Friday, June 28, 2013

168 Squares

When I was slicing and dicing scraps into 2.5" squares I thought to myself, "Self, you've cut so abundantly that you're going to have to make a journal cover in this colorway too."

168 squares

168 squares later, my patchwork fabric is enough for just the chair back.  Self retorts, "I guess it's back to the cutting board for you!"

Oh, we sound more dysfunctional that we are, I assure you. 

Well, I will have a recovered chair by Monday.  I do declare.  Also, turns out my circular needle does have a purpose in life.  Hurrah!  More details then.

***************************

For today, I'm stopping by at Mr. Random's to select a winner of the Penny Sampler spot.  The magic number is comment #15.  That's Beth, who said, "Oh, Rachel--yesterday I thought about how much I would like to make your Wheel pattern. Today I bought it! I will think of you and your family as I make it, sending warm wishes your way." 

Thank-you, Beth!  And thanks to all of you again so much from my heart for helping us liquidate stock at Euphoria Maternity and Euphoria Baby whether by purchasing patterns or shopping direct.  We were so blessed by your orders!  It's satisfying to see good stuff that has been sitting on the shelves get off and out in the world to be used.  If there's anyone I'd like to send a deal to, it's you. Because you're awesome!  So thanks for making a difference.  You put the "sweet" in the bittersweet  of shutting down (ha! so corny, but it's true) by being a part of Stitched in Color, whether you purchased or not.

Have a wonderful weekend! 


Thursday, June 27, 2013

patching again

This week I heard from Kathy of Pink Chalk Fabrics that I'm going to need a nice shot of my sewing space.  Naturally, I thought, "Now's the time to recover those black office chairs that have been on my to do list forever!"

patching again

So, here we are patching again.  I cut 2.5" squares mostly from scrap, with a nice helping of Flea Market Fancy green seeds and Glimma Kita in fog from the fabric cabinet.  My sewing room has bright fern green walls and black/brown Ikea furniture.  Slowly but surely I've been incorporating more colors too.   So, I'm thinking mostly green with red, pink, yellow, gray and multi-colored fabrics too.  I'm definitely being influenced by this awesome watermelon-colored do. Good Stitches quilt and also something I think I saw at Ikea once.  How's that for specific?

recovering this Ikea Klemens chair

This is the Klemens chair that I'd like to recover.  I have two - one for sewing and one at my desk - and they're actually really comfy chairs.  Recovering will be a little tricky since the chair back doesn't come apart in a helpful way.  I think I'm going to hand sew the finished patchwork onto the existing black twill fabric with button thread.  We'll see though....

patching again

For starters, I'm joining squares in pairs.  Funny, with this type of "random" patchwork I would normally grab two squares which I felt complimented each other, but also contrasted in color.  After reading Jodi's post at Tickle and Hide, I'm inspired to try her approach of choosing like colors to create a more fluent, watery movement of color, instead of so many hard stops. 

chain piecing!

This is one of those times when chain piecing doesn't just save time and thread, but makes pretty garlands too.  Happy, happy!

p.s. looking forward to announcing the winner of the Penny Sampler premium spot tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

the Penny Sampler {prelude}

Teapot for the Penny Sampler

I like to be challenged.  There's something about a grandiose project that draws out my best efforts, changing me and refining me in the process.  When I first envisioned this class, this quilt, it became something I couldn't refuse.  I knew it would make me reach and learn... and it has.  I've spent 6 months developing and creating, and now I'm just delighted to be sharing it soon!

::Inspiration::

 folk Scandinavian, from StorybookWoods
It began with Scandinavian inspiration, its folk notes and modern melodies combined.  That first vision became a framework of ideas - miniature pictures, small geometric piecing, intricate sashing, a pointy border.

modern Scandinavian, paper art by Fideli Sundqvist
But I wanted it to be lively, unexpected, definitely different than your everyday sampler quilt.  So, I threw out regular gridwork and traditionally placed sashing.  Instead blocks are a smorgasbord of sizes, sashing falls here and there for movement, layers of interest.  The border is broken up and resized in a decidedly unpredictable way.  All this aiming to be true to the quirky charm of modern Scandinavian style.

little Village {project}

I'm not revealing the finished quilt today... you'll have to wait until registration!  These phtos are a collection of bits and pieces I've shared throughout the year.

::the Class::

My Penny Sampler class in an invitation to a fun but challenging journey.  The online class centers around the making of an epic quilt - the Penny Sampler - while developing three themes:  machine applique, precise piecing and machine paper piecing.  These skill sets go beyond basic quilting to equip a quilter to face with confidence tricky traditional geometric piecework and picture-motifs made by applique or machine paper piecing.

Penny Sampler blocks

Previously my classes have been designed with 5 weeks of instruction, sometimes interspersed with time "off" to sew.  This time I'm going with a whole different approach.  I've heard so often that my classes are rich with projects and learning experiences, but really too rich for most to digest in the time allotted.  Sure, I want you to be challenged, but I don't want you to be rushed.  To enhance enjoyment, this class is designed so that you have the time to do all the projects along the way.  Of course, you can still choose to skip some, in which case you'll have time for independent sewing pursuits while still keeping up with the Penny Sampler.

Queen of Hearts for the Penny Sampler

This time I've spread out our journey over the course of 3 months.  Each month we'll focus on one theme, beginning with machine applique.  Week 1 of Applique I'll get us started with videos teaching applique techniques, plus 2 independent applique projects.  These are "skill-building projects" available for you to experience before diving into The Quilt.  At the close of Week 1, I'll share the first and simplest applique block in the Penny Sampler.  Weeks 2-4 of Applique month you'll have 3-4 block assignments for our quilt per week.  That's a doable, though upbeat pace, designed to keep you engaged but not overwhelmed.  You might also be finishing the applique skill-builder projects, if you chose to do them.

After 4 weeks total of applique (intro week and 3 more) we'll move on to 4 weeks of Precise Piecing and then 5 weeks of Machine Paper Piecing.  Yes, there's a little more time spent machine paper piecing than the rest!   Since it is a time-consuming (though super rewarding) process, I've spread blocks out over 5 weeks, with quilt assembly and quilting tips mixed in too.

Snowflake for the Penny Sampler

I hope this makes sense!  So, for each theme - machine applique, precise piecing, machine paper piecing - the course includes a first week of learning with helpful videos, tutorials and 2 practice projects.  Then, what follows is 3-4 weeks spent making blocks that become part of the Penny Sampler.  The Pixie Churns quilt you saw yesterday is 1 of 2 skill-building projects for our month on Precise Piecing.  See?  

Also new - this course will include a prelude week immediately after registration focused on choosing colors and fabrics for your quilt!  That's a total of 14 weeks of instruction.

Teacup for the Penny Sampler

Will class fees be higher?  Nope, they'll be the same!

the Dates

Registration opens Monday, July 22nd.  Choosing fabrics week of instruction starts July 29th.  We'll start sewing with our first week of Applique on Monday, August 19th.  (I tried to hold out until pretty near to school starting in the States in hopes of making this more doable for those with kids!)  Our last week of instruction is the week of November 11th.  We'll be finished before the holidays!

Small Diamonds for the Penny Sampler

I hope that your interest is piqued.  For myself, I have to say I am totally humbled to have the opportunity to develop and teach classes online.   I hope that the things that I am passionate about making, continue to be inviting and interesting to this community.  I am determined to always and only teach from my passions, because that's where I'm able to do the best work.  Thank-you!

xo,

Rachel

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pixie Churns baby quilt

Pixie Churns baby quilt

This wee little baby quilt (35" square) is a mass of color and silky softness, made with scraps of Anna Maria Horner voile.  In the making, I confess to have doubted that all this saturated color was going to work on small scale... but that was viewed on my black work table.  As soon as I dropped the quilt top on the floor, the warm honey hues made it sing.  Isn't it amazing how much one color effects another?  Sometimes it's all about context.

loopy quilting

I designed this Pixie Churns baby quilt for the Precise Piecing portion of the Penny Sampler class, a part of the class when we'll focus on honing our ability to sew small, often traditional blocks with accuracy.  We're working all the way down to 3" finished churns in this project!

color. color.

It's a great one for a collection of special scraps leftover from a pet project.   I'm glad my patchwork curtain scraps found a forever home so quickly!  And, yes, pairing the muslin with the voile seemed to work quite nicely.

Pixie Churns baby quilt

I quilted with loopy free motion quilting traveling in rows across the work.  Loopy rows were my first success with free motion quilting.  I totally recommend it for getting your feet wet.  You have to start somewhere to make progress!   Working on a baby quilt is a great choice, since it'll be so easy to maneuver.

backed in Willow Vine and Leaf

A yard of Willow Vine and Leaf from Shelburne Falls for backing and Kona Oyster for binding, finished us off.  Even with a quilting cotton backing, this quilt has a lovely drape.  I just hope it'll be durable too!

Pixie Churns for the Penny Sampler class

Registration for the Penny Sampler class opens on July 22nd, about a month away.  I'll be dropping in project previews throughout the next few weeks as I finish them up.   Hmm.... so how about tomorrow I sketch out the class design so you can start seeing how all this fits together?  Yes, let's!  See you then!!

p.s. You can find a nice selection of Anna Maria Horner voiles at these shops:  Pink Chalk Fabrics, Fabricworm, and Lark Cottons


Monday, June 24, 2013

this weekend in Pictures

this weekend

*finishing up the voile churn dash blocks

packing orders!

*helping my mom pack Euphoria orders... thanks!

this weekend

*filling in spaces with scraps and seriously doubting myself at this point

our berry patch

*marveling at how quickly our fledgling berry patch grew.  Oh dear, I should hedge these post-berry crop...

this weekend

*picking blackberries (photo by Liam)

this weekend

this weekend

*happiness

this weekend

*and deciding that I'm delighted with this scrappy little quilt after all

Well, it's Monday again.  Welcome to a fresh new week!  It's about time to start a new project.  I wonder... what's next?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

on life before Stitched, the Baby plans and a Favor

Brandon and I, 2003, assignment for Brooks Institute of Photography

Once upon a time I was a young newlywed working in a maternity shop while my husband finished college.  Why a maternity shop?  Because I wanted babies... but it wasn't practical yet.  Being around those happy, expectant women and dressing them in beautiful clothes was my idea of waiting patiently.

baby Aria, 2004
baby Aria, 2004

Fast forward to fall, 2004.  Aria is born.  Awww....  And at the same time (because I like to keep busy,) and with my parents' financial backing, we open a joint-family business, EuphoriaMaternity.com.

early Euphoria shoot, pregnant
first Euphoria photoshoot, still pregnant 2004.

This was a big deal.  Huge investment.  From the beginning it felt like the responsibility of success or failure fell mostly on me, because it was all my jolly idea. 

By 2008 our business was finally pulling in a profit.  Happy dance!  We'd worked and worked, tweaking every little thing, learning how to buy, how to price, and also adding a sister site, EuphoriaBaby.com, to represent (then) hard-to-find natural baby goods.

our growing family, Liam 2007-2008

And then, Crash!

Our sales tanked late 2008 right around the time of the U.S. presidential election when economy was all over the headlines.  We hoped that in time things would level out.  We could adjust?  We could wait it out? 

By January 2011, I couldn't take it any more.  Our business was operating at a constant loss, putting us in greater and greater debt to my parents.  My awesome parents!  I decided 2011 would be my last year at Euphoria.  This was accepting big, fat Defeat.  And so...what next?  That's when I shared here, the Just Peachy post, about my fork in the road: 

* So, my goal for this year is to see what can be done to make Stitched in Color my new job.
* Because, really, I want to stay home and homeschool my littles.
* And I think stitching can be that flexible.  I'm praying anyway.
* In spite of a bit of sadness, I find this fork rather exciting.
* At least in January.
* My husband does not.
* I've considered taking up the whole making stuff gig. You know, stocking an Etsy store, landing the craft shows, marketing, sell, make, make, make.
* It sounds exhausting.
* So, I think I'm going to try the publishing route. Like books? Magazines? Patterns?
* Starting with the magazines, apparently.
* Are you laughing yet?
* Yeah, me neither.


And, amazingly, it worked.  Still feels like a fairy tale.  Anything can happen in a year, and in 2011 anything did!   My work at Stitched in Color is a dream come true.  So much better than anything I could have asked or imagined.

2011 finished quilts
2011 quilts

Since I stopped working at Euphoria, my parents (who are retired) have continued packing and shipping the few orders that come in, with my occasional assistance on website upkeep, strategy, etc.  And, as I expected, sales continued to gradually taper off.  Now my parents have downsized and no longer have room for the Euphoria stock.  All hope is squashed, reality is kicking and it's time to eat that bitter pill.  We're liquidating.

Soooo... here's where you come in.  My parents are happy, gracious people.  Never once have they made me feel less for my (um huge?) part in their financial loss.  Nevertheless, you can imagine my desire to help minimize the pain.  Would you, could you, may you, might you help me with that?  I promise, I'll only ask once.

Idea #1  Buy Stitched in Color patterns = money for Euphoria.

Starting today and for one week, any purchase at my Pattern Shop (including Homeschool. handmade.) will go directly to helping my parents and stocking our future baby nursery.  Because, remember, the whole baby idea?  We hope to have another, and if it works out we'll need things like cloth diapers, baby bottles, crib mattresses, etc. which we can buy now at cost from EuphoriaBaby.com.  This is a double-whammy of help, since my parents get the cash back on that inventory and our family gets stuff for our next baby that I know is safe, healthy and of great quality.  So, yeah, you'd be spoiling me.  Kind of a like a virtual baby shower. 

***If despite the odds we are unable to get pregnant, I will donate items from this purchase to the local pregnancy center.




Idea #2  Get Maternity/Breastfeeding/Baby DEALS for yourself = money for Euphoria.

Ok, so this one is obvious, but in case you find yourself in the baby kind of way, I really do think you should check out the deals at our stores.  At the maternity site, everything is 70% off.  That's like practically free.  Our boutique's designer clothes usually cost a pretty penny, but fit and wash very well.  I still wear some of the clothes I bought when I was pregnant with Aria (true story).  Nursing moms, you need a new bra, right?  And if you've got a baby or toddler - classic toys, organic clothes, glass bottles, stainless steel sippy cups and soft leather baby shoes are all 50% off.

baby Liam, in a Euphoria swaddler


~To Say Thanks~

Phew.  If you've read this far, you're a trooper.  Thanks for your patience and grace towards me in bringing this up at all.  To show my gratitude, anyone who makes a Pattern Shop purchase or any purchase at Euphoria Maternity or Euphoria Baby now through June 27th will be entered to win a free Premium spot in my next sewing class, The Penny Sampler.  To enter the giveaway, add your comment here and let me know where to look for your purchase.  If you're commenting here for another reason, not entering the giveaway, that's fine.  I'll be able to tell the difference!

Winner will be announced Friday, June 28th!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Happy Scrappy box pouch from Patchwork Please!

Triangle Patch Box Pouch

This week I picked up Patchwork Please! by Ayumi from the library.  Wow, what a happy little book!  Ayumi's playful, patchwork-savvy style is stamped on each project.  There are lots of paper-pieced projects, so this book is great for someone who's been sewing a bit, I'd say.  I love the designs!

from Patchwork Please!

The proof is in the pudding.  I'm not a part of a book tour, but I decided to interrupt the churns for a little pouch fling.  I needed something gifty, and this is just the ticket, don't you think?

fun!

Got started choosing colors and cutting scrappy triangles last afternoon...

my thoughts on the making

and put my head in the game this morning for assembly.   I can't say it was all smooth sailing.  For one, I wish this book came with a CD so you could easily print the paper piece patterns. Photocopying is hard to do precisely since this book doesn't lay flat open.  I had to correct my photocopies of the paper piece template for this project with ruler and pencil to make them just right.

happy scrappy box pouch!

But then, piecing the triangles was super fun.  And, actually gave me some ideas for using up my triangle scraps!

I had trouble with the directions in spots.  I'd like to share the details here in case I can help someone else along the way.

*Between step 5 and 6, I think you are supposed to fuse the batting to the wrong side of the three-piece patchwork panel.

*Couldn't understand how to mark as described in step 7, so I skipped that, which seemed to turn out fine. 

*Figure 4 seems to coorespond with step 15, not step 14.

*Step 20, advises you to make the pouch lining.  I think you're supposed to follow steps 15-18 though, not 4-6.

 fa la la la zipper

Obviously I was able to figure it out and I am definitely really, really happy with how the box pouch turned out!  In fact, this is my favorite zip pouch I've ever made.  I'm so excited to surprise my friend!

this is me.

Hey, I realized that this pouch totally matches my Starbright quilt and patchwork chairs and curtains and etc.  So, I think this is "me" right?  And somehow I managed with just two Anna Maria fabrics this time.  Look, Ma, no hands!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Making.

Churns.  Teeny weenie churn dash blocks from voile scraps and muslin. 

teeny little churns for Penny Sampler class

I hope that lightweight muslin will be a safe combo with the voile for patchwork.  I know better than to combine voile and linen.  Voile with quilting cotton still makes me nervous.  So, voile with a tightly woven muslin for a white solid?  We'll see.

scrap rescue!

Scraps from my voile curtains had been flaunting all their charms in hopes of evading being Put Away.  A new project for The Penny Sampler class (registration late July!) rescues them from possible death-by-scrap-bin, as it well known in these parts that the quilter discriminates against mixing voile in patchworks.

 class demos

So I am making class videos on different cutting methods and on how to sew the half-square triangle block, while also enjoying these colors and patterns a little longer.  Win-win!

Back to the making.

Monday, June 17, 2013

on my mind

Today as I finish up June blocks for the Love circle, I sketch the trajectory of a bright, shiny new dream.  It feels risky to share it here, because it's a tender baby thing, but maybe sharing and learning from you is more brilliant than reckless.  Maybe you have something to say.

Goose Creek for Love circle

Over stitches, making these Goose Creek blocks and enjoying Deborah's punchy, fun color scheme,  I'm refreshing my email inbox in hopes of hearing back from some missions organizations.  My husband and I have a pattern of acting fast, usually with great results, so yesterday's sudden realization that a family missions trip before we try for another baby could be a wonderful opportunity for our family to serve and be changed... the trip already feels half real. 

Late last week I started reading Half the Sky, a book about the plight of disadvantaged girls and women the world over.  Since the book was published in 2010,  I've heard it referred to time and again.  Glad I finally picked it up, even if it is hard to hear.  I care about social justice.  Always have.  But what can I do about it?  do. Good Stitches is a bit, and I appreciate so much it's tangible, incremental and personal nature.  But, reading books like Kisses from Katie and Little Princes, these have planted in my heart a desire to go.

Actually, Brandon and I have discussed a lot this year the possibility of adopting, instead of having another biological child.  That's a massive topic, and not one I'd really like to get into today, but suffice it to say that we've been praying and thinking a lot about orphans.   We have decided not to pursue adoption.  But, we can still go and make a difference by showing up, perhaps?

Goose Creek blocks

So yesterday I suddenly thought - family missions trip!  The kids are just about old enough (will be 7 and 9 at time of travel, I think).  Can we do this before baby?  Can we find a place to do a meaningful work for a week or so and be forever changed in the process?  It would be so wonderful to expose our children to the world beyond America.  It's kind of like the ultimate reality check to actually go help the kids who haven't enough, whether food or water or clothes or parents.  I know my few experiences witnessing the so-called "third world" were important life-shaping moments.  How I would love to be a small part of the solution both by serving and by planting in my children a perspective for social justice. 

I began researching options for a short term family missions trip yesterday.  I found a few possibilities at places like World Servants, which seems to have the most young-kid friendly options, and Embrace Missions, which specifically works with orphanages.  I've made some inquiries.  I feel like the kids and I would be most useful working with/caring for children whether assisting in an orphanage or school (especially for girls), while my super-handy husband is a valuable resource for building or repair projects.  Hopefully we can find a project that can use us.  And maybe - who knows - some friends and family will want to join us, though that's not necessary.

What I do know is I'm not afraid.  I'm not afraid of bringing my children to an unknown land.  I'm not afraid we won't be able to raise the money.  I am, however, uncertain as to how much it is wise to spend, resources-wise (even if they aren't my own), on a family missions trip.  I guess my practical side just wonders how much good we can really do weighed against the cost of travel and time.  So, that's something I'm praying about.  A story in Half the Sky illustrated how social justice experiences can yield far beyond the initial acts of service, because lives and hearts that are changed go on to effect more and more change, in a ripple effect.

So, that's what's on my mind.  Ha! Surprise!  If you have anything to add, any word of advice or recommendation for an organization or whatnot, it's most welcome.  We're looking for a trip this fall, winter or spring 2014.

Open and listening,

Rachel

Friday, June 14, 2013

on Stashing

Hey folks!  Thanks soooo much for celebrating with me on those curtains!  It's awesome when things fall into place so nicely, despite nerves and delays and such.  But I know I wouldn't be creating like this if it wasn't for all the great feedback and encouragement I get here.  I'm so grateful you're along for the ride.  Thanks a million!

stashings from Fresh Modern

Today I'm petting (and eventually putting away) this new stashing from my sponsor, Fresh Modern Fabrics on Etsy.  Alice is the woman behind the shop.  She takes fantabulous pictures, really inspiring and helpful stuff that pretty much transcends (for me) the need to shop in person.  She and I both seem to have a thing of helpful fabrics, so I'm often buying basics for my stash at Fresh Modern. 

helpful fabrics!

This time I focused on gray fabrics.  I often shop with a color in mind after noticing a shortage in my stash.  Gotta keep all the hues in stock, kind of like paints or pastels, right?

Actually, Alie of Alie Makes just interviewed me about stashing habits.  if you'd like to hear a bit about what makes me tick, sewing-wise, how I choose fabrics and what I'd recommend to someone working on building a stash, run along and see the post.  Here's a little teaser...

-When did you first start sewing and quilting? Were there any influences as to why you started?

I started sewing in 2009, when I dusted off the boxes that had long stored my childhood collection of My Little Ponies, sold them and used the money to buy my first sewing machine and my first fabrics.  I still remember that grand purchase.  It was a huge lot of glorious fabric from Sew Love Fabrics, including an almost-complete set of Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks collection.  In fact, I think Anna deserves a lot of credit for enticing me to take the leap!  I was also drawn in by bloggers and sewing books that painted such colorful possibilities.  About six months into "drip, drip" sewing I made my first quilt.  Since then it's been a rush, a river of making.


For the rest of the interview, click on over!  Thanks for having me, Alie.  I always welcome a chance to ramble on about fabric...
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