Block Magazine: April 2015 Issue

If you’re a subscriber to our Block Magazine, then you’ve been enjoying  your April issue for about a month now!  If you’re not a subscriber, what are you waiting for?? 😉

Block May 2015 Cropped

We had a wonderful time putting together this issue, selecting the quilts, and reminiscing about warm weather fun. (You may have been surprised to learn that Missouri folk like us love the ocean just about as much as we love quilting)!

Have you picked a favorite quilt from this issue yet? To get you started, we’ve put together everything you’ll need to turn “inspiration” into “finished project” in a jiffy! Click HERE to find the perfect fabrics, all the necessary templates (and other supplies),  Jenny’s tutorials from Youtube, and even links for machine quilting. After all, what’s the fun of an idea book if those ideas never become reality?

Have a wonderful time working on your quilts, and don’t forget to send us a photo when you’re done!

(Click on the images below to see the information for that particular project)

beach-picnic Crazy Birds Quilt Tutorial dressed-to-nines firenze goodnight-irene orange-peel pennant-flags sail-away sandy-sunrise skateboards

ModBLOCK Contributor: Meet Crafty Gemini

We are so very happy to share this Q&A with Crafty Gemini with you! We just love Vanessa! So much, that we’ve done a few tutorials with her and we even have two retreats scheduled with her!! It was great to hear her answers and learn a little more about her! We hope you enjoy!

Meet Vanessa of Crafty Gemini


Vanessa’s project in ModBLOCK is the ‘Improv Tote’

tote5 copy

What is your sewing/quilting/crafting/art background?

I’m mostly self-taught. I learned to sew while in law school because I was looking for a creative outlet and asked my mom to teach me how to use a sewing machine. I took off from there.

How did you get started in this business? 

I kinda fell into it. I began teaching people how to quilt because I didn’t want to make commissioned works. Then started uploading my lessons via video to YouTube and it took off from there.

Tell us about your collection(s) and /or pattern style. 

I like to design patterns that are quick and easy to make. As a business owner, homesteader and homeschooling mom of two I don’t have time for intricate quilts or piecing techniques. I like to design quilt tops I can whip up in a few days at the most.

What are you inspired by?

I’m inspired by shapes and color mostly. I like to imagine how things would look if I turn them this way or that way and what if I outlined it in this color. Things like that. It’s all a challenging little puzzle so I like to play around and experiment mostly and let the design talk to me.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as modern sprinkled with traditional.  I like to take traditional blocks and make them more modern by increasing the size, using bold solid fabrics, turning them in a different way, etc.  But I just really love the geometric and abstract look of modern quilts. I also find the modern quilts I enjoy to make can be whipped up a lot quicker than most traditional quilts. I love timesavers!

What are some of your greatest challenges in your design process?

Getting the design to look like what I see in my head. I often get sidetracked as I’m experimenting with blocks and placement and completely stray from my initial idea. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!

Do you have an online presence on social media: Facebook? YouTube? Pinterest? IG?





Are there any releases or upcoming information that you would like included in your article?

In January I launched a subscription based service just for quilters. It will have new project based video courses, tips & tricks videos, live sewing sessions, etc. All the info is on my site:

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? 

Sing! I am so impressed by people who can sing effortlessly. I love music and dancing but I cannot for the life of me sing.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? 

Overhauled my entire diet, implemented natural remedies and healed myself from needing gallbladder surgery. Phew! I lost 70 lbs in the process and that was no easy task.

Who are your creative inspirations, heros? 

This is tough because I’ve always been one to march to the beat of my own drum. Design wise I really just do my own thing.  But as an instructor someone I look up to and try to learn from is Georgia Bonesteel. When I first started quilting I fell in love with her tv show and really appreciated how comfortable she was in front of the camera, how clear and concise her lessons were and how much fun and enthusiasm she exuded as she taught you how to do even the most simple technique. I’m always working on my presentation skills and tweaking my instructional style and watching her helped with that.

Do you have a signature color? If not, what would it be?

My signature color would have to be aquamarine. I love anything in that teal, aqua family.

What trends or colors do you predict being hot in 2015? 

I’m not big on trends or knowing what’s going on. But I saw a lot of jewel tones at Quilt Market this Fall so maybe that’s something.

What is your favorite fabric line of all time? 

Hmmm. That’s a tough one. I like all fabrics and feel like I can find a project for every collection I’ve ever owned. I’m really digging Cotton & Steel and Carolyn Friedlander’s lines right now.

What is your favorite tool you use all the time?

I like the Simplicity EZ Quilting Leftie-Rightie Rulers. I love that I can measure from either end without having to flip the ruler around.

What is unusual or unique about your style/art/patterns? 

I like to make stuff that comes together quickly and easily with no fussing. I love all colors and the brighter they are the better. So, when it comes to color selection I’m not the one to ask for tips! I don’t even look at color. I only look at contrast.

What projects do hope to see made with your collection? OR What upcoming fabric lines would you choose to use with your patterns?

I really want to design a few quilts with the Cotton & Steel collections. Just have to come up with a design first!

Is there a experience or accomplishment you are most proud of?

I’m proud of a lot of things! But in the quilting game I would have to say getting my second ever published quilt design on the cover of Modern Quilts Unlimited was pretty amazing! After having so many designs rejected from different publications to have MQU choose mine for the cover felt great!

Thanks Vanessa!  Can’t wait to see you for our combined retreat! 🙂

ModBLOCK Contributor: Meet Molli Sparkles

Today we have yet another fabulous contributor Q&A! You definitely don’t want to miss this one! Molli said in an Instagram post about ModBLOCK “I peed my pants a little when they contacted me!” Well we were just as excited when he said yes!!!

Meet Molli Sparkles


Molli was featured in ModBLOCK with an article called, “Watch Your Tone”

What is your sewing/quilting/crafting/art background?

I have always created. As a child I would help my grandmother lay out her quilts on her design room floor, and I think this has influenced my own quilt design consciousness today. I have an MFA in photography, but I never thought I’d be using those skills to photograph my own quilts! I’m a self-taught quilter, but I did ask my grandmother and the Internet plenty of questions along the way!

How did you get started in this business?

I wanted to create a shared memory with my grandmother. So on a visit home to Oklahoma, I got off the plane and said to her, “Let’s make a quilt together!” She thought I was crazy, nothing unusual there, but five days later we had a finished quilt top of my design. That quilt lives on my bed and I think about our relationship every time I look at it. As for the blogging, well I naively thought, “I’ll start a blog about quilting, I bet no one’s done that before.” Ummm.

What are you inspired by?

Oh, there’s inspiration all around us! Fabric will always inspire, but I like to look in unusual places like pop songs, the emotions of a relationship, old family photographs, and art gallery visits. Then there’s that other feeling you get, that urgency to create; it takes over where inspiration stops. Sometimes you just have to listen to that and see what happens!

How would you describe your style?

In my first year of art school, Professor Julie Schneider said to me with her clever smile, “If you think you know your style now, you don’t. You have to wait until the end to figure it out.” The end? The end of what? The semester? Art school? Life? Since then, I’ve taken that to mean, don’t let your style define what you create. Instead, let what you create define your style. Then you can look back at any stage, and confidently say, that your output is genuinely you.

What are some of your greatest challenges in your design process?

My greatest challenge is staying true to my original voice. There’s so much beauty in our quilt community that it’s challenging to shed that influence. In our pervasive world of social media, I think it’s important to be aware of it, but not let it consume your time and individuality. I like to think I’m marching to the beat of my own drum as hard as Naomi Campbell works a runway, but there are times you have to step outside yourself for some clarity. Why am I doing this? Where is this coming from? Stay focused on the beauty of your own voice, so you can add to the greater chorus of others.

Do you have an online presence on social media: Facebook? YouTube? Pinterest? IG?


Facebook: Molli Sparkles

Instagram: @molli_sparkles

 What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela. When I read that recently, it changed my entire outlook. Standing up to apartheid is hard, as for this y-seam, I just need to learn how to do it. Hard is no longer an excuse for me.

Who are your creative inspirations or heros?

I like to think if Madonna, Kylie, and Mariah were quilters, we’d totally be in a quilt bee together. Even though they’re musicians, I appreciate their visual aesthetic, and the amazing achievements they’ve accomplished from such humble beginnings.

 Do you have a signature color? If not, what would it be?

My signature colour would definitely just be called Sparkle, because we all need some of it in our lives!

What trends or colors do you predict being hot in 2015?

Darker shades of blue, like cobalt, ink, sapphire and indigo. It’s not just navy anymore!

Is there a experience or accomplishment you are most proud of?

I’ve been quilting and blogging for only two and half years, and I’ve had some amazing experiences in such a short time. Being a Guest Artist at the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair, along with a feature on Australia’s The Today Show would have to rank pretty highly on my list!

Thanks, Molli! We loved hearing your answers to these questions! Don’t miss our next feature!! 🙂 

ModBLOCK Contributor: Meet Shea Henderson

Today we are pleased to share more about our great friend, amazing quilter and author, Shea Henderson! Shea is a local, living just an hour South of us here in Hamilton. She actually worked for us a while back and we were so excited to work with her again while working on ModBLOCK together.

Meet Shea Henderson


Shea’s project in ModBLOCK is ‘Broken Bars’

Screenshot 2015-02-18 11.55.00

What is your sewing/quilting/crafting/art background?
I’m part of the demographic of women in their 30s who didn’t learn to sew in school (outside of one small project in middle school!), but are now taking up the craft with much vigor. I am lucky to have a mom who knows a lot about sewing and taught me when I was young, though! Passing on that love for sewing is something I am wildly passionate about, which is what led to my book School of Sewing, which is a beginner sewing book that also follows along with my group of eight friends whom I taught to sew over the course of a year.
How did you get started in this business?
My blog (and later, my business) name comes from the idea that an empty bobbin means you have been sewing and sewing and sewing for someone you love. A few years ago I left the world of middle school math teaching to stay home with our children. Patterns were always something I wanted to do and I love how it combines my love for the trifecta of teaching, math and sewing.
Tell us about your collection(s) and/or pattern style:
Much of what I design is based on pure need or functionality for myself or my family. I needed a sewing machine cover, so I designed the pattern Cover Up. I wanted to replace our store bought Christmas stockings, so I designed my Sleigh Bells stockings pattern. I want to be able to use what I make and, like Jenny often says, “wear it down to the last thread.”
What are you inspired by?
Color combinations are what I am drawn to first, then I think of shapes and layout. I see some really amazing colors together and I think, “Oh! I want to make something with those!” Seems backward, I am sure! I’m also inspired to make specific things because we have a need for them… much like the Christmas stockings I mentioned earlier!
How would you describe your style?
I like really clean lines and solid or near-solid fabrics.  I have a gigantic amount of love for topstitching!  Above all, I want a project to be something that isn’t fussy but also looks professionally finished.
What are some of you greatest challenges in your design process?
Time. And the lack of it! I have three young children (our oldest is 6) and time at my machine just isn’t as much as I’d like. I like having time to really test and prototype a project to be sure the fit and shape and function are at their very best. Maybe one day I’ll find those elusive extra hours in the day!
Do you have an online presence on social media?
I do! I’m active on Instagram @emptybobbin and love sharing current projects and works in progress. I have a Pinterest page and blog, too, but Instagram is usually where you’ll find me.
Are there any releases or upcoming events you have coming up that you’d like us to know about?
Right now I’m working to promote my book, School of Sewing. You can see a lot of info about it at (I dare you to watch the trailer and NOT get the itch to teach someone to sew!) I’ll be doing a book signing at Missouri Star on April 18th! I’m really looking forward to that!
Do you have a signature color?  If so, what do you like about it?
This is going to sound crazy, but…. gray. Specifically Interweave Chambray in Pepper or Essex Linen in Yard Dyed Black. I seem to be using them in everything I make lately. From quilts and bags to dresses for my daughter.
What is you favorite fabric line of all time?
I use solids most often, but I have fallen for many pieces from the Cotton + Steel collections. I also routinely find myself using Robert Kaufman Essex Linen, Railroad Denim and Interweave Chambray. I LOVE those!
What is your favorite tool that you use all the time?
I love my Triangle Square Up Ruler for easily trimming half-square triangles with two easy cuts. It’s such a huge time saver! I also love using thread conditioner when I hand sew binding. No more twisting and knotting!
What is unusual or unique about your style/art/patterns?
I’m very proud of the quality of the instructions and illustrations and “extras” in the tips. I think my teaching background really shows there. Giving size options and showing beautiful photos of many examples of finished quilts in the pattern is a big deal for me. I use a lot of solids, so that if someone wants to make the cover samples, it is easier for them to source the fabrics.  I think the latest Empty Bobbin pattern, Parallels is a perfect example of that.
Is there an experience or accomplishment you are most proud of?
Most recently, it would be the process of writing my book and seeing my sewing students (my friends!) learn to sew (and learn to love sewing!). Now that the book is out, hearing from people who have experienced success with a skill they never thought they’d “get” is deeply gratifying. One of my friends profiled in the book just finished her third quilt! And a year ago, she didn’t know how to thread her machine. THAT is awesome and makes my heart so very happy!
Thanks, Shea! Check back for more Q&A’s with the other ModBLOCK contributors! 🙂 

ModBLOCK Contributor: Meet Lisa Hirsch

We were so happy to work with Lisa! She is also a local, not far from us here in Hamilton (lucky us!) and it was truly a pleasure spending more time with her as we collaborated! We learned a lot while working with her but we also learned a lot about her from the Q&A session! Enjoy!! 🙂

Meet Lisa Hirsch

Lisa Hirsche

Lisa’s project in ModBLOCK was ‘Hexi Gems’


What is your sewing/quilting/crafting/art background?

I have an art/art education background from Michigan State University. I currently teach drawing, jewelry, and sculpture at the high school level. So, being creative and artful is embedded into everyday routine. I love that I get to share techniques and the creative processes with my students.

My sewing background goes all the way back to before I was in 3rd grade. The women in my family have taught me so much about sewing and crafting. My paternal grandmother used to sew window treatments for a living. My maternal grandmother sewed garments, but in her later years her main focus was cross-stitching. My mother used to make clothes for myself and my three other siblings, and lately for my two nieces. Since all three of these ladies were busy with their hands, as I spent time with them they passed on their talents. I didn’t get into quilting until about 2003.

I had made a quilt to use for my elementary art students to sit on during story time and I needed to figure out how to make it bigger. I didn’t know exactly what to do, but there was a quilt group at my church. There was a group of ladies willing to share their time and talent to guide me in the right direction.

Because I teach the classical art mediums all day long, I was looking for something else-yet creative to do when I got home at night. So in the last ten years the more I got involved with my church guild, my local guild and my local modern guild I have found the most amazing creative outlet for myself in the quilting arts.

How did you get started in this business?

Not sure if I am in the “business” or not. I enjoy the quilting process and all the ways to create quilts with fabric. I stay involved in the quilt community for several reasons. I know I had a good foundation in sewing basics with my grandmothers, mother and middle school sewing classes, but through the other quilt groups that I participate in, I am always learning something new. With my church group I am the youngest person by about 25 years, so the ladies there have taught me a great respect for learning the fundamentals, being accurate and having a plan. I like to push their creative sides by introducing them to new things from all the various social media sites that I visit. You should have been there when I taught them about MSQC. It was amazing to see them light up with new ideas.

Tell us about your collection(s) and /or pattern style.

I feel like I have a couple of different reasons for creating a quilt. I have 3 categories I normally fall into. Sometimes you have a “gotta get it done” type of a quilt. Not necessarily the most creative invention, but it is important to cherish an event/milestone.  Sometimes you make a quilt because you want to learn a new technique or skill. It is great when there is a group of quilters working on this skill or pattern together so you have support / accountability. Most of the time there is a plan / pattern involved.  Sometimes you make a quilt by experimentation. I get inspired or challenged to make a visual representation of an idea. I can use my art background and sewing skills to manipulate fabric, colors and textures. It is about the learning adventure and the process. It doesn’t matter who it is for, you are making because you are a creative being – you just have to get it out of you.

What are you inspired by?

Like most creative people I find inspiration from so many different things. A line of fabric might spark an idea, a design idea might develop from a piecing technique I am trying out or inspiration could come from a quilt guild challenge.

I love a good challenge. I always try to take the guild parameters and incorporate personal rules such as trying to incorporate unlikely textures, how to learn a sewing techniques or how to infuse one of my favorite artists into it.

How would you describe your style?

I usually find myself gravitating to warm color palettes. I enjoy clean geometric designs. I recognize that about myself and can fall into this warm color world for quite awhile, so I try to push myself to explore other things too. I will always prefer bold/saturated colors. I like tone on tone fabrics that explore the boundaries of what is considered a solid or textural. I find that if I don’t try it out you might miss out on something you could love.

What are some of your greatest challenges in your design process?

Finishing. I love starting things. I really get fired up to plan, gather fabrics, pick out colors, creating a design, cutting and piecing. Then there is a three-quarters of the way in point that find myself I getting bored and loose the motivation to move on. Going to sewing retreats helps me work on all my WIP.

Do you have an online presence on social media: Facebook? YouTube? Pinterest? IG? (If yes, please list)

I am on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram – lhirsch54

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

To be patient/learn to enjoy my hand sewing endeavors. It takes me forever.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Quilting related – I was working on a quilt and the instructions for the on-point setting of the corners was written so awkwardly I referred to it as the six sided quilt. It took awhile for me to figure it out, but I got it done when I went on a quilting retreat. So, I really appreciate well written directions.

Who are your creative inspirations, heros?

My quilt guild friends are a huge creative inspiration. Especially Arelene Banks and Douglas Carr without their encouragement I wouldn’t have entered this design competition.

Do you have a signature color? If not, what would it be?

Lately it has been reds and oranges. I love saturated jewel tone colors.

What trends or colors do you predict being hot in 2015?

Mixing textures of fabrics. I love added dimension that linen, cross weave fabrics can give to a quilt when mixed in with regular quilting cottons.

What is your favorite fabric line of all time?

Carolyn Friedlander designs are so beautiful to me. I especially like Botanics. I appreciate the hand drawn elements, the play between organic and geometric designs and the color palettes she combines together are so well thought out and balanced. I really like that you can pull fabrics together from across all three of her lines to make them work together. Working with Doe was such a pleasure and an honor.

What is your favorite MSQC tool and/or other tool you use all the time?

Having the right tool for the job is priceless. It makes the work more enjoyable when you have reliable tools. So I love my Olfa rotary cutter,

Clover – brown handle seam ripper, and Frixion pens.

What projects do hope to see made with your collection? OR What upcoming fabric lines would you choose to use with your patterns?

With the Hexi Gem pattern I think that it would support a variety of different fabric lines. I hope that everyone can customize color palette to their liking. I was thinking about doing a blue and white version for  the winter months.

Is there an experience or accomplishment you are most proud of?

Being part of the KCMQG and taking advantage of the things they have to offer, including this design challenge, have changed my life.

Thanks for answering our questions, Lisa! 🙂 Check back to read more Q&A’s with the other ModBLOCK contributors!