A Little Birdie Told Me... all about Amanda Murphy

Amanda Murphy is one of the newest designers at Robert Kaufman. Her debut collection Ambrosia is shipping to stores now. The fabric features idyllic florals and gentle foliage in two graceful colorstories. The Spring colorstory presents a soft palette of subtle lavenders and sky blues while the Summer colorstory offers a brighter, bolder palette of playful pinks and garden greens. Her second line Swiss Chocolate will be shown to shops next week at Quilt Market!
Amanda has a great blog with lots of free patterns & tutorials. Read on to learn more about Amanda and how you can win some of her new fabric!
Ambrosia Yo Yo Pillow
1.    Tell me a bit about you: name, location, affiliations, personal stuff. 
I am a fabric and quilt designer located in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I design quilting fabric for Robert Kaufman. I LOVE fabric. I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Design and worked as a graphic designer for a small firm in Alexandria, Virginia, and then as an Art Director for a multimedia firm in New York. A self taught sewer (I made my mom a dress fashioned entirely of pink lace when I was about 10 – and she actually wore it!), I discovered quilting after we moved to North Carolina and started a family. I combined the techniques that I learned from many generous teachers with the sketches that I had been doing over the years... and that was the beginning of my company. I also do some corporate design work on the side.
Also, we homeschool our two kids, who are 9 and 11. I feel very lucky to have a job that I love so much that also affords me a flexible schedule. It is crazy here sometimes and we are always all in each other’s space, but it works. I think our kids assume all people must sew and be surrounded by fabrics. They didn’t eat spaghetti when they were little because they were convinced I was trying to feed them thread.
Ambrosia with ricrac and ruffled trim
2.    What do you do for fun?
Have I mentioned that I LOVE FABRIC? I love to sew, quilt, go to quilt shows, do needlework, go to art exhibits. I love being around other people who like to do the same. I love all different types of fabric – from traditional to modern. I love all different color combinations. Quilting is fun because it affords you the opportunity to play with colors that you might not if you were doing a larger project.
3.    How did you get started sewing/quilting?
I’ve always enjoyed making things. I fashioned Barbie “hoop skirts” out of fabric and floral wire, and I used to use refrigerator boxes that my dad brought home from work to make Barbie houses. My mom really enjoyed needlepoint and had made me outfits and Halloween costumes, so she taught me the basics. When she mom went back to work when I was 11, I had to time to fill in the summers. I think that I made a tree skirt that first summer… it was very 70s. And then there was that pink lace dress.
Ambrosia photo album4. What do you like best about quilting?
I love the feel of the fabric. I think that there is something really enticing about the tactile nature of sewing in a digital age. Also, I love the surprises that result when fabrics are combined in different ways. It isn’t always what you’d expect – a lot of times it is better. Incidentally, this is something I also enjoy about fabric design. I love to combine the hand-drawings that I do on the computer and play with layering and color to get unexpected results.
5. What is the hardest thing about quilting?
Unstitching. Frogging. Taking out a seam to improve the finished project when you really want to jump ahead and see what is going to happen next. In a word… patience.
Sneak Peek!6. How much time do you sew or quilt during an average week?
Right now I am getting Swiss Chocolate patterns ready for magazines, so I am sewing at least 40 hours a week – mostly in the afternoons and evenings and on weekends. When I am in the design phase of a fabric collection, however, I tend to get engrossed in that and only sew a couple of hours a week. I enjoy switching from sewing, to drawing and illustration work – I think it helps me in the creative process.
7. Do you name your projects or label them?
Yes, but sometimes only after they are finished.  I am enjoying naming the Swiss Chocolate quilts, as they are all named after desserts!
8. What other crafts do you indulge in or hope to learn?
I draw and do needlework, although I haven’t done a lot of it lately because I haven’t had time.  I am particularly drawn to 16th and 17thcentury band samplers.
9. What is your favorite step in the design process?
Taking my hand-drawn artwork, scanning it into the computer, and manipulating it to produce unexpected results.  I also love working with color.
10. What inspires you?
Nature, architecture, and the decorative arts.  I really think that the decorative arts are under-appreciated.  I recently went on a trip to Winterthur (the Dupont museum in Delaware) and was blown away by seeing the fruits of so many talented decorative artists in one place.
Are you ready for a giveaway??
How about an Ambrosia Ten square!
It features 11 Prints and 9 Solids.
Amanda also developed three ways that you can use the Ten Square to create an entire quilt top.
How to Enter
Head over to Amanda's Blog Post about Ambrosia 3 Ways. Decide which way you like best... A...B... or C and leave Amanda a comment. Head back over here & leave a comment to let me know too! (You need to leave a comment on both blogs to be entered)
You have till midnight EST on Monday the 25th to enter!
Winner will be selected by True Random Number Generator
Good Luck!
Photos from Amanda Murphy
Interview questions from Nicole of A Stitch in Design as seen on the Philly Modern Quilt Guild Blog
I'm headed to Houston for quilt market next week! My goal is to take lots of photos to share with you!
I'll be back on November 5th with A Little Birdie Told Me!
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{ julie herman blogs at jaybird quilts }

A Little Birdie Told Me... It's not a quilt until it's quilted

A wise friend has often told me "It's not a quilt until it's quilted." Her words have been getting louder and louder in my head recently as my pile of quilt tops has grown.
I often have multiple projects going on at once. A new idea will come and I'll start a project. Despite this I didn't use to have a pile of quilt tops. Once a project got to that stage of a finished top I was usually committed to completing it. 
Has anyone ever told you it's about the journey and not the destination? I think we often forget this during the quilt making process. Even if we enjoy the journey we keep focusing on the destination. When I went outside earlier to take these photos I stopped for a minute and just enjoyed being outside. The weather... the flowers... the sounds... all of it.
So I have this stack of quilt tops. There are six tops in this stack & more in the studio. I could tell you that I'll have them done soon, but in reality I probably won't. The "Quilting" step in quilt making is my least favorite. Recently I only get projects done because of deadlines. Once the quilting is done I love binding the quilt. When the right inspiration comes I'll finish these tops and have a few more quilts.
That same wise friend recently wrote a blog post titled, "It's not a quilt until it's quilted." Her post was actually the spark that got me thinking for this post.
In her post she shows the quilt below. I saw this quilt a few months ago when it was just a top. The quilting makes it sing & I wanted to share it with you.
quilt details
pattern - Piece of Cake
designed by Camille of Thimble Blossoms
quilted by Kenna
What are your thoughts?
Is it not a quilt until it's quilted?
Do you have a pile of tops that need to be quilted?
Do you have a least favorite step? 
I'll be back on October 22nd
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{ julie herman blogs at jaybird quilts }

A Little Birdie Told Me... mon sheri waves {a quilt tutorial}

As promised I have a tutorial for you today!  I've always been interested in doing a quilt with the traditional Drunkard's Path block... but putting a twist on it.  Once I saw the Mon Sheri fabric I immediatly had my idea.  I decided to set the blocks on point and arrange the colors to create waves.

I hope you love this quilt as much as I do!  I've prepared a PDF tutorial for creating the quilt as well as a YouTube video.  The YouTube video goes through cutting your blocks and sewing them together using the Curve Master foot.  I saw this foot demonstrated at the Lancaster AQS show and was amazed at how easy it was!  Typically sewing curves requires a lot of pins and with this amazing foot it doesn't!  It was one of my best purchases of the show.

quilt details
fabric is Mon Sheri by Khristian A. Howell {avaialable in october}
pattern - Mon Sheri Waves
designed by me
quilted by ... {not quilted yet!}
started on 7/3/2010
top finished on 8/26/2010
quilt measures - 48" x 67.5"

Thanks again for joining along with me and my new column A Little Birdie Told Me.  I'll be back on September 10th!
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{ julie herman blogs at jaybird quilts }

A Little Birdie Told Me... that there are so many possibilities with solids

When I first started quilting almost everything I made had three fabrics in it. A loud busy print and two solids or tone on tones to match. For almost a year I went alone with my 1 + 2 = an entire quilt plan. This is what happens when you are self taught and have no quilters in your life to guide you!

Nevertheless one day I woke up and discovered I had choices. It was information overload and my quilts for quite some time were all over the place in style. As time went on I found myself using less and less solids. Someone along the way had misguided me and told me that solids didn't have life to them. This came during my "learn from real quilters" phase that turned out to be "all quilters have their own rules" phase. In time I developed my own voice and a renewed love for solids.

Today I'm going to share with you a few works in progress that I have going on with solids, tips for how I keep track of mine, and a lot of yummy photos of fabric.

My personal style right now has led me to a place of mixing prints with solids. I love the high contrast that can occur when mixing the right solid with a print. Initially I was using mostly white, black & grey. Recently I've been on a green kick as well as experimenting with using many different solids in the same project.

remix with leaf quilter's linen
the pattern is a set of free tutorials on my site

i'm using kona chartreuse along with remix charms
for karrie lyne's charm pack quilt a long

i have a lot of trimming to do!

i also have a work in progress with tufted tweets & an assortment of colors of kona solids

a bold string quilt!

{ made without foundations... i'll show you how soon! }

Yummy Photo Time
Back in july when i had the opportunity to spend some time at RK i took a ton of photos!

kona fat quarter bundles

did you know that RK has charm packs in an assortment of combinations of solids?

more eye candy

and a color card is a must have for any solids fan!

aisles and aisles of kona solids on rolls

as needed they are put onto bolts and shipped out to shops
i was incredibly tempted to take a roll home with me...
but i couldn't figure out how to get it in my purse without anyone seeing.  oh well.

Storage & Tracking
One major noticeable difference that solids have from prints is a lack of a printed selvage with information. This is because solids are dyed and not printed. Even with a color card i was often forgetting which color was which and mixing them up. Then one day i had an aha moment!

my solids on mini-bolts

using a fabric safe pigma pen i now write the color and number of each solid on the selvage of my solids
{sometimes while i'm still in the quilt shop!}

sometimes i want to use lagoon... and sometimes i want to use peacock.. and very often i can't remember which is which!

as i use up the solid and cut off the name i make sure to re-write it further down the piece 

because solids are less expensive than prints i stock up on them from time to time
and keep them all neatly together by project... or by color way

So what about you?...

Do you have tips for keeping track of solids?
Storage tips?
Any works in progress with solids you want to share?

If so leave a comment!

Thank you for joining along with me and my new column A Little Birdie Told Me.
I'll be back on August 27th with a tutorial for you!
Happy Friday the 13th! Stay safe!

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{ julie herman blogs at jaybird quilts }

"A Little Birdie Told Me"

Hello all! We are proud to welcome Julie Herman to the SwatchandStitch.com!!! She'll be contributing her thoughts, ideas, projects, or whatever she fancies in her bi-weekly column. Let's all welcome her with some nice comments. You can follow her on Twitter @jaybirdquilts and read her own blog at www.jaybirdquilts.com.

And we would also like to thank "Jen" for her following comment and suggestion for Julie's column:

"How exciting for Julie, I'll be keeping my eye out for it. As for a name what about, "A Little Birdie Told Me".
It would be a play on that childhood thing my friends and I use to say when we had a secret or something important to say, "A Little birdie told me....""

Thanks "Jen". We'll be contacting you shortly so we can send out your prize.

Without further adéu, here's Julie:

A Visit from Julie Herman and Special Contest for Our Readers

Julie's mind was racing with ideas once she saw all our fabrics!Last Tuesday, Julie Herman decided to spend the morning and afternoon at Robert Kaufman prior to making her way down to the Quilt Festival in Long Beach. If you haven't heard of her yet, you will in the near future; Julie is starting to make some real noise in the quilting industry, producing anything from quilts and pillows to stylish purses and tote bags. We at Robert Kaufman see loads of potential in Julie (after all, she is only 27!) and can't imagine her moving anywhere but up. So, you can imagine how excited we were to show Julie how the company functions behind the scenes - how a line of fabric goes from the design stage to production, and everything in between. And we could tell she was just as excited to be here: When we allowed her to gather all the free selvedges she needed for a new quilt project, the look on her face was absolutely priceless - like a kid in a candy store!

If you spent only moments talking with Julie, you would be able to see just how much energy and passion for quilting she possesses. And we think that's exactly what the quilting business always needs - new, energetic quilter's that are motivated enough to maintain the industry for generations to come.

If you would like to learn more about Julie, just visit her blog at www.jaybirdquilts.com. We will be interviewing Julie in a couple of days, so make sure to take a look at that...it should be very interesting.

Keep your eyes peeled for her new bi-weekly column right here on our blog! We will be posting her first column in the near future. Now here's the fun part!!! We haven't yet chosen a name for her column yet, so we thought we would leave that up to all of you! Just leave a comment below with your idea for the  name of Julie's column. The person who comes up with the most original, useable title will receive a free Groove Charm Pack designed by Caleb Gray! We'll close the contest next Wednesday July 28th. Let's hear those titles!