What is your name? My name is Willa Downes. This has been my first Stash Bee experience and Hive 12 has been fabulous!!! Thank you all so much for great narratives, photos and tutorials!!!!
Where do you live?
I live in Fairfax, Virginia, a Washington D.C. suburb.
Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)
I have an amazing husband of 43 years; we met as Peace Corps trainees on our way to the Fiji Islands to be teachers. We courted on and off as Volunteers, went our separate ways at the end of service but got back together and married eighteen months later. We have two fantastic grown children. Our son lives nearby and our daughter lives in a Boston suburb. She has an amazing 3 ½ year old son, a newborn daughter and a fantastic husband! We had pets when the kids were growing up; now we travel and enjoy feeding the many goldfinches that live in the trees around our house. It is a real challenge to feed the birds in northern Virginia and not have the squirrels beat them to the food. After many feeders, we finally have two that are really squirrel-proof.
Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.
I went to a quilt show with my sister-in-law and her cousin the winter before our daughter’s August wedding. I saw a quilt there that seemed a perfect wedding present. I told myself I shouldn’t get started quilting because it would be the opening of a dam! All day I resisted getting the pattern and fabric. However, I went back the next day and got both! It’s now many quilts later and I have so much fabric which I have great plans for. I retired from my beloved teaching career (preschool special ed, Head Start, and kindergarten through second grade) two summers ago to have time to sew and be a grandmother. It is wonderful to have time to be “Nana” and to sew.
How do you organize your fabric stash?
Our FAMILY ROOM doubles as my QUILT STUDIO!
The first fabrics were stored in an upstairs bedroom closet. Everything else was done downstairs. I cut fabric on the dining room table, sewed on the kitchen table, and ironed in the family room. This continued for about four years. Then I realized I should use the family room as a quilting studio with the ability to return it to family room status when we have company. My husband often reads in the living room and works on projects in the dining room table. I didn’t want to make him into a “quilter’s widow”; I wanted our activities to be near enough together we could easily talk to each other which is why I didn’t decide on a bedroom for a studio.
Fabric is now stored in a desk (mostly yard pieces), a dresser (mostly fat quarters) that is the right height for cutting and an old chest (mostly multiple yard pieces). Novelty fabrics are behind some doors on a bookcase. I sew on an old kitchen table that looks out on our backyard which is woods. What a treat it is to watch the seasons come and go as I sew!
When we have company, the sewing machine gets packed up, the ironing board put away, the cutting mats get stored, and the desk gets closed. The Studio now looks like a Family Room!!
Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?
I shop for fabrics I like, not looking for designers. The result is I often unknowingly choose Hoffman, Kaufman, Fasse. I often find flowery fabrics and Asian fabrics irresistible. I love bright colors. This year I began been using solids and am also really enjoy them.
What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?
I have come to realize that I have no desire to make anything larger than a lap quilt. My largest quilt was 62 inches square. I really like making baby quilts about 48 inches square. This year I began making NICU quilts for the nearby hospital. These can be as small as 24 inches square! I also realize I really don’t want to struggle making points match/losing points; I like to do easy paper piecing.
What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?
My stitch ripper outer with its own light is really helpful.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? (Could be from a book, movie, TV show, etc.)
Working with young children for so many years I believe in the adage, one learns all the important things in kindergarten. Books I loved reading to the children include Along Comes Ping, Ferdinand, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Engine, The Little Red Hen, Abiyoyo, The Lorax, Bartholomew and the Ooblick, The Giving Tree, Charlotte’s Web, Ruby Bridges and any of the books about Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver.
Hopefully this will be an easy block for everyone. Please use colorful floral fabrics if you have them. If you don’t bright colors will work too!
Cut sixteen inch long strips, anywhere between 1 ½ inches wide to 2 ½ inches wide.
Sew the lengths together with ¼ inch seams. Sew together enough strips so you have a 16 inch square block. Press all the seams going in the same direction. You are finished!!!!
I will probably cut all the blocks into four large triangles and reassemble them; though I may also just assemble them by alternating the direction of the strips. I will decide when I get the blocks.
A quilt I made by cutting strips into triangles and reassembling them as squares (from a Craftsy Course, Strip Your Stash by Nancy Smith,)
Two blocks sewn together by alternating direction of the strips.
Thanks in advance!!! Have fun!!!