Are you participating in the Sewcial Bee Sampler Sew Along, sponsored by the wonderful Maureen Cracknell and the talented Sharon Holland? It has been on-going for the past twenty-one weeks with one block released each week. There will be 25 blocks total. I am making blocks, though I must admit to being behind by about three or four blocks at this point. But I love the quilt I am making. I have been using fabrics from the Fleet & Flourish collection and the Garden Dreamer collection, both of which are designed by Maureen Cracknell. I have mixed in solids as needed. It will be sashed with one of my all-time favorite, low volume fabrics, Mesh Joy – designed by Sharon Holland. Click here to see it in my shop!
If you are participating in the sew along, you are aware of the giveaway that happens each Friday. Wonderful prizes have been offered up by the event sponsors each week. This week I am hosting the giveaway. If you are eligible, hop over to Maureen’s site to find out how to enter to win this bundle of fat quarters! A combination of eleven fabrics from two of Sharon’s lines, you could win pieces of both Gossamer and Bountiful. These muted, peaceful prints are gorgeous as a bundle. They are available now in my shop, both as fat quarters and yardage.
Essentially each participant is a winner this week. You may use coupon code SEWCIALBEE15 to receive a 15% discount off of your purchase from my shop all weekend long. The code will be active through Sunday night, June 25th. If you purchase one of the special SBS bundles and then are lucky enough to be drawn as the winner, I will refund the amount of purchase. No worry there. Take advantage of the coupon code to do some shopping — there are all sorts of wonderful fabrics to choose from! Happy Sewing. 🙂
Welcome to the fourth installment of Meet the Designer. I began writing this series of posts in February. So far, we have gotten to know Sarah Golden, Maureen Cracknell and Kim Schaefer. I feel incredibly fortunate to have gotten to know these talented designers.
This month I chatted with Sharon Holland. Sharon is a designer with Art Gallery Fabrics whose fabrics are a mix of muted florals, leaf and vine motifs, and nautical themed prints among others. While each of Sharon’s five fabric lines are different and unique, there is a definite common thread of personality connecting each to the other.
When Sharon and I spoke, we talked about how we each began quilting, way back when. Sharon grew up as one of three children. Both of her parents were quite creative. Her father was an electrical engineer who had some very artistic hobbies. He was a woodworker, loved drawing and drafting, and also enjoyed gardening. Her mother was a stay at home mom who was often knitting, sewing, and crocheting. She was able to draft patterns (which is something I very much admire) and made her clothes as well as clothes for the children. Clearly, Sharon grew up in a household where making things was a favorite past time.
However, neither her mom or her grandmother quilted. Sharon was in high school when she decided to try quilting. Going through her mother’s fabric scrap box and looking at the various prints was intriguing to Sharon. She decided she would make a patchwork pillow. She selected her fabrics and hand stitched the squares into a patchwork, often using stripes to create patterns. She made the patchwork into a pillow cover. Not long after, while in college, Sharon was married. At around 20 years old, or so, she decided to make a quilt. Checking books out of the library and reading up on the process, she made a queen size quilt with a rather complicated block. She couldn’t remember the name of the block but definitely remembered the pesky Y seams that were involved. When she described finishing her quilt with an envelope style backing (no binding required!) and yarn tying the blocks, I had to laugh. That is exactly how I finished my first quilt back in 1979. I had no idea about binding and the idea of actually quilting it was daunting so I yarn tied it. Sharon has been quilting ever since.
I think one of the things I enjoy about Sharon is the scope of her talents. She writes, paints, draws, designs fabric, quilts, sews clothing, and drafts patterns. She seems to approach new ideas and experiences with gusto. After graduating from college with a BA in Art and Design she found herself raising her family in Coal City, Illinois. Around this time she began upcycling retro or vintage objects and selling them at an antique mall. Some years later the family moved to Ohio when her husband’s job took them there. She continued to pursue creative outlets which lead her to take some classes at the local community college to learn to use software for desktop publishing and printing. Her love of fabric and her newly learned computer software skills enabled her to start playing with surface designs and block printing. She designed four lines of fabric for Fabri-Quilt as well as several quilts for various quilting magazines. Following this she was hired by Valu-Publishing to bring two magazines to print. As the Assistant Editor, Graphic Designer and Photographer, she was instrumental in developing Quilt It…Today and Sew It…Today to the customer. This experience developed her skills in fabric design as well as graphic design. The perfect combo! Leaving the magazines, Sharon decided she really wanted to design for Art Gallery Fabric. She developed a portfolio and made an appointment with AGF owner and designer, Pat Bravo, to meet at the 2014 Spring Quilt Market. (How scary and exciting that must have been to put herself out there like that!!) Pat was very pleased with Sharon’s work and hired her on the spot!
Quilt market booth, celebrating the release of Bountiful.
This brings us to Sharon’s current work! She has completed five lines of fabric for Art Gallery Fabrics over the past several years. Her fabric collection is a beautiful compilations, each incorporating gorgeous color schemes with nature, coming together to tell a story. Her newest line is Bountiful.
I enjoyed hearing about the process Sharon goes through when working on a new line. She explained deciding on the theme, or the story, the fabrics will tell is the first step in her design process. For example, her latest line, Bountiful, tells the story of living in the mid-west. I remember when I was looking at this line when it released a few months ago I had not yet read about Sharon’s intent. However I knew right away the collection was a depiction of rural life in America. When I ordered the selection I offer in my shop, I loved the nostalgic mood of these fabrics. Perennial Optimism, a main focus fabric, is a gorgeous floral that is reminiscent of the vintage sheets I enjoy collecting. Tartan Field Midnight reminded me of looking down over the Sacramento Valley whenever I am flying home from a trip. The organized squares of farmland are perfectly represented in this print. Hearing her explanation of the inspiration for this line confirmed my thoughts. What a lovely way to tell the story of life in the mid-west.
Creating the design for Haymow.
Each fabric from a collection is treated as an art project of its own . When she was drawing the pattern for Tartan Field, it took her about five iterations before she got to a version she loved. She came up with the idea for this print while flying home from a Quilt Market show. Creating Perennial Optimism, Sharon said she was channeling her love of artist, Vera Neumann. This makes total sense when I look at Vera’s work and Sharon’s Perennial Optimism print as they are quite similar in style and mood. To created Haymow, she cut a wood block to the shape she liked, printed the pattern and uploaded it to the computer for further manipulations.
Creating the leaf prints for Aborescent.
Finally the Aborescent piece, a combination of leaves and flowers, was made with some leaves she picked up while walking her dog. She took the leaves and painted them to make prints. These were uploaded and manipulated on the computer to the finished version we see. It was really interesting to learn that Sharon first works on the inspiration or story behind her line. As she creates the designs for the fabrics to tell her story, she is working in black and white at first. Color is not important when she is developing the initial designs. The process of determining the scale and the repeats in the print are treated as a puzzle. She enjoys working out these details in the design process.
These rolls of the Bountiful collection sing. Think of the potential in this bundle of fabric!
We talked a bit about all five of her lines. She, like many designers, could not name a favorite. She said she usually favors the line she is currently working on and considers each line to be it’s own unique experience. I mentioned how easy it was to mix her fabric lines together because many of the colors are shared between lines. She said she usually tries to pull a few colors from the previous line forward into the new line so people can mix them. I really appreciate this as we so often purchase a number of pieces (if not all of them) from a line. After using them we have leftovers, right? It is great to continue to use them with the next line. Curiously, Sharon also mentioned that she is working on a new line (hopefully it will release at the end of the year or the first of 2018) where she is pushing herself to work with colors that are outside her norm. If you are familiar with her fabrics, you will remember she often uses muted tones with lots of blues, greens, and pinks. I cannot wait to see what comes with the next line.
Each time I interview a prolific artist I am impressed by the amount of work produced. So much effort goes into developing a fabric line, from the first ideas, to creating each design, working with the colors, telling the story.
Once the fabric is created, there is the promotion of the line – samples to be made, social media to interact with, trade shows to attend. Asking Sharon how she manages all of this, she told me she has to focus on one thing at a time. She doesn’t multi-task when she is creating something. This makes sense and it clearly leads to a lovely result for her. She only maintains a presence on her blog and Instagram. There just isn’t enough time for too many social media platforms.
A peaceful place to work and to write.
We talked at length about the effects of increased usage of social media. It is difficult to have this barrage of images of all of these wonderful creations without feeling somewhat disillusioned by it all. Does that ring true for you? There are times I come away from Instagram thinking my work is sub-par after looking at so many amazing quilts; such gorgeous artistic work made by others. Sharon’s take on this is to use social media less often. In order to stay focused on your project, leave the phone or tablet alone while you are making. It is all to easy to derail the creative process with the abundance of imagery out there. Each of us is in our own place creatively and to compare our work with that of others can defeating. She (wisely) suggests each of us “own and experience our individual creativity”. She admits to sometimes overusing social media and refers to it as “feeding the monster”. All things in moderation, right?
I am one of many people who claim ‘I am not an artist because I cannot draw’. When I said this to Sharon she was very kind and encouraging. She has a degree in art but said as a young girl she was not one who could draw beautifully. However her sister was a wonderful artist. She envied this a bit and was determined to learn to draw. In Sharon’s opinion, people can learn to draw. It requires we learn from the right teacher or book. Then practice, practice, practice. She suggested a book titled Drawing With the Right Side of Your Brain, by Betty Edwards. Originally published over 40 years ago, this book is readily available on Amazon and there are tons of used copies to be bought inexpensively. Just after we talked about this book I read some reviews of it. I am going to give it a try. I have reserved it at our local library. Hopefully it will help me get past the idea that I can’t draw so I am not artistic. (Why are those two so heavily linked in my mind?)
As you might remember, I have been sewing along with the Sewcial Bee Sampler quilt along, hosted by Sharon and her dear friend Maureen Cracknell. This has been a great event which was created by Sharon and Maureen’s desire to further build community amongst quilters on-line. I am incredibly impressed by the organization and quality of this event. Sharon and Maureen decided to do this last fall. They spent several weeks working on nothing else until they had blocks designed, instructions written, sponsors signed up (I am one!! Look for a giveaway by Needle & Foot once in June and again in July!). There are many people sewing together and it has been a blast. If you haven’t checked it out, please do. My quilt is coming along so well and really, it isn’t too late to join in.
Finally, I asked Sharon how she spends her time other than designing fabric and hosting sew alongs (is there even any time left over at this point!?) She surprised me by saying she has a book in process. Titled, Utility Style Quilts for Every Day Living, it is being published by Landauer Books. The quilts she designed for this book are based on traditional blocks with a scrappy look. She encourages the reader to use up their stash with these fun projects that were in part influenced by Gees Bend quilts. I am looking forward to seeing the book when it comes out in the early fall. With the modern slant Sharon gave to the blocks we are making in the Sewcial Bee quilt, I know this book will have some great ideas and patterns in it.
I hope you have enjoyed getting to know more about Sharon. She was just a joy to chat with and I feel fortunate for having had this opportunity to learn about her and share it with you! In celebration of Sharon’s work, I have a sale going this week on her Bountiful fabrics as well as her Gossamer line. Both of them are lovely and if you desire, they play together nicely. No coupon code needed as the prices have already been reduced 15%. The sale runs through the end of the day on Friday! Click here to see what I have in the shop.
If you haven’t already done so, you might want to sign up for my newsletter. Look to the right side of the page and scroll down a bit. I would love to let you know of new fabrics and promotions going on in my shop!
Balance (for me) is never easy. Lately I feel I have ignored my blog slightly as I work to get my fabric shop up and running. There are a limited number of hours in the day and I find myself divided between regular life chores, sewing, writing, listing items on Etsy and shipping a few orders here and there. The other distraction for me is social media. Oh how easy it is to be sucked into it and look up 30 minutes later, wondering how to get that last 1/2 hour back. This week I have tried to stay with one task to completion before moving on to the next. I have also tried (with limited success) to stay off of social media and check it less frequently. I love seeing everyone’s posts on Instagram but really, it isn’t the best use of my time!
Earlier in the week I made it my top (sewing) priority to finish quilting the Harmony quilt that I made last fall for my nephew. I really wanted to quilt it at the long-arm shop where I can rent time on their machines. After scheduling and rescheduling appointments several times, I gave up on that wish and decided to quilt it at home. As luck would have it, my Janome 6500 (which has a nice big throat) is being very cranky. This means I am quilting it on my little workhorse – an older Janome with a narrow throat. As a result, I switched over to standard straight line quilting. To add some interest, I am quilting it in two halves. Starting on the center diagonal line, I began vertical straight lines. Those vertical lines continue to the far corner. Then on the other half of the diagonal, I am quilting horizontal lines. (Does this even make sense?) At first I spaced them out about eight inches to anchor everything down. Now I am working on filling them in to about two inches apart.
I think it is working quite nicely and I should be finished with the quilting in the next couple of days. Selecting a fabric for binding it is still up in the air. I am aiming for a scrappy binding with the leftover fabrics but I am unsure if I have enough.
Moving on, I have been playing catch up with the Sewcial Bee blocks. This weekly bee is hosted by Maureen Cracknell and Sharon Holland. The blocks are fun and relatively simple. But I got behind and have to make about three more blocks to catch up. (Remember the first paragraph – just not enough hours to get it all done!) I am (was?) trying to use only my Fleet & Flourish scraps (by Maureen Cracknell) for the print fabric and various solids to tie everything together. As I create the blocks though, it is becoming clear I won’t have enough Fleet & Flourish to stay with this plan. Now what to do??? Decisions, decisions. My choices are to:
Add in some Garden Dreamer (also .by Maureen Cracknell and would probably blend reasonably well) and since I carry it in my shop, it is readily available to me
Buy more Fleet & Flourish.
To be very careful with the scraps I have and make it work by adding in a larger percentage of solid fabrics for the last 12 blocks.
Looking at these three incredibly important choices, my thoughts are these. Buying more fabric is silly. I have more than enough fabric on hand and should be able to avoid buying anything. Number three would probably be unsatisfying because I would have to use a whole lot of solid fabric to make it work and I don’t think the result would be to my liking. So, number one for the win. I will go slice six inches or so off several of the Garden Dreamer bolts downstairs in my shop and combine both lines. Phew! I am relieved to have gone through the process and made up my mind.
Before I close and go off to quilt a few more lines and make a Sewcial Bee block or two, I want to share some pictures with you. Remember I mentioned Julia was going to raise two piggies for her 4-H project? I have to say, these animals just crack me up. Here are some recent pictures with photo credit to my daughter. She is really enjoying this project and has done a great job with these two goofy pigs. They are growing like crazy but then that is to be expected considering the amount of feed we are going through!
Daisy and Ella Napping
Eating, always eating!!
Daisy, after playing in the mud.
Off to the sewing room now. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!
A little of this and a little of that – this has been the routine in my sewing room this week. For the most part, I have been quilting the baby quilt for my almost-here grandbaby. She is due March 3rd and I know my daughter-in-law has reached the point where she is done being pregnant. Those last few weeks are just miserable. I hope this little girl makes an appearance soon! The quilt top is finished and the quilting is nearly finished.
The quilting is coming along fine though. It is hard for me to sit and quilt for long periods of time. My neck becomes very grumpy if I sit for longer than 1/2 hour or so. It is better this way. I break it up and get other things done in between. I have been quilting a flower on each HST and a little heart on the sashing between the squares. So cute.
The hearts are a bit on the wonky side but such is life. I have a feeling the baby won’t be too critical of her Grammy’s stitching.
I have jumped in on a quilt along. It is hosted by Maureen Cracknell and Sharon Holland, both are designers for Art Gallery Fabric. They are calling it the Sewcial Bee Sampler. A block design is released each Wednesday and today is week three. If you are interested, there is plenty of time to catch up.
With each week, there are giveaways for those who participate. Needle & Foot will be sponsoring two of the giveaway Fridays; one in June and one in July!! Here is the pull I selected for the Quiltalong.
I am using the rest of my fat eighth collection of Fleet and Flourish (designed by Maureen Cracknell). I added a fat quarter bundle of solids from the Pink Castle subscription I received for my birthday. I am being very judicious with the Fleet & Flourish and hoping I have enough. We shall see!
The first three blocks look great!
Each block is framed but when I got to the third block, I decided to wait before framing it. I am wondering about my choice of gray and navy blue as frames. So, I need to ponder that one for a bit.
Ok – that is the update for now. Projects are moving right along. 🙂 Hope the same is true for you! Linking to Let’s Bee Social and Needle & Thread Thursday. Links are available at the top of the page, under Link Ups.