Friday, November 1, 2013

Scrappy Log Cabin Blocks Repurposed

Did you ever wonder what happened to these blocks?
I decided I didn't love them. Maybe it was too large of a starting square, maybe it was too scrappy. Maybe I should have broken them up with white. I don't know. They just weren't working for me.

Meanwhile, my little Ronan decided to start chewing on his crib. So I hatched this idea to chop these unloved blocks up into quarters and remake them into crib rail guards for the twins. The results were oh so cute! (the pictures not so much)

Please excuse the blurriness and bad lighting. The twins are very mobile now!

These were a joint effort between my Mother-In-Law Ann and me. I made the blocks, but she did all the work to chop them up and make them into these adorable guards. The tie strings are one of my favorite details. They are each a unique print used in the quilt. It's very "scrappy" and fun!

Ann did a great job quilting these with straight lines that form rectangular mazes. Her inspiration came from Angela Walter's machine quilting book.

If I could make these again, I would probably design them to have shorter strings that just knot. Yes they are pretty when they are all in little bows, but of course my boys like to untie them.

Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Modern Quilting Lecture Recap

Last night I gave a lecture on Modern Quilting for the Cabin Branch Quilt Guild at Lake Ridge Baptist Church in Woodbridge, VA. It was nerve-wracking, and intimidating, and also so much fun (I can say that now that it's over!).

I didn't do a head count, but it seemed like there must have been a hundred or more people there. I've been a member of the guild for a few years so I know many of them, but there were some new faces too. This was my first time speaking in front of such a large group since my college days and it was a bit intimidating, but seeing friendly faces helped!

Unfortunately I experienced some technical difficulties with displaying my PowerPoint presentation through the guild projector (I think because my pathetic laptop is a dinosaur), but thankfully the church also had a large flat screen monitor (more like the size of a tv) that I could connect to. The presentation went pretty well and I got a lot of positive feedback as well as interest in doing a workshop to learn Improv Piecing.

I won't go into details of the entire presentation but I will touch on some of the informative highlights for those of you who also want to know about Modern Quilting.

As some of you may know from reading my blog, my name is Natalie and I've been quilting since 2008. I used to have an etsy shop where I sold cover button jewelry and handmade items. In 2010 I founded the Northern Virginia Modern Quilt Guild which has grown to about 3000 members. I blog here at Threaded Mess about my quilting adventures and sometimes a little bit about my life. One of my mini quilt tutorials was published by (with an accompanying Quilt-A-Long here on my blog) and I've shared several other tutorials and projects right here on Threaded Mess (paperback book cover is a favorite). I am currently the Host of the do. Good Stitches Charity Bee Hope group. I'm a wife, a mom of twins, and I work full time in IT Consulting. I may not be a Super Star in the Modern Quilting community like some of my acquaintances, but I certainly have my hand on the pulse that is driving this movement so I think I can do a good job of explaining what Modern Quilting is all about.

do. Good Stitches Hope Group October Quilt

Modern Quilting is a combination of traditional quilting and art quilting, but also something more than just the two combined. Technology and Pop-Culture heavily influence both the means of which Modern Quilters share and communicate as well as the aesthetic itself. While construction methods are more similar to Traditional quilting, there's also an element of inventiveness and rule-bending to Modern Quilting that we often see in Art quilting. You won't find many modern quilters referring to 'The Quilt Police'. Modern quilts are often deliberately asymmetrical and deliberately imperfect. That's not to say that we don't aim for perfection when points ARE supposed to meet. We do! 

My Orange Improv Quilt

There are certain characteristics of Modern Quilting that are true for most who identify with this movement:
  • The quilts are functional. For the most part, they are meant to be used and loved, not just displayed. 
  • There’s often deliberate asymmetry in the quilt design. 
  • They improvise, reinvent, or create their own designs.
  • They play with scale, hue, saturation, and composition. 
  • They rely less on the repetition and interaction of quilt block motifs. 
  • They are inspired by modern art, fashion, and architecture trends. 
  • They often use solid fabrics, graphic prints, and use novelty fabrics for color value. 
  • They often create edge to edge designs without borders or sashing 
  • They often quilt in straight lines though free motion quilting and hand quilting with perle cotton is also popular

The following Modern Quilting terms are important to know:

  • Wonky – intentional deviation from straight line cuts 
  • Negative Space – heavy use of a neutral or solid background offsetting pieced elements of the quilt 
  • Improv/Improvise – random arrangement of blocks on negative space –or- random placement of a fabric 
  • Scrappy – the use of many prints with few repeats 
  • Asymmetry – deliberate imbalance of a design; off center 
  • Functional – to be used, not displayed

Modern Quilters use a range of technology including but not limited to: flickr, pinterest, instagram, bloglovin', craftsy, and facebook.

Modern Quilters look for inspiration from bloggers, the Fashion runway (designers like Jay McCarroll who also have quilting fabric lines), Architecture magazines (like, and Home Decor magazines (like elle decor). Even store displays can inspire! One of my favorite sites to go to is Spincushion where Leigh Ann blogs her "If a Quilt Lived Here" series. I like this series because it shows a fashionable room paired with modern quilting fabrics, and sometimes she even suggests a pattern!

my Marshmallow Brochette

There are a lot of great printed books and magazines available (check out my Amazon carousels on the left side of my page), but there are also a lot of great online resources for patterns and tutorials. Bloggers often share their own creations or host Quilt-A-Longs for popular patterns.  Then of course there's Quilty magazine's website, The Fat Quarterly, and Generation Q.

Not all modern quilters are a part of the national Modern Quilt Guild, but many are. This guild started in 2009 when a group of ladies got together in Los Angeles after having met and talked through online discussions. This small gathering ignited a wildfire of quilters across the nation who started their own Modern guilds. Today almost 200 guilds have formed across the world and new guilds continue to form. This year, the Modern Quilt Guild became an official non-profit entity with a small paid staff. Modern guilds now pay membership dues to the national Modern Quilt Guild and receive benefits like discounts, better insurance rates, a website, and the International Modern Quilt Conference, otherwise known as Quiltcon. The Modern Quilt Guild has also organized several retreats around the US that they call “Sew Downs”. The retreat includes several workshops and lectures from celebrity Modern Quilters. 

quilt modeled zombie style by my MIL Ann

I've observed three distinct groups of women and men who consider themselves Modern Quilters and I am calling them Modern Revivalists, Modern Minimalists, and Modern Mixers. 

Modern Revivalists take a traditional block and modify or reinterpret it to make it more accessible to the modern quilter. They might do so by using solids and graphic prints instead of calicos and florals. They might play with scale by enlarging the block or making the block the whole quilt. The modern revivalist might only change the color composition of the block and use an on trend color combination. The modern revivalist usually constructs a quilt using individual blocks, but I have seen modern quilts that have the essence of a traditional quilt without using a traditional block structure as well. 

Spiderweb Quilt mock-up in Chartreuse and Raspberry

Modern Minimalists tend to incorporate a lot of negative space, usually in white or grey. They frequently piece their quilts in an improvisational style while embracing simplicity and minimalism. They utilize alternative blocks structures or sometimes no blocks at all.

I personally consider myself a part of the Modern Mixer group. I combine elements of both Modern Revivalists and Modern Minimalists as I please. I have followed patterns but I have also made my own. I often mix multiple prints into my quilts in a scrappy/patchwork style, but I also use a lot of solids.

2011 Quilty Finishes/Starts

There are a lot of misconceptions about Modern Quilting that I touched on during the lecture. To sum some of them up:
  • We do have a strong foundation and sense of appreciation for the art and tradition of quilting 
  • We do care about precision when the design calls for it
  • We don't all make 3 fabric, beginner level quilts though the designs may seem simplified
  • We do try "fussy old lady patterns". For example, a few years ago it was popular to make a Farmer's Wife quilt. Sometimes we make them the way they were originally intended and sometimes we make them our own way.
  • Yes, sometimes our quilts are made with bright rainbow prints, but we also have a sense of subtlety and minimalism.
  • Yes sometimes even Modern Quilters just need to get something done quickly, but we do take time to enjoy the process and sometimes spend hours just working on an abstract layout.
  • We do have rules but we bend them as needed
  • We are not all young. There are men and women of all ages in the Northern Virginia Modern Quilt Guild and I am sure that's the case in other guilds. 
You can get involved in Modern Quilting by doing any or all of the following:
As you participate in bees or swaps, be a student! Look at what other people are doing, the fabrics they are selecting, check out their flickr photostream and their blogs, and ask questions.

If you want to learn more about what is going on in the world of Modern Quilting, I highly suggest checking out the web-lectures available on from QuiltCon and of course search the web and see what people are talking about from the Fall 2013 Quilt Market. If you are a quilt shop vendor I highly suggest watching these videos of Lizzy House from Spring Market 2010 (part 1 and part 2).

Thanks for stopping by today and checking out my blog, and thanks once again to those who attended the lecture in person. I hope you learned learned something new and that you've been inspired to give Modern Quilting a try if you haven't already.

Happy Quilting! 

PS - If you are stopping by my blog because you attended the lecture, thank you! Please know that some of the links in previous posts might not work because my domain name changed. In the URL Field, just add .blogspot before the .com (so becomes, don't change or remove any other text, and click enter or go. The link should then work.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April, how you get here?

My niece is quite precocious. She asks a million questions, often again and again when some perceived change has taken place and the possibility of a different answer warrants further investigation. Some may find this incessant need for repeated information annoying, but I find it adorable. When she was three, one of her favorite questions was "How you get here?" Often I would reply by telling her what kind of car I drove to her house, or sometimes the roads I took to get there and the states I traveled in. Her reply was almost always "Ohhh," as if what I said answered exactly what she wanted to know.

So, April, 'how you get here'?

Seriously?! Wasn't it just January? Didn't I just post? But no, months have passed and time has galloped on. It's easy to lose track of time for me these days. My life revolves around my twins' schedule which is some version of eat, play, sleep, repeat. Occasionally I get to go grocery shopping or run an errand. I relish the chance to get out of the house for a little bit and have some me time. I love my babies, but I'm thankful my husband gives me time away from them when I need it.

Like today! Today I get to take a few hours away from the boys and spend time in my sewing room doing whatever I want. What have I done? Zoned out to Harry Potter 1. Sad but true. I almost don't know what to do with my free hands. So I decided to write a quick post, share some long neglected photos, and hopefully get inspired or motivated to work on something.

This swoon top is done now and the back is pieced from remaining scraps. It's actually a 3x3 with 9 blocks and sashing in between. I still need to add the outside edge sashing which is a top contender for today. It was created with help from members of NOVA Modern Quilt Guild and destined for a special little boy with cancer.

These blocks made their way to one of our Do. Good Stitches bee members for completion. I had fun exclusively using scrap strips for these projects.

I made these blocks for the Roanoke Modern Quilt Guild where I am an honorary member. This quilt is being made to benefit ALS.

Speaking of scraps, I am getting pretty full! I will have to come up with a project to use some of these pretties up.

I did use some of them for this quilt that I am making for my boys. I'm having trouble moving forward on this one because I'm not sure I love the gray. I don't know if I should add more (grey sashing), or if the gray is fine but  to make the colors pop and calm the quilt a bit (add white sashing), take it out completely (replace the gray blocks). Maybe you could leave me a comment on what you think I should do?

I also can't decide if I should make two smaller quilts (make 4 more blocks) or if I should leave this one as is and make a second coordinating quilt with my remaining strips.

Or I could just organize my sewing room with my time, which would be good because I've made quite a few piles. I haven't bought much since the babies were born but I made a few impulse buys before they got here that haven't been put away and I've gotten fabrics out to play with but didn't put them away.

Despite my lack of direction, this is where you'll find me today. I hope you are all having fun creating or organizing your own messes, working on UFOs, or maybe starting a new project? This pile is destined for a friend's new baby girl...

Happy Quilting!

p.s. the boys are doing great! Mason is crawling, sitting himself up on his own, and pulling himself up to stand. Ronan is very close to crawling but he's more in to talking (ah-goo, dah dah, mah mah, bah). They are such joys and I am so blessed!

This was September '12
This is April '13

I love those quick change trousers!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Do. Good Stitches Again

Hey everyone! I'm still here! The babies are doing great and growing every day. They have learned how to say 'Ah Goo', roll from tummy to back and back to tummy, and sit for a few seconds on their own. They love eating solid foods and when I get on the floor and roll around with them.
Mason (top) is a serious little boy anytime technology is in front of him (like a camera) so I rarely catch him smiling, but when he's not distracted by gadgets he's a very happy guy. Ronan (bottom) is a ham and likes to entertain us with his chattering and giggles. He's almost always smiling except when he is hungry (he thinks he's starving).

The past few months have flown by what with the holidays and the schedule I have to keep with the twins. I have managed to get into my sewing room all of two times, but those two times were lovely. I decided to join Do. Good Stitches again to force myself to take time to sew. It's hard as a new mom to peel myself away from the babies but D.GS is worth it and I love that I'm sewing with my buddy Hollie again!

This time around I'm a sewer instead of a quilter which means that each month I make 2 blocks for the quilter of the month. What did I make you might ask? Well...I don't have much to show for my efforts in December. For some reason I never took pictures of the finished blocks.

Hope Do Good Stitches December

These blocks were made using this tutorial by Little Miss Shabby. The grey, white, and black prints and solids were trimmed in pink or orange.

January's blocks were made using this tutorial by Modify Tradition. We were asked to make the quatrefoils using bright solids with a white background. I ended up making both of my blocks with the same color scheme to minimize the amount of time needed for cutting.

Hope Do Good Stitches January

I'm hoping my yellow doesn't stand out too much in the quilt because it sure photographed a bit louder than the other colors I used in my blocks.

I really appreciate Hollie getting me back into the sewing room! Thank you all for reading and hanging with me even though I don't get to check in very often!

Happy Quilting!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Long Time no Bloggy

Howdy ya'll

I've been pretty busy lately and this is what I made...

No not the quilt.

The babies!

Introducing Mason and Ronan!
Born August 6th 2012 at 12:44 and 12:45 pm via c-section weighing 4lbs 11oz 17.5" and 5lbs 18.5".

Long story, sort of short: I had some pregnancy complications and in my convalescence I accidentally allowed my domain to expire. It was too complicated for me to try and renew the domain while in the hospital so I didn't but I am working on it now. You can still find me at and if you are reading this post you probably already know that.

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers while I was gone. I have two beautiful baby boys to love on and couldn't be happier. I was on bed rest for 155 days from weeks 13-34 when I gave birth. I have never done anything more physically or emotionally difficult in my life. I am still recuperating from being in bed for so long but I am pretty much healed from the c-section. 

Not a lot of sewing (or sleep) happens in my house these days but I did manage to make some burp cloths:

They get used a lot!

I'm still not sure how much I'll be able to blog or what I'll be blogging about. The babies require a lot of attention and there's just not enough time in the day yet to squeeze much sewing in. I'm back though, and you can reach me here or at anytime :-)

Happy Quilting!