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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Designer's Dilemma

Yesterday I had one of those experiences which I consider to be one of a designer's worst nightmares. I spent the day finishing the top for my Games We Play toddler/small lap quilt (Calypso fabric designed by Ro Gregg) and pushed hard to get it done. The quilt top is bright and cheerful and I thought it would be really cute and/or very cool. However, when I finished the last stitch and put it back on my design wall I was not sure I liked it! I was really disappointed. Somehow my vision and my finished top did not add up to the awesome quilt I expected.

Oh, what to do??? Such a bummer!

On top of that, I had assumed I would bind the quilt in blue to bring out the blue in the body of the quilt, but when I put up my blue samples I just did not "feel" them! Plus I did not have enough of any one fabric. I was pretty depressed last night!

Fortunately, I have learned over the years that when you feel stuck, or something is just not working for you, the best thing to do is walk away.

This morning I started working on another project - doing the pre-cutting of the Marblehead fabrics in preparation for starting work on my Wreath For All Seasons quilt this weekend. (Pattern available on my website, or from I spent most of the day working on that and got a lot accomplished. That was a satisfying feeling after yesterdays disappointment.

I got a thought about the binding of the Games We Play quilt top during the afternoon and decided to try it. The green accent borders have been bothering me but I decided to see what green binding would look like, and, by golly, it seems to work! I am liking the quilt top again and feel SO much better.

Most of the time Creativity is a blessing but sometimes not so much.

What do you think?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I finally received the fabrics I need from Ro Gregg! They are gorgeous! Above are some photos of the Marblehead fabrics that I will be using to make my Wreath For All Seasons lap quilt (scroll down a little ways to see the "photo" of the "virtual" quilt). As you can see, these fabrics really have the feel of real marble, granite or sandstone. I almost thought they would be hard to the touch, like stone, instead of really soft. Yummy! I can't wait to get started! (The entire Marblehad line contains more than 20 different colors and textures - a really wonderful range for any project. To purchase these fabrics check with you local quilt shop or search on-line - they should be available very soon.)

I also received several pieces of the Calypso that I need to finish the top of my toddler quilt. I just have borders to do now (there are three). I have to get it done and off my design wall so I can get it to my long arm quilter and THEN I can start working on the Wreath For All Seasons.

Never a dull moment!

P.S. If you have not already heard -, my publisher/distributor, is offering FREE shipping on any orders for the remainder of this weekend (ends Sunday pm). Please take advantage of this generous offer to gift yourself or a quilting friend with one or more quilt patterns or books out of hundreds of great choices (including mine, of course!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You! Thank You!

For all my friends, those I have known for many years and those I have met more recently through my quilt guilds, my business, networking at several International Quilt Markets and vending at quilt shows, I give my sincerest THANKS for being part of my life. I don't want to get too sentimental here but I do want you all to know that your friendship and support mean the world to me.

Special thanks to my DH and my closest friends for being there with me over the long haul and through thick and thin. You are the BEST!

Special thanks also to my publisher/distributor Nancy Dill ( for "discovering" me and helping me make my quilt pattern business a success, and fabric designer Ro Gregg, my newest partner in my creative ventures for her support and enthusiasm for my designs.

Many, many thanks also to the wonderful designers (and good friends) of the New England Quilt Designers' Cooperative: Beth Helfter, Barbara Chojnacki, Judi Damon, Kristi Parker and Terri Sontra. You guys ROCK!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I finished the backing for my "Games We Play" toddler quilt yesterday and have most of the top finished today.  Still waiting for some of the fabric I need for the top to arrive.  But I did get the checkerboard border completed.  The quilt top is starting to look like what I have been envisioning!  I love this part of the design process!

The back has been completed "lasagna style" in strips of the fabrics.  There are 28 different fabrics in this line (Calypso, by Ro Gregg for Paintbrush Studio).  I used the lighter ones on the front and the darker, more vibrant fabrics on the back.. Above are photos of the backing - I will post some photos of the front in a couple of days.

It is exciting to see a design that has been only on paper finally come alive in fabric!.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I got a really nice e-mail this morning from Ro Gregg - the Marblehead fabrics will be shipped to me shortly! I will be making my Wreath For All Seasons lap quilt with these luminous fabrics - can't wait to get started! I will post photos of the fabrics themselves as soon as I receive them.

The pattern for this quilt is available from It includes detailed instructions and diagrams for both a lap and King size quilt.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New fabrics for Ro Gregg (Paintbrush Studio)

I am working on some "virtual" quilt designs for Ro Gregg that will be used on the covers of her fabric line samples and also be available as free downloadable patterns. Yesterday I recieved jpegs of 12 new metallic fabrics in Christmas colors as well as two coordinating Christmas panels. They are gorgeous! You will have to wait to see what I am going to do with them. You will even have to wait to see the fabrics. Nothing like being a tease! (Circumstances beyond my control.)

In the meantime, I am almost finished piecing the top of the crib size "Games We Play" using the fat quarters shown earlier. It is quite a challenge to use only FQ's for things like the borders, but I think I am going to be able to do it! AND - I am going to piece the back of the quilt with strips of all the fabrics I did not use on the front. My plan is for this quilt to showcase all 28 fabrics from the Calypso line. I am really having fun with this!

Stay tuned for photos.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Still learning about Blogging - Patience, please!

The two posts below this one are not in correct order - please read "Details, Details" before reading the post with the photos.

Thanks and enjoy!


Notice the subtle background blocks behind the trees and the flower - they provide depth and light, drawing you into the design. The third detail from the bottom is from a large "Storm At Sea" quilt which has almost completely disguised the actual pattern in a totally new and very atmospheric design. The last photo shows the BACK of a traditional Log Cabin quilt. The front is not nearly as interesting as the back (IMHO). The strips in the blocks are very narrow and the inserted squares are tiny - about 1/2" each.

It never ceases to amaze me what creative minds can come up with!

Details, Details...

One of the things I enjoy most when I go to a big show like the International Quilt Market (and there are many), is studying the incredible quilts that are on display from all over the world. I take lots of photos and especially enjoy looking at the details - the techniques and "hidden" details that really make the design sing (or shout or cry or whisper) to the viewer.

I have posted a few details that "spoke" to me - simple background blocks or startling new ways to set a very traditional block into something totally new. I love color, texture, "surprises" - I learn so much everytime I view the work of others, especially masters such as those at Market. I could easily post hundreds of such photos but will stick with these few for now. More later.

What do you enjoy most about attending a quilt show featuring so much creative and artistic talent?

Everywhere you go, try to see everything around you with new eyes. (And bring your camera!)


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Here are some of the new fabrics

The first fabric line designed by Ro Gregg that I am featuring in one of my new patterns is "Calypso" This is a very bright and "happy" group of fabrics that is ideal for children's quilts and accessories. Lots of bright pinks, lime greens, blues and other jewel tones plus some bold flower prints. One of my patterns, "Games We Play" has a Crib/Toddler version and that is what I am working on now with the two collections of fat quarters I was given at Market. The line is 28 fabrics and I am using about a third on the front. I plan to use some of the remaining fats on the pieced back. I think it is going to be really cool!

The flower print at the lower right of the third photo will be part of my outside border. It will be a challenge since I only have fat quarters to work with and the sections are longer than 20".

When you have a limited amount of fabric do you make "design choices" which allow you to adapt your pattern to the fabric you have on hand or do you try to get more fabric and follow the pattern requirements? In my case, since I am the designer of the pattern, I will see if I can adapt the pattern rather than the other way around.

I love feedback, so please feel free to leave me some!

Cary Flanagan

PS - please "Like Me" on Facebook!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More about Market

After a really awful day of travel last Thursday, during which I missed my connection in Detroit (apparently due to very high headwinds) and did not arrive at my hotel in Houston until almost midnight, I was at Market for only for two very full days. My primary purpose in going was to network and to solidify a new connection with fabric designer Ro Gregg (for Paintbrush Studio, a division of Fabri-Quilt). I helped Ro present at her Friday Schoolhouse in which she introduced several new lines of fabric for which I had designed four new virtual quilts, then discussed future possibilities for collaboration with her on Saturday.

I also learned SO much from just being at Market - taking the Schoolhouse classes, seeing what is being offered by a huge variety of vendors and seeing as much of the International quilt exhibition as I could. It was a lot to fit into two days! All in all I had a very successful trip and lots of fun visiting with other designers I only see once or twice a year, not to mention staying in a posh hotel with my friend and fellow designer Beth Helfter (EvaPaige Quilt Designs).
I swear I must have walked 5-10 miles each day (including in the airport going out on Thursday and coming back on Sunday). At least my legs tell me so! Not to mention feeling like I have been lifting mega weights all weekend with all the gear I brought and goodies I acquired to bring home.

I am still a bit tired but have already begun working on the new projects that Ro and I have agreed to. Stay tuned for details during the next few posts.

I wish you well, wherever you are. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know who you are and what area you are from.

Cary Flanagan