Friday, September 19, 2014

Autumn in the air

Autumn in the air

Misty, drippy, cool and breezy - autumn's in the air!  We're enjoying every bit of it this week, and the turn in weather does suit my work-in-progress.  Hurray!  Today I finished piecing my nephew's Autumn Air quilt top.  What do you think?

Autumn in the air

Course it's too wet to give you a proper view, but you can sort of see.  This quilt is made of rows of stacked "coins" of various sizes.  Besides scraps, I cut in a fair amount of suitable orange-y geometric fabrics, mostly from Denyse Schmidt, especially Hadley.

Autumn in the air

Hoping the abundant use of this fiesty Mary Thistle black and orange print will push the quilt into teen boy territory, despite the very occasional appearance of birds and blossoms.  Ahem.

Oh, and I used text!  Because I love my nephew.  You all know that proves it.

Autumn in the air

This afternoon I hope to piece up a backing and make a start on the quilting.  For binding I pulled out all the friendly binding scraps I could muster, which turned out to be a quite a lot.  How far will they go to bind an 80" x 92" full sized quilt?  We shall see...

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Puzzle Ball

Puzzle ball for Heather

for my friend Heather and her soon-to-be-born baby!  For Heather's birthday this week, I surprised her with this little Puzzle Ball from Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson.

Puzzle ball for Heather

Although the ball looks rather big in the book, it's only designed to finish at 5" diameter.  

Puzzle ball for Heather

I actually used my Go! Baby cutter to cut all the circles for this project, a major time-savor that resulted in the ball finishing the slightest bit smaller than 5" diameter.  Fabrics are Botanics in Teal Metallic Perennial and Tangerine Scratch, which you can find in stock at Fat Quarter Shop.

Puzzle ball for Heather

And good thing too (on time time-saving) since I was running late prepping these quarter-circles to take-along on last weekend's camping trip!  At this stage they've been machine-pieced and are ready to be stuffed and closed by hand. 

Puzzle ball for Heather

Such a little project and so portable - definitely a win for road trips.  The only tricky part was connecting the points with embroidery floss.  I had to do a lot of knot-popping, which sometimes turns into thread-breaking and in Brandon's favorite crafty dig, "Take it apart and start over!" 

Puzzle ball for Heather

Clearly I need to make one for Eleni!  Or... for me?  Seriously, these little puzzle balls are exactly that.  They delight grown-up brains too!  I'm wondering if I can do something cool with the color wheel...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

oh the Blogs I read!

I'm not on Facebook very often.  I don't really use Twitter or Instagram.  I am a blogger.  I write; I read; I pin to share or to store.  I love the blogosphere for its many words, many pictures and rambling threads.  I love the blogosphere for not being instant, constant and unending.  Because I don't need an ever-present distraction from the life I should be living in the now.

Since the demise of Google Reader, I follow along with many blogs via Bloglovin.  It works for me.  I sit down to read blogs a couple times a week, whenever I feel like taking in inspiration rather than being "productive" or just catching up with the doings of my friends.  My blogfeed is limited because my time is limited.  I can't nearly keep up with every worthy read out there, so I adjust the volume of my feed to fit my actual life, my actual time.  Generally I do keep up with it and comment whenever and as often as I would like.

But not lately.  Somehow in the last two weeks I went AWOL with my blog reading.  I started catching up on my reading yesterday, but as of this morning still had 86 posts awaiting my attention.  86 good posts!  In fact, their very goodness inspires me to share.  So, without further ado, here is a short list of blogs that add color and inspiration to my week.

Sail Boat

::Ants to Sugar::  I got to know Daisy during Penny Sampler camp last fall.  She chronicles her quilty doings with exquisite photography and simple, conversational words.  It's been perfectly delightful to watch her paper piecing skills explode from her first efforts during Penny Sampler to the release of her first pattern (that sailboat!) this week.



::Tickle and Hide::  Jodi and I share a common love for all things Anna Maria Horner.  She blogs out of Australia, sharing her adventures in shopkeeping vs. sewing for fun.   Lately she's been doing more quilting, yay!  I love that Jodi's not afraid to ask the big questions and share her real self in her posts.   Her scrappy quilt above inspired my current work-in-progress.


my little loves

::Stitched Together::  On Rachel's beautiful blog you will find real life, incredible workmanship and endless doses of apparel sewing inspiration.  As a quilter-by-default kind of sewist, she's helping me branch out.  Knits...someday soon!  Prepare yourself to be floored by her gorgeous children and exquisite photography. 



::S.O.T.A.K. handmade::  This blog is my stop for scrappy and small-project inspiration.  Svetlana is probably about waist deep in pillows by now, and has also churned out a fair number of great pouches, purses and whatnots.  Her Scrap Eater quilt above is one of my recent favorites.



::Blue Elephant Stitches::  This is one of the first blogs I began to read, actually.  I think I found Jolene through one of her Etsy baby quilt listings way back when I was just getting started.  She has a light, bright sense of color that stretches my own.  And boy can she churn out quilts!



::SelfSewn::  On the other end of the spectrum, Clare pieces and quilts mainly by hand.  Her works unfold slowly, intertwined with charming thoughts, strolls and riddles.  If you like English paper piecing, you have to follow SelfSewn.

In the way of non-stitching reads, I also follow...

Simple Homeschool - my only dedicated homeschool read

Seth Godin - because he's a genius and often encourages me to live big, see Without a Keyboard for a recent case in point

Rachel Held Evans - a Christian spirituality blogger whose writings stretch my soul

Of course, this is not all I read. Not by far!  But sometimes short lists are best.  I hope this list has provided a few good leads for anyone looking for new sources of stitchy inspiration!

p.s.  Have any thoughts on your social media diet?  Or perhaps a favorite blog to share?  Do tell!  I'm all ears.

xo,

Rachel


Monday, September 15, 2014

Burp Cloths for baby

I do believe I adore these burp cloths as much as is humanly possible.  To wit:

I HEART these burp cloths

I HEART these burp cloths

I HEART these burp cloths

I HEART these burp cloths

And these are only the photos I kept!

But, they really are little gems.  And they were sooooo easy to make!  I like small burp cloths, so I cut or pieced these 10.5" x 12.5" from my Folksy Flannel scraps.

burp cloths in Folksy Flannel

Then I rounded all four corners with this half circle ruler.  Did I ever tell you that I hate rulers with little guides in which you're supposed to be able to cut?  I always dull my rotary blade by clipping the edges of the guides.   Navigating these curves was virtually impossible, even with a tiny blade.  I resorted to using the cutting tracks to trace my curve and then cutting along the marked lines.

burp cloths in Folksy Flannel

Sew the flannel burp cloth top to a terry backing, right sides together.  Trim the terry to match and turn it all right side out.  Finish with a close edge stitch that simultaneously closes the turning gap. Voila!

I made eleven.  That was all my terry.

I HEART these burp cloths

I'm going to leave these lovelies out to pet and admire for a good long time.

Hurray for baby GIRL sewing!!!!

p.s.  Thanks so much for all your well wishes and comforting comments.  I so appreciate that I can count on your support!  Thank-you!


Friday, September 12, 2014

{the Purge} my Picnic Quilt + Links + Grand Prize

Purge buttonIt's time!  Have you been purging along?  Today our last link up opens, with your chance to win a bundle of batting from The Warm Company!

And, ta da!  I have a purgy finish.  This morning I hustled to quilt and photograph my finished purge picnic quilt.  Hustle, hustle because we are about to load the car and hit the road for a weekend camping trip!

As it happens, I made this picnic quilt for my friend Angela, who'll b camping too.  What fun it will be to show up with this crazy, happy blanket!  That's why I couldn't resist getting this finished just in the nick of time.

finished Purge picnic quilt!

With the wide Kona Cyan border, this quilt measures just under 70" square.  Like all my picnic quilts, I skipped batting for a more compact and lightweight finish.  The quilt top and back were sewn right sides together, flipped right side out and finished with an edge stitch rather than binding.  Quick and easy!

finished Purge picnic quilt!

finished Purge picnic quilt!

Since this picnic quilt has so much piecing, I reinforced the quilt top with fairly dense straight line quilting, criss-crossing over all those solid squares.  At last minute, I decided not to quilt in the wide Cyan border.  It doesn't really need it, without any batting to stabilize.  This saved me lots of time, as that area would have had to be marked before quilting.

finished Purge picnic quilt!

Ok, I love how this turned out!  It's so surely a picnic blanket.

finished Purge picnic quilt!

For the back I snagged an Ikea print that just felt so right for Angela.  In fact, when she visited recently, she spied the print and admired it.  Awesome!  It's one of Ikea's heavyweight fabrics, so it'll make a durable back to withstand the sand and rocks it's sure to be dragged over someday.  These bright, cooky birds totally fit with the crazy Purge patchwork too!

finished Purge picnic quilt!

To bring the backing up to size, I pieced in two more similar weight fabrics.  These two are some of my favorites, actually.  It's always easier for me to use my best stash when I know who the work is meant for.

Well thanks, friends, for inspiring me with the idea to hold our Purge-along this summer.  Wouldn't have done it without you!  I hope you've also had a good time with it and are feeling a little lighter, a little fresher on this side of our efforts!

{the Purge} Link-up and Grand Prize

Have you been purging along?  Add a photo to document each purge project you completed since we started purging in July, for your chance(s) to win our grand prize.  You may include photos from previous Purge link-ups, but only one completed project photo per project.  I can't wait to see all we've done!

This time our 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 humungous 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!

Thanks to my friends at The Warm Company one lucky quilter 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 (and quite valuable) 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 exact prize must ship to the U.S. or Canada.  Sorry!  If Mr. Random selects an international winner, she can designate a U.S. address OR opt to receive a queen package of The Warm Company's new thicker 100% ULTRA clean cotton premium batting called Warm & Plush, sent to her international doorstep! 

Add your photo(s) now through midnight (eastern time) Wednesday, September 17th to enter to win our grand prize.  You may upload a photo directly from your computer, no url necessary, no blog necessary. Click the blue "Add your link" button below the photos to add your photo.  Winners will be contacted by email on Thursday.  Good luck!

*****Link Up Closed*******

Friends, it is truly AMAZING how much you all got done in this Purge!  Way to go!  Mr. Random has selected entry #33 to receive this grand prize.   Congratulations, April.  I'll be in touch!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

the story of our Babes

I grew up in tumble and rush, grasping at one good thing after another - graduated high school at 16, married at 18 and joyfully birthed my first child at 22.

with Aria, 2005

Liam was born two years later, another planned home birth, another gift to my heart.  I think it was my children who taught me that life is not best lived in fast forward.  Soon after Aria came to be, I began imagining two children born in our youth and two more born later on.  We were so young.  Why rush?

big sister

But.... juggling that second baby and a clever two-year-old was no small task for my 24-year-old self.  Brandon started to feel certain that we were done having babies.  I wavered.  In the face of a free (and reversible!) surgery and a confident husband, I agreed that our family was likely complete, Liam still a babe in my arms.  (Public service announcement:  initial surgeries may be free, but reversals are anything but.)

our family, 2009

When Liam was 2 I mourned my last baby with stoic acceptance.  When Liam was 3 I began having serious second thoughts.  Alas, Brandon did not.  When Liam was 4 I ached in earnest for a new baby, as so many of my friends continued to grow their families.  I couldn't believe that at 28, I was supposed to be done.  It seemed unreal.  I felt So Old.  By the time he was 5 it was a deep, soul pain, one I brought out to share with my husband from time to time and then sadly put away.

When Brandon told me last year that we could try again, it really was a miracle to me.  And such evidence of his love!  He said I must be satisfied with just one more child, not the two I had long imagined.  This seemed like a good bargain!  Still...  would the reverse surgery work?  Could we really spend the money?  And then, after all that, would we conceive?

Through many months of trying, with miscarriages and frightful pressure that it wasn't all for nothing, I prayed quite seriously for twins.  If I had twins, they would have companionship even when Aria and Liam struck out as adults.  If I had twins naturally and with no family history, it would surely have been meant to be.  If I had twins, Liam could have his boy and Aria could have her girl.  I know that is far-fetched, but why not dream, and why not be honest with God about my dreams?

And then came the pregnancy.  And such debilitating fatigue, like I'd never experienced before.  And worse nausea.  Somewhere along the way I gave up on twins, starting to wonder if I could manage to keep life going with the addition of ONE little bundle of joy.

On Saturday we had our first ultrasound.  Just a gender determination ultrasound.  I was a little over 14 weeks.  Moments into the procedure, in an awkward stumbling way, the highly trained ultrasound tech revealed that we had actually conceived twins.

Joy, mine.

Fear, Brandon's.

Shock, all. 

And then, she explained that there was now only one heartbeat.   It's a girl.  "That's wonderful," I exclaimed, through tears both of the saddest and happiest kind.

Our twin had passed away somewhere between 9 and 11 or so weeks.  The fetus probably had some abnormalities.  Honestly, Brandon was relieved, which was a logical response.  I was broken.  To have actually carried twins so long, an answer to a ridiculous prayer.  It's painful to know, but I'm glad I know.  It's painful to accept that this is the best way, but I logically accept that.  Emotionally it is everything - such joy and such loss.

 baby Eleni

Fortunately, baby Eleni looks absolutely perfect.  She is well developed for her fetal age and moving around like a happy little thing.  We will hope now that my body will not attempt to expel the twin fetus, but will either absorb or maintain it in a way that is safe for Eleni.  If so, I will still be able to have the home birth that we so desire.

 burp cloths in Folksy Flannel

When I sink down, down into the grief of this sudden loss, I find the best way out is to focus my heart on the gift I've been given: one precious healthy baby girl.  I can't believe she is really going to happen to me.  And I am so, so SO grateful.  On Sunday night I began making burp cloths from Folksy Flannel scraps I've saved forever, in hopes that I could use them for just this purpose someday.  They are Very Girly, which makes me very glad.

And that is the story, so far, of our babes.  Thanks for allowing me this space to share. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

done good {Heal Circle}

do. Good Stitches is a modern online community that quilts for good.  Over the years the bee has grown and grown, so that these days I find myself struggling to keep current with all the beautiful work being done.  I'm taking up the habit of cheering for them from here, in the way of finished object posts.  About once a month, I'll share some "done Good".  Today, Heal Circle takes the spotlight!

June do. Good Stitches blocks

In June, Emily of Quilts by Emily served as lead quilter for the Heal circle.  Quilter's take turns setting a vision for the monthly bee quilt, usually defining the block style, colors and block size.  Emily was inspired by Square Deal quilt in Block Party, which is a book about the modern quilting bee movement.  Anticipating the patriotic season, Emily requested red, blue and low volume whites and grays, showing this sample block to inspire her team of sewists.

Emily's large 22" square in square log cabin block, is quartered as 4 equal sections.  It's a pretty quick way to make blocks!

do. Good Stitches Heal circle

Although I'm not usually a red, white and blue person, I can't help but be completely won over by this quilt.  It all works together so well, both the bold colors and the clean, angular block design.  I love how these quartered log cabins look almost layered or overlapping when neighboring blocks have high contrast. 

do. Good Stitches Heal circle

Emily, who by my count has now finished FIVE quilts for charity through do. Good Stitches, quilted this work with durable, all-over free motion meander.

do. Good Stitches Heal circle

A few more blocks on the artful back, make such a nice, cohesive finish.  Thank-you, Emily, for your many years serving faithfully in Heal circle!  Heal makes charity quilts mainly for Hospice, comforting those nearing the end of this life's journey.  However, this particular quilt made its way to a young boy recently diagnosed with leukemia. 

Well done!  Congratulations to Heal host Nicke Cutler and the entire Heal circle, Flickr names:  Nicke Cutler, QuiltsbyEmily, stayathomelibrarian, birdydanana, shimmyblisster, kelseysews, sew fantastic, Carlaf2, cknitress, kylnq, tinkingalong and raqueltencza.

p.s. Learn about do. Good Stitches here.  While quilts of all styles are wonderful acts of charity, this bee intends to bring together active Flickr-users who enjoy sewing with modern fabrics.  To join the wait list, please use this form.
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