yellow-and-white diamond quilt

After making the yellow cross quilt for our do. Good Stitches circle early last year, and seeing how cheerful, yet simple and modern, the final result was, I was itching to make another yellow-and-white quilt.

I decided to use a new shape for my own iteration, and chose diamonds so that I could try out Latifah Saafir's half-rectangle triangle tutorial. I used various shades of solid yellow, along with a few tone-on-tone prints by Leah Duncan and Marimekko, for the triangles which formed the diamonds. For the background, I used a mix of white and cream solids (I love having a varied background).

I first did simple outline quilting in white in the background section, and then brainstormed other ways to add more quilting, which I wanted to have to keep the batting stable. I wound up quilting angled yellow lines within each of the diamonds, which in turn made the diamonds look like they were faceted. It was such a happy accident, and one of the things I love most about this quilt!

I used a deep purple/plum/eggplant Marimekko print for the back, which was wide enough that it didn't need any additional piecing (I used similar Marimekko backings on my Scattered Squares and Up, Up, and Away quilts). I then hand bound it with a scrappy yellow binding.

I still find myself quite smitten with this color combination (I used it in my recent whole-cloth quilt), and know that I'll be returning to it again for future quilts. In the meantime, this quilt is now available in the shop. What color combinations do you find yourself drawn to lately?

Quilt Stats
Finished dimensions: 40" x 48"
Fabrics used include: Comal in Saffron from Maya by Leah Duncan; Curry Foliage Grid from Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander; yellow and plum prints by Marimekko for Crate and Barrel; yellow solids from Modern Solids by Alissa Haight Carlton
Block tutorial: Half-Rectangle Triangle by Latifah Saafir for the Modern Quilt Guild

P.S. I'll be a vendor at the South End Open Market in Boston this weekend, and will have this quilt there, along with many others. Please stop by my booth and say hello if you're in the neighborhood!


hourglass mini quilt

When I first spotted this Amish hourglass quilt from the Esprit Quilt Collection on Pinterest six months ago, I was immediately smitten. I returned to the image over and over again, so when I was in between projects a few weeks ago, I decided to finally create a mini interpretation of the original.

The quilt's size was dictated by the amount of dark charcoal gray fabric I had in my stash (which first appeared in this gingham quilt I made in 2012), and as a result, the small top came together quickly---a very satisfying finish! I backed the quilt with a colorful Lizzy House print I picked up from Grey's Fabric in Boston, and machine bound it with subtly patterned gray print by Carolyn Friedlander.

Inspired, I've returned to reading my copy of Amish Quilts by Janneken Smucker, wanting to learn more about the history of quilts within the Amish community. I'm also very excited to explore this particular quilt design more, and have plans for larger versions in other colors.

This quilt is now available in the shop.

Quilt Stats
Finished dimensions: 18" x 18"
Fabrics used include: Striped Etching in Ash from Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander; Cat Dream in White from Catnap by Lizzy House.
Quilt design: Based on an hourglass Amish quilt from the Esprit Quilt Collection


teal diamond quilt

This quilt began as a fabric pull, many months ago, inspired by the teal and mint prints in Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics collection. It turned out that I had a number of solids and prints in my stash within the same color range, so I pulled them all to create a sizable stack of pretty, monochromatic fabrics. Not long after, I had the perfect project for them: a diamond quilt pattern created by Erica, a member of my circle in do. Good Stitches.

Lots of cutting, arranging, and piecing ensued, and eight hours later, I had a finished top.

I pieced a back from a few coordinating fabrics from my stash, including a favorite Japanese floral and a Marimekko stripe.

I stuck to straight-line quilting, using teal thread, which formed a pretty argyle pattern on the quilt's top, and a diamond pattern on the quilt's back.

I really love the restricted color palette of this quilt, and find myself gravitating more and more toward monochromatic quilts these days, especially when working with scraps.

In case you're interested, this quilt is now available in the shop.

Quilt Stats
Finished dimensions: 44" x 46"
Fabrics used include: Kona cotton solids by Robert Kaufman; Botanics prints by Carolyn Friedlander; True Colors Herringbone by Joel Dewberry; and a Chicopee print by Denyse Schmidt.
Quilt tutorial: Kissing Diamonds by Erica Jackman of Kitchen Table Quilting


salty oat spotlight: julianne walther

This is the second in a series of monthly interviews with inspiring and creative people---including fabric designers, shop owners, quilters, and other makers. You can find all of the previous Salty Oat Spotlight interviews here

Today, I'm so excited to introduce you to Julianne Walther, the owner of a fabric shop and t-shirt quilt company based in Cary, NC. I first met Julianne last summer, while living in North Carolina, and I had the opportunity to piece a handful of t-shirt quilt tops for her company. Read on to learn a bit more about how she got her start, the crazy number of things she accomplishes in one day, and her personal connection to American-made fabrics.

 Image source: Julianne Walther

Caitlin: Tell us a bit about your background and how you got your start. What was the path that led you to where you are today?

Julianne: I have always sewed. I remember sitting at the foot of my mother's machine, playing with her pins and tomato pincushion. She taught me how to sew clothing for my dolls and little things for my dollhouses. I made clothing for myself in high school and in college. Shortly after college, I grabbed a DIY quilt book and followed the directions. I was hooked!

Fast forward about 10 years...I'm married with four little ones between 1-5 years old. I'm not the type that sits around well, so I decided that I needed a little something extra to do with my time while the kids were napping or after their bedtimes (ha ha!). My husband built a small webpage advertising my new little side business of making t-shirt quilts. I immediately started getting orders, and Patchwork Memories was born.

The business grew and grew. Seven years in, Patchwork Memories had a staff of nine people working to create the quilts and memory bears that we offered. Some worked from their own homes, and some worked in my home with me and our pets. We simply needed more space! My favorite local quilt shop, located on the main street in our little downtown district, had closed when the owner retired. The building had been vacant for a couple of years. It seemed like a great place to move Patchwork Memories. We took a tour (though I already knew the building well!) and made the big decision to move to a retail space.

As soon as we started to move things in, eager quilters began knocking on our door, wanting to know when we were going to open "the quilt shop." Everyone seemed to want a quilt shop back in the historic home. Who was I to deny quilters fabric? We quickly made a plan and opened a quilt shop on the first floor of the house. In January of 2013, Cary Quilting Company opened its doors to the quilting community. Two and a half years later, we are scrambling for space for all of the pretty fabric that comes in. I now own two thriving businesses and those four babies are now teens and preteens! Life is never dull for me! 

Image source: Julianne Walther

C: What does a typical work day look like for you?

J: There is not really a "typical" day for me! Yesterday, I shipped two Patchwork Memories quilts, one to New Jersey and one to Minnesota. I longarm quilted two more Patchwork Memories quilts. I designed a custom t-shirt quilt, I took in five longarm quilting orders, I did some embroidery for clients, placed a few orders for the shop, and generally ran around answering questions. Today, I wrote a shop newsletter before 8 am! I've been cutting fabric kits for the shop, placing re-orders, helping our Inventory Manager check in 30 bolts of brand-new, pretty fabric, and the list goes on and on! One thing is for sure: it always revolves around fabric and quilting!

Image source: Cary Quilting Company

C: Tell us a bit more about your store, Cary Quilting Company. What does the shop itself look like?

J: The shop resides in an historic home built in 1930. The house has tons of character, but tends to be a bit drafty. Local quilters love it, because the house is synonymous with quilting, having been home to quilting shops for about 40 years.

I love many different types of fabric, so you'll find batik, modern, reproduction, solid, novelty, blender, and Daiwabo fabrics, and plenty of sale fabrics as well. We also have every surface covered with patterns, precuts, books, gifts, and other must-haves. It's a fun explosion of color and inspiration---I always tell people that it's a much prettier environment than being at home!

Image sources: Cary Quilting Company and Julianne Walther

C: How do you decide which fabrics and notions to carry on your shelves? I see that you sell American Made Brand solids. Why is it important to you to carry domestically produced products?

J: Choosing fabrics is one of the hardest parts of my job! I know what I love, but I have to guess at what my customers will love too. I often get input from other staff members and even customers sometimes when it's hard to make a decision. The other hard part is stopping! When we were first getting started with the shop, we ordered a ton to fill the shelves. Now that we have nowhere else to put anything, I have to be a bit more selective when I order. It's not uncommon for fabric sales reps to roll in several suitcases full of samples, so it's hard to say no sometimes!

American Made Brand fabrics were a no-brainer for me. My mother grew up on a North Carolina farm, and my father grew up in a South Carolina mill town. American-made fabric provides jobs to people in our communities. Some of the cotton grown for that line of fabric comes from Carolina farms---that means so much to me! I was moved to enter the American Made Brands Farm to Fabric challenge last year, and my quilt was chosen to travel as a part of the exhibit (still traveling)! I'm looking forward to entering this year's challenge too.

C: Do you have any general advice for other creative entrepreneurs about starting and running a fabric-based business? What's been most successful for you? Least? Any recommended resources?
J: Expect to work more often and much harder than you're planning or hoping, because the jobs are never done (Believe it or not, I'm typing the answer to this question in a doctor's office waiting room right now! Seriously, the job never ends!). It's so important to love what you do---without the passion, it's not much better than any other job, I would imagine.

I believe in treating people well, and that goes for my coworkers and our customers. I surround myself with positive people who share my enthusiasm for fabric and quilting. Community is a big part of our shop. Our clubs (Quilt a Murder, Mystery Quilt, Block of the Month) and classes are a big part of fostering our quilting community, with which our businesses can thrive.

In terms of resources, I rely on the opinions and experiences of quilters around me. I never took a business class or ran a business before suddenly owning my own, so I'm not much help there! I think that treating people well and sharing kindness goes a long way. People know when you care about what you do, and if you're sincere and genuine, people see that too.

 Image source: Cary Quilting Company

C: What’s Cary, where your shop is located, like? Any favorite places to shop, eat, or spend time with your family?

J: Cary is a great place to live and work! It's been rated the third safest city in America. It's the 19th best place to live in America according to Money.com. It's the third best place to start a small business. It's one of the most educated cities in America. The schools are great, the town is beautiful and clean, full of arts, cultural resources, greenways, and entertainment.

Our family actually had the option to move anywhere in the US with my husband's job several years ago, and we just couldn't find a reason to leave Cary. It's an amazing place to raise a family. Our shop is located in the heart of downtown Cary, on the main street, Chatham Street. The shop is within walking distance of the Arts Center, the library, the Cary Theater, many restaurants, the train station, and much more. You'll have to come visit!

C: Where can people find you online? Do you have any upcoming events or classes you'd like to share?  

J: We have an exciting set of fabric dying classes coming up in July! Kelly Hutchens will be visiting from Kentucky to share her techniques with us.  You can find our classes online here. And most of our shop is available online here. We also have Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

Thank you so much to Julianne for her thoughtful answers. I hope you'll stop by her shop if you're ever in North Carolina!


new maze and vale fabric panels!

Happy Monday, all! I hope you all had a nice, relaxing weekend. I'm so excited to let you know that I've added six brand-new Maze and Vale designs to the shop! Leslie Keating, the talented woman behind Maze and Vale, is a prolific and popular independent fabric designer based in Australia. I first began stocking her fabrics this past winter, and they've proven to be quite popular!

Each batch of Maze and Vale fabric I carry is exclusive to Salty Oat; you won't be able to find these color combinations anywhere else. For this latest batch, I selected two different color base cloths and six different ink colors. While each panel works well on its own, I also decided to create two bundles within the group, which coordinate together well and could easily be used in the same project.

For the first bundle, I selected a spectrum of grays---pale gray, dove gray, and charcoal---printed on a white organic cotton base cloth. I personally love using low-volume prints in place of solid white in many of my quilts, and I had that in mind when I selected these prints and colors. Wouldn't they look beautiful in this Pow-Wow Quilt?

For the second bundle, I selected rich jewel tones---deep peacock, camellia, and eggplant---which were printed on an organic pale mushroom gray base cloth. These bold prints were inspired by fabrics I saw while visiting Japan more than a year ago, and I'd love to pair them with bits of rich leather to create zipper pouches. I think the large pink polka dots in particular would create an especially beautiful foldover clutch.

I hope you love these prints as much as I do! And please be sure to tag any projects you make with fabrics from the shop with the hashtag #saltyoat, so that I can see them and share them!


exploring whole-cloth quilts

Each time I make a quilt, I spend a significant amount of time piecing the top. Depending on the size of the quilt, I spend anywhere from 2 to 13 hours rummaging through scrap bins looking for the right fabric, trimming blocks, ironing rows, and auditioning layouts on my design wall. While it takes quite a bit of time, I do love the process of creating a top. Piecing little bits of fabric together to create a larger design is so fulfilling.

I do realize, however, that not everyone is in a position to be able to afford the higher price tag that a time-intensive quilt requires. So I've been working on alternate ways to create quilts which cut down on production time, but still result in the high-quality product that my customers have come to expect from me. My gradual transition to machine-stitched bindings is part of this---hand-stitched bindings take anywhere from 3 to 4 hours, while machine-stitched ones can be done in 30 minutes to an hour and create a durable finish.

I've also started to experiment with creating modern whole-cloth quilts (sometimes also known as cheater quilts)---those with a quilt design already printed onto the fabric. By cutting out the need to piece blocks, the amount of time needed to make a quilt is significantly less, thereby reducing the price of the finished quilt. I find this idea so exciting, with limitless possibilities! So today, I'm excited to share with you the first quilt I've made using this process.

Of the whole-cloth quilt fabrics that I've come across (and there aren't many), most are rather dated in color and design, so I decided to design my own. I designed a simple yellow and white half-square triangle in Photoshop (Googling each step as I went!), which I ordered and had printed through Spoonflower on Kona cotton. I basted the quilt as usual, using an organic modern feather print for the back, and then quilted along each of the design's lines. Because of that quilting, the top actually appears as if it were pieced.

As I continue to explore the possibilities of whole-cloth quilts, I've asked a few other fabric designers and illustrators to design exclusive quilt tops for the shop. The initial sketches I've seen for the quilts so far are amazing, and I can't wait to share more with you in the coming months as we put the finishing touches on the designs.

In the meantime, this quilt is now in the shop. If you like it, but would prefer a different backing or binding, let me know! The beauty of digital fabric printing is that I can print the same quilt top an infinite number of times, and then add unique finishes to make it different each time. I'm very excited to see where this project takes me, and hope you are too!

Quilt Stats
Finished dimensions: 33" x 39"
Fabrics used include: Of a Feather (Ivory) by Rashida Coleman-Hale; digitally printed Kona cotton; Hearts in Cherry Blossom by Umbrella Prints.
Quilt design: Salty Oat


sunday morning low-volume throw quilt

I've really loved every quilt I've made using patterns from Sunday Morning Quilts (see: my Up, Up and Away quilt and my improv slab quilt), and this latest one is no exception. Pairing the book's namesake Sunday Morning pattern with my low-volume scraps and strings, I constructed my new go-to summer nap quilt.

I included an eclectic number of fabrics in the quilt, ranging from vintage ditsy prints to hand-printed linen to vintage sheets to digitally printed Spoonflower fabrics. There are also bits of double gauze, lawn, and shirting in there.

I really love the more muted palette of these fabrics; I think this pattern would also pair especially well with Maze and Vale's lovely fabrics.

I used a floral vintage sheet for the backing, which I found while thrifting in Maryland a few years ago. I love using vintage sheets for backings, both because they're usually super soft and also large enough that there's no need to do any extra piecing.

I stuck to quilting it with a large grid, and machine bound the quilt with a yellow-and-white binding, my current favorite color combo. 

Quilt Stats
Finished dimensions: 50" x 60"
Fabrics used include: Squared Elements in Honeycomb by Art Gallery Fabrics; vintage sheet
Quilt pattern: Sunday Morning by Cheryl Arkison