Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bluebird progress

Bluebird Sew Off Are you making progress?  Fabric is arriving, first cuts are sliced and dreamy ideas are starting to become reality as (I trust) some are mustering for our Bluebird Sew off.  

Right now, your chances are pretty good!  At about a week and a half from the contest deadline, we have all of two entries so far.  Come now, I'm not the only one enchanted by this line!  Even if you were already sewing with Bluebird, you can enter your finished project into the sew off.  Don't be shy!

I'd love to see what you've made!  Enter by adding your finished item photo to the link party here or just use the hashtag #bluebirdsewoff on Instagram to tag your entry for the contest!  You can tag works in progress with the same hashtag, to share those sneak peaks.  

This week a big box of pillow forms and invisible zippers arrived, so I was able to finish my scrappy pixel pillows. 

Pixel Pillows

These cuties are samples for my next class as well as good excuses to play fast and loose with my scraps.  

Pixel Pillows

I'd enter this mostly-Bluebird pillow into the sew off if I weren't.. err.. naturally disqualified!  

stashings from Pink Door Fabrics

But I have another Bluebird-inspired project in the works anyhow.  I received some happy mail from Pink Door Fabrics, which included a huge cut of the Flocked print destined to become curtains (and some stashings like the Cotton & Steel sprinkles and those Modern Background text prints that I've been eyeing).  All my curtain-making supplies are here, so I guess it's time!  Or, then again, how about I do that on Saturday?

There's patchwork calling today...

p.s.  It's not too late to snatch up some Bluebird at Pink Door Fabrics or Mad About Patchwork in Canada.  And, enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2016

a finished dress

Nicey Jane Easter dress

Yesterday was disagreeably cloudy and rainy.  Not at all nice holiday weather.  But after the rain the garden is glowing again, washed clean of its annual dusting of yellow pollen.  The azaleas are blooming with effortless glory: white, pink, purple and coral.

Nicey Jane Easter dress

This year the proportions of this dress are just what I imagined.  In comparison to my first version, this neckline is slightly higher and the contrast skirt fabric band is considerably wider.  I'm pleased too with the Nicey Jane fabrics.  Thanks to Lark Cottons for getting them to us just as soon as they became available!  It was a struggle this year to find fabrics that felt right to both Aria and me.  But we did it!

Nicey Jane Easter dress

I reduced the typical row of buttons to just two.  Aria can fasten these large, covered buttons with stretchy elastic band closure all herself.  Of course I don't mind closing her dresses for her, but she's too independent to ask.  And these are so pretty.

Nicey Jane Easter dress

We are expecting baby goats again soon, very soon.  Here's Joshua who was born April of last year from Aria's milk goat, Sully.  So big now!  As is Cinder dog, who came to our family as a little puppy February of last year. 

Nicey Jane Easter dress

The photo shoot is done, and they're off!

Happy Monday.

Friday, March 25, 2016

a good week

Mmmm... this has been a good week.  Spring has sprung here, and our home is surrounded by life: flowers in the trees, green in the meadows, friends in the sand box.  We're anticipating our annual Easter Egg hunt tomorrow.  It'll be our biggest group yet - 23 hunting kids!  Lots and lots of eggs.

 a good week

The other day I asked Brandon to cut down a large dogwood branch that has been hanging by a thread from the tree for months.  It was knocked almost off by a truck that came through here in January, actually rescuing one of Eleni's oxygen supply delivery trucks who got stuck in our muddy field.  Gosh, just two months ago?   It seems both forever ago that we needed oxygen trucks and just recently that the branch was damaged.  I was hoping it would blossom. And it did!  Now our home is filled with spring too.

a good week

It feels like I haven't made much progress sewing-wise though.  I think I'm puttering about with too many projects to feel momentum with any one.  But I don't mind too much.  I've been working on the first project for my next class.  Still enjoying this rich, inky blue so very much.

do re-cycled zippers usually break?

Actually, I had a pillow finished this week.  Or so I thought.  I had installed a zipper rescued from a pillow that needed to be retired.  Yep, I took the time to rip an invisible zipper out of the old pillow and then installed it in this new one.  The zipper opened and closed just fine until I went to make the final, finished zip.  Then, no dice.  No one can get it to budge.  I've just ripped out the old zipper again and will install a brand new one.  Should this discourage me from re-using zippers or was I just unlucky?

 a good week

Here's where I've been lucky.  This beautiful surprise arrived.  It's a quilt made by a reader who was touched when she discovered Eleni's story this January.  She'd been out of touch with my blog for a few years and came back just when Eleni was leaving us.

made with Eleni's fabrics

There is nothing more special that has been made in Eleni's memory than the quilt Linh dreamed up.  After my baby died I have somewhat regretted that I was using up the fabrics I had photographed her with.  I felt silly about that though, since I don't keep fabric for non-use.  It never occurred to me to make something to capture the fabrics as a collection.  Each one brings me back to that moment of our journey.  And some are very sad and some are quite hopeful and all of them are incredibly special because they are all I have.

I love that she sashed the fabrics with so much white, which reminds me of the onesies I always had Eleni wear for the photographs.  And, I also think she chose the perfect block and size.  I like that each cut is large enough to really appreciate the fabric and framed so beautifully with the tan.  Plus, the quilting.  Wow!!!  I'm super impressed and blessed.  

a good week

Yes, I am blessed.  Yesterday Aria embroidered a skirt she's making while Liam finished his day's math.  They laughed.  I smiled.  And I thought, this has been a good week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Nicey Jane

Look how Easter is sneaking up on us in March!  Are you making anything for your celebrations?

Nicey Jane for Easter

My girlie and I settled on a fabric for her Easter dress just in the nick of time.  She's 11 now, and as much as she still craves handmade dresses, she has very clear ideas on colors and fabrics.  Everything she was drawn to had a black or midnight blue background with bright, bold colors.  For Easter?  For spring?  I couldn't do it!  We compromised on something not pink (per Aria) and not dark (per mom).  Yes, it's Nicey Jane to the rescue!  The reprint of these popular vintage-inspired florals is in stock at Lark Cottons.  What could be more fitting for blooming spring days?

Nicey Jane for Easter

I am remaking a dress I cobbled together about two years ago, altering the Geranium dress bodice to have a higher neckline, longer (non empire) bodice and fuller skirt.  This time we're working from a size 10.  As per usual, I cannot restrain myself to just one fabric in the makings of a dress.  The patchworker in me wins out! 

This time I've joined my contrast fabric to the main fabric with a finished seam that I find I like even more than a French seam.  You sew a normal 1/2" seam, press it open, then press the seam allowances under so that the raw edges are tucked inside a 1/4" doublefold on either side of the seam.  Last, you finish with a scant 1/4" topstitch on each side of the pressed open seam, sewn from the right side.  This sews down the double folded seam allowances, creating a flat, secure join with no raw edges.  This seam is much flatter than a French.  According to my apparel sewing book, it's just called a "self finished seam".  Maybe if it had a sexier name it would be more in vogue (wink).

Nicey Jane for Easter

Construction notes:  Cut (2) 16" WOF for skirt main and (2) 10" WOF for skirt contrast.  Cut (1) 6.5" WOF for bodice contrast.  Add 2.5" to bodice length at waist.  Don't forget to cut the bodice lining pieces with 2.5" longer waist length too.

Well, I best get back to Nicey Jane.  Wishing you a nicey kind of day!

Monday, March 21, 2016

thanks to You

Thanks to you little ones like Eleni will receive help and hope.

ABM lessons with Marcy
Eleni at ABM lessons

Thanks to you eight precious babies aged 2 and under are scheduled this spring for intensive therapy sessions with local Anat Baniel Method practitioners and/or to receive neuro-optometric services with Dr. Zelinsky of Chicago.

Jarrett, Help for HIE grant recipient

Thanks to you I was able to put over $10,000 into the Help for HIE fund, combining leftover monies raised for our baby Eleni in 2015 and those you donated after her death earlier this year.   $10,000 that will give families the chance to seek help for babies that cannot see or eat or babble or sit up.

Faith, Help for HIE grant recipient

Thanks to you families who feel they have lost all right hope for the future will have the opportunity to meet someone who knows how to help their child, someone who might say with Dr. Zelinsky, "Sometimes, with the right inputs, we can build a brain."

Malcolm, Help for HIE grant recipient

I cannot thank you enough, never enough, for the way you've held our family in the wake of Eleni's tragic birth and difficult life.  And, I know that these families who are now being touched by your generosity likewise overfill with gratitude.  Please know that your gifts, great and small, were most needed and are most appreciated.

With love and thanks from Malcolm, Faith, Boaz, Claire, Hannah, Jarrett, Elijah, Kaiya, and from Eleni.  

P.S.  I thought you would love to hear this report from the mother of a grant recipient after her child's ABM intensive, made possible by readers like you:
After 8 ABM sessions X is already calmer.  She is tense or extending or fisting less often.  She hugs to us when carried instead of arching away.  Now that she is more comfortable with how to move, motion is less scary for her and she's even added new motions to her repertoire.  And now that she doesn't need to put as much thought into physical things, I think she's actually seeing more.  She can roll herself over (with a little help) and is remembering the sequence of motions to sit up or lay down, although we're far from that!  We will definitely have to continue care once the sessions she was granted are over... nothing compares to the level of care she is getting, not to mention her therapist is head over heals in love with her and excited about X's attentiveness.  I believe wholeheartedly she will help X reach her fullest and happiest potential.  Oh yeah, and Monday, she cried for the first time.  And once more on Tuesday.  It wasn't exactly a typical cry, but it was a cry!  Praise The Lord!!!

Friday, March 18, 2016

the Bluebird Sew Off!

Bluebird Sew Off A glance at #BluebirdFabric reveals I'm not the only one inspired to create with Cotton & Steel's brilliant true blues.

Let's have some fun - a Bluebird Sew Off!

Make something with one or more Bluebird fabrics by Sunday, April 10th for your chance to win! 

We'll have two winners, one for best quilt and the other for a non-quilt entry, each awarded a $75 gift certificate for a sweet fabric shopping spree!

You can find Bluebird in stock now at
Pink Door Fabrics and
Mad About Patchwork.

Plus today our sponsors are giving away Bluebird yardage to 3 eager participants!!

But first...

::Entry Rules::
  • Sewn item must include one or more Bluebird fabrics by Cotton & Steel.  Other fabrics welcome.
  • Complete item must be submitted by April 10, 2016, midnight eastern time.
  • Submit your entry via the Link Party at the bottom of this page OR via Instagram hashtag #BluebirdSewOff
  • International entries welcome
::Voting & Prizes::
  • I will select 3-5 finalists in each category.
  • Voting will be open at Stitched in Color April 11 - 13, 2016.
  • The top-voted finalist in each category will receive a $75 gift certificate, one to Mad About Patchwork and the other to Pink Door Fabrics good for any items in store.
  • Winners announced April 14 

Bluebird by Cotton + Steel

Ok, let's kick off our contest with some free fabric!  Our contest sponsors, Pink Door Fabrics and Mad About Patchwork will send 1.5 yards of Bluebird fabrics (your choice of cuts!) to THREE lucky readers who know just what they'd make.  This is your chance to participate with free fabric!  (Note:  Because of shipping time in transit and contest deadlines you must be located in the U.S. or Canada for this giveaway.)

So tell us!  What will you create for the Bluebird Sew Off?

*****Kick Off Giveaway Closed*****  Commenters #9, #55 and #84 will be receiving free Bluebird yardage to play along. Have fun, ladies!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

the Lay of the Land

We are settled back again in our old pleasures, our familiar habits, even our old rooms.  We have dismantled and packed away the nursery, returning a very eager preteen to her own space.  She sweetly expressed her desire to keep the drapes and the patchwork closet curtain and grassy green Eleni's rug, but the cross stitched letters... no.  Well, I will just have to find a space for them in my sewing room!  I will.  I promise.

the lay of the land

Now Susan the cat holds court again in the sunniest room of the house.  Ah, yes, the very best room.  She knows it.

the lay of the land

the lay of the land

But truly I am glad to see Aria so happy in her own room again.  She is delighted with the butcher block counter desk we've made for her, providing all the space she could want for books and books and studies.  Honestly, she's likely to be up doing school work already while I am just getting my breakfast!

the lay of the land

Their previously shared room, now again Liam's room, has just been refloored.  I think it was contributing to some mold problems, actually.  That's a good reason for carpet to go!  There's nothing like wood floors to make a space seem new and clean, so clean!  Happens to be better for playing Legos too.

the lay of the land

His old flying geese curtains bit the dust in the great clean sweep of this space.  Which is just as well, really, since they didn't match his proclaimed colors.  New curtains, please!

the lay of the land

And I know just the Flock for that job!

This pretty print from the Bluebird collection by Cotton & Steel is already nigh hard to find!  I think it's safe to say that Bluebird has been a big hit.  Probably lots of us already have some or have our eye on a pretty print or two.  Well, be thinking of what you might make.  There's a Bluebird Sew Off to come.  Details soon!

psst... you can find Bluebird now at Mad About Patchwork in Canada and Pink Door Fabrics in the U.S.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Doodle Doodle {Improv Handbook Score #4}

Doodle Doodle, a finished quilt

Doodle Doodle, a finished quilt

All finished!  This is Doodle Doodle, an improv quilt made entirely without rulers (except for the backing and binding) and inspired by the fourth score of The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.  Author Sherri Lynn Wood prompts us to reflect and share about our finished works along these lines:

{Surprises} Doodling is hard for me.  I thought following this score would create a sense of release, being that it is entirely dictated by one's mood, an invitation to follow your own creative rabbit trails.  Instead I kept starting and stopping, second guessing every decision.  The wide open possibilities made me feel lost.  I think this is exactly what some people experience who struggle with improv in general.  The process would have been easier for me if I had set more of a goal or direction from the get go, but that would not have been true to the score.  And, this quilt would never have come to be.

Doodle Doodle, a finished quilt

{Discoveries} Even though my Doodle quilt is chaotic because of all the variation in shape and scale, I was able to soften the noise somewhat by working in color families.  Notice how each house block or whirl block is made up of colors near bye on the color wheel:  orange and yellow, pink and red, etc.  Or I paired a cool color, such as purple, with a cool gray neutral; whereas, my warm pinks go with warm browns.  The half square triangle blocks are also grouped in warms verses cools.  I feel this tactic creates little oases of peace, even if the work as a whole is a riot.

The fabrics I used are all from the Denyse Schmidt Modern Solids collection from FreeSpirit Fabrics.  Amazingly the box set barely looks touched.  I could make so many quilts with these fabrics!

{Satisfactions} My favorite inspiration was to contrast the white/pale gray half square triangles at top left with a flock of dark gray/black half square triangles at top right.  I like how light and dark come together in a hard line.  The clouds really can roll in so fast.  A storm.  A downpour and we're soaking, until suddenly that too is gone.

Doodle Doodle, a finished quilt

I'm also fully pleased with the way the back came together, particularly that I used up nearly every small scrap from the quilt top making and orphan blocks to boot.  Creative economy always excites me.

{Dissatisfactions} I'm fairly dissatisfied with my failure to enjoy the making of this quilt.  I started piecing when Eleni was doing very well, post surgery on one of my work days apart from her.  I wish I was with her that day.  All of the rest of the quilt was made soon after her death.  Probably making something so personal, so emotional couldn't be very enjoyable in that time of my life.  Of course, that doesn't mean it was not an important thing to do.

{Next Steps} This score was about "Letting Go of Expectation."  I think for the first time in my life, I've actually learned how to do that, to let go.  I've found when you do that it's not so hard to live in the moment, for it's clear the moment is all you have.  Along those lines, I haven't thought too much about what I'll do next, even when I'll start the next score from The Improv Handbook.   So, let's just wait and see.  Today is today.

Doodle Doodle, a finished quilt

And today Doodle Doodle is listed in my Etsy shop, along with a fairly scrappy throw quilt that's also wishing for a forever home.  Thanks, friends!

Friday, March 11, 2016

crafting a Still Point

Since I showed you my first block after facing down the y-seams, I've been working in earnest on this Still Point in a Turning World quilt.  But I had to start all over again, actually, because that first block didn't work out, color-wise.  It was beautiful, but busy.  Here it is again:

facing down Y-seams

Mixing so many different shades of blue and white, so many patterns and values obscures the patchwork possibilities somewhat.  To make this quilt all that I want it to be I need to restrain myself to a more controlled color scheme.

crafting a Still Point

Can you see the difference here?  It's a sharper dark against light.  And, actually, the farther away you get from the patchwork the more the design pops, twists and dances into so many different patterns. There are big, even stars and squished stars.  There's a pinwheel fan surrounded by shaded squares.

crafting a Still Point

To use all my pretty true blues without obscuring the patchwork pattern, I'm going to divide and conquer.  The pale aqua will make a very still point from which the different blues will radiate:  midnight above, cobalt at the sides and dusty blue below.

crafting a Still Point

On my design wall this minute I'm building out the diagonal where cobalt and midnight intersect.  Piecing these blocks is perfectly delightful!  My favorite part is trimming each one to an exacting 8.5" square.

crafting a Still Point

I think you'll have to take my word for it until I get this finished and can present it at a distance. I know from all the time I spend staring at it - instead of sewing it! - that there's a lot to see here.  (Can you spot the squished stars in the blocks that now appear "on point"?)

I'm looking forward to having a bigger work to show!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

a project for Remembering

If you have lost someone you loved, or when you do as we all must do, you will know what I mean by savoring.  You savor before they die or while and after the things you can do for that person, each a little offering of love.  The last time I changed her diaper I stroked her silky, still legs.  Oh, more!  Each snap on her sleeper after we pressed her footprints, all mine.  The way her father held her jealously during those final hours.  I understood.

for Remembering Eleni

After Eleni passed I treasured each task left to me as her mother, most especially any task in her nursery.  On a quiet Saturday I shut myself in her room slowly unpacking her dresser, choosing these clothes to save forever and others to pass along to some other child.  Soon I had a pile of clothes too stained to keep, but too precious to throw away.  They are ones that remind me of particular times.  They are each a memory.

for Remembering Eleni

I am glad that a project came to me quickly then.  I composed the clothes in neat rows and captured some needed colors from the other piles to fill the gaps.  I'd been wanting a new pillow cover for a living room throw pillow anyways.  What a nice way to keep some memories of her nearby.

for Remembering Eleni

I'll be patterning this pillow project after my "Joy" pillow from years past.  I'll applique a rectangle of each piece of clothing on a plain background in a 4 x 5 grid layout.  Some of the rectangles will become reverse applique letters; some will remain whole.

for Remembering Eleni

These knits won't fray when raw edge appliqued like quilting cottons do.  I'm also cutting with my pinked rotary blade, for a decorative and more durable edge.  My husband and I are setting off this weekend for a 15th anniversary getaway.  I want to prep this all today so I can take it along, a compact hand sewing project.  Ah, yes, the makings of a good trip!

 for Remembering Eleni

But I find it slow going, cutting up these clothes.  I stare at the doggie pajamas I bought midway through our pregnancy, when all was perfectly well.  How could that be?  The green polka dot shirt she wore only once - the last time I took her home from the hospital - takes me back to that moment of shy hope coupled with foreboding.  Of course all the stories come back, as they should.

This is a project for remembering.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Underneath it all

What are we underneath it all?

Loyal?  Certain?  Happy?  Known?  Maybe... mostly... here?

Underneath it all

Yesterday I sat in the sunshine with my husband and some friends who have walked with us through it all.  We tossed around jokes, sorrows, existential brick walls, questions about gardens, goats, guilt, the works.  The conversation twisted and turned in unpredictable ways while kids wove around us chomping on carrots or offering kernels of popcorn from sweet, sweaty little hands.

While we chattered I watched my friend's man deconstruct a skateboard with a confidence that surprised me.  He took it apart.  He stripped it down.  And quietly, simply he made it new.  He knew exactly what a skateboard was underneath it all and how it should work and what it should be.

I didn't say so then, but his work reminded me of quilt-making.  Most people take a quilt for granted.  They don't know what it is inside, what steps it takes to make one, that it's just three layers bound together - nothing more, nothing less.

Underneath it all

I made this backing for my Doodle Doodle improv quilt from leftover solid scraps I'd saved in a basket from the making of the quilt top.  Little random bits that sew together to make decent blocks, that combined with orphan blocks become eventually a large swath of colorful cloth.  And soon a backing.  And soon a finished quilt.  It'll be something that delights and amazes and blesses someone.

But underneath it all, it's just bits of fabric cut up and sewn together. 

So simple, underneath it all.

Underneath it all

Friday, March 4, 2016

done Good {Nurture Circle}

do. Good Stitches is a modern online community that quilts for good.  Over the years the bee has grown and grown, so that these days I find myself struggling to keep current with all the beautiful work being done.  I'm taking up the habit of cheering for them from here, in the way of finished object posts.  Every month or so, I'll share some "done Good".  Today, Nurture Circle takes the spotlight!

In June, Louise of I'm Feeling Crafty served as lead quilter for the Nurture Circle. Quilter's take turns setting a vision for the monthly bee quilt, usually defining the block style, colors and block size.  Louise had recently released a FREE paper piecing pattern that one of her bee mates suggested would make a great bee quilt.

do. Good Stitches June blocks. My first make for the Nurture group

Louise asked the ladies of her quilting circle to make two blocks (as is typical) out of bright, solid colored fabrics with white as the uniting background fabric.  Soon beautiful Inside Out Pineapple blocks were popping up in the Nurture Circle Flickr group, like this pair made by Pedal Sew Lightly.  As it happens this was Pedal's first month sewing with Nurture Circle!  Way to step up!

Paper pieced blocks aren't hard, but they can certainly be time consuming.  Bee blocks can run the full gamut from uber simple quickies (like my request for plain old half square triangle blocks) to more elaborate makes.  Quilters always provide a pattern, tutorial or point to another tutorial, though.  You aren't expected to figure out how to sew blocks all on your own!


Take a gander at the finished quilt.  Oh my word!  It's absolutely stunning. Many hands make light work out of an ambitious project.  And many hands make masterpieces too!



Clearly Louise has a sharp eye for design.  This quilt is a show stopper, front and back.  Thank-you, Louise, for leading as host for Nurture circle of do. Good Stitches!  Nurture Circle makes quilts to benefit the terminally ill via Covered in Love.  This is a very special quilt that will make someone feel special just at the right time.

Well done!  Congratulations to Nurture host Louise (I'mFeelingCrafty) and the entire Nurture circle, Flickr names: kat and cat quilts, zaydia {}, PurplePoppyQuilts, Dhia Peach, MsSpy, brightlittlefish, Pedal Sew Lightly, jackiebenedetti and LibbyBlack.

p.s. Learn about do. Good Stitches here.  While quilts of all styles are wonderful acts of charity, this bee intends to bring together active Flickr-users who enjoy sewing with modern fabrics.  To join the wait list, please use this form.  We're always in need of new quilters!

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