Friday, December 30, 2011

in a Year

Anything can happen in a year.  I feel like this year, anything did.  Last January I shared the good honest truth about where I was standing financially and emotionally with Stitched in Color.  What started as a hobby, needed to become a business because my other business was going belly up.  So today is my last day, my very last day working at my old business.  And I won't pretend that there isn't plenty of sadness in that, but overall I've very excited to step out into something new that is actually working.

2011, Favorite Projects
Stitched in Color, 2011

Because I love being here!  I still love blogging, even at the pace I've been keeping.  I usually have more posts in mind than there are days in a week, and while some are certainly better than others (don't you know it!) I enjoy the regularity of sharing my day-to-day creating with you.  I've peppered this post with mosaics of some of my favorite projects made in 2011!  I know that I would do far less making if you all weren't here being with me.  Thank-you so much!  Hopefully I don't blather on too much for your tastes about my children and our pigs and whatnot.  That kind of thing is like candy to some and like noise to another.  My mind is to write what I like and hope you like it too!  But, sometimes I have to remind myself of that because it's easy to fall into the trap of writing for an audience.

2011 finished quilts
2011, Finished Quilts

Sew Mama Sew has put out their annual call for folks to chime in with their thoughts on 2011 and predictions for 2012, sewing-wise  (Check out Amy's answer if you're the thoughtful type).  On the topic of social media I'd like to say that I think the #1 key to blogging is to keep your voice genuine.  Unlike a magazine or a book, a blog is a personal story.  Yes, there's inspiration and tutorials and that's a big part of the draw, but there's also a person behind it all that, hopefully, leaves their personal stamp on every last thing.  The blogs that I most enjoy become journeys in which I'm simultaneously inspired/enabled and getting to know a new friend.  Even if they don't have the time to reach out to me, I feel that I know them because of the "self" they blog.

2011, Color + Black
Black + Color

We found out earlier this year in a particular post that there are many, many folks who feel inadequate from craft blog-reading.  I think this stems from the popular choice to always keep posts 100% positive.  No person is always happy, always successful, always right.  I've made mistakes and shared them here.  I've made goals that I didn't reach.  Maybe I could have been even more transparent, but there is always that nagging question of "do they want to know".  I've heard tell that crafty blogs are your "happy place" and any negativity is unwelcome.  But that means I can't be myself (see above), and that leads to an unreal facade that you might

A. Write off as a fake or
B. Hold over yourself as a unreachable standard.

So, I guess my goal for 2012, blog-wise, is to continue to be genuine.  To speak from my heart.  To take pause because things can be (and certainly have been) misunderstood and words are powerful, but to take courage to speak still.  It is absolutely my hope and dream and goal that Stitched in Color be a lovely, glowing place of inspiration and beauty.  But let that be real beauty and real love from a real person.  And pray God that person could be me.

Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Giveaway & SALE at Contemporary Cloth!

I seem to be on a fabric stashing spree.  I have four (yes, four!) packages on the way to me, the last ordered today at Contemporary Cloth.  How are you supposed to resist $4 a yard fabrics and about 25% off storewide?  I was sensible and purchased some Heath by Alexander Henry and a few other tonal geometrics, but then I had to add a yard of this owl print for good measure.

I just love the dark, rich tones on that gray and all the black detailing.  I'm seeing it as a quilt backing or maybe pillowcases for Brandon and I.  Oh, wouldn't that be hilarious!  Well, it's coming home to me anyways.  I think that should be enough shopping now, ahem.

25% off at Contemporary Cloth

But you, have you any packages soon to arrive?  Contemporary Cloth's year end sale runs through January 6th.  All regularly priced fabrics are 20-30% off (the above are 25% off) and clearance fabrics are marked down even more.  I did the digging for you and picked out a set of bright, cheerful fabrics that all run about $4 a yard.  Seriously!

$10 Spring Dream Fat Quarter Set!

Sondra has limited stock of my Spring Dream fat quarter bundle available now for $10.  That's over 2 yards for $10.  Total deal. 

I have two gift certificates to giveaway for Contemporary Cloth!  Two winners will receive $25 store credits to jump start their stashing in the new year.  I'll draw random winners after dinner on New Years eve!  To enter, please share a sewing-related goal for the New Year.  Now, you may  not be a resolution kind of person, which is cool, but you can probably come up with some kind of general goal.  Project-wise, I want to make a winter-time bed quilt for our master bedroom.  I'm very, very thankful to be living with Bottled Rainbows on my bed, but I want to follow through with my promise to Brandon to make a more understated "winter" quilt sometime this year in the darker shades he loves.  Unfortunately, I've been otherwise occupied this winter, so hopefully I'll channel the right concept in time to put it on the bed next fall!

Ok, you're next...

****Comments Closed****

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Retro Flowers no. 3

retro flowers no. 3

When I started off my retro flowers quilt (pattern by Christina of Sometimes Crafter) I originally thought to make them solely in Good Folks, my favorite fabric collection.  But as I came to think about where the finished quilt would hang on our walls, I opted to interject this black text print (Annie's Farm Stand Seed Catalog).


I guess I was kind of trying to mollify Brandon, since my first thought was to hang the finished quilt in our dining room, where that silly painting used to be.  But, within a week I had another quilt in mind to hang there (which is probably just the beginning of the madness?) and retro flowers was destined for another wall.

black + color

Anyhoo, I really dig how the black text print works in stark contrast to the rounded, vintage-inspired flower shape.  There's something kind of ironic about a black flower. In a good way, I think.

a colorful morning!

Just in the same way, I have been enjoying spicing rainbow tones with black as of late.  Yes, it was a very colorful, scrappy-delicious morning as I've been working on yet another project for my curves class.  I wish you much of the same!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas-y {quilts and all}

Come down from that sugar high yet?  Yeah, I have some backups in reserve for later tonight ;)  But, really, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!  My favorite part was sneaking over to grandma's house as a family just before bed to deliver daddy-made cedar reindeer in the dark.  Brandon made a buck and doe for both sets of grandparents, and it was so great to be able to really delight them with an unexpected gift this year!  And the kids were sooooo quiet as we crept across the lawn.  It was priceless!

Christmas pjs

I thought of you on Christmas morning, trying to catch a picture of my littles in their mama-made pj's, but no luck. Here's Liam this morning drawing while mom and dad caught up on our sleep.  I'll get one of the two of them eventually.  Happily, the pjs fit perfectly!  But, I'm not so sure about those kimono ties.   Aria has trouble keeping them from falling out.  I may just outfit hers with buttons eventually.

Here are some snapshots from our Christmas day:

Aria and kitty Susan

Christmas toys

Christmas gifts <3

Brandon very sweetly tried to surprise me with something not on my wish list, but when a box came from "Anna Maria Horner" for Brandon, well, I had a pretty good idea what might be inside. And I was not a bit disappointed on Christmas morning!

our family

So here we are on Christmas day underneath our new jumbo Christmas-y quilt.  Yeah!  At 76" x 58" it's truly, really big enough for all!  I'm so glad I plunked down the cash for the flannel ta dot backing too.  Really makes it cuddly!

Finished Christmas-y quilt

You can see here that I put together a really simple patchwork pattern with large cuts and lots of saturated colors.  I love how the Amy Butler wallflower prints contrast with those Kaffe Fassett stripes, and it's all pulled together with Meet the Gang by Marisa of Creative Thursday for Andover (in stock at Whipstitch, The Intrepid Thread, Sew Modern and Hawthorne Threads).

in Meet the Gang by Marissa of Creative Thursday

My original plan was to put some curves spliced through this quilt, but that plan changed for a number of reasons.... one being I wanted it done by Christmas and liked it this way quite well enough!

diamond quilting!

Even though I knew I wanted diamonds, I almost wimped out on the quilting remembering what trouble I'd had trying to make diamonds on Aria's voile and double gauze Fairytale Patchwork quilt. But, I gave it a go using a hera marker to mark all of my quilting lines before basting.  I was really, really, really pleased with how easy it was to quilt, even being so large.  No pins (I spray baste) and no need to stop and mark as I went = gleeful quilting, at last!

wrapped up in newsprint

I showed my daddy on Christmas day, when they were over to celebrate, that I'd bound my Christmas-y quilt with newsprint fabric because it reminds me of how he'd wrap our presents in newspaper and we'd know those were the ones Dad bought all by himself just for us.  The binding is made with two Hometown by Sweetwater prints intermixed.  I think it lends a modern vibe to this funny mix of sweet characters, rich hues and bold prints. But the binding used up almost all of my Hometown, which is in stock at Pink Castle and Fresh Modern Fabrics.  I know because I've added them to my Etsy-wish-to-buy favorites!

So, yes, a Merry Christmas was certainly had in our snug little home.  Thank-you for your kind well-wishes!  I'm off to hunt down some leftover sweets. See you soon!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

To all the sweet souls who stop by now and then.  I wish you scrumptious treats and loved ones near and happy surprises to give and to get.  I wish you dear memories both old and new.  I wish you a heart that is peaceful, whole and refreshed by the light that shines on these very dark nights. 

But most of all I wish you love.

Merry Christmas!


Fabric Murder

I hadn't planned on posting a post like this today, but I just have to get this off my chest.  Last night I committed fabric murder.  It was awful.  And it all started so innocently....

by Ungt blod

After the children were tucked into bed, I decided to "treat" myself to starting that triangle quilt for the Scrap Attack Quilt-Along.  So off I went cutting scraps into sharp little triangle shapes.  Only, I didn't like them.  In confusion (denial?) I continued cutting more scraps reasoning that scrappy quilts look better the more fabrics are added. So, I cut a little of this and a little of that.... still hating it.

fabric murder

That's when I started to panic.  What if I didn't enjoy making this quilt?  What if I couldn't make it look good?  What if the whole project was destined to be a disaster and I'd be better off doing something, ANYTHING else with my scraps!!!!?

So I put a plump stack of sharp, pointy triangles in. the. Trash.

 in desperation

I tried to forge ahead, cutting fabrics I might like better, arranging them by color like so in hopes that I might muster some love for the triangle quilt yet.  But the murdered fabric weighed heavily on my conscience.  The arrangement by color was a desperate attempt, even I could see that, as it nullified all those nice sharp points that had attracted me to the quilt design to begin with.

This morning, in the clear light of day, I rescued the triangles from their sad fate in the (very clean) trash can.  I just can't waste perfectly good, nicely cut fabric like that.  In another context, these were fabrics I would most definitely have used.  No, I couldn't do it.  As the day went on, I did discover my triangle quilt groove and added more triangles to the reject stack in recognition that I really want a more intentional scrappy theme.  I think I have it now, and I promise I won't send anymore scraps to a triangle-shaped doom.

misfit scraps

If anyone could find it in their heart to give these scraps a home, I will mail them to you post haste.  These are dark days for misfit scraps round these parts, and I'd hate to see them come to a sad end.

with remorse,  Rachel

edited to add:  The scraps have been rescued and will soon be off to a new home!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Star Blossoms Tutorial

Has it really been almost a month since my last star blossoms update?  I've made a lot of progress and was hoping to have my table runner completely finished before posting this much-requested tutorial.  But, well, there hasn't been as much TV watching lately, which translates to less hand-sewing than usual.  So, there you are...  Maybe over the holiday weekend I'll give myself a break and watch more TV with my honey!

joining Star Blossoms

My "Star Blossoms" are made with three different shapes:  hexagons (blossom centers), jewels (blossom petals) and diamonds (sashing for joining blossoms). The entire project is hand-sewn via the English Paper Piecing method.  "The what?" you say?  Yes, it's a mouthful.  This is the kind of thing that's easier to show than describe, so I have for you today.... a video!

Ok, now this is just little ole Rachel talking to nobody, so don't be surprised that I sound at times overly perky and strange.  I'll keep trying to find my video-making groove (wink).  I've published this video to Youtube, so that's the reason for a formal introduction (and it may take a bit of time to load).  Here goes...

Learn something?  Maybe just a little?  I know I moved a bit fast sometimes.  You can use the pause button to freeze the screen, if desired.  But, as you can see, English Paper Piecing is not difficult, just time-consuming.  Basting is easy and quick.  The resulting crisp shapes are oh-so-satisfying... so much so that you have to watch out that you don't make stacks of shapes and no finished projects! 

After basting when you begin joining your shapes to make a design, the stitching is much slower.  My friend Melanie at Texas Freckles has a nice video for how to sew the basted shapes together called Hexagon Piecing 101.  I don't do as many knots and such as she recommends, but you might like too.  Actually, I've sewn shapes together incorrectly before (like without right sides together - hey, I'm watching TV) and had a terrible time trying to un-sew them.  All those tiny, tight whipstitches have a crazy strong way of hanging on!

Diamond sashing

If you'd like to make Star Blossoms, I suggest you join your basted hexagons and jewels into blossoms as you go to avoid having a whole ton of piecing to do at the end.  Then, once you have a small stack of blossoms, start adding diamond shapes around a few to begin creating the finished fabric.

project jam #3

I found that once I was adding diamonds the work seemed to come together all of a sudden!  Since then I've been adding star blossoms to get just the right length and planning for the little pieces to create a straight edge.  My finished work is going to be 2 rows of blossoms wide and about 6 blossoms long, so as to fit the top of an entry table.  I'll be sure to take notes on the finishing steps so that I can add that tutorial later on.  If you're like me, I think you'll be best off planning for a small project like a pillow cover, table topper, or even stretched art rather than a whole quilt. 

paper piecing for on the plane


Paper Pieces:  These papers can be reused since they will be removed after you join the shapes and remove basting stitches.  I've worked both with shapes cut out from printer paper and from sturdy papers purchased from  To me, buying heavy, already-cut papers was worth it.  I used:
*1" Hexagons
*2" 6 Point Diamonds
*Large jewel shapes

Needle & Thread:  Really, any needle will do here.  Maybe don't use your best (like I am...) since it will be dulled from piercing paper regularly.   I recommend a hand-quilting thread, like this one, which is waxed to minimize tangling.  Since working with long lengths of threads is convenient on this project, tangling can really be an issue.  By the way, I did try a Sewline fabric glue pen for basting, and much preferred needle and thread.  The glue did not hold up to being handled and didn't really seem to save time.

cutting diamonds

Fabrics:  I suggest limiting yourself to quilting cottons for English Paper Piecing.  I've regretted using voile (slippery, dull points) and flannel (bulky).  Cut your fabrics in advance so that you can stitch away when the mood strikes:
*for Hexagons cut 2.5" squares
*for Diamonds cut 2.25"strips and lay the papers on top to establish your cutting angle
*for Jewels cut 2.5" x 3.25" pieces

Ok, I think that does it!  I can't wait to see what you make, and I'm looking forward to showing you the finished project soon.

p.s.  Any feedback/suggestions on the video are very welcome!

Retro Flowers no. 2

Retro Flowers no. 2

I have another block for you!  This Retro Flower is made up in Cathedrals from Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks collection with Kona white.  It's almost my last of this now hard-to-find print, but as this quilt is mine to keep, I think it's well used. 

in Cathedrals, Good Folks & Kona white

Christina's Retro Flower block takes 12 small drunkard's path blocks, for which I'm using the Tabslot acrylic template set.  It's so nice to have a hard ruler for cutting all of those tight curves!  I find the piecing pretty painless, except for the portion where you join the mini blocks together with matching seams to make the petals. It's tricky to get the curve points to match sometimes and sometimes it goes together swimmingly.  So, I go at it with seam ripper near at hand and try to have a flexible attitude.

Wait, my seam ripper is always near at hand!  This weekend I sewed some pieces together without right sides together.  For real!

Retro Flowers block

I'm still really loving this block and have actually already made another which I'm saving for next week.  In all of my curves class project testing and making, my brain is always going at full tilt.  Is this project easy enough, hard enough, motivating enough, etc. etc?  And then there's the constant picture-taking for tutorials and the nagging worry that I must get it all done by a specific deadline.  It's nice to make this block to give myself a break just. following. directions.  Ah, blessed directions!  Love them sometimes!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Evaluating Stash

I'm going to admit right here and right now that I feel a stashing coming on.  Now I know that some of you are hoping to receive fabric for Christmas, but that's not likely round these parts.  I've started to feel the pinch when poking around my stash for the right orange, red, aqua and pink fabrics. Ok, pretty much everything but green and gray.  Case in point, these are all of my remaining orange fabrics!

Fabric - all Oranges

Liam's flying geese curtains are claiming just about every scrap I had of non-girly pure oranges.  I've been using up text fabrics left and right and hardly have any stripes left in my entire stash!!!  (Breathe, just breathe, Rachel).

So, this is a good thing.  I've been careful this year not to overspend on fabric, and to take a real critical eye to measure what I want against what I already have.  After a year packed with sewing, I actually have less fabric that I did when we got started (not counting solids, which I definitely increased since January last).  However, I wouldn't say I have the perfect balanced system or something.  No, I've been thinking it over and have noticed a "trouble spot" in my growing tower of multicolored fabrics...

Fabric - Multicolored tower

Almost all of my fabrics are purchased "for love", not with a particular project in mind.  This suits me well since I work best when I can grab inspiring fabrics with the idea fresh in mind and start sewing right away.  But, these multicolored prints just don't lend themselves to the visions I usually create.

Fabric - Rainbow multicolored

Now, don't get me wrong, I love them!  Here are some of the vibrant, rainbow-infused prints.  They whipster to me of childish projects to come.  But, that's the thing - I have to design a project around these prints to use them.  And I will...eventually.

Fabric - Rich multicolored

These are some of the richer multicolored prints in my stash.  Pretty!  I hate to see lovely fabric sitting around not being used.  But, I suppose the longest I've had any of these is one year, and they have been used some, just not used up.  Do you find yourself accumulating certain types of fabrics that you like but don't easily use?

Fabric - Pure pinks

What I so often use are "pure" color prints that pair a color with neutrals like white, gray or brown.  These are all of my pure pinks.  Noticeably lacking are some bright pinks (add that to the shopping list).  My personal favorite pure prints are tone on tone without too much white.  It gives a more saturated look to the finished project.   Over time I've seen that I avoid white background prints.  Nothing against them, of course, that's just my aesthetic.  Still, I'm really crushing on the Ruby Sundae Stripe.

It's a cross between a stripe and a dot!  Picture and fabric bundle by Pink Castle Fabrics.  The Sundae Stripe is also available at Fat Quarter Shop and the aqua only at Fabric Envy.

Fabric - Yellow with accents

In my pink stack I have many prints that are "pink + orange" or "pink +red".  Here are the "yellow + accent" prints currently in my stash. These colored prints with accents are slightly less handy than pure color prints.  However when the right project comes along, the "color +  accent" prints make my heart sing because they really nail down the intended color scheme.  I want to make an effort to buy more of these prints, particularly those that I don't have like "red + aqua", "aqua + green", "orange + red" and "orange + blue".   Here are a few I'm considering:

Bird Lattice from Meet the Gang

Ovals from Calypso
Dot from So Sophie
 I found the three above at Hawthorne Threads

Fabric - all Purples

These are all of my purples.  I thought I needed to buy more purples in general, but now I see that's not so.  I'll have to reevaluate my shopping cart!  I'd still like to have on hand a pure lavender print and more of a "crayon" purple.  Both are hard to find in modern designer fabrics.

So, after going through all that, I'm sure I'll make a sensible purchase, right?


Honestly, I'm currently crushing on this newly released Woodland by Natalie Lymer, available at Sew Modern, Hawthorne Threads and Fat Quarter Shop.  I'm not sure how "handy" they would be, but oh-so-cute for sure!

This is when I envy those who make baby quilts to sell.  The never-ended need for new cute, even multicolored fabric sounds quite nice!  Yes, the grass is always greener, isn't it?  Well, I'll just buy some Woodland for love and hope that it finds it's time to shine soon.

Yes, a stashing is a-coming.  Wishing you all much fabricy goodness in your holiday surprises!

p.s.  I was just notified that JAQS fabrics is closing.  Of course we wish Qiu the best!  Help her wrap up loose ends by checking out her offerings.  The entire store is 20% off with code "JAQSFabricClose".  

Monday, December 19, 2011

making merry

The second time around is always, always easier.

Oliver & S Bedtime Story Pajamas

This weekend I finished Liam's Oliver & S Bedtime Story pajamas.  The kids crack me up, because I worked on these right in front of them, but they're so used to seeing me sew all the time that they barely register what I'm doing.  Liam asked like once what I was making with that Cat in the Hat flannel (which he l.o.v.e.s. - got it from Fat Quarter Shop!), but his only guess was a stocking.  A really, really big stocking....?  Right.  When they were playing outside, I raced through the finishing steps that would have surely given the pajamas away.

Liam loves Cat in the Hat

Anyhoo, I'm pretty jazzed with how the Punctuation Tutor Stripe trim gives them a very masculine, kind of handsome vibe.  Cause Cat in the Hat is so grown-up, ya know?  Wink.

 with Tudor Stripe trim

I opted for button closure for Liam, who at almost-5 isn't quite proficient at ties.  He could knot them up like anything, mind you, but the untying...  That would be my job.  I hope the buttons won't be uncomfortable.  Oh, and I ended up making his PJ's in size 4 and Aria's in size 6.  So with both kids I chose a full size smaller than their age.  Can't wait to discover on Christmas Eve how they fit!  I'll be sure to snap a picture then.

Aria's latest project

Speaking of pictures, I humbly agree that I was seriously amiss to let pass my chance to photograph miss kitty Susan in her new coat of knitted glory.   I will be on the lookout to make amends.  In the meantime, please note Susan lounging in her little cradle, complete with fuzzy friends, pillow, blanket... the whole works.  Yes, it is nap time for miss Susan while Aria works on her first ticker tape quilt.  She saw mommy basting a quilt on the floor with masking tape and got the idea to tape down her quilt top in progress.  Nice.

Sweetwater binding

I'm adding some Sweetwater binding to my Meet the Gang quilt this week.  If you recall it is a Christmas-y quilt, so we're just in the nick of time with that one!  Perhaps this newsprint-esque fabric is a little odd, definitely unexpected binding choice? I've received some puzzled looks from my clan.

Meet the Gang in process

Ah well, the binding cake is in my eyes so lovely to behold.  Don't you love the crisp, cut edges of a finished, quilted top and the promise of rolled binding?  Yum!

Merry, merry sewing to all!
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