block party June 26, 2011

I’m very happy to be today’s stop on the fabulous Block Party tour with an interview and giveaway! Block Party is a collaboration between co-authors Alissa Haight Carlton and Kristen Lejnieks, along with ten other quilters who did a monthly block swap by mail together, over the course of one beautiful year. The book shows each quilter’s concept, fabrics, and chosen pattern (or improvisational guidelines), from Dresden Plates to stripes, hexagons and confetti. Seeing first the wonderfully varied blocks and then the final quilts unfold is really cool.

Block Party!

I got to ask Alissa a few questions about their gorgeous book and hear a bit more about how it all came together!

How did the Block Party bee get started?

Kristen and I were the original hosts of the Block Party bee that we started after she emailed me asking if I’d like to co-host. We had both seen all of the virtual quilting bees popping up online so we were eager to take part in one ourselves. We figured starting one on our own was a good idea because that way we were able to pick the members and make sure we all had a similar quilting aesthetic.

Did you think it might become a book?

Not at first! We were a couple of months into our bee when Kristen emailed me again saying very casually that she thought there was a good book idea here… structuring the chapters around the months of the bee. I wholeheartedly agreed with her and said “Let’s do it!” We were then off and running with the idea and putting together a proposal.

That’s so cool! Had you met anyone in person, or was it all online?

None of the bee members had met before the bee. We are spread out all over the country. Since the bee and book have happened I’ve met quite a few of the members in person. It’s always so great to feel like a friendship isn’t starting from zero when you meet, but that you already know each other through your quilting, blogs and the fun times had in the bee!

And how did you and Kristen collaborate on the book project together since you live in different places?

Loads and loads of emails and gmail chats!! We also talked on the phone a lot but really, mostly we communicated a ton online. We divided the work up in two and just worked away, consulting with each other when we had questions, ideas or what have you. It really went quite smoothly considering we had never met each other in person! Now we’ve met a couple of times and we’re fast friends!

I really love Alissa’s work – here is one of her photos of a gorgeous baby boy quilt she made for a friend, which she graciously let me include in Modern Log Cabin Quilting as an example of random piecing in a very modern style.

Alissa's quilt in my book

And of course log cabins are dear to my heart (plus my birthday is in January), so her month’s quilt, “Once Around the Block” was an instant favorite!

Pages12&13 from Block Party

All 12 quilters’ improvisational log cabin blocks draw the eye so beautifully, and Pearl Bracelet by Lizzy House is one of my favorite prints ever, especially in those gorgeous aqua and orange colorways from Red Letter Day (I’ve used both in a bunch of different projects, and have some precious pieces left in my stash). I love that she also included serene gray and white as elements of the whole lively color story, and the finished 25-block quilt is fantastic.

Once Around The Block Quilt by Alissa Haight Carlton

Her co-author, Kristen, created “Sliding By,” a gorgeous wonky Roman Stripe Quilt in a calm and sophisticated color palette. She included one of my favorite Hope Valley prints by Denyse Schmidt, a botanical pattern in the Piney Woods colorway (Denyse also wrote a lovely introduction for the book on quilting bees and community).

Sliding By quilt by Kristen Lejnieks

I asked Kristen if her quilt had made it to many picnics so far this summer…

Turns out my quilt was destined for somewhere super special instead – my bed! My husband’s constant complaint is that I have never made us a quilt, yet make quilts for everyone’s else babies. I chose the fabrics for this quilt with him in mind, thinking that I would need the help of fellow bee members to make a quilt large enough to fit a queen bed. I’ve always loved citron and grey together, and aqua seemed to fit right in. Luckily, he loves the final product!

Now – a giveaway! Stash has generously offered up a copy of Block Party to a reader here, so if you’d like to enter to win it, please leave a comment on this post by Friday, July 1 at midnight Pacific time, sharing what your favorite fabric to quilt or sew with lately is. I mentioned my beloved RLD Pearl Bracelet and Hope Valley prints, and I’d love to hear yours…

Thank you to Alissa and Kristen for the mini-interview and to Stash for the book to give away! You can follow along with the whole blog tour right here, and tomorrow’s post will be at Connecting Threads.

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