How about a square yard of Pendleton fabric for 28 buckaroos? But of course!

The Pendleton Woolen Mill Store 'Half-a-Slice' program officially launched for the WMS March Madness fabric sale this week. Pendleton fabrics are 60+ inches wide and are sold by the repeat, so a yard can cost upwards of $80. I thought, well, if I get a quarter yard, which is 9" in length and 60 " wide that isn't always the right cut for my projects. A yard can be too much for the project and not always cost effective, so they started a program to offer square yard cuts. Each month they will offer a new Half-a-Slice fabric for $40. It is on sale though the end of the month for 30% off, so a 34" x 36" cut of the Half-a-Slice fabric only costs $28! Think of the possibilities!

I've been working on a bunch of free patterns to go along with the half slices. This month the fabric is featured in my co-worker Stacy's DIY covered boots (no pattern yet...) and for the fabric they are selling next month I have already made a lined yoga bag.

What would you make with a square yard of Pendleton wool? Leave a comment here or on and if I get ten or more comments by the end of the sale I will draw a winner to get a Half-Slice in March of Pendleton Sage Harding.
I love that I am the self-proclaimed Sample Girl at the Pendleton Woolen Mills store. I've had a few fun projects handed my way lately so I thought I'd share. 

The Burda Style Sewing Handbook came out recently and many of the projects in there were made with Pendleton fabrics. The gals at the store wanted a few samples to take with them to the NW Sewing and Stichery Expo in Puyallup, Washington next month so I volunteered to make a skirt and jacket. The book is a guide to how to manipulate patterns, and this was a fun challenge. The first jacket I made ended up in the scrap bin; not easy to swallow at $40 a yard...

I moved onto working on a skirt (success motivates me more than failures). I used the pattern from the book to start with, but didn't think to lengthen it. I am not exactly comfortable wearing a 16" skirt, so I ended up making a second (longer!) wrap skirt. The wrap skirt gave me the idea to make a wrap jacket. I love playing with the 1" felt binding (and it is only $1 a yard!) and while it took a lot more pattern manipulation than I anticipated I love how it turned out.

If you are up for a sewing adventure head up to the Sewing Expo March 1-4th. Susan Beal with be at the Pendleton booth signing copies of her books and there will be great deals on Pendleton fabrics. I will be in DC for the JDRF Government Day conference this year. Bummed that it conflicts but it is important work that I wouldn't want to miss.
On days when I am done with embroidery duties I get to invent projects for classes and free patterns. My co-workers cleverly named this next project The Michelle Bag. A few Sunday's ago I had some time to play and was inspired to make something quick and easy. The Cloudcroft fabric caught my eye and I grabbed a slice off the table and started playing with it. The design lent itself to a bag - it pretty much sewed itself! 

I have a free pattern that will be available for download on the WMS blog super soon. If you want it leave a comment and I'll email it to you. 
The WMS be offering smaller cuts of Fabric starting in March which will be perfect for projects like this one. They will be called 'Half-a-Slice' and you will get a full repeat but won't have to buy the 60" width. Stay tuned for more about that as well.
A few days ago I got to participate in unpacking the holiday decorations for the Pendleton Woolen Mills Store. One of my tasks was to set up the large Christmas Tree at the front of the store. After we decorated it I asked where they kept the tree skirt and I was met with blank stares. "Okay, I'll make one!" I offered. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had recently seen a great pattern by Monica of Happy Zombie for Christmas Tree Pants which were featured on the Sew Mama Sew holiday sew-along. Using that as inspiration I decided this tree needed a Poncho!
One of the benefits of working with the Woolen Mills Store is that I get to make samples for the store and for classes. I choose my fabric: 1/2 of a 1/2 a yard of Red Four Directions Jacquard, grabbed 5 yards of black felt binding, and four silver buttons.

I've decided to offer it as a free pattern, since I was inspired by Monica's design and she gave her instructions away for free as well. Here is a link to a downloadable pattern. Enjoy!
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A few months ago the Portland Modern Quilt Guild challenged each of the guild members to create a 12" finished block using fabrics from the Jay McCarroll Habitat collection. We were given fat eights of six different fabrics and we had a month to create our blocks. The president of our chapter then put out a second call: would anyone be interested in putting these quilts together. My hand went up immediately: I was excited to work on sampler compositions and really challenge myself to come up with something that reflected the vibe of our guild: modern, fun and fresh.
I lived with the blocks for a while before I came up with the sampler designs. They fell into two distinct camps: the first I decided was the 'motif' camp, blocks that used solids with the prints to create a dynamic design. The second camp were blocks that used the prints together and didn't use solids (or didn't use high contrast solids.) I decided to approach the 'motif' blocks using more of a traditional sashing/frame idea, and the print blocks I went for a more risky composition that I called the 'scrappy film strip.' Luckily Linda Nussbalm, a fellow guild member and Surrounded by Scraps blogger stepped in and offered to help. We both sewed our hearts out at the PMQG sew-day at Fabric depot and I finished the last parts of the project today. I am sending them off to Rachel, of  Second Ave Studio (and also a guild member) to quilt.
I have embarked on a new adventure working part time at the Pendleton Woolen Mills Store! I am training as an embroidery tech on their Melco embroidery machines. It is a funny story how it all came about: I was helping Susan Beal with a Pendleton Blanket class she was teaching at the NW Quilt expo. She introduced me to the gals who run the store and a job was born!

It is such a pleasure to work with the team there. Everyone is creative and fun and who can resist spending the day with such gorgeous blankets and fabrics! I embroidered my first catalog orders last week. I have bruises on the palms of my hands from the pressure it takes to hoop the heavy wools but I can tell you there will be at least a dozen happy customers because of these bruises!

One of my favorite things about my new job is that I get to invent projects and eventually teach classes. This pillow was from a scrap I pulled out of the $5 a lb bin. I had the pillow form from a trip to Ikea last week (they are $3 there). I am excited to bring it to work tomorrow!

I just got a preview copy of Fat Quarterly's Fall Inspired Issue  (due out October 7th) with my quilt design Cat's Game! I can't begin to say how over the moon I am about this! My first quilt pattern published! This is so cool! The issue will be available soon (and you know I will be posting, tweeting and all that good stuff the moment it is out) but here is a sneak peak of my project. I will be teaching this quilt over at SewPo starting Tuesday the 18th. Register for the class here.

Busy Bee


Late this summer I embarked on an adventure in virtual Flickr quilt block bees. I had intended to sign up for one Bee and somehow ended up in two. While sewing 15 blocks kept me busy for a few months it has also speed up the process of collecting blocks other people have sent to me for my project. I am making my dad a quilt for his birthday with the blocks from the bees. Did I mention his birthday is Monday?
September Mosaic
The way a virtual bee works, for those of you who are not familiar with this phenomenon is that you join a Flickr group for a specific bee, are put into a hive, create a color-inspiration mosaic (like the one above) and make multiples of the same blocks in the colors requested by your fellow hive members. The two bees I joined, unlike the 12 month one I started (see Design Camp think outside the block Swap) were made up of 6 person hives. The Nubee's swap is a one month swap (I have done two rounds of this bee) and the 3x6 Bee is a three month bee. So far I have collected 11 of the 15 blocks I am expecting.
HST Bee Block Mosaic
Those are a few of my blocks for the August Nubee Swap Hive 3 and the 3 x 6 Bee Hive 16. I wrote a guest blog post about working with half-square triangles to come up with this block over on the Nubee Blog.
Blocks for NuBee Swap Sept 2011
I just finished packing up my September blocks for the Nubee swap which I am going to mail out tomorrow first thing. I used Christina's double-disappearing 9-patch block she demo'd at our September Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting. I had fun experimenting with the color placement in this block.

If you are interested in joining a flickr bee you can check out the ongoing discussion over at the Flickr Quilting Bee Blocks Group. There is also a discussion there that features Bee Confessions which is a hoot to read. Next up for me is participating my my bee Design Camp [think outside the block] Swap and a fellow-bee member's Add a Border project. Oh, and I must get crackin' on my dad's sampler quilt! Wish me luck!
Announcing the first ever Design Camp Flickr Bee. Design Camp (think outside the block) swap! I am super excited to host a year-long Flickr swap that is dedicated to exploring improvisational patchwork! I put a call out for 12 committed campers to sign up for camp and behold -- an international bee was born!
Our Bee reaches from my little corner of Portland, Oregon, up to BC Canada, across Arizona, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and way over to Norway and Singapore. This was filled up on a first come - first serve basis.

I plan to dedicate a post each month to what we are doing over there, but feel free to check it out and see what is going on. It will begin on October 1st and each month will be hosted by a new camp counselor.

For you Portlanders who are interested in exploring this technique, I will be hosting an improvisational mixer over at SewPo on Mississippi Ave on October 14th from 6pm on. Hope to see you there!
This summer Denyse Schmidt came to Portland to teach at PNCA. The class filled up quickly so I put my name on the waiting list. I had all but resigned to waiting for next time when my number came up. It caught me by surprise and I did what any logical grown-up would do, I called my mother and asked for her permission to take the class. Well, sort of... I had given her an envelope of 'emergency cash' and I asked to redeem it.

The workshop was excellent, but I have to admit that it was hard! I had barely dabbled in improv anything and was reluctant to let go of my recently acquired rotary-ruler skills. Denyse was so articulate in design and process I trusted that I would discover something incredible just by participating. I discovered that I had alot to learn!

My first faux pas was that my palette was too flat. One of the requirements for the class was to bring 1-5 yards of solid fabrics. A few of us gals who were taking the class had gotten together and shopped over at Cool Cottons for our solids. Denyse went through my selections and pointed out that there was no variation in value - I had chosen all mid tones. She grabbed a few colors from solids she brought and gave my palette some depth.
We all did an improvisational exercise which we selected random scraps blindly from bags marked 'small, medium and large.' The reluctance to use what you pulled was a common theme with my classmates, but I stuck to the rules and used what I got. As we finished our blocks, we put them up on the design wall and Denyse arranged them. It was the 'discovery' we had all been waiting for: we were all geniuses!

The second part of the class was to then create a more intentional design using our own fabrics inspired by the improv blocks on the wall. I felt like I was on Project Runway (and I suggested to Denyse that she give Tim Gunn a call!) I sketched about 25 different ideas in my book and was the last to conference with Denyse. She didn't seem crazy about any of my ideas, which wasn't much of a boost to my already low confidence.

I decided on a block that broke up the positive and negative space with a row of colors. I planned to pull this a bit randomly so I started to chop (and I do mean chop and not cut!) up pieces and add them to piles. Halfway through making my blocks I realized I had not been consistent with my layout, but I stuck with what I was doing just to see what would happen.

You can see my finished blocks from class on the right side of the photo (and thanks to Susan for sending me the pic!) I am not sure what I am going to do with these blocks or even when I will get to them again, but I am sure that I am interested in learning more about improv. So much more that I have a few plans up my sleeve so please stay tuned!

Sewing Challenges


Hey, do these look familiar? I save all those things my camper's leave behind at the studio after camp. This piece is made up of sewing challenges from my 'collection' and was created for the 100th Monkey Studio's 5th anniversary show. The call for art was to create a piece that was about the process of making art.

Here is what I wrote about the piece for the sale:
When students first learn to operate a sewing machine I give them small pieces of muslin, or 'sewing challenge' which they must follow in order to move onto more complicated projects. In order to complete the challenge the student must first follow the line, then stitch in between the lines and finally design their own challenge to sew.

What is discarded and edited in the process of creating art and design are as valuable to me as a definitive design decision. As a young art student I had a strict fine arts teacher who forbid us to use erasers. The lines you chose to leave behind, she taught us, are of equal importance as the lines you chose to incorporate. Instead of erasing lines I drew with timid pencil lines that my instructor called "ghosts." She wanted us to make bold confident decisions. After much resistance to the visibility of my process I finally understood my professor. The 'ghost lines' I drew told the story of how I arrived at my final decision. I saved my own student's discarded work for the same reason. It was the story of how they learned to sew.

My piece "What was left behind" is made up of student sewn design challenges which were left or thrown in the trash at the end of the class.

Title of piece: What was left behind
Media: Muslin, Thread, Linen, Ink
dimensions: 17" x 22 1/2"

I was fortunate to be a founding board member of the 100th Monkey Studio  and I have enjoyed watching it grow and thrive over the past five years. Please come and support them  on Friday, September 14th and buy some art!