My Quilt Lab

by Cynthia Concha

  • cynthia concha

Almost two years I joined the Modern Quilt Guild. At the time, I was living in Pittsburgh, PA and met a lovely group of ladies who came to the shop I was working at to use the classroom. I'd been quilting for several years, but had never found a group to share my passion with. The group didn't disappoint once I joined either. They were friendly, informative, encouraging and diverse. Every month's show-and-tell offered a smorgasbord of different views, interests, and creative curiosities. I miss these awesome ladies.

The Modern Quilt Guild also has an amazing online presence. Even if you're not near a guild, I would still encourage any quilter to join this national guild as an Individual Member for the sheer amount of resources online. They offer monthly webinars, a quarterly magazine, free projects and quilt blocks, plus the opportunity to meet other like minded quilters in the virtual world. And in these times of COVID-19, they've increased their webinars and free content to members. I love this guild.

One of my favorite aspects of the Guild at the national level are their quilt challenges. Every so often they have a challenge coupled with a fabric manufacturer and/or fabric designer. Should you choice to participate in the challenge, you're sent a small fat-eighth bundle of the challenge fabrics along with guidelines as to how to use them and a deadline. Then the designer chooses a winner(s). But the cool part, is getting to see all the variations based on just a handful of fabrics.

Last year I participated in a challenge sponsored by Riley Blake fabric. There were four fabrics, a mottled turquoise, blue and white stripe, blue dots on white background, and white dots on pink background. (BTW - this fabric was awesome to work with; a great weight and high quality fabric.) You can see my creation above, and I'ii post more pictures below. I call my quilt, "Spinning Stars." I used a LeMoyne Star block - something I've always loved but had never tried - and pieced the blue/white stripe to give the allusion of movement. I then quilted the three Stars with circles while the rest reflects the background straight lines, adding to the desired effect of spinning.

The stars are three different sizes: 20, 12 and 8 inches. The smaller two pieces were paper pieced because I love doing paper piecing. But I wanted to challenge myself too, so I did the biggest star as traditional pieced. The additional challenge of the LeMoyne star are the Y-seams. (A "Y-seam" happens when 3 pieces of fabric come together at a corner, and resemble the letter Y.)

The last picture is the quilt image from EQ8 (Electric Quilt version 8 is a quilt planning software). After I constructed the quilt, I ultimately decided to remove the border, and used a quilt facing instead of quilt binding so the design ends on the edge of the quilt crisply. Quilt backings rarely get much thought, and since this quilt is for display and not use, I decided to use the extra fabric as a pieced backing. I don't usually take pictures of the back of my quilts, but I thought this was interesting especially since you can see the quilting.

Have you ever done a quilt challenge? Maybe this challenge? Let me know!

Check out the Modern Quilt Guild at:

Check out Riley Blake fabric at:

Go to Instragram to see more challenge quilts by searching for: #mqgfabricchallenge

  • cynthia concha

Memorial Day weekend combined with social distancing means taking a drive in the countryside. Look what I found!

So it's Memorial Day weekend 2020 - in the middle of a pandemic - and while New York is slowly reopening, there's still a strong suggestion to practice social distancing. The weekend forecast is set to be perfect! Perfect for a Sunday drive out in the country!

A barn quilt is a large piece of painted wood that resembles a single quilt block and usually decorates the side of a barn.

Back up to the previous Monday night and the virtual guild meeting. A suggestion and link to see local Barn Quilts was made to the guild community, and while I wasn't sure my husband would be all that interested in seeing barn quilts, a drive on a beautiful day is definitely a game-changer!

Barn Quilt Tour

Where to start? Since I didn't write down the link mentioned during guild meeting, my first trip was to google. That's right - I googled "barn quilts near Albany, NY". Top of the list was the Helderberg Quilt Barn Trail ( Complied a few years back by a handful of volunteers, the site includes a map, pictures and even notes about many of the barn quilts featured on the tour. Perfect! We hit the road!

My favorite farm was Mary Browne's on Pleasant Valley road. I even had the chance to meet Mary, and hear the stories behind each of the barn quilts (there's 7 of them). From the road you see the two in the picture above. But contrary to what the website says, Mary said it's okay to park in the circle drive and walk around the property to good picture. Just remember it's a working farm; aka - don't disturb the chickens and goats. LOL She was an absolute delight, and after sitting in the car for awhile, gathering pictures from the car window it was so refreshing to stretch my legs and walk around this beautiful property. Make sure you go behind the house to the "Bee House" to view the two smallest barn quilts. My favorite is the Kangaroo Barn Quilt.

We only spent a couple hours on the road, but saw around a dozen different barn quilt blocks. Take a look at all the pictures I took, and if you're in the area, treat yourself to this Quilt barn trail!

#barnquilts #barnquilt

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  • cynthia concha

Updated: May 25, 2020

Hi All! This is my official first blog. I've been thinking of starting a little something for a while now, but my perfectionist nature and/or the newness factor of it has prevented me from just jumping in. But everyone I talk to about it, and every mentor and fabric guru I listen to all say the same thing: "it'll never be perfect, so just start." So - splash - I'm jumping in!

A little about myself. I was born and raised in Kansas City. That's right, a good-old Mid-Western girl at heart. Sewing is something that's been in my family for generations, and my introduction to it was expected. Mom signed my sister and I up for a "sewing camp" at a local quilt store. We made a pillow with pillowcase, a drawstring bag and a hat. And while the craft has never grown on my sister, I got bit hard!

I followed in my mom's footsteps in the beginning; apparel sewing and costuming. But upholstery soon crept in. And after years of doing costumes for friends, family, local Ren-Faire goers, and theater productions, I got the idea to try quilting. My first attempt was a t-shirt quilt... and let's just say, it was a HUGE learning experience in the fact of how many mistakes I made! But that's a whole blog of it's own, so stay tuned. My initial failure didn't prevent me from continuing and learning on my own.

I'm mostly self-taught, because of the strong sewing background, but love taking technique classes for any new technique I haven't experience. If you've never taken a class, do yourself a favor and DO IT! You never know what little gem you'll discover, not to mention you'll meet some amazing people at the same time.

Fast forward years later, and I'm now designing my own patterns and teaching classes myself ...and now I have a blog! I'm excited to see what will happen and hope you'll join me for the ride. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. As I used to say to my employees years ago... any questions, comments, queries, smart-ass remarks... let me know! Take care and I'll be back soon!


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