Minimalism with Meaning :: The Story of Us

Last September I led our Bee Sewcial group.  My mission was to make two blocks in blacks and whites that said something personal about them.  I asked each member to embrace minimalism in the process.

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The stories they told me were rich and meaningful.  They described loss, triumph, compassion, family, recreation, personal identity.  Honestly I felt a little overwhelmed with the task of putting these meaningful pieces into something worthy of the sentiments.

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In the end, I decided to continue the minimalism theme and connected the blocks with extra negative space.  The words spoken when describing these blocks became the quilting motif in free motion quilted cursive writing (the first I have done this but certainly not the last).  The whole was surrounded with quilted borders and a gilded binding (purl soho mineral linen which sparkles when seen at an angle) to enhance the theme of story.  I want it to read like a well worn and treasured book.

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I hope that I have done these ladies justice in the making of our collective story.  Since it is so hard to read, I have included the quilted words for you below.

 

Minimalism with Meaning :: The Story of US
Positivity engages the negative space :: These are little womb blocks. The white ones represent pregnancy loss which is real but not talked about. The black ones are my obvious births, which are obvious and find it easy to see and talk about. The reason for the one with the white square with the black one is a permanent loss of being able to have a child from one side from the ectopic pregnancy I had in my tube. I love my two children with all my heart and grieve what could have been with my two lost babies :: Tall, strong, bend but not break ::When we are together, we are stronger :: My life can be best described as a wonderful mixture of family, work and my creative pursuits :: When using the right tools you can see things a lot more clearly. For me, it’s glasses (since I was 9) and calm. When life is chaotic for me, I get lost in the details. When I establish calm, I see better :: Frustration. From sun up to sundown I’m frustrated about any and everything and nothing at all :: Embrace: More expansive then a hug and open ended to be all inclusive :: Sometimes I feel like a square peg in a round hole :: A Quilter’s Table because that is me :: For me when it gets too active, too chaotic at some point I shut down and like a clean break BAM nothing gets done, nothing good happens, except I don’t get overwhelmed :: The top row signifies my family in height order and for now in this moment in time I am second in line. The shadow casted beneath our figures represents the amount of care required by each of us at this point in time. It is such a fleeting point of life but such an important one and I know I’ll never make anything as wonderful as my three children :: The pool is my favorite place to exercise so this is my interpretation of the swimming symbol :: Ascend as I am not one to begin anything by taking baby steps. If the stakes are high enough and you are determined success or fail you will take that leap of faith because it is your only option :: I am modern stepped in tradition :: My personal mantra is to look for the positive. light in the darkness as we need that positivity these days :: The balance of keeping focus looking ahead in life instead of behind but also being aware of your surroundings in a broader sense and how occasionally glancing back is a good and necessary thing :: A hint or clue a circle nature’s impossible shape standing out of the expected spot not perfect but industrial modern and minimalist :: In me you will find the place where science and art meet in the middle :: It’s about letting life’s annoyances roll off your back
Bee Sewcial 2015

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Hillary

Mini-Mes

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Last year I was challenged by Catherine (@knittingcatherine on IG) to a mini quilt swap using mostly repurposed or me-made materials.  In typical fashion, my mind came up with several ideas and I am sharing the fruit of 4 such finishes here (all of which let me “try on” different quilting styles I have been eager to test).  There are two other quilts made of my old tshirts that are part of this series but they and the concept of tshirt quilting are worthy of a post of their own.

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For my first quilt I grabbed some dress clothing in linens and silks that I never wear, chopped them up and reconstructed improv style.  They are much more attractive on a quilt then on me.  I also “tried on” some nontraditional hand quilting and made random “ant trails” along the piece.

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For my second quilt I wanted to play with Nicole Daksiewicz’s (Modernhandcraft) appliquéd hexie technique but decided to make my own spin with pieced hexies.  For this quilt I used some of my old scrubs, an orange shirt and a hospital sheet.

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After introducing a tertiary pattern and playing a bunch of designs I came up with the mini quilt below.  This is the one that ended up in Catherine’s hands and I call it “Colliding Migrations”

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For the last two quilts, I used some material I had hand painted over the summer and layered using a raw edge appliqué to show off unusual shapes.  These quilts have a lot of hidden meaning for me involving self reliance and the concept that things are rarely “Black or White”.

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Are these quilts my style?  YES as complex, varied and flawed as my style can be.  Are all of them masterpieces? Nope.  Did I learn from them? Yes, yes, yes!

Have a great weekend.

Hillary

Molly Made Me Do It

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Hi there!  Missed you my friends.  Clearly I have been hanging out on IG (you can find me there @entropyalwayswins) but life has recently gotten a bit busy for blogging somehow.  In any case I wanted to introduce you all to a new quilt I have been working on.

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About a year ago, I was in SF and noticed a building with wonderful long thin windows.  Though I didn’t take a picture, they were similar to these windows here I saw with Stephanie Ruyle and Christine Perrigo in Austin at Quiltcon 2014.

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Fast forward to the last couple months when I pulled out some shot cottons, woven striped fabric and left over bits of yellow fabric and started making some blocks with these windows as inspiration.  I made up a new (at least new to me) piecing technique that I call Tethered Y Seams and intentionally changed the grain orientation on the tops and sides so as to add visual interest.

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The blocks started to get especially fun when using the striped fabric and different angles, giving a fun 3 dimensional effect.

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As I was sharing these on Instagram, someone introduced me to The Chapel of Notre Dame de Haut in Ronchamp by architect Le Corbusier.  Proving that there are few truly new ideas, I had been unintentionally channeling the lovely windows from this amazing building.  And as I was sewing up the last seam on my quilt top, I started to realize how different this quilt top was for me.  SO MUCH PURPLE!  I never use purple.  Absorbed in my pondering,  the amazing quilts of Molly Upton featured at Quiltcon 2016 came to mind.  Somehow this quilt top (though clearly much more humble in execution) reminds me of her work in color and style.  We are subliminally absorbing so much I believe.

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And there it is, a quilt inspired by a local building, a crazy cool church in France and a gifted, now gone Modern Quilter : “Molly’s Windows”.  Now I’m hoping Molly will inspire me how to quilt it.

Hillary

Fly Merel Fly :: A Community Quilt for Merel van Looi

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Merel van Looi is a quilter and fabric shop owner from the Netherlands I have gotten to know online.  Unfortunately we did not connect at the last Quiltcon but the picture above on the right shows her working as a volunteer.  Tragically earlier this month, she suffered some bleeding around her spinal cord and for the moment has limited movement of her legs.  When I heard of her recent health crisis I was so saddened and reached out to her asking if she would be open to me organizing a community quilt project for her and she said YES!

I have often said that those are discouraged about the state of the world need to start sewing and become involved in their local and online sewing communities.  Sewists and quilters are some of the most generous and creative people I know.  This fact was made even more evident as I was plotting and planning this group project.  Krista Hennebury (Poppyprint) if you don’t already know is a master quilter and teacher, an all around wonderful person and friend.  Merel said online that Krista’s amazing “Blackbird Fly” quilt (an award winner at Quiltcon 2015) meant a lot to her as she hoped to “fly” again someday even if it was in a wheelchair.  I mentioned that I was going to plan a quilt for Merel and Krista brought up the work of Kajsa Wikman (home – Syko Design).  Kajsa’s style, raw edge appliqué with black thread at this point is fairly iconic and has been much copied and repeated.  She published the book Scandinavian Stitches which I quickly ordered online.  Krista contacted her friend and Kajsa not only gave me permission to use her sweet wonky birds as inspiration  (Merel in dutch means blackbird and her IG handle is @merel_birdblocks) but hopes to contribute a block too (she also knows Merel- I love how small this quilting community is and did I mention how generous quilters are?)  These sweet birds are so cheerful and I hope will encourage Merel in her recovery.

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Knowing I would need additional help I reached out to my friend Rachael Dorr (www.quiltingamemory.org) who agreed to long arm quilt this quilt I have planned.  Her work is AMAZING  and this quilt will be extra special because of it.

HOW CAN YOU HELPT?

I am looking for as many people who are interested to make 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch appliquéd blocks inspired by Kajsa’s birds and get them to me by May 23rd (that gives 8 weeks for blocks to be made and delivered to my doorstep).  My hope is to assemble them and get them then to Rachael to quilt by June 1st.

DETAILS and HINTS:

-8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch blocks (be sure to leave a quarter inch appliqué free around all sides to allow for seam allowance) The blocks will be 8 x 8 inches finished.

-White fabric background (Kona white if possible)

-Cheery prints to be used for the appliquéd birds (this is a perfect project for scraps).  I would love to have birds that are simple and FLYING like Kajsa’s but I am also happy for you to make them your own, and even add encouraging stitched words for Merel if you like.  An example of Kajsa’s birds is below and they also can be found at her flickr page (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sykossa/4567924620/in/album-72157601967630500/)

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-Use black thread for your appliqué and shorten your stitch length

-Use fusible webbing like steam a seam to initially attach your appliqué bits before stitching

-if you feel compelled to use stabilizer on the back, please use tear away or cut away so that it is only around the appliqué

-so as to prevent stray black threads from appearing in the back, please tie off and bury loose ends in the appliqué (see pic)

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-I have a suspicion that there may be more then enough blocks for one quilt and I will not turn anyone down who is interested.  If that is the case I may be looking for someone to help me quilt up a second quilt (longarmers keep this project in mind)

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If you are interested in contributing, please email me at entropyalwayswinshg@gmail.com and I will send you my address and add you to the list.  Tag your pieces with the hashtag #flymerelfly on IG so everyone can see what you are up to

If you feel like you want to do more for this sweet girl, I am sure she would love cards or small gifts of encouragement.  The address at the rehab hospital she is at is:

Reade locatie Overtoom / Merel van Looi /113-B1 / Postbus 58271 /1040HG Amsterdam

Thank you so much everyone!!

“Fly Merel Fly”

 

Hillary

Layers :: Bee Sewcial Theme for March

As a novice photographer, I have discovered that some of my favorite captured images have both an interesting foreground and background.  Over the last several months I have been playing with the same concept in quilting and am anxious to see where other people take it.

In March I would like my Bee Mates (#beesewcial on IG) and any other interested folks (#inspiredbybeesewcial on IG) to make the equivalent of two 12×12 inch blocks (loosely defined as I am good with wonky shapes and strange sizes) exploring the idea of layers (components that appear to be in the foreground and components that appear to be in the background) in your block design using the colors of this peeling paint image by Richman as a guide.  There are several ways to do this and you are welcome to look at my feed on IG to see what I have done but honestly I am most interested to see where YOU take it.  Please bring at least two “layers” to your design but you may add more.  For consistency in a quilt, I ask that you use specific colors in the foreground and others in the background.  With the Kona Color Card as a guide and following the Richman picture:

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Background: (Turquoise/Blues) Cyan, Breakers, Capri, Robin Egg or similar with or without traces of black

Foreground/Middleground: (Oranges/Greys/White) School Bus, Carrot, Flame, Ash, Medium Grey or similar and traces of Papaya, White

If you choose a Medium layer/layers use the foreground colors leaving the blues and turquoise colors only for the “back”

Note:  If you have studied Albers, you will know that the cool blues will “want” to read background and the warm oranges foreground.  Color choices themselves help us define layers.  Because of this I am setting the color layer choices opposite of what they physically are on the picture.

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Feel Free to check my Pinterest Board for image ideas that inspire me:Pinterest: Discover and save creative ideas

Don’t forget to tag your makes with the #beesewcial tag for my bee mates and #inspiredbybeesewcial for anyone else who wants to play along

Hillary

 

 

 

 

Opioids and Y-Seams

Last Year our county was awarded one of twelve grants by the California Opioid Safety Commission to help educate the public and medical community on the increasing use and danger of both prescription and street narcotics.  The Commission got wind of my 5/325 quilt and invited me for an interview.  The results of that interview can be found here (you can find the link below my picture): Placer Nevada County Medical Society – Just another WordPress site

The fact that this statement piece is getting recognition in the medical community is pretty satisfying.  Even more exciting is the fact that it is getting the word out about the narcotic dependence and addiction issues in the general community.  (It was on display in Houston at the International Quilt Festival, will be shown next month at Quiltcon in LA and will be featured in the Quiltcon Magazine).  I am scheduled to speak (with my quilt if it is available) in April at our hospital medical staff meeting and there are some other venues pending.  Who knew that my crazy idea would get so much play?

Hillary

2016 :: Care More/Care Less

 

2015 has come to a screeching close leaving me breathless and a little bewildered.  In effort to spend some concentrated time with my family I always work Dayjob a lot over the holidays.  Now with some precious time off and much needed sleep under my belt I feel like I can reflect and make plans.

In some respects on my creative journey, 2015 was fairly momentous.  I participated in my first quilting bee (Bee Sewcial).  The monthly prompts expanded my maker’s bag of tricks exponentially and forced me out of my creative comfort zone-so good.  I have no clue how these talented people picked me to join them but I am forever grateful and look forward to another year of the same.

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I both visited and participated in my first Quilt shows.  My quilts were featured in a magazine for the first time.  With the help of my friend Robin, we won our first sewing contest with Umbrella Prints Trimmings and my quilts were featured for the first time in a gallery.  To my amazement some fabric designers/companies sent me fabric without expectation to play and create (I hope to find some time soon to show more the results of those gifts).   I was involved in some meaningful collaborative work with talented people.  And of course I made a gazillion bags and several quilts.

In other respects however the year was similar to most, making and exploring.  In 2016 there is important work to be done.  Most notably my “Nude is Not a Dress Color Project” which was set back by collaborative side steps is calling to me.

In looking toward the new year a common theme comes up for me:  Care More :: Care Less.

:: Care more about the process and less about the end result.

:: Care more about the message in my makes and less about whether other people understand it.

:: Care more about the art and less about the shows.  (As a side note I was fortunate to have 4 quilts chosen to show at Quiltcon 2016 and am part of one Bee Sewcial quilt that will be showing-yay Debbie.  Even with this I struggle to see myself as a Quiltshow person.  Despite the fact that everyone I have met participating in the process is talented and worthy and that these show are gorgeous displays of art, I can’t shake the “beauty queen” image in my mind.  Does that make any sense?)

:: Care more about the whole community and less about the stars.  I love this sewing community and hope to give more back in the way of some free blocks/patterns I have planned.  It is nice to get attention and adulation from the “superstars” of the industry but we are all worthy and on the same journey.  I hope to concentrate more on that.  I know I am remiss in responding to comments here (did I mention my Dayjob and momjob?) but I hope to be better.

Thank you for being part of my 2015 and I look forward to traveling the road together in 2016.

P.S. The block featured at top is a new design concept I am exploring.  More to come.

Happy New Year

Hillary

 

Minimalism and Maximalism

What I have been up to of late:

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-“Queuing Theory” quilt.  Quilted by Christine Perrigo (@ccpquilt on IG).  It was inspired by a series of paintings by Mark Grotjahn called Dancing Butterflies.

-Crazy striped piecing in stripes inspired by a puzzle I saw on Pinterest (thank you glue basting)

-Hand painted linen flowers for Blair Stoker (Wise Craft Handmade) because it is super fun to trade with other makers especially when they are from my previous Seattle home city.

-More Slow Stitch Embroidery in the works.  This improv embroidery is the bomb people.  Try it!!

-A minimini quilt for Stephanie Ruyle ( Spontaneous Threads) that mimics a Rothko painting she pointed out in Houston.  It represents me (mustard) and her (orange) with some more hand stitching and Stephanie’s old suede coat as binding.

-My last quilt blocks of the year for the Bee Sewcial Bee for Leanne (she can quilt).  It was a total kick in the pants to play with color and improv.  The green block also helped me perfect my Y seam skills.

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Hillary

Paris

Every October I take a large chunk of vacation time to spend with my kids.  Typically I also make a goal of independent study on some area I feel lacking.  A couple years ago inspired by religious violence in the world I chose to actively learn more about religions I knew little about.  One of my friends took me to her Jewish Synagogue and we also listened to the teachings of a Buddhist monk.  Another friend took me later to a traditional Catholic service and yet another brought me to his Mosque.

All were surprisingly foreign territories for me but none so much as the Islamic Mosque.  My visions had been unquestionably filtered through the media and the high profile Islamic extremists so often pictured there.  On the Friday of my visit, my friend and his wife helped me put on a hijab.  We walked through the Mosque center visiting with people as we watched the children gather in their version of “Sunday School” and watched members collect used clothing and supplies for the poor in the area.  My friend’s wife and I filed in with the other women to the back of the Mosque while my friend went to the front with the other men and sat down for the service.  Prayers were said and all the bowing and kneeling seemed meditative and reminiscent of calming yoga sequences I love to settle into.  Children flitted back and forth between mothers and fathers.  The setting was undeniably warm and casual.  And then the Imam got up to speak and you know what his sermon was about?  Conservation, helping those in need and having compassion and understanding for people in other religions “because in the end we are all worshipping the same God.”  That’s right, I had experienced the most liberal sermon of my life.   As my friends and I drove back to their home they told me that all contributions to their mosque had to be in cash as they were concerned credit card or check records if discovered could make them vulnerable to locals who did not like Muslims.

Fast forward to this last week and the horrible violence experienced through the world in the name of Islamic extremism.  My heart sank especially for the city and care providers of Paris as I know this city well and could imagine being on duty there as the rush of wounded flooded their Emergency Department doors.  This creative world of mine seemed kind of silly in context but as I process my emotions in making, I couldn’t help but put something together.  I cut into some beautiful First of Infinity linen generously given to me by Lecien Fabric and next thing I knew I was making up one of my Mini Museum bags with a French Flag variation in appliquéd leather on the front.  If only there was more room, the Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi flags would all deserve a place on my make.

My heart sank in equal measure for my friends who brought me to their mosque and I know are feeling more vulnerable because of world violence perpetrated under a warped vision of Islam.

As a side note when I went to these different religious ceremonies in sum what I came away from was the commonalities.  In each an ancient language was used (Arabic, Hebrew, Latin).  Each held great comfort in the value of prayer or song and each held special reverence for their children and their participation in the process.

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That’s a lot of thought pent up in one bag huh?  The good news is it can carry a big load.

Hillary

Quilting From Every Angle Blog Tour and Giveaway

Nancy Purvis ( owen’s olivia ) is a quilt designer and maker I have been following for awhile.  Her designs speak to me.  They are clean, modern, bold and interesting.  The minute I knew she had a book being released I preordered and when it arrived an interesting thing happened, I felt compelled to make not just one item using her beautiful designs but TWO.  In reality it was hard for me to pick from the gorgeous patterns featured and I am sure there will be more to come.

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Quilting from Every Angle: 16 Geometric Designs
By Nancy Purvis
Interweave/F+W;
http://bit.ly/1jw4098

Nancy was kind enough to include me with some amazing other makers in her blog tour.  Make sure to check the rest out for what are guaranteed to be inspiring creations and more opportunities for book giveaways.

BLOG TOUR

11/10- Michelle Wilkie of Factotum of Arts

11/11- Hillary Goodwin (ME!!)

11/12- Karen Lewis of Karen Lewis Textiles

11/13- Anna Graham of Noodlehead

11/16- Rachel McCormack of wooden spoon quilts

11/17- Tara Larson of RAD & HAPPY

11/18- Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane 

11/19- Holly Hughes of Holly Gets Quilty

11/20- Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft

11/23- Pat Bravo of Pat Bravo Fabric Design and Jesse Maloney of  Art School Dropout

11/24- Astrid Slagle of Red Red Completely Red

11/25- Holly DeGroot of Bijou Lovely

11/26- Christopher Thompson of the tattooed quilter

11/27- Spoonflower of Spoonflower Blog

Those who know me understand that I have a special passion for bag making.  I decided that my first make would be a bag using Nancy’s Stones Quilt pattern.   I sized the pattern down to three quarters size, used 9 “stones” instead of 15 and utilized a bag design of my own.  I also used Pellon Flex Foam Stabilzer for the first time-a wonderful discovery.  It gives my bag some nice heft and shows off the quilting beautifully.  I will be using this more in my makes.  In any case, I grabbed some bright Kona solids and used a Carolyn Friedlander print as background with new black leather for the base and handle.  I am pretty pleased with how it turned out and think it shows how different this pattern can go with varied color themes and fabrics.

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A fun discovery that may be obvious for many experienced makers but was a lightbulb moment for me as I was making this bag was how to make the fabric pattern around the “stones” orient in the same direction as the overall background fabric.  I chose a PATTERNED background and SOLID “stones” in contrast to the opposite shown in the book which made the fabric orientation an issue.  I really wanted the background fabric to all be oriented in the same direction so as to make the piecing less obvious (these kind of details are ridiculously fun fodder for me).   To solve this dilemma while cutting the “stones” for the pattern, I lined up the background fabric scraps behind the solid “stone” fabric IN THE SAME ORIENTATION as the overall background at each corner then cut on the line simultaneously across both “stone” and background and pieced.  I think and hope this  makes the quilted bag front look cohesive and it is definitely a technique I will keep in mind for future makes.

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As I said, surprisingly I couldn’t stop at one design from Nancy’s book.  We have just completed a huge remodel including finishing a closed deck and setting up a hammock underneath it.  It is a perfect place to lay down and take naps but was in dire need of a winter pillow to snuggle up with. Using elements from the book’s Mesa Quilt and fun hand dyed printed fabric from Kelsey Boes (Lovely and Enough) and yarn dyed fabric from Jennifer Sampou (Jennifer Sampou ), I made a yummy pillow.  I flipped the light and dark fabrics on the left side and right side to give the pillow symmetry making it a little different then the Mesa Quilt but unmistakably Nancy.  The pillow has recieved my husband’s approvel, and he is a tough sell, so I know it is a good one.

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This pillow is pretty fun with points up and down.

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I heartily recommend this book and am excited to share a copy with one special blog reader. (hard copy for those in the US or digital copy for those outside the states).  To enter, please tell me about the first craft/quilting book(s) you remember sewing from and how your style is now compared to then. (For the record, I started with Kaffe Fassett’s Quilting books, still have every copy and continue to find inspiration from all of them).  I will pick a winner randomly by 5 PM Monday, November 16th.  If you are a no-reply blogger please make sure to include your email address so I may contact you.

For the Record:  I was given a free copy of this book to help me make projects but before I even received it or asked to participate in the blog hop, I had already purchased the book and started to make.  My opinions are and will always be my own.

Hillary

 

Addendum:  THE WINNER BY RANDOM DRAW IS BUNTYW.  I WILL EMAIL TO SEE IF YOU WANT A HARD COPY IN THE STATES VS A DIGITAL COPY IF OVERSEAS.  IF NO ANSWER BY NEXT MONDAY, I WILL PICK A NEW WINNER.