Thursday, June 23, 2016

Row, Row, Row . . . Again!

Here it is! How many rows have you collected so far? The Row by Row Experience® 2016 kicked off this week and as you travel this summer, you can visit participating quilt shops along your route and collect rows. Shops in all fifty states, all Canadian provinces, and even Europe are ready and waiting for your visit. As mentioned last week, your favorite Hummingbird Highway pattern author (Me! Me! Me!) has written six row patterns this year. Rather than have you sort through over 3,000 participating shops to find the row patterns I wrote, I'm making it easy. Visit these shops, get a row pattern, and tell them I said 'hi!' The theme is "Home Sweet Home." Now go sew a row or six!

Just so happens that the row patterns in my cache are split evenly between horizontal rows (featured last week) and vertical rows. . .

Of these three row-shops, the closest to 'home' for me is Sew Special in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Their row theme is pretty close to home for most of us! Seams like Home is a pieced stack of thread spools! What does this have to do with 'home' you might ask. Shop owner Donna Eicher actually lives in a quilt retreat and bed and breakfast, Seams Like Home in Vanderbilt, PA. She is surrounded by all things quilty nearly all the time!

Wouldn't this make a great wall-hanging all by itself in your sewing room? Do you love it? I'm certain Donna still has kits available to make your 'rowing' super simple.

Next, head south, to North Carolina and Wish Upon a Quilt in Raleigh. Where Everybody Sews Your Name is the row pattern you'll want to pick up.

Shop owner Cathy McKillip says her shop is just like the 'Cheers' bar where you feel comfortable just dropping in for a chat, a class, a fabric fix--by the yard or by the bolt, or simply a visit to see what fun things are going on. This row makes you feel like you're peeking in the quilt shop window to get a preview of what quilty treats might be waiting for you inside.

And last but not least, keep going south for the sixth pattern from the 'highway.' Don't stop until you get to Houston, Texas and Buttons 'n' Bows Quilt Shop.

Texas Proud features a depiction of the iconic Lone Star state flag and the beautiful state flower, the blue bonnet. The combination of dimensional blue bonnet flower elements and the red, white, and blue flag will have you busting with pride and anxious to get sewing! You'll need two kits, one for your quilt and one to make up for your front door--because you are Texas Proud, too!

I hope you enjoy the patterns. Send pictures! I'd love to see 'em in your for-real quilt!

Happy Rowing!

Happy Stitching!
joan ford

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Row, Row, Row. . .

Are you a 'rower?' The Row by Row Experience® 2016 is about to get underway in all fifty states, all Canadian provinces, and Europe. If you are hitting the road to collect free row patterns, then you might be interested to know that your favorite Hummingbird Highway pattern author (that would be me!) has written SIX row patterns this year. Since there are over 3,000 shops participating, I certainly don't want you to have to search to find them, so I'm making it easy. This year's theme is "Home Sweet Home" so all the rows reflect the local quilt shop's take on what 'home' means to them.

Row by Row ruler

Since Syracuse, New York, and, more specifically, Calico Gals, is the home of Row by Row Experience, we'll start with their row.

Around the Block is an interpretation of a quilty neighborhood. Stop by and pick up the pattern and check out a variety of kits and Around the Block color ways. A really fun row to make especially if you love to piece.

Row by Row experience Calico Gals

Head just a bit east within New York State to Glenville, New York, and The Joyful Quilter. Shop owner, Susan Pettingill loved taking her kids on summer trips to Maine during summers past. Those trips involved visiting beaver lodges whose homes are build piece by piece with great care. . . just like a quilt. Dam Good! patterns and kits featuring a pair of beavers and their lodge can be collected all summer long at The Joyful Quilter.

While you're at the shop, how about a souvenir mug to go with your Dam Good Quilt? Susan has got you covered!

Dam Good Mug Joyful Quilter

Now let's head way-ay-ay-ay west. Destination: Quiltique in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas. Think vintage Route 66 postcards, fabulous dessert sunsets, and the sparkle of the lights, bells and whistles on the Las Vegas strip. Your row pattern, Postcards from Home will be the highlight of your quilt or will stand alone as the quilty souvenir from your Vegas vacation. What happens in Vegas, comes home with you as a row quilt!

Quiltique Row sample

More next week!

Happy Stitching!
joan ford

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Big Dig, Phase II

Last summer, we had a patio installed in our front yard. It was quite a project. Dave and I have really enjoyed being outdoors more with a nicely finished space. The landscaping around the seating area includes lots of flowering plants providing color and inspiration.

Phase II of the project began a couple of days ago. Delos from Phoenix Flower Farm is back to create a pond and stream along side the sitting area.

At the moment, things look a bit out of sorts. A lot of dirt, a big hole and not much to show for it all.

The yard, pond construction

This pile of rocks looks like a scene from the movie Frozen. And to paraphrase the rock trolls' song from the movie, it feels like the yard is a bit of a 'fixer-upper.'

pond constuction, rocks

By the weekend, Delos tells me, we'll be hearing the restful sounds of a burbling creek. I'll show you some more pictures, soon. At the moment things look a bit out of sorts.

Yesterday, during a little break in the action, I had a chat with Delos. I think we both concluded that there are lots of similarities in our two very different businesses.

As a gardener and landscape architect, he works with his hands to create natural environments that draw in nature and color. I create with my hands as well. Color is my inspiration and the end result brings comfort, peace, and restfulness.

We both wrap our ultimate 'customer' in something that represents an expression of the soul. In the simplest terms, it's the similarity between the choice and placement of just the right flowering plant or just the right fabric color and shape.

When it comes down to the basics, we 'need' water, food, and air to survive. But I feel we need beauty and peace to really live.

What say you? Should flowers, fabric, and quilts be considered 'wants' or 'needs?'

Happy Stitching!
joan ford

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Having a BALL!

Win BIG this summer!

Have you been thinking about joining the Ribbon Star Swap? We've been swapping blocks for almost a year now, and still at it! Maybe it's time you joined the fun.

Join the Ribbon Star Swap this summer and win! The basics: Get a beach ball with your Ribbon Star Swap Kit. Take a fun and creative photo with the ball this summer. Send it the photo. Swap your blocks. Win.

The Contest

  • Make 12 or 24 Ribbon Star blocks and submit them for swapping. If you're not already in the swap, you'll receive a Mini Beach Ball with your first swap kit.
  • Take a fun picture--better yet, take several fun pictures--with the beach ball. There are only three rules for the picture 1) it has to be fun and creative, 2) it has to include your mini beach ball, and 3) it can't be anything dangerous. Selfies, kiddos, pets, plants, vacations, shop hopping--all fair game as long as the beach ball is visible in the picture. But, if you thought maybe a picture of you and your beach ball going over Niagara Falls in a barrel . . don't do that.
  • Submit your 'Having a Ball' photo via email, enter as many times as you like between now and September 10, 2016.
  • A grand prize will be awarded at the end of the summer for the most Fun and Creative photo. More on the grand prize below.

The Swap
  • Check out the details of the Ribbon Star Swap here, including the free block pattern, required materials and swap instructions.
  • Order a kit, BASIC (12 blocks) or TWOFER (24 blocks). Wait to receive your kit and beach ball in your first summer-time order.
  • Make your blocks.Take a fun picture.
  • To be eligible for the GRAND PRIZE, you must submit blocks for swapping during July, August, and September. A minimum of two BASIC swaps in two of the three months or one TWOFER swap in any one of the three summer months.

  • Fabric and quilt pattern designers are Having a Ball this summer, too. I have accumulated an amazing Grand Prize package that includes fabulous goodies from Pat Sloan, Gina Martin, Heidi Boyd, Kari Carr--and MORE.
  • The GRAND PRIZE will be awarded to the most Fun and Creative Having a Ball photo.
  • Watch for more details - and pictures - in coming Good Migrations editions.
  • Deadline for photo submissions is September 10, 2016. Multiple entries are fine. But please send one photo per email.
How about it, are you having a ball with us this summer? Join the Facebook group (Ribbon Star Swap with Joan Ford) to keep the ball rolling.

Happy Stitching! And Happy Swapping!

Are you going to Have a Ball, too?

joan ford

Thursday, May 26, 2016


For the past few weeks you’ve heard me lamenting over a couple of super secret projects I’ve been working on. With wicked deadlines looming, it seems inevitable for my mind to wander a bit (but just a bit) to projects that might be next up on my to-do list.

I recently took the plunge and purchased a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine and it’s still in the box. I do have a couple of really good reasons for that: 1) the previously mentioned deadline stuff that really must take first priority in my craft room, and 2) I think I’m a little nervous about opening the box! (I mean, Jeesh!, even the sticker on the top is a bit intimidating!)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely excited about the possibilities, but learning new tricks is always a little intimidating. And the Silhouette tool isn’t necessarily designed for quilters and fabric.

Enter my friend Shelly Stokes. She has been working with fabric and her Silhouette machine for a couple years now with amazing success. Shelly and I recently chatted by phone about my unopened box of Silhouette goodness, and I thought I’d share some of that conversation. If you have a Silhouette machine or if you’re thinking about purchasing one for your quilty hobby, you might just be interested in reading more. . .

Here’s a bit of my conversation with Shelly:

Shelly: Thanks, Joan. I’m excited to chat with you and your readers today.

We’ve been talking about the Silhouette cutting machines on and off for the better part of a year. Maybe longer. A lot of the how-to materials already out there are aimed at non-fabric crafters, it’s been tough to figure out how we could make this thing useful in the fabric world.

Me: Right. All I see is paper this, vinyl that, rhinestones, cards, t-shirts, (oh my!). I like all kinds of crafts but for me, quilting comes first, what about us FABRIC people?

Shelly: You’re right. What about quilters and fabric art fans? Can a Silhouette cutter work in our world too?

Me: First things first. Can the Silhouette cut fabric? I’m not too keen on treating my soft quilting cottons with additives so they become stiff and paper-like just to be able to cut it.

Shelly: I had a lot of questions about this, too, Joan. When I went to the big All Things Silhouette conference in Atlanta in April, everyone I talked to said we had to stabilize the dickens out of fabric in order to cut it on a Silhouette. But, I decided to be a doubting Thomas and do some testing.

And what do you know, it worked! The fabric does need to be stabilized, but we’ve got options - quilter-friendly options. Fusible web when we want it -- or freezer paper when we don’t want to add any stiffness. So yes, we can cut fabric without making it as stiff as a board.

And before you ask, yes, we can use scraps! I know you’ve got bins and bins of tidy scraps that are just perfect for your projects. It’s super easy to press scraps to freezer paper and let the machine do the cutting.

Me: Yay! Shelly, you know me too well! I love finding new ways to use my scrap fabrics!

We’ve talked about using the Silhouette software to create designs. Do I have to make my own designs? Or are there designs out there that I can buy to get started?

Shelly: Good question. There are tons of great designs in the Silhouette Store and in lots of places around the internet. Sometimes a design will be just what I want, so there’s no need for me to start from scratch. But often, I might like the vine on one design and the leaves on another.

Using the software, I can cut the two designs into pieces and then put them back together for my project. Here’s an example. I purchased the two designs on the left from the Silhouette Store. Then I cut them apart with my super cool erasing method and put them back together to form the drawing on the right. I didn’t have to draw anything and I got a design that’s just right.

Me: That’s pretty slick. What if I want to make my own design?

Shelly: You can do that too. And it’s not rocket science. A lot of drawing programs (especially Adobe Illustrator) have 20 gazillion tools and options and possibilities. For me, they are downright intimidating.

But the Silhouette Studio software is a drawing program that has been put on a serious diet. The people that designed it did a great job of distilling the tools down into a simple easy-to-use subset of what you find in something like Illustrator. They kept a lot of good stuff, but dramatically reduced the complexity. (Can you tell I’m a little excited?)

Me: Yup. You are definitely excited. And you’ve got me excited, too. But I’ve got more questions… What about applique patterns? I hate the tracing part of the prep - light boxes and reversing shapes – bleh-h. I’m always so anxious to get to the sewing. Can the Silhouette help me there?

Shelly: Absolutely. There’s a pretty decent tracing capability in the Silhouette Studio software. You can scan a paper pattern or take a photo of it, then import it into the software for tracing. It’s much faster once you get the hang of it – and it’s fun!

And get this. Change the cutting blade to a marking pen, then draw the applique shapes directly onto the fabric with the Silhouette. Change the pen back to the blade, and cut around the shape to add the seam allowance. How cool is that?

Me: Okay. You’ve convinced me that I should open the box. I just know there are some really fun things waiting around the bend at Hummingbird Highway using this machine. Sew Along, anyone? I still have to get over those ‘fresh out of the box’ jitters. . . .I’d rather not experiment to figure all this stuff out. Waiting in the wings, I’ve got two or three project ideas . . .

Shelly: I’ve got just the thing for you and your Good Migrations readers. I’ve done the heavy lifting for you. I did all the experiments and figured out how to make this machine work for quilters and and the fabric art folks that hang around with me. And I’m running a class that starts on June 6th. It’s six modules over eight weeks. We’ll cover everything we talked about here today and a bit more.

Me: Sounds perfect, but that’s right around the corner. I’m up to my eyeballs in deadlines. Do I have to be online at a certain time? Will I have access to the lessons after the course ends?

Shelly: No worries, Joan. All of the lessons are pre-recorded. You do them when it works for you. You have “forever” access to the classroom, so you can start when your schedule lets up and come back whenever you need a refresher. I’ll be answering questions in the classroom for two weeks past the end of the eight weeks, so there’s plenty of time even if you start late.

Me: Wait. "Classroom?" Do I have to go someplace for this? Sounds like it could get complicated. Do I need any special tools to take the class?

Shelly: Good questions. And nope, you don’t have to go anywhere, the entire course is delivered to your home computer. The lessons are all online; a new step is introduced roughly once per week for a period of eight weeks. You don’t even NEED to have the Silhouette machine, but I suppose the course will make the most sense if you’re seriously considering that purchase in the near future. 

Once you enroll, you’ll receive a series of emails. One of those emails will be a supply list. I want you to learn how to use the machine to make some real tools you can use for future projects. But don't worry, you don't need bunches and bunches of special materials. Just enough to try things out.

Me: Okay sign me up! What if someone wants to learn a little bit more about the June 6 workshop?

Shelly: You’ll find all the details at the Silhouette for Fabric Art information page. If you’ve got a Silhouette that’s gathering dust (or still in the box! *a-hem!*), this is the perfect time to put it to use!

Click here and check out the deets. If nothing else, you have to check it out to see how tidy Shelly's desk is! Mine looks just like that! *wink!*

I'm in! Really, I've already enrolled. How about you? Do you have Silhouette Cameo cutter? Do you use it for quilting?

Happy Stitching!
joan ford

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Keepin' it Real

It's nearly summer time and my closest friends and family know that my beverage of choice for the summer months is Iced Tea from the local dairy distributor. It's sweetened tea and comes in a plastic gallon-sized jug. Love the stuff.

iced tea

The other day, before heading to a friend's house for a semi-sorta-weekly hand sewing get-together, I loaded my car with my sewing supplies, fabric, and a Mondo Bag (made of absorbant fabric) full with two quilts that were ready to bind--nearly complete projects (part of that secret project stuff I talked about last week).

On the way, I ran couple of small errands. UPS store for a package drop-off and the Byrne Dairy store to replenish my diminished supply of tea back at home. The most significant detail in this part of the story was that the clerk who cashed me out at the dairy store asked if I wanted a bag for my jug-o-tea. I thought for a minute--I usually don't take a bag because the jug has an easy-to-carry handle--then I decided the bag might come in handy when I carry the tea and the rest of my quilty stuff back into my house later after the sewing get-together.

Off I went to sew and relax with friends. With all the crazy activity and tight deadlines in my work studio, this was a nice opportunity to unwind and take a small break from the frenzy.

I finished the binding on one of the quilt projects and got a good start on the second one. Great conversation, good food, lots of laughs - typical girlfriend sewing evening. But, as always, the time slipped by and it was time to head home, driving under a beautiful clear star and moon filled night sky.

Upon arrival at home, I made a couple trips into the house with my belongings. First trip included the mondo bag full of quilt/binding projects--I set those down by the kitchen counter. Back out to the car for the rest of the stuff, including my flimsy  little bag with the tea in it.

As I reached the kitchen counter, I felt the weight in my hands shifting ever so slightly, and I realized that I didn't have the bag with the tea-jug by both of its handles. *Rut-roh.* As I felt the weight shifting even more, everything started to move as if it were a movie running in slow motion. It was too late to make adjustments, and before I knew it the jug slipped out of the bag. . .



Glug-glug. Glug-glug-glug.

The jug dropped three feet from the counter edge to the hardwood floor and cracked. Thus began the tide of sweetened tea splashing onto the floor from the gaping hole in the side of the jug. Soon every crack in the floor and the kitchen carpet were saturated--and fingers of the sticky fluid were racing toward the refrigerator to settle in underneath there, too.


It only took a moment for realization to sink in and, once the slow-motion footage stopped, I acted quickly and did what any busy, deadline-oriented quilter would do. . . I grabbed the bag full of quilts and got them out of harm's way.


Next I grabbed the jug (one might think I should have grabbed that first!). Now only about 1/3 full of tea, the jug and its remaining contents went in the sink in a single, sweeping, sticky wet movement. Swiftly, I grabbed the roll of paper towel next to the sink and ripped off three or four squares to begin the late-night clean up. (Three or four? Seriously! What kind if miracle of physics was I expecting from these disposable paper products?)

To switch gears only a little. This week is Quilt Market week - the big trade show that supports the quilt industry. Vendors include pattern and book authors (like myself), fabric manufacturers, and industry distributors--all scurrying this week to get their products ready for the grand display. Among the buyers: your local quilt shop owner. Due to my current project commitments, I am, sadly, not attending this Spring's events in Salt Lake City, but I'll watch with great interest from the sidelines as the pictures of the industry's latest offerings appear on social media outlets.

The booths will be beautiful and well-staged, showcasing the newest and finest 'perfection' that this industry has to offer. I'm sure you'll see many of the same images on your social media feeds. As you ooh and ahh, keep in mind that behind every beautifully-staged photo, is often a wild ride of spilled iced tea and frantic clean-up.

Quilters, like many small business owners, are a lot like ducks that swim across the water's surface. Beautiful, calm, and purposeful to those who see her from the waters edge. But underneath the surface, practical webbed feet pedal like mad to maintain forward progress in a changeable watery environment. 

Just keepin' it real this week. That's all. And laughing at myself just a bit.

By the way, the quilts survived unscathed. The Mondo bag holding them, not so much. Nothing a little laundry soap won't fix.

The carpet didn't fare well . . . It was long past time to replace it anyway. A new one was ordered first thing this morning.

And the worst part. I'm still out of tea.

When your world hands you chaos, how do you 'keep it real?'

Happy Stitching!
joan ford

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sneaky Secrets

Since I've been back from the Scrappy & Happy Quilt Cruise to the western Caribbean, it seems the activity in my sewing studio has been a whirlwind of activity, and I can't really SHARE that much of it yet. And I'm about to bust! So, I hope you'll settle for quick synopsis in the form of sneaky peeks. I promise, as soon as I can share more details, I will!

There are patterns for this summer's Row by Row Experience™ shop events. Six shops have hired me to create their patterns. I can't share their designs just yet because I don't want to steal their thunder, but I will say that if you travel to Nevada, North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York, you might just find a row pattern there written here on the Highway. More details soon!! Very soon!

Samples to be made. Might this be a sneaky peek of one of the rows mentioned above? Hmmm. You'll have to wait and see. . .

Sometimes a different technique needs to be tested. Scraps come into the picture to see how well the technique works. . . .

How about a Shop Hop pattern for a Western Pennsylvania hop this fall? This project is woefully behind schedule (100% my fault!), so it's on deck for completion this month!

Then there's a big, BIG project with many facets. That one is top-top secret. It involves applique. . .

. . . piecing and quilting. And so much more!

Whenever there is a spare minute or two, a project just for fun is available to stitch.

With all this sewing going on, it seems I don't have time to take the wrapper off these delectible magazines. Must make time!

Do you have any secret projects going on, too? Gifts for Mother's Day, for the Grad or a special event this summer. Do share!

Happy Stitching!
joan ford