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Making beautiful quilts. Collaborating on a project. Doing something for a good cause. Friends. Common bonds. Having fun.
I was on a roll there... five out of six.
That's much better. (Just so you know, the picture of the oh-so-serious Joanna is my favorite. The smile above is how I usually see her.)
(Full disclosure: all images were shamelessly "borrowed" from the Fat Quarter Shop's blog and Instagram. Thank you to Kimberly and the FQS team!)
I think you know that as much as I like a beautiful quilt, I love a beautiful quilt that comes with a good story. Crossroads is just such a quilt.
It's a collaboration between Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree & Co. and Kimberly Jolly of the Fat Quarter Shop and It's Sew Emma. The quilt is made with Joanna's Strawberry Fields Revisited and is an eight-month quilt-along with "free" blocks published on the 15th of each month.
Free. Yes, the monthly patterns are free but donations are encouraged and very much-appreciated as the proceeds go to benefit the March of Dimes. This is the third time Kimberly has created a quilt-along to raise money for charity - always with amazing results.
This is Wishes from 2014 - benefitting Make-A-Wish.
And this is Snapshots from 2015 - benefitting St. Jude's.
While Kimberly and the Fat Quarter Shop team have written about the Crossroads quilt and how the name came about in several blog posts, I wanted to know more so I asked a whole bunch of questions.
I started by asking Kimberly about the fabric selection...
What was it about Strawberry Fields Revisited that made this the perfect collection for this year's Charity Quilt-along? (I know it's beautiful but something about it caught your attention and made this "the one".)
Kimberly: I’ve always been a huge fan of Fig Tree Quilts fabrics and one of my all-time favorite collections was the original Strawberry Fields. When I heard Moda was "revisiting" this collection I got so excited. It was exactly what I was looking for when planning our 2016 Charity Quilt. I knew if we teamed up with Joanna, we could design an awesome quilt together that was completely different from our past Charity quilts.
You wrote about the inspiration for the name of the quilt - I love that - and you showed the antique quilt that inspired some of the blocks. Was the finished design a collaboration? And 'fess up... you're both accomplished designers so was there anything that you disagreed about?
Kimberly: We were excited to stumble upon an amazing antique quilt in 2015. It had so much potential to evolve into the masterpiece you see today. We worked hand-in-hand with Joanna over several weeks through emails and phone calls. We work quite seamlessly together. The hardest part was actually naming the quilt.
Joanna: Kimberly and I have worked on designs before for several other Block of the Month projects so we know how the other person works and what they are looking for. That makes working together pretty simple for us. I appreciate that Kimberly always has a vision for what she wants to see and she will keep working at it until it happens. I had a great time coming up with different options and trying variations of designs [something that I love to do in the design process anyway] and then worked to make sure that Kimberly was getting the results she needed. It was fun… as always!
Because you're both accomplished designers with a "heightened attention to detail" - it sounds better than "perfectionist" - is there anything you'd change if you had a do-over?
Joanna: I don’t think so. I love the backing set design… that was all Kimberly and I love the special touch it added to the front design. Maybe I would add some extra pillows with the leftovers!
Kimberly: I don’t think so either, the finished quilt is absolutely stunning. My favorite part of the quilt is the half-square triangle border - even though I wasn’t thinking that when I was piecing the quilt!
Why the March of Dimes? It's a terrific organization that benefits many people, especially children, but is there a particular reason why you chose them?
Kimberly: We have loved working with our previous charities including Make-a-Wish and St Jude’s and we will continue to always use children-based charities for all our Charity Quilts. The March of Dimes foundation seemed like the perfect fit for 2016. I was lucky to have four healthy children that didn’t have to spend any time in the NICU - which is very rare since I have twins. I wanted to give back to other families that haven’t been so fortunate.
Joanna: The choice was Kimberly’s but the second she mentioned it, I was on board. All three of my kids were born healthy and full-term but my daughter contracted meningitis when she was 6 weeks old and we lived in the NICU for a month. I spent a lot of time around preemies and learned more than I ever wanted to know about their situations. We almost lost my daughter several times during that month but in the end she was perfectly fine. Unfortunately I cannot say the same about many of our “neighbors” that month. I will always support that particular NICU and organizations like the March of Dimes as a result.
You've both designed and made Block of the Month quilts - do you have any advice for quilters on how to stay current?
Joanna: Personally, I love the system of just having to do one block, or several blocks [depending on the program] a month and then moving on to something else. One block is very doable and something that you can easily do in one afternoon. I never let myself fall behind from that month. Once I let it go once. its kind of all over for me. But that’s just my personality!
Kimberly: Try to get the block - or blocks - cut out as soon as possible after the pattern or kit arrives. Take the time to label the pieces so that you're ready to sew when you have a few minutes.
(Just so you know, Kimberly's Alphabitties are terrific for labeling your pieces and staying organized. Just saying...)
Do you have a piecing tip that you can share - either a tried-and-true old favorite, or something you think quilters "know" but forget?
Kimberly: Like you mentioned before, I have a “heightened attention to detail.” I strive to make every seam nest and every point sharp. I do so by pinning, pinning and more pinning! I don’t want anything to shift under the needle and I have found amazing results in my piecing by using this simple trick. I also use triangle paper anytime possible!
Joanna: I know this is going to make someone, somewhere crazy… but I pin only in the places where I really care about the intersection, I leave those pins in while I slowly sew over them to ensure that the point has no opportunity to move and then I “manhandle” the fabric to make it go where I want it. I hardly ever just let the fabric go and expect it to do what I want. My fingers are all over those pieces and near my machine needle all the time, making sure the fabric is straight, isn’t shifting over, isn’t pulling, etc. I don’t know if that is a tip at all… but its the way I do it!
A huge thank you to Kimberly and Joanna for putting up with my questions! We appreciate it - especially as Joanna has been a lot under-the-weather this week. Get well soon!
The first block pattern will be available on Monday - February 15th. In the meantime, you can get organized with fabric by downloading the PDF with the Fabric Requirements and preliminary cutting instructions. The finished quilt measures 66 1/2" x 84 1/2".
Update: The tutorial video for Block No. 1 is available.
(Reminder from moi - donations are appreciated.)
I've got my fabric requirements and cutting... now I just need to make a decsion about the fabric I'm going to use... such a dilemma.
Have a terrific weekend!