico for an amazing vacation right before Christmas and I ran a marathon in late November, so right around early January I was feeling that post-holiday, post-vacation, post-marathon, I’m-sick-of-Winter slump.

Which is why Gryz’s blocks for our Philly Modern Quilt Guild bee were so fun.  She found a free pattern via Cloud 9 Fabrics, for the Amsterdam Quilt.   Tulips in January?  Yes please.   She requested contrasting fabrics for the flowers and green prints for the steams/leaves.  This is going to be D.A.R.L.I.N.G when put together.

Ned keeps watch over the tulips...

Ned keeps watch over the tulips…

Over at the Modern Instabee (Hive 15), Kassi requested Bluebell’s Cabin, which was a nice log cabin block.  She requested mints, navy, rich yellows and grays.  Once I pulled the fabric for this block, I fell in love with her color choices.  And that’s the great thing about being in a bee.  I get to fall in love with new colors / styles and I’m constantly finding inspiration for my own projects.  (In November, I learned that I loved fuchsia.  FUCHSIA!)  Check out the book ModernBee for more deets.

IMG_5646 IMG_5707

We got started late on our Modern Instabee, so our “year” runs March-Feb.  In early January we started asking, “What about next year?”  Thankfully, we all decided to stay together for another year!   We’re all going to pick new blocks from the book and continue on.  🙂  It’s kinda cool to think that we might keep this going.  (We’re already talking about a QuiltCon meet up in Austin in a few weeks!)

November and December’s Bee Blocks (and a pillow!)

November’s bee blocks were awesome.   For our Philly Modern Quilt guild bee (November), Tamsin requested super scrappy blocks.   She found her free block pattern over at Lily’s Quilts.  Lots of HST’s and color!   I’ve mentioned this before, but the “scrappy” look is something I struggle with.  So this was great practice for me to get out of my comfort zone and I’m happy to report that I was very content with the results.  (I hope she was too!)



December came along and Jill wanted us to play with gray solids.  She provided 2.5 inch blocks in various solids / prints and asked us to float them in gray backgrounds.  It was a very, very simple block and during the busiest time of the year it was divine to be assigned blocks that came together as quickly as these did.  This quilt is going to look great when it’s all together!

Simple, yet classy...

Simple, yet classy…

For my November Modern Instabee bee (Hive 15), Shelly requested the Triple Star block with a scrappy, low volume background and fuchsia/red/magenta stars.  One color I learned that I lack in my stash?  Fuchsia!  One color that I learned that I loved?  Fuchsia!  I just ate this block up.  It was one of those blocks that I honestly had a difficult time parting with.  I was also able to sneak in some Botanics fabrics into this one.

Might be one of my favorites...

I loved this block so much that I decided I had to make a Christmas pillow out of it.  Well, I flipped some of the HSTs to make my block a bit different, but I my inspiration was the Triple Star block.   (It’s gonna look so sweet next to my Christmas quilt!)  Only, I forgot to take a picture of the finished case.  It’s packed away with the Christmas decorations.  (And I could go dig it out of the basement, but I’ll do that in 11 months.  Right now, I’m snuggled on the couch with a cup of tea.)

You get the idea...

You get the idea…

For the patterns for these blocks, check out Modern Bee.  We’ve made almost all of the blocks in the book and they’re all fabulous.  I was Queen Bee in December, so I’ve just been enjoying my deliveries!


Queen Bee, Finally!

This year was the first year I participated in a quilt bee and I’ve been sewing up a storm since March for the Modern Instabee – Hive 15.  (We got started late, don’t judge our hive.)   December was “my month” to be Queen Bee and while I knew it would be excited to have blocks arrive in the mail, I had no idea just how eager I would be.  I honestly do not recall the last time I was so anxious for the mail carrier to arrive.  I feel like Ralphy from “A Christmas Story” as he awaits the arrival his decoder ring.  This is basically me (if I was a boy in the 1940’s and not a 33 year-old woman in 2014):

"A crummy commercial?"

“A crummy commercial?”

So far three blocks have arrived (and I know two are on the way to me.)  I’m just bummed that tomorrow is Sunday because it means that there is no mail delivery until Monday.  (Ralphy understood this.)  Two perfectly good blocks are somewhere in mail-land-limbo!  Oh the agony!

Modern Bee by Lindsay Conner

Modern Bee by Lindsay Conner

For my quilt I wanted to go for a Christmas theme.  Tis this season.  Fa la la la la!  I loved the “Come Together” quilt from the Modern Bee book (our flight manual), and I also chose this block because it’s an easy one.  During the most wonderful/hectic time of the year, I thought and easy block would be welcomed by everyone.  I wanted to keep the “connector” and “corner/diamonds” consistent, so I sent fabric for those pieces to my 11 bee-mates in late November and asked them to pull from their stash for the interior squares.

My Fabric Choices (what I sent out):  Crosshatch in Fern (Carolyn Friedlander) & Calico in Red (Dear Stella).



My color pull that I uploaded for interior square inspiration:


Check out the first two blocks that arrived:

It's going to be lovely when put together!

It’s going to be lovely when put together!

I can see why bees are addicting!   Check back later as I receive more blocks as I will most definitely post again when I have my greedy little fingers on all of the blocks.   Are you in a bee?  Is it always this exciting when blocks begin to arrive?

I’m going to Mid-Atlantic MOD!

I don’t play the lottery.

And when I’m not quilting you can often find me running.  Last year one of my most beloved races started to use a lottery system for entry.  It’s one of the largest road races in the country and participating in it annually is a big deal for Philly runners.  Over 90% of the entries got in.  (These odds may lead you to wonder why they did a lottery in the first place.   Just sell out quickly, right?  Don’t get me started on that topic.)  I was one of the less than 10% who didn’t make the cut.  I ended up racing due to a letter writing campaign that took place (behind my back) from a few of my volunteers to the race organizers, but that’s another heartwarming story.   The moral of the story is – when there is a lottery, I never get my hopes up.  But I do believe that surprises happen.  So I shouldn’t give up hope totally.


I have been dreaming about Mid-Atlantic MOD ever since I heard about it last year.  MOD is an annual quilting retreat planned by the Philly Modern Quilt Guild and the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild. The timing of 2014’s retreat was bad for me, a mere five weeks before my wedding.  Another personality insight:  I also tend towards procrastination, so I spent the weeks leading up to my wedding rush-planning everything in a complete frenzy.   If you ask me if I turned into Bridezilla, I’d say no.  I’m not sure my husband would say the same.  Ok, honestly I would say I was like 20% Bridezilla, 80% completely awesome.

I was ready for 2015’s MOD.  I even put the MOD badge on my blog just assuming I’d go.  I just had to sign up right?

So when I heard that they were doing a lottery in 2015, my heart sank a little.   I changed my tune from, “When I go to MOD,” to “If I go to MOD.”   And sure enough, for the first round of the lottery, my name was not pulled.  I was gutted, but I kept telling myself that people back out of events all of the time.  I tried to keep my spirits up (and encourage others in my guild who didn’t get in to do the same) because there was plenty of time between now and April 2015 for spots to open up.

As a kid, I grew up in a semi-religious household and our church would hold “retreats.”  We’d go to an retreat center and swim, play games, do churchy-stuff and just hang out for a weekend.  And while I no longer am inclined toward religion, I always loved the idea of multigenerational hangouts and connections.  I think it’s important to befriend people from other generations, backgrounds and social spheres.  When I think back to my years in “the church,” the one thing I miss is the people.  I did genuinely get to connect with a bunch of people outside of my normal teenage social circles.   (I’m not going to get deep on why I walked away from religion, but lets just say, I understand the lure of it even if I don’t subscribe to it.)

I’m not saying quilting has become my religion, but I love the idea of spending a weekend with people that share my same passion at a “retreat.”  I get the same way when I have an excuse to hang out with runners for a weekend (thus my love for Ragnar overnight running relays.)  It’s a chance to say, “These are MY people.”

Then this arrived in my inbox:


Wouldn’t you know it that less than a week after not making the lottery cut, I got the notice that my name was pulled by the random generator?  A few spots DID open up due to some room shifting, and now I’m officially GOING to MOD.  Surprises happen!   It will be my first quilting “retreat” and I’m thrilled to geek out for a weekend with fellow quilters.  Of course I signed up for just about everything.  Volunteering?  You bet!  Tote swaps?  Totally!  Progressive quilts? Why the heck not!  (Let’s see how frantic I get the week leading up to MOD, shall we?)

Have you ever been to a quilting retreat?  What’s your tip for getting the most out of it?  Leave me a comment below!


October’s Bee Blocks

October was the first month that I was officially in two bees:  The Modern Instabee (Hive 15) & our guild bee for Philly Modern Quilt Guild.  It’s been said that I tend to get over-involved in things, so as much as I’m loving bee swaps, I’m really going to try to limit my bee involvement to two bees.  Ya know, I still want to make quilts for myself.

Side note:  Why did I think it was a good idea to commit to two quilts for holiday gifts?  Ok, so technically they are both surprises so if I don’t finish them, no one will know.  No one but me that is.  And it’s going to drive me crazy if I don’t finish them.

First up were the Philly MQG blocks for Michelle K.   She found her block inspiration on the Stash Bee site.   Making blocks ultra-scrappy is out of my comfort zone.  I know, I know, they’re ultra cozy, and I am legitimately learning to embrace my scrappy side.  As a newbie quilter, I really don’t have a ton of scraps.  (Crazy, I know!  I’m sure that will change.)  In the end I absolutely LOVED how these came out.

Two scrappy blocks for Michelle!

Two scrappy blocks for Michelle!

Michelle snapped a photo of them all together.  Perfect!

Michelle snapped a photo of them all together. Perfect!

Next up was the Modern Instabee.  Karin Jordan over at Leigh Laurel Studios was up for the month of October and she requested Trellis Crossroads in rich yellow/purple hues with low volume backgrounds.  One word:  Yummy.


Are you in any bees?  Are they online or “in the flesh?”

Thomas Knauer at the Philadelphia Modern Quilt Guild

Note:  This was originally posted on the Philadelphia Modern Quilt Guild’s website, written by yours truly.  (Original Post)

As a kid, my Dad would take me to stock car races, and I would always pick the prettiest car as the one to cheer for.  Driver stats?  Who cares?  If it was purple (and especially if it had glitter paint), it was the car for me.   And occasionally the pretty purple cars won.  But not often.

I approach the quilts I chose to make in a similar fashion.  I’m not ashamed to say that I often just pick quilt patterns based upon what is aesthetically pleasing to me.  (And thankfully, unlike a race, everyone is a winner when a quilt is finished.  I win!)

However, there is something to be said about finding deeper meaning in our craft, and that’s why Thomas Knauer‘s visit to the Philadelphia Modern Quilt Guild (for our September meeting) was so refreshing.  (And inspiring.)

To say his quilts have meaning is the understatement of the year.  His quilts ooze with little details that make them special.  Aesthetically, they’re beautiful, but when you hear the backstories, they really come alive.  From the buttons that attach his Reunion quilts (symbolizing eternal family bonds, even when he is physically separated from his wife and children) to the fact that you can actually scan his In Defense of Handmade quilt with a barcode reader, his quilts were downright fascinating.  The stories that they each carried were almost as important as the stitches.   One of our guild members referred to him as a “mad quilt genius” (see below) and I agree, wholeheartedly.

He starts his book with, “I think of a quilt as bringing an idea to life, making that idea pat of a home.  The concepts embedded in the making of a quilt become part of someone’s life, something they literally wrap themselves in.  As such, quilts are somewhat unique objects, ones that are fundamentally interactive.”  (Modern Quilt Perspectives, 2014)  To Thomas, quilts are more than just the fabric and stitches that bind them – they are alive with stories and shared memories.   After his presentation, we are all itching to do a workshop with him.  Come back soon Thomas!  (Please.  No, really, PLEASE!)

Our guild members speak about his presentation:

Sarah Bond:   “I was so fascinated by his approach because it is so connected to words and language. My process is so much more ruled by shape and color and often difficult to articulate in words. And yet I felt such an affinity to his concept of quilts connecting time and space.”

Andrew Joslyn:  “Is it just me or is he kind of a genius?”

Stephanie Wood:   “I love that he was first inspired to “make” by his daughter. And… so much of his art is from the heart and the soul and then he obsesses & it takes a turn toward the philosophical/academic.”

Sheila Randall:  “I loved the love he gave to his quilts…especially the 4 that connect, shows heart.”

Pat Deck:  “The thought behind his quilts is astounding. I was also quite taken with Lisa Sipes’ quilting. You can tell theirs is truly a collaborative relationship. My fave was the rainbow quilt quilted with a traditional double wedding ring design.”  (Pat was referring to Palimpsest (Pride Flag)

Laura Moore:  “It was really awesome. He thinks about quilting in a different way. Seriously, but creatively.  Sort of a mad quilt genius.”

And then we got deep….

Bobbi Penniman:  “I’ll feel like a shirker when my next quilt is just a quilt without any subtext and meaning. Then I’ll tell myself that’s ok, not everything has to have that depth, it’s ok to be pretty, serviceable, etc”

Pat (put it in perspective) Deck:  “Sometimes a song is just a song. Not everything needs to have an academic subtext to be of value and worth.”

Kathy Bryson: “I thought he was awesome. I was tearing up several times. Gave me new thinking when I look at art.”

The conversation that flowed in our private Facebook group was awesome!   Thomas really got us talking about what our own quilts mean to us, why we quilt, and what inspires us.

I cannot recommend his book enough.   Many of the quilts he presented are featured in the book, however seeing the quilts in person was magical.  Thomas also designs fabric and teaches regularly.

Want to check out the Philly MQG and join us for a monthly meeting?  Learn more….