Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Because you have so much time on your hands this month....

A week or so ago, Cotton Spice.com featured on their blog page a project I created using UFOs and scraps to whip up some fancy little ornaments. I think I was supposed to have the project directions featured on my blog the same day, but better late than never! So if you are just sitting around not sure how to occupy yourself this holiday season, here's a suggestion.

Everyone has leftover blocks and plenty of scraps sitting around their sewing room. Why not grab a few and in just a few minutes turn them into tree ornaments or custom gift tags?


· Several UFO blocks, cut no larger than 5 ½” square
· Scraps for appliqué shapes
· 6” square batting and backing, one per ornament
· Beads, sequins, buttons, jewels
· Thin ribbon for hanging
· Allene’s Jewel It other adhesive

1. Locate some UFO blocks. This is sometimes easier said than done, but once you find one you will likely find more than you ever thought you had, and you might end up in the market for a taller tree to fit all the ornaments you can make.

2. Cut blocks down to squares or rectangles no smaller than 3 1/2” on a side and no larger than 5 ½” on a side.
3. Decide on orientation – do you want your ornament to hang on point or straight?

4. Decide on design. I like to stick to fairly simple and traditional Christmas shapes. Anything you can draw or cut out freehand will work. Simple triangles make great Christmas trees, a few basic petal shapes turn into a poinsettia in no time, some circles, a square, and a rectangle make a snowman with a jaunty hat. Just remember to keep your design small enough to fit within about ½” of the edge of the block.

5. Iron fusible web onto the wrong side of whatever scrap fabrics you are going to use to make your design. Either draw your design on the fusible, or cut the design freehand. Remember, either way your finished design will be the opposite of what you are cutting from the paper side.

6.Fuse the design to the block, following your fusible manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Machine appliqué around appliqué shapes. This is most easily accomplished by using zig zag or feather stitching or any other simple decorative stitch you might have on your machine.

8. Sandwich block, batting, and backing for quilting. I like to use my 505 spray baste to put them all together.

9. Free motion or echo quilt around your appliques; these blocks are little and don’t really need all that much quilting, and are a great project to use to practice your machine quilting.

10. Trim off excess batting and backing.

11. Prepare binding; cut a strip of fabric 1 ¾” wide by approximately 19 inches long. Press in half along the long side to create a double thickness binding.

12. Using a scant ¼” seam and beginning in the middle of one side, attach binding to the front of the ornament. Flip binding to back and handsew shut.

13. Embellish your appliqué shapes with beads, buttons, jewels, sequins, and any other small shiny items you may have in your stash. I like to use Allene’s Jewel It to attach them as it adheres quickly and dries invisibly. For small beads, the easiest way to get the glue on without overgluing is to thread the bead on a pin and gently dip the pin in some glue, then press it on the ornament and slide the pin away.

(As a side note, aren't my cuticles fantastic?)

14. Cut a piece of ribbon about 9” long. Glue or sew to the back of the ornament, overlapping ends slightly.

Another side note - a little excess glue globs never hurt anyone. Remember, Perfection is Overrated.

And because I love reminding people of what I do, I'll even include the marketing blurb at no extra cost!

EvaPaige Quilt Designs, created by designer Beth Helfter, strives to give quilters freedom to make beautiful things without focusing on perfection. From her quick and forgiving patterns to her trunk show entitled “Perfection is Overrated”, Beth works hard to give quilters license to focus on “fun over fuss” in their quiltmaking.

Beth loves to see her designs completed and the creative licenses taken by quiltmakers when using her patterns, and welcomes photos and comments anytime at
evapaigequilts@charter.net. She is a founding member of New England Quilt Designer’s Cooperative; their group blog, to which she is a frequent contributor, can be found at http://nequiltdesigners.blogspot.com/. To find out more about EvaPaige Quilt Designs patterns and her workshops and trunk show, visit http://www.evapaigequiltdesigns.com/.

If I don't get back here before the holidays are over, have a peaceful, joyous, and blessed holiday!

Beth Helfter
EvaPaige Quilt Designs

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipe

Happy Turkey Day To All!!

I hope you find your day filled with family, friends and great food. I know our table will be laden with all of our favorites and then some. I am thankful for many things in my life, one of them being the great friends I have made through the quilting world. The encouragement I receive from my quilting friends and students is a wonderful thing indeed! As a thank you for all that I have received I would like to pass along a recipe to you. If you are anything like me your fridge will be packed at the end of today with more food than you know what to do with. This recipe is a great way to use up some of the leftovers. What has this got to do with quilting you ask? Well, this recipe is so easy and quick it will leave more time for sewing!

Day After Thanksgiving Casserole

Spray casserole dish with non-stick spray. Build layers in the dish - amounts will vary with the size of the dish and the amount of leftovers. You can also substitute any ingredients, sweet potatoes for mashed, beans for corn, etc...

Layer 1 - 1 to 1-1/2" mashed potatoes
Layer 2 - stuffing
Layer 3 - turkey cut into bite size pieces
Layer 4 - corn

Press the layers together to eliminate any air pockets but not so much that the potatoes ooze out.

Layer 5 - gravy, pour over all

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.

Enjoy your turkey day, count your blessings and know that you are counted as one of mine!
Terri Sontra
Purple Moose Designs

Monday, November 17, 2008

So How Many Sewing Machines Do You Have?

Gosh - I only have four machines. Is there something wrong with me (big grin)? I can’t even imagine having 10 or 15 or 20+ as Barbara mentions in her post below. Where on earth would I put them all?! As it is, I have one in use, one kept at my family’s summer place to use when I am there and two packed away in a back corner under my work table.

My newest sewing machine is a Viking Sapphire which I totally love (and bought on sale last spring). (See photo above with my latest project for my book.) It has a ten inch throat which is such a luxury after only having 6-7 inches to work with when quilting, though certainly not like having a mid arm, which I would love to have. But there again NO SPACE!

My second machine is a Viking Rose, which I was able to buy at cost from a dealer who was closing her business about 10-12 years ago. Such a deal! It is a very nice machine but I never used the embroidery features, so it was a bit like owning a computer when all you want to do is word processing.

My third machine is a New Home, which I have owned for more than 20 years. It is very noisy but reliable. After I bought my Rose I used the New Home for teaching – it was great for teaching kids because it is not a complicated machine and I also figured if it got ruined – Oh Well!

My fourth machine is my mother’s old Singer from the early '50's with all the attachments, cogs for fancy stitches, manual, etc. It still runs but I rarely use it and have it carefully packed away. This machine supplies me with wonderful memories of my mother who died when I was 25. She made most of her own clothes and mine when I was growing up, not to mention all the drapes, pillow covers, upholstered furniture and slip covers in every house we lived in. I especially remember a lovely prom dress she made for me when I was 16 that fit a young body about half the size of the body I have now! (I still have that dress. It is still beautiful and it is TINY. How did I ever fit into it?)

AND - I am on the lookout for an antique treadle sewing machine, preferably pre-1900 or at least pre 1910 - in good condition (not that I have a lot of $ right now, but I am dreaming). In the meantime, I collect miniatures of antique machines. They help brighten up my sewing room.

If anyone is interested in a great source of information about antique sewing machines of all makes and models made during the nineteenth century, get yourself a copy of The Encyclopedia of Early American Sewing Machines (Second Edition) by Carter Bays. The photos are wonderful and the information is very detailed and interesting.

Tell us about YOUR sewing machines!

Cary Flanagan

Something Sew Fine Quilt Design

Saturday, November 15, 2008

...and how many sewing machines do you have?

From reading the last post, it's clear Beth is sewing machine challenged. C'mon girlfriend, you can do better than that! It's time to join the ranks of the sewing machine crazies.

Last year my guild asked its members "How many of you have five or more sewing machines?" About 2/3 of the members raised their hands. Then they asked "ten or more"; the number dropped to about one third. "Twenty-five or more?" maybe ten members still had their hands up.

I'm in that first group, if you count my rarely-used serger. Sewing machine #1 is my circa 1975 Kenmore; not a fancy machine, but built like a tank. It was my only machine for over 20 years, and I still use it regularly. Number 2 is my Brother serger. Bought at the height of the serger fad, I never quite got the hang of serging, and it's been carefully packed away for over ten years. In 2003 I bought a Janome QC6125. I use this for most of my sewing and quilting. If I'm working on multiple projects requiring both sewing and quilting, I also fire up the old Kenmore so I'm not constantly changing threads or feet. My third machine is a mid-1960's Dressmaker. I paid $3 for it (in working condition) and a bag of sewing books at a yard sale on my way to work. It's obviously a low-end machine, but it will stitch a decent straight stitch, although its zig-zag stitch leaves something to be desired (I've never had it serviced or even cleaned). Then came my 1955 Singer Featherweight, my dream baby. I wanted a Featherweight for a while, and came across two nice ones in a local antiques consignment shop shortly before Christmas a couple years ago. I was 99.99% positive one of those little beauties would be under the tree. I was wrong. One day the following summer my husband went to a flea market, and I decided not to go with him- probably the only time I declined to go along. That's the day he came back with a little black case I immediately knew housed a Featherweight. After oohing and aahing over it for about 20 minutes (see photo), I realized something which was apparent the seller of the machine didn't know- my machine was a free arm model, worth several times what my husband paid for it. After a tune-up by Bob the Featherweight guy, it purrs like a kitten. I use it when I want to take my time and savor every moment of sewing, which is unfortunately not often enough.
My newest machine is also my oldest- a 1928 Singer Model 128. I bought it for $35 because it was just so doggoned pretty. Bob replaced the ratty old cord and cleaned and tweaked it, and it too runs like an absolute dream. I've never actually used it for more than a few minutes, as I only have one bobbin so far.

None of my machines are fancy ones, and quite honestly, they have more than enough features for me. Occasionally I think it would be nice to have a larger quilting machine though.

Barbara Chojnacki
Six Gables Designs

Friday, November 14, 2008

If I Had a Million Dollars, I'd buy a new sewing machine

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the group quilt project I am hosting using my Syncopated Ribbons design (go right ahead and scroll down to read all about it if you missed it...I'll wait...). I was pleased with the response I got and was thrilled to be contacted by plenty of quilters who wanted to take part. And now the fun has truly begun as I am starting to get packages in the mail of quilt block and border portions. I feel like a little kid at Christmas tearing open these envelopes and ooooing over the beautiful fabrics and colors in these blocks made by quilters from all over the country, many of whom I have never met. I know that when I receive all of the promised blocks back and am able to put the whole project together, it is going to be breathtaking.

In less fabulous and infinitely more frustrating news, my sewing machine is on a mission to get me to quit quilting. Two weeks ago, DH gave me the gift of 3 uninterrupted hours of sewing while he fed, bathed, and bedded all three girls. At least that was the plan. Twenty seven minutes into my 3 hours, my machine decided to completely crump out. I actually had to drag out my old Elna 1010 and managed to use it to put a binding on, but given that it cost about $105 in 1997 and hasn't been in for a tuneup in 5 years, that is really all I could ask of it. After I finished paraphrasing Garth Brooks with "Damn this (machine), and damn this wasted day", I brought the machine to my trusty repair shop, where they fixed it in two days at a reasonable price.

Fast forward to the moment I tried to use it to free motion quilt the day after I picked it up. It worked beautifully for about 3 minutes then SNAP! the top thread shredded and broke. Changed needles. One minute of quilting and SNAP! the top thread shredded and broke. Rethreaded entire machine. Seventeen seconds of sewing and SNAP! the top thread shredded and broke. At which point I just about shredded and broke myself. Called the repair shop in a total snit, they told me to bring it right back in. Of course, I had a sick child home from school and couldn't just drop everything and run it to the shop, which have I mentioned is 18 miles away and not on the way to ANYWHERE I ever go? Ever? So I didn't get to bring it in til this morning. The repair guy was very nice, threaded it up and tried it out with my darning foot, and of course there is no evidence that there is anything wrong with it. Tension is great, worked like a charm. I very trepidatiously brought the thing back home, but am now terrified to try to use it for fear I will end up needing to throw it against the wall if it snaps thread on me again. And I just really don't have time to patch drywall.

Beth Helfter, who is reminding herself this is all supposed to be fun
EvaPaige Quilt Designs

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Excitement and Encouragement

Dear fellow quilters,
This past week has been filled with positive experiences for me.
I logged on to http://www.quiltwoman.com/ and found three of my patterns listed on the website. If you search "Chicken Soup Designs", you'll find me there. It's pretty exciting to know that my patterns are being published and distributed on a much wider basis now. In a future blog, I will offer a lesson on tulle applique, one of the the techniques I use in many of my patterns that makes the applique look hand done, even though it is accomplished entirely by machine.

I also attended A Quilter's Gathering in Nashua, NH. This was their 20th anniversary year. I have been going every year saying "I should put one of my quilts in this show." So I finally got the courage to submit three of my quilts and they were juried into the show.
Another NE Quilt Designers member, Beth Helfter, had quilts in the show as well. It pleases me to know such talented people as Beth! I heard lots of folks oohhing and aahhing as they looked at her work!

"Tropical Whimsy" (pictured above) is a brightly colored quilt that I made for my daughter Amy. It won a third place ribbon for Color Compatibility. I was very surprised and pleased to have been recognized. It was such a joy to work on this quilt because the colors made me happy. When I was quilting it I just let the creativity flow! I am currently working on writing the directions for this quilt, and the pattern is slated to be published by Quiltwoman in the future. I am looking for someone to be a pattern tester for this design. If you are interested, please e-mail me at chickensoupdesigns@yahoo.com
The other two quilts I entered were "Autumnal Equinox" and "Ti-Lung, the Chinese Dragon". (Also pictured above)
"Autumnal Equinox" is also an award winner, receiving the Founder's Choice award at the Southern New Hampshire Quilt Festival in 2007. I came up with the dragon design while I was working on a row robin for my guild. It is very different from anything I had ever done before, and I liked it so much I made a dragon for myself too!

It's been a great week! I look forward to blogging again soon!
Kristi Parker
Chicken Soup Designs

Monday, November 3, 2008

Welcome Visitors!

Greetings to all of you who have found your way to our blog. I am excited to see so many people from all over the USA and the world visiting a group of six quilt designers from New England! So far we have had visitors from 22 US states and 10 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Egypt, Estonia, Italy, New Zealand, Poland and the United Kingdom! You are in good company!

One of the things we are very interested in is hearing your comments about our blog site, our individual posts and, of course, our designs. We have recently improved our ability to accept comments and there is a place at the end of each post where you can leave a comment, if you wish.

For example, a few weeks ago, I wrote about the book of quilt designs I am working on (and will publish in February) and I asked for feedback about what kinds of quilting books you like, and what would make you choose one quilt book over another (assuming both interested you equally in content). I would really like to know what other quilters look for and value in the quilting books they choose to purchase. (Scroll down to see the oriiginal post.)

We would also like to hear about what kinds of quilt patterns you like best. Do you prefer small projects that are completed quickly, ones that teach you new skills, large projects, such as bed size quilts, simple designs or more complex and challenging designs? It would be really helpful to each of us in the NE Designer's Cooperative to know what quilters are looking for in patterns.

We want to hear from you! What kinds of quilting do you do, what are your favorite techniques, are you a beginner or experienced quilter - anything you wish to share with us. And don't forget to visit our individual websites to see more of our work. The links are listed on the right.

Soon we will be offering incentives of various kinds to our readers to come back and visit. There may be prizes! For now - we are glad you are here. Welcome!

Cary Flanagan
Something Sew Fine Quilt Design

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

and so it continues...

For those of you who read my previous post "and so it begins" about the fall foliage here in New England I thought you would like an update. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law recently visited for their first "fall foliage" trip. They have visited before but never in the fall. The trip was planned months in advance but they could not have timed it better if they had tried. The weather was perfect (only 1 rainy day, otherwise in the 70's) and the colors were at their peak. I think my sister-in-law broke the record for saying ooh and aah. Even mundane traveling was a delight for the eyes. I don't know who had more fun - the first time viewers or my family showing off all the area has to offer.
Now the weather has turned cooler, the visitors have left and the leaves are falling. This creates carpets of vibrant colors in all the yards and open areas. It's time to start getting our property ready for the next season. It's also time to look at all the photos I took this fall to inspire me in my next projects. According to The Farmer's Almanac there will plenty of indoor time this winter to get some sewing done!

Until next time,
Terri Sontra
Purple Moose Designs

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Book is on Its Way!

I am so excited! My book, "Moon Dance" is finally off to my editor, Nancy Dill of QuiltWoman.com. I am still working on some of the diagrams and there is still a lot of fine tuning to do before we can get it off to the publisher in February, but at least I am one step closer. We will be introducing it to the public at Spring Market in Pittsburgh in early May.

This has been such an amazing experience. I have always loved writing and I am good at it. I also love designing quilt patterns and sharing them both retail and wholesale through quilt shows and quilt shops all over the country. But it never occurred to me until a member of one of my quilt guilds suggested it last winter, that I could actually write a book of quilt patterns!

The book is based on my best selling pattern "Moon Glow". (Please click on the June entries at right to see a sample of that design made by Patty Oakley of Batiks By Design.) Once I discovered how popular that pattern had become, I began experimenting with other designs that evolved out of the concept of using a center panel as the focus of a quilt. I thought about publishing a series of individual patterns, then decided on writing a book. Suddenly my design ideas just took off - multiplying like rabbits until I actually had to make myself stop or I would have so many designs no one would be able to even lift the book! (Maybe I will just have to write another one next year!)

With the help of many of my quilting buddies, we have been hard at work making sample quilts - we have more than twenty quilts already! Next step is professional photographs of each one. I can't wait to see them all in print! (And my quilting friends are all just as excited as I am.)

This leads me to a question: When you are consideriing purchasing a quilt book, what features are most important to you (assuming you have found a book with a subject that interests you)? What makes you choose one book over another?

Lots of color photographs? Detailed diagrams? Clear and well written instructions? Tone (is the book informal and friendly or more serious and focused?) Price?

What other features do you value or require when deciding whether or not to purchase a particular quilt related book? I would love some feedback from you. I want to make my book the book you choose!

Stay tuned for more information about this book and other new pattern designs as they come closer to completion.

Cary Flanagan
Something Sew Fine Quilt Design

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Syncopated Ribbons Group Quilt Project

It happened! I got motivated!

Group Quilt Project Announcement

With the success of “Perfection is Overrated” and my love of bringing my message of fuss free quilting to the masses, I have made the decision to add a second trunk show to my repertoire, hopefully by mid 2009. While I was contemplating new ideas for a second trunk show presentation, the title came to me first: “Plays Well With Others”, and what I was going to do about that title became my newest dilemma. Going through my creations led me to the conclusion that I could probably do a trunk show based on group quilts, but it would be pretty short currently. That is where this project comes in.

My Syncopated Ribbons pattern, one of my favorites, screamed to me (like my daughters, it doesn’t seem to have an indoor voice) “ME ME ME! Use ME!” So I am going to. If you would like to participate in helping to bulk up my group quilts so that I can be more prepared to give a new and equally fantastic trunk show as soon as mid 2009, here’s what you have to do:

1. Email me (evapaigequilts@charter.net) to let me know you want to participate, both to get the directions and to assure me that my project is not about to bomb due to lack of interest.
2. Start gathering lime greens, purples, and teals from your stash. Scraps are fine as long as they are at least 2” wide and 10” long. You will need about ½ yard total of fabrics and scraps, the more fabrics the merrier, to complete your part of the group quilt, which will consist of portions for four blocks and a 20” portion of the border strip.

Everyone who participates will receive their choice of a free pattern from my line, as well as a 5 x 7 of the completed group quilt. I am hoping to be able to make one twin size quilt, but will adjust those expectations as necessary. Quilt shop owners, if you wish to advertise this project, you are welcome to request an emailable (is that a word?) flyer that you can print for your shop.

Thank you for considering your participation! I think it will be a lot of fun and I am sure it will turn out just as gorgeous as all the other quilts I’ve seen made from this pattern.

I'll be vending for NEQDC at Tewksbury Piecemakers Quilt Show this weekend in Tewksbury MA. Hope to see you there! Like Terri said, we love meeting our blog readers, so don't be shy!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Overwhelmed and Undermotivated

I'm here to come out of the stash, as it were, to admit that for an entire month now, the month that I saw in my mind as the beginning of my new life as my older daughters went off to Kindergarten and freed me up to quilt and design, I have been seriously undermotivated. There. I said it. I have officially validated the current UFO pile at least.

The problem begins and ends with what I like to refer to as The (insert minor expletive here) List. Having seen the closest thing to freedom that I had experienced in 5.5 years looming on the horizon, during the summer I set about creating a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish now that I would have more time to do so, including long neglected household chores like repainting the kitchen to finally finishing the new quilt for my bed as well as starting in on writing a second trunk show to add to my repetoire and getting pattern #13 out the door. The problem continues as I look at that list, freak out about how there are so few "little" jobs on it that I can easily check off, and decide to go read a book or update my Facebook page instead. Oh, the confessions are tumbling out now! I must stop myself before I share too much about the antics of Spring Break 1992...But today is a new day, and I promised myself that I would blog a very overdue blog before allowing myself lunch. If withholding food is what I need to do, maybe my list will start having more checkmarks! Worth a shot, anyway.

Last night while I was at my own guild meeting I got a call from a woman at Tewksbury Piecemakers Quilt Guild, where I will be vending for NEQDC October 18-19. The message she left indicated that they would like me to be a judge for their challenge quilts, and in turn they will buy a gift certificate from our booth for the winner of the challenge to use. Fantastic idea. I am thrilled to do it, but very concerned about insulting someone or somehow picking the wrong quilt...oh the pressure! Thankfully I do believe they know what they are getting into by asking for my judging (lack of) expertise; I did my Perfection is Overrated trunk show for their guild in the spring and if they didn't figure out that I stand for all that is imperfect and still fabulous regardless, then they just weren't listening and I will not be held responsible for their choice of me as a judge.

Hmmm....I think I hear a roast beef sandwich calling my name. CHECK!

Beth Helfter
EvaPaige Quilt Designs

Monday, September 29, 2008

Come visit us this weekend!

The New England Quilt Designers Cooperative will be at the Belknap Mill Quilters Guild show entitled "Harvest of Quilts" this weekend, October 4th and 5th.

Location: Lake Opechee Inn Conference Center, 62 Doris Ray Ct., Laconia NH
Show Hours: 10am to 5pm both days
Admission: $5.00 adult, $3.00 student, free parking

This is the Belknap Mill Guild's 31st annual show. They have two very special exhibits - Summerset Banks, Best of Show and Viewer's Choice in Wearable Arts, Paducah KY and The Fiber Divas, Fiber Arts Group. There will also be a raffle quilt, merchants mall, demonstrations, antique quilts and, of course, lots of gorgeous quilts to look at and admire.

Stop by and say hello - we would love to meet our blog readers!

Terri Sontra
Purple Moose Designs

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Forty Years and Counting!

Seems hardly possible, but today is my 40th wedding anniversary to my DH Ron!! Who would have thought that two young and idealistic hippie types from the '60's would have made it together to this point in one piece! Through all the highs and lows Ron has stood steadfast beside me, supporting all my sometimes wild ideas, including my quilt making and design business and helping to keep me grounded. What a great team! We are both looking forward to the next 40 years.

Speaking of my business - one of my goals for this year was to become better known throughout New England (and perhaps beyond) through teaching gigs and trunk shows, as well as through my patterns (and, of course, NEQDC's vending opportunities) . I am happy to say, that in addition to my very first trunk show last spring at the Cocheco Quilt Guild in Dover, NH, I now have two invitations for trunk shows at at the Soughhegan Quilt Guild in Amherst, NH and the Hannah Dustin Quilt Guild in Hudson, NH. I have also taught a workshop at the Bedford Friendship Quilt Guild in Bedford, NH, which was great fun and very well received. All this in addition to teaching at the Pine Tree Quilt shop in Salem and my own quilt guild - Amoskeag Quilt Guild in Manchester. NH.

I really enjoy teaching - the excitement and enthusiasm of my students is so exhilarating and refreshing. That helps to renew my own excitement for the work I do. I also find that I often learn as much from my students as I hope they are learning from me! A great "win-win" situation.

Next spring my new book will be available (still a bit hush hush until I get it published) and then - who knows where my design business will take me!

Cary Flanagan
Something Sew Fine Quilt Design

Friday, August 22, 2008

And so it begins...

I was born in New England with a New England Dad and a California Mom. I grew up with the best of both coasts but have always considered myself a New Englander at heart. Whenever I have lived away from this corner of the U.S. I get most home sick during the fall season. I love the crisp air, cool evenings and the colors. In my opinion, Mother Nature saves her best work for the fall season. I guess it's no surprise that my fabric stash is predominately fall colors, my clothing too. For those who have never witnessed the fall foliage in person or who have only made brief visits to view its beauty, here's a tip: it's not a static thing to be viewed!

Here's a photo of how it starts, just a hint of muddy purple on the occasional leaf. To the newcomer it might be viewed as a diseased or dying leaf. With a little time though, it will be a thing of spectacular beauty. The process takes a couple of months to complete with many stages along the way.

Designing a quilt works much the same way, it's a process that must start small and build to a beautiful ending. Picking colors for a quilt can be helped by looking at the fall leaves as well. Of course there's the show stopping bright reds and yellows but they would not be so show stopping if there were no browns, muddy purples and dark oranges to set them off. Next time you see the fall foliage (either in person or a photo) take a much closer look at each individual color. Most of them are not that exciting by themselves and there are lots of boring "support" colors. So remember when choosing colors and fabrics for a quilt, a little "show stopper" with lots of boring "support" colors and you'll do fine, just like Mother Nature!

I'll keep you updated on the progress of the color changes here in the heart of New Hampshire. And did you notice the spider on the leaves? I didn't while taking the photo in my yard, only found him while editing the photo. Sorry if you're spider squeamish!!

Terri Sontra
Purple Moose Designs


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Really, honey, the lake did eat my camera!

After a fabulous vacation in Minnesota which included a 2 day air travel oddessey on one end and a 15+ hour one on the other, wherein I will forever boycott a certain airline which will remain nameless (but rhymes with Hair Ban), I am back and catching up on all my laundry, emails, sewing, and now blogging. For the second year in a row I took my traveling "bag show" with me and visited 7 shops along my travels, introducing each to the joys and wonders of EvaPaige Quilt Designs. I had wonderful experiences at each, but have to say my favorite was Bear Patch Quilting Company in White Bear Lake, MN, where several members of the staff suggested I should move to MN because my style fit in so well with their shop. Finally, people who understand me! LOL! I told them that every time I travel there in summertime, I almost think I could live in Minnesota, but then I go in wintertime and experience cold in the negative double digits and realize I would never survive. (My DH, the native Minnesotan, accurately states that the cold is how they "keep the riffraff out"; I happily admit to being riffraff.)

Although the family had a wonderful vacation, my camera did not fair quite as well. Within hours of our arrival, I managed to drop it off the dock into West Battle Lake, where it met its instant demise. My Brother in Law took one look at the circa 2001 antique digital and asked if it had really been an accident, leading me to realize the huge blessing this really is, and this afternoon I will be camera shopping! I think I know what I want and am very excited to have something that will photograph my quilts (oh yeah, and the kids too) in a much better, sharper, light. Stay tuned for lots more photos!

I get my own mini vacation this weekend when I head to Portsmouth NH for my annual Girls Weekend (our 16th!) with my best friends from college. We plan to stay at a spa, eat at some fabulous restaurants, shop, and give ourselves a walking tour of University of New Hampshire in Durham, where we all graduated from way back in the early 90s. Hoping to return Sunday evening refreshed like I have never been refreshed before.

Beth Helfter
EvaPaige Quilt Designs

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Introducing Kristi Parker

It’s about time I introduced myself to our blog readers! My name is Kristi Parker and I’m very pleased to be a part of the New England Quilt Designers Collective. I am the only member who doesn’t have a web site up yet, but it will be coming…eventually.

I made my first quilt at about age 12 from all kinds of sewing scraps. It included everything; polyester double knit, tie dyed cotton, felt, and even velvet!! Over the years I have taken classes from well known quilters, read every book and magazine about quilting I could get my hands on, attended umpteen guild meetings and quilt shows, and have taught many, many quilt classes. I guess I have come full circle. Now I am a Family and Consumer Science teacher at a middle school, teaching 12 year olds how to sew!
Besides teaching, I take care of 6 family members, I’m a professional clown (yes, you read that correctly!), and I design quilting and craft patterns.

My business name is Chicken Soup Designs. I currently have 4 patterns that Nancy Dill of Quiltwoman.com is going to publish, market and distribute for me. I have published several other patterns which are available at some southern New Hampshire quilt shops and will eventually be on the website that I’m developing. You can e-mail me at
chickensoupdesigns@yahoo.com for more information if you are interested.

I enjoy a challenge when I create quilts for myself. My favorite “block” is the Mariner’s Compass. I also love to combine piecing with appliqué. I love to do hand work, but find myself doing most of my piecing, appliqué, and quilting by machine. My quilts range from traditional to contemporary, and I enjoy using everything from antique feed-sacks to bright batiks (not in the same quilt, however!)
The photo at the top of the page is "Mariner's Jewels", a project that I hope to complete by the end of the year. My husband helped me draft the Center compass using a CAD program and plotter. This quilt has a lot of symbolism of my family history in it.

The second photo shows "Ode to Flossie Hill" a quilt I made from old blocks given to me by an elderly relative. I set them on point alternating with muslin and added appliqued flowers made from feed sacks.

As soon as my patterns are ready at Quiltwoman.com, I will let you all know!
Until then, Happy Stitching!

Kristi Parker
Chicken Soup Designs

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What do you look for in a quilt pattern?

Here's your chance to tell pattern designers what you're looking for when shopping for a quilt pattern. New England Quilt Designers Cooperative is a group of six quilt designers who work independently on our own work. We pool our resources to market ourselves and our patterns at quilt shows and this blog. We each have our own style and vision for what we wish to produce and how we wish to run our businesses. We all have the same issues though when it comes to what the consumer is looking for and that's where you, the discerning consumer, come in. Won't you take a few moments to leave a comment and tell us what you think about when choosing a pattern? We would all appreciate it and it will help us to get the patterns to market that you are interested in.

What size quilt pattern do you generally purchase - wall hangings, lap, bed sizes? Is it important to you to have several sizes in one pattern?

Would you be more apt to purchase a pattern if it had an "extra something" included, such as a matching pillow or some other coordinating item?

Thinking back on the last few patterns you purchased - what drew you to that pattern? Was it the colors of the cover sample (what were those colors?), a holiday item (which holiday?), the simplicity/complexity of the pattern or something else?

Is there a particular genre of quilt patterns that you never see but are always looking for? Or perhaps one you are tired of seeing everywhere?

What price is too much to pay for a pattern?

Thank you for taking the time to give us a little insight into your quilt pattern purchases. We look forward to reading your responses. And who knows, you may have just played a part in getting the next hit pattern to market!

Thanks again for leaving us a comment,
Terri Sontra
Purple Moose Designs

and the rest of the New England Quilt Designers Cooperative!

Friday, August 1, 2008

New Patterns for Sale

Patty Piper and Five Yard Dash are up on my web site. 

Barbara Chojnacki

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New Book Venture!

I have been working on writing a quilt book for several months and have just finalized a book contract with Nancy Dill Designs dba QuiltWoman.com who will publish my book in early spring 2009. It will be introduced to the public at Spring Quilt Market in Chicago, April 2009, and I will be there in person to introduce it! I am very excited!

The book is based on a series of quilt patterns and shows how an original design idea can evolve and change in exciting ways. I have gathered a wonderful group of quilting friends from my guild to help me make quilts for the book, and there will be lots of color photos of the many variations of my initial design concept. I am very grateful for their enthusiastic participation and support for this new venture!

I can't say any more quite yet - Stay tuned for more details...

Cary Flanagan
Something Sew Fine Quilt Design

Monday, July 21, 2008

Our Booth at Clamshell

Heatwave or not, the show must go on, and it did! Here are some pictures of our booth. As usual, we displayed actual samples of all the quilts we have patterns for.
Time to pack up the quilts and unsold patterns and ship them back to their mommies, then play catchup on all the (sorely neglected) cleaning, laundry, shopping.

Happy Quilting,
Barbara Chojnacki

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For Love of Springtime

Copying and pasting parts of my latest newsletter, so many apologies if you came here looking for witty new things from me and end up coming away with stuff you've already seen and heard! Just consider it me doing my part to get Green and recycle.

"For Love of Springtime"
32 1/2" x 15"
Spring in the Beaded Blooms series

Before the weather turned unbearably hot, which to me is anything over 82 degrees, I created an ode to the Bleeding Hearts bush in full bloom outside my studio window. (Side note – I just love calling my quilting space a “studio”; it sounds so much fancier than “the finished half of our basement”.) The resulting quilt is entitled “For Love of Springtime” and is the third pattern in my “Beaded Blooms” series. The quilt itself made its debut at several trunk show lectures this spring and response from the quilting public was overwhelmingly positive, with several sales having been made before the pattern was even finished. The wall hanging uses the same pieced background, machine appliqué, and beaded embellishment techniques as the other quilts in the series, “Sunflower and Sky” and “Winter Whites”, and, in my very humble opinion, is really quite stunning in addition to being a great quilt for machine (or even those nutty hand) appliqué enthusiasts. I was blessed to have the cover photo taken by celebrity guest photographer Marie Seroskie of Katie Lane Quilts, whom I would like to add here is one of the nicest people on earth. Imagine my happy dance when this incredibly talented and experienced designer not only took a gorgeous photo for me but pronounced the design “a winner”. And yes, this time I did watch out for pins on the floor while happy dancing. “For Love of Springtime” is available at $4.00 wholesale ($8.00 retail) and is a great pattern to consider kitting. I have one shop owner who kits my "Sunflower and Sky" from this series and literally cannot keep them in stock. That is an awesome feeling.

Seven weeks and one day til EPQD namesakes Eva and Paige start Full Day Kindergarten…not that I am counting!!! I will miss them all day, but the gain of many more design hours in the week will be a welcome consolation for not having them home to entertain (read: talk nonstop to) me all day. Now to make sure Greta doesn’t decide to follow through on the threat of dropping her nap that she seems to be contemplating and ruin all my lofty plans. (Pun not intended, but so cute I will leave it in there.) The fun of balancing family and a one woman show is always entertaining.

Beth Helfter
EvaPaige Quilt Designs

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Countdown to Clamshell

With one week and two days to go until the Clamshell show, I'm busy putting the finishing touches on my two new patterns.

Five Yard Dash was so named because it uses five 1-yard pieces of fabric and is quick and easy to make. It measures a versatile 56" x 68". This is a great selling tool for shops that sell packets of one-yard cuts.

Patty Piper Pieced a Pair of Painless Pointless Pinwheels is a super quick, super fun pattern that yields not one, but two quilts. Simple blocks are stitched, then cut in half. The lighter halves make one top, the darker halves another. Use totally different border fabrics and you have very different quilts. What a great idea for siblings who share a room! Quilt shops/teachers take note- this is a great pattern for classes. Not only for beginners but for flannel quilts, charity quilts, holiday gifts, you name it. The pattern contains directions for 48" x 60" cuddle quilts and twin size bed quilts!

See you at the show!
Barbara Chojnacki
Six Gables Designs

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Moments to Remember:

These past few months have brought me some awesome experiences - the kind that make you know that you are in exactly the right place and doing exactly what you are meant to be doing. No one could ask for anything more than that!

Here are some of the highlights: first - I spent a week at the AQS International Quilt Show in Paducah KY (the largest quilt show in the country, I believe). I was there with three friends (two of whom I had not seen in almost a year). We had a blast seeing the show and visiting all the vendors as well as seeing the sights in Paducah. What great fun! But one of the best part of the show for me was when I had a chance to visit the owner of an online business, Batiks by Design, with whom I had formed a partnership of sorts. We "met" when I had my second pattern, "Carousel" tested and my tester, Peggy "introduced" me to her friend, the owner, Patti Oakley because she thought my designs would look wonderful in Patti's batiks. And she was SO right! Patti has been very successful selling my patterns at all the major retail shows around the country, as well as on line and I made some of the samples for her business with her fabrics. We have been e-mailing back and forth for a number of months and then I had a chance to meet her in person at the AQS show and see my patterns all made up in the most beautiful traditional batiks imaginable (imported directly from Indonesia). I can't tell you how cool it was to see my designs on display and being sold at such a major show!
I invite you to visit Batiks by Design to see for yourself the outstanding fabrics available on her site, as well as many really nice patterns (including three of mine!!)
The most recent very cool experience I have had involves the same pattern ("Moon Glow"). I was coming home from visiting in Maine for a few days and stopped by Knights Quilt Shop in Cape Neddick (a quilt shop well worth going a bit out of your way for), where I have been wanting for some time to introduce my patterns . I had just missed the owner but presented my designs and Quilt Woman.com's catalog (my publisher) to the staff to pass along to the owner. One of these very friendly ladies saw my "Moon Glow" pattern and said: "I have seen this! Someone recently brought it into the shop to purchase the fabrics to make it and Michelle (the owner) saw it and loved it. I think we are going to order it!" Wow! How is that for a great reception and totally unexpected! Very gratifying.!
I guess I must be doing something right!
Cary Flanagan
Something Sew Fine Quilt Design

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Gimme a "G", Gimme a "U"......

Last week I attended the Plymouth County Cranberry Quilters spring luncheon in Halifax MA, where I was honored to be asked to present my trunk show, "Perfection is Overrated". What a fun group they are! I have several times already retold a story one of my tablemates related about giving her husband's tropical fish a "vacation" in the goldfish pond only to learn that birds eat tropical fish; the story, and my tablemate, were just too darn funny. They are a talented group and seem to be very "challenge - oriented", with at least one if not up to three challenges going on in their guild at all times. In my world that would translate into way too many new UFOs in the pile, but more power to them.

As I take my trunk show to different guilds, I am seeing so many great ideas to attempt to instill in my own guild. Beginning with the (to me) fairly obvious idea that Show and Tell should be done at every meeting, no matter what the program is. My own guild, Squanicook Colonial in Townsend MA whom I love dearly and is fantastic and I don't mean to make it sound like I am being critical even though I am, only does Show and Tell when we don't have a speaker or other elaborate program, which this past guild year translated to only 3 or 4 times. So when we do get to have it, it takes a very L-O-N-G time. I want to be able to listen to what people have to say about their work and admire the quilts thoroughly without having my eyes glaze over, which can be done when only 10-20 people are showing and telling each month. When upwards of 50 do it because it has been three months since the last show and tell, I personally tend to lose focus after a while. And what is so wrong about having show and tell when a speaker is present? As a speaker myself, I say NOTHING AT ALL! I love seeing what other guilds are doing and all the talent in them. Anyway, I am incoming VP of our guild, and I smell a change in the air!

Update on my totally adorable puzzle challenge quilt that I was sure was going to win all sorts of ribbons at my June guild meeting: It won nothing. Nada. Not even honorable mention. But after seeing the other quilts, it didn't deserve to, for sure. I cannot believe the talent in my guild! Not just trying to kiss up due to my comments in the previous paragraph, I promise, I really do mean it! But I still love my quilt, which my three daughters are enamored with. Since I spend my days with three girls 5 and under, it was fairly easy to pick a theme for my challenge. Forgive the cockeyed state of the photo. One might think I took it after a cocktail or two. One might be right. In any case, you can get a good idea of how much fun I had coming up with blocks for it. The tree actually has a heart on it with "PC + GH" on it like it is carved into the tree - stands for Prince Charming + Greta Helfter, my almost 2 year old. It had been way too long since I created a quilt just for me and I now feel I have to do it more often. When I find the time......

Beth Helfter
EvaPaige Quilt Designs

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Pattern Announcement

Purple Moose Designs is proud to announce the release of their newest pattern! "My Pin Collection" is an easy-to-construct wall hanging suitable for any skill level. Once completed you have the perfect place to display your collectible pins, ribbons or awards. The finished size is approximately 20" X 22". The center panel and the border offer some great opportunities to use fabrics relating to your own pin collection. Some possible collections include quilting, sports, charity work, scouting, travel/vacations or ??? This is a fat quarter friendly design.

Pattern is currently available at our website http://www.purplemoosedesigns.com/ and will be debuted at the Clamshell show July 19th and 20th.

Terri Sontra

Head Moose

Purple Moose Designs

Monday, June 16, 2008

Home again!

I am home again from a wonderful and truly relaxing week away. No radio, no TV, no computer or any other modern distractions. Only the sound of wind in the trees and little bird and animal noises in the surrounding woods. The large living room and dining area of the cabin face the lake with windows on three sides - what a fabulous studio! I always wish I could bring it back home with me at the end of our stay - especially the view of the lake! Our only concession to the outside world is our cell phones - DH's mother is 93 and we like to stay in daily contact with her. (She is a quilter also, by the way, something really nice that she and I have in common.)

Believe it or not I worked on five different quilt projects (out of the seven that I brought with me). I find that designing and creating are so energizing and yet relaxing at the same time that I always make them a priority for vacation. I am well on my way towards a couple of new quilt designs and new pattern samples. What a great feeling! (Of course actually finishing a project while on vacation is kind of beside the point - too much like actual work, if you know what I mean!)

I also finished reading a lovely book about an Amish family living in Lancaster County, PA (where so many beautiful quilts are made), and started reading a 700+ page novel which intertwines the early years of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation and the colonies on Cape Cod with a modern day intrigue. Great fun. What more can one ask for?

I, too, am v ery pleased and impressed that my idea for this blog has materialized so quickly and so well. Many thanks to Barbara C. for getting it up and running and for giving us "blog newbies" helpful tips for how to make it successful and interesting.

Please watch for new patterns coming soon and hopefully some photos of work in progress.

Happy Quilting!


Cary Flanagan
Something Sew Fine Quilt Design

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Works in Progress at Six Gables Designs

It's been a busy last couple of months. With shows coming up later this summer and fall, I've been working on patterns for some fun new quilts that will make their appearance soon.

My newest design (I just finished stitching the borders this morning) is as yet unnamed. It was designed to make use of those one-yard cuts you often see at quilt shows. I began with a packet of five fabrics I purchased at my last show. I'm very enthusiastic about this pattern- it's easy and lends itself to just about any quilt fabrics you can imagine. I chose very soft, feminine pale aquas and lilacs for my sample.

Currently being tested by my pattern testers Denise and Stacy is "Patty Piper Pieced a Pair of Painless Pointless Pinwheels". Again, this is a very simple pattern, with a bonus- you can piece TWO tops in a weekend (really). Also, both these patterns, with their simple piecing,  are great choices for flannel quilts.

Happy stitching and stay cool!
Barbara Chojnacki

Monday, June 9, 2008

Praise God for the computer savvy!

I am always so impressed by NEQDC's many talents, but today I am particularly impressed by our efficiency......four days ago Cary had an idea for us to set up a group blogspot, and with Barbara C's work we are already up and running! Thank you to both of you. As you will undoubtedly come to find out, computers and I do not get along well, and I love being associated with people who can do things so (seemingly) effortlessly.

Case in point - I am in the process of joining Quilter's Warehouse with my own EvaPaige Quilt Designs page, and as exciting as this is, I am also not enjoying my homework, part of which involves resizing photos from my pattern covers. Most normal people would be able to do this in their sleep, I however prefer to stress out about it and spend hours googling "pixel" and "resolution" in the hope of a sudden "ah-ha" moment which never comes. Sigh. Thankfully, most of the professional contacts I have that need to deal with me on some computing level seem to be putting up with me so far; I definitely need to be wary of pressing me luck!

EPQD's namesakes, my 5 year old twins Eva and Paige, have their dance recital dress rehersal this afternoon. They cannot wait to wear their costumes and dance on the stage (a tap number to "Stupid Cupid" which, in my not at all humble or unbiased opinion, is totally adorable). I only hope for three things: 1. No one passes out from heat exhaustion as it is forecast to be 100 this afternoon. 2. Neither of them (or anyone else in the class for that matter) fall off the stage - there is a lot of jumping involved and they all tend to jump a foot forward every time. and 3. Paige doesn't get stage fright, literally. The girl loves to perform for an audience, but gets freaked out when she looks at an actual stage head on. I am hoping I can sneak her in the back way so she doesn't have to see the stage.

Then I am off to my final guild meeting of the year. We have our "Puzzle Challenge" reveal tonight and I, again in a totally humble and unbiased way, think my quilt is fantastic. We'll see what the group thinks!

Beth Helfter
EvaPaige Quilt Designs

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Trunk Show

I recently gave a trunk show to the Cocheco Quilt Guild in Dover NH. It was my first invitation from a guild outside my local area to do a presentation and I was really pleased to have been invited. I brought quilts and samples from my very first quilt (from about 1992) to my current original designs and gave the audience a look back at where I have come from as a designer and where I am now. I got a great response from the audience and felt really good about the whole experience. I hope I get many more invitations like that!

Tomorrow I am off for a week's vacation at my family's summer cabin on a small lake near Conway NH. The cabin is secluded and very quiet - a really great place to relax and create. I have brought enough quilting projects to last me a month, but alas - I have only a week. My DH and I are also the caretakers of the place so I will need to spend time on opening the place for the summer season and all the work that entails. But I plan plenty of time to sew as well as time to simply relax, maybe swim, go for walks with the dogs and READ - a great luxury I do not have much time for normally.

I will write again when I return next week and will post a few photos for your enjoyment.

Cary Flanagan
Something Sew Fine Quilt Design