Monday, March 30, 2015

The Freedom to Create

Hello World
I have an interesting topic to discuss. It is the freedom to create.
The story begins when one of my designs was selected for publication by McCall's magazine. No fault of their own, it was dropped because there was a very similar quilt already out in the world.
At first I was sad and embarrassed. I didn't want my contact to think I had stole someone's idea, but she comforted me by saying it happens. And it happens more often with modern design. She suggested that I blog about it. But, I began to ponder.
I remember specifically when I thought of this design. I was out with my husband and daughter. We were headed to the Denver Botanic Gardens to see the Chihuly Exhibit the fall of 2014. I was seeking inspiration for color and quilt design. Unbeknownst to me, on our drive there I passed this intersection. See the arrow traffic sign and the crosswalk lines.
Quickly, I remember this quilt I did many, many moons ago. I enjoyed the construction of this quilt because it was strips of 2 1/2" wide and it used nearly the entire length of the strip. It was fast, cheap, and easy.
I thought to myself, why not design a modern quilt that uses 2 1/2" strips. Make it an easy design for a beginner to complete, but still desirable for the proficient quilter to complete in one Sunday afternoon.
Soon there after, I sketched this design.
I submitted the design to a couple of magazines and McCall's picked it up. I had about 2 weeks to complete it and dedicated my time in getting it done by the deadline. I had my husband drop it off, since McCall's is in town. Once my husband texted me to say it was deliver, I had instant relief and satisfaction that I had another quilt ready for publication.
A few weeks go by. A phone call came. It was McCall's. The quilt was dropped, because of this design; Stripes and Herringbone by Sarah Thomas. Evidently, this design was showcased at Quilt Market in 2013. I didn't go to Quilt Market in 2013. My first and only was Spring Quilt Market 2014.
I understand why McCall's dropped my quilt. I do. I understand business and risk tolerance. Goodness, I'm the Director of Internal Audit in my day job. I get it. Didn't think it would happen to me, though. However, I'm learning about the sensitivity of copyright within the quilting industry. I have no ill feelings, other than feeling this has tarnished me. How do you know of sure that someone believes you that you didn't copy it?
The two designs are very similar. But really, when we break it down, it is quite easy to think of yourself. When I design, I design in odds. When I design modern, I design in the rule of thirds. That's why I put my arrows on the bottom third of the quilt. I added 3 pink strips to the bottom and 11 on top. Both in odds. I had originally designed for 7 pink strips on top, but once it was constructed, the quilt didn't seem balanced to me and thus, I add 2 more pink strips. Still it didn't seem balance, so I added another 2. If you look closely, the top strips to the right are a little wonky, because they were added when the quilt top was nearly complete.
The arrows worked out where I wanted them to come to a sharp point. Putting math and design to graph paper. There's really one option when you're trying to use up most of the length of a strip.
To make matters even worse. The pattern is free on the Robert Kaufman website. Please don't take any offense, but I didn't go into the quilt business to not make money. This is time away from my family. This is late nights. Last minute deadlines. Constant networking, coordinating and scheduling. And emails galore. And my second job, that's if you aren't counting wife and mom. I do love what I'm doing, but at the same time, it needs to pay.
As I waited for the return of my quilt, I started to swirl the idea of ownership and copyright. Really, are we in a world where we need to include a step in our creative process to scan the web just to see if someone else had thought of it before you did? Is this where we are at today? It makes me sad and honestly, takes some of my mojo away. I don't like the idea that if someone thought of the idea before I did. (Note, I did not talk to the designer of the Stripes and Herringbone Pattern.)
I have other designs that have been picked up by magazines, but haven't received the go-ahead to start working on them, but yet, I feel a rush, a panic, to get going on it. To beat everyone else who may think of the design later, that I thought of it first and I want my dibs on it. That's twisted. Creating shouldn't have to feel that way.
Yes, I know. It's a two-way street. There is a line. I shouldn't have to shy away from selling my pattern of Crosswalk, because it was my original idea, but I am.
Further, how far does copyright go? Is this the first time strips were every used in a quilt? No. Does the person who designed the floral quilt above get credit?  (Sorry, but I have no clue who designed it. All I remember is buying a kit from Fabric Expressions Quilt Shop in Littleton, CO.) What about the arrows? I highly doubt this was the first time arrows were used in a quilt. Adding strips and arrows together, is this the first time? Both are so common. Look around. Arrows are everywhere, it's today's trend.

Or what about this? Do I need to contact the City of Denver, figure out who actually painted those lines, and who posted that sign, because art, well, art isn't always planned. Should the city worker be credited too? Too far? But how do I know when is when?
I think about all those Chevron quilts out there. The chevron quilt block is on public domain. But what about the person who started the craze on chevron. Does that person get credit? I believe chevron reinvented itself through home décor design and then crossover to the craft industry and fashion. But did all thepeople who have used chevron in quilt design, credit the person who invented the chevron block? We know how it starts, but where does it end? Then, it comes to time? As we create, don't we want to maximize our time to create, rather spending our time researching, determining, crediting the world, for what we felt from the beginning was our original design?
I could go on and on. Someone advise me when I started my business to keep a record of my creative process. I thought she was a bit paranoid, because what I designed would be unique. Why would I have to worry about an idea that came from inside of me? I'm starting to understand what she meant. All because I have thought of that idea, doesn't mean that someone hasn't thought of that idea too and further may call dibs on it.
Meanwhile, I did decide to offer the pattern for FREE.

Crosswalk Quilt Pattern
Picking up the pieces,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

To Share the Love of Quilting

I have something really fun and dear to my heart to talk about.
I'm refraining from saying names and adding too much detail as I didn't ask anymore for permission to published their names to the web. Some people feel this or that about the web and I'd rather stick on the safe side of keeping that kind of information confidential.
A week before the retreat, a friend of mine had some amazing news. But first, let me know from the beginning. This friend, although we aren't best friends today, she was my best friend in high school. We have kept in touch, but with kids, husbands, work, running a house, and so forth, we are just busy.
When I  think of this friend, I have so much love for her still. I don't know what it is. But she is part of my heart and my past. She was part of my many firsts during my teenage years. She was the one who taught me how to apply make-up. She was the first one to have me drink my first underage alcoholic beverage. Shh, Don't tell my mom or dad. :) She was the first person who actually loved hearing about my Korean culture and was so nice to my mom, rather than making fun of me because of some of the things that were different in my home. She was my first friend I brought to church. She was the first one to tell me I was pretty and even helped me to be more pretty. I have so many fond memories of her and even some of the childish things I did, because well, she was my first friend. In a friendship, it is a relationship that requires work, forgiveness, and understanding. All those things were new to me and I didn't always make the best decision when I was young.
But all that aside.
She has a son about my daughter's age, 3 1/2 years old. He was born with a bad kidney. This resulted in months at the Children's Hospital, a list of meds, daily dialysis, constant monitoring of his weight/blood pressure/diet, and much more.

The day came where her son was ready to be listed for a kidney donor. Very quickly thereafter, the family received a call that there was a match. And quickly, they were back at the Children's Hospital for yet another surgery, but this time improving his quality of life. It all happened the week before my retreat.

Within a week, they were back home. They are in 'lock down' for 8 weeks. This is where I had this idea. An idea to get a group of people to make the family a quilt, but I wanted it done quickly and presented while the family was in lock down. All of sudden I thought why not ask the retreaters if they wanted to participate. The retreat organizers thought it was great idea and gave me the go-ahead.
Two nights before the retreat, I was up to about 2am, designing a quilt pattern, writing it, pulling fabric, and drafting an email to the retreaters to ask for volunteers.
The beginning of the retreat, I prepped and organized, made an announcement and was happily stunned by the response. Everyone wanted to participate, but I didn't organize for everyone to participate. O no.
By the end of the retreat, I had every block made and even a volunteer to long-arm quilt and bind it. Amazing. All I had to do was complete the top.
Fast forward to yesterday, I received the finished quilt. Beautiful. I'm ready to ship it.

As quilters, even crafters, isn't that what we enjoy most about our hobby? To warm someone's heart with love by something we handmade for them. What gets better than that? I know, a group of people getting together to make a handmade quilt. Although the retreaters didn't know the family, I knew this kindness would mean so much to them. They have gone through enough and I wanted to show them they are loved through our love of quilting. Something I didn't expect, the retreaters were so honored to be part of the quilt, too. There were so many hugs, love, and even tears. I'll always remember this retreat and the special ladies that made this o-so special.

I mean, really. Look at what the world can to do make it better. Sometimes we get caught up in all the negativity, but boy, I would love to see the news/social media talk about a group of quilters who did a kindness for someone to brighten the day. Let that be the top story.



Monday, March 23, 2015

Loyal Union

Hello World,
Last weekend at the retreat, I really went gung-ho on the Loyal Union. I happened to finish 31 blocks. Yay! I'm just over a third of the way there, at 35.
I have to say this is a hard sampler. Harder than Farmer's Wife. I say this because so far 7 blocks require inset seams. Of those blocks, there are layers of inset seams. Inset seams are actually quite simple when you have the method that works for you. To construct inset seams is a slow and steady process. But it can be done, it can be done.
I did take individual pictures of my favorites as I didn't want to bore you with 31 pictures of individual blocks. These are my favorites.

Stayed tuned. I have an interesting post about copyright coming up next.
Enjoying the weather,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Longmont Quilt Retreat


I just had the most wonderful long weekend with an amazing group of 28 women at the Longmont Quilt Retreat. The Retreat was held at the Highland Presbyterian Retreat Center in Allenspark, Colorado, organized by the Longmont Quilt Guild. Get ready for uninterrupted sewing time with meals provided. Yay!

The retreat is a load of fun. What I enjoy the most about retreating is the camaraderie among quilters. As quilters, we are unique. We have style and preference. We may fall into general buckets, such as traditional, modern, or fiber arts, etc. that define our style, but at this retreat, we ALL appreciate what we all create. It doesn't matter the level of the quilt, we all like to share. There's no quilt snobbery here. There's no room for it, because we love the art of making quilts and enjoy the fellowship with one another. That's why I love coming back to the Longmont Quilt Retreat!

As for the process of getting ready for a 4 day retreat, and yes, there is a process, I begin by determining my projects about 2 weeks out. I cut before the retreat actually starts. Sort them into shoe boxes or plastic bins. This may not seem like much, but I'm sure my husband would differ. He thinks the retreat actually last 2 weeks. :) I'm a planner, to cut before the retreat begins provides me a place of feeling organized and ready. Then, I pack up the car the night before. The morning of retreat begins with plenty of hugs and kisses with my family and a stop at Starbucks.

Thursday is "settling" day. I take the nearly 2 hour drive to Allenspark, unload, arrange my workstation and mingle. Here's a picture of my workstation. There's the bins organized and sorted by quilt project at the lower right and in the distance near my camera bag.

Friday is "time for business." Zone out to some tunes and crank out projects. We woke up to snow. During breakfast, I announced a special project and asked for volunteers. There was an overwhelming response. The response really touched me and made this retreat very special. I'll write more about this project when the quilt is finished.

 (Friday morning: We woke up to snow.)

Saturday is "harmony." For me, after two days of going to bed around midnight and waking up at 6am, the exhaustion begins to set in. There's visiting and time out to do other things. For me, it was joining some of the quilters for an hour long all body workout.

Most of the retreat was spent on the Loyal Union Sampler. By retreat end, I completed 32 blocks. I have to say, it is the hardest sampler I have ever worked on. More difficult than Tula Pink's City and Farmer's Wife. Those are the only two I've completed. But, I ended up impressing myself with my skills. I really pushed myself to make magic happen. I'll take individual pictures of the blocks and post about them soon. In the mean time here's a pile of them.

Sunday is "time for rest." After a long weekend of late nights and early mornings, we're tired and ready to connect with our families. It's time to wrap it up, pack, say our goodbyes, and hurry home to give our people a big hug and kiss.

Here's my vantage point all weekend.

A picture of my scraps from a weekend of working on my Loyal Union Sampler.

The last day was beautiful. I was ready to see my family. I missed them tons. Thank the Lord for video streaming.

I do have to say, I did have to 'adjust' back to normal life. I'm still adjusting and exhausted from the weekend. 4 days of retreating is tough stuff, but I'm already thinking and planning out the next one. I must get to bed early tonight.

In retreat recovery,

Monday, March 9, 2015

Straight-line Stitching

I don't have a lot to show this week. Much of what I've been working on is for publication.

This week I straight-lined stitched a quilt. The design simply called for it. Honestly, I don't prefer to straight-line stitch. No matter how much I iron and pay great attention to detail during the spray basting process, I always come up with problems, such as the stitching pushes the quilt top too far, causing a wavy seam line or I have to ease in bulk. Although straight-line stitching is fast, easy, and doesn't tire you like free motion quilting, I do prefer to stay away from it.

When I was straight-line stitching, I started to think about quilt density. I stitched the quilt in a plaid like pattern, which left a consistent area of two inches unstitched. I reviewed the quilt over and over, thinking I could add more stitching, but I like the simple line of the quit. It worked. Plus, I already had areas that I had to 'ease' in and, really, I didn't want it to get worse.

Normally, I machine quilt my quilts quite dense, meaning within an inch. I love the feel of a dense quilt. It seems to be crisp and strong. Not quite the best words to explain the feel of a snuggly quilt. I'm at a loss of words of how to explain it. I know I love it, but once it goes in to the wash, it soften right up.

In quilting, we quilt with a quarter inch seam, but doesn't that quarter inch ever make you worry about the longevity of a quilt? I realize that many battings today, especially the cotton and poly blends have a quilt density of 10 inches. Wow, that's crazy to me. To me, the measurement is based solely on the technology of the batting. Meaning, it won't fall apart or beard within 10 inches, but what about the quilt top? I don't have much comfort that my quilt top will last as long as the batting.

There are ways to eliminate bulk and prevent the long seam lines from waving.
     1. Make sure your quilt tops have been iron flat.
     2. Baste well. Double check the straightness of the long seam lines.
     3. For extra credit (for spray basting), take the quilt sandwich to the iron. Yes, iron it. Start from the center and work your way out. Don't use steam. The steam can remove the stickiness of the spray baste. I don't worry about ironing out the quilt back, just the front.
     4. Throughout the stitching process, double check the quilt to make sure it is straight. There are times when you have too reset the quilt top, because the quilt top will move as you stitch.
     5. Work in one direction. For example, I start and stop at the same side for the whole side of the quilt. I don't flip flop sides. Some prefer to flip flop sides to distribute the ease of the quilt evenly, but it hasn't worked well for me.
     6. For borders, cut them cross grain. Cross grain has the least amount of pull.
     7. Perhaps the most controversial, I stitch at 3mm. The longer stitch length is much more forgiving than a 2.5mm when you desire the appearance of a perfectly straight seam line and for easing in bulk.

I hope these are helpful tips for you as straight-line quilt your masterpieces.

Retreating in 3 days,

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Firefly Quilt

Hello World,
What a week of snow? The snow impacted our family here in Denver. Delays. Cancellations. The bright side of all this snow is having the moment to snuggle in a quilt with my daughter after a snowball fight. My daughter is a riot. This was the first time she really played in the snow. We all played. Although, we were completely productive by shoveling off the cement. I do enjoy shoveling, it's a bit endearing for me. I remember the best times with my brother and dad, growing up in northern Illinois shoveling the sidewalk and driveway. I remember throwing snowballs at each other and making up races to see who could shovel the fastest. My dad saying, it's a great workout, which I say to people today. Then, when we were done with the job or frozen, my mom would have hot chocolate or a Korean soup ready for us to gobble up. 
I finished the Firefly quilt this week. All done. I designed, pieced, and quilted it. Check it off the list. Just in time to snuggle on the couch with my husband as we watched Whiplash last night. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it's intense (the movie is intense). Next up, Birdman.
For the next week and a half I have two quilts to finish for magazine publications. I am pushing myself to have the 'deadline driven work' finished and shipped before my QUILT RETREAT. Retreating, I want to focus on the Loyal Union sampler and another sampler for my blog. I can't wait to show you the latter. It's a free sampler on my blog. There are 9 blocks, measuring 16" x 16". I'm shooting to kick this off in April/May.
Staying cuddled in a quilt,

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