QuiltCon 2017: Quilt Remix Class and Lecture by Riane Menardi

Broken Dishes Remix

Broken Dishes Remix

The QuiltCon catalog is finally out, and it is jam-packed with AMAZING classes and lectures. Seriously! There are so many good ones. I wish I could take them all...

If you're interested in coming along with me for my small part in this year's workshops and lectures, I'll be teaching a class and lecturing about cropping, scale, and turning a traditional quilt block into a modern quilt. The quilts on this page are a few samples for this class — and there are more to come! I'm so excited.

Up top is Broken Dishes Remix, made by slicing apart a modified Broken Dishes block and inserting negative space (and a few directional strips). Below is Anvil Remix, made by scaling up a traditional anvil block and cropping it in a new configuration. In my Quilt Remix class, we'll talk about these two techniques and experiment with a bunch of blocks. 

Anvil Remix

Anvil Remix

Here's an early exercise we'll do in class to explore negative space, alternate gridwork and movement in the quilt.

Here's an early exercise we'll do in class to explore negative space, alternate gridwork and movement in the quilt.

This is a design class, so while the quilts look simple, you'll learn so many more techniques that you can apply to future quilts — and you'll start one or two small quilt tops in class. Look for session numbers LE20 (the lecture) and workshop 225 (both descriptions can be found here). And if you take my class, you'll get a special bonus — a handout and tutorial for high-contrast hand quilting, which I've used in both the examples above. 

You can find all the materials and prep work for my course here. (Coming soon!) I'm hoping to have it ready in the next few weeks.

QuiltCon member registration opens June 25, and public registration opens July 1. See you in Savannah!

Quilt Finish: Welded Quilt by Riane Menardi

This quilt is done! I finished the top last fall, but I dragged my feet on the quilting. I wasn't sure I wanted to hand quilt it, but luckily for me, I met a new longarm quilter who was the perfect person for the job. 

Erin of Ad Astra Quilting is a local Des Moines quilter and a new friend. She and I met at a quilt group meeting last fall, and when I was ready to get this quilt done and hire my first longarmer to finish something, I turned to her. She and I met to go over design options, and was extremely helpful in helping me figure out what I wanted. She helped me pick out a great pattern with squares on point, which perfectly matches the design of the quilt — and I couldn't be more thrilled with the results. 

Erin wrote a wonderful blog post about this quilt and her process. Check it out if you want to read more about the quilting! 

Also, this quilt is currently for sale. If you're interested in purchasing it, please email me

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Dallas today is just about 10 months old. I finished the Welded top the day after I brought him home, when he was just 7 weeks old. How time flies!

Dallas today is just about 10 months old. I finished the Welded top the day after I brought him home, when he was just 7 weeks old. How time flies!

Big news — I'm teaching and speaking at QuiltCon 2017! by Riane Menardi

I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be speaking and teaching in Savannah, Georgia, about one of my favorite topics right now: cropping and scale in modern quilting. It's kind of surreal to see my face up there next to so many industry pros. I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited for the opportunity to meet new friends in Savannah. See you there!

March Mighty Lucky: One Wrong Color by Riane Menardi

This month I joined the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club, and I've been working on a for-fun quilt that has one wrong color in it. This month was led by Rossie Hutchinson, and I've had so much fun learning from her! Back at QuiltCon 2013, I saw her Conversation Quilt and it was one of my favorites at the show. I told myself I'd make one someday — and that was before I was really a modern quilter. (I finally started a few blocks of my own last fall!) I met Rossie briefly in Pasadena, and it has been fun getting to know her work more through this challenge. 

Going into this challenge, I was a bit overconfident. I know how to work with color, right? But there's always more to learn, and learn I did. I pulled a stack of navy, mustard yellow and warm neutrals,  and then introduced teal as my wrong color. It was harder than I thought to make it work. I had to dig deep into my stash to find teals that would match and fully integrate the color into the design. 

As I was improv piecing the quilt, I tried to use the teal consistently to tie quadrants of the quilt together. The long strips of teal work to move the eye from one side to the other and up and down. 

I really enjoyed working on this challenge, and can't wait for the next month! I'm going to put this top away for the moment while I decide how to quilt it. I want to tie more navy into the design with sashiko thread, and I'm thinking about mixing hand quilting and machine. We'll see. 

I want to fill in these "geese" with more sashiko. They'll help tie the navy theme through this large white area!

Still in love with these fish.

Want to join the Mighty Lucky Club? April's challenge is coming out soon! Join here. 

Quilt Finish: Anvil Remix, a study in cropping and scale by Riane Menardi

I finished a quilt! A small one, but a small victory. Meet Anvil Remix. At it's heart, it's a big anvil block that I cut apart and rearranged (can you see it?). I also hacked off a bit on the bottom. The quilt is a study in cropping and scale, the topic I'm exploring this year in preparation for my QuiltCon 2017 lecture. I've written an article on the topic, and I'm really excited about the possibilities with this. 

This quilt went faster than usual for me — it's a smaller quilt, it has loose-ish quilting (for now), and it features big blocks, which made piecing really fun.

I'm working on more iterations of this technique, so stay with me for more. And if you want to learn more about cropping and scale or how to make a quilt like this, I'm currently available for guild lectures and workshops! MQG guilds get 15% off. Email me if you're interested.

I also used sashiko to make this quilt! Can't stop, won't stop. I'm also teaching sashiko classes and giving lessons this year. Get in touch to learn more.

I also used sashiko to make this quilt! Can't stop, won't stop. I'm also teaching sashiko classes and giving lessons this year. Get in touch to learn more.

Upcraft Club (and patterns for sale!) by Riane Menardi

One of my goals for a loooong time has been to post patterns for sale. I've written patterns for magazines and other projects, but unfortunately, most of them remained tucked away and never made into their own layout or shop. But that was before I found UpCraft Club.

UpCraft Club was started by a fellow Des Moines professional, Elizabeth Caven, and I was blown away when I sat down to chat with her last fall. She has such an amazing vision, and she and her colleague Jess are working hard to make UpCraft Club the marketplace for digital patterns.

As an expat of a handmade-focused startup, I understand their world better than most. It's extremely hard work, and they have the added pressure of building their company within one of the most intense and fast-paced startup accelerators around: 500 Startups. Elizabeth shared the start of her journey on While She Naps if you're interested in learning more. I was lucky enough to see Elizabeth and Jess in Pasadena at QuiltCon, and it sounds like they're thriving and making great things happen at UpCraft Club.

Click to purchase!

Click to purchase!

I have three patterns for sale on UpCraft Club now. One of my favorite things about the market is that they work with brick and mortar retailers to actually distribute digital patterns. What? Yes, it's awesome. Brick and mortars can carry UpCraft Club pattern cards, and when they sell, the shop receives a cut of the cost. UpCraft Club also prioritizes quality and certifies patterns that meet their criteria. I'm so excited to see what they do for the industry.

If you're interested in purchasing my patterns, please visit my UpCraft Club shop here. You can also become a member of UpCraft Club and take your pick of patterns each month. Or contact them about selling your own quilt patterns! They're super nice, I promise.

On finishing what you start by Riane Menardi

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Sometimes I feel like I start a lot of projects and never finish them. I suppose this isn't so different from most quilters, but looking back on all the projects I was passionate about, they just seem to fade away.

I ran across this post today where I talked about Cubism and got so excited about the hand-dyed fabric I was using. I vowed to make a Cubist-inspired quilt, and then never wrote about it again.

Well, that quilt actually turned into something great. It was the quilt that was accepted to Quiltcon. The "Windowsill" quilt and I just returned from the show last week. It was my first quilt to be accepted into the show, and to me this quilt solidifies my place in this quilt world more than anything else. Even though I've been featured in magazines and now I have a quilt-related job, sometimes I still get imposter syndrome. But this quilt is legit, and many quilters I respect have complimented me on it. It still has its flaws (the back has some extra large stitches that I get self-conscious about), but for the most part I'm in love, and it has made good things happen for me.

Looking back at the post, the quilt was supposed to be a quick study in Cubism — and it was. I think I pieced the whole top in a single sitting. It's a small quilt, and I hacked the fabric improv-style and sewed it back together until every piece was used and I had a rectangular shape. It was easy and fun, and that's how quilting should be.

Quilting it was also fun. After going to QuiltCon 2015 and seeing how popular (and beautiful) matchstick quilting was, I wanted to recreate that with hand-quilting. I decided on sashiko because to me that technique is equally easy and fun. As I was quilting, this quilt traveled with me and became my obsession. It took a long time to finish (obviously), but I loved every minute of it. 

I love this picture because it shows my quilting work and my job! QuiltCon crew for life. 

I love this picture because it shows my quilting work and my job! QuiltCon crew for life. 

This quit was also featured in an issue of Simply Moderne, which I forgot to write about. I'm writing a series of articles for the magazine on behalf of the MQG, and this was the first. We had a tight deadline, and instead of asking another quilter to come up with something in a week, I pitched them this quilt.

I'm so happy with the way things turned out! I love looking back and seeing the progression of that stack of fabric. 

QuiltCon Magazine, Featuring Cropping and Scale by Riane Menardi

I wrote an article for QuiltCon Magazine about using cropping and scale to create modern quilt designs. I got my copy at QuiltCon, and it turned out so great — this is some of my favorite work, and the work I'm most proud of. The premise is simple: Take a traditional quilt block and "zoom in" on a portion of it. Crop away the rest, and use what's left to design a large-scale quilt. Easy! I'm currently making a few quilts using this technique, so stay tuned for photos and patterns.

In the meantime, grab a copy of QuiltCon Magazine if you're interested in learning more. The magazine hits newsstands this week, but you can also purchase it online here or here

QuiltCon Magazine

Needle book Christmas Gifts (and a giveaway!) by Riane Menardi

For Christmas gifts this year, I'm making needle books for my sewing-inclined friends. Not only have I wanted to make these FOREVER, but they make adorable, personal and useful gifts. You're able to customize the fabrics to your friends' tastes — and you can use a lot of fun prints. I think I used four different fabrics in this little guy! 

This was a good way for me to experiment with (ahem, buy) small amounts of fabric I've been lusting after and put them to good use. It's also a great stashbuster. 

I mixed and matched a few different tutorials, but mostly used this one by Sew She Sews. Mine is much smaller than hers, and I altered the pocket (I just used one folded piece rather than a lining). But the basic technique is the same. I also embellished the felt by stitching on bits of novelty fabric. I've been waiting for a good excuse to use the darling Japanese print. (How cute are those deer and squirrels?)

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Materials

  • Scrap of linen for lining (about 10" x 8")
  • Scrap of quilting cotton for exterior (about 10" x 8")
  • Scrap of quilting cotton, linen or upholstery fabric for pocket (about 8" x 8")
  • Scrap of batting (about 10" x 8")
  • Scrap of wool felt about 7" x 4"
  • Strip of fabric 2-1/4" x 36" for binding
  • Button
  • Elastic cord
  • Optional: scraps of accent fabric to embellish felt

Instructions

Finished size: About 4" x 6" folded

  1. Make a quilt sandwich with your exterior fabric, linen lining and batting.
  2. Quilt as desired. 
  3. Square up to about 8" x 6".
  4. Lay needle book down with linen facing up. Set aside.
  5. Fold pocket fabric in half lengthwise and press. From the folded side, fold over again about 1/4". This will be the top of your pocket. Top stitch this in place.
  6. Place the pocket on top of the needle book with the raw edges matching. Set aside.
  7. If you're using accent fabric, applique it onto the felt with a zig-zag stitch.
  8. Place the felt in the middle of your needle book, about 1" from the top and bottom. Mark the middle of your book and the middle of the felt — this is the "spine" of your book. Pin all layers in place (including the pocket) and, using a walking foot, stitch a line down the middle. Square up any rough edges.
  9. Cut a 2-1/4" strip long enough to bind the needle book. (I used two 18" strips.)
  10. Stitch the binding on as you would with a quilt. When you're doing this, place a loop of elastic on the back of your needle book (raw edges facing in). Slip it between the exterior layer of your needle book and the binding. Back stitch over the elastic a few times to secure it in place.
  11. Hand stitch the binding down. 
  12. Add the button to the front of the needle book, and you're done! 

Like this pattern? Drop a note in the comments about what you'd carry in your needle case, and I'll send a kit to one lucky winner. But I get to pick the fabric :) You can also purchase a kit in my shop! 

Thanks friends!

Swatch Me Whip (Erin's Graduation Quilt!) by Riane Menardi

It's finally done! This quilt is all hand quilted, and it was truly a labor of love (not to say that I didn't love every minute of it, but this one took a long time). Every time I thought it was done, I picked it back up and kept stitching. I'm pretty sure that it's done now though, because over Thanksgiving I got very tired of working on it. (And also I needed to submit it to QuiltCon.)

The "swatch" blocks were made from various charm packs I had lying around. I cut and sewed them improvisationally. There's probably an easier way to do improv sashing and make the squares less "square" than the method I took, but I love the way they came out. There's no way to replicate them. (Not even I could do it!)

I left all the edges untrimmed and not squared up. I had a few puckers come up during construction, but all the imperfections in this quilt complement each other — the unsquared-up blocks, the puckers, the hand-quilting, the non-straight edges in the final quilt. Perfection is overrated.

I also added some blue squares throughout, mostly to fill space and stretch my fabric. But I love the aesthetic of those floating squares! Even if you don't belong in a swatch, there's still room for you. (This quilt also started out with a flash of embroidery before I took it out and created that swirl in the center. I love the swirl more!

And then came the stitching. I love sashiko. And I love the aesthetic of matchstick quilting. I wanted to see if I could combine the two. I started working on this quilt in April, and I just finished it at Thanksgiving. Granted, I didn't sew much on it over the summer, but this beast took a while! Luckily, sashiko stitches up quickly — gotta love those big stitches :)

A lot of people ask if I marked my lines before stitching. Yes. Yes I did. I like to just sew on the line without stressing about where the line is going. Marking lines lets me look at the quilt holistically, where when you're sewing, you can get bogged down in the 6"x6" square bit that's right in front of you.

My sister, Erin, graduated from Drake University last May. She's been watching me stitch her quilt for the last few months and has been cheering me on — she even sat with me and started some sashiko projects of her own. She's a graphic designer and gave the quilt its name, "Swatch Me Whip" (which started out as a joke, but now I really like it)!

Now if only I can bear to part with this quilt and actually give it to her. She might just have to use it at my house. We'll see :)

AGF Stitched: Welded (and meet Dallas!) by Riane Menardi

It's time for another AGF Stitched with Fat Quarter Shop, and I have to admit that I had a loved this pattern, but I was scared through the whole process that the colors weren't going to work and I would hate the quilt in the end. But guess what? I love it! The orange and black really scared me, but tempered with the beautiful Coming Home Spring from April Rhodes' Bound, the design feels just like modern fall — perfect for the changing weather. The design is SO FUN and super beginner friendly. It has nice, big block pieces and straight lines (no y-seams, whuuuut). And even squaring up and trimming the edges wasn't too bad. 

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I still need to quilt it, but my plans were put on hold because... we got a puppy! Dallas will be a super studio dog someday (and maybe a good hunter as well), but for now he's just adorable, and we love him so much.

Get the quilt kit and backing set for Weldedfrom Fat Quarter Shop, and see the video below for a tutorial on how to make this awesome quilt!

AGF Stitched: Fractal Quilt for Art Gallery Fabrics by Riane Menardi

Confession: Before starting this project, I had never sewn a y-seam. After sewing nothing by Ys for the Fractal Quilt, I can't claim to be a pro yet, but I'm certainly not scared of them anymore. (Dare I say they're actually fun?) 

Regardless, I was overjoyed to be asked to join the collab between Art Gallery Fabrics and Fat Quarter ShopAGF Stitched, featuring the Fractal Quilt by Katarina Roccella.

The base shape for this quilt is made from the Creative Grids Kite Ruler, which I found really easy to work with. And since I'm a fan of quick cutting, I liked that there was only one shape in this quilt. Two thumbs up.

I loved the original pattern, but really wanted to make it my own. I chose Wanderer fabric by April Rhodes for my quilt. I'd never made a mustard quilt before, and this seemed like the perfect time to try! And of course, I put my own spin on the design. I used Illustrator to play with fabric and color combinations, and I ended up loving this mustard-gray-white combination.

Original on left — my version uses the same shapes and design, just with fewer colors

Original on left — my version uses the same shapes and design, just with fewer colors

Once my fabric arrived, I constructed the first row of the quilt, made my quilt sandwich and hand-quilted it with sashiko stitching. (See the video tutorial down below for a visual guide on piecing this quilt top — the y-seams are easier once you watch how Kimberly does hers.)

I love sashiko, and I love love love how this first section turned out! So even though it takes a while, I'm planning to quilt as I piece and make the other two rows as separate sections. Once they're done, I'll join them to complete the whole quilt. I can't wait to show you the finished product! In the meantime, my the finished third of my Fractal Quilt is acting as a splendid table runner :)

Fat Quarter Shop is offering a FREE download of the Fractal Quilt pattern, and they're selling a kit as well, which you can find here. If you want to see more variations of the Fractal Quilt, check out the work by other amazing quilters who are also participating in this Fractal fun :)

Simplicity Quilt Sampler with Nina With Freckles by Riane Menardi

After my last sewalong and finishing my sister's graduation quilt (I'll post soon, promise!), I took a break from my machine. I went on vacation to see some of my oldest friends, went to a graduation and a wedding, and focused on work in between. 

But this week I've been pining for some sewing, and I wanted a fun and easy project that would be low-key for summer. I was browsing ninawithfreckles' website after our fun MQGIM swap, and ran across her beautiful Simplicity Quilt

So modern, right?! I love the colors, the simple design, and the fun block patterns. Here's my take on the first two blocks, available now on Nina's site. (block 1 here, block 2 here)

block 1

block 1

block 2

block 2

And now I see that I really need some Flatter... look at those wrinkles! Oh well. Fun and easy is the name of the game. Want to sew along? Head to Nina's blog to get blocks 1 and 2, and stay tuned for the next block!

MQG Indie Member Mug Rug Swap Spring 2015 by Riane Menardi

Usually I have horrible luck with swaps — I catch them on Instagram too late, and everyone is already excited fabric and sewing and whatnot. As soon as the buzz starts, inevitably the swap has closed, and I'm locked out of the fun. But in April, I caught a glimpse of a post by Nina With Freckles. A swap! For Indie MGQ members! That's me. I was in.

Our charge: a mug rug — something season-neutral. I had some hexies in my stash that were just dreaming of being made into a mug rug, so I happily obliged. Here's the result. My little rug is now on it's way to Michelle at Stitches of Joi. I hope she likes it!

Know of any good swaps coming up? Let me know! I'd love to join.

Star Crossed Sew Along and fabric Giveaway by Riane Menardi

It's a sew along! I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the Star Crossed Sew Along with the good people of Fat Quarter Shop this month. The pattern is lovely — made up of flying geese, right and left geese, and square blocks. It's a really rewarding pattern that's fun to sew and looks gorgeous in any color (plus, the points are pretty easy to keep straight! I was thrilled.)

For my version, I chose a blue/white color scheme with two fabulous fabrics: Pure Elements Tile Blue Solid and Skopelos Intese Fish Scholeio, both from Art Gallery Fabrics. The fish are so. much. fun. Seriously, how cute are they?!

Unfortunately, I was frantically rushing to get my sister's graduation quilt done recently (more on that later!) and I didn't have time to quilt it. But the top turned out great, and I'm thinking some hand-quilted concentric circles are just the ticket. So without further ado, Star Crossed!

Fat Quarter Shop is graciously offering a giveaway of a fat quarter bundle from the Skopelos collection. Leave a comment on the blog and tell me how you would put your spin on this Star Crossed beauty. I'll choose a winner on Friday!

Also, be sure to check out the other fabulous versions of Star Crossed from the rest of the sew along participants and purchase your own Star Crossed pattern here!

Daisy of Ants to Sugar
Lucy of Charm About You
Angie of Gnome Angel
Dana of Old Red Barn Co.
Natalia of Piece N Quilt
Heather and Megan of Quilt Story
Jodi of Tales of Cloth
Amy of Sew Incredibly Crazy

Back in the saddle — and a BOM! by Riane Menardi

I just woke up and realized I have been neglecting this poor website for way too long. Over the last few months, I've been settling into a completely new routine with my role as the communications manager for the MQG. (Yes! THAT HAPPENED in January, and I didn't even write about it (well, not here at least). But I'm here to say that it's amazing and it has truly been an awesome ride so far. So much to do and learn!)

I'm working from home these days, and when I'm not hustling to get work done between my two part-time jobs, I've been working on a secret quilt (more on that later), and a Block of the Month for Stitch. We're ready to start BOM-ing this month (April 23rd!), and I've been busy putting together the quilt and binder. Please excuse the horrible photo, but this is what it looks like. I might have to just do all my work in navy and white from here out, I love it so much...

This lovely is done now and hanging in the shop for prime time. Can't wait to start! More on the BOM later this month. And I promise to try to do a better job of updating here :)

QuiltCon: Favorite quilts of day one by Riane Menardi

I can't believe I'm actually here! Again! As I told Kevin and Erin when I heard the good news, QuiltCon is the most magical quilty place on the earth, and I am so, so excited to be here again. I haven't gotten a chance to walk the show floor as much as I'd like, but I took a few turns yesterday. Here are some of the quilts that caught my eye. More to come!

"Bearface" by Jenna Richardson / "Sherlock" by [Need to find Maker] / "Face #1" by Melissa Averinos / "Sam and Suzy" by Megan Callahan / "Stock on Hand" by Katherine Jones / "Barn - Remnant" by Kim Eichler-Messmer / "CPU" by Katherine Jones / "Iceberg" by Crystal McGann / "Rainbow Remix" by Rebecca Bryan

Sunday Funday: A roundup of awesome quilts by Riane Menardi

I've been so inspired on Instagram lately as I've discovered new quilting friends near and far. Here are some of my favorites from the last few weeks.

I seriously cannot WAIT to try an improv block like this one by @arajaneo. The tiny sashing is so fun, and the pop of irregularity in the diagonal-cut blocks is just drool-worthy. I was obsessing over the #fantasticquiltvoyage IG adventure, and I'm so sad to have missed the entry. If you know of any bees looking for quilters, send them my way because I'm desperate to join one.

My friend Jess shared jacqueline_soak's design with me over coffee last week, and we both oohed and ahhed for a good five minutes. Not only is the color scheme spot on in its playfulness, but the mix of modern and tradition had me green with envy of her ability to break the rules. Inspiration to break out of the box moving forward.

My new friend @threadedquilting is from Iowa! And she's a great quilter. Just look at that detail. I'm so excited to get to know more local quilters and learn from their expertise.

I've been working with @jmaskoquilts to find a great sampler for an upcoming feature, and this creative gal is just as nice as she is creative. 

I can't get over these mod triangles by @sweetfeetstitches! The colors are perfect for the little boy it's being gifted too, and the blocks are just the right mix of sturdy and whimsy. I'm sure he and his family will cherish it for years to come.

These days, I am totally digging monochrome quilts in shades of black, white and gray. I've been thinking about making a black and white quilt, and this pic from @moosesaymoo has me ready to go.

And finally, @stitchdsm finished a block from my Spools pattern, and the points are PERFECT. Couldn't be more proud of my awesome students and the great work they're doing.