A Newsletter from Meg Cox                                 November, 2015

Christmas Gift Idea:
Turn Neckties into Rose Pins

            One of the serendipitous meetings I had at Quilt Festival was with Pam Weeks, curator at the New England Quilt Museum. We were talking about the various ways that quilters and crafters make art while mourning and she told me that Faye Labanaris, a teacher known for making gorgeous ribbon flowers, has a pattern for turning men's ties into rose-shaped lapel pins. 
              I was very excited to hear about this, because I have drawers full of my husband's silk ties, many of them vibrantly graphic in design and full of personal associations. I was already planning on using many of them in memorial quilts for my family. But that will take a while. So now, I am making rose pins like the one pictured above made by Faye, to give as Christmas presents. (Go to her website and scroll down to order the pattern or finished pins.)
              Since then, I have also found a pattern from Indygo Junction called Turn-A-Tie Flowers that can be ordered here


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November Giveaway! 

        One lucky subscriber will win a 6-month pass to the Creativebug site, where you can take as many of their 500 art and craft classes as your heart desires and your schedules allows! 
         In addition, this month's winner will receive three fun and fabulous coloring books for quilters, one by Jamie Fingal, and the two pictured above from Landauer Publishing. In addition, this month's winner will win a 6-month membership to the new Craft Industry Alliance, described in this issue. (Note: winners who live outside of the continental US can win the online classes from Creativebug and the membership, but not the books.)

          To enter, simply send an e-mail to meg@megcox.com, or hit reply. Entries must be received by December 1. Winner chosen using a random number generator.  Only subscribers can win!

          The two subscribers who won Creativebug passes plus a copy of the new Kaffe Fassett book in the October drawing were Debbie Markowitz and Anne Jorgensen.

Dear Friends--      
           International Quilt Festival was everything I hoped it would be: a flood of gorgeousness for my eyes and a feast of friendship for my heart. As always, it was thrilling to see so many amazing quilts, in every style imaginable. and to check out fabric and notions I would never find in my normal travels. 
          But the amount of hugging was well beyond my expectations. My pleas here and on Facebook for healing hugs were well-heeded. Everywhere I went, people hugged me and held me and cheered me on. I got hugged by Ricky Tims and Jenny Doan and close friends like Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Paula Nadelstern, but I also got hugged by total strangers. I was standing by the Quilt Alliance booth one day, and a woman with her back to me whipped around when she heard someone say my name. "Oh, it's Meg!" she said, throwing her arms up in the air and around my shoulders. 
            It was a goosebumps Festival for me, but I also found some juicy stories in Houston and am sharing several in this issue. I hope you enjoy them.
            Adult coloring books are all the rage, and now, there are special ones for quilters. The winner of this month's giveaway will win THREE nifty coloring books in addition to the 6-month free pass to Creativebug, including one by brilliant designer Jamie Fingal.

Big Win at Festival for a Beginner

There are many dazzling quilts on display each year at International Quilt Festival and many fascinating stories, but one of the most shocking discoveries this year was the quilt pictured above made by Arizona quilter Angela Petrocelli. 

     This dazzling quilt, which boasts more than 10,000 pieces, won First Place in Traditional Pieced Quilts, as well as winning Viewer's Choice. And I hope you are sitting down for the kicker: not only is this the first quilt Angela ever made, it is the only quilt she has ever completed. 

"Altogether, it took me three years to complete, because I had to learn how to do each part of the process," Angela told me in an interview. After working a decade with disabled children and then in a law firm, Angela had time on her hands while her husband's work required constant travel. Angela's only craft previously had been cross stitch, but she went to a quilt retreat with her mother and became fascinated with the hand appliqué project she saw another quilter work on. 

Angela never wanted to own a sewing machine, so hand appliqué seemed like a fun new technique. But the project she chose was wildly complex. "I stuck with it for a year," she says. "I never should have chosen something so ambitious, and one night, I just put it down."

So then, she decided to try paper piecing, and she picked up a modest portable sewing machine with some money she won at a casino. She decided to make squares-in-squares, and bought up charm packs at every quilt shop she visited (she often traveled with her husband). She began to make hundreds of 2-inch square-inside-squares. "Everybody asks why I started with such tiny pieces, and it's because I didn't want to waste fabric while learning to use my sewing machine," she says. 

It's interesting to learn that other than the black background, there are NO solid colors in this quilt: Angela says that every charm pack she bought was either patterned fabric or "blenders," tone-on-tone fabrics made to read as solids with texture.

After making some 500 squares, Angela started dreaming up a design framework. "Certain parts of the design are mine, but the center medallion is a Carol Doak design. The log cabins within a Texas star is something I had seen Cindi Edgerton do, but I made mine smaller."

After finishing the piecing, Angela then set out to learn to do free motion quilting, so she could finish her quilt. And for that, she listened to her mother and bought a more advanced sewing machine. 

To me, this quilt and Angela's story is one of the most inspiring messages of the 2015 Quilt Festival: we should all stop whining and comparing ourselves to others and simply pick up the fabric and our tools and forge our own story. Just take one stitch and another and another, and make the best next quilt we possibly can. It will be more than good enough. The name of this quilt is "Why Not?"

(Close-up photo by L'Atelier d'Emma shows some of the 500 2-inch squares within squares)

NQA: Why It Crashed. What's Next.

         When the National Quilting Association was founded in 1970 by seven women who lived near Washington, D.C., the craft was barely alive. There were no rotary cutters, no internet, no quilting museums, no Quilt Festival, no AQS. The nostalgia-fueled quilting craze of the Bicentennial hadn't begun. 

          But this group of passionate quilters already saw the need for an organization that would set standards and bring quilters together for education, inspiration and fellowship. They created a template for affiliated guilds and put on their first show that very year, in a public library. The show grew in size and importance over the years, while NQA volunteers created rigorous programs to certify both quilt judges and quilt teachers. 

           "We were the first ones out of the gate with this formalized quilt show model, with vendors from outside the area, classes, workshops, awards dinners and the whole nine yards," says Priscilla Godfrey, a member since 1978 and the NQA's current secretary. 

           At its peak in the '80s, the NQA had a membership of more than 10,000, and played a pivotal role in the great American Quilt Revival. In 1992, the organization declared the third Saturday in March every year would be National Quilting Day, helping to further lift the profile of a fast-growing craft.  But as the for-profit quilt industry flourished and millions more took to quilting, NQA's prominence began to fade. After years of struggling and drastic drops in both membership and show attendance, the NQA board of directors voted in August to disband the organization. At the end of December, it will cease to exist. 

           Some might argue it was the very success of quilting that doomed  this all-volunteer effort. Bonnie Browning, a former vice-president of the NQA, now runs shows for the American Quilter's Society, which continues to add new venues and products. Quilt Festival, which launched in Houston in 1974, also became a huge attraction for quilters. Until NQA moved to Columbus, Ohio in 2004, most of its annual summer shows were held at schools, and attendees wanting accomodations stayed in stuffy dorm rooms. Costs were lower than they were at for-profit shows, but frills were few, and vendors didn't want to work summer shows without air conditioning. 
           "We have this double-barreled thing going on with all the competition from for-profit shows plus all the online instruction," says Priscilla Godfrey. "We can't compete with Missouri Star and Craftsy and The Quilt Show." 

           So the NQA Show, a non-juried show that gave countless quilters their first chance at public exposure (and the comments of judges) is over. There will be no more issues of Quilt Quarterly, one of the benefits to members. And affiliated quilt guilds are losing the umbrella clause that gave them quilt show insurance. 

           But there is some good news. Some of the most significant NQA programs will carry forward. Already, the NQA's certified judges have created a new organization, the National Association of Certified Quilt Judges. The first president of the NACQJ is Pat Harrison, who coordinated the program at NQA, and the website is up and running. This new association also plans to continue the NQA's Masterpiece Quilt Program, a selective award that has only been given to a few quilts annually (including the Sharon Schamber quilt below). Efforts are also underway to keep the NQA's certified teacher program going. 

             As the clock runs down for NQA, I just want to express my gratitude for all the amazing volunteers whose legacy has helped quilting flourish. Thank you!

New Trade Association for Crafters

        Savvy quilters who are interested in building their brands and kicking up their game may be interested in a new trade association called the Craft Industry Alliance. This is a for-profit venture that brings together two talented bloggers, Abby Glassenberg (While She Naps) and Kristin Link (Sew Mama Sew). Both have other credentials: Abby is a former teacher with a masters degree from Harvard and writing credentials that include everything from patterns to books. Kristin runs an online fabric shop and teaches.
        "We felt like there is a lot of business information out there, but not a lot for people who are mid-career in crafting," says Abby. "This is for people who want to make their business profitable and need to know things like how to hire a lawyer and negotiate a contract."
        For now, a six month membership costs $28 and a  full-year membership is $48. Benefits include an excellent trade newsletter, webinars and private online resources. One article in each newsletter will be available to non-members too, and I urge you to go now and read an article in the current issue about complaints over teachers' pay at Quilt Festival. Everyone's buzzing about it, and it's indicative of Abby's journalistic skills and general fearlessness. 

  Thanks for inviting me into your quilt life. See you again in December.

      Quilt on!
     Love, Meg