Monday, July 25, 2016

Pixie Noel Patchwork Stockings

Has it really been a month since I started work on those patchwork Christmas stockings?   Well, I guess that makes sense given that the project was delayed while I waited an extra four long weeks to confirm the sex of our baby.  I really wanted to use that adorable pink bunny fabric for a little girl stocking, so I was holding out on this finish.  (Apparently, Aria is too old for pink bunnies.  Humph.)

Pixie Noel Patchwork Stockings

This patchwork stocking is composed of 1.5" finished squares in bunny pink, Christmas red/green, aqua blue and gray for good measure.  I've quilted with a zigzag stitch over the seams.  My square points don't meet up very nicely, so this quilting was a great way to hide the irregularities!

Pixie Noel Patchwork Stockings

I made the patchwork stocking with pink cuff for baby and the white stocking with red cuff for myself.  For details on the patterns I'm using, see this post.

 Pixie Noel Patchwork Stockings

Here they are all together!  My palette was inspired by the Pixie Noel collection from Fat Quarter Shop, and each stocking includes some Pixie fabrics.  I mixed in a few stash fabrics like Cotton & Steel basics and Katie Jump Rope Seeds to tone down the holiday vibe.

Pixie Noel Patchwork Stockings

Some of my stockings are lined with prints to match the cuff and others in Pixie Noel picks, like green socks and pink bunnies.

Pixie Noel Patchwork Stockings

This elf print on my stocking is my favorite.  I'm not usually a "cute" person, but these elves, critters and reindeer are too adorable.  I love how the chrysanthemum quilting looks vaguely like snow flurries (or how I imagine snow flurries, never having lived anywhere with real snow storms).  Yep, a little zing of cute at Christmastime sounds lovely.

And speaking of lovely, that's you... as usual.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for your congratulations on our gender news!  I've added Cora to our list of potential girl names, and I've already bought curtains for her nursery!  Hehe.  Will be sure to share more nursery ideas soon!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Not blue.

Our 16 week gender scan was charged with emotion.  After having lost our baby girl, our much-wanted, long-anticipated baby girl, Brandon and I were unabashedly hoping our new baby was a girl as well.  And for that reason, I figured it would be a boy.  C'est la vie.  When the tech announced just that news I worked frantically to hold it together.  I could hear the uncertainty in her voice, but Brandon couldn't.  As soon as we were alone, I asked him what he thought, and he said she sounded sure.

Which just meant I was being crazy.

I dutifully sent a cryptic text to all the people, "It's a boy."  For a week I wouldn't consider names.  I was angry, missing Eleni, kicking at fate.  Then something shifted emotionally and made space in my heart for this him.  Only, once the emotions processed and the despair started to fade, all the facts came into focus.  I wasn't sure - the images hadn't looked right.  The tech hadn't been sure - she kept deflecting.  Really, wasn't it true, we couldn't be sure?

It's actually better to be sure.  For me, at least.  When you're sure you can throw that emotional energy into getting things done.  Creating a special space.  Making the best of it.  When you're not sure, you Can't. Do. Anything.  You're the crazy woman holding onto all the baby girl clothes, refusing to finish that Lotus quilt that would be perfect for a girl's nursery, admitting to your best friends that you're thinking it could still be a girl.

Not blue.  Not green.  Not orange.  Not brown...


It turns out CORAL is the color I need!  Because it's a girl, people. Baby is all girl!

This week at our 20 week scan, a new ultrasound tech performed a detailed anatomic scan.  Unbiased by previous conclusions, she said it was a girl.  With confidence.  Challenged by previous conclusions, she showed me it was a girl.  From three different angles!

So, goodbye to that mint and tangerine color scheme, and it's back to the drawing board on the perfect name.  I'm glad I didn't finish that blue blue patchwork stockings, buy up those baby boy diapers or start to work on the nursery.  I'm glad I was a little bit crazy.

Because, sometimes, crazy is right.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Slow Stitching

We've hit the slow side of summer.  The days that move like molasses.  The kids who are tired of reading on the sofa.  The heat that just. won't. stop.  On the other hand, Aria's brainstorming ideas for marketable crochet projects (because she's already made sweaters for all her friends), and Liam's drawing a collection of characters and backgrounds.  We may be super bored, but we're also extra creative.  And that's what summer is for, right?

Slow stitching

I'm in between machine sewing projects, while waiting on new fabrics from The Intrepid Thread for my next quilt.  Meanwhile, I have three hand stitching projects vying to fill my time.  This week thornflower is getting all the attention.  It's just the kind of mindless stitching that fits best when your preteen is eager to fill you in on all her grand plans.

I usually enjoy basting English Paper Piecing projects, but not joining the pieces.  To minimize time-consuming hand joining, I was going to join just the flower petals around the centers, then applique the flowers and triangles as separate pieces on a background.  But simplicity won out.  Getting all those pieces placed perfectly on the background was more than my molasses brain could handle.  And once I decided to join everything by hand, I settled in and enjoyed myself, truly.

Slow stitching

I just have one long row of staggered triangles and petals left to join to finish the asymmetric applique piece.  Can't wait to see how it all looks when finally in pillow form!

And can I just say I love these flower centers?  The dark navy compliments any petal color and the whimsical "ghost sardine" prints are the perfect element of subtle pattern for a modern flower center.  I always forget about fussy cutting, so I'm proud of myself for thinking it through this time!

Always some new way to grow, right?  I do love that about sewing.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Welcome, Emerson Quilting!

It's definitely an act of trust to send off a quilt top to be quilted.  All that time, all those careful decisions about color and pattern, all that money just in the fabric - a quilt top represents a great deal of personal investment.

When I was new to quilting, my mother-in-law (who sews amazing Halloween costumes) asked if I would quilt my own quilts, or send them out.  She had been shocked to discover that some quilters don't "quilt" their work.  I guess I was a little confused to hear that too, but now I get it.  In fact, I think most of us who have made a few quilts understand the attraction.  Some quilts are just too special, one doubts they can do justice to the quilt top.  Some quilts are just too big, one's home machine is not roomy enough to accommodate.    Sometimes we just want to be free to frolic in patchwork, patchwork and more patchwork, grateful to pass on finishing to another.

 quilting by Emily Sessions

The first quilt I sent out to be quilted was queen sized.  When my mom explained she'd like the Sparklers quilt finished with dense straight line quilting, you all know I groaned.  Groaned.  I'd seen Emily Sessions of Emerson Quilting's work on another blog, so I got in touch and took the leap.  Since then I've never looked back.   Emily's quilted a few works for me.  She's always easy to communicate with, friendly and delivers on time.  And since I'm such a happy customer I figured she'd be a perfect sponsor for this space!

Rail Fence quilt finish!

This time I sent Emily an average-sized quilt, my Rail Fence scrappy quilt for Patchwork from Scrap.  I chose another straight-lined pattern and one of Emily's signature styles - concentric rectangles.  The quilt is covered all over with concentric rectangles that melt into one another to form a consistent texture.

Rail Fence quilt finish!

After receiving my quilt back from Emily, all it needed was a quick trim around the edges and some zigzag binding. The quilt is sewn down to the batting about 1/8" from the raw edge, so all the edge seams are protected and it's very easy to handle.

Rail Fence quilt finish!

From the front you mainly see straight lines, vertical and horizontal, but not crossing over each other.  It like that the quilting does not distract at all from the patchwork, but subtle compliments it from the front. 

Rail Fence quilt finish!

Looking at the back, the eye easily discerns the concentric rectangle pattern, adding interest to a much simpler side of the quilt. 

Rail Fence quilt finish!

An average throw sized quilt, like this, with an all-over pattern costs $75 to quilt, which is the minimum price at Emerson Quilting.  You could also opt for custom quilting with different patterns on different parts of the quilt or changes in thread color.  To calculate pricing see her Pricing page.  For examples of quilting on diverse quilts, see her main blog feed.  But keep in mind that Emily is game to try new styles, so don't be shy to talk to her about your ideas!  She does everything on her longarm, but free-hand (no computer to guide the machine).

Rail Fence quilt finish!

I'm looking forward to sending more of my quilts off to Emily in the years to come.  I hope you'll give Emerson Quilting a try if you need help getting some quilts finished and ready to use.  Every returned quilt is a little quilting miracle.  She does the hard work of basting and quilting, and you get to celebrate another completed project... and maybe, just maybe start something new!!!

p.s.  Rail Fence is listed today in my Etsy Shop!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Thornflower + Shape Family Challenge

When Jodi (Tales of Cloth) told me about her Shape Family Challenge, I didn't hesitate to join in.  It's been awhile since I've English Paper Pieced, and Jodi's gorgeous EPP-filled Instagram stream is always tempting me.

The challenge starts when you buy a Shape Family pack from Jodi's new business.  She and her husband are working together to offer laser cut EPP shapes from 100% post-consumer recycled card, shipping from their home in Australia.  The Shape Family Challenge invites you to experiment with shapes that play well together to come up with an original (or new-to-you) EPP pattern.  Of course there will be some overlap in what we all come up with, but that shouldn't stop you from getting in on the fun!  Find all the details on how to play Here.

Thornflower in English Paper Piecing

I played with my shape family pack while watching TV to produce a few different pattern possibilities.  This one is my favorite, as I really like the jewel-shaped petals turned on their side along with the wild triangle "background".  The whole thing is pointy and a wee bit aggressive.  I'm calling it thornflower.  Notice those tinier black triangles too?  I'm going to make use of applique techniques and negative space to capitalize on their presence.  Excited!

  Thornflower in English Paper Piecing

This is my fabric pull for the project. I tried to stick with stripes and such whose directionality will emphasize the turned jewel petals.  It's hard to limit myself though.

Thornflower in English Paper Piecing

The resulting thornflowers are perfectly delightful, if I do say so myself!  I have about three handstitching projects in the works now, but this one has stolen my heart.  Will show you more soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

not-so-flirty Flight Skirt

It's not getting any cooler and this belly is not getting any smaller, which means it was time to make mama a maternity skirt...

Reversible gauze skirt

I'm halfway there - 4.5 months pregnant and finally feeling baby move.  Meanwhile, temps in South Carolina are hitting 100 degrees day after day after day.  Skirts and dresses and swim playdates are all on my agenda this week!

Reversible gauze skirt

My skirt is crafted from Birch organic double gauze in Flight Shroom and Solid Shroom from Fabricworm.  I've followed the Flirting the Issue skirt pattern, for which I hosted a sew-along in 2014.

Reversible gauze skirt

The waistband on this skirt has tons of give thanks to 4 rows of tiny 1/4" wide elastic.  I'm still able to wear the Flirting the Issue skirts made for my non-pregnant self in 2014.  But, my new skirt fits even more comfortably and definitely has the potential to take me full term.

Reversible gauze skirt

This is the third type of fabric I've used for a Flirting the Issue skirt.  Double gauze has a more relaxed drape than quilting cotton.  It's warmer on the legs than either quilting cotton or voile, but it's also softer against the skin, something pregnant bellies love.

Reversible gauze skirt

With a simple modification to the hemming step, this skirt is fully reversible.  Although I love the bird side, being able to reverse to solid gray/brown is a big bonus given the limitations of a maternity wardrobe.  I've already worn the it several times!

If you've never made a skirt before, this is an excellent pattern for your first experience.  It'll turn out great whether you make it in voile, quilting cotton or double gauze!  My Flirting the Issue sew-along is ready to hold your hand.  So, what are you waiting for?  Summer's here in the northern hemisphere!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ombre Grid {Improv Handbook Score #5}

Ombre Grid {Improv Handbook Score #5}

All finished!  This is Ombre Grid, an improv quilt made entirely without rulers (except for the backing and binding) and inspired by the fifth score of The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.  Author Sherri Lynn Wood prompts us to reflect and share about our finished works along these lines:

It's really hard to keep this score to a manageable size!  Sherri mentions in the book that her quilt is huge, so that was a heads up for me.  Before I started I had a rough idea for the maximum width of each vertical row.  But, when you're freestyle cutting those large squares, it's so tempting to go big... and bigger!  And then the chunky sashing adds even more heft.

Even though I like the look of ombre, I don't like sewing ombre quilts.  I think this is the first quilt I've made with a monochromatic ombre color scheme.  Maybe because I get so much satisfaction out of playing with color when I sew, this doubly reserved color scheme (only one color and in proper order) doesn't suit me.  I put the large royal blue square at the top right where it did not "belong" to reflect this discovery.

Ombre Grid {Improv Handbook Score #5}

I'm most pleased with the way the darker colors ended up nestling in the upper right and lower left corners creating a double diagonal ombre.  In the beginning I imagined the ombre progressing vertically with light on top fading to dark on bottom.  Then I allowed the royal blue piece to break the color pattern and the right-side gray/white border to reverse the ombre progression with dark on top.  When I mulled over the left-side gray/white border, I was struck with the idea of placing dark on bottom so that the light fabrics would be arranged in a diagonal through the center of the quilt.  That's what I like most!

Ombre Grid {Improv Handbook Score #5}

I'm also pretty pleased with the backing which is made up of Essex linen stitched together with an extra-tiny stitch length and wide seam allowances.   All those linens in grays and blues feel so harmonious with the quilt front.

I do like this quilt, but something about it does not feel like "me".  It's hard to put a finger on what makes a quilt reflect my personal style and what does not, but this one is definitely more tied to the book than to myself.  Adding the loopy quilting did help.  But, like my very first quilt from the book, I feel like I played this one too safe.  Maybe it was a good way to get back into improv though, after the long break I've had.

Ombre Grid {Improv Handbook Score #5}

{Next Steps}
The next score in the book has so much potential for personal interpretation.  I've been looking forward to it and thinking about which shape I want to concentrate upon.  But before I start score #6, I want to spend some time making a repetitive geometric quilt.  Maybe after some soothing predictability I'll be keen to spread my improv wings again!

p.s.  Ombre Grid is now listed in my Etsy shop.  You can find the American Made Brand solids I used in this quilt and Essex linen in many shades at Fat Quarter Shop.

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