fairy tale whole-cloth quilt + an interview with this paper ship

Today, I'm so excited to reveal the first of two whole-cloth quilts I'll be launching this week! I've been collaborating with a few designers to design quilt tops for the shop, which I then have digitally printed onto fabric and turn into finished quilts. You can read more about my thoughts on whole-cloth quilts and why I've been exploring them here.

The first quilt in this collaborative series was designed by Joel and Ashley Selby of Saxapahaw, NC, the married duo behind This Paper Ship. Their adorable Fairy Tale quilt is now available in the shop, and will be made to order. Each quilt features a black-and-white bias stripe binding, a Carolyn Friedlander gray-and-white grid backing, and, of course, This Paper Ship's whimsical fairy tale-themed design. I hope you love this new quilt as much as I do!

Ashley and Joel so kindly took the time to answer a few questions for me while they awaited the arrival of their baby girl, who is scheduled to arrive today! I hope you'll read on to find out more about them, their work, and the inspiration for their quilt design!

Image source: This Paper Ship

Caitlin: Can you tell us a bit about your background and why you started This Paper Ship?

This Paper Ship: Going way back, we've both been obsessed with drawing for as long as we can remember. We met in a freshman drawing class and hit it off over a fabric study, kept drawing side-by-side throughout our design degrees, and graduated together. During our last year of college, we started an Etsy shop using our own illustrated wedding invitations as an example, and picked up our first client the day before our wedding. The economy was terrible around that time, which prevented us from ever getting our coveted entry-level design jobs, so we just kept plowing forward with self-directed work and paper goods! Seven years later, we're still crazy enough to continue to make a living off of drawing, and now even raise a family off of it. It's been a wild ride, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Image source: This Paper Ship

C: How would you describe your illustration style?

TPS: In a word: whimsical! We love bright colors, simple shapes, unexpected textures, hand lettering, and fun detail you can get lost in. Our style is made up of a combination of our two hands, since every drawing is a complete collaboration from sketch to ink to final touches on screen. It's taken a long time to merge our two (often) very different approaches to drawing, but it's been worth the effort, and we learn from each other nearly every day. We both like to approach the world with a sense of childlike wonder, though, so that's often our common ground on everything.

C: What have been some of your favorite projects to work on?

TPS: Other than our self-directed work, which 99% of the time ends up in our online shop, our favorite area to work on is the children's market. We both find that drawing things for an audience of children allows us the greatest freedom to play, to use our imaginations, and to really go for broke on bright colors! Specifically, we got the chance to illustrate for a bathroom line and a sleeping bag for The Land of Nod a few years back, which was awesome. We also really enjoy doing greeting cards and have had a good working relationship with American Greetings for a few years now.

Image source: This Paper Ship

C: Can you describe your studio in Saxapahaw, NC?

TPS: Saxapahaw is a hundred-plus-year-old cotton mill and mill village about 20 minutes west of Chapel Hill. The mill shut down 20 years ago but has since been rebuilt into a small community of businesses and loft apartments, and we're blessed to live and work out of one of them. We wake every day, walk downstairs with tea and coffee in hand, and go to work at a vintage drawing table and letterpress among the old brick walls, massive steel roof beams, and original floorboards pitted from cotton spinners.

Fairy Tale Quilt Sketch. Image source: This Paper Ship

C: Tell us about the stunning Fairy Tale quilt you designed for Salty Oat! What inspired the theme and color choices?

TPS: First, we had a blast doing this—it belongs among the projects in question 3! We had decided on a loose fairy tale theme for our baby girl due October 3 (still not here as of the time of this writing), so we took the basic idea of medieval European banners and used them as the basis for the quilt pattern. In the alternating rectangles with images in them, we drew objects that were personally meaningful to us, but also worked well as general heraldic-style symbols—a ship (for This Paper Ship), the fleur-de-lis of Florence (one of her middle names, where we honeymooned), a bird (inspired from a vintage wall decoration from Ashley's grandma's house), etc. For the colors, we wanted to go bright and make the design work for both boys and girls; we were inspired by Disney's immaculate Sleeping Beauty and their vibrant treatment of color in a Middle Ages setting.

Image source: This Paper Ship

C: Where can readers purchase your work? Any upcoming events or exciting projects you'd like to share?

TPS: We currently are selling solely at our Etsy shop, but are also working on a new shop site coming soon. The next market we'll be vending at is the Saxapahaw Holiday Market in early December at the beautiful Haw River Ballroom—come on out if you can, and you just may be able to meet little miss Sadie in her holiday best! We plan to do a lot of craft markets in the new year, which we'll be announcing on social media as we book them up (@thispapership on just about everything). We're also really excited to announce that we're finalists in the Martha Stewart American Made 2015 Awards, so we would be honored to have you go vote for us! You can vote up to 6 times a day until October 19. (You can see our profile and vote here.)

Thank you so much to Joel and Ashley for taking the time to answer my questions and for designing a quilt for the shop, and congrats to them on their growing family! You can find their quilt in the shop here.


echo baby quilt

When Lotta Jansdotter released her first fabric collection with Windham Fabrics back in 2011, I was super excited. Her collection, Echo, was so different than anything else out on the market at the time, and it was so fun to see Scandinavian-inspired designs, with the look of a block print, on quilting cotton.

I received a layer cake of the collection's prints for Christmas that year and held on to it, not sure what I wanted to make with the 10" precut squares.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when I pulled the layer cake out and was inspired to cut into it and create a small quilt.

Each square was divided into four triangles, which were rearranged and sewn back into squares, with a balanced mix of light and dark values among the prints in each block. With the layout that I chose, a checkerboard, set on point, emerged from the quilt top's design.

Having no real negative/white space in the quilt's top means it's quite busy, but I love the look of having so many saturated prints nestled together.

This quilt is now available in the shop.

Quilt Stats
Finished dimensions: 34" x 42.5"
Fabrics used include: Prints from the Echo collection by Lotta Jansdotter for the top and binding; large beige circles by Marimekko for Crate and Barrel for the back.
Quilt pattern: An original Salty Oat design


donut quilt

This quilt has been in progress for what feels like forever, so I'm so excited to finally have a finish to share with you today!

The Donuts quilt pattern has been on my mind ever since I saw Amanda's Donut Quilt back in 2013. I loved the whimsical nature of the design---donuts!---and the staggered layout, so I bought a copy of the quilt pattern from The Workroom.

Knowing that this would be a quilt I would keep for myself, I chose to use a number of Maze & Vale panels that I'd been stockpiling for the donuts. Leslie's fabrics are gorgeous, and I was excited to sew with them and finally include them in a quilt. I used a blue Essex linen for the background, which paired beautifully with the screen-printed fabrics. According to Instagram, I made the blocks for this quilt a year ago.

I recently had a quilt to send off to Crinklelove for quilting, so I figured this was a great time to take the top out of the WIP pile, and finish it before the New Hampshire winter starts.

Sarah did a beautiful job quilting Denyse Schmidt-style loops across the top; I'm in love with the texture they created! I inadvertently made a Scandinavian backing for the quilt, pairing a large-scale Marrimekko dot print with a text print from Ikea.

I'm so excited to have finished this quilt---and the final result!---and am looking forward to adding it to the quilt rotation in our house. Do you have any quilt patterns that you love and are hoping to make yourself? I'd love to hear!

Quilt Stats
Finished dimensions: 50" x 61"
Fabrics used include: Various screen-printed panels by Maze & Vale; Essex linen-cotton blend by Robert Kaufman; large-circle print by Marimekko; Britten Nummer fabric by Ikea; and Herringbone in Pond by Joel Dewberry.
Quilt pattern: Donuts Quilt by Johanna Masko


modern sampler quilt along: block A link-up

Welcome to the first link-up for the Modern Sampler Quilt Along, an informal and virtual quilt along where we make a block from Yoshiko Jinzenji's Modern Sampler Quilt pattern each month! You can follow the hashtag #modernsamplerquiltalong on Instagram to get a peek at everyone's blocks, fabrics, and process, as we work our way through the pattern together. On the last Tuesday of each month, we gather here to share the blocks we've made; this month we worked on Block A from the pattern.

For my quilt, I'm using the Superbuzzy Yoshiko Jinzenji bundle as the starting point for my fabric selection, and I've pulled a number of complementary fabrics from my stash to round it out, adding in pops of pink, yellow, and aqua.

For my Block A, I used out-of-date quilt labels, a vintage daisy print (I love the pop of neon coral in the flowers' centers!), solid aqua, an Ikea text print, and a Jinzenji print. One of the things that I really like about this pattern so far is that Jinzenji doesn't specify what types of fabrics to use (lights versus darks, colors versus neutrals) or where to place them, which I found quite freeing. I had fun experimenting with the layout.

In case this is your first time doing mitered corners on your borders and you'd like a bit of help, Craftsy has a step-by-step photo tutorial that shows you how to sew them, and the Fat Quarter Shop has a step-by-step video that walks you through the process as well.

Have any tips or tricks or observations you'd like to share? Leave them in the comments below.

Now let's see your first blocks!

1. Click the "Add your link" button below, and link to a blog post or Instagram photo of your Block A. In the "Link Title" field, enter your blog name or Instagram handle.

2. If you're linking to a blog post, please link back to this post somewhere in your post. If you're linking to an Instagram photo, be sure to tag your photo with the hashtag #modernsamplerquiltalong.


summer craft show wrap-up + new tote bags

This past Saturday night I attended my last craft fair of the summer season at Squam Lake here in NH. It was such a lovely evening, and a wonderful way to cap off a summer of many craft shows. I feel like I learned so much preparing and attending events these past few months---a feeling I'm sure is shared by fellow makers who sell their work in person!

I learned about which products sold best to which crowd (lavender sachets were an overall hit and drew people to my table with their scent); the best way to label items with their prices so they were easy to read; and how to fine tune my display, especially when it came to quilts and pillows. I took notes at each event and wrote down customer feedback and new product ideas. Though each show was quite different, I feel like they all taught me something---even if it was simply that it wasn't the right show for me!

One of the new items that I introduced into the line-up this summer was color-block tote bags, featuring prints from Ellen Luckett Baker's Stamped line. I have a few left from the shows, so I thought now would be a great time to share them with those of you who couldn't make it out to see me this summer---they are now in the shop!

Each one is fully lined and features double top-stitching, a sturdy cotton duck bottom, and durable cotton webbing handles. These totes are limited edition, and you can find them all here.

I'm now getting ready for holiday shows (sending in applications and building inventory) and what I hope will be a busy season. Be sure to keep an eye on the blog's sidebar, where I'll post all upcoming events and shows, to find out where I'll be this fall and winter.

Happy weekend to you all!

P.S. Don't forget that next Tuesday, September 29, will be the first official link-up for the Modern Sampler Quilt Along!  Be sure to swing by and share a link to either a blog post or an Instagram photo of your finished Block A, and tag all of your quilt along photos with the hashtag #modernsamplerquiltalong. I can't wait to see what you've been working on!


studio tour

We moved into our current house this past May, and I feel like I'm finally settled into my studio enough to share some pictures with you! So I did a bit of straightening up (trust me, it's not always this organized!) and took some photos around the room, if you'd like to see.

The house that we're renting was built in 1898, and my sunny sewing space is on the second floor. It's the largest work space I've had yet, and I've been able set it up in such a way that I can make a quilt from start to finish right here. Whenever I need to baste a quilt, I simply roll up the rug and tape the quilt to the floor.

I have a dedicated wall for photographs, which is where my fabric shelves reside. I added wheels to the Expedit bookcases I keep my fabric in, so whenever I need to photograph something, I simply wheel them out of the way. The flexibility has been so helpful!

My cutting table consists of an Ikea table top with adjustable legs, so I'm able to cut fabrics while standing. I keep a yellow stool from Target nearby, which I use whenever I want to sit and work at the table. Two wall quilts hang next to the table: my Star Blossoms Mini Quilt and the Cross-Stitch Heart Quilt made for me by Alyssa Lichner of Pile O' Fabric.

My design wall (a vinyl tablecloth tacked to the wall with the flannel side out) hangs between the cutting table and my sewing machine. I've hung all of my threads above my machine, along with the hexagon wall quilt I made from Sara Lee Parker's hand-printed fabrics.

One section of the wall features embroidery hoops filled with past projects, including my Hello and Joy samplers, my old shop logos, an embroidered doily design, and a holiday ornament.

I keep finished quilts tucked away in the closet, along with various supplies and WIPs.

And finally, my glass shelves hold my favorite sewing and quilting books, bins of shop fabric, jars of buttons and ribbons, and various notions. A pink wire basket sits next to the shelves and holds bolts of fabric.

I hope you enjoyed this mini tour, and I'd love to hear about where you sew! What's your favorite feature of your space?


oakshott scandinavia + a bartow baby quilt

The lovely team at Sew Mama Sew recently sent me a bundle of fabrics from Oakshott Fabrics' Scandinavia collection. When they asked that I create something Scandinavian-inspired, I immediately thought of the interiors of Scandinavian homes I'd seen on Pinterest and Design*Sponge, and wanted to create something that would fit into those clean, modern spaces. When I received the stack of shot cottons, I experimented with a few different quilt blocks based on Scandinavian surface patterns---including improv curves and plus signs---but none of them seemed quite right.

While continuing to brainstorm ideas, the Bartow Quilt pattern by Carolyn Friedlander came to mind. The clean lines and simple layout of this free pattern for Robert Kaufman suggested to me that it would be right at home in a modern interior, so I set to work cutting strips from each of the pastel fabrics to create a baby quilt.

I used a combination of cream shot cotton and white cotton for the top's background, and I backed the quilt with a soft Melody Miller linen-cotton print that I picked up in Japan last year, which included many of the colors from the bundle: baby pink, lavender and mint green.

I used cream thread for the cross-hatch quilting, and I machine bound the quilt with leftover Oakshott scraps, using my newest favorite method for binding.

Many thanks to Sew Mama Sew and Oakshott Fabrics for this beautiful fabric bundle! I enjoyed working in a new-to-me color palette and taking on a fun challenge.

Be sure to check out the beautiful projects made from the same bundle of fabric by these other talented makers: 

Jessica Skultety from Quilty Habit
Jennifer Fullerton from Never Just Jennifer
Mary Kolb from Mary on Lake Pulaski
Casey York from The Studiolo
Deborah Fisher from Fish Museum and Circus

P.S. A winner was selected for the Modern Sampler Quilt pattern giveaway and announced in the last post. There's still time to grab a pattern from the Zakka Workshop store for 20% off with the code QUILTALONG, and sew your first block for the Modern Sampler Quilt Along by the end of the month!