Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tunnel block {tutorial}

As a part of my #30DaysofQuiltDesign challenge, I sketched a design based on a three-sided log cabin, elongated to form a sort of tunnel.  This simple block seems like a nice choice for the bee quilt I'll be leading this October.  Tunnel is suitable for your first quilt and would be delightfully graphic worked up in all-solids.  Each block finishes 12" x 15".  Enjoy!

Tunnel block tutorial

Step 1:  Fabrics

This basic block could be used for lots of purposes, but to create a tunnel-effect, I suggest you choose 4 fabrics per block that range from dark to light.  I'm asking my bee mates to choose any color they like - four fabrics in one color to form a gradient.  My demo block is pale aqua to dark teal.

Tunnel block tutorial

It's best to avoid fabrics that have more than one color (other than neutrals).  Solids work wonderfully, but other textures and simple prints also communicate well so long as they make one strong color statement.

Step 2:  Cutting

The block will be sewn in 4 layers with the darkest colored fabric at center (A) and the lightest colored fabric at the outer edges (D).  Cut as follows:

A:  3.5" x 6.5"
B:  3.5" x 6.5" and (2) 2" x 6.5"
C:  3.5" x 9.5" and (2) 2" x 9.5"
D:  3.5" x 12.5" and (2) 2" x 12.5"

Tunnel block tutorial


Step 3:  Sew

Begin with piece A.  Sew the 2" sides of layer B to either side of A.  Press.  Then add the wider, 3.5" piece of layer B at the top of the developing tunnel.

Tunnel block tutorial

In the same way, add layers C and D.  Always join the 2" wide sides of the layer first.  After pressing, add the 3.5" wide top section of the layer to complete.

Tunnel block tutorial

In a jiffy you'll be churning out 12.5" x 15.5" unfinished tunnel blocks.  To create the offset arrangement I sketched in my design (first images), chop some blocks in half to place at row ends.

Tunnel block tutorial

Happy sewing!


Monday, September 26, 2016

a quilt top

Today I have eight quilt tops tidily folded on my table.  Eight!  That's definitely a record for me.  This weekend I finished my Cranberry Tart quilt top, which added to my NICU heart quilt series, makes more than one for each day of the week. 

Cranberry Tart quilt top

Ta da!  From a distance the red zigzags really leap out, even more than I expected.  Of course, that could be because I used one of the most vibrant, saturated wine reds I've ever owned.  Yeah, maybe that had something to do with it (wink). 

Cranberry Tart quilt top

At arms length, the diamonds demand attention.  My favorite feature is the kite-shaped jewels at diamond centers.  I've never chosen to limit myself before to so few prints in a sizeable work, but in this case I feel the fabric repetition adds to the drama of the design.

Cranberry Tart quilt top

Now I'm going to talk to Miss Emily of Emerson Quilting about possibly doing the quilting on this throw quilt.  I'd be curious to see her take on how to embellish all this color and energy.  And still, that'll leave me with plenty of other quilt tops to work on finishing all on my own.

I have a new stack of fabrics calling to me, whispering honeyed words.  But first I must start quilting the NICU quilts!  I know it's time.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

last one

Last One - NICU quilt series

I love how string scraps are transformed by rainbow order.  Each one seems richer, showier than otherwise.  I'm not often drawn to string scrap projects, but this color play does delight me.

Last One - NICU quilt series

This is my last NICU quilt top made with recycled hearts.  It's an echo of an earlier design, but split in half with two hearts and two rainbow paths.  The off-centered alignment is what initially excited me about this idea.  Do you like it?

Last One - NICU quilt series

Today this picture is bringing back fond memories of Rainbow Bright.  Remember her arm and leg bands with their thin, rainbow-order stripes?  I think she would approve.

Now it's time to start backing and quilting these little quilts! 


While my strings were out, making themselves appreciated, I whipped up a bee block for do. Good Stitches.  Ara Jane asked for 55" of mostly-solid, bright stripes.  Simple is good.  Now I get to wait and see what she does with them! 

I know that many times you see the blocks I make, but not the finished quilts (which are considerably more fun).  You can visit our Love Circle Finished Quilts thread to see all the quilts we've made over the years collaboratively for children through Wrap Them in Love.  Click on the pictures of the quilts to enlarge.

And speaking of do. Good Stitches, we are a large charity quilting bee with many sewing circles all over the world.  I have a U.S. circle in need of a quilter at the moment.  Quilters take turns leading and assembling/quilting the monthly quilts.  As a quilter, you'll be asked to lead a quilt about twice per year.  If you are interested in using your fabrics to make quilts for charity as part of a sewing circle and comfortable using Flickr to communicate with members, please register your interest with this form.  If you don't already have sewing/quilting photos in your Flickr photostream, please link me to where I can see some of your work online.  It's my job to make sure folks are a good fit and then fill openings in sewing circles as they arise.  Thanks so much!

It's my turn to lead the Love circle quilt in October.  I best start brainstorming some ideas...


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dreaming at Dusk {a mosaic contest}

Slow down a minute, my friend, and ponder with me in color...

Can you dream the colors of dusk?  They are softer, subtler, blended.  Shadows lengthen, casting fine shrouds of brown, midnight and velvet gray over all once sharp and defined.  Ruby red fades to blush.  The water shines silvering blue.  A hush falls like feathers over fields and fowl.

Dreaming at Dusk {a mosaic contest}
Grand Budapest, embroidery, acorns

Between gathering neutrals, warmth glints in the last light.  A flash of yellow-orange-red-purple, the dying of a perfectly ordinary day.  But even that brilliance is hazy.  Where does one color start and another begin?  Night, so absolute, overcomes the protest of a myriad, graduated shades

Dreaming at Dusk {a mosaic contest}
cathedral, Victoria Gertenbach's log cabin quilt, sofa, Three Kitchen Fairies' orange peel quilt

The colors of dusk are the colors of age.  They are weathered by time, tested by wind, water and war.  Yet we're drawn to them because of, not in spite of, their battered textures.  All things glow against that pealing paint, that worn wood.  The mottled company of many softened shades makes life more honest and real.

Dreaming at Dusk {a mosaic contest}
thread, columns, Pat Bravo's Carved quilt, plank table

At dusk nature cuts ties with the ordinary.  Familiar shapes are transformed.  Our minds, our future and the shades we contemplate make space for mystery.  Purple and peach are the colors of sunsets... and of secrets, creativity and romance too. 

Dreaming at Dusk {a mosaic contest}
leaves, mini pumpkin wreath, Alicia Paulson's log cabin quilt, sunset, yarn

Softly, gently they stir our hearts to wonder; to dream until the day dawns anew.  


I invite you to join us for a Fabric Mosaic contest sponsored by Lark Cottons.

Carefully craft your mosaic of 9 fabrics from among the offerings at Lark Cottons. Choose fabrics to express your interpretation of Dreaming at Dusk.  There are many color possibilities, though neutrals are a likely ingredient.  Seek to create a dreamy, blended palette.

Once you have your fabrics, the free Mosaic Maker tool makes it a snap to create a mosaic (though you may use any mosaic tool of your choice).  Copy and paste image url's from Lark Cottons. To find url's first go to the item page, then right click on the image you want and choose "copy image URL".

To enter the contest, add your mosaic image to our collection here.  If it suits you, link to a blog post explaining your choices - that helps us spread the word about our contest.  But no blog post is required (you can put your image url in the url space).  Anyone can enter, anywhere in the world.

***Important Tip*** If possible, share your mosaic so that when it's loaded to the link up and you click on your mosaic, it takes viewers to see a larger version. This makes it so much easier for me to see your mosaic and consider it as a finalist!  Hosting your mosaic in a public place (such as Flickr or Instagram) and linking the URL works beautifully!

Add your mosaic by midnight October 2nd.  You can make up to 2 mosaics!  On Monday the 3rd, I'll open voting.   We'll have two winners!  The 2 Top Mosaics will earn a complete fat quarter set of their mosaic fabrics!!!  Winners announced October 5th.  Enjoy!

P.S.  Now through the end of September, Lark is having a sale - no coupons required.  The discount will show in the shopping cart total:

Save 10% on Tula Pink and Anna Maria Horner.
Save 20% on Denyse Schmidt (Flea Market Fancy + Chicopee included!)
Save 30% on Heather Bailey and Joel Dewberry



Monday, September 19, 2016

dealing in Diamonds

I've definitely fallen for this gigantic X block.  It's dramatic and such a quick sew.

Autumn quilt

Today I'm more than halfway through piecing the quilt top that emerged from my first X-block sketch.  This block likes to make diamonds, so when I sat down to dream with again, I created another diamond-y quilt design quite effortlessly.

dealing in Diamonds

Start with the X-block, then add a few paper pieced triangles, traditional hourglass blocks and some sashing and you get...

dealing in Diamonds

this!  I think it's sort of elegant and showy, like a cranberry tart, especially in these rich hues.  Luscious.

If it weren't for the home addition, the quilt top would easily be done by now.  Instead, I enjoyed painting (zero VOC paint!) and working on electrical outlets this weekend with the family.  Ok, it's really a stretch to say I enjoyed working on the electrical outlets.  I mean, big belly + low outlets = quite the challenge.  At one point I was actually kneeling on my bare knees on concrete trying to finagle some tough wires.  So, yeah.  But, I do enjoy the results!  The sewing room has painted walls, lights, outlets and vents!  This part of the process is so exciting.  As soon as the floors go in, I'll snap another photograph.

Oh, and I'll show you the quilt top when I'm finished too.  Wink.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Grand Prize + Favorites from #30DaysofQuiltDesign

Today marks the midpoint of the 30 Days of Quilt Design challenge.  With over 1000 designs shared so far on Instagram, there's no end in sight to your creativity!  Some participants are just getting started with design #2 or #3, while others are already nearing the goal.  You have until the end of October to complete your thirty designs in order to qualify for prizes!  Get all the details here.

::Announcing the Grand Prize::

On November 1st, I'll draw a random winner from among those who have completed the challenge, posting their 30th design with the tag #30DaysofQuiltDesignCompleted in their Instagram photo caption.  You must use this special tag on your 30th design in order to be in the drawing for the grand prize!


Our lucky grand prize winner will score a fat quarter set of Slow & Steady by Tula Pink!  Tula's recently released collection features saturated colors and rich details, as usual.  It's going fast (also as usual), so this prize might be the only way to get your hands on the pretties come November!  You can browse the whole collection at Gotham Quilts, our 30DaysofQuiltDesign sponsor.

The second part of our grand prize is sponsored by The Warm Company, makers of my favorite batting and other products I like to use as well!  If you've been following Stitched in Color for awhile, you know I like to do a humongous roll of batting for big prizes.  That's because batting is like bread for a quilter.  You need it; you want it; but you don't really want to spend your pretty pennies on it if you can help it!


Quilter's Grand prize!
Look at little Aria and Liam, playing with my very first roll of Warm & Natural in 2012!

Our lucky grand prize winner is going to be rolling in the good stuff.  It'll be winner's choice of Warm & Natural or Warm & White batting in a gigantic 90" wide, 40 yard roll.  So you'll be set to make a whole lot of quilts! 

Note:  Because this huge roll is quite expensive to ship, this part of the prize must ship to the U.S. or Canada.  Sorry!  If we have an international winner, she can designate a U.S. address, including the address to a forwarding company of your choice, should you like to arrange to have this batting forwarded to your international address. 

::Favorites::

Now let's look at some of your designs from the past two weeks.  Here are a few that especially caught my imagination.  All shared with permission:



A photo posted by Allison C (@alibear167) on





Even if you're not in Instagram, you can view all the designs via this link, #30DaysofQuiltDesign, right from your browser.

::Participation Prize Winner!::

Gotham Quilts is sponsoring our challenge by handing out a $25 gift certificate to a random participant every two weeks.   Based on hashtag usage, I've drawn our random winner using Tint...

VillageBoundQuilts

Congrats, villageboundquilts!   We'll be in touch!  Thanks to Gotham Quilts for sharing the fabric and thanks to all of you for bravely sharing your designs.

p.s. To be eligible for prizes, don't forget to include "@stitchedincolor" and "@gothamquilts" in your photo captions.  It also makes it much easier for me to catch your designs.

Happy Weekend, all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Crib Sheets, Renovations + New Birth Plans

Crib sheets in the new sewing room!

Crib sheets at last! And it really was the simplest thing to turn these 2 yard cuts of fabric into fitted crib sheets. I followed my Quilter's Crib Sheet tutorial to refresh my memory and used elastic that was conveniently on hand. 

Crib sheets in the new sewing room!

These pale colored prints should pop against the peach walls I'm planning for baby girl's nursery. Fabrics are all from Bobbie Lou's Fabric Factory: Miniments in raw, All Paths in clear and Bed of Daisies.

Crib sheets in the new sewing room!

Remember that we are adding onto our house right now? Our current master will become the new nursery after 1. we can move out of it into the newly built master and 2. we complete some repairs on the emptied space. The contractors have nearly finished their work on the addition, so my husband has started painting. He'll be doing all the finishing on weekends and evenings: floors, trim, installing the master bathroom, lights, etc.  Still we think we'll be in the master before we bring baby home about 10 weeks from now. Then baby can live with us in the new master until Brandon can complete repairs on the new nursery. Phew! All that to say, I've decided crib sheets are all I'm going to sew for baby in advance. It's not too motivating to make things without a room ready. 

Crib sheets in the new sewing room!

But how do you like those windows? This is my first photoshoot in my new sewing room, which is part of the addition. We enlarged my sewing space and separated it from the rest of the house, so it's not part of our entry anymore. I was super excited to include skylights in this room to bring light specifically to the area where my design wall will be placed. Crossing fingers I can photograph my works in process right on the wall! Right now I have to move around my design wall in search of decent light, scattering pieces that fall off the wall as I go!

When the sewing room is done, you can bet I'll be sharing pictures. In fact, maybe you'll be visiting someday! The room is also designed to host weekend workshops for 8 students!!!

Now... about my birth plans. I've been wanting to share some things with you, but it's such a complicated topic. What follows are a bunch of personal opinions very much influenced by my experiences. Please don't be offended! I respect those who disagree. I just wish to share how my own perspectives have changed on this topic.

On Monday my mom and I drove two hours to a hospital in Charleston, where I plan to deliver baby. Until now I've been receiving maternity care at a local OB, but we haven't been comfortable with their general lack of caution and disregard for testing recommended by a MFM, in view of my birth history.  Currently, I plan to deliver via induction at the hospital in Charleston so that I don't go into labor two hours away at home.  Now more than ever we understand it is essential to be able to trust one's medical team. We trust the team in Charleston, which is nationally ranked for obstetrics and aggressive about evidenced-based care. It's a completely different birth plan and a radically different birth paradigm as compared to my previous three births.

My perspective on maternity care is so different than it was prior to Eleni's traumatic birth! Before Eleni, I gave birth naturally at home to both Aria and Liam under the care of midwives. Those experiences were very positive and mostly uncomplicated. You can read about my original birth perspectives in this post.

Eleni with her siblings

Eleni's severe birth injury and ultimate death were due largely to medical negligence. She was born by induction in a hospital, but my maternity care was done by a home birth midwife and an overseeing OB, as required by South Carolina law. I've had lots of time and many medical experts help me understand what happened. For me, understanding what happened and how it could have been prevented were very important for emotional healing. Even before we decided to have another child, I began to reconsider my views on home birth. Would I still recommend it to a friend? To my daughter? It was a hot topic with my local friends, many of whom had wonderful home births themselves.

First, I have concluded that out-of-hospital midwife care in the United States is very different than that offered in some other developed countries. Many studies evaluating the safety of home birth and/or midwife care are conducted in European countries with excellent results... and very different medical systems. Here in the U.S. laws impacting out-of-hospital birth vary radically from state to state.  In addition there are very few areas where home birth midwives are well-integrated with the support of local OB teams and hospitals. In our country there is much antagonism between the camps. This, in my opinion, translates to less accurate risk assessment and poor care in the event of emergencies. Women and midwives fear giving up their control to the ruling hospital/OB systems by asking for assistance, and may take unnecessary risks to maintain autonomy.

I believe we in the U.S. should rely solely on U.S. studies of home birth safety. The studies that I see are mixed, with some showing there is not an increased risk to mom/baby and others showing there is double the risk. The mixed results could be due to the differences in local law and care networks. I will tell you that there are more midwife attended and planned out-of-hospital birthers in the Facebook community called Hope for HIE, which is for babies like Eleni. More by far than is average for the United States. That was something I noticed right away and recently confirmed via poll.

So, where have I landed? I guess you can tell.  When I chose home birth before, I did so mostly to improve my birth experience and protect my baby from unnecessary interventions. Now I prioritize a healthy baby so very, very far above either of those concerns that I would not only refuse to deliver out-of-hospital, I would also choose a hospital with an excellent NICU, just in case. The way I see it, unnecessary interventions associated with hospital birth are generally detrimental to an enjoyable birth experience or physically damaging in the short term only. Compared to the possibility of preventing a lifetime of suffering or all-out death via interventions that turn out to be necessary.... give me an unnecessary c-section and a live baby any day over a preventable birth injury. In short, I believe doctors do have to do unnecessary interventions, including c-sections, to save as many babies as is possible. And that's what I want, when it comes to birth.

With this baby, we will opt for an induction to guarantee the chance to deliver in an excellent hospital with top-notch staff. I'm still hoping for a mostly drug-free natural birth, but mostly I'm hoping for a healthy baby. 

And, my friends?  Not a one of them would have another home birth in our state after what happened to Eleni.  Granted, all of us are extremely impacted by her singular story, but that's how we make most decisions in life - informed by data, but shaped even more by the people we love.

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