Monday, April 27, 2015

Ice Parfait on the farm

 Ice Parfait quilt top

What a beautiful weekend to be home.  We had a very rainy Saturday followed by a sparkling, sunshiny Sunday.  That's the perfect combo for sewing, housekeeping and photographing those finishes.

Ta da - my Ice Parfait quilt top!

Ice Parfait quilt top

Ice Parfait quilt top

As you can see, I kept the long coral slash of color.  I kept it for several reasons.  It's unexpected, which felt good.  Also it vaguely reflects how I feel about life these days.  When the unexpected makes a big, unforgettable appearance in your life, that dramatic slash doesn't have to "ruin" things.  It can, perhaps become part of your beautiful story?  Perhaps.  I am working to see that.

Also, you commented that the blocks on my design wall resemble a spring tree in bloom.  Don't you see it?  Yes, it does!  I had already been considering keeping all that negative space, and that comment sealed the deal.  I added Kona white, Kona oyster and Kona ice frappe (the pale mint) to fill out the quilt.

Ice Parfait quilt top

This is one of my favorite spots.  Loving the way these squares converge!

  on the farm

The blackberry bushes are blooming and the grasses are growing high.  All this green and growing is so delicious at this time of year!

on the farm

Just the right weather for spinning on swings and...

new baby goats!

welcoming goat babies!  Between our two goats, we had one little doe and 3 bucklings!  And they are so, so very sweet!

on the farm

And so is this boy!  Precious.

Ice Parfait quilt top

Here's wishing everyone a warm, glowing week!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Stars for good

 Stars for good

This month, at the Love circle of do. Good Stitches, we're making a stars-gone-wild quilt for our monthly charity collaboration.  Stars are always a fun and friendly direction, don't you think?  Our leading quilter called for a variety of sizes and lots of bright colors.  No neutrals!  Here's how mine started...

Stars for good

Since we were encouraged to let loose a bit, I began by pulling out some orphan works.  In quilt speak, orphans are works that you started cutting or piecing together and then abandoned for one reason or another.  Or, maybe you didn't initially abandon them so much as plan to get back to them later...  And we know how that can go.  I say it counts for double if you can make your orphans play along for bee works!

Stars for good

At first I thought I'd be able to use those already-cut aqua triangles somehow, but in the end I went with a more typical star-piecing strategy. I used mini orphan blocks for the star background and green triangle scraps for the points. 

Stars for good

At top right are the trimmings from creating this 12" star.  Those triangle trimmings became yet another littler star!

Stars for good

Can you spy them here?  They landed in a yellow background.  In fact, all my 6" stars have points made from small triangle scraps.  Scrap resourcefulness one of the endearing things about quilting.

And that's a wrap.  They may not have turned out all that wild, but they're certainly bright and colorful.  Off they go to join their friends in the Love circle April charity quilt!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

a finished Picnic Blanket

Cotton & Steel picnic blanket

True Confession: this weekend I had a bit of a midnight breakdown.  I just couldn't sleep for the stress of all the things I need to do.  And it went on and on.  Tossing and turning in bed between a sleeping husband and the cradle with sleeping baby... well, all their sleeping made me epically miserable!  Eventually I gave in, got up and did a little sniffly sewing, piecing together this picnic quilt.  It wasn't all that pleasant, but it was better than suffering through trying so desperately to sleep.  I'm sure you've been there.

Fortunately, since then I've had several good nights.  Eleni has been sleeping through the night some nights.  Oh, what a gift! 

Cotton & Steel picnic blanket

And speaking of gifts, working with this fabric has been just that.  This is my first Cotton & Steel quilt.  I noticed that the fabrics have a slightly more luxurious texture and drape than usual quilting cottons.  But of course, it's the colors and the prints that truly delight my soul.  I'm particularly fond of the bees for some reason?  All fabrics are from Fabric Spot, a modern quilting shop based out of Canada with a snazzy online presence. 

Cotton & Steel picnic blanket

After laying out my 8" cut squares in a 9 x 9 setting, I so enjoyed piecing and pressing long columns of happy squares.

Cotton & Steel picnic blanket

Simple, repetitive sewing at it's best.

And do you spy the basket just over the edge of the table?  Our portable moses basket/cradle must be my favorite baby gear item.  My sewing space has some lovely filtered daylight, perfect for daytime naps.  It's so nice to keep her nearby!

but I'm not sleepy!

Eleni's the type of baby to act exhausted until you swaddle her and put her down.  Then her eyes fly open to say, "I'm not tired, mommy!"  Fortunately, she's not too fussy about it.  She's still a very sleepy baby, actually (maybe too sleepy).  I have to wake her up all day long to feed her!  But guess what?  Today her oral therapist referred her for a "suck, swallow, breathe" test, which is the first step to getting to try to feed her orally.  Crossing all our fingers and toes that she passes!

Cotton & Steel picnic blanket

Oh, were we talking about a blanket?  I hope you don't mind the Eleni rabbit trails.  I certainly can't promise they won't keep popping up here and there!

But, the blanket...  I make my picnic blankets without any batting so that they're more compact for taking along.  The blanket is a patchwork quilt top with a pieced backing, sewn right sides together and turned right side out.   Then I edge stitch all around to close the opening and finish the edges.  Usually I've hand tied the blanket to secure layers, but this time I zigzag stitched around every other square.  Cute!

Cotton & Steel picnic blanket

Happy, bright, playful fabrics!  Yay!

 Cotton & Steel picnic blanket

I can't wait to give this to our special nurse to show her how much we appreciate what she did for our baby.  Is it bad to say that I think she's going to love it?  How could she not!  These fabrics are just so fun.

Cotton & Steel picnic blanket

Wishing you sunshine and flowers and many picnics this year!

xo,

Rachel


Monday, April 20, 2015

Knit Challengers!

Ooooh, the fun part!   Although it's always super tough to choose just 4 challengers, it's so exciting to tell someone that they are ON for the challenge. 

Thanks for sharing your ideas for our Fabricworm Birch Organics Knit Challenge.  I'm not surprised that many of you just need a push to work with knits!  Do remember that there's a fair bit of luck to which ideas get chosen.  My only hard fast rule is to include both contestants I know (as in, I've seen them around the vastness that is blogland) and contestants whose spaces I had the pleasure of visiting for the first time through this process.

This time around I decided to go with a theme - selfish sewing!  Lots of us sew for others day in and day out.  I found a group of women who are eager to sew themselves a dress or skirt, if they could just get up the courage, find the time or the fabrics.  Let's support them as they make that leap!

Without further ado, our challengers are...

Megan of A little bit of my life, who would "This colorblock dress tutorial looks just about right - enough of an idea to get me started, but simple enough to build my skills and challenge myself at the same time. It would be especially cute in one of those fun Birch prints on the top and a beautiful solid on the bottom. (oh my! those solid colors have me swooning!) The trick will be choosing which ones."  You look like a go-getter, Megan.  Let's see it happen!



Dana of Waterpenny is our next challenger.  "I am wanting to get better at knits! I got a serger for Christmas and have only used it 3 times so I'm ready to go and finally having more time. I want to make a wrap style dress that I can nurse in (like the Yaletown Sewaholic pattern) or a new skirt like the Crescent skirt for summer since I hate shorts! And I'm so blahh with all my clothes after having a baby over the winter."   Well, Dana, if you can design and complete a quilt like your modified lone star below, I'm sure knits will be a piece of cake.



Miss Jennifer of in the Baumgarten is ready to conquer her knit-fear.  "For several months I have been dying to sew the Moneta but the knit-fear keeps holding me back. My greatest fear concerning knits has been that... I no longer have the fancy stretch stitches that I used to... But, I have also read on the Colette website about using a very long zig-zag as the stretch stitch.  Scary to think about, but it would open a whole new world of knit opportunities for me. I would be honored to sew a Moneta (maybe in one of the Nature prints) and report back on the trials and successes concerning this!"  Great!  It's always good to hear from the front lines about experimental stitch methods!  Jennifer was a brave and productive soul in Curves Class, so I don't doubt she'll come through for us here.



And last but not least, Amanda of Sewn Barefoot, whose comment helped me settle on a theme, "I would love to tackle a dress or skirt for myself! I've only dabbled in knits for the kiddos. I've never sewn clothes for myself, it's about time I did some selfish sewing." Here's your chance, Amanda!



And if you're thinking, "She totally should have picked me," you're probably right!  I'll try to pick you next time.  I'll also try to remember that we're due for another international challenge in the near future.  Good point.  

A great big thanks to Fabricworm for this fun challenge.  Have fun, challengers!  We can't wait to see what you cook up!!!

p.s.  The rest of us can save 15% off any order at Fabricworm through June with coupon code 15sew.  Knits, here we come!


Friday, April 17, 2015

Fabricworm Birch Knit Challenge!

Have you been meaning to try sewing with knits?  I know this is a quilty kind of place, but you can't be out and about reading sewing blogs and shopping at online fabric stores without running into enticing knits, can you?  If you're like me, you've thought about sewing with knits for awhile and need only a last convincing push.  I finally tackled knits when I made those baby gowns during my pregnancy.  And I'm soooo glad I did!  It was much easier than I imagined and opens up new sewing possibilities.

What about you?  Ready to take the Knit Challenge?

The good folks at Fabricworm have sponsored our Knit Challenge to bring knits to a sewing machine near you.  Challengers will choose from among four Birch Organics knit fabric collections, selecting a total of 2 yards of knits.  Armed with free fabric and a motivating deadline, this is your chance to go forth and conquer knits!

You could choose from...

Serengeti Knits by Jan-Cyn Designs


Knit Solids


Nurture Knits by Charley Harper


Mod Basics


That's right, so many great choices!  And, we can even help you out if you need a pattern.  Fabricworm is offering challengers a 50% coupon for the purchase of a knit pattern to ship with your free fabric.  You might consider...

baby clothes!
a comfy wrap

chic dress
or sweet girl's blouse


So really now, what would you sew with Birch knits?  Seriously, start thinking because their yours for the taking.  Four participants will choose 2 yards of Birch Organics knits from among the collections shown here!  But, of course there's a catch.... you have to sew with it.  Like soon!  This fabric is not going to languish on those shelves.  Nosirree.

You can use a Fabricworm knit pattern or any knit pattern or free tutorial you like!  You can also participate if you've already sewn knits here and there.  Just promise us you'll branch out and try something a little outside your comfort zone!

Here's how it works...  On Monday I'll announce the 4 participants, our knit challengers.  As soon as we have your address info, Fabricworm will mail out those fabrics, likely getting them in the mail by Tuesday.  Then, you must make something... anything!!!! using only the Birch Knits you selected.  Participants can use their own buttons, trims, etc. to embellish if needed.

There's a deadline!  Really, it's a good thing, cause that means you'll enjoy this now.  You must finish sewing your project and post pictures by Sunday, May 10th.  (For that reason and due to unpredictable shipping speeds, we're going to have to limit the challenge to U.S. residents.)  Participants can either share the results on their blog, or if they don't blog, sharing pictures on flickr or anywhere else online will do.  We want to see what you make because...

You and your project will be featured here!
  On May 11th I'll be posting about our challengers, with pictures of your project and hopefully some tidbits about your process.  Looking forward to it!  You people never fail to inspire me!  Now, all we have to do is figure out which of you 4 are destined to get your knit on.

So, go ahead, convince me.  What you would sew with knits if you become one of our challengers?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

getting Playful

Thanks so much for your feedback on my last post about the quarter log cabin quilt!  Some of the comments you made encouraged me to follow a tiny little hint of an idea I'd had about using negative space.  It always helps to hear from you!  I've decided to take some risks with this quilt because, really, I've got nothing to lose.  Will look forward to sharing the top with you sometime soon!

Playful picnic blanket

But not today.  I've had a couple of sleep-deprived nights in a row, and you know what that means - major brain fog.  Best to keep things simple.  I just received this stack of fabrics from Fabric Spot, a Canadian-based store with a fantastic selection of modern fabrics.  With the Canadian dollar kind of low and Fabric Spot's $12.99 flat rate U.S. shipping, you should be tempted too.

Playful picnic blanket

Oooooh, these fabrics so, SO much fun!  I put together this custom bundle for a very special project.  First I gathered my favorite Playful prints from the new Cotton & Steel collection.  Then, I added pops of color and fun design from other Cotton & Steel lines, a little Mesa, a little Mochi, a basic here and there.  It's so easy to mix and match with Cotton & Steel since everything's color-related.  And luckily, Fabric Spot has a nice, big selection of Cotton & Steel to pull from.

Playful picnic blanket

Wednesday is one of my "work days," a chance to catch up on computer work and sew in a mostly quiet house.  Today, I'm going to cut and sew simple squares for a new picnic quilt.  This one's for wonderful nurse Sally and her little girl!  Yay for little girls who can appreciate pink ponies, purple butterflies and honeybees made up of tiny hearts!

Hey, they do it for me too.

Playful picnic blanket

I've even already chosen fabrics for the back of the work.  I have this huge floral Ikea print that I bought eons ago, before I even knew how to sew.  It looks made to play with my bundle!  Plus, a cut of Heather Ross princesses and some polka dots to fill out the large picnic square.

All decisions made?  Check, check.  Time to get cutting!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bliss

Making art can restore one's sense of self and wholeness in a powerful way, don't you think?

Ice Parfait quarter cabins


It's so easy to fill one's days with all the tasks that need to be done: tending to the children, the housework, the paperwork and on and on.  Really, to overfill them!  There is life, good life, in the mundane, so I aim to enjoy those daily tasks. 

But... it's a whole different thing to set aside time to do something artistic and nurturing, just because.  Something that doesn't have to be done.  Something entirely for me.

Ice Parfait quarter cabins

On Saturday I pulled out my color-sorted strings and a few blocks I had started when first inspired by Geometric Bliss prints last December.  I'm building quarter cabin blocks with two main colors in each block and sprinkles of black/white stripes or Geometric Bliss logs here and there.

Ice Parfait quarter cabins

Loving the large scale and irregular sizes!  That long splash of coral red is something I just threw up on the design wall and then decided I might keep.  What do you think?  Do you like it?

Mmmmm... I'm having fun with this one!

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