Friday, March 20, 2015

Coffee Talk: Becky Schwendeman

Becky is just about as sweet as they come and I'm happy to share her quilting journey with all of you!

How long have you been sewing?

I started sewing when I was 12 years old.  Our summer babysitter was 16 and had taken sewing in Home Ec in school. My mom had just bought a new sewing machine so we sewed all summer and I was hooked after that.  In High School, I took a tailoring class and sewed a lot of my own clothes, but had a fascination with quilts early on. The quilt on the left below is a lap quilt I made in High School and the other I made in college.  Both are tied with yarn.  I still have both quilts and they’ve been well used.

I love that you still have these quilts. So, you've been quilting since high school?

I’ve been quilting on and off for a very long time.  Some seasons of my life have been more productive, but I’ve always done some kind of craft. Last year, I hand stitched snowflakes for all our Christmas cards.  That took a very long time!

Oh, I love to make Christmas cards! How did you to get into quilting? 

I remember seeing some quilt tops at my great grandmother’s house when I was young and now I wish I had some of them.  I think they planted a seed for me.

What is it that drew you to modern quilting rather than a more “traditional/classic” style?

I’ve sewn traditional quilts for a long time and have fabric for several quilts sitting in a cabinet, but they didn’t seem very exciting.  Ann Solinski invited me to a sew day at Oklahoma Quiltworks for the Modern Quilt Guild about 2 years ago.  I enjoyed meeting new people excited about quilting. Modern quilts are often bright and cheerful and you can use traditional designs, some brighter fabrics, modify the design a bit and it becomes a modern quilt. It has been a way for me to connect with Heather, my daughter-in-law, who loves to sew and quilt, too.  We have made 3 modern baby quilts together for friends and a cousin.  Now, happily, we can start sewing for our first grandson due in early August.

There are so many creative and talent people in the world of quilting. Who do you find inspirational?

There are so many lovely patterns and fabrics out there.  I enjoy taking classes with quilt teachers.  It was fun to take a class from Carolyn Friedlander and hear how she has navigated developing patterns and fabric in the modern quilt world. 

What styles of fabrics speak to you the most, and why?

I have fabric and patterns for the Jaybird Park Bench and Rock Candy designs, but haven’t started them. In the recent past, I was drawn to Bridgette Heitland’s Zen Chic’s Juggling Summer and Comma fabric line.  I’ve loved the brightness of Kaffe Fassett fabric and Heather has really drawn my eye to the gray fabrics.  I made a queen size chevron quilt as a graduation gift for Heather from the Comma fabric.  I saw a picture on Pinterest and made up the pattern so the quilt was on the living room floor for a very long time.  Heather was with me before Christmas when I picked it up from being quilted and she kept asking me who the quilt was for.  She was very excited when she opened her present and saw the quilt.  It brings me great joy when someone really appreciates the time and effort put into making a quilt.  I also have part of a quilt made using the Off Track pattern and the Juggling Summer fabric.  Even though I love whole fabric lines, I’m hoping to branch out more to mix and match.

When are you most productive? When do the most ideas strike you?

I love sewing in the late afternoon after work, but usually evenings are my time to dream and sew and Sunday nights while watching OETA.  I like the motto that I used with my son, Jim, when he was young taking Suzuki cello lessons, and that was, he had to practice on the days he ate.  So I think that should apply to quilting, too!

Is there a project you're hoping to tackle in the near future?

I just bought some nice linen fabric to make a Super Tote.  It looks so handy for traveling. The Metro medallion with the quick curve ruler looks fun.  I’m thinking about making Jennifer Sampou’s Elephant and I quilt.  Our son and daughter-in-law brought me some fabric from Africa and I think it would be fun to use it in the quilt.  It might even be a baby quilt. I have some fabric from Liberty of London that I bought while in London last year and am waiting for an inspiration to use it. When I have more time, I really want to practice and explore machine quilting.  I’m pretty good at meandering, but need to get more proficient with other designs.

What quilt creation are you most proud of?  

I actually have several quilts that I really like. The first is this queen size quilt I made for our son’s wedding.  Jim wanted a rainbow quilt and Heather wanted bright colors so I used all batiks. I think it led the way to modern quilts. The quilt pieces resided on our living room floor for about 4 months.  It was a labor of love and they both have an appreciation for quilts.  

A wall hanging I enjoyed making is the blue and white Making Waves quilt I had hanging in the 2014 OKCMQG quilt show in Edmond.  It now looks so great on the wall by my piano.  I just finished a quilt with sailboats on it for my sister in Minnesota. It was a free Moda pattern that I modified to make it my own.  They live at the lake in the summer and race their sailboat.  I’m excited to give her the quilt when I visit next week.

I love your Making Waves quilt too! Did you ever have a quilt project go terribly wrong? 

It was my first attempt at a queen size quilt, a Trip Around the World kit. In 1982, we were living in Fairbanks and I joined the Cabin Fever’s Quilt Guild.  It was the first time that I felt a kinship with others who loved quilting and I was also introduced to many new quilting tools that have been invaluable on my journey.   I learned to hand quilt with a small group of young women while our babies played.  It took me 3 years to hand quilt it. The border and backing fabric were a cotton blend and it wasn’t until I entered the quilt in the Alaska State Fair and got the critique back that I found out I should have used all cotton fabric.  I learned a valuable lesson but I did get a 1st place ribbon for the quilt.  I also sewed and machine quilted many baby quilts with a herringbone pattern during our 6 years in Alaska.

If you had to choose one must have book or blog to visit for modern quilting what would it be?

There are so many blogs on the Internet: Moda Fabrics Blog and Moda Bakeshop have interesting patterns and many are free! Ami Simms has some interesting ideas and baby things. I often check out blogs recommended by modern quilters: Sew Mama Sew, and the new Block magazine/book from Missouri Star Quilt Co.

What is your advice to someone who wants to jump into the world of modern quilting?

Explore the Internet, take classes, join a quilt guild and go to sew days with the MQG or at a quilt store.  I was recently sewing with Haley, a 12 year old girl and showing her my selection of quilt books. She responded with, why would you want to buy books when you can go on the Internet and find tutorials and free patterns.  I like sewing with others.  It gives me energy and I often learn something new.  Sometimes, I lose interest in a project and set it aside for a while, or in the case of a kaleidoscope quilt I made at Quiltworks about 15 years ago for a very long while.  It’s in softer pastels so doesn’t really speak to me and I haven’t had a plan for it so it has been hard to finish. When I have a person in mind for the quilt, it usually goes together more quickly because I’m very excited to share my labor of love with them.  I only give quilts to people who will treasure them.  I want them to feel like they are wrapped in love when they use the quilt.

Thanks Becky! I love to hear what inspires people and you've just inspired me to go finish the baby quilt I'm working on!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Meeting Recap: March 2015

Welcome to the March Meeting Recap, aka The Longest Post of My Life. I'll give you the highlights of the meeting here, but please keep an eye on your email and our private Facebook page for upcoming details and events.*

*Remember, events, swaps, etc. are voluntary. Choose what YOU can do!

The Foltos Magyar Modern Klub Outreach:
Translation: Hungarian Modern Patchwork Club. This is our sister guild in Budapest.

Mug Rug Swap:
Agnes is organizing a mug rug swap with the Budapest quilters. Please find the sign up document on the Facebook page. The theme is "This is where I am from". Use your creativity and show your U.S.A. or Oklahoma spirit!

We'll also be sending some paper-pieced feather pincushions to Budapest. You can use this tutorial as guide. If the feather is not your thing, please chose another pincushion pattern with a high cuteness factor :) Since we foresee a high number of participants, please fill the pincushions with polyfil only, as walnut shells are a bit heavy when they all add up.

Donate a Fat Quarter:
Finally, given the scarcity of good quality modern quilting fabric in Budapest, Agnes will willingly accept a couple of good modern remnants you might have laying around along with your mug rug or pincushion….We know these ladies appreciate every last bit of good fabric!

Mug rugs, pincushions and fat quarters are due to Agnes at the April meeting or mail to her by May 1st.

Hand Jobs, Hand-stitching Group (Small Group):
Meets at Oklahoma Quiltworks on Saturday, March 21st. Bring your hand-sewing and sit, stitch and visit.

March 28th Sew Day Cancelled:

This date just happens to fall the day before Palm Sunday and weekend before Easter. We hope you have a great time to fellowship with your family and friends.

QuiltCon Recap:
For our March meeting we asked our members who attended QuiltCon to show & share some of the things they learned. I don't know how well I kept up with the details, but here we go!

The "thing" at QuiltCon this year was pin swapping. If you had a blog, you most likely had a pin to swap or give away to other bloggers and attendees. It was a fun to meet and swap pins with your favorite sew-lebrity. Elizabeth decided to pin her collection to an old mini-quilt she has and hang it in her sewing room.

Elizabeth participated in the Florid Bloom workshop taught by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and shared her in progress project.

Elizabeth also took the Mod Corsage workshop taught by Anna Maria Horner.

And....Carolyn Friedlander's needle-turn applique workshop.

Beth shared some ideas she learned in a compositional quilting workshop taught by Krista Withers. Check out this post by Krista on her blog. It explains and shows everything Beth spoke about.

Jemellia took Elizabeth Hartman's Patchwork City workshop and shared her WIP.

She also took Lizzy House's Meadow Quilt workshop and sewed some groovy curves. Lizzy House will also be teaching this class at SewOK this year!

Agnes took a printmaking class with Celina Mancurti. Agnes then took her printed fabric and made these great drawstring bags.

Another class Agnes participated in was From Clothes to Quilts by the charming and, yes, adorable, Luke Haynes. This mini-quilt is made from mens shirting fabrics.

But, wait, there's more. Agnes also participated in a Paper Pieced Design class taught by Penny Layman. From design to finished block!

And, finally, Agnes took a fabric dyeing class (in a zip-lock baggie no less) and achieved beautiful colors!

I attended a lecture by Heather Grant on Alternate Gridwork. Good design is based on a grid and there are simple things you can to do make your design more modern. You can get more information and find additional resources HERE.

Rebecca and Celeste took a walking tour of the special exhibits at QuiltCon, which were 1970s quilts and quilts from Gee's Bend. This led to a brief discussion on the value and pricing of quilts and the concept of provenance: "a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality." Rebecca then shared this quilt. Her mother made the blocks (they are painted!) and her grandmother put it together and quilted it. This quilt is now featured in a book about World War II quilts!

Maria made this beautiful mini-quilt for a swap using all the colors of the rainbow.

And how can you resist this adorable bird?!

Did you know you can make a quilt with a serger! Mary made this one with bold strips. I love the colors!

Chanda is cleverly making a wall-hanging for every month of the year. Here are her lucky clovers for the month of March!

Chanda also made this cute dress for her friend's daughter.

We all like a good bag, and Melissa made this SuperTote found on Noodlehead using Cotton & Steel fabrics (which we love).

...and you have to have a mini-box bag to put in it!

Fresh from the quilter (our own Phoebe), Ann showed off her amazing Quick Curves Metro Medallion. Beautiful work, Ann!

No, it's not a hat, it's a bowl potholder that Beth made. I mean, really, how many times have I burned myself pulling things out of the microwave? 

Beth also shared this adorable quilt that she is quilting for a customer. This photo doesn't even come close to doing it justice. It's honestly just about the cutest quilt I've ever seen!

Laura finished this cool, modern quilt. I love the quilting. Specifically, how it follows the lines of the piecing in the center, but instead of continuing in a zig-zag in the negative space on the sides, it just extends the line. Great design!

Sometimes we find ourselves with a random charm pack. What would you do with it? Karen made this big, comfy pinwheel pillow!

She also gave a pitch for her class at Quiltworks to make this Zip Pocket Tote. It's a seriously cool bag.

Cassie showed several quilts. I love the colors and fabrics in this one!

This would be cute on anyone's sewing room wall!

You can see Cassie's awesome quilting on the back.

The answer: This is.
The question: What is a modern quilt?

Look at all those tiny pieces and the quilting in the center of the hexagons. Phoebe has patience...and mad skillz!

This is a great idea! Phoebe saved scraps from her projects for the last 5 years and made this ticker-tape quilt.

Becky made this great quilt for a family member who races boats! Quilting by Phoebe.

Phyllis made this cute Lion King themed quilt. The characters from the movie have been machine-embroidered and other blocks contain the birth information of Abbie.

Have you ever participated in an online swap? It's a fun way to receive handmade items from great quilters. Elizabeth received this mini from her partner and we think it fits her to a T!

Sewing machines can help us do amazing things! Kathy made this for a class.

They are seriously beautiful!

Last year we had a Crossroads Block lottery and Diane won! Here's her finished quilt! I love when random fabrics come together so well.

Here's another great idea by Mandy. She had a lone cross-stitch panel and she turned it into a bag!

Whew! See you in April!

Monday, March 2, 2015


OKCMQG General Meeting
March 9, 2015, 6:30 PM
at the
The Village Library
10307 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
OKC, OK 73120