December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Here we are, closing the circle of another magnificent journey around the sun. Each year offers an opportunity to broaden our perspectives by moving through the experiences we encounter and then pausing to reflect on what we've learned. For me, these morsels of thought and awareness have become building blocks in my life's landscape that I can climb up on to see farther than the year before. I look forward to beginning another year of discovery with an open, compassionate, loving and grateful heart.
Last summer, I stumbled upon a quote from the late, great English sculptor and artist, Henry Moore. I've always loved the colossal, organic forms of his work and how dramatically his sculptures change as you walk around them depending on your vantage point. And then his words connected straight to my creative core and are especially fitting here and now:

"I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's."

What a good idea. Sometimes all it takes is re-framing a simple idea to help us realize the potential in each day.

Over the years, I've seen friends and colleagues choose a "word" to guide them through the year ahead. It's not something I usually do, but thought I'd try because I feel that 2017 will need one. So, with Henry's sentiments as my guide, my word for the year ahead will be "harmony." I like the idea that harmony (of all sorts) is something that can be seen, found and felt even in brief, isolated moments of daily life. I hope that by being mindful, I'll be more able to savor those moments and to find more of them...maybe in places that surprise me. How about you? Do you have a word or quote that you connect with at this time of year?

Thank you all for your creative engagement. I love seeing what you've been up to -- in your creative projects, in your home, in your gardens, and in your daily routes. Don't hesitate to share what you've been making and/or are dreaming up!

In 2017, I wish you all the best of health, peace, creative pursuits, friendship, love and adventure. Be good to yourself and to the people who make you and your life better.

Oh! And let's not forget Franny, Lou, and Roscoe -- who have curled up in every chamber of our hearts and home and are closing out 2016 with "A Furry Year in Review." Enjoy!

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

A very happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for so much, and humbled by your kind engagement with me throughout the year.

I wish you all the best in this week of Thanksgiving.

By random drawing, the winner of the fabric bundle of more than 100 different fabric squares from our wonderful, generous friends -- Janice and Helen -- is:
November 18, 2016 at 10:01 PMI love Fandago and Sunnyside:
Fandango - Talavera ole orange
Sunnyside - Shine
Sunnyside - Radiance! have a wonderful weekend!


November 18, 2016

Creator Spotlight, Helen and Janice, and a Thanksgiving Giveaway!

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!"
Janice Roy
Helen Bergner
“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 Roy preparing and sewing a few squares of fabrics for the quilt.

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.
Helen adds, "Either way, we can see how uniquely each sashing color brings out Kate’s amazing prints.”
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. 

Bravo, Helen and Janice!

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.

October 24, 2016

Houston, Here We Come (Quilt Market)

I look forward to joining the talented, fun-loving, and dedicated Moda Fabrics - United Notions team for my eighth market in Houston. The Halloween costume creations of the Moda creatives far exceed my wildest imagination and usually make me laugh very hard. If you're there, don't miss them or the amazing variety of new collections in the Moda "Designer Area" #1834.

I'm pleased to have my "Early Bird" collection at Market this year (coming March 2017), as well as two new quilts made from the collection -- "Nest" and "Morning Glory". I created those quilts with the amazing help of Houston's own Crystal Stanworth and Bridgeport's own Janice Roy. The "Nest" and "Morning Glory" patterns will be up on the shop in the coming days.

A little sneak peek of my "Early Bird" collection for Moda Fabrics.

In honor of Market and giving out treats but no tricks, we're offering 25% off all fun bundles in the shop through Oct 31

Just use code Mkt25 at checkout.



September 27, 2016

 Flying Migrations and Flowing Colors

"In the garden, Autumn is, the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil. And at no season do we get such superb color effects as from August to November."
-- Rose Kingsley
I counted six ruby-throated hummingbirds in the yard yesterday morning. Overnight, the temperature had dipped to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The hummers will soon fly south. I'll miss them and their glissando twittering and buzzing fly-bys. Good thing I'll have this little video of a hummingbird in the yard that I took last week. This year they've become so accustomed to us that we can hold out the feeder and they still come to it.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "most Ruby-throated Hummingbirds spend the winter in Central America, and most get there by flying across the Gulf of Mexico. Some birds stay in North America along the Gulf Coast, parts of the southern Atlantic coast, and at the tip of Florida." 
A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird -- photo by Gary Fairhead via Birdshare.
Recent research indicates that these amazing thumb-sized birds are capable of flying more than 1,300 miles or 2,000 kilometers without a break
Also, the monarchs are making their last rounds of the season here. There's a great photo chronology here of their awesome cycle from egg to larva to chrysalis to butterfly.
The Xerces Society has pointers for attracting and supporting pollinators. Even if you have a very small area you can plant a pollinator feeding station. 
For the winter months, the Cornell Ornithology site offers great bird-feeding tips.
Butterflies and birds give me a daily uplift, especially the ones I encounter in the early morning. In fact, the birds in our yard were the main inspiration for my latest fabric collection Early Bird... for Moda. This line and two quilt patterns I created for it will debut at the International Quilt Market in Houston next month, October 29-31. I hope to see some of you there.
We're also offering "Early Bird" as a limited-edition print on the shop.
As the birds and butterflies fly south from the North Woods to warmer Latitudeslook out, look up, be inspired, and keep creating and sharing. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
"Happy we who can bask in this warm September sun, which illumines all creatures...."
-- Henry David Thoreau

July 20, 2016

Giveaway Winners Announced! And See You At Christie's on Saturday!

Thank you to those of you who participated in the Christmas in July giveaway!

I am so impressed by your creative and thoughtful plans to make quilts, runners, stockings, and other delightful holiday items for others. Sharing your gifts with your family and friends and community, without expectation, is endlessly rewarding.

When you can, please send me photos of your projects to Maybe I'll share some of your projects and some of mine between now and Christmas. 

This Saturday from 10 AM to 1 PM, I'll be at Christie's Quilting Boutique in nearby Norwalk Connecticut for the THIRD ANNUAL CHRISTMAS IN JULY SEW-ALONG! If you're in the area, please stop by or attend! I'd be pleased to meet you.

By random selection, here are the 3 lucky winners:

1. A "Felicity" quilt pattern goes to: ANNELIES MCGAW.
2. A Bigelow Tea tin including an assortment of 120 individually wrapped tea bags goes to: MS. LO.
3. A fat quarter bundle of "North Woods" Fabric goes to: KIMBERLY (misskim139@).
Wishing you all a very merry rest of July! 


July 11, 2016

Peace and Good Tidings to You from Quilt Beach! A "Christmas in July" Giveaway Too!

It's Christmas/Winter Holiday quilting time here in Connecticut. It's feeling breezy and tropical. 

I can’t say “Christmas in July” without giggling, can you?

Swim suits, high SPF sunscreen, heat rising off the street, you know it’s time to reach for that [enter the name of your favorite icy cold beverage here] ... and to get to work on some great ideas for Christmas/winter holiday quilts, stockings, ornaments ... or whatever your inner elf desires. 

I had the happy surprise of receiving this quilt in the mail last week.
It was made, quilted, and sent to me by the extremely talented Christina Egner, whom you probably know, because I’ve highlighted Tina here before. She used the "Felicity" quilt pattern and the "Northwoods" collection, which I designed for Moda Fabrics.

Tina completely surprised me by giving me this quilt. Thanks so much, Tina. I hope things are going swimmingly for you and your family down by the Jersey Shore. 

Tina is the prolific talent behind Emily Ann’s Kloset site. Her instagram is @emilyannskloset.

This afternoon, at the urging of our Sudden Activities Committee (headed by Roscoe), we left the studio a little early to show Felicity our neighborhood beach. The southwesterly breeze had its way with us.
(Here's Pete's head popping out from behind the quilt, to see if laughing and smiling might help the breeze die down. It didn't.)
At the urging of the Giveaways and Prizes Committee (headed by Lou), we are celebrating "Christmas in July" by giving away 3 prizes to 3 lucky winners: 

A limited edition Bigelow® tea tin, which I designed, full of delicious teas for you to make iced (or hot) tea. I don’t want you getting parched while you're creating. 

A Fat Quarter Bundle of “Northwoods” -- my latest Christmas fabric collection for Moda Fabrics -- including this project panel for creating a Scandinavian-inspired table topper and ornaments.
If you'd like to enter, please leave a comment here on this post by midnight (Eastern U.S. time) on July 18th. Please, just 1 comment per person. In your comment, be sure to include: 
1. Your e-mail address
2. A brief description of the Christmas/winter holiday project -- or any creative act -- you’re dreaming up and/or you've got going

If you do that, I promise that you’ll be entered into the random drawings (overseen by Franny).

The three winners will be posted on my Instagram feed @katespain on July 20th. 

Happy, colorful creating.


P.S. I want to share with you this summertime passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

"In this refulgent summer, it has been a luxury to draw the breath of life. The grass grows, the buds burst, the meadow is spotted with fire and gold in the tint of flowers. The air is full of birds, and sweet with the breath of the pine, the balm-of-Gilead, and the new hay. Night brings no gloom to the heart with its welcome shade. Through the transparent darkness the stars pour their almost spiritual rays."
Shade border, July 11, 2016
 Drumstick allium showing off again in the Winterthur Viburnum bed. The rose in the back is the David Austin rose called "Lark Ascending." Here's a closer look,
And you can't have a fair-colored, luminous rose without a pink one too. Here's the David Austin rose called "Boscobel."
 Enjoy the flowers in your midst. Happy summer. Happy creating.

June 20, 2016

Creator Spotlight: Christine Jiun Yi

One of my favorite things about designing quilt fabrics for Moda Fabrics is seeing what you all create with the collections. I was so impressed when I saw this "Farmer's Wife" quilt by Christine Jiun Yi -- the second quilt she's ever made. Wow! Thank you Christine for sharing with us your beautiful creation and the entertaining story behind your creative process -- over several years. Inspiring, to say the least. Thanks too to your friend who encouraged you to quilt. Take it away, Christine. 

Creator Spotlight: Christine Jiun Yi
When I sent Kate Spain a picture of the quilt I made using her fabrics, I never expected her to ask me to be a featured quilt creator on her "Drawing Board" blog! Unfortunately, I do not have any in-progress photos of the quilt for I hadn’t planned on sharing it with people. However, I will do my best to explain my background and process in making this quilt. 
My "Portland Summer" quilt, 88" X 92"
Up until a few years ago, I only sewed for practical use, such as, making gifts for my family and friends, costumes, doll dresses for my daughter. I never thought I could do it as a hobby. Once I started quilting, however, I found it to be a good form of meditation for me because I would put all of my focus and concentration on doing a particular thing. It helped me to learn how to be consistently patient, and with every block I finished, it filled me with joy.

The first large quilt I ever made was a "Dear Jane" quilt. A friend of mine was posting progress pictures of her own Dear Jane quilt on her blog, and encouraged me to make some of the easier blocks. So imagine me, a person who didn't know about quilting, buying the infamous Dear Jane quilt book and working on it. If I had known how big of a project the quilt would be beforehand, I probably never would have started it. Through many trials and errors, long nights, and painful fingers, I finished the quilt. 

After completing that, the same friend was posting pictures of a different piece she was working on, and I left her a comment saying that her blocks looked nice. My friend let me know that the name of the quilt was the "Farmer's Wife", and she gave me the pattern book for it, telling me that I should try making it. I thought to myself, "I just finished the Dear Jane quilt, the last thing I'd want to do is make another large, time-consuming piece!" Truthfully, I didn't find the pattern itself that interesting at first because the pictures of it in the book weren't very flattering. I didn't plan on making it. However, my friend kept asking me if I had started yet, so I thought I'd just make a few blocks to show her and then stop. 

I bought 2 Moda Scrap Bags for the fabric to make the blocks. Back then (2013) I wasn't aware of fabric lines or designers, and would just grab bags that had colors that attracted me to them. The ones that I bought really spoke to me, and when I saw them, my first thought was "If I used this to make Farmer's Wife, it would look really nice". The colors worked so well together, that even if it wasn't a quilt that I was initially excited about making, I knew that I would be able to do it. 

I started making a few blocks, and found that the more I made, the more I was enjoying the results. And so, I ended up going back to the store in order to find more of the same fabric. It was then that I learned about different fabric companies and designers. The fabrics that had been in my purchased scrap bags were "Sunnyside" by Kate Spain. I loved all of the different colors and prints so much that it made working on the quilt fun for me.

When I finished the piecing, I didn't know what to do with it so I folded it and left it in my closet for a year. It wasn't until one of my neighbors, who was an experienced quilter, told me that I should get them finished by a professional longarm quilter that I brought it out again. I didn't want to ask just anyone to work on it, so I went to ‘NW Quilter’s Guild Quilt Show’ in Portland (2015), paying close attention to the longarm quilting I saw on them and keeping note of the ones I liked. That's how I found Nancy Stovall, who since then has been the only person I've had long arm my quilts. 

When consulting her for the Farmer's Wife, the only parameters I gave were not use the feather design which I had seen being used so many times. She finished quilting it at the end of November 2015.

While making the blocks for this quilt, I found that there were three types that I was making with the fabric.

1.Big Contrast blocks, where the colors are bold and attention grabbing

2. Medium and Low Contrast blocks, where the colors are more subtle 

3. Scrap blocks, which are the final blocks that I made because I was running out of fabric 

In the end, even though I hadn't planned it that way, the combination of those three types of blocks helped to balance the overall visual weight of the quilt. If all the blocks had been big contrast blocks, the eyes wouldn't know where to look and it would appear too busy. If all the blocks had been low contrast blocks, the eye would have passed over it completely. Even if it was one that didn't I particularly like on its own, every piece of fabric and every block had their own place within the quilt. 
Fun fact: by the last blocks, I was so low on fabric that I ended up using some of Denyse Schmidt's fabrics for one of the blocks. Later, I found out that she and Kate Spain are friends and live not far from each other in Bridgeport, Connecticut! No wonder the fabrics worked so well together! 
This is my favorite block.
Though my quilting journey has been short so far, I have been able to learn so many important things that help me push forward when I am struggling. When experienced quilters believe in you, it is because they see something in you. Listen to what they say and their advice, and you may find yourself creating things you never dreamed of! I also learned that slow going is better than not going. Even if you are only doing .01% of a piece every day, when you consistently work on a project, those small percentages will add up.

Through quilting I've been able to meet so many wonderful, talented people. The quilting community has been so welcoming and encouraging towards me, I never imagined that this could happen. Me? Writing a guest blog for one of my favorite fabric designers? No. way.
 Christine Jiun Yi