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Creativity Abounds

I’ve mentioned in past blogs that when Paula’s creative juices are flowing, there will be piles of fabric around the warehouse.  Well, the creative juices are in high gear and I have pictures to share.  I also thought that you might enjoy reading about a quilt from start to finish.  Earlier this week I knew that I would be finishing the navy and cheddar quilt and that I was going to need something to take with us on our 2 week quilt show trip.  It’s always a little crazy when we are getting ready for a show – assembling kits, cutting fabric for bundles, cutting fabric for backings, counting, taking inventory and basically just being busy.   I really don’t like to throw anything else into the mix, but I knew my machine would be eager for another quilt to sew.  I mentioned my need to Paula and the next thing I knew I have 2, not 1, but 2 new designs to choose from – wow!!!  I picked one (and can I tell you how hard that was – how do you choose) and the piling of fabric began.

BBQ cutting room with piles of fabrics for new quilts

Paula begins the creative process for a quilt long before the “piling of fabrics” begins and it is probably the part that takes the longest.  She has said that the actual designing of a quilt doesn’t take her very long once she has the design in mind, but arriving at the design requires a good deal of time and work.  It is also probably the part that is the hardest for me to describe because I am an observer.  I’ve seen her spend hours researching antique quilts while she waits for one to spark an idea.  It may be an entire quilt, a particular setting, an individual block, or even the color that brings about the “what do you think about this one” question.  My husband once said that our business would be limited by the number of quilts Paula could design – my response – our business will go on forever because she always has another spark ready to be ignited into a quilt.

Once she has the design set in her mind, she draws out the actual quilt on her computer and begins the process of deciding on block size, quilt size, border/no border/3 borders, scrappy/controlled scrappy/fabric collection, etc.  Oh, the part I forgot to tell you – once she has a design in mind, she can already start to see what colors she wants to use.  That’s pretty amazing to me.  She has this great new program on her computer that she uses to keep all of the info about the quilt in one place – block size, yardage requirements, # of fabrics needed, diagrams, etc.

Now comes the “piling of fabrics” part.  With an idea of the colors already in her head, she begins to walk around the kit warehouse and the fabric warehouse looking for the exact fabrics that this quilt needs.  Fabrics get piled and unfortunately some get rejected – don’t worry we always try to console them as we take them back to the warehouse.  They may not have made the cut for this quilt, but their quilt is out there and they are ready to be called.  It’s great to be part of this process; you can make suggestions on possible fabrics (and believe me we all do!!!) but you know they may not make the cut!  Through this whole process, Paula can actually envision how this quilt is going to look.  I think many of us see a pile of beautiful fabric that we know will go together, but I know I’m not going much beyond that.

The new quilt design that I selected will use darks, shirtings, and medium lights.  These are the piles that Cindy faced on Thursday morning when she came to work.  Her task for that day was to cut 2 of everything for the quilt – 1 for me to use and 1 for the cutting sample for later.

Medium lights for new quilt

Shirtings and darks for new quilt

Now the fun part begins – I get my pieces and I go home and cut them for the quilt. YEAH!!!  Paula has written parts of the pattern at this point and this is our way of “testing” the pattern.  Hopefully we catch all the glitches and mistakes at this point, but as you know they still slip through.  As of right now, I have all of the darks and medium lights cut and will try to finish the rest of the cutting tonight (still have to pack for our trip, so I’m not sure if it will get done).  This quilt will be my travel project – sure wish I could figure out how to sew using my machine while we drive!!!  (Here’s an inventing opportunity for someone!)  Paula will work on finalizing the pattern, selecting a name and writing the story (that requires some research too!)  I will keep you posted on my progress and Paula’s.  Remember this quilt and pattern have to be done for Spring Market and I still have one to make out of Paula’s new fabric collection.  Apparently I work best under pressure.

If you looked at that first picture carefully, you may have noticed some other “piles of fabric” that I didn’t mention.  Well, Paula was psyched and also pulled all the fabrics we will need for a new Belle Meade – Belle Meade III.  We will probably sell out of the current kit (made with Moda’s Rouenneries) at these next couple of shows, so it was time to make another.  This one was based on a fabric that Paula selected for the set-in side triangles and it was magic from there.  Cindy also cut 2 of everyone of those fabrics, but Marcie will be making the half-square triangles for this one while Paula and I are on the road.

New Belle Meade darks

New Belle Meade lights

Yup – on the road again.  All our bags are packed and ready to go (please feel free to sing along)!!!  We decided to try one of those Sprinter vans for this trip – 2 shows, lots of merchandise.  We leave Monday morning for the 2 day trip to Chicago and won’t be back until the end of April – whew!!   Please be sure to stop by and visit us at IQF – Chicago (April 16-18) and AQS – Paducah (April 21-24), we love to see all our loyal customers.  Remember we are in the Pavilion at the AQS show.

It’s a beautiful day here and we should have great weather for our travels.  If you are fortunate to have some nice weather, get out and enjoy it.

Until next time, happy quilting!

Mary Ellen

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