Friday, October 23, 2015

Heading West


I am from Idaho and every year we load up the minivan with supplies and children and start our annual trek west. Normally we go on I-80 through Iowa, Nebraska and the really barren part of Wyoming. Our boys have shown an increased interest in geography lately, so this year we decided to try a different route. We headed north to catch I-90 and went through Minnesota and South Dakota before dropping down through Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) into Montana and then Idaho. I wish I had words to describe what a beautiful drive that was, but all I can really say is that I had my nose pressed against the window the entire time, my camera in my hand and my sketchbook on my lap. Somewhere in Yellowstone I sketched out these trees and a note to myself for the colors I was thinking of using.

The design was still percolating in my mind when I flew home to Idaho later in the summer. I'm pretty sure I had my nose pressed against the plane window the entire time, too. I found the aerial view very compelling and loved seeing the landscape from a different perspective. Looking down at all those fields was the inspiration for the log cabin blocks.

During my first trip out this summer, I was lucky enough to have a gift card and an opportunity to go to my mom's local quilt store in Preston, Idaho (Suppose). They have an entire wall of solids that I could choose from IN PERSON! That's a luxury I wish I could repeat more often! I took in my notes with color notations and had a fantastic time pulling bolts down to build a story with. I chose 14 half yard cuts to start, then added more from my own stash once I got home. I still had a bunch of the deep spice tones from our Marsala year and I love how those dark neutrals made the bolder choices sing out even more strongly. There are more than 30 different fabrics in this quilt. If you are interested, I took a picture of the palette and shared it on my Instagram wall.

I was about halfway done with the piecing when I was looking at my Instagram feed one morning. I read the description for a swap mosaic and almost shot my drink out of my nose I was laughing so hard. The poster mentioned how she loved all colors and would appreciate pretty much anything, then added, "well, other than those barfy yellows and browns...but who uses those anyway??!!" I had to tell my concerned two-year old that everything was fine and that Mama was just having a "moment." She knew what that was because I'd had another "moment" not that long ago. I stopped into Jo-Ann with all three of my children in tow to quickly pick up some supplies. They were a little busy and there was a new employee on the cash register. She was struggling a bit and trying to hustle. When it was our turn, I put the zippers and basting spray on the counter and started digging in my wallet for the debit card. I was interrupted not by my children, but by the harried cashier. "Ma'am, I'm going to need to see your ID, please." I stopped digging and looked up with surprise. "Okay," I said, "What for...?" She gestured to the can of basting spray on the counter and said matter-of-factly, "...because you need to be at least 18 to buy that." I knew she was having the world's worst day and I didn't want to laugh at her, but it took every ounce of my emotional fortitude to calmly hand over my driver's license, pay and get out of the store before I was overtaken by a massive fit of giggles. It wasn't pretty. Once we were in the minivan there was plenty of wheezing, hand-fanning and eye wiping. My boys tried to put an end to it pretty quickly, but I got it together long enough to wag a quasi-threatening finger at them and choke out, "Don't you ruin my moment!!! I am going to be coasting on this one for a LOOOOONG time!!" And then I started laughing again. Carded at Jo-Ann...I love it.

I cut multiple strips from each fabric in 1.25" and 1.75" widths and put them in a bucket next to my sewing machine. I spent at least a week just piecing log cabins. I aimed for finished sizes that would be easy to tile like 2" x 4," 4" x 6," 4" x 8," 4" x 4," 6" x 6," etc. Piecing the log cabins was great fun, but if I got tired of them, I'd take a break and do some trees instead. I discovered some really unexpected color combinations and I've enjoyed looking at the quilt and seeing the blocks that I thought would be complete disasters that I ended up loving. Just a small hit of a glaring clash can add so much interest.

Once I had a huge stack of blocks, I started tiling on my design wall. I started with the trees in a diagonal set because it reminded me of the mountains, then I filled in with the log cabin blocks. I had to make a few extra at the end to get the color dispersion just right. Those were the really interesting blocks because I was setting color limits. I'd think, "Okay, I need a four incher and I can't use gold, green or that really dark brown..." This quilt finished at 45" x 60" precisely because that's as big as it could get and still fit on my design wall.

I quilted this in a matchstick design with Aurifil thread. I experimented with a different batting, Quilter's Dream Request (their thinnest cotton batting), and am happy with the nice flat finish I got. I also used an entire bottle of starch in the construction of this quilt, so it could be that, too! The other thing that I did differently with this quilt was the label. My quilt guild invited a quilt historian/appraiser to be our speaker this month and she made a powerful case for the historical importance of labeling our quilts. She also showed a quilt from her personal collection from every decade since the 1850s and it really put what we do in perspective. In all likelihood, the quilts we make will outlive us. Sometimes they might even outlive us by generations. Since I feel like I tell a story, I'd like those people who haven't been born yet to know who it was that was telling them that story. It's part of the legacy. Since I'd already quilted the registration lines across the quilt and had lost the chance to piece a label into the back, I made one more block, wrote my information on it, appliqued it onto the back and finished quilting on top of it. That sucker is never coming off. It feels good to know that the quilt and I will ride off into the sunset of history together. Kind of fitting for a quilt called Heading West*, right?

*I really did consider Barfy Yellows and Browns, but I decided to just tell all of you instead. Can you even imagine my grandchildren trying to work that one out?

I am entering this quilt into the Original Design category in the Blogger's Quilt Festival at Amy's Creative Side.


Also linking to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.



The back with the label.

106 comments:

  1. LOVE this quilt! It's so bold and yet fallish too which makes it very rich looking. So funny to hear that you were carded at JoAnnes!

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    1. Thanks, Audrey! I tried to honor the colors of the West, but I definitely darkened them. I love working with rich colors.

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  2. Beautiful quilt. It will certainly become a family heirloom.

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    1. I hope so Beverly! The appraiser showed us quilts that had been used as curtains. Good thing this quilt is too small for that!

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  3. Love your quilt and I agree it reminds me of that drive thru Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming (Yellowstone Park) and Montana. We did that drive this summer too.

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    1. It was GORGEOUS, wasn't it? I really loved the Black Hills in particular. Later on in the vacation we went to the Grand Tetons. That's a view I would never get tired of looking at.

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  4. This quilt is a doozy..... glad to know the story.... including the label.

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    1. Thanks, Susie. I had so much fun while I was making it and I think you can tell when that happens.

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  5. I love barfy yellows and browns! And I think this quilt would make anyone reconsider calling those colors "barfy." Great quilt and story! Carded at Joanns so funny!

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    1. I guess I love barfy too, Joan. Colors seem to elicit powerful opinions from people all the time. I like keeping an open mind. ;-)

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  6. Fabulous quilt and awesome photo setting!

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    1. Thanks, Barb. I've had my eye on this place for quite awhile. I took this at my sons' school. We do soccer practice right there! I just loved those horizontal branches on the trees!

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  7. Great quilt but the best part is your "moment" after being carded at JoAnn's! Hilarious.

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    1. I know, right? It convinced me to leave the gray wisps sprouting up in my hair. Apparently they really ARE unnoticeable!!!

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  8. Love this SO much! Your "carded at JoAnn's" is pretty good.

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    1. Thank you, AnnMarie! It's definitely the little things in life, isn't it? I'm going to pretend that I didn't hear the snort from the person behind me, too.

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  9. Love this SO much! Your "carded at JoAnn's" is pretty good.

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    1. Thank you, Alison. This quilt and was very personal for me, so I am extra glad that you like it!

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    1. Thank you! I appreciate your kind comment!

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  12. This is beautiful! I love the color combinations. Your story reminds me of a art teacher friend who looked at a quilt I was making for a mutual friend & the bright yellow I was using gave her a visceral reaction (her words). I completely reworked the colors & took the yellow out. It might have made for a better quilt but I will always wish she could have found a nicer way to say she didn't like that yellow. Keep up the good work! I'm a new fan.

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    1. I've been thinking about this since I saw your comment, Lois. Is a visceral reaction necessarily a bad thing? It all depends on what your intention was. As the maker, YOU are the expert in your intention (whether you are an art teacher or not).

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    2. In my friend's case it was a bad thing. She hated that shade of yellow. It was a lesson for me when making quilts for others to have a handle on their color preferences. I have my own yellow quilt & quilted yellow pillow cover!

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  13. Oh Pie Lady, this is a thing of beauty!

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    1. Thank you, Margaret. It was inspired by places of incredible beauty, so I really couldn't go wrong!

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  14. Wow - this is beautiful. Such a stunning original quilt.

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    1. Thank you. I appreciate your lovely words.

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  15. Fantastic quilt and I love your 'moment' stories! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Ruthann. I came across a line from Anne Lamott that I love..."Laughter is carbonated holiness." So, so true.

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  16. It is a beautiful quilt. Thank you for telling it's story too. I love seeing how quilts go from inspiration to completion.

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    1. Thank you, Angela! I always mean to take more pictures during the making, but I never seem to remember. Having too much fun, I guess!

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  17. Ah Jill. I am so glad I found your blog (circa: hogarth curve :-) I love your stories and your quilts and your artistic eye and your sense of humor.
    I had the opposite experience at a Hancocks once ~ The stupid clerk asked if I was a senior citizen!!! (I was 46!) and then he didn't even have the decency to give me the darn discount to make up for the insult.
    I flew to CA last year to visit my son and I made a note on my phone to choose opposite sides of the plane for each leg of the trip, 'cause man, my neck hurt by the time I got there!

    Happy making ~ Tracy

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    1. Thanks, Tracy! It's a good thing you didn't hold the clerk's youth and inexperience against him/her. :-) I am sure that flight to CA is beautiful. There was a thunderstorm on my flight, so we were diverted to circle the Uintah mountains for an hour. That was gorgeous!

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  18. I love it. And the best part about it is that you've used colors that I never would have thought of combining. Absolutely beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Gayle! I could play with fabric ALL DAY! Color has the power to lift my mood considerably. Working with these shades made me feel joyful.

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  19. I love your quilt and your blog. Your improvised piecing is great. I just took a workshop from Gwen Marston, and she would approve! Me too.

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    1. Wow, what a compliment! My two favorite quilters are Gwen Marston and Nancy Crow, so I really appreciate your words. Thank you!

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  20. Jill it is stunning! You did a wonderful job with the colors and I can't begin to figure out how you fit them all together so perfectly.
    I got carded 8 months pregnant with my 2nd child at an R rated movie! Really?

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! I have a ruler on my sewing extension table to help me judge approximate sizes. By the end I got pretty good at eyeballing 4.5!" After that it was plenty of starch and a trim down to the perfect size.

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  21. Love this quilt! Great design and colors~well done!

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    1. Thank you, Diana. It's funny how it works...4 months of thinking/plotting, then just a couple of weeks to put it together!

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  22. Wow - that is quite fantastic!

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  23. Love, love, love this! The design, the colors, the quilting -- it all just works to make a spectacular quilt. I totally love that you got carded at Joann!

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    1. Thank you, Frankie...and welcome to Team Barfy Yellows and Browns! :-)

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  24. I loved reading about your design process. This is gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks Katie! I never know how much to say, so I appreciate your feedback. The design wall was definitely indispensable for this project (as was the starch).

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  25. A gorgeous quilt. Thanks for sharing your inspirations and design process. Better than beautiful (which it is), will be a treasured family heirloom. Congratulations.

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    1. Thanks, Ann! My kids are already picking favorites. My seven year old really likes one we have in the living room. One day, with great solemnity, he said, "Mama, after you die and we have to move to a new house....I'm taking that quilt with me." Um, thanks honey?!? :-0

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  26. Love those sunny yellows and oranges with those soothing browns couple with the pop of teal. Bold, bright and fun!

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    1. Thanks, Kate! I like making fun, happy quilts, so I'm thrilled to hear you use that word. I think so too!

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  27. Replies
    1. Thank you, Sherrill! I definitely love the Western landscape!

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  28. This quilt is definitely not barfy (or Barry as my autocorrect keeps trying to insist). I can feel the coo, air rerunning down the mountains and smell the pine trees in the sun.

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    1. Thank Yvonne! I will make a team Barry just for you. He sounds like he'd love the mountains, too! ;-)

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  29. I love the colours you used, and the funny stories too.

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    1. Thank you! I really, really love gold...it seems to sneak into so many of the quilts I make.

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  30. This quilt is fantastic! Love the story of your design process and I am enjoying of thinking of you laughing so hard!!

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    1. Thanks, Janet! I am lucky to have married a man that is so incredibly funny. My laugh doesn't even have a chance to get rusty. I wouldn't have it any other way!

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  31. Awesome quilt and love the story! We have been on I-80 and I-90 in past years. And we just got back from a trip north on 395 to I-90 and I-15 back south. Colors this time of year are amazing and I really like how you have made this special quilt!

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    1. Thanks, Caryl! I thought I-90 was just fantastic! I loved going that way so much that it might be worth the extra day of travel. Much less traffic, beautiful sights...just awesome!

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  32. This is a beautiful quilt. Thanks for sharing it!!

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    1. Thank you Ariane. I appreciate your comment!

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  33. Jill you are awesome. I love your work and I love your stories. Aunt Margie

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    1. Yay for getting a comment up, Aunt Margie! I knew you wouldn't be bested by Blogger. Thank you, thank you!

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  34. What a fun post, and I really like your quilt ESPECIALLY THE COLORS! ;-) Beautiful photos too!

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    1. Thanks, Debbie! I'm glad you like the photo shoot. My sons have soccer practice on that field and I've been eyeing up those trees for a few weeks now. It was good motivation for putting in my first ever hanging sleeve!

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    1. Thank you, Maryse. I'm glad you like it!

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  36. As usual you hit it right out of the park.
    I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this quilt!!! And of course LMFAO at your story. Way to go!;

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    1. Thank you!! It's the little things in life...like pretending the clerk asked me for ID because I have retained my youthful glow (and not admitting that she didn't know where the "no spring chicken button" was).

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  37. This quilt is fabulous! What a great story too. I can see why you were carded. You look very young in your profile pic : )
    Enjoy the festival

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    1. Oh Carla! If I had an entourage, you'd be in it. Thank you!!!

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  38. A beautiful quilt, and such a fun post to read!

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    1. Thanks, Leanne. I love writing and quilting. Thanks for appreciating both! :-)

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  39. WOW this is a truly beautiful quilt - nothing barfy about it! I love your story about getting carded at JoAnn, too. very funny. Those are the kinds of moments that I love - laughing ones. Anyway, this is a fabulous design, I adore the colors and the designs. Awesome work.

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    1. Thank you! I should totally go to JoAnn and stock up on basting spray and solid barfy brown. I need that kind of validation in my life! Ha!

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  40. Beautiful improv patchwork. Inspired.

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    1. Wow! Thank you so much, Linda! I'm just glad I could make something that I'm happy with based on a place I love so much.

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  41. And my husband just watched me have a moment as I read this post - carded at
    Joann's (LOL). Love the quilt, love the way you hung it for the photos ... Absolutely excellent!

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    1. Thank you, Julie! Make your moments memorable...;-) A good friend of mine is a photographer and she is the one that suggested that a hanging sleeve would give me so many options when it came time to photograph the quilt. She was right!

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  42. Love the quilt; the colors and improv piecing are both wonderful!
    More than once when checking out at Jo-Ann, I've been asked if I found everything I was sent for -- as if a man can't shop for himself there. :)

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    1. Thank you, Ben! I am always glad that I am capable of more than people expect of me. I think I learned to relish that feeling when my dad sent me into the auto parts store to buy my own oil filters. I am glad that you quilt and I hope that you keep on surprising people.

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    2. Congrats on your win in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival!

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    3. I'm stunned, to be honest. Thrilled and stunned and really excited to go sew some more. Thank you for all your kind comments, Ben! You're the best! xx

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  43. Hi! I love love this quilt and will nominate you! x Teje
    www.nerospost.wordpress.com

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    1. Thank you, Teje! I really appreciate the nomination, especially with so many great quilts this year! Enjoy the Festival!

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  44. Those 'Barfy' colors are some of my favorites. You quilt is awesome!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! Team Barfy is getting pretty big! ;-)

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  45. Great combination of colors! It really sings of autumn.

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    1. Thank you, Sue. I wasn't thinking autumn when I picked the colors out in June, but it sure got there, didn't it? It was fun to work on with all the leaves turning similar shades outside.

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  46. This is lovely! Great use of color.

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    1. Thank you, Kat! I apologize for my late reply! I wish I could so as fast as I pick colors. It's definitely my favorite part of the process!

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  47. Congratulations Jill! And thanks so much for participating - both of your quilts are stunning!

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    1. Thank you, Amy! I appreciate the efforts you make twice a year to put the festival on! I definitely look forward to it and love seeing everyone's work in one place. So, so fun!

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  48. Replies
    1. Thank you, Amanda! It was inspired by a stunning place.

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  49. Congratulations! Beautiful quilt!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! I am delighted with the finish and the win!

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  50. gorgeous quilt. kids are huffing spray baste? I can only imagine how bad that is for you.

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    1. Huffing spray baste....that's pretty desperate for a high! It makes me remember back to high school when some of my classmates got into trouble for drinking extract. Gross. Thanks, Tonya!

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  51. I love this quilt!!! You have a real talent.

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    1. Thank you, Jodi! That was a lovely thing to say and it totally made my day. I really appreciate it!

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