Friday, January 29, 2016

Warm Houses {Improv Handbook Score #4}

I can't think of a time when I've had so many false starts with a project.  When I decided to start sewing again this week, I thought about finding something simple and repetitive.  Easy.  But somehow, even though I knew improv sewing would be challenging, it still felt like the right thing for my soul.

another start {Improv Handbook Score #4}

First I chose colors:  warm berries, bright reds, soft browns, a range of purples and pinks.  After the cool-colored fans I had just barely managed to eek out early in January (also with a few false starts), these mostly warm colors seemed like a nice change of pace.

another start {Improv Handbook Score #4}

Working without a ruler, I sliced the fabrics into strips and sewed them into a string block shape. As soon as I trimmed up the block and popped it on my design wall, I yanked it right back off.  At least I knew me mind.  I confidently cut the block into quarters and played at arranging those pieces a bit before coming to an understanding.  It was time to start over... again.  Frustrating.

another start {Improv Handbook Score #4}

Here's what came out next.  It's a play on the log cabin block.  I'm using a darker fabric at center, which looks sort of like a door, and building the houses around the center in radiating analogous-ish colors. 

Do you like it?  I do!  In fact, I liked this so much that I ripped apart those string blocks for pieces! 

another start {Improv Handbook Score #4}

So good to feel successful at last!  Two rows of houses went up before day's end.  I love the way they look arranged in this mirrored setting.

another start {Improv Handbook Score #4}

And then I found a mini quilt composition of random squares in dusty mauve that had never come to a finish.  It's the perfect bit of "different' to interrupt my houses.

another start {Improv Handbook Score #4}

Today when I add to this patchwork doodle, I want to bring in cool colors.  My intention remains to use most all the colors in Denyse Schmidt Modern Solids fat quarter collection.  With such a strong, warm row, it's hard to know how to transition.

another start {Improv Handbook Score #4}

The left side of the lower row of houses has a bit of extra space, so I threw together crumb scraps like so.  Isn't that cute? 

I love random scrappiness.  Most of this patchwork doodle is going to have a controlled color scheme made up of analogous-ish color arrangements.  Perhaps little bits of wild scrappy rainbows will be just the thing to fill in corners, use up scraps and pull the work together.

Yes, I think so.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Vintage Rainbow Winners!

Congratulations to the two winning mosaics of the Vintage Rainbow mosaic contest.  I agree, it was an especially hard vote this time.  I would not have been surprised to see any one of the mosaics win!  But, the most votes went to:


Early Mountain Morning
Early Mountain Morning by

Vintage Pretty Bouquet by Sew Me Something Good

Both lucky ladies will receive their mosaics in fat quarters from Fabricworm.  Thanks to everyone for playing along!  Today I am getting back into the swing of sewing.  Will have some new things to share with you soon. 

xo,

Rachel

Monday, January 25, 2016

::Voting:: Vintage Rainbow Mosaics

Mondays are a good day for starting over.  In our home we are feeling our way into new routines, new spaces.  Here at Stitched in Color it's a good day to wrap up our Vintage Rainbow mosaic contest sponsored by Fabricworm.  With oodles of effort, because you all are getting pretty awesome with your mosaic-making skills,  I've narrowed it down to 10 finalists, choosing entries that felt cohesive and inspiring. 

Enjoy perusing these lovely mosaics!  I've presented them first at large size to help you find your very most favorite one, with the name of the artist under each mosaic.  Voting is below with smaller images for reference.  Vote now through noon (eastern U.S. time) on Wednesday the 27th.   The two winning mosaics with the most votes will be announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Good Luck Everyone! 


Early Mountain Morning
Early Mountain Morning by

Vintage Pretty Bouquet by Sew Me Something Good

Sweet vintage rainbow
Sweet Vintage Rainbow by Carmen

by natski_2003

Vintage Picnic
Vintage Picnic by


Rainbow by Megan Anne

Vintage by Megan Anne

mosaic_vintagerainbow2
by


vintage rainbow : country girl
Country Girl by Annabelle Gardner


by Hand Wrought Quilts


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Eulogy

I wrote this piece for my baby, to be read at her service yesterday.

 Eleni, 5 months

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

Dear Eleni,

Once upon a time, long long ago, your father and I shared a dream of two daughters: the first we would name Aria, and the second, Eleni. When brother Liam came along he brought an unexpected richness to our life. And we were so, so happy. Our first two children blessed and filled our hearts so full that we tucked that earlier dream away. And so it might have been always for us. Except. Except. One day a wise man asked us what story we wanted to tell with our life. I knew you were always a part of my story, child. I had to be very patient, honey, but at last your time came.

Eleni, you were the most anticipated baby. Beautifully and wonderfully made, a blue eyed dream come true. Then your birth injury shattered our fairytale into sharp, agonizing pieces. Nothing was as it should have been. I cried out to God. Where was He? Why had he allowed this to happen? Where was His love, his Father love? How could we ever be happy again?

From your first breath you struggled - to breathe, to move, to feel your mother's touch. You couldn't know me like that. You couldn't find me or all the love and beauty the world had for you. No, this was not a good plan. No, the lessons I would learn and the ways I would grow as a person would not make up for your suffering or for our great, great loss. Perhaps you were here on mission to help others, but this was not a mission you had chosen. Would God sacrifice an innocent baby so? My mother heart cracked wide open, and our family began to bleed.

Still we fought for you, baby. We fought for you tooth and nail. From your birth love surrounded you, love from every corner of the world, gifting you every opportunity to heal and grow, amazing opportunities that brought hope to us all. Do you remember how you loved to learn even when trapped in a broken body? While in survival mode, literally fighting for breath, you tried new things, made small gains and encouraged us with your pluck. Gosh, you wanted to move! I loved that about you. I admired your strong and courageous spirit. It is why you survived your birth at all. You were gentle and uncomplaining, like your father, but a fighter like me. I saw you.

But for so long, Eleni, I didn't know if you saw me. I carried the heartbreak of separation from you long before you left this earth. God never told me He would heal you. Like Jacob wrestling with God, I demanded a blessing, I demanded He make your life a story worth telling. The heavens were as silent as your sweet, hidden voice. Waiting is the most difficult lesson.

Towards the end of our time with you, God gave us a wonderful gift: a week and a half truly together. I will always treasure that time with you, baby, so short, but so sweet. I remember how you turned and quieted when I crooned your name. I remember how you looked at me, looked right into my soul, as I sang you our lullabies. I know you felt my love and the love of your family. And if you'd had more time with us, you would have smiled soon.

As I mourned the waning of that precious time some things became clearer to me. I realized that even without answers, even with so much suffering; somehow, through it all, He still had my heart, our Father God. I don't know how He managed it. But I'm grateful. I think if you had stayed with us, there would have been more ups and downs on this earth for you, perhaps more downs than ups. I wonder how long it would have taken for me to see the goodness of your story.

The night after you passed I had two epiphanies. I did not search them out; they arrived heaven sent. First, I found what I had been searching for the whole exhausting 10 months: a reason your suffering was worthwhile. And the reason is you. You exist. Your life on earth was not fair or good or beautiful. But your life after death, it is nothing but good and it goes on forever, out shadowing a mere 10 months of pain so completely that our minds cannot conceive. Today we are both tear stricken and joyful; crushed and lightened, for you, Eleni, our child that suffered so much, are now completely free from pain and struggle and fear and even from those limitations that so unfairly bound you.

I imagine right now you are learning to roll over to your tummy, and you are amazed how easy it is to lift your head and look about.  Surely you'll recall when you suck and swallow with your own dear mouth that this is what I was trying to show you, this is what we all wanted for you with all our hearts.  And what is to come for you, who are freed from the slow pace of our time, is better than we could ever offer you on this earth.   No more waiting for you. You will grow, are growing and have grown into the fullness of the human you were meant to be.  And I will know you again.  And I will see you smile.

The reality you now enjoy is worth everything we went through. Every bit of it. I'm so glad for you!

And the second epiphany was smaller, but sweet. God did not take you more quickly to freedom because He chose to send you with the memories of your family, something good to carry with you into the new life. And, too, he chose to allow us to get to know you so our lives would change for the better and our hearts would grow and we would know in advance a bit of the beautiful person that you will and are and have become.

I can truly say, dear baby, that I am grateful for my time with you, for the way you have shaped my story.

With all my heart and soul,

Mommy

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

During Eleni's life this song, Beautiful Things, was my song for our journey. It doesn't shy away from the pain and sense of hopelessness that we all encounter at times in this life, and yet claims the promise of redemption. No matter how dusty things get, the Ultimate Creator can craft something beautiful, something new out of us. At times I struggled to believe the promise of this song until the very end when I would hear what I imagine is Eleni's sweet, pure voice claiming His work in her.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Eleni's passing

A year ago on January 18th, Eleni was tucked in my womb.  On that day we were surrounded by ladies who prayed for and celebrated her impending arrival at my baby shower.  It was the sweetest baby shower.

*******

I wrote you last about Eleni at the close of 2015.  We had a wonderful, wonderful week and a half.  She was resting well for the first time in her life, so she was able to take in the world and respond to us in a whole new way.  I am so grateful for those days because I know that she really knew me, really felt my love and the love her family.  I know if she'd had more time like that, she would have smiled soon.

 Eleni Laura Hauser

In the early days of 2016, our beautiful baby began declining.  I resisted accepting that her post-surgical gains had evaporated so soon.  Was I being dramatic?  Making much of nothing?  But by January 3rd all the worry signs were clear, so I took her to Charleston children's hospital for the best care our state has to offer.   Over a week's time in the hospital, we discovered that her weak throat muscles had developed a new area of obstruction, unfortunately an inoperable area worse than ever.  The doctors said it could get better or worse.

On January 10th at 1 am the ambulance came for her.  She had completely stopped breathing, stopped trying at all.  I had reached her and stimulated her to breathe before it was too late.  Such a night.  We didn't bring her home from the hospital again until we had a bi-pap machine for her to use while sleeping - all sleeping, naps and at night.  And I hoped again.  Maybe with the help of this breathing machine she would have quality sleep and reclaim those December gains.

 Eleni on bipap for breathing

But last week, last week was terrible.  Day by day my heart was pried open to the reality of letting her go.  We stayed awake with her at night to prevent her from slipping away.  She became more sleepy during the day, needing to wear her bi-pap mask nearly all the time and then endured several days in pain before it became clear that her body was shutting down and there would be no recovery for her on this earth.

In two weeks it all changed.  Emotional whiplash.

On January 18th, 2016 sweet Eleni passed away at home in the arms of her father and surrounded by some of our dear ones who celebrated her arrival a year before.  We are both tear stricken and joyful; crushed and lightened, for our child that suffered so much in 10 short months is now completely free from pain and struggle and fear and even from those limitations that so unfairly bound her.

I imagine right now she is learning to roll over to her tummy, and she is amazed how easy it is to lift her head and look about.  Surely she'll recall when she sucks and swallows with her own dear mouth that this is what mom was trying to show her, this is what we all wanted for her with all our hearts.  And what is to come for her is better than we could ever offer her on this earth.   She will grow into the fullness of the human she was meant to be.  And I will know her again.  And I will see her smile.

There is more for me to say, but this is well for now.  We are blessed, so blessed with abundant support from family and friends.

On Friday we will hold a service for Eleni Laura Hauser.  You may send cards to Columbia Church at PO Box 118, Irmo, SC 29063.  In lieu of flowers, consider making a donation to a children's charity of your choosing, in Eleni's name.

Or, if you like, I have decided to facilitate a temporary collection for babies like Eleni with moderate to severe brain damage from birth injury.  I will distribute funds to families who would like to try ABM for their children or to visit Dr. Zelinsky, the optometrist in Chicago who helped Eleni so much.  These are the therapies that gave us hope and courage when mainstream medicine could not.  We were so fortunate to have the means gifted to us to do everything we could to help our child. Would that it were so for more children and for more heartbroken parents!  For details and to donate see the fundraiser here.  After February 2016, I'll close the fundraiser and distribute funds.



Thank you for your prayers, love, and virtual hugs.  You have been an amazing group of women (and men) to walk with during this most difficult year.

Sincerely and with deep gratitude,

Rachel Hauser



Sunday, January 17, 2016

jump rope

Jump Rope quilt top

I love this quilt.  I love the colors.  I love the way the pattern swings and swings around.  I love the way it worked so nicely to combine new yardage for the flowers on white, with scraps for the white flowers on dark.  All the prints are Denyse Schmidt.  I used Katie Jump Rope for the main flowers and misc. Schmidt scraps for the rest.

Wait, did I mention I love the results?

Jump Rope quilt top

I followed the Chic Country quilt pattern even down to the block size and layout.  The finished quilt top is a tad on the small size for my taste, but still big enough for one person to cuddle.

Jump Rope quilt top

Heck, I even like the trimmings!  This quilt did generate several hefty trimming piles due to the pattern plan, but it was worth it.  In fact, I'm actually keen to start another Chic Country quilt, this time in a monochromatic color scheme.  Can't think when that's happened before?  Let's see if I feel the same when she's all quilted and bound too.

Jump Rope quilt top

I'm going to miss staring at this work in progress from across my sewing table.  My eyes want to wander all day in those light and dark circles like a kid on a playground. 

p.s. You can find Katie Jump Rope in stock at these fine fabric shops:  The Intrepid Thread, Fabricworm, Fat Quarter Shop and in Canada at Mad About Patchwork.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vintage Rainbow {a mosaic contest}

Slow down a minute, my friend, and ponder with me in color.

Vintage Rainbow {a mosaic contest}
source


The vintage rainbow is not planed.  One comes upon it by accident:  a little of this, a little of that, like loss souls gathered together, the cast offs of days now past.  A vintage rainbow is born from the bottom of paint cans, odd ends of yarn or patched together from the truest scraps, once dresses and tablecloths and curtains.

Vintage Rainbow {a mosaic contest}
pillow, bottle collection


It's a collection of colors slightly faded, aged, with stories to tell and wisdom to share.  The wisdom of enough.  The wisdom of care, contentment and making do.  The magic of beauty from ashes

Vintage Rainbow {a mosaic contest}
phones, bird, citrus, quilt


Mustard yellow, olive green, peach, rose, strawberry red, true blue, aqua, steel.  A vintage rainbow makes its happy home in white, creamy brightness or perhaps cool gray.  It feels breezy and light, somehow transforming the dusty and old into something we treasure.

Vintage Rainbow {a mosaic contest}
balloons, woman, apron tutorial by Wholly Kao, slippers by Where the Orchids Grow


With charm, just oodles of charm.  Sweet aqua with red, floaty pastels and florals too.

Vintage Rainbow {a mosaic contest}
paint colors, quilt by KnottyGnome, chairs, crochet squares by My Rose Valley


Or maybe it shows a spunkier side.  Sometimes vintage rainbow stands out from the crowd, crafting its song from the chaos of clashy colors.   She reclaims the rainbow from in color order with a casual grace that's only possible when the artist has the confidence to let go of all the rules, all expectations and live boldy straight from the heart.


I invite you to join us for a Fabric Mosaic contest sponsored by Fabricworm.

Carefully craft your mosaic of 9 fabrics from among the offerings at Fabricworm. Choose fabrics to express your interpretation of Vintage Rainbow.  Your collection of fabrics by no means need include every color.  Just try to capture the essence of colorful vintage charm.

Once you have your fabrics, the free Mosaic Maker tool makes it a snap to create a mosaic.  Copy and paste image url's from Fabricworm. To find url's first go to the item page, then right click on the image you want and choose "copy image location".

To enter the contest, add your mosaic image to our collection here.  If it suits you, link to a blog post explaining your choices - that helps us spread the word about our contest.  But no blog post is required (you can put your image url in the url space).  Anyone can enter, anywhere in the world.

***Important Tip*** If possible, share your mosaic so that when it's loaded to the link up and you click on your mosaic, it takes viewers to see a larger version. This makes it so much easier for me to see your mosaic and consider it as a finalist!  Hosting your mosaic in a public place (such as Flickr or a blog) and linking the URL works beautifully!

Add your mosaic by midnight January 19th.  You can make up to 2 mosaics!  On Wednesday the 20th, I'll open voting.  We'll have two winners!  The 2 Top Mosaics will earn a complete fat quarter set of their mosaic fabrics!!!  Winners announced January 22nd.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

a new Angled finish

Tangential for Angled class

Tangential for Angled class

At last, it's finished!  I designed this quilt to showcase the angled sewing skills students hone in Angled class.  The quadruple medallion layout and black/white triangles were inspired by an Anthropologie quilt.  From that basic idea I worked in simple triangles, diamonds, flying geese and complex angles so my students can make part of the quilt during each week of class. 

I remember finishing the quilt top just in time to share it on registration day, with no time to spare for quilting.  Then, between not knowing how to quilt it and not wanting to mess up the job after doing such careful work on the piecing, I let the quilt top linger for quite some time unfinished.  Encoring Angled class was the impetus I needed to push towards a finish.  Registration for Angled is open now, with class starting on Monday the 18th!

Tangential for Angled class

This winter Emily of Emerson Quilting came to my rescue!  She's the only longarm quilter I've worked with, when she did fantastic work on my Sparklers queen size quilt long ago.  I've had trouble imagining how Tangential should be quilted, so I asked Emily to do straight lines, preferably on diagonal.

Tangential for Angled class

Boy did she deliver!  I could not have imagined anything this beautiful.  There are simple diagonal lines cutting through the half square triangles and extending to the border, forming a grid over the flying geese portions of the quilt.  She quilted extra angles around the prominent elements: the stars blocks and half star row.  It's gorgeous!  I was wary that custom quilting would take over, as I don't tend to like quilting that's really busy, but Emily struck a nice balance.  Thank goodness some people have the talent to use quilting to enhance in this way!  I wanted Tangential to have a special finish.  This is everything I hoped for.

Tangential for Angled class

Tangential for Angled class

The only downer is that our dog, who's just about one year old now, got a hold of the package when it was delivered back from Emily.  She loves to destroy... everything, so we are careful to keep packages out of the dog's reach.  Unfortunately, it arrived when I was out of town with baby for medical reasons (yes, sadly another hospitalization).  There's only one spot that has a tiny hole on the front, but on the back that spot is noticeable and deserves patching.  After all this quilt has been through and I have been through lately, I can't add that to my plate.  So, I'd like to gift this quilt to one of you, dear readers.

Tangential for Angled class

Would you have a home for this queen-sized quilt?  Do you promise to love it and use it?  Can you give it a little patch love on the back?  And, lastly, are you able to cover the shipping to your door?  I will ship it anywhere, but it does weigh a good bit so shipping internationally would be quite pricey.

If you'd like to give Tangential a home, add your comment to this post.  I'll draw a random winner on Monday afternoon, EST and be in touch via email to get your address for the shipping quote.

Tangential for Angled class
 
Good luck!

I've just now drawn our winner.  I'm trying to get in touch with the commenter Mr. Random selected.  If it doesn't work out, I'll just draw again until it does work.  Wish I could have sent it to each one of you!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Welcome, Miss Matatabi!

This year I am happy to welcome a new sponsor store all the way from Japan!  Miss Matatabi is an Etsy shop specializing in the fabrics of her homeland, with enticing offerings from famous designers like Nani Iro, Suzuko Koseki and Yuwa, as well as a collection of unique Japanese Fabrics handpicked for modern sewists.

Here are some of my favorites!

Koseki fabrics at Miss Matatabi
Wonderful Scrap, Circle and Square, Lattice, French Ribbon Text

Suzuko Koseki is the original queen of funky text prints and modern/vintage eclectic styling. 



Yuwa's Fancy Circle print showcases her sweet, but updated cottage chic charm.

Japanese Fabrics at Miss Matatabi
Kei Cranky Cats, Traditional Asa Flower, Kiyohara Alphabet, Painted Flowers


And a huge selection of miscellaneous Japanese prints sets Miss Matatabi apart from the rest.  Everything from funky/offbeat to cute to beautiful - Japanese fabrics add a special touch to your quilts and small projects.



Beyond quilting cottons, Miss Matatabi stocks linen, knit, wool, seersucker and more.  You'll find many breathtaking double gauze fabrics by Nani Iro.


I have yet to get my hands on one of her pieces, but I look forward to the day!  I imagine a super-soft baby dress, scarf or luxurious pillowcase.  Oooh, that would be nice!


Oh, and look how you can also buy quilted Nani prints in durable brushed cotton!  Seems like a convenient way to jump start a quilted bag, sewing machine cover, etc.

Miss Matatabi ships by parcel post, and postage fees are more reasonable than you would guess.  Shipping to the U.S. does take about 2 weeks, but I suspect you'll feel your unusual finds are worth the wait.  This time those of you in Australia are closer to the goods!

 ::Giveaway::

In addition to a wide range of Japanese Fabrics, Miss Matatabi stocks Cotton & Steel.  Guess she couldn't resist!  Who can blame her?  She has the new 4th season collections, including solid cotton lawns.  One lucky reader will win a fat quarter set of 11 colors.  To enter add your comment to this post now through noon on Saturday, EST.  Tell us what kind of Japanese fabrics you like most.  International entries welcome!

********************Comments Closed*************************

And our winner is #193 - Hitch and Thread.  Lucky lady!  I'll be in touch via email.


Monday, January 4, 2016

fresh start {Improv Handbook Score #4}

Starting Score #4 from Improv Handboook

Time to launch another quilt from The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters!  Next up is score #4, a "patchwork doodle".  Sherri Lynn invites us to let go of our expectations, freely create and say "yes, and..." to whatever will be.

DS Modern Solids for Improv

I'm going to indulge in this delectable box of glowing solids, a treat to myself from the holidays.  It's the Denyse Schmidt Modern Solids fat quarter collection from FreeSpirit.  Oooh and aaaaah!

DS Modern Solids for Improv

Of course I've spent a suitable number of weeks enjoying the fabrics arranged just so.  It's one of those gifts so pretty you don't want to unwrap!  But, now is the time.  Using only solids for this freeform quilt will bring a natural unity to the work no matter which way I go.

Starting Score #4 from Improv Handboook

In this score the idea is to explore shapes as desired, creating something like rows or large sections that will eventually be joined together.  I find it hard to begin with so little direction.  Color is a natural starting place, so I pull friendly blues and grays.  Maybe each section will be composed of colors nearby each other on the color wheel.

Starting Score #4 from Improv Handboook

I'm feeling drawn to curves, but getting something that feels right takes a good amount of trial and error.  Version one, the medium blue with a "wave" in it, is nice but not what I imagine will look good in a series.  Version two, the gray one at top right, took more effort to piece than I would like.

Starting Score #4 from Improv Handboook

I end up with these fan shapes which are pleasantly curvy, but easy to piece.  Next I'd like to make a similar string in pinks/purples and another in greens/yellows and see how they work with the blue/gray set. 

This start feels rather tentative, like how one walks slowly in the dark, arms outstretched to feel the way.  I hope that now that I've made my first mark on the page, this doodle takes on a life of its own.

p.s. Modern Solids available in Canada at Mad About Patchwork


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