Improv Workshop with Gee’s Bend Quilters

We do not remember days, we remember moments.

~ Cesare Pavese

Yesterday’s Gee’s Bend workshop at Heritage Hall in Talladega, Alabama was filled with beautiful moments.

China caught me picking apart some fabric strips (which I thought was going rather well), took them from me and just started pulling them apart. Just grab and pull. I would have thought that would warp the fabric or something, but nope. They came apart as if she’d already pulled the stitches out. My table mate and I got a huge laugh at me over that. I really wish I had it on video because it was hilarious.

Of course, China and Mary Ann sang as we worked.

What I admire most about the women of Gee’s Bend is their spirit. These women and their families have known true hardships, and yet they arrive with joy in their hearts and love to share.

They give more than they take.

A lesson for all of us. I have running water, insulated walls, and food in my belly. I’ll bet you do, too.

The Ladies Pettway brought in a bin of fabric odds and ends and we tossed in a few bits of our own. In the bin I found a hand-painted panel depicting pastoral birds, which sent me off in one direction because I had some silly notion that it was meant to be that I work with this thing. Well, I guess it was meant to be in that it taught me that I shouldn’t always listen to silly notions.

Have mercy, y’all… this thing is ug-ly. (Except for the birds. The birds are really pretty.)

But it was terrific fun and felt liberating to sew on something that had no plan, no destination, no pattern, no rules, no deadline. It was freeing. I think I’ll use improv in the future as a way to clear my mind between (or during) more structured projects.

xoxo,
~~ Tara

Comin’ Around the Bend

I had been quilting a year before I saw in person what other quilters were making. I didn’t grow up around quilters. I didn’t belong to a guild. I hadn’t had any in-person classes.

I learned the art of quilt making through watching YouTube. Relentlessly. One video led to another led to another. I’d watch them all, regardless of whether they were traditional or modern, art quilts or lap quilts, improv or well-planned. English or Spanish or Portuguese. (My Spanish is very limited and my Portuguese relies on any similarities I can find in my Spanish, but a flying goose is a flying goose, folks.)

Then I heard about QuiltCon. (cue: the song of angels)

I cobbled together some funds and got myself out to Austin, Texas. It was February 2015. I kept to myself mostly and studied the quilts in the show. I walked around as if in a dream. I attended a few lectures.

Among my transformative experiences that weekend was this:

The quilters of Gee’s Bend delivered the keynote. I had read about them and knew. I knew this was big. They sang gospel. I grew up with gospel. It felt like home to me.

L to R: Mary Ann Pettway, Lucy Witherspoon, China Pettway, Gloria Hoppins. The Quilters of Gee's Bend, QuiltCon 2015
L to R: Mary Ann Pettway, Lucy Witherspoon, China Pettway, Gloria Hoppins. The Quilters of Gee’s Bend, QuiltCon 2015

L to R: Mary Ann Pettway, Lucy Witherspoon, China Pettway, Gloria Hoppins. The Quilters of Gee's Bend, QuiltCon 2015

This is the song they sang:

I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

The flowers that you give me
I can’t see their beuty
The flowers that you give me
I can’t see their beauty
The flowers that you give me
I can’t see their beauty

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

The flowers that you give me
I can’t tell nobody
The flowers that you give me
I can’t tell nobody
The flowers that you give me
I can’t tell nobody

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone
I don’t want nobody to praise me when I’m gone

Ohhh, give me my flower whiles I yet live

So a few days ago when I heard Mary Ann Pettway and China Pettway of the Gee’s Bend Quilting Collective were soon teaching a workshop only a few hours’ drive away from my home, I sent my registration request off in a flash.

In fewer than three weeks, I’ll get to spend a few hours with Mary Ann and China. I’ll get to learn from them. Hear their stories. Let their histories inform me. I feel remarkably blessed to have that opportunity. I hope they’ll hug me if I cry a little.

xoxo,
Tara

Freckled Turtle Party

So far, even though some things in my 2018 plan are underway, 2018 has been teaching me a lesson in slowwwing dowwwn — while adding things to my life (like this blog!). I’m definitely not 25 with the energy of three people anymore!

Because a lot of what I’ve been up to the past month has been behind the scenes or related to my “day job,” I’m super happy to be able to show you some of the things others have made with my Churned Up pattern, and to give you links to check out what else these three ladies are doing! If there’s one thing social media does right, it’s connecting quilters near and far! If you’ve been following me over on Instagram, you may have seen these.

Meet Velda of Freckled Fox Quiltery

(Formerly known as Granny Can Quilt) I enjoy her wit & sass. I feel like I’m chatting with her over our machines at a quilt retreat when I read her blog. You can also find her on Instagram as @freckledfoxquiltery. She went scrap-o-licious with these Churned Up quillows:

Scrappy Quillows by Velda at Freckled Fox Quiltery
Scrappy Churned Up Quillows by Velda at Freckled Fox Quiltery

Meet Stephanie over at Quilt ‘n Party

Stephanie made the full version of Churned Up with a lovely, soft 30s print. Check out her blog for some great mini quilt and block tutorials! You can also catch her over on Instagram as @quiltnparty. (Tip: Check out her Gypsy Wife! *swoon*)

Churned Up 30s Style by Stephanie at Quilt 'n Party
Churned Up 30s Style by Stephanie at Quilt ‘n Party

Meet Joanne (aka Turtle Quilter Jo)

The above link goes to Joanne’s Instagram page, and you can also catch her over on her Quilts by Joanne blog. Joanne is one of the angels among us. She quilts a lot for charity, and I couldn’t be happier that her groovy dark and bright Churned Up (which she made lap size!) is going to a worthy cause. Her version keeps making me want to say, “far out, man!”

Joanne's "far out" Churned Up, Lap Size
Joanne’s “far out” Churned Up, Lap Size

A huge THANK YOU to each of these women for volunteering to make the pattern and write up such lovely reviews. I’m thrilled and humbled that they each enjoyed it so much and made these beautiful things that will go out and live in the world. That’s a new experience for me, and I like it! A lot!

xoxo,
~~Tara

Kaffe 2018 Mystery Quilt

Happy New Year, Quiltabulous Friends!

It’s almost time for the Kaffe Fassett Mystery Quilt! Kaffe Fassett is the king of color. I had the pleasure of attending one of his lectures on color a couple of years back and I have several of his books. His prints are SO full of color and deliciousness that I am at times intimidated by them. ALL THE COLOR! ALL THE PATTERN! I’m hoping this mystery quilt experience gets me past all of that. I’m hoping that it teaches me more about color and how better to use it with passion and zeal. I am putting on my student hat for this one!

Want to join me? My friends at Thread Bear Fabrics are hosting it, and you can register with them through January 15th. The mystery kicks off in March.

These links are not affiliate links. I do not get paid anything for sending you Thread Bear. I just really like these folks, and I know they are good people to work with.

There is a Dark colorway option and a Light colorway option.

These are the fabrics in the dark colorway:

These are the fabrics in the light colorway:

Some deets from Janet and Randy at Thread Bear Fabrics:

This is a 10 month program that starts in March 2018 and ends in December 2018.

The final quilt size will be 82-1/2″ x 82-1/2″ and you choose a “light” or “dark” color option. There is a total of 12 yards for all 10 months/quilt.

Backing is not included. 2-5/8th yards of 108″ fabric is needed for the quilt back.

Cost of the program is $18.95 per month (plus shipping $7.00 for U.S. destinations).

There is a $4.99 registration fee to sign up for the program.

The first month you will receive block instructions on a 5×7 color card and fabrics in a clamshell packaging that is just the right size to store your project in as you receive your new fabric each month. And as a thank you for playing in the Mystery Quilt program, you will receive a freebie – a 10 piece Mystery Kaffe Fat Quarter.

Each following month you will receive the 5×7 color instruction card and the fabrics required to complete the block. Then in December, you will receive the fabric needed to complete the Mystery Quilt, plus binding and a 5×7 color card with final instructions for completing that month as well as putting together the entire quilt and solving the Mystery!

Every Mystery Quilt monthly puzzle adventure package includes a fun “ask” for the chance to win goodies from FreeSpirit!

Here’s me and Janet of Thread Bear in front of some of the Kaffe she and Randy carry in their shop:

With Janet at Thread Bear Fabrics
Me and Janet at Thread Bear Fabrics

xoxo,
~~ Tara

Welcome to “The District”!

It’s go live week over here! I am super excited to be a part of the Benartex blog hop this week for Christa Watson’s new fabric line Modern Marks!

Visit ALL the stops on the hop this week (links below — they’re all doing giveaways!), then stop back by here at The District on Friday to see what I did with this fun fabric line (I’m also doing a giveaway).

I can tell you that my cat Halo approves.

Monday
Jen @Patterns by Jen

HollyAnne @String & Story

Tuesday
Kristin @Simple. Handmade. Everyday.
Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl
Vicki @My Creative Corner3

Wednesday
Hilary @Aurifil
Pam @The Stitch TV Show

Thursday
Heather @Quiltachusetts
Andrea @3rd Story Workshop

Friday
HERE @The Quilt District
Stephanie @Modern Sewciety

I’m still working out a few website details, but the bones are here and I’m glad you are too!

Until Friday,
~~ Tara