Tag Archives: sewing retreat

Sewtopia – Chicago


Lindsey and me at Sewtopia

Lindsey and me at Sewtopia

My daughter, Lindsey, and I spent this past weekend at a sewing event called Sewtopia which was held in Chicago. Sewtopia is a 3 day sewing retreat for the online sewing community which occurs 2 times a year in different places around the country. During the Spring retreat the focus is on education and we had 2 fabulous instructors!

Latifa Sattir

Latifah Saffir and our sewing space at the Drake Hotel

Latifah Saffir traveled from Los Angeles to teach us her Molehill Quilt design which is all curved piecing. The curves are rather long and shallow and sewing them was a breeze after Latifah gave us tips and showed us how to sew them.

Lindsey arranging her Molehill blocks.

Lindsey arranging her Molehill blocks.

Did I mention that Lindsey is pregnant? 37 weeks pregnant to be exact. She lives in the Chicago area and so did not travel out of her usual stomping ground to attend this event which we had signed up for longer than 9 months ago. She and Latifah are both engineers and Lindsey could really appreciate the engineering that went into this quilt design.


The final layout was decided.

The “Molehills” are all made and then some of them are cut and repositioned such that you end up with a rectangular quilt with straight edges made from all of those curves. You have to admit, that is some engineering! The name comes from a play on the saying about “not making mountains out of molehills”. These arcs are large (24″ wide) but not tall and so they are definitely more like molehills than mountains. This pattern is due to be released by Latifah later this week. Click here to go to her website.


12 pieced Molehills = baby sized quilt

I did a fair amount of prep work for a Molehill quilt top of my own but wanted to spend more time figuring out a layout. I decided to help Lindsey construct her blocks so that we would get to the assembly while the instructor was still available to guide us. So . . . I don’t have any molehills of my own to show right now.

The following day we had Rita Hodge from Red Pepper Quilts who came all the way from Melbourne Australia to teach us how to piece Y seams to make the Kansas Dugout block. This block is sewn together using many, many, many, Y-seams. Did I say “many”? No exaggeration! This looks rather simple but was like putting a puzzle together.

My finished pillow top. 22" square. Each block is 5.5"

My finished pillow top. 22″ square. Each block is 5.5″

Lindsey's finished pillow top.

Lindsey’s finished pillow top.

DCMQG members with Rita Hodge (in the middle)

DCMQG members with Rita Hodge (in the middle)

The photo above is Rita’s quilt which is made up of 100 Kansas Dugout blocks. The templates for this block in 3 different sizes can be found on her website here and sewing directions are on her blog here.

Michael Miller Fabric Challenge fabrics

Michael Miller Fabric Challenge fabrics

The attendees of Sewtopia Chicago where issued a sewing challenge several weeks before the event. We were each sent 6 pieces of Michael Miller fabric and asked to create something quilted from them and bring it to the event to be shown all together and a few would be chosen by judges to win prizes.

Lindsey's entry into the Michail Miller Fabric Challenge.

Lindsey’s entry into the Michail Miller Fabric Challenge.

You could add other Michael Miller fabrics to your piece. Lindsey ended up making a pretty large quilt. We were sewing the binding down right before we went to the opening registration where we had to turn our items in.

Michael Miller Fabric Challenge

Some of the items entered into the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge

My entry was the Dragon Fly quilt pictured above (and below) with just a few of the the other entries.


My quilt: “Well Dressed Dragonflies”

During lunch the day of the judging the attendees requested to vote on their favorite of the challenge items and the staff agreed and made it happen. Guess which quilt won “viewers choice”? Mine! I thought the dragonflies were pretty cute, but it sure was great to know others did too. It is a paper pieced pattern by Amy Friend that can be found here.

I do not have photos of the items that won the judging. If the Sewtopia people post photos of them later I will edit them in. The winner made a bag with amazing piecing and the words of the song “Over the Rainbow” free motion quilted into it. Second place was a fabric iconic Airstream trailer and 3rd place was an adorable rag doll.

There were many other wonderful sponsors for this event including Bernina who provided sewing machines for many of the participants, Pellon who provided rolls of batting and Reliable who provided irons. The organizers and staff were all truly amazing.

DCMQG Members

I had so much fun with these ladies!

I didn’t realize there would be other DC sewers at the event, but found that there were 3 others when I got there. Kristina on the left above has moved to Chicago is now a student at Northwestern University. Stephanie and Lauren flew in from DC for the event and it was such a pleasure to get to know them better.

To say that it was a wonderful weekend is such an understatement that it seems stupid to even say it. I sewed, I learned new things, I met new people and I was with my daughter who lives much too far away from me and who’s life is about to change forever. I feel as though I’m the luckiest woman alive. To top it off – I’m going to yet another retreat this coming weekend! Mid Atlantic MOD will be happening in Lancaster, PA and I will be there with many of my friends (some feel like daughters) from the DC Modern Quilt Guild. I can’t wait!




Filed under Quilts, Sewtopia, Uncategorized

Mid Atlantic Mod – sewing retreat

I am just back from a 4 day sewing retreat held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Mid-Atlantic Mod was arranged as a gathering of three area modern quilt guilds – DC, Philadelphia and Central New Jersey (although there were a few members of other MQGs there as well).

DC Modern Quilt Guild members

DC Modern Quilt Guild members

What a weekend! It is such an absolute pleasure to get away and be with this group of quilters. For a “first time” event, it was extremely well planned by Katie, Jessica, and Andrew. The retreat started on Thursday and didn’t end until Sunday at 6 PM. Participants brought their own projects to sew but throughout the weekend, there were various optional activities that you could chose to do – or not.

There was a tote bag swap. We were given a yard of Robert Kaufman Essex Linen a few months ago to incorporate into a tote bag. On the night of the swap everyone who brought a finished tote bag, got one that someone else had made.

Tote bag swap!

Tote bag swap!

Tote bag that I made.

Tote bag that I made.

Tote bag that I received.

Tote bag that I received  – I love it!

There were 60 minute long workshops on Saturday and Sunday. I taught a workshop on English Paper Piecing. I love that modern quilters are interested in this age old technique. I believe that the reason for this is that it is such a portable project and doesn’t require any special or expensive equipment. Very intricate designs can be sewn together with just a simple hand stitch. Thank you to Paper Pieces.com and the Colonial Needle Company for donating supplies for my EPP workshop.

EPP hexagon "kit" donated by www.paperpieces.com

EPP hexagon “kits” donated by http://www.paperpieces.com

Needles and thread donated by the Colonial Needle Company

Needles and thread donated by the Colonial Needle Company

EPP - Old and new.

EPP – Old and new.

Click on Mid Atlantic Mod – English Paper Piecing to download a copy of the EPP handout that I made up for my workshop. I encourage anyone and everyone to give it a try!

There were 3 progressive quilt tops that were sewn during the retreat. Those participants that wished to work on one or more of these came prepared with a quilt block that met certain specifications and then those blocks were used to create a top as one person after another worked with them. Here are the final quilts:

Low volume with pops of color

Low volume with pops of color



Stripes and solids

Stripes and solids

These progressive quilts were not something that I wanted to work on, but it was VERY interesting to watch them change and grow over the course of 4 days. One lucky participant got to keep each one at the end of the retreat – I think that there was a random drawing of those who worked on one to decide who “won” it.

On Friday night there was a “mixer” and we were served hors d’oeuvres and cocktails made just for our group (with names like “seam ripper”) and persuaded to mix with each other by constant give aways being given to those who changed seats.

On Saturday night we had a pajama party and sewed in our PJs. The group made pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer.

Pillowcases made for ConKer Cancer.

Pillowcases made for ConKerr Cancer.

I traveled to the retreat with my friend Anne. While we were there one of the participants was selling a Featherweight sewing machine and Anne tried it out and ended up buying it.

Anne and her "new" sewing machine.

Anne and her “new” sewing machine.

We did so much sewing and had so much fun. Thank you so much to the organizers and sponsors. Let’s do it again next year!




Filed under DC Modern Quilt Guild, Purses and Bags

Sew South – Swaps!

One of the many things that made the Sew South Retreat so much fun were the swaps. Anyone who wanted to participate in the “Sample” Swap, made up 4 of one thing they wanted to swap. At the retreat, we were divided into random groups of 5 and we each gave one of our 4 samples to the other 4 people in our group. Here is a sampling of what participants gave and received:

I made up these chicken pincushions and was able to swap for a few more than 4 things because I had 6 of them!

My pincushions

My chicken pincushions

Handmade fun!


Filed under Pincushions, Sew South Modern Sewing Retreat, Uncategorized

Sew South – Workshops

The Sew South Retreat was held in Charlotte, NC March 21 – 24, 2013. I was lucky enough to be one of the 50 attendees.

All of the "goodies"!

Look at all of these “goodies”! I either made them, swapped for them or was lucky enough to be given them by my secret sister or many of the retreat sponsors.

There is so much I would like to write about this retreat, but today I’m going to concentrate on the workshops. The retreat included 4 sewing workshops. We had to do some prep work beforehand for some of them, which made it feasible to leave the retreat with 4 FINISHED projects.

Paper pieced star

Paper pieced star – 6-1/2″ square

Workshop #1 was paper piecing. We were given the pattern for this star and for a bunny in a basket. This workshop was taught by Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane Quilts.

Jennifer Mathis

Jennifer Mathis

Jennifer was the organizer of Sew South and did an AMAZING job!

Workshop #2 was the Travel Duffle Bag by StudioCherie. The pattern is available here for $7 on Craftsy. Or sold here in the StudioCherie etsy shop for $189. This is the mother of all duffle bags!

My duffel bag.

My duffel bag – 20″ long, 12″ wide and 12″ deep

We came to the retreat with the fabric for the bag all put together with batting and backing and quilted. Lindsey Rhodes of LRStitched instructed us on making the handles and putting the bag together. We did not use jute for the handles which the pattern directions do use. There is a zippered pocket on one end, an open pocket between the handles on one side as you can see above (looks like the perfect size for a boarding pass to me!), and I put a pocket on one end of the inside as well (for charging cords!).

Lindsey Rhodes

Lindsey Rhodes

Lindsey Rhodes, Jennifer Mathis and everyone's duffel bags.

Lindsey Rhodes, Jennifer Mathis and all of the finished duffel bags.

I finished my duffel just after midnight on the first sewing day. We had a lot of free sewing time in the schedule which allowed us to finish up things (or work on something else of our own choosing).  It was just FUN to be in a room with 50 other sewers. This bag is so large and so thick, that there were MANY sewing machine needles broken during the sewing. As each person finished theirs and held it up, a roar of cheers and clapping would go up in the room. Whew! We really felt that we accomplished something big, when this duffel was done.

Workshop #3 – Framed Clutch. I’ve seen these frames a lot but had never bought one and tried to make it up. I was so glad this project was included in the retreat.

My framed clutch bag. Isn't it pretty?

My framed clutch bag. (The frame is 8″ X 3″)  Isn’t it pretty?

Diane Stanley of Random Thoughts Do or “Di” was the instructor. She came all the way from California to teach and attend Sew South. The frames were provided by While Baby Naps which is an etsy shop. The exterior and lining fabrics are sewn together and turned to create a finished edge and then glued into the frame. The success of this project seems to be all about the glue. We used Gutermann Creativ Glue and since my first attempt of using it was so successful, I don’t think I’d try anything else.  The glue is clear,  not very runny (which means it stays in place) and takes long enough to set that you have time to fool with getting the fabric inserted without panicking.

Diane Stanley

Diane Stanley

I lucked out in the framed purse category. I was Diane’s secret sister and she surprised me with this:

Clock coin purse by Diane Stanley

Clock coin purse by Diane Stanley

As if the coin purse wasn’t cute enough, she filled it with Clover binder clips. I have sewn some projects lately that included vinyl or laminated fabrics or had a lot of thick layers that a pin won’t go through and wished I had some of these.  Now I do!

I also, just by random chance, was in a swap group with Diane and swapped the chicken pincushion that I made for this pretty clutch:

Clutch by Diane Stanley

Clutch by Diane Stanley

I can’t wait to buy more frames and make some of these up for gifts. The possibilities are endless! They are pretty quick and simple. The sewer behind me at the retreat had some embroidered fabric that her (now deceased) mother-in-law had sewn and she made this:

Embroidered bag by Theresa

Embroidered bag by Teresa Van de Castle

Diane showed us this pretty clutch she has made as a wedding purse for a friend’s daughter:

The inside of it is gold fabric. So beautiful!

Jennifer Mathis, Diane Stanley, everyones' framed clutch purses.

Jennifer Mathis, Diane Stanley and all of the framed clutch purses.

Workshop #4 was garment sewing and we made pajama pants.

Pajama pants made from pima cotton.

Pajama pants made from pima cotton.

We used Kwik Sew K3602 as a pattern. Our instructor was Jennifer Roycroft from the Concord, NC store We’re Sew Creative. Jennifer and her shop hosted a field trip to the store before the retreat began for those who could get there early and a cocktail reception to kick off our time at the venue which was the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel. She showed us how to make these pajamas with a cute coordinated cuff (which I did not do but wish I had) and overcast and flat felled seams.

Jennifer Roycroft

Jennifer Roycroft

Karen Linton who currently lives in Arkansas was sewing in front of me, and after much sewing, ripping and resewing (because she sewed one of her cuffs onto the pant’s waistband instead of the bottom) ended up with these adorable pajama bottoms with contrasting cuffs:

Pajamas with cuffs made by Karen Lintor

Pajamas with cuffs made by Karen Linton

She probably won’t be wearing them with that exact shirt but you get the idea. This picture was taken just as she finished and was trying them on.

The retreat was a blast and I can’t wait to share some more on another day!


Filed under Purses and Bags, Sew South Modern Sewing Retreat