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I'm so glad to be part of the Global Quilt Connection, an international group of quilt teachers and speakers organized by Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweiss in response to the need for quilt guilds to have programs during the pandemic. Mel Beach joined the leadership team to coordinate the website. Through the Global Quilt Connection, I'm having so many opportunities to speak and teach across the United States and Canada. A quilter from the Netherlands recently registered for one of my upcoming class. And I've learned a lot about converting from one time zone to another.

I've learned so much from the other teachers as we all seek to get better and better at presenting and teaching via Zoom. It will be interesting to see where this supportive community goes in the future.

Recently, we were asked to prepare three-minute videos to promote what we have to offer. Here's mine. Enjoy.

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Will It Go Round in Circles,© design and piecing by Dana Jones, quilted by ZJ Humbach

I became a quilter September 12, 2003. I'd signed up for a Martha Pullen quilt weekend in Huntsville, Alabama. My drive there took longer than expected. I arrived part way into a trunk show by Alex Anderson. She was saying, "There's no such thing as an ugly fabric. You just have to find the right spot."

Hmm... I thought.

A few years later, I enrolled in a color class with Davida Hyland at City Quilter in New York City. Class 1 she had us write down the three colors we disliked most. Easy: Avocado green, harvest gold, hot pink. Class 3, she assigned our final project: a quilt in those colors.

Detail of Will It Go Round in Circles© by Dana Jones

As I left class with that unpleasant assignment, I spotted the dotted fabric above on a sale rack, the final resting place of many ugly fabrics. I bought what was left on the bolt. The pattern of the fabric became the inspiration for the design of my quilt. I completed the top in time to share with the class.

Then the quilt top sat unquilted for several years. I'd run out of all the fabrics used in the quilt, and I couldn't find other fabric for the binding. I carried the quilt top from shop to shop until one day a shop owner said, "I have the perfect fabric. Just a minute."

Binding on Will It Go Round in Circles© by Dana Jones

She disappeared into her storage closet emerging minutes later with a bolt of the ugliest green fabric I'd ever seen. It was perfect. Alex was right.

When I said I needed a half yard, the shop owner laughed. She handed me what was close to a full bolt of fabric. There were multiple sale stickers on the end of the bolt.

I could have the fabric, no charge, so long as I took all of it.

My favorite ugly fabric has since found its way into multiple quilts, always the perfect fabric I would never have purchased.

BTW: I love this quilt in my three least favorite colors. Recommendation: Embrace that ugly fabric. It will reward you.

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With this blog, I'm starting a series that will look at hallmarks of my quilt designs. We don't start out knowing what our design styles will be. Over time, we are influenced by seeing others' quilts, taking classes and trying new things. We stumble upon something we like, and before we know it, that thing is popping up demanding we notice and claim it as our own. Fortunately, our styles change, develop and evolve over time. Some things run their course; others come to stay. I look at my obsession with 1/4" strips in this first post. For now, they are here to stay in my designs.

Block© designed by Dana Jones using fabrics from "Bubbles and Swirls" by Lonni Rossi for Andover Fabrics.

I love 1/4" strips in blocks, between blocks, as elements of overall designs, pretty much anywhere in my quilts. They are the behind-the-scenes stars that make everything else pop. They provide structure, sight lines, definition. And they intrigue viewers who ask how I can sew them evenly.

My answer is often foundation piecing. If you know me, you know I'll foundation piece any quilt I can. When that's not the answer, I use a nifty trick I picked up from Ricky Tim's Convergence Quilts: Mysterious, Magical, Easy and Fun (C&T Publishing, 2003). On page 73, Ricky provides tips on adding narrow borders using a method that enlists the left side of the presser foot as a guide as it is butted into the sewn seam. This is a bit difficult to explain here, so get Ricky's book and check it out. It really works if you want narrow strips and can't foundation piece them.

Check out a few of my block designs that feature these narrow strips. When you enroll in my Demystifying Design for Foundation Paper Piecing workshop, you'll learn how easy these are to incorporate in your quilts.

Blocks© designed by Dana Jones using 1/4" strips

When 1/4" strips are used between fussy cut images, those images stand out. One example is this fun Boston terrier pillow sham I made for a friend. Those black 1/4" strips pieced between the fussy-cut dogs really let each dog have its time the sun.

Boston terrier pillow sham© designed and made by Dana Jones

The first time I designed with 1/4" strips was when I created Will It Go Round in Circles. These strips are important to the graphic design of this quilt, giving it what some folks have called a touch of Mondrian.

Will It Go Round in Circles© designed and made by Dana Jones. Quilted by ZJ Humbach.

I again turned to them when I designed Bethlehem: Prayers for Unity for an exhibition at Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado. I even carried them into the loose strips I wove together when joining the four parts of this quilt.

I really do have a love affair going with these 1/4" gems. I'm sure there are many quarters to come in my future quilts so please, give me a quarter.

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