I am proud to feature two super-talented creative friends, Helen Bergner and Janice Roy, in this special creator spotlight and giveaway.
Helen and Janice mentioned to me earlier this year how they were working on two quilts incorporating 350 different fabrics from collections that I'd designed for Moda Fabrics. What?! How?! What fun!! I wondered.
Crossing state lines, time zones, and circling back, Helen and Janice tracked down some very hard to find out-of-print fabrics, from my first line, Verna, to the most recent release, Grand Canal, and almost all the other lines in between (except my Latitude Batiks line), and got to creating.
As they explained it to me, Helen and Janice practice the buddy system. Helen is a crazy crafter and Janice is a long-arm-quilting artist. For them, striving to sew together one morning a week during the school year keeps them moving forward on personal projects and, Helen adds, "keeps us from getting overwhelmed by the distractions in life, like work!"
“I have been crafting in one way or another as long as I can remember," Helen explains. "There was always crafting going on in my house. My mom sewed, knit, and did crafting projects for the many Girl Scout troops she led. She used to sew matching outfits for all us kids- though she had to give it up by the time the twelfth one came along! I love to delve deeply in to a craft, teach a few people how to enjoy it, then move on to learning something new myself. I am pretty competent at knitting, sewing, making jewelry, tie-dye-ing and a few other things. One of the best was running a theatre camp for six years, called The Backyard Players, in my back yard for 25 kids where they made their own costumes, sets and props and performed a play all in one week.
“I started quilting about 7 years ago when my son Peter had nothing to do on spring break. I got him started, and he went on to make 10 quilts. Instead of summer camp a year later, we rented time on Janice’s long arm machine, and Peter quilted everything he had sewn. That is when I got to know Janice and started quilting myself.
“I tend to be a 'Quick and Dirty Quilter'. My sisters Annie and Liz, who quilt, love complicated patterns and paper piecing. I prefer projects which have blocks that are large enough to really show off the beautiful fabric. I have designed a few patterns, and love working out systems to make the project easier/faster to execute.”
Here's Janice in the early stages of her extraordinary quilt. Janice's quilts have earned her special awards and national recognition. I'm extremely fortunate to have had Janice's quilting on some of pieces I've shown at Quilt Market in Houston recently. It's thanks to our mutual friend, the great Denyse Schmidt, that I first met her.
Janice explains her passion in short, “Fiber Arts are in my blood!" When I press her for more, Janice shares the tale of her sewing roots and adventures.
"My Grandmother always had a project underway. She was skilled at any needle art, from braiding rugs to knitting. My mother’s sewing machine was always at hand to make clothes, curtains and other home decorating projects. Quilting became my passion in my 30’s. Quilting after my boys went to sleep helped me unwind after a long day of work and family.
"I love taking classes to learn new techniques and enjoy every stage of quilting from initial design until the last inch of binding is hand sewn. My husband and I opened Little Red Quilthouse long-arm quilting studio in 2002. We offered drop off quilting service as well rental time on our 3 Gammill Optimum quilting machines. Working on a system that can be computer and hand driven affords me endless finishing flexibility. Working on projects with project designers such as Janice Averill and fabric designers such as Kate Spain, Denyse Schmidt and Jennifer Paganelli has resulted in my work being displayed in museums – including the National Quilt Museum!"
Helen emphasizes the synergy in her and Janice's collaborations, “Janice and I both contribute different strengths to our projects. Janice’s strong point is her experience. She has been to many classes including ones with the Ct Piecemaker Guild and often has tips or tricks to share. Her award-winning long arm skills put the polish on the final quilt. I am an avid collector. I love to search on-line and brick and mortar stores for pieces from out of print (OOP) fabric lines."
Here's how they brought their different strengths together to create their "Kate Spain" quilts.
Helen had found herself resisting just mixing things too much, when it came to fabrics. "It made me avoid Kaffe Fasset Collective fabrics for a long time. Janice helped me get over the hurdle and we made our first 'Kaffe Quilt' using over 100 different fabrics. Then we decided if it was fun with Kaffe, it was going to be even more fun with Kate! We collected well over 300 different Kate Spain (non-Christmas, non-batik) fabrics for each quilt. Then Grand Canal arrived and we tossed in a few Christmas and winter prints, so the total went to about 350."
Helen's fabric hunt included Christie's Quilting Boutique, our local quilt store here in Norwalk Connecticut, and ... also an unexpected binge in Georgia.
"Last summer my sister Annie and I tackled 13 quilt stores in the Atlanta area in 3 days on a Row-by-Row odyssey. We found Thread Bear Fabrics in Cumming, GA and hit the mother lode of OOP Kate fabrics. Sorry, ladies and gentleman, I think I cleared them out of Central Park! They still have a ton of all the newer fabric lines, as well as Sunnyside, Honey Honey, Good Fortune and a little Terrain. They have Kate’s Christmas lines as well!
"I love to take a picture of a quilt and to try to figure out how to engineer the cutting and assembly of it in the most efficient way, which usually means creating an entirely new pattern."
For this quilt, Janice broke out of her comfort zone and chose a dark navy for the sashing. Helen selected white.
According to Helen and Janice, it's the brightness, colors, and textures in my designs that excite them. "Every fabric line has fresh new designs. (Though we would love to see a “Best Of” line sometime- perhaps a contest to choose Kate’s top 30 designs?) The influence of the travels she has taken and her love of gardening can clearly be seen. It is her florals and butterflies that inspired us to choose MSQC’s 4 Patch Lattice Quilt tutorial for our “Kate Quilt” because the pattern resembles a garden trellis." Helen re-engineered the construction method to avoid some of the sewing on the bias pitfalls, and Janice came up with the brilliant idea of cornerstones in the sashing to add more color.
Happy creating all. And happy Thanksgiving preparations and safe travels!
P.S. Thanks to Janice and Helen, there is a Thanksgiving giveaway! One lucky winner will win this one-of-a-kind stack of 5"x10" rectangles of OOP fabrics remaining from Janice and Helen's amazing "Kate Spain" project.
The prize includes more than 100 different fabrics!
Want to enter to win?
Please follow these rules to be included in the drawing for this giveaway:
1. Leave only one comment per person, please :)
2. In your one comment name 3 prints from any of my fabric collections that you'd want to see reprinted. For each of print, include the COLLECTION name followed by the PRINT name (e.g., Grand Canal Girasole).
3. Submit your comment here by 11:59 PM Eastern US time next Tuesday November 22.
The randomly selected winner will be announced here on Thanksgiving morning, November 24.