Did you know?

Did you know that the patterns in magazines are often not written by the designers themselves? 

I can only speak from my experience with three of my designs, whose patterns were published in three different magazines.  However, in each of these cases, I sent my finished quilt to be studied by a pattern writer, who then sat down and wrote a pattern to make the quilt top.  I can understand that this is done to make sure the pattern fits the standard format that particular magazine uses to present patterns.   However, once a quilt is pieced and quilted, measurements aren’t always what they used to be and it must be very difficult to figure out the original patch sizes, especially when there are triangles involved!

Both Christmas Candy and Treasure Chest appeared in quilt magazines before I had ventured into pattern writing.  However, I had actually written the pattern for Dandelion Wine before finding out it would be picked up by Quilters’ Home Magazine.   There are some tricky measurements to ensure that those octagons match up just right, so I was very careful to check and re-check my patch sizes.  Unfortunately the pattern writer for the magazine didn’t have access to my notes and didn’t get a few of those measurments quite right.  I was not given the opportunity to proof the pattern before it went to print so I couldn’t catch any errors either.  My fault for not checking the magzine against my own pattern when the magazine came out. (Admittedly I was too excited to see Dandelion Wine in print!)

I found out that there were discrepancies when a Connie (a quilter from NJ) contacted me a week ago to say she was having some issues with the magazine pattern.  Connie seems to be a very patient person and I am so glad that she contacted me so that I could give her the corrections.  (Better than having her curse me out for trying to figure out why the !&$?!!! quilt blocks would’nt go together right!)  If you are trying to make Dandelion Wine from the magazine pattern and are having difficulty, please contact me at hm@HelleMayDesigns.com before you throw up your hands in frustration! 

Also just a reminder – if you’d rather, my pattern for Dandelion Wine is now available for sale at www.QuiltWoman.com

Another lesson learned!  We are all human and capable of mistakes!  As much as I check (and have others check) my patterns there is bound to be a mistake or typo.   Please let me know if you have questions regarding any of my patterns!  I’m more than happy to help!

Thanks Connie!  Can’t wait to see your finished quilt!


Do you EQ? I do!

Woke up this morning to find that the folks at EQ had posted a blog about Dandelion Wine.  How cool!  They had contacted me back in September when the magazine first came out – guess it was my turn!   http://www.doyoueq.com/blog/?p=980

For those of you who EQ,  you already know that their website has a wealth of information.  Just in case you didn’t – check it out:  http://www.electricquilt.com/    For those of you don’t EQ – you really should – just be forewarned, it’s addicting!!! 🙂

 Just like a weed, Dandelion Wine, keeps popping up everywhere!  The kind people at Island Batik also have it posted at the gate of their Gallery on their website.   http://www.islandbatik.com/index.php/gallery.html

 Dandelion Wine is now happily hanging in my family room against a backdrop of freshly painted green wall.  The color is Sherwin Williams “Burlap” and despite the name is a very pretty shade of mossy/olive green. 

 Wonder where it’s going to pop up next?   I know….


A bit of catching up to do!

I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post.  I’ve been a little busy – but there’s lots of good stuff to report!  It’s a little long, but if you hold out to the end, there’s some really exciting news to report!

First, our trip to Washington was really nice, despite my 9 year old’s bout with car sickness on the way down.  He’s OK in the car unless he’s really excited.  I think he gets a little too anxious for trips to places he’s never been.  He’s fine on the 12 hour car ride back and forth to Illinois.

We drove down on Thursday and came back Saturday night.  We had beautiful weather.  We just missed the cherry blossoms, but the capital was blossoming with other spring flowers everywhere.  We managed to get tickets to the Bureau of Engraving, so we saw money being made.  Unfortunately they weren’t handing out free samples that day!  Of course we went to the Air and Space Museum and tooled around the Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln Memorials. 

We spent a few minutes gazing at the White House from behind the south lawn fence.  That is, until I saw someone walk out with the dog!  In my excitement, I started quietly shouting  “Its the dog!  There’s Bo!”  The next thing you know, the police are not only making us leave the fence, but wouldn’t even let us stand across the street on the Ellipse grounds.  I can’t imagine they clear that much area every time the first dog needs some fresh air, but I also couldn’t tell exactly who was walking him.  Bo was the only dignitary we saw on our trip!

The boys enjoyed themselves and there’s lots more to see, so we’ll be going back again, I’m sure. It’s wonderful to be back on the east coast where there is so much to see and do within a reasonable driving distance.

As for the quilting, I did manage to finish most of the quilting for Dandelion Wine before we left.  But of course, I found a bit more to do on Sunday morning.  I put the last stitches on attaching the label on Thursday night and it shipped to California yesterday morning.  Have you ever shipped a quilt?  It’s almost like sending a child away on a trip.  It’s bittersweet.  It’s going to have a good time where it’s going, but I’m nervous for the journey and after spending 3 solid months with it, it’ll be weird not having it around!   

Thursday was a glorious day here, so I took the finished quilt outside, put it on the lawn and tried to take a picture with it among the real Dandelions.  The colors were very striking against the green grass.  At one point, I had turned the quilt over and the sun hit the back in such a way that the quilting was really visible.  Of course the photo doesn’t do justice to what I was able to see, but I am posting the picture on the Dandelion Wine page on the website.  Check it out!  Sorry, you still have to wait a few more weeks to see the completed front!  What a tease!

From cutting to attaching the label, it took me 1 day shy of 3 months to complete Dandelion Wine.  Of course, if I didn’t have two children, a husband, and a house to take care of, it probably wouldn’t take quite so long!  But it seems that for the past few years, 3 months is my average to finish a quilt.  If that means I can finish 4 significant quilts a year in addition to everything else I need to do, I’m happy with that.

OK, now for the exciting news! Starting with the Pittsburgh Market in May (this is the wholesale trade show), my patterns will also be sold through The Pattern Peddlers, a pattern distributor to retail shops across the country!  I’ll spare you the details, but after having met the owner in Houston last fall when I was just getting my feet wet, we reconnected a few weeks ago.  She liked what she saw on the website and agreed to be my first distributor.  It happened very unexpectedly, so you can imagine the excitement and panic that ensued all at the same time when I realized I really had to get my act together in time for spring Market (May 15).  So, at Market, Dandelion Quilt will be hanging at the Island Batik booth and the pattern will be for sale at The Pattern Peddlers booth!  I get goosebumps just thinking about it!  I will also have the Christmas Candy wall-hanging displayed at The Pattern Peddler booth along with that pattern also for sale.  To say I’m thrilled would be an understatement!

I’ve got a lot to do in the next few weeks, so posts will be be sparse I’m sure!  Wish me luck in getting everything ready in time!


Island batik – Center Blocks

I’m a bit late in getting this photo up.  These blocks have been done and on the design board for a while.   Thought I’d better get a picture before I start sewing it all together.  There’s a bit of a surprise ending that I didn’t want to spoil.  I am working on putting all of the pictures from the quilt and it’s story on one of my website pages to keep it all together.  So soon you’ll be able to see the progression all in one spot.  I am still on track to have the pattern available mid-May.  Stay-tuned…  If you think you may be at all interested in a kit, let me know that, too.  If there is enough interest, I will figure something out!

I think I finally have a name – “Dandelion Wine”  keeps dancing in my head.  The dark orange blocks are made from a dandelion block print.  It is my favorite fabric in the quilt.  Growing up in an immigrant neighborhood, I have lots of memories of neighbors making salad and wine from the weed that most people now spend a lot of money on herbicide trying to get rid of!  40 years ago, it was practically a crop in our neighborhood!


The blocks aren’t sewn together, so they are just a bit skewed.

 Island Batik Quilt - Center Blocks

The Blocks!


So here are the blocks.  I like the way they came out.  I like the way the colors blend, but I have to admit I’m used to working with a lot more contrast.  As one friend put it – they are definitely my colors.  I think all quilters gravitate toward a certain palette.  For me, I like working with the violet/yellow-orange/green triad.  I love the way those colors play off each other. 

As I make the initial blocks, I work out all of my pressing directions.  I think pressing direction is an important tool for making sure that seams and points line up.  Once these initial blocks are done, I complete the remaining blocks in assembly line fashion.  For me this is more efficient and time effective (Henry Ford and I would have been great friends!) and I think leads to more consistency and better piecing accuracy.    On my website I mention that in my former life, I was a production planner for several companies.  This is where profession and hobby meet!  I just can’t help it!

So I better get that assembly line moving!


Island Batik Quilt – Strips Cut!

Today I used 2 of my Christmas presents to show you the first step on my project.  Remember that tripod that I couldn’t figure out why in the world my husband gave me for Christmas – well it turns out that he was obviously a lot more clever than I thought (as usual!)  I set it up to take a picture of the strips and it worked beautifully.  I almost felt like a professional photographer!  (Now all I need are the umbrella lights…. just kidding!)  I guess I’ll be using that tripod a lot more than I thought!

The other Christmas present that I used was the book “Digital Essentials”  by Gloria Hansen to properly size the image you are seeing today.  Gloria is a fantastic contemporary quilter who knows a ton about digital imaging and everything computer/internet related.  She is truly my idol.  Gloria also has her own website hosting/creation company.  I had contacted her last year regarding setting this whole thing up for me.  Alas, expertise comes at a price.  I probably would have had everything up a running beautifully by now, but I also would not have learned so much.  It’s a trade-off!  One day I hope to have become successful enough (read: have made some money) so that she can redo my site professionally.  Anyway, I highly recommend her book for novices like me.

So here are the strips I am just waiting to start sewing with.  Aren’t the colors yummy! I’m still trying to come up with a name for the quilt.  Given that the primary line I’m working with is called Sangria and all of the motifs are from the garden (butterflies, dandelions, leaves, etc.),  I’m thinking about something like Garden Party, Cocktails at Sunset, Sangria Sunset.  Any other suggestions?  I know I haven’t revealed the actual quilt yet – but I like the idea of a mystery quilt!

Island Batik Quilt - Cut Strips

Ok, now that I’ve show you the strips – I can start sewing!


Exciting New project

I’ve been waiting to tell you about a new project that I was going to start.  Now that it has started, I want to share.  Back in October, when I attended the Houston Quilt Market (trade show), a friend urged me to talk to the wonderful owners of Island Batik fabric company about designing a quilt for them.  I spoke with owners Adam and Moira, who were both very receptive to giving a new quilt designer an opportunity.  I showed Moira my portfolio and she invited me to look through the samples of the new fabric lines that were coming out.  All of the fabrics were beautiful, but I was particularly inspired by the “Sangria” line.  (You can see all of their fabrics by clicking on the link in the blogroll.)  In addition, I also liked the fabrics in the “Burgundy Forest” and “Olive Latte” lines.   She said that she would send me the sample headers and give me some time to come up with a design.  Once I had finalized a design and determined fabric requirements, she would send me the fabric so that I could create a quilt for their booth at the Pittsburgh Spring Market in May. 

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was!  It was like a dream come true!  I’m always so afraid that that something that good, isn’t really true – so I didn’t want to tell anyone until it was real!  Now it’s real!  I received the fabric last week and began to cut yesterday.    I have to tell you I was nervous to cut into that beautiful stuff!

I need to finish the quilt by the beginning of May in order to send it to them in California.  Once it is finished, the pattern will be available.  This time I’m going to write the pattern as I go along – so that both quilt and pattern are finished at the same time.  Won’t that be great! 

As I go along, I’m hoping to post photos to give you a glimpse of what it will look like when finished.  In the meantime – do be sure to check out their website and the fabric lines I am using.  You’ll find them under the tab – “Now Showing” New Cottons.

I’ve finally worked out all my software issues and I think I have begun to lay the foundation for future patterns.  I hope that once I have that part in place, pattern publishing will become easier.  The hardest part for me has been figuring out a format so that I can include all of the information, it is easy to follow,  and it doesn’t take up more space than is economically feasible to print.  I’m sure that I will keep revising as I go along and learn new stuff – but that’s part of the journey.  Hope you’re along for the ride!

And yes, I’m still trying to finish up the pattern for the Christmas Candy series!  I have to get that one done!

So, I better get to work – based on this week’s school calendar (aren’t those kids ever in school a full week?!?) and the predicted snow storm, it may be the only full day I get to work!!!!