Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Short and Sweet

I'm currently part of Hive #7 of the Stash Bee block swapping group.  Each month we make a few blocks for someone in our hive and as part of the post to let everyone know we've done our blocks for the month, we answer a question posed by the hive queen for that month.
This month's was an interesting one and while I pushed myself to answer it, I'm not sure it's the right answer for me. 
The question is "what colors and prints would you add to your stash"?
Have you seen my stash?  There's plenty of depth to it -- I estimate it tops out around 2500 yards of fabric collected over the past 35 years. 
There are just bits from the very early years and probably 50% lives on these shelves that are my color palette.  The rest is comprised of "style" groups -- 30's, Civil War, florals, etc.
So what was my answer?
Since I had a shop to stock and a budget to manage, I add new fabric to my stash first to fill gaps -- right now that that includes true greens and dark purples.
I'll always be a sucker for a great bird print.
Bees really get my attention, too.
I love all the modern prints but I don't buy much because I have noticed that I struggle with merging them into what I already own.  I'm not sure if it's the color or the print style that holds me back.
I need to think about this more but I thought it would be interesting to pose the same question to all of you.  What are you adding to your stash and how do you decide? 
Impulse or plan?
Mary Huey

Friday, September 25, 2015

Looking ahead and a happy story!

It's the third day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere -- in this spot, it's mild and sunny with a light breeze.  The crickets are singing constantly and the leaves have started to drift slowly down out of the white oak outside my office window.  It's time to review the summer gardening efforts and make notes for next year before cleaning up the beds for winter.
I've been traveling more than stitching the past couple weeks and one of the events I attended was the annual meeting of the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association at Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio.  This group of outdoor enthusiasts (mostly botanists) are coming together all over Ohio working alongside the Ohio DNR to support and monitor the network of natural areas of which there are 125 or so.   
I donated this original wallhanging to the Saturday evening fund raising auction and happily it sold to a very happy couple.  But there is a happy story that will now travel with it.
Upon checking in at a local hotel, the desk clerk remarked that there was a Mary Elizabeth Huey in the building -- I assumed it was an employee and laughed with her that Elizabeth is also my middle name.  Now this is not the first time I've encountered another Mary Huey -- at one point, I determined through a quick internet search there are at least 57 of us.
An hour later, when I arrived at the banquet and picked up my nametag, Mary Huey, I noticed there was also a nametag for Mary Elizabeth Huey.  Now this is getting strange -- we are staying at the same hotel and now we belong to the same group?!?
Shortly, someone tapped me on the shoulder and we were face to face -- we are about the same age and live in opposite corners of Ohio.  Both of us acquired the Huey part of our names through marriage.  And we are both nature lovers.
The evening progressed and after the program, the names of auction winners were announced and everyone made their way to claim their treasures.  I heard Mary Elizabeth's name announced but didn't see her until we stepped into the elevator together back at the hotel.  I made some inane remark about our good fortunate in placing winning bids and asked what she bought.
"Your quilt!"
So now Mary Elizabeth Huey owns a quilt designed and made by Mary Huey.
Her friends will be having lots of fun with that I suspect.
Fall also brings a change in my stitching priorities.  Winter workshops move to the front of the line and I'm currently working on samples for the workshops I'll be offering during the 2016 Lake Farmpark Quilt show.  This is a link to the Farmparks webpage and eventually you'll be able to find information about the 2016 show under "events".  If you've taken one of my set-in piecing workshops or worked your way through my DVD, Set-In Piecing Simplified, you might be interested in joining one of these workshop.
On March 17, 2016, I'll be teaching GLITTER from Jen Kingwell's book, Quilt Lovely.  If you haven't discovered her fresh approach to mixing and matching fabrics, this book will pull you into her web!  We'll be learning how to adapt patterns with y-seams for chain-piecing without manufactured templates.  This skill will open up all sorts of new possibilities for you. 
The other workshop will be on February 20, 2016 and focuses on the star in the center of this quilt below -- I've dubbed it Karen's DRESDEN STAR.  Karen from The Little Red Quilt House near Medina, Ohio first brought the block to my attention and I found a clever use of one of Marti Michell's kite templates to cut the pieces.  There are lots of y-seams but they are effortless with the chain-piecing technique! 
It's the same block I used recently in my Kaffe Mini Quilt Swap.  Read more about that HERE.
You can't register for the workshops until early December, but if they tickle your fancy, pencil the dates onto your 2016 calendar and keep the dates free so you can join me to expand your mastery of Set-In Piecing Simplified.  Haven't tried it yet?  You can order the DVD using the link at the top right corner of the blog and be ready for these workshops!
I'm itching to stitch and hope the next few (nearly) empty days on my calendar present lots of opportunities!!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Most of us have no trouble finding lots of inspiration for our quilting.  There are so many magazines, books and patterns, we can hardly keep up with all the good ideas. However, as we grow in skills and confidence, it's fun to look around at a wider variety of sources for inspiration.
I've just returned home from my first trip to New York City.  When friend and I discovered we have been avoiding NYC for the same reasons (fear of it's bigness), we joined a Road Scholar tour, Five Boroughs in Five Days.  The tour leaders were all long time NYC residents and we had a wonderful overview of the city and learned how to get around like a local (walking and using the subways). 
Usually I look to nature for quilt inspiration, especially in terms of color. 
But during my visit to NYC, I found some inspiration in the buildings which far outnumber nature.
The first examples that caught my eye were the mosaics in the subway stations.  This is just one of the dozens that I saw -- most date to the early 1900's and all had some extra embellishment reflecting the skill and artistry of the long forgotten workman.
That won't be the case with this new installation on the ceiling of the newest subway station in NYC which opened just last week as the east/west line through midtown Manhattan moved further west towards the Hudson River.  This artist created two large pieces that won't escape notice. 
(And people think we are nuts when we chop yards of fabric up -- these tiles are 1/2" squares.)
There is a great deal of stone work scattered around the city from the early 1900's -- this motif on a grand arch in Brooklyn caught my eye -- applique would be a perfect way to render it's beautiful organic symmetry.
Trinity Church sits at the end of Wall Street and as we passed through it . . . .
I had to pause (and backed up the line behind me) to grab a quick picture of this geometric tile floor (pardon the feet).
And when we turned the corner into another area, there was another one!!  I could do this!! The current building was completed in 1846 but there have been many upgrades and additions to the interior over the years and I would guess these floors date to the turn of the 20th century.
I also found inspiration in the ceiling at St. Patrick's Cathedral which is all spic and span for the visit of Pope Francis this week.  Look at those 8 pointed stars in grid -- it was a tough picture to take -- such a high space.
And there in some of the intersections were these lovely morning glory inspired motifs! 
One of our walking tours passed through a housing development from the early 1900's in Harlem.  The area is experiencing a renaissance and rediscovering the beauty of it's architecture.  This building had these delightful cornices on all the street level windows -- lots of quilting inspiration for sure. 
One of the last places we visited was Wave Hill, a NYC park centered at an estate along the Hudson River in the Bronx.  This unusual water plant is the mosaic plant (ludwigia sedioides) and is native to the northern part of South American.  This doesn't just inspire my quilting juices, I think I want this plant in my little pond next summer (not hardy this far north)!  A Google search for images of this plant produced some stunning close-up photos.
 I've printed out these pictures and pinned them up on the bulletin board in the studio -- it will be interesting to see if anything comes out of all this inspiration in my future work.
How about you?  Do you find inspiration for your quilting outside of the fabric shop!

Mary Huey

Friday, September 18, 2015

My wheels are spinning . . . .

Does that ever happen to you? 
Do you find yourself at the end of a project, celebrating a FINISH!!! only to take a nose dive into the abyss of "what to do next"?
That's where I was a few days ago -- the Kaffe Mini Swap was finished (two weeks early??) and I was headed on a little vacation.  I was actually packed and had done as much prep as I could for a teaching trip a couple days after my return.  My entire body was vibrating -- the oddity of being ahead of time for a change and the worry that I was forgetting something whipped me up and the only thing to do done was stitch myself down off the ceiling.
I could do a bit more quilting -- only the borders left but the design plan is still vague for it.
I could start the silver cape project -- nahhh -- too much wingin' it pending on that.
I could do a bit of hand quilting, but someone got there before me -- hope he made some noticeable progress!!
I could figure out what fabrics to put with these kaleidoscope cuts that have been laying around for a couple years.  Like the colors but would prefer prints.
This soft book panel surfaced during the August tidy-up -- it's all cut and ready to assemble.  I need a baby gift soon -- nahh.
I need to cut another batch of pieces for eight more of these blocks.
But first, let's look at them on the work wall -- nice!! 
That dot is going to work for the setting triangles.
When I arrived at the cutting table, the 2 1/2" strip box was sitting there -- might as well tidy it up a bit.  I've been meaning to pull strips out of it that are at least 18" long for a scrappy trips around the world.
And I pulled a dozen sets to cut for Glitter blocks from Quilt Lovely by Jen Kingwell!
The second set of basket blocks was cluttering the cutting table so I trimmed them
and put them up on the work wall ready for the final assembly of the top.
Thank goodness, it was time to fix supper. 
The spinning sensation has passed at this point but I definitely have too many options!
I feel more focused today and have prioritized a couple projects so it's back to my productive zone. 
I don't like spinning!!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Learning, learning, learning . . . . . .

Last week, I finished this piece for my (secret) Kaffe Mini Swap partner.
Over the years, I've participated in lots of block exchanges -- those are easy, the recipient tells me what she wants -- block design, fabric style, color palette.  All I have to do is cut and stitch accurately like these I made earlier this year for one of my Stash Bee hive members!!
I've made quilts for themed challenges such as this "road of life" with my local guild. It includes all the important slices of my life, my husband, my children, my pets, my passions.  It was the "odd quilt out" when hung in the row at the exhibit, but I love it and have it hanging in my studio.
Round robins are another challenge I've take on several times.  The one I launched a year ago is one of my favorites and it's laying here next to my desk, waiting to be quilted.
Challenges, block swaps, round robins, and now mini-swaps -- all are avenue for expanding one's "box" -- pushing us out of comfortable color zones, nudging us to try new stitching techniques, daring us to exercise our creative side.
Once the exercise is completed, we have the opportunity to reflect on what we've learned about ourselves as quiltmakers.  It's a beneficial exercise as it helps us build a new confidence and excitement about our craft/art.
So what did I learn this time? 
First, when one is confined to a single line of fabric, you need a lot of it!  I like the fabric that comes out of the Kaffe Fassett Collective but I tend to scatter it around my work unlike many who only use "Kaffe with Kaffe".  It's atypical for me to make a piece using the work of one fabric designer -- primarily because I prefer my work to look like my work.  I want my quilts to be referred to as "Mary Huey's".
Second, auditioning is the most important skill I have built (after piecing).  I can't visualize in my head -- I have to see it!  I tell my students frequently, "if you aren't sure, it means you are arguing with your intuition which is saying NO."  I pushed through at least a dozen different layouts of the fabrics and shapes to frame out the Dresden Star -- they were getting very complex -- but in the end, I took a very simple route that let the fabric do the work. 
Third, my personal preference for clean lines and clear contrasts continues to guide my creative urges.  I admire the "fuzzy, blended" look of many of the pieces I'm seeing on Instragram from this group of swappers, but that's not me (at least right now).  My piece is based on the color preferences of my swap partner, but the clean contrasts are indicative of most of my work. 
If you'd like to see more of the exciting work being produced by this gang of quilters, check out #kaffeminiswap on Instragram. 
Amazing colorful stuff!!
And before I go today, I have to share this early morning photo of the moonflowers blooming on the posts of my front porch!  I've been trying for four years to get them to grow there (intertwined with blue morning glories) and this is the first year they've grown/bloomed.  Usually the morning glories are prolific but this year they haven't started??  Maybe next week?
Enjoy your stitching this week!!
Mary Huey


Friday, September 11, 2015

My First Mini Swap

Earlier this summer I signed up for my first mini swap via Instagram -- a new adventure!!
I joined the Kaffe Mini Swap and was assigned a partner. 
I gathered up all the Kaffe fabric I own and shopped for a bit more.
When I returned from my last teaching trip, I went at it in earnest.
I'm currently experimenting with this Dresden Star block and decided to use it since it fits some of my partners preferences.  The block was shared with me by Karen from Little Red Quilt House in Medina, Ohio -- a customer brought her an a quilt from the early 1900's.  I'd never seen the block before but quickly decided it fits right into my current obsession with set-in piecing and hexie/60 degree designs.
A week of fiddling on the design wall led to these framed diamonds for the setting.
Since I used the large diamond in Marti Michell's Set H for the Dresden diamonds, I used the small diamond from the same set to fussy cut the centers.  The framing strips were a bit wider than necessary allowing me to trim each one for a perfect shape. 
Marti's templates are so adaptable!  The dashed lines made it easy to center the little diamond as I trimmed each piece. 
In the end, I decided to frame the block with the same print used in the framed diamonds -- this must have been the 10th or 11th option I audited and certainly it is the simplest.
I sliced the fabric and stitched it together to use for the backing -- I used the no-binding finish technique from Marti's Fusible Tape product.  You can read the step-by-step process HERE.
But when I got ready to layer it, I thought "this backing is really ugly".
I've used a six-piece backing on other hexagon pieces and so I set the mirrors up and took a look.
Much better!!
And because I started with Marti's templates, the Equilateral Triangle Ruler was the perfect size to cut the six triangles needed. 
The quilting went quickly -- I used continuous curve for the center design with a few of my signature leaves at the tips.  The "gods-eye" motif adapted nicely to the diamonds. 
To emphasize the hexagon shape of the block, I channeled quilted the outer border.  Having learned to think about the spacing of the lines BEFORE I stitch, I experimented before with a chalk pencil.
I used the edge of my walking foot to guide the first two lines on opposite edges of the border.
The third line was centered between the first two lines. 
The fourth line was centered between the left side line and the center line.
And the fifth line between the right side line and the center line.
Best part?  No marking needed!! 
I used a diamond from my auditioning reject pile to make a simple label. 
The pattern of the triangles coming together is funky compared to the mirror audition -- there was just enough fabric to do this -- fussy cutting six exact repeats was not an option.
It's still fun though!!
And here's the finished piece -- ready to pack up and mail off later this month!!
Next week, I'll share what I learned by participating in a mini swap.  It might help you decide if you'd like to try a mini swap in the future and it's always good for me to reflect on the results of a new experience like this.
Hope you are off to a good start on your fall quilting (or spring if you are down under).
Mary Huey

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A little destashing!!

I didn't do much stitching over the Labor Day weekend -- spent two days enjoying the 50 year reunion of my high school graduating class -- what a great time we had!!  And made a trip to the Pittsburgh, PA zoo with my family -- it took all six adults to manage the four youngsters?!?
I did get up to the studio Monday afternoon for a bit of putter stitching and pulled a few things out of my "destash" pile from the August tidy-up to offer to any interested stitchers today.  Maybe one of them will catch your fancy?
First up is a set of six bands of flying geese -- all the same two fabrics -- 5" wide by approx. 74" long.  They are hand pieced, clean (only found 1 small stain), and I estimate they date to the 1890's or very early 1900's. 
Here's a closer look at the fabrics.  They were donated to my charity group but we decided they were too nice to use for a rough and tumble quilt so we are selling them to benefit our supply fund for batting.  $25 plus shipping.
This is an assortment of odd buttons -- there are three sets that are "tied" together and the rest are all singles.   $3 plus shipping.
Two packages of 1" finished hexagons from Quilt Patis -- plastic with a hole punched in the center so they are reusable (and they have been used) -- 90 in each package.  $7.50 per package plus shipping.
Two packages of 1 1/2" finished 60 degree diamonds -- same as above -- never used.
60 in each package -- $7.50 per package plus shipping.
Just under 1/2 yard of fine cotton lawn -- 11" by 60" -- not sure if it's Liberty lawn but if not, it's Italian and the same quality -- bought it in the late 1980's.
$4 plus shipping.
3-plus yards of brown stripped Italian cotton lawn -- 36" wide -- I hope the ruler gives you a sense of the scale of it.  I bought it in the late 1980's.
$12 plus shipping. 
3 1/4 plus 2/3 yards (two pieces) of Italian cotton lawn purchased in the late 1980's -- 36" wide.
I've taken several pictures in different light situations and this is the closest to the true colors but the photo is brighter than the fabric.  The contrast of colors is more subtle.
$14 plus shipping 
 Hmong applique with embroidery embellishes purchased in the 1980's -- approx. 8 1/2" square.
Back is finished.  $5 plus shipping.
Hmong applique with embroidery embellishes purchased in the 1980's -- approx. 6" square.
Back is finished.  $4 plus shipping.

Hmong applique with embroidery embellishes purchased in the 1980's -- approx. 6 1/2" square.
Back is finished.  $4 plus shipping. 
I have already de-fuzzed it -- didn't see that until I posted the picture and too lazy to take another picture??
If you'd like any of these items, leave me a comment with your ZIP code.  I'll be in touch with you via a reply to your comment with a shipping cost and other details needed.
You know what they say about other quilter's treasures!?!
Have a good stitching day!!
Mary Huey