March 14, 2014

Joyful Julie

Hello and Happy Friday! Today i'm so excited to be included as part of Fat Quarter Shop's 2014 Designer Mystery Block of the Month blog hop. Just like the name says, it's a mystery! So while i can't show you what my block design looks like, here are some teaser peeks:
The beautiful fabric is called Snowbird and was designed by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts.

This year, the theme of the quilt is all about stars. Each designer was asked to design a star block and to name it after someone who is a "star" in our lives. Since this is also about quilting, that made it really easy for me to decide who to choose. My block is called Joyful Julie and is named for my Aunt Julie.
See that smile? It's something i am lucky to have known since i was a little girl and when i think of Julie, her smile and the sound of her laugh are the first things that come to mind. A multitude of other things come next, including how incredibly talented she is. Several years ago, she mentioned that she had started taking botanical drawing classes in New York City. She has always loved growing orchids and houseplants so it sounded like a natural fit for her. And then ... after asking "how are things going with your class?" she very casually sent along a few pictures of the drawings she had been working on ... and they totally blew me away!
Here are a few...
Merlot Grapes
Saucer Magnolia
Incredible. Something i came to learn about these drawings is that not only are they beautiful, they're also botanically accurate...meaning that the scale and proportions of the petals, leaves, buds, stems, everything(!) have been measured and drawn with absolute precision. Amazing! I don't know how she does it...or this:
Garlic in graphite
I also didn't know something else about Julie until just a few years ago, around the time i began designing fabric for Moda. She is a quilter! She has been for many years and i had no idea. Sheesh, you think you know someone well and then...surprise! Soon we were going to quilt stores, shows and museums together and sharing our love for this craft. Here are some of Julie's hand-made and hand-quilted quilts. This bow tie quilt was made using actual bow ties that belonged to Julie's father (my grandfather), Jack:
She used only the materials from the bow ties to make this, and the white background is one of Jack's old dress shirts. The corners are embellished with tie adjustors and shirt buttons and the black sashing/binding is from the tie lining:
I love how sweet and personal this quilt is.
Here's another fun one that Julie calls, The Great Pumpkin ...
How cute is that!? Here's a detail of her hand-quilting/embroidery ...
...  and a tiny monarch she embroidered and appliqu├ęd.
Of her sewing life, Julie shared this with me:
"I started sewing when I was about 10 years old, cross stitch embroidery in the summer at Granny's.  My mom had a sewing machine, and I used it to increase my skirt wardrobe in college -- we had school uniforms in high school and very few out-of-uniform clothes since they were unnecessary. Briefly taught myself quilting in the 1970's but gave up because it was so labor intensive, using cardboard templates to cut each individual piece -- hoorah for the rotary cutter and other tools of today!  Picked up quilting again in 1990's when my kids were in high school -- I needed something for distraction when they stayed out  late with their friends!  I am more a "process" person than an "end result" person, i.e. I love the challenge of original designs for my wall hangings.  I love my sewing machine and have made many full-size winter quilts for beds with it (sent each child off to college with a quilt made from their flannel pjs and other recycled stuff) but mostly I am motivated by fabulous fabrics and small scale handwork in constructing my original wall hangings.
Slow is Beautiful."

That mantra must have guided her along as she made these — all by hand — long before she learned paper-piecing techniques ...
This one was made from an old yo-yo quilt that was given to Julie. She cut the yo-yos into blocks and then sewed them onto the ground fabric/sashing ...
... then embellished the blocks with cute old buttons. 
 This kimono wall hanging was Julie's first attempt at paper-piecing after a wonderful class she took at City Quilter in NYC.

And this one is called, In the Swim. I just love these colors and composition.
And finally, Julie even made her daughter Molly's wedding gown ...
Molly and her Dad
... with the "help" of her skilled assistant (of course).
I doubt i'll be taking up botanical drawing or hand-quilting any time soon, but Julie will always remind me that so many of the joys of life can be found in the details if you slow down, tune in and focus long enough to discover them. I love her lots, and she will always shine like a star to me ... maybe most of all because she keeps creating ... and smiling.
an orchid that Julie gave me long ago that is blooming right this very moment
Also posting today are:

And don't forget to head over to the Jolly Jabber to enter to win a $75 gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop. Good luck and thank you so much for stopping by today!
Have a beautiful weekend.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady!

  2. Artistic talent definitely runs in your family! How nice to be able to share your love of art with your Aunt.

  3. Wow, what artistry - I am speechless - and that don't happen often:)

  4. Love the green orchid blooming in time for St. Patrick's Day! Artistry isn't the only thing that runs in your family ... you have your aunt's lovely smile!

  5. Such a wonderful post and Julie sounds a super Auntie to have with all her amazing talents.

  6. Your Aunt Julie is a very talented woman. Thanks for sharing her with us.

  7. Lucky you to have Julie as an Aunt! Her drawings made my heart sing!

  8. Amazing. Thanks for sharing so much of what makes her special for you. She is truly an artist. Those drawings are amazing. And the quilts. Slow truly is beautiful. Thanks

  9. Isn't it fun to learn something about a family member that just amazes, surprises and delights you all at the same time. You have a very talented aunt and I see that creativity runs in the family.

  10. Preety quilts and pictures.

  11. Wow, Aunt Julie drawings are wonderful. And the wedding dress is pretty and elegant.

  12. Great tribute to your aunt.Fabulous pics!!

  13. Wow, your aunt Julie's pictures are amazing! Her quilts are beautiful too, great post.

  14. Her drawings are wonderful! I enjoyed this post!

  15. What a wonderful story! you are so lucky and so is she!

  16. Oh beautiful! All if it--her talents, her personality, her drawing and quilts. I love paper-piecing and her mariners stars are wonderful.
    Your drawn flowers are just as beautiful, but in a whimsical way.

  17. It's remembrances like this that inspire those of us who are aunts, grandmothers or otherwise in the role of a non-parental older person in a young one's life. Thanks, it's a wonderful tribute.

  18. Sheesh! What a talented woman! Thanks for sharing her story!

  19. Talent seems to run in your family! Love her botanical drawings.

  20. Love the Never GIve Up On YOur Dreams quilt!! beautiful and so true.

  21. Great story! Thanks for sharing.

  22. I really enjoyed reading all about Julie. Thank you for such a wonderful story.

  23. It's so funny to see all these familiar sights up on a beautiful blog; ones that I'm used to seeing folded in closets (the quilts rotating in and our of their wall spots) or hanging up in the house. This is Julie's daughter Molly, the wearer of the wedding dress - my mom is unbelievably skilled with her hands, as is my dad Charlie, who makes wood furniture large and small and does makes home renovations look easy. Their generation is forever linked with DIY brilliance and I hope mine and Kate's can keep that going :)


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