Tuesday, September 30, 2014

petal progress

petal progress

Once upon a time this glorious image inspired a detailed fabric pull demo for my Color Intensive class.  I'm so glad to finally be cutting into those fabrics for a new Gathering Flowers quilt.  This time I made only 4 large flowers, planning to float them in lots of low volume white, cream and spring greens, like the first fresh shoots and bright blossoms that announce the weather's changed.

petal progress

Only... sometimes I'm not at all sure it's working! 

There seems to be a phase in nearly every quilt I make during which I lose my way, or at least my confidence.  Today as I pinned fabric chunks to audition on my foam core design wall, it felt more weedy bed than spring delight.  Maybe that's because I am trying to design this quilt specifically to look good on a twin sized bed, which can effect how well it looks on a design wall?  Possible.  Overall it feels like too much background, not enough flower power.  Says the girl who loves pink.



petal progress

Alas, I'm on a deadline.  Often I give myself a bit of breathing room, when things aren't clicking, to sleep on it and see what I think in the morning.  Instead, I've been working furiously today to make progress.  I think my petal path has improved, but won't know for sure until I put it on a bed. 

So....I'd like to have this in the mail on Friday.  Gulp.  Wish me luck?

Monday, September 29, 2014

on the road

I'm so glad to be back from our weekend away!  I do like getting away with my honey (very much), but I always, always enjoy the coming-home.  Home to comfortable beds, restful routines, normal food... and also the sewing machine (shhh!).

Wormsloe avenue of oaks

This weekend we visited Savannah as well as near bye Wormsloe, a historic settlement site with this gorgeous avenue of live oaks.  It was all a lovely time, but truly I was way, way low on energy.  This weekend my body seemed to need a double portion of rest and to have sudden, urgent needs for nourishment.  Thank goodness for those backup walnuts I keep in my purse!

Wormsloe salt marsh

Anyhoo, we did make it out to the salt marsh, a view I'm glad I didn't miss.  Gotta love the low country.

cutting another Puzzle Ball

Along the way (when I wasn't napping), I made some headway on a Puzzle Ball for Eleni.  I had cut a selection of rainbow fabrics before leaving home, in hopes of making a sort of color wheel version.  Crossing fingers on the color arrangement...  Working in 3D is definitely more challenging than a 2D color wheel.

road trip sewing

I got most of the quarter circles stuffed and sewn closed.  This part of the hand sewing gets hidden inside the ball.  It's nice to be able to relax and just sew without hiding knots and whatnot!

road trip reading

I also checked out a fair number of sewing books from my library before leaving town, including 2 by Sarah Fielke and Growing Up Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee.  I don't usually need to own quilting books, as taking in the pictures and sometimes reading construction notes is just about perfect.  What new quilting books my library doesn't already have they'll often purchase by request.  So, it's a win-win way to support the authors and also save space on my bookshelf.

road trip reading

I particularly enjoyed this log cabin quilt from Hand Quilted with Love.  See how Sarah Fielke uses subtle color changes to create a secondary pattern echoing out from center?  Someday, someday I'll bite the bullet with log cabins.  Like for real.  They're such a timeless, classic quilting look.

road trip reading

I also learned in Quilting from Little Things about the usefulness of step down sewing, also known as partial seams (and used to make this Night Garden quilt).  This is a technique I haven't ever tried, but now that I'm familiar I already have one quilt in my mental queue inspired by some brickwork I saw in Savannah.  It's so great how new techniques open up new worlds of creativity.  Yay for always learning!

I'll have to tell you more about my thoughts on Meg McElwee's book some other time.  A whole baby sewing post is in order.  I've got plans.

p.s.  FYI, the book links here and in other posts are Amazon affiliate links, which means I earn a tiny commission on sales made after you click through those links.  Just want to keep you informed, as per my legal duties.  Hope you don't mind!


Friday, September 26, 2014

a new Garden

 If fabric were seeds...

another Garden

I would be, this week, planting a new garden.  Here is my row of fresh shiny dreams, full of potential, full of promise.   Time to get my hands dirty!

another Garden

Thank goodness they're not, though, because I need to have a finish in just about one week!  Quilts over gardens for me.  I'm pairing prints with solids for flowers and setting aside background fabrics for another twin-sized quilt.  This one is for my little niece, Bella, the last of my sister's 5 children for whom I've been stitching bed quilts this year. 

another Garden

I'll be Gathering Flowers again, making another rendition of Anna Maria Horner's pattern.  I plan to cultivate a modest bouquet tossed over an expansive bed of pale creams and greens.  It's the spring version of my Waltz of the Flowers, which was so audaciously summer, don't you think?

Too bad it's autumn, haha!  But, let's be honest, I can dig girly colors all year long....

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Liberated Piecing + a nice Fabric Sale

Guess what?  I was planning to share a quilt I made for Angled class with you this week.  It features lots of Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander.  And it just so happens that those very fabrics (and everything else from Robert Kaufman) are on sale at Fat Quarter Shop through Sunday.  Serendipity!

But first, the quilt...

Floating Wedge quilt

For the first week of Angled class we worked with equilateral triangles.  I designed the block that forms this quilt to be born of leftover triangles.  It was our first go at liberated piecing, or piecing without templates or precise shaping goals.  This kind of work happens best when you are relaxed and a bit carefree, with an attitude of discovery.  Don't you love how little irregularities add character to the work?

Floating Wedge quilt

I started this quilt fresh on the heals of the release of Botanics, an awesome collection by Carolyn Friedlander.  In particular I was (and still am) smitten by the metallic foliage or perennial print, which I used for the background of these blocks.

fabulous Metallic Succulent Foliage

The floating wedges are made from random stash fabrics with playful, boyish personalities.  If I was having a boy, I'd probably have to keep this one....  But since I'm not, I've just listed it in my shop.  Crossing fingers it finds a good home soon!

Floating Wedge quilt

In case you need some great texture prints from Botanics or some Kona Cotton or any other goodies from the Robert Kaufman fabric house, ALL Robert Kaufman fabrics are 20% off now through Sunday, September 28th at Fat Quarter Shop. 

And did you know that they recently updated their shipping policies to be super friendly to out of country shoppers?  For example, orders under $20 are just $7 to Canada and $12 anywhere else.  See Shipping for more details.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumn Air quilt finished!

Autumn Air quilt for Daniel

Autumn Air quilt for Daniel

Autumn Air quilt for Daniel

At last!  Finished and photographed on a deliciously cool, autumn day.  This patchwork quilt was simple to piece and so very scrap-friendly.  I definitely enjoy quilts that go together in rows.  Seems to make the planning easier.

Autumn Air quilt for Daniel

It's a full-size quilt, for my 17-year-old nephew.  And, gosh, it pretty well covers our queen bed!  I made it slightly larger than the "double" quilt size on the Pink Chalk Fabrics' "Standard Quilt Sizes" chart they send with all orders.   That little chart comes in handy all the time.

Autumn Air quilt for Daniel

My quilt back is mainly Denyse Schmidt fabrics and a yard cut of Kona Coal.  When I use leftover or large fabric cuts for my quilt backings, I like to plan them on the floor before piecing.  First I lay out the quilt top, then cover it with quilt backing fabric possibilities.  With the quilt top guiding the size, I rearrange and add/subtract fabrics until I can see that the backing will finish larger than the quilt top, once sewn together. 

I usually aim for a back that uses up some fabrics I don't need anymore while feeling interesting and somewhat balanced.  I rarely do anything too fiddly since by this time I want to move on to the next project.  With a bed quilt, you hardly ever see the back anyway!

Autumn Air quilt for Daniel

For a quick finish (remember my weekend?) I zigzag quilted in straight lines straddling each row seam, plus a few extra lines of quilting in-between rows for even spacing.  Zigzags are such a strong and forgiving stitch for quilting.  Plus, it matches my binding finish!  

Autumn Air quilt for Daniel

That's a wrap, super-scrappy binding and all!  One more quilt to go, this time for my little niece, and then I'll send them both off for early October birthdays.  Yay!

Monday, September 22, 2014

all I have to show...

How is it that one can have SO MUCH one wants to sew and yet be so easily distracted?  This weekend I think I did everything but the sewing I had intended...

*First the kids had an an impromptu sleepover at grandma's.  What did we do with an unexpected evening alone?  Assemble their new bunk beds, of course!  My idea...  They've been itching to start sharing a room.

*When it turned out that Brandon didn't need my mad assembly skills, I set to moving Aria's things into her new room.  And what should I find but a crafty basket with the most frightening, most hopeless yarn tangle you can imagine.  I mean, literally 6-7 different yarns, needles, half-knitted projects and....wait for it.... hangers.  Hangers!

*Warning:  Never allow hangers to mix with yarn.  This should be posted prominently in my daughter's room.

*Unable to resist such slow, methodical work, I spent about an hour and a half detangling.  There were casualties.

*The next morning I mustered incredible self-control and spent a whopping 3-hours hedging the azalea bushes.  Yes, that gorgeousness comes at an annual price, one which I handily defer until perfectly cool-but-not rainy weather arrives on a Saturday.  Unfortunately (fortunately?) it did this weekend.

*So that used up all my self-control.

*Then, because just the right used van popped up on our radar, we "had" to spend most of Saturday traveling and test driving and negotiating.  I think I wanted us to buy the darn thing just so it would be over.  Thank goodness we did. 

*And the rest of the weekend was eaten up by thankless real life:  grocery shopping, organizing, you know the like.

Ok, so I did manage to quilt that quilt and prep the scrappy binding, but not to finish her up.

all i have to show...

And that, my friends, is all I have to show for the weekend, in craftiness.

the end


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!


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