Choo Choo!!

I was asked by the Simon & Schuster Marketing Department to design a Pop Up for the 2014 Caldecott Awards Banquet. This years winner was Brian Floca for his book, Locomotive. Since S&S is the publisher of the book they get to create the Program that gets handed out at the event.  That means I got to design the Pop and the booklet.

Since many will never see the Pop Up, I thought I would show the construction of it.  I made a white dummy and sent the die line files to Brian and he made this amazing art overnight.

Have a look!

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Book Bound?

For the last week of so I have been working non stop on getting a last minute project finished.  At the beginning of Feb I was asked if I would be able to create a quilt for a book on Quilting by DK.  The beginning was a bit slow going until the fabrics were picked. The Editor, Kate picked the prints out.  Not really my taste of style but they are growing on me.

I started with a double pinwheel pattern I made up and sent it over to them for approval.

New Pattern opt1

The idea was so all the end points lined up but it would leave the quilt on a slight angle which I liked.  What they then asked for was a straight block with sashing around it.

Once the fabric arrived from Cotton Patch, I got to work using a paper foundation method. This would ensure all the blocks were exactly the same.



So today I managed to get all the sashing sorted and ready for pinning.  Figured I would head to class a bit early so I can use the tables to lay it all out and pin.



Should end up as a Double bed quilt.  Not to bad.


What the What?

I was walking down Clerkenwell Road not so long ago and found this. London is full of pretty cool Street Art. You can find them all over if you are looking.


At first I thought it was just a spray painted face on a wall until I looked closer. I walked past it completely until I got up under it and realized it wasn’t what I thought it was.


Have a closer look…


Keep looking…

IMG_0435 IMG_0436Pretty cool!


This is Me!

As part of the London Modern Quilting Guild we have decided to do a “Meet a Member” section on the blog.  As the new President I thought I would go first.  A few of us came up with some questions, both quilting and non quilting to answer for other members to get a better understanding about what makes us tick, likes and dislikes , etc.. This is mine.  You might also see if on the LMQG blog this week too.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m originally from New York.  Victoria (my wife) and I moved back to London after we got married 3 years ago.  She is British and works for an investment bank who relocated us when her position changed.  I went to F.I.T. in NYC for Advertising and Graphic Design, not Fashion as the name suggests. When I graduated I took my first job designing children’s novelty books for HarperCollins. A few years later I was lucky enough to get to work with Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart, both have changed the way Children’s Pop Up Books were looked at.  After several years as the Art Director I moved to Penguin where I was given the chance to create and design my own pop up books.  My first book was the second place winner of the NY Book Show in 2010  “Everyone Says I Love You”.



In 2012 I designed and engineered another book called “Spin”which won the Novelty division.



Since moving to London I continue to design Children’s books for several publishing companies around the world.

What inspired you to start quilting?

My mom has been quilting for a number of years and about 8-9 years ago I asked her to show me how to sew.  I have a black dog and my mom didn’t want to spend many hours making something for me if Lily was going to lay all over it. Over one holiday break between Christmas an New Years she brought in her spare machine and showed me what to do. I have been hooked since then.  It feels like a combination of painting and building but with fabrics and if anyone knows me they know I love building things.  The perfect match in my opinion.

Mom and me at the Columbia Road Market.
Mom and me at the Columbia Road Market.

What is your favourite tool or notion?

Going to have to say a seam ripper.  If you ain’t rippin’, you ain’t quiltin’.  I like to think I am fairly competent on my machine but no matter how good you are you will always make a mistake or find a seam that could be done better. My little Clover ripper is always near by.

What is your favourite fabric right now?


There are too many to choose from.  I am going to have to say my giant bundle of “Florence” by Denyse Schmidt given to me by Denyse herself on a visit to her Studio in CT.  I’m a bit afraid to open it but I think I will and can get over it. Here is my first quilt. DS all the way.

What’s your pet hate?

I hate people who stop walking, dead in their tracks on the sidewalk.  Especially when they stop to take a picture of a shop window.  It’s called a sidewalk for a reason, Walk!

Tea or coffee?


Tea, 2 sugars no milk


Do you stick to one project at a time or have several on the go?

I can’t stick to one thing at a time.  My office is a mess of things.  Both book jobs and quilting projects intermingling on the desk.  That goes the same for my knitting and cross stitch projects.  I like having the freedom to pick and choose what I want to work on and when.


Victoria and my wedding thank you cards.
Victoria and my wedding thank you cards.
I was bored.  Kay got a knitted skull jacket!
I was bored. Kay got a knitted skull jacket!
my little x stitch version on my larger James Dean quilt.
my little x stitch version on my larger James Dean quilt.

What are your vices?

I quilt while watching the UFC. Back in NYC I would stand at the island in the kitchen watching the UFC while actually quilting.  Don’t ask me why? That’s just the way it is.  Usually I bind to Law and Order because no matter where you are in the world you can always find an already viewed episode on TV.

Hand or machine quilting?

Machine.  Was lucky enough to get a Janome Horizon a while back. While I piece everything on the machine I do finish binding by hand.  I think if you are going to spend all that time and money on a quilt it should be finished by hand.

my baby
my baby

What’s your favourite film?

That’s hard to say.  Growing up I was a Pulp Fiction fan. Have seen it dozens of times and each time you watch it is see something new. I would probably say most of the Fast and Furious movies.  Cut me some slack! I’m a guy and I like cars.  If you ask Victoria she would tell you my movie selections are on the girly side of things.  Who doesn’t like a good chick flick from time to time.

Movie_pulp fiction_86710

Favourite band?

A number of years ago a friend had won some concert tickets from work to see a band that I liked and few that I didn’t really know.  We both ended up liking one of the not known bands and have been a huge fan since then.  If we have met in person at any time in the 3 years I have been in London you would have seen me in one of the dozen or so concert shirts I have from a band called Blue October. An Alt Rock band from Houston Texas. Since my first show I have probably been to at least a dozen shows both in the States and in London.


What do you do when your not quilting?

When I am not quilting I am building elaborate pop ups for different Publishers around the world. I always have a scissor and paper with me.

My 75th Anniversary Pop Up for Madeline. Out in early 2014 from Penguin.
My 75th Anniversary Pop Up for Madeline. Out in early 2014 from Penguin.
A Pop Up Firetruck with Teddy Bears for the Book Company in Australia.
A Pop Up Firetruck with Teddy Bears for the Book Company in Australia.
my paper monsters for Caterpillar Books.
my paper monsters for Caterpillar Books.

I am also training for the London Nightrider again on a Bamboo bike I built.


100K through the streets of London at night raising money for Battersea Dog and Cat Home.  Feel free to Donate with the link above.

Victoria and I have been fostering since we moved back to London. We have had three amazing Staffies.

The big mush, Philip.
The big mush, Philip.
the "is that my ball" Leroy
the “is that my ball” Leroy
and the 14 year old, Kay.
and the 14 year old, Kay.

First live band?

My first Concert was Poison and Warrant at Nassau Coliseum back in 1990. I was 14 years old and my neighbor took me. Since then I have been to 100’s of shows. I’m a child of the 80’s. Hair Metal was what I listened to.

Radio 1's Hackney Big Weekend 2012
Radio 1’s Hackney Big Weekend 2012

Pins & Needles!

As part of the London Modern Quilt Guild we occasionally do swaps within the group.  This time was different.  We have organized a swap with the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild in Canada.

I have never been much for making little things but I thought I would be a team player and make a little needle case for the swap.  After a few minutes of searching on Pinterest, my new favorite place, I found a great little tutorial from Jamie at Sew She Sews.

I love Skulls! and for me to be me I needed to make something to give away that had Skulls on it. Nothing like scaring a Canadian with a quilted Skull Needle Case. Following along with the tutorial I made this.




and even added P&P stitched onto the aida.


I liked the idea of keeping all my bits in one place (Victoria might have a heart attack if there wasn’t a mess on the table) so while we were wandering the Stitching Show a few weeks back I found this fun print and yes it has Skulls on it.

Fun Skull fabric found at the Knitting and Stitching show.
Fun Skull fabric found at the Knitting and Stitching show.

So I made myself a needle case because I was seriously considering not giving the other one away. Stitched in a cool Diamond pattern and some Orange and Blue pockets.  I also made it a touch bigger so I can get my scissors in easy.


diamond stitching!
diamond stitching!






Now to find all my little zip lock bags with pins and needles in them and give them all a new home.



A while back I became twitter buddies with Monica from Happy Zombie.  I was admiring her new fabric line, Winterkist, which is  put out by Lecien. Sadly, Lecien doesn’t supply many places here in London.  So Monica and I came up with a little swap of our own. She would send me some of her new fabric and I would in return make her a mini quilt/ mug rug.

Not too long after our arrangement this lovely little package arrived in the mail at my Mom’s.

Happy Zombie's Winterkist
Happy Zombie’s Winterkist

I quickly started on my half of the deal.  What to make? Why not stick the logo (a very cool logo I might add) inside of a Porthole?..

After some plotting and digital file making I had the makings of a “Zombie” mug rug.

Whatcha looking at!!
Whatcha looking at!!

Monica has been super patient with me.  So I just sat down the other day and finished it off.  I think it turned out really cool and wouldn’t mind doing something like that again.

Portholed and stitched up.
Portholed and stitched up.
hand stitched binding,
hand stitched binding.
A little men's suiting for the backing never hurt anyone.
A little men’s suiting for the backing never hurt anyone.

Off to Oregon it goes.  I hope Monica likes it as much as I do.



MC off to CT to see DS

Victoria and I were back home in NYC for a few weeks and while we were there I had the opportunity to go to CT and meet Denyse Schmidt.  When I was learning how to quilt about 8 years ago I bought Denyse’s book, Denyse Schmidt Quilts and used it as my how to guide book. This book started my quilting love and helped shape what I do.


For my first ever project I decided to make my very own bed quilt.  Actually I made two different quilts and modified a pattern from the heating pad into a third quilt from this book.  Pretty industrious for a level 1 beginner.  I made my way to the City Quilter in NYC and was overwhelmed by the choices. Feeling like hours had passed in the shop (and it might actually have been hours) I made my decision on fabric. 

Armed with my red, blue and yellow prints and cream solid I headed home and made myself some paper templates for “Hop, Skip & a Jump” and was on my way to creating my first quilt.  Now for the ambitious part. I knew I wanted the quilt to hang on my bed nearly to the floor and the sides and the bottom which would make the finished quilt close to a US King size.  So for my first ever quilt I made a massive 102″ x 102″ quilted monster. Well not quilted but pieced.  For years I was afraid of quilting it so my first project remained folded in a plastic storage container mocking me every time I would see it.


With the first one partially done I decided to make something a bit more manageable and once again I head to Denyse and found her “Flock of Triangles”.


Not one to make my life simple I took the basic pattern and made it my own. Using a collection of brown, blue, green and orange I pieced what would be my sofa throw. Since this was my first attempt with triangles I didn’t know the correct positioning of the pieces and soon found out that my points are not really points. To be honest, I didn’t really care as I liked the final outcome. It has seen better days and is started to wear in spots but it is soft and I love sitting with it.

Don't look too close!
Don’t look too close!


Back to our trip to Bridgeport.  Before I left London I sent an email to the Studio checking to see if it would be ok for me to make a visit.  Julie, Denyse’s assistant emailed me back and we set up a day for a short meet and chat.  Wednesday morning, Victoria, Mom and I drove out meet the legend. We arrived in Bridgeport to this amazing old Factory building from the early 1900’s.

Denyse's Studio is on the top floor of what was the home to the American Fabrics Company, which manufactured lace fabric, trim, and embroideries from 1908 to 1990.
Denyse’s Studio is on the top floor of what was the home to the American Fabrics Company, which manufactured lace fabric, trim, and embroideries from 1908 to 1990.

Once we made it to the top floor I felt the butterflies coming over me.  We knocked and went it. The space is truly amazing.  With double height ceilings and lots of light, it is the ideal space to create it.


Out from behind the bookcase comes Denyse. She was getting a number of her quilts ready for an exhibition at the National Quilt Museum in Kentucky running from October 11, 2013 through January 14, 2014. It was such an honor to met her.  She walked us through to the “work” side of the Studio and showed us what she has been busy with. On her wall were images of quilts going to the show, samples of her new fabric which would be found in one of the eight lines she will be releasing in the near future and tons of inspiration.


The new Solid Bundle being released by FreeSpirit. It's massive!
The new Solid Bundle being released by FreeSpirit. It’s massive!

Denyse also showed us a few of her quilts that were not sent out yet.  The green one was all done by hand and is beautiful to see in person.






It was a great experience to meet Denyse and get to see where she creates her amazing works of art. As we were heading out Denyse went into a draw and pulled out a few bits to take back with us. I can’t wait to start something amazing with her new “Florence” range.


Seeing that was all I need to finish up my first project, some 8 years later. On our way home we stopped and grabbed just a bit of backing, 8+ yards and few extra yards for some cushion covers which will be added to the to do list along with batting. Down to the basement I went and pinned it all up to the HQ and over the next few days I finally quilted my “Hop, Skip & a Jump”.

This quilt was soooo big we had to add the extensions to the machine.  Can you say 12'!
This quilt was soooo big we had to add the extensions to the machine. Can you say 12’!


I managed to quilt the entire thing before we headed back to London and now all I need to do is square it up and bind it.  Looking forward to sitting on the couch with some Law and Order reruns and binding away.  I have a feeling this might take a while.

[ Will add more the post when it is all finished]

Thank you Denyse for your generous gifts and for taking the time to show us around.  It was a really pleasure to meet you.


Like the fabric and design.

FoQ You!

Last weekend Victoria and I made the trip up to Birmingham from London to spend some time admiring my brilliance,

Excuse me!  I can't see!
Excuse me! I can’t see!

I mean seeing the amazing quilts that were entered into this years Festival of Quilts show. We had made plans to meet up with our friends Emily and Michelle on Friday night for some dinner.  Emily had a booth selling her wonderful tapestry kits.  We love them so much we got another one to work on.

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early to head over to the NEC.  I was trying to avoid the massive line like last year.  With our Starbucks in hand we made our way through the show and saw some amazing quilts.

Me & JD
Me & JD
My cross stitch Bar Code which will take you to the blog post of how it was made.
My cross stitch Bar Code which will take you to the blog post of how it was made.

There was a nice section of all London Tube and Transport Quilts.  I found this one and was in awe of the quilting on it.  Each Tube line was done in a different color and design.

The Tube map stitched out in great detail.
The Tube map stitched out in great detail.
Micro Stitching at it's best.
Micro Stitching at it’s best.

I have see a few of these before but I really enjoyed seeing them again. Well done Alicia Merrett!

One of my favorite Quilts of the show.
One of my favorite Quilts of the show.


How could you miss the GIANT Self Portrait of Luke Haynes.

Was great to see Luke's work up close.  A masterpiece.
Was great to see Luke’s work up close. A masterpiece.

There was also a great section of Kaffe and Brandon’s work with Solids on display.

The one and only, Kaffe.
The one and only, Kaffe.

All in all we had a great few days up in Birmingham.  Now what to make for next years show?

My final version of the World Famous Liberty of London building.

with Liberty and justice for me.

I forgot to post this a few weeks back.  Have a look at my feature on the Liberty Craft Blog.  I was contacted by my friend Michelle about maybe creating a little pop for them to use.  We chatted and a bit of the new fabric changed hand.

This is what I came up with.  See more on the Liberty Blog.

My final version of the World Famous Liberty of London building.
My final version of the World Famous Liberty of London building.

Also a few pics of the first go round.  Focusing more on one building.

The Liberty logo hanging off the main Building.
The Liberty logo hanging off the main Building.
One main Building
One main Building