The past month has been a bit quilty in the online craft scene

During March on Whipup I begin a monthly Guest Editor series, where I have invited a bunch of lovely people to curate a short series of posts each month.

Also recently we launched the latest edition of Action Pack magazine for kids. This edition is themed on Water — the first in a four part series focussing on the elements. A great issue with a bunch of fantastic contributors which was put together while on the road — libraries and tents and beach side writing — lots of ingenuity involved. If you are interested in contributing for further issues check in here. In the meantime do grab yourself a copy of this issue — only $6 for 40 ad-free pages of projects.

Book reviews this year are being managed this year by Julie and reviewed by a great team of crafty gals. Check out Feathered friends.


DO get in touch if you are interested in writing a guest post for whipup this year! Send me a short email with your idea Kathreen {at} whipup.net


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Elizabeth Hartman is a self-taught quilter. She has been making things her entire life but, when she tried quilting for the first time, she fell in love and hasn’t been able to stop. Elizabeth is the author of The Practical Guide to Patchwork, Modern Patchwork, and the popular blog, ohfransson.com.

One of the most important parts of my creative process is maintaining a clean and organized space in which to work. I’ve been lucky enough to have a designated sewing room for just over 7 years now, and I’ve learned through trial and error the things that work best for me. I want to talk a little about my favorite parts of my sewing room and how they help me to be more productive.

Fabric organization

Since the process of making a quilt always involves pulling out and auditioning a bunch of different fabrics, it doesn’t take long before every surface in the room is covered. To keep things simple (both for finding fabrics and for putting them away!) I like to keep my fabric organized by color, with print and solid fabrics stored separately.

I keep my folded fabric in clear plastic drawers that fit under my sewing room counters. The drawers make it easy to put away extra fabric, or to pull out an entire drawer if I want to, say, go through all the yellow prints I have. Since I’m not always able to stop and put things away as I’m working, I also keep a “to be filed” basket on the counter.

Another thing that I find hugely helpful in keeping my fabric stash organized is editing. I routinely go through my entire stash and pull fabrics that have sat unused for too long, or that I’m just not as crazy about as I once was. This process was painful at first, but the benefits of having a smaller and less-cluttered fabric stash have made it worthwhile. I also feel better about giving my unused fabric to other quilters who will actually use it.

Design wall

My design wall has become such an important part of my process that it seems crazy to me that I quilted for so many years without one! A “design wall” may sound like something super-fancy, but the one I’m using now is, literally, just a giant piece of cotton batting tacked to the wall. (Some people use flannel, but I find that batting works much better.) Fabric sticks to the batting, making it possible to temporarily place fabric and piecing on the wall, step back, and consider the arrangement.

In order to make my design wall a full 8’ x 8’, I had to work around a few light switches and electrical outlets. To do that, I started by removing all the outlet covers. Once the batting was tacked up on the wall, I carefully cut away the batting from around the switches and outlets. Then I replaced the covers, which hid the raw edges of the batting I had cut away.

If you don’t have the space for a permanent design wall, it’s quite easy to make a smaller, portable one by wrapping sheets of lightweight foam insulation from a hardware store. The portable wall can be stored under a bed or in a closet when you’re not using it.

Pressing board

As a quilter, I almost never use a conventional ironing board. Instead, I have a counter-height pressing table that’s about 29” x 39”. To make it, I simply had a piece of plywood cut to match the top of my IKEA countertop. I wrapped the plywood in three layers of cotton batting and one layer of cotton fabric, and used my staple gun to tack the excess batting and fabric to the underside of the board. Simple!

My countertop pressing board stays in one place, but it’s easy to make more portable versions. I have a smaller version that I made by wrapping the top of a wooden TV tray. The smaller version can be set up and used right next to my machine and is portable enough to bring to sewing circle.

Keep things simple

When I was setting up my first sewing room, I approached it as I would approach setting up any other room. I picked regular furniture, I painted the walls red (really!) and I hung up lots of pictures and things on the walls. As a room, it was lovely. As a creative workspace, it was a nightmare. The red walls permeated everything I worked on, and having so many decorative elements around was distracting.

Today, my sewing room is painted a very light gray and I’ve made a point to choose white countertops, shelving, and other elements. The space is so much brighter and cleaner – like a blank canvas for my projects!


Last week I mentioned some exciting news for my family for next year, and we are in the throes of preparation and procrastination at the moment. Towards that end I need to sell some of my beloved quilts, we need to raise some funds and well, there are just so many quilts that I can store and use.

I have listed six beautiful quilts on my etsy shop, five of which are the quilts that appeared in my book — Little Bits Quilting Bee. All the details of each quilt is listed at the etsy store – but if you have questions please email me! Kathreen[at]whipup.net

  • This colourful toddler quilt “Cloud song” features Kona solids and applique textured clouds, as well as softly rounded corners, the binding is hand stitched.

  • This round quilt “Sunny Day Mat” is perfect for baby to play on, it features a textured centre and playful prairie points around the edge.

  • This twin sized pretty girls quilt “Summer Sundae”, is quilted in a playful squiggly free style design, and the bunting ‘popsicles’ around the border make for an interesting feature.

  • This square bed or lounge quilt “Sewing Circle”, is a traditional and tricky curved quilt design, made with Amy Butler fabrics, with a large Amy Butler print on the back, the hand sewn binding finishes it off.

  • This modern twin sized bed quilt “Modern Fortress”, would be perfect for a boy or girls room, and would be equally lovely thrown over a lounge. The backing is a vintage sheet and the charcoal stripes and border is quilting linen.


Don’t forget to grab your copy of the latest Action Pack magazine for kids (Go Tribal Issue)

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Over the years we have linked to and created a whole bunch of wonderful resources for quilting. I have put together this resource page to make it easier for you to navigate this site to find all of these great projects. You’ll want to peruse the quilting category too of course. And browse all the posts related to my quilt book too.

 Quilt Process and Discussion

Quilting Link Love

Quilt Patterns + Tutorials

Technique + Block Tutorials

Essential Tutorials

{Quilt pictured above is from my Mid-season quilt tutorial}

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Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

John Adams is a husband and father of 3 who enjoys sewing and quilting in his spare time. Inspired by the growing number of crafting blogs and the emergence of vibrant, modern quilting fabrics in the textile industry. John convinced his wife to teach him how to use her sewing machine in 2004, he started his blog, QuiltDad, in 2008, since then, John has become very active in the online quilting communities and is a co-founder of the popular e-magazine for modern quilters, Fat Quarterly.

OK, it’s about time I ‘fessed up. My blog name – and, to be honest, the “handle” by which I am most widely known within the quilting community – came about as a total fluke.  I decided to start my blog almost on a whim, but didn’t realize that choosing a blog name would be the very first decision I’d have to make. It all seemed so … so permanent. I felt like I was making a big commitment.  It may be because I work full-time in branding in marketing that I felt that the title of my blog would be responsible for carrying such a burden, and that it would be a direct reflection of me and the voice I would be putting out there into the world through my blog.

So, in that short moment, as all of these things were flying through my head, I simply mashed together two things that were in the forefront of my mind, and that both represented things very important to me in my life: my budding passion for the art of quilting, and my role as a father to my three beautiful young children. And that’s how QuiltDad was born.

What has become evident (and most interesting) to me over the course of my nearly five years of blogging, however, is not how meaningful these two facets of my life are independent of one another, but what happens at the intersection of the two. I think I’m only beginning to realize how important it is to simultaneously embrace myself as both a creative person – on my best days, I might even use the word ‘artist’ – and as a parent. Because by doing so, I think I can be infinitely better at both.

First, allow me go back a bit and comment on my ability to follow a creative path as a child myself. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York and, as a student in the always-crowded New York City Public School system, I had to choose between receiving art instruction OR music instruction at a very early age. Although I would consider myself to have been a very artistic child – drawing and painting was something I both enjoyed and had some natural skill at – the lure of the music program and learning to play an instrument was too strong. Besides, all of my friends were joining the band. So, at age 9, I decided to learn to play trumpet and never again received a minute of formal art education.

Throughout high school, between sports and academics and music and college admissions and, of course, having a social life, it was way too easy to neglect seeking out creative opportunities on my own. And so, by the time I started college, it seemed like the time for doing anything of substance with my creative talents, sadly, had passed.

I soon embarked on a successful career in the business world, went back to school for my MBA, got married, and started my family. But the need to re-introduce creativity back into my life was too strong to ignore. Through a series of events following the birth of my third child, my son Sean, I discovered the rich online modern quilting community – a community that embraced this novice quilter with a most unexpected demographic profile with warmth and open arms. (This series of events and how I started quilting is a story – and blog post – unto itself!)  I decided to start a blog, selected the QuiltDad name, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I started QuiltDad when my twin daughters weren’t quite three years old, and my son had just turned one. In many ways, my blog and my identity as a quilter has grown up alongside them. And here are some things that I love about what I have observed:

My children have a role model to show them that your job does not define who you are. As I mentioned, I earned my MBA from a top school and work full time in Corporate America. I know from experience that there are many, many people in my situation for whom their work consumes their lives. We live in a society that too often defines a person by their occupation and, in the business world especially, it’s very easy to let your job eat up every free minute of every day. The notion of work-life balance can seem like a fallacy. And I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to fit your hobbies, pastimes, and creative endeavors alongside work and family commitments into a 24-hour day (just ask Kathreen, to whom I delivered this guest post late!). However, I force myself to maintain that balance, and to carve out time to do the things that make me complete. It makes me a better employee, crafter, and father.

My children have a father who is not ashamed of being creative. Let’s be real: being a “manquilter”, I’m a bit of a novelty in the online blogging and crafting community. I’m thrilled to see that other men have emerged as amazing talents and strong voices in the modern quilting world but, to outsiders, it’s still considered to be a strange hobby for someone like me to have pursued. I still choose who to share my hobby with very carefully. At best, people think it’s interesting and want to hear more about it — to a point. But at worst, it’s perceived as weird, unusual, and — to be honest — quite feminine. That’s why I think it’s important for my children to see that I am proud of my craft — not just in a flag-waving, “look at me” kind of way, but in a way that’s important enough for me to continue to pursue despite what others might think.

My son, especially, is learning to challenge gender stereotypes. Yes, among the uninformed, quilting still carries the burden of being something that grandmothers do. And even in the modern quilting community, I think it’s safe to say that it’s still largely a female-driven craft. Why is this the case? I believe, in large part, that this has to do with long-standing gender roles that have drawn (pushed?) women towards sewing, needlework, and the like. And really, I don’t have much issue with that except when society dictates that it’s not OK for boys to express themselves through the textile arts. I’ll be honest here: I am not sure that my own father, when he was alive, truly understood my passion for sewing and quilting. I have a heightened sensitivity to the remarks of others, the sideways glances of co-workers, the attitude of the ladies at the quilting shop when I tell them no, I’m not shopping for my wife — and I hope I can raise my son to develop a different perspective and set of values when it comes to art and creativity.

I am teaching my children to follow their dreams and their creative calling.  More than anything else, I hope I am exposing my children to a lifestyle in which creative expression is not only appreciated, but is present each and every day. All 3 of my children — my son included — have informed me that they want to learn how to quilt. I have helped each of them make a mini quilt for their dolls and stuffed animals, and seeing their sense of pride and accomplishment was invaluable. Recently, they all wanted me to teach them to hand embroider, which they picked up very quickly. Most importantly, I want to ensure that they aren’t forced to make a sucker’s choice that will divert them from the path of following their hearts and their passion.

I couldn’t have scripted the course of my life over the past couple of years – the formative years both for my children and for my artistic self – any better.  And I’m excited beyond belief to see what the years ahead hold for us.