A Newsletter from Meg Cox                        April, 2017

Time Travel to 19th-Century New England With Me!

If you have never attended the signature annual event put on by the nonprofit American Quilt Studies Group, then THIS is the year to start. This event is called Seminar, and if that sounds academic and dry, then let me set you straight. 

Although people do present papers they've researched about quilt history, the presentations are lively and often surprising in the secrets they uncover. You pick the ones whose topics intrigue you. Quilt history really comes alive because you'll also get the opportunity to study hundreds of quilts up close, both as part of the many organized field trips and because the historians, collectors and dealers who belong to AQSG bring their most marvelous treasures to share (and often sell). One of most fun parts of the agenda is the annual auction, gaveled by the ever amusing and vastly knowledgeable Julie Silber (see photo below). And lest you think you have to be rich to snag a treasure, when I attended a Seminar held in my state a few years back, I was able to pick up vintage log cabin and other quilts that were worn but wonderful examples of their genres -- in some cases for less than $50.

And I haven't even told you the best part: this year's Seminar, which runs October 18 -22, will take place in Manchester, New Hampshire. Attendees will get to immerse themselves in the history of the mills in Manchester, Lowell and other towns, while visiting major textile collections at places like the esteemed New England Quilt Museum. 

Sure, these are some of the savviest quilt-wranglers in the country, but I don't want you to think there is an elitist air to all of this: many of the attendees are people who just simply love quilts and want to learn more. And the atmosphere couldn't be more welcoming: at some meals, the entire table carries on an organized discussion. You do need to be a member, but it's so worthwhile to join this terrific organization. Seminar tickets go on sale in early May, but you can go here to learn about AQSG and join right away.

I hope I see you there!

Go to Moda's Cutting Table blog for the full details and rules. 

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Every month, this space is full of news and reviews, an insider's look at the quilt world prepared by a former Wall Street Journal reporter.  Readers learn what's new, cool and important -- ahead of the pack. As a bonus, subscribers are eligible for valuable prizes. 

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April Giveaway!

         The Moda fabric bundle this month is True Blue from Zen Chic, a collection of 26 fabrics inspired by denim. Go here to learn more about the collection and the German designer. 

         Plus, this month's lucky winner will get a copy of Allie Aller's amazing book that reinvents stained glass quilting (see article in the right column). As an added bonus, Harmony Susalla will let the winner choose one yard of ANY of her organic fabrics!

           For a chance to win, please send an e-mail to meg@megcox.com using the subject  line Contest Entry so I can separate the giveaway entries from the comments, story ideas and other messages. Entries must be received by May 10. Winner chosen using a random number generator.  Only subscribers can win, and the prize will only be shipped within the U.S.

        The March prize went to Terrie Peets.

Dear Friends-- 
       Welcome to spring! 
       I don't know about you, but I was so inspired by all the amazing embroidery in the February issue that I've started a sampler (from Rebecca Ringquist's book) so I can play with all the stitches and colors. I'm loving the new relaxed, more playful approach to embroidery: it seemed so fussy when I was learning as a kid. I've been further inspired by interviewing some genius stitchers for the fall issue of Modern Patchwork magazine: I'll give a shout when it's out. 
       For the April issue, I'm catching up with a designer of gorgeous organic fabrics; introducing Allie Aller's groundbreaking new book; and sharing my favorite new fabric of the season. 
      This is one of those months with a TRIPLE giveaway: you can get some luscious Moda fabric, plus Allie's book, plus a yard of organic fabric from HarmonyArts. Don't forget to write Contest in the subject line when you enter. 
       Help spread the word! Forward this issue.

Harmony Susalla: The Latest From a Pioneer in Organic Fabric

     Harmony Susalla started her business of designing and producing organic fabrics in 2005 "to try to help clean up a toxic industry." Her goal was to thrive, partly to prove organics are viable. Check! Her business, Harmony Art, continues to grow, and she's lost count of how many competitors (though she calls them "colleagues") are also taking this path. 

      She's learned a lot along the way, including that typical quilt shops aren't on-board for her methods. They're geared up for an industry where new fabrics come out each season and then disappear, whereas she continues to print designs as long as people want them. So she sells mostly online, through outlets that specialize in organics. Go check out her stuff at OrganicCottonPlus.com. If you're a small retailer and would like to carry her wares, go to her distributor StitchSimple.com

       I asked Harmony (yes, that is her real name, and no, her parents weren't hippies) which of her fabrics would be best for quilting and she said it's the sateen. Important: this fabric is 110 inches wide, or more than twice as wide as most quilt shop fabrics, so the price is going to look very high. Order a shorter cut, and check out her online fabric calculator which will compare the price to what it would cost for 45 inches wide. 

       Harmony told me that the biggest news in organic fabrics lately is that there is now a third-party certification process with established standards, Global Organic Textile Standards, or GOTS. This didn't exist when Harmony Arts began, but now the company is fully certified and she's happy there is a standard for consumers to check.

       If you're interested in the difference between organic and other fabrics and would like a deeper understanding of why Harmony feels so strongly about the environmental benefits, go look for the "Textile Truths" infographic at her website. 

      But it's important to also note that her designs are big and bold and fresh and the hand of the fabric is amazing! The lucky winner of this month's giveaway will have the opportunity to go to Harmony's website and choose a yard of any fabric she/he wants! (Below is her fabric called "Space Cowboy." The elephant she's holding in the above photo uses her fabric and a pattern from Funky Friends Factory.)

Stained Glass Quilts Get A Makeover

      Allie Aller's new book is called Stained Glass Quilts Reimagined: Fresh Techniques & Design and she isn't kidding. If your memory of stained glass quilts, like mine, is off clunky chunks of fabric outlined with heavy black, you'll be astonished and inspired to see where she takes the genre. 

      First of all, as you can see in the sample above, Allie doesn't even stick to black for the "leading" or outline fabric in her pieces. Secondly, she advocates using much thinner strips of leading, some even smaller than 1/8 of an inch. But she also provides tips on handling and securing these thin strips. 

      This book is terrific on technique and includes a range of styles and sizes of projects --inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, Tiffany windows and the geometric paintings of Mondrian (below). She also shows you how to create your own pattern for stained glass quilts from photos, coloring books or clip art. 

      Here is a link to a short video about a display of Allie's stained glass quilts at Road to California, and here is a link to her blog Allie's in Stitches. 

      One other thing: I was lucky enough to do my taping of a future episode of The Quilt Show the same day as Allie, so I got to see her demonstrate the basic techniques and view these amazing quilts up close. I'll let you know later when Allie's episode is about to air, so you can see this impressive, creative quilter at work. And I highly recommend her books on crazy quilting, and her crazy quilting class on Craftsy. I'm not surprised that Craftsy students give her a 5-star rating. 


New Fabric Collection for Book Nerds

Spring Quilt Market starts in three weeks, but this is the time of year when all the thrilling fabric displayed at Fall Quilt Market finally arrives at quilt shops. All the things you drooled over on social media 6 months ago but couldn't actually buy are now available. 
      I'm here to hyperventilate over my favorite of the lot: a fabric collection that calls my name like no other. All my life, I have devoured books and dreamed I could some day call myself an author.  One of the greatest honors of my life was being named "Class Librarian" in 6th grade and earning the weekly privilege of stamping all the cards in my classmates' checked-out books with due dates.
      Apparently Heather Givans is also a lifelong bookworm, and her wonderful third fabric collection is titled "Literary."  For her day job, Heather owns a charming quilt shop in Indianapolis, Crimson Tate, so you may have met her vending at QuiltCon. Below is a shot of her booth at Quilt Market last fall introducing the Literary line. 

      I chose four different fabrics including the two below. I suppose not everybody will covet the one just showing a jumble of stamped dates, but it's a memory key for me and is going to be one of the background fabrics in a memoir quilt I'm starting to design.

        I also love her fabric that showcases classics for all ages from Peter Pan to Moby Dick, each with her own cover design.  Here is an interview with Heather about what inspired her. I bought mine from eQuilter.com. You may find it your local shop, or you can order from Heather's own shop, Crimson Tate

   Thanks for reading my newsletter. If you are not a subscriber yet, I hope you'll click the "Join Our Mailing List" link above in the left column. 
    I'd love to hear your comments and article ideas: I keep trying to make this better. 
     Quilt on!
    Love, Meg