The AQS Paducah Experience

My quilt “Celestial Orbs” won an Honorable Mention ribbon at the AQS show in Paducah a couple of weeks ago, and when I found out I’d won something, I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to drive up to Kentucky and go see it. (Thanks to my good friend Marybeth who let me crash in her hotel room!)

Celestial Orbs at AQS Paducah | Flying Parrot Quilts

Apparently the quilters that show up to this show every year double the population of the town! To even get to my quilt I had to fight my way through aisles that looked like this:

Paducah crowds | Flying Parrot Quilts

We met ladies from as far away as England and Australia. Late in the afternoon, everyone is worn out, and I was finally able to get this wide-angle shot of my quilt hanging.

Celestial Orbs | Flying Parrot Quilts

I did get to do a winner’s interview, but it doesn’t seem to have been posted yet, so I’ll update when that is available.

They literally inflate a building to hold all the overflow vendors. It’s held up by positive pressure inside the building, and your ears pop every time you go in or out.

Paducah pavilion outside | Flying Parrot Quilts

Paducah pavilion inside | Flying Parrot Quilts

Of course, no trip to Paducah is complete without a visit to the legendary Hancock’s of Paducah (not affiliated with the soon-to-be-defunct fabric store chain). It’s too big for photos alone, so I took these panoramas—click to enlarge! (And sorry about the camera glitch on the bottom! 🙂 )

HoP front panorama | Flying Parrot Quilts

HoP back panorama | Flying Parrot Quilts It is almost a little too big to do much shopping—I get overwhelmed when there are so many choices, but I did manage to find a few fabrics that spoke to me.

On the final morning, we went to town super early to visit the National Quilt Museum, which is located just a few blocks from the show venue. There was a little farmers’ market set up in the parking lot, and I found this amazing stand selling the most beautiful air plants.

Air plants | Flying Parrot Quilts

I have a weakness for air plants, and I’m pretty sure the owners thought I was completely insane. After leaving a bunch of money with them, we headed over to the quilt museum. No pictures were allowed, but George Siciliano was demonstrating his tiny foundation piecing techniques in the lobby, and he allowed me to snap this photo of a quilt that I loved, because the colors were just like those of the air plants I’d just bought!

George Siciliano quilts | Flying Parrot Quilts

It was quite an experience to attend a show this big, but I’m so glad I made the drive up. It was totally worth it, and I hope to get to go to this show again in the future!

Posted in Shows | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Red Diamonds quilt

I’m excited to reveal my latest quilt pattern, “Red Diamonds”!

Red Diamonds quilt | Flying Parrot QuiltsIt is based on a traditional block called “Red Peony Buds.” The pattern for this quilt has just been released in the Spring 2016 issue of Modern Patchwork magazine.

Red Diamonds quilt detail |  | Flying Parrot Quilts

red diamonds piecing detail

Because of time constraints in getting this quilt finished, I asked my friend Marybeth Tawfik to longarm quilt it for me, and I love what she did with it! I knew I wanted her to extend the zigzag pattern between the diamonds into the negative space, but she chose all the fun swirly fills.

Red Diamonds quilting detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

I backed it with a Cotton + Steel print that matched the colors on the front beautifully:

Red Diamonds with backing | Flying Parrot Quilts

This pattern is approved by Mother Nature—a cute little American Toad showed up while I was taking these photos! (Look closely and you’ll see it in the full quilt picture above, too!)

Red Diamonds quilt & toad | Flying Parrot Quilts

Get your copy of the magazine here in digital format, or preorder a paper copy (on newsstands on April 19)!

Modern patchwork spring 2016

Posted in Finished Quilts, Patterns | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Two more swap mini quilts

Here are two quilts I’ve made for recent swaps. There seem to be less swaps happening on Instagram these days, so my obligations for the time being are finished. That’s probably a good thing, as I have a ton of personal projects awaiting completion!

This quilt was made for the Geeky Science Swap. While the mini isn’t particularly science-inspired, my partner was a big fan of the TV show “Lost,” and it turns out that the logo suits itself really well to patchwork.

Lost quilt front | Flying Parrot Quilts

The center is raw edge appliqué. I did at least use some science fabric for the piecing of the outer portion.

Lost quilt detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

And the backing was science-inspired, too.

Lost quilt backing | Flying Parrot Quilts

I used some new opaque fabric markers for the label, and was rather pleased with how well they worked!

I also participated in the second round of the Rainbow Mini Swap, but ended up not making a rainbow quilt as my partner seemed more into pink and yellow than rainbows!

Rainbow Mini swap round 2 quilt | Flying Parrot Quilts

I cut some of these patches with my Silhouette machine, but eventually went back to the old-fashioned way. A pattern is available here.

Rainbow Mini swap 2 detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

I found a perfect backing in my stash, although I always end up having to piece the backings for mini quilts because a fat quarter isn’t quite enough.

Rainbow Mini swap 2 back | Flying Parrot Quilts

Posted in Finished Quilts, Mini Quilts, Swaps | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Planning quilt show entries

Since I’ve been entering a lot of quilt shows lately, I’ve had to find a good way of keeping track of show deadlines, when various quilts are gone, etc., so that I don’t accidentally find myself trying to send a quilt to two shows at the same time. I tried keeping track of it on my Google calendar, but it cluttered up my regular non-quilt-related calendar, and entering all that information somehow seemed to take more time than just writing it down, so I got myself a cheap monthly planner from OfficeMax. It’s best to get the longest-term one you can find; I found a two-year monthly planner for about $6.

I received a Silhouette Curio (a totally awesome electronic cutting machine) for my birthday last year, so I went into planner cuteness overdrive, but it works just as well with a few colored pens and some highlighters, which is how I handled it before. There’s a picture of that below, too.

Quilt Planner | Flying Parrot Quilts

The “quilt show planner” decal was cut with the Silhouette. You could also use Sharpies or a paint pen to decorate.

Next, I thought about what I really needed to keep track of when it comes to quilt shows.

  • Of course, the entry deadline and, if you’re accepted, the subsequent shipping deadline are most important.
  • I also wanted to keep track of whether a show has a modern quilt category, since that is often an important consideration in whether or not a quilt of mine is well suited to a particular show.
  • I need to keep track of the full range of dates a particular quilt will be gone so I can make sure that it will arrive at the following show in time to be judged.
  • Finally, I get impatient about the results, so I want to be able to quickly check when I’ll find out whether a quilt has gotten into a show, and when the show is (i.e., winners are announced).

With that in mind, I designed some little stickers for my planner.

Quilt Planner | Flying Parrot Quilts

I color-coded them and left myself some room to write information about which quilt or which show it is.

Now, I can just stick them onto the appropriate dates and have all the information for the month available at a glance! Here are January and February of this year:

Quilt Planner | Flying Parrot Quilts

Quilt Planner | Flying Parrot Quilts

Even if I don’t end up entering all the shows I put in the calendar, I still like to check out the winners, so it’s worth keeping them there.

Before I had my Silhouette, I used different colors of pens and highlighters to keep track of the same information. Here is October from last year’s planner.

Quilt Planner | Flying Parrot Quilts

Here, I used green highlighter to indicate show dates, red pen to indicate an entry deadline (I’d include an asterisk to indicate that the show has a modern category), and yellow highlighter to indicate when a quilt is gone. So far I haven’t been highlighting in this year’s planner, but I probably still will do so when a quilt is gone only part of a month. I also use the “Notes” field to keep track of any additional information—not all monthly planners include such a field, so it’s worth looking through a few to find one that does.

Now go forth and enter shows!

Posted in Shows | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Meeting of the Geese: MQG Quilt of the Month!

I am SO EXCITED to finally get to show you this quilt! It’s called “Meeting of the Geese,” and if you’re a member of the Modern Quilt Guild, this is the January Quilt of the Month, which means that you can go get the free pattern on the community website right now—check your email for the link!

Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer | Flying Parrot Quilts

Although this quilt is called “Meeting of the Geese” because it reminds me of flying geese blocks so much, it’s actually just a whole lot of half square triangles, which makes it easy.

It’s based on a block called “North Wind” that I ran across while browsing the block library in Electric Quilt:

North Wind Quilt Block | Flying Parrot Quilts

The easiest places to see the block are in the top right and bottom left corners of the quilt.

The quilting is all straight-line quilting done with my walking foot. I decided not to space the lines evenly, and I seriously love the texture that created.

Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer | Flying Parrot Quilts

I used mostly matching thread on the light and the dark half of the quilt, but interspersed it with some contrasting lines, including some red ones, every now and then for a little added interest.

Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer | Flying Parrot Quilts

Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer | Flying Parrot Quilts

One of my favorite parts of this quilt is the two-colored binding that changes color right at the corner. I’ve done this before, but I think I found an easier way of getting it accurate, and the instructions for that are included in the pattern!

Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer | Flying Parrot Quilts

It’s backed with a fun red print that matches the red accents in the front of the quilt.

Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer | Flying Parrot Quilts

Quilt Stats:
Dimensions: 63″ x 63″
Fabrics: Northcott Glacier, Kona Charcoal, Kona Ruby
Batting: Hobbs 80/20 blend
Threads: Invisafil 100-weight polyester (grays), Aurifil 50-weight cotton (red)
Backing: Fresh Pick by Suzy Pilgrim Waters

Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer | Flying Parrot Quilts

Posted in Finished Quilts, Patterns | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

2015 in Quilts

Since it’s the last day of the year, it’s always fun to look back at everything I’ve made over the last 12 months. First up, all the quilts I finished this year!

2015 finished quilts

In rows from top: 1. Schnitzel and Boo Round 3 swap quilt; 2. The Disintegration of the Persistence of Artichokes; 3. Celestial Orbs; 4. A baby quilt for a friend; 5. Rainbow Mini Swap quilt; 6. MQG Riley Blake challenge; 7. Mountain Rainbows; 8. Harry Potter Mini Quilt Swap quilt; 9. Beach Bound Mini Swap quilt; 10. Pet Craft Swap quilt #1.

There are a couple more I actually did finish this year, but they’re still a secret. 🙂

Then, of course, there were the quilts I didn’t finish this year. These are some of the completed tops from this year, most of which are awaiting quilting.

2015 Unfinished Tops

Clockwise from top left: Part of a top made using a Zen Chic jelly roll purchased at AQS Chattanooga this fall; my finished top from this year’s Stash Bee that sadly didn’t get finished in time for Christmas; part of a top involving 3″ finished blocks on which I’m stymied on the logistics of quilting it; a shop sample I made for my LQS (that thankfully was longarm quilted for me!)

I was part of Stash Bee again this year, and made a block every month for a different one of my bee-mates:

2015 Stash Bee blocks

Finally, this was the year I started seriously showing some of my quilts, and it paid off. At the beginning of the year, I had three ribbons (a 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention) from the shows that my local traditional quilt guild puts on; this is how my ribbon display looks now, including a Best of Show, a couple of Machine Quilting ribbons, and a first place ribbon at PIQF this fall:

2015 ribbons

My biggest winner was The Disintegration of the Persistence of Artichokes, although Main Sequence and Celestial Orbs also picked up a few ribbons each. I’m looking forward to entering more shows next year, although if this keeps up I’ll have to spill over onto the wall!

Here’s wishing everyone a happy and quilty 2016!

Posted in Year in Review | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Beach Bound swap quilts

Another swap wrapped up recently, this one a beach and ocean-themed swap. Given my background as a marine scientist, this one was impossible to resist signing up for. My partner shared this lovely color inspiration collage:


I also gathered that she loves turtles and storm at sea quilts, so naturally I thought of combining them!

Turtle Storm at Sea quilt | Flying Parrot Quilts

Essentially, I just replaced the central squares of the storm at sea blocks with appliquéd turtles. I think it turned out to work rather well!

Turtle Storm at Sea corner | Flying Parrot Quilts

I kept the quilting simple—stitch in the ditch and a little outlining, except for the turtles where I used some free motion quilting to both secure the appliqué and give the turtles some more definition.

Turtle Storm at Sea detail | Flying Parrot Quilts Turtle Storm at Sea detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

I found a great turtle print in the same sort of cool colors in my stash for the backing.

Turtle Storm at Sea backing | Flying Parrot Quilts

I was really pleased with the way it turned out, and I was thrilled to hear that my partner loved it, too!

The quilt I received is nothing short of amazing. Swap hostess Meredith took my love of science and oceanography and made me an ocean profile quilt:

Ocean Profile quilt by Meredith Russian

The details she put into this are just fantastic. She hand embroidered the depths delineating the various zones of the ocean, and she used the quilting to show how only blue light penetrates into the ocean depths. At the top, there are plants and fish (red, because that makes them hard to see in a place where there is little red light); below that, particles sink into the ocean depths.

Ocean Profile quilt by Meredith Russian

And she backed it in one of my favorite prints ever:

Backing - Ocean Profile quilt by Meredith Russian

It’s hanging in the living room now, so that all my nerdy friends can admire it too when they come by!

Posted in Finished Quilts, Mini Quilts, Science, Swaps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Harry Potter swap quilts & some great news!

I love the Harry Potter books, and so I couldn’t help myself and joined a Harry Potter themed swap a while back. The partner I was assigned said her favorite book was Goblet of Fire, so I made a book 4-themed quilt for her!

Harry Potter quilt | Flying Parrot Quilts

I drew the flames and then fitted various spells into them. These are fusible web-backed appliqués that I cut very carefully using small scissors. I also used batik fabrics, a choice I mostly made because they looked best, but since batik fabrics have a high thread count and fray less easily, anything else would have been a disaster with these sorts of fiddly shapes!

Harry Potter quilt detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

The top half was quilted with a flame motif, but to add a little extra something, I quilted Harry and Voldemort’s duel in the graveyard into the bottom part of the quilt. When I quilted this, I was a little disappointed because it just didn’t look right until I realized I’d forgotten Harry’s glasses!

Harry Potter quilt detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

I had a little scare about this quilt possibly getting lost (swappers, please make sure you keep your host informed of any moves!), but I’m pleased to hear that it has reached its new home and is being loved!

In return, I received this delightful quilt that completely captured my sentiments from Sandy! (I like the movies, but if you watch them with me you’ll have to listen me complain about everything that was left out, and how they totally didn’t explain what just happened properly, etc. etc.!)

Harry Potter swap quilt by Sandy

I also found out yesterday that my quilt “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Artichokes” took first place in the new modern category that the Pacific International Quilt Festival has just added to their show. PIQF has only a few categories but many ribbons within each category, so I was hoping for something, but I really wasn’t expecting the top prize in the category. I wish I could be there, but fortunately there are kind people on Instagram who will take pictures for me—it didn’t seem real until I saw a photo!


Posted in Shows, Swaps | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Giveaway winner & AQS Chattanooga modern eye candy

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and said kind things about my quilt. I read every one of them, and they all made me feel warm and fuzzy! I’m working on a pattern for the quilt, so please check back if you were one of the people who really wanted to make this same quilt!

The winner of the Peppered Cottons bundle is Carol. Congrats Carol!

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 11.41.36 AM

For everyone else, here’s some eye candy! I went to the AQS show in Chattanooga a couple of weeks ago to see my quilt hanging:

Aritchokes quilt at AQS Chattanooga | Flying Parrot Quilts

The show was great, and it was so fun to see my quilt in a display of this caliber. Here are some of my favorites from the modern category!

A Slice of Pi, Connie Griner

A Slice of Pi by Connie Griner

The quilt above really appealed to me because of my love of scientific quilts. I got to chat with Connie for a while while we were waiting to pick up our quilts, and she said she had made this in celebration of the Pi Day of the Century last March (3/14/15). It features the first 100 digits of pi!

Honey, What Color Should We Paint the Living Room, Jeri Fickes

Honey, What Color Should We Paint the Living Room? by Jeri Fickes

Chasm, Susan Cronenwett

Chasm by Susan Cronenwett

The next two appealed to me because I love birds:

Me And My Shadow, Vicki Ruebel

Me And My Shadow by Vicki Ruebel

Black & White Crayons by Lynn Tyler

Black & White Crayons by Lynn Tyler

Love in the Digital Age, Kristin Shields

Love in the Digital Age by Kristin Shields

This Side Up, Judith Putnam

This Side Up by Judith Putnam

Disoriented Vortex, Nancy Packard

Disoriented Vortex by Nancy Packard

Snack Time, Donna DeFusco

Snack Time by Donna DeFusco

Next up on my project list: making something with the fabric I bought while there!

Posted in Blog Hops, Shows | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Jaftex Anniversary Blog Hop & Giveaway!

Hi everyone, and welcome to my stop on the Jaftex 85th Anniversary Blog Hop! If this is your first time stopping by, I’m Sylvia and I’m primarily a modern quilter. I also love to make science-inspired quilts!

When I was asked to participate in this blog hop, I knew right away that I wanted to play with Peppered Cottons, as I’d had my eye on some of these for a while. They are shot cottons, meaning that the warp and weft threads of the fabric are different colors, and this gives them a near-solid appearance while adding a little bit of softness and interest to the look.

Giveaway Bundles | Flying Parrot Quilts

Many of my quilts have a large expanse of background fabric, so working with fat quarters is always a challenge for me. However, this line has a lovely range of neutrals, and I decided to combine them into a pieced background and just add a little pop of color. Since I’ve had Dresden Plates on my mind lately, I decided to make fat Dresdens. Here’s the quilt I came up with:

Mountain Rainbows | Flying Parrot Quilts

The chevrons reminded a friend of mine of the Rocky Mountains, so “Mountain Rainbows” is it for the title of the quilt!

The Dresdens were machine appliquéd on using an invisible thread, but unfortunately, as soon as I started quilting, the stitches began popping, so I had to go back and restitch them all down by hand. I quilted swirls into each colored wedge, which involved a lot of color changes and thread burying, but was so worth it.

Mountain Rainbows Detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

Mountain Rainbows detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

The rest of the quilting was straight line quilting following the chevrons, but I skipped every other line or so, and it really adds to the texture. I used my walking foot for this part. You can see it nicely in this photo:

Mountain Rainbows | Flying Parrot Quilts

For the backing, I used leftover colorful fabrics from the Dresden Plates. I rather like the color block effect!


The fabrics are really soft and have a lovely drape; I actually starched them fairly heavily to make accurate piecing easier. However, they are a nice weight and not overly thin. This is my favorite color—light blue crossed with purple, and it almost shimmers.

Mountain Rainbows back detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

My favorite part of this quilt is the binding. I decided to continue the background gradient into the binding. I had never matched up colors at an angle before, and it was definitely a challenge, but there was just nothing else that would have quite worked the same.

Mountain Rainbows binding | Flying Parrot Quilts

Mountain Rainbows binding | Flying Parrot Quilts

Would you like to win your own 20-piece fat quarter bundle of all the fabrics used in this quilt? Here are the giveaway rules:

1. For a chance to win, leave me a comment and tell me what you would make with these fabrics.

2. For a second chance to win, follow me on Instagram, Bloglovin’, or by email. Leave me a separate comment telling me how you follow!

I’ll pick a winner at the end of the blog hop. (Although I usually try to respond to all comments, the volume during giveaways may mean I’m not able to. Rest assured that I read them all!)

For more chances to win all month, visit some of the other stops on the blog hop! There is also a grand prize giveaway, with chances to win a sewing machine, threads, and more, plus a chance for your favorite quilt shop to win, too. You can enter that drawing here:

85th Anniversary Giveaway
(Thanks to cosponsors Aurifil Threads, Schmetz Needles, and Janome!)

September 1 – Kim Diehl guest posting @ American Patchwork & Quilting
September 2 – Pepper @ Pepper at the Quilt Studio
September 3 – Anjeanette @ Anjeanette Klinder
September 4 – Leanne @ The Whole Country Caboodle
September 5 – Mark @ Mark Lipinski’s Blog
September 6 – Heather @ Heather Kojan Quilts
September 7 – Heather @ Trends and Traditions
September 7 – Martha @ Wagons West Designs
September 8 – Linda @ Linda Lum DeBono
September 9 – Heidi @ Red Letter Quilts
September 10 – Jill @ Jillily Studios
September 10 – Dana @ My Lazy Daisy
September 11 – Penny @ Sew Simple Designs
September 12 – Ida @ Cowtown Quilts
September 13 – Liz and Beth @ Lizzie B Cre8ive
September 14 – Melissa @ Sew Bitter Sweet Designs
September 15 – Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
September 16 – Amy @ Kati Cupcake
September 16 – Barbara @ QuiltSoup2
September 17 – Erica @ Kitchen Table Quilting
September 18 – Leona @ Leona’s Quilting Adventure
September 19 – Margot @ The Pattern Basket
September 20 – Sylvia @ Flying Parrot Quilts
September 21 – Lorna @ Sew Fresh Quilts
September 22 – Kim @ Aurifil Threads
September 23 – Rebekah @ Don’t Call Me Becky
September 24 – Julie @ The Crafty Quilter
September 25 – Mary Ellen @ Little Quilts
September 25 – Mary Jane @ Holly Hill Designs
September 26 – Daisy @ Ants to Sugar
September 27 – Melissa @ Happy Quilting
September 28 – Janet @ One S1ster
September 29 – Jenny @ Martingale& Co.
September 30 – Teresa @ Third Floor Quilts


Posted in Blog Hops, Finished Quilts | Tagged , , , , | 328 Comments