EQ Ambassador, Alyce Blyth has a brand new book out called Mini Masterpieces which would make a great gift (even for yourself!!). Read all about it below and enter to win a copy!
EQ: Hi and welcome back to the EQ blog! Earlier this year, you told us you were headed to Bali – tell us how that was!!
Alyce: Thank you! It was such a wonderful way to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and the longest my husband and I have been away just us two since we’ve had kids. And seeing as my eldest just turned 10, it’s been a long time coming. While we aren’t the most touristy of tourists (preferring to check out what a local supermarket is like over a busy tourist hot spot), we did hit up a few places, including one very fancy fabric store we happened across, before jumping in the pool each afternoon.
EQ: Sounds like a wonderful trip! What else have you been working on since then?
Alyce: The second half of this year has been the most crazy, wonderful time! The biggest news is that my book, Mini Masterpieces, has just come out with Lucky Spool. I’ve also curated an Aurifil thread collection to coordinate with the book, containing my two favourite neutrals, and a 10-piece rainbow to cover all your colour needs.
Then there’s been two new patterns – Double Dash and Origami. Double Dash is a churn dash pattern that is a two-for-one affair where you not only make two blocks at a time, but there’s also two quilt block size options! It’s a fabulously fat-quarter-friendly pattern with space for creative play with fabric placement.
Origami was released this month and is the perfect layer cake pattern – one square per block. It was inspired by Japanese fabric that my mother-in-law purchased for a quilt I promised to make her for Christmas, and I love how much of these gorgeous prints I’m able to show off!
And then in between all that, I popped over to Houston (from Melbourne, Australia) for Quilt Market last month to promote Mini Masterpieces! Lucky Spool hosted a book signing, and I did a Facebook live with Aurifil. Quilt Market is everything you’ve ever heard about it – huge! So many aisles! But also so much fun, being able to catch up with friends or finally meet friends for the first time. It was inspiring, educational, and I can’t wait to go back again someday.
EQ: You have been busy! And YAY for your first time at Market!! How and when did the idea to write this book come about?
Alyce: I am a teacher at heart, having studied education at university, and my passion in quilting is to enable and encourage quilters to try new skills and to grow as creatives. But I also know that as quilters, we often feel like whatever project we make “should” be a big quilt that’s “useful”. I am a firm believer in that creating for creativity’s sake is a valid reason on its own. Wanting to practice fussy cutting, or playing with colour, or trying a new technique… don’t commit to a massive project, just make something small… mini… and hang it on your wall. Or turn it into a pillow. Or use it as a table runner.
And so, Mini Masterpieces was born – teaching and encouraging creativity and learning new skills in an achievable size. Mini Masterpieces features 12 basic quilting techniques with a sampler block and a full mini quilt pattern for each, so that you can choose what size of project you’d like to make to try out something new.
EQ: What a neat tool for experimenting with a new technique! Speaking of tools, which of your book quilts were designed in EQ?
Alyce: All of them! Even the improv curves quilt was designed in EQ for my book proposal, which sounds a little funny – digitally pre-planning an improv quilt! The sampler quilts hold a special place in my heart when it comes to talking about the design stage, as it was coming up with those in EQ that made the whole book concept click into place for me.
I didn’t want to just have the standard 3×4 grid layout for the 12 sampler blocks, and while running some errands one morning, the idea of a medallion-style quilt came to mind. The first thing I did when I got home was to open up EQ and give it a go… and it was perfect!
EQ: Love that!! How many quilts are in the book and which ones are your favorite?
Alyce: There are 14 quilts in total – one for each quilting technique, and then two sampler quilt patterns. Each time I ponder the question of which is my favourite, I have to try and decide whether my answer is because of how I made it/the fabrics I used, or because of the design… If we’re talking fabrics and colours, then I’d have to go with Blossom and XOXO. They’re the two quilts that I’m struggling to work out how to make them differently next time because I just love the originals so much!
If we’re talking design, then Rising Sun is probably up there, both for the sentimental reason behind the design (a tribute to our time living in Japan) and for the aesthetic of applique circles on half-square triangles.
EQ: All three are so interesting in their own way. That XOXO one is unforgettable! Which part of the book was the toughest to write?
Alyce: With 12 sampler blocks and 14 quilt patterns, that’s a lot of technical instruction to write! Writing that many patterns was challenging – making sure I kept language/vocabulary consistent, formatted correctly, double and triple checking that many numbers… It was something that I had to make sure that I took solid breaks from to let my brain have a rest!
EQ: Oh, I bet! Among all those detailed instructions, your book is sprinkled with quilter-to-quilter (“Q2Q”) tips. Tell us a couple of your favorites!
Alyce: To save time by not having to mark fabric when making units like half-square triangles or flying geese, place some washi tape on your machine bed to create a line to guide your fabric along.
Another one that applies to any project is using beautiful images found online to source colour palette ideas for new projects. Pinterest is a great place to start for that!
EQ: The Holiday season is here… quilters could use your book to make a quick present, or gift the book itself! Where can your book be purchased?
Alyce: Mini Masterpieces most definitely needs to be added to your list for Christmas – I’m hosting a year-long quilt along next year for it, so Santa knows that it’s the perfect timing to pop it under your tree. You can buy it from all major bookstores including Amazon and Book Depository, or you can order a signed copy from me here.
But if you can’t wait for Christmas, then good news – it’s out now and yes, you could absolutely get sewing right away to make a pillow, baby quilt, table runner or more for that special person’s Christmas present.
If you’d like to win a copy of Mini Masterpieces tell us why in the comments below! One entry per person, please. Giveaway closes Sunday, December 1 at 11:59pm ET.
This giveaway is closed. Congratulations to the winner, MaryAnn Mairs!!!