Thursday, December 29, 2016

too obvious

So, this scrap quilt has been giving me trouble.  I've really enjoyed making the blocks, especially as I'm switching between favorites like hourglass blocks and sawtooth stars.  But up on the design wall the collection has had me stumped.  What does it need to look finished?

Scraps on Parade

My design concept was inspired by fairisle sweaters with their rows of distinct designs.  I was planning to keep everything tidy in its own row, until my mom prodded me to mix things up.  I wondered if a little shuffling of sawtooth stars for hourglass blocks might settle my concerns about the quilt, so I gave it a go.

Nope, that didn't do it.

Scraps on Parade

Last night I started cutting small squares to create a gray and low volume squares border.  I was in for a lot more piecing, apparently, to finish this quilt off.  Then suddenly it occurred to me that all it needed was a plain, gray border.  Yep, just a gray frame.  Something simple, but unifying.

Scraps on Parade

Aha! Finished at last!

Scraps on Parade

Now that I've put a 3" Kona Iron border around my patchwork, I can't believe I didn't realize this was what it needed before.  Funny how the right solution can be so darn obvious once it arrives!

Scraps on Parade

Now I'm working on the backing.  Seemed like a good time to use this lively piece of Mystery Food by Cotton & Steel.

Happy Sewing, all!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

a Color Story {Penny Sampler}

OK, friends, I'm going to take what feels like a big risk.  I'm going to try a dark, low-contrast color story for my Penny Sampler.  I've never made a quilt in dark colors, so I'm short on confidence.  I hope it works out!

Do you ever feel like that?  So tentative about color?  Usually I feel pretty confident about my color choices, but this time is different.  Maybe I'm pushing myself far outside my comfort zone because I am making this quilt for the second time?  I don't know, but I can sense the edge of the cliff.  It's scary out here!

Succulents inspiration
photograph by Miasole

This is the main image that spoke to me when I sat down recently to pin down a color scheme for my Penny Sampler.  After considering the color schemes from the course and my favorite Penny Sampler quilts that I showcased earlier this month, it seems I'm craving something drastically different.  This felt succulent arrangement by Etsy shop Miasole makes such a statement on an expansive dark gray background.  It's colorful, but so dark.  Quite a departure from all the white-white-white that tends to define my favorite color schemes lately.

Inspiration
Starry Forest, Quilt, Sofa, Succulents

Peeking around Pinterest, I collected other images with a similar vibe.  It was especially heartening to find a gorgeous quilt version.  Hurray, proof that dark and low-contrast can work as a quilt!  But can it work for the Penny Sampler?

There's nothing to do but find out, I suppose.  Color story?  Check.  Now to zero in on some specific colors...

Penny Sampler fabrics

Using my manipulative Kona color card (from Color Intensive), I've gathered color swatches spied in the felt succulent image.  Here they are lounging on Kona Charcoal with a small bit of Cosmic Blue from FreeSpirit Designer Solids.

Penny Sampler fabrics

Once I have my colors, I'm ready to pull fabrics.  I spread open a dark gray background and piled on solids and prints that fit.  I find I can include many Anna Maria Horner prints, including Good Folks - my favorite fabric collection of all time.  Using favorite fabrics feels like insurance on a project like this.

Penny Sampler fabrics

After choosing colors and making a large stack of fabric possibilities, the Penny Sampler course instructs students to choose a few key starting fabrics for particular aspects of the quilt.  These starting fabrics provide a skeleton of sorts for the quilt.  I've chosen gray fabrics for many of my borders and that Cosmic Blue for my Penny Candy sashing. 

Freespirit Designer Solids

Next it was time to order fabric!  Of all the inspiration colors, I was short on cool purples and grays.  I've ordered a range of lovely purples, deep blues and lots of Cosmic Blue in FreeSpirit Designer Solids, plus that Skipping Stones dark gray print that could be useful throughout the quilt.  I hope that, combined with my stash fabrics, these give me plenty of ingredients for a dark and dramatic Penny Sampler. 

Fingers Crossed!

p.s.  We haven't started yet!  Now is the perfect time to sign up for the 2017 Penny Sampler.  You'll receive a pdf course book on the first of each month with detailed lessons for learning machine applique, precise traditional piecing and machine paper piecing while making the blocks of the Penny Sampler.  Available as a 6-month or 12-month sampler program.   Register to join us at my Pattern Shop in whichever version of the journey suits you.  Both samplers start sewing in January!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas!

This year at our annual snapshot, baby Elora was just three days old!  Brandon and I have been taking a photo of our children in the Christmas trees since Aria was just a one year old tot.  We have a tradition of visiting the tree farm the day after Thanksgiving, and even though we could have delayed it this year, it was a wonderful warm day to venture out for baby's first outing.   So we did!

In our prayers at a candlelight service tonight on Christmas Eve, a few lines caught in my throat.  As a congregation we wished, "Joy to expectant parents and relief to those who long for children."  And I thought, yes, yes!

This year my family is filled with joy.  I think back to last year when we were so grateful for peace at Christmastime, when joy seemed to great a thing for us.  After Eleni's surgery she seemed so much better and finally in less pain.  So, Peace.  And very grateful for it.  But this year, Joy!  This year... so much can change in a year.

Looking towards next year, I wish joy for us and all of you.  I wish a year in which we are blessed and in which we are a blessing.  I wish Peace, yes; but also Joy and always Love.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Elora, 1 month

Elora, one month

This month baby is photographed on Sprinkle in Pick Up Truck from Mad About Patchwork in Canada!  I love the Sprinkle prints by Cotton & Steel, which come in several lovely shades.  It's such a great basic, as is their newest basic called Add It Up.    

Elora, one month

Today baby Elora is one month old!  She was acting sleepy when I first lay her down on this festive holiday red, but she soon perked up to show off her personality...

Elora, one month

Already she is such an expressive baby.  And it may still be the newborn phase, but she also seems to be rather easy going.   When she wakes up to eat, she will happily chill with whomever will hold her until I am ready to feed her.  She just wants to be held while she waits.  How agreeable!

Elora, one month

Oh, those precious little feet!

Elora, one month

And all these happy faces! 

Elora, one month

What a delight she is for us all.

Memory Box {One Month}

Milestones:  Tracking!  A few days after birth Elora visually followed a light-up rattle (Mr. Noggin) moved slowly in front of her face.  She's tracking people and toys now.  I am so happy for her that she can see!

Biggest Challenge:  Diaper rash. This little one is fairer than my other children and seems to have quite sensitive skin.  We tried seven diaper creams before finding something that seems to help. But it may be the twice daily baths that have really been key.  Lots of warm soaks and kicking around diaper-free when she's awake have finally turned the tide on that nasty rash.

Best Surprise:  So many pleasant faces and even smiles!  I didn't expect such a happy baby.

Special Memory:   Singing Christmas carols to her while she soaks in her bath.  I love carols and am glad to have an excuse to sing all of them this year!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

done Good {round up}

do. Good Stitches is a modern online community that quilts for good.  Originally based on Flickr, some circles are now connecting more through Instagram.  We work in teams of ten members to make collaborative charity quilts.  Over the years the bee has grown and grown, so that I can hardly keep current with all the beautiful work being done.  It has been quite awhile since I've shared a "done Good" post, so rather than highlighting just one circle, I've decided to share my eight favorite recently finished quilts!

Liberated Churn Dash by Hope Circle, quilted by Jeanine

Hope Circle December 2015


Circle of Squares by Faith Circle, quilted by Melissa

Circle of Squares


Swirling Stars by Comfort Circle, quilted by Lotje

Swirling Stars quilt in front of glass houses


Rainbow Diamonds by Believe Circle, quilted by TiffieFay

Do.good stitches April 2016


Improv Fans by Love Circle, quilted by Ara Jane

Finished Do. Good Stitches quilt. Maybe I say this about all my quilts, but I think this one is my favorite. #dogoodstitches #dgslovecircle


Stacks and Stacks by Peace Circle, quilted by Rebekah Thompson



Autumn Chain by Emerge Circle, quilted by Allison Dutton



Sunset Dreamin by Nurture Circle, quilted by I'm Feeling Crafty

SunsetDreamin-Main-ImFeelinCrafty


Thanks to all who have contributed time, fabric and creative energy to make quilts for others through do. Good Stitches this year.  Every quilt given in love is a success in my eyes!

In 2017 there are some new openings in the bee, especially for quilters (who take turns leading and finishing a collaborative quilt about twice annually).  If you are interested please learn about do. Good Stitches here.  While quilts of all styles are wonderful acts of charity, this bee intends to bring together those who enjoy sewing with modern fabrics and are comfortable using social media such as Flickr or Instagram to share pictures of blocks and quilts.  To join the wait list, please use this form, and I'll be in touch as soon as I have a spot for you! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

a Shabby Fabrics giveaway!

My children told me this morning that there are only five days until Christmas!  Can you believe it?  Five days!

I know that before we blink it will be time to welcome the new year with all its plans and promise.  I am working on choosing my Penny Sampler fabrics, which I'll share with you next week.  Meanwhile, Shabby Fabrics has its own Block of the Month programs for the new year...


 ::Bringing Home the Tree::  This 7 month program will begin February 2017 and end in August 2017 -- giving you plenty of time to have it ready for Christmas! There's nothing quite like the tradition of bringing home the Christmas tree each year! The Bringing Home The Tree Quilt perfectly captures the familiar feelings of the holidays with the candy canes, vintage trucks, holiday wreaths, a quaint farmhouse, and more.  Finishes to 43" x 51". This program is being offered in both cotton pre-fused, laser-cut fabrics as well as wool fabrics.


::Forever My Valentine::  This Block of the Month program begins in February 2017 and will run nine months ending October 2017. With the Forever My Valentine quilt, nine beautiful heart blocks are accented with elegant embellishments such as a brass plated key, pearls, wool felt and buttons. A Shabby Fabrics original design available in pre-fused laser-cut or traditional applique.



::Bunny Town:: This Block of the Month program starts in February 2017 and last 7 months ending in August 2017. Celebrate Spring with an adorable Bunny Town Quilt designed by The Quilt Company! The Bunny Town quilt finishes approximately 54½" x 68½" and is overflowing with active little bunnies and plenty of carrots!  Available in pre-fused laser-cut or traditional applique.

::Giveaway::

Today Shabby Fabrics is giving away a popular layer cake!


One lucky reader will win an Olive's Flower Market layer cake from Moda Fabrics.  That's 42 squares, each measuring 10" x 10".  To enter just add your comment to this post now through noon EST on Friday, December 23rd.  Anyone can win, anywhere in the world!  Be sure to include your email address, if its not shared through Google, so that I can contact you if you win.

Good luck!

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

And our winner is #17, Dear Faye.  I'll be in touch via email.  Enjoy!


Saturday, December 17, 2016

a new Direction

I was all geared up to make an Aerial Grove quilt for our bed.  I had even purchased fabrics for both the neutral background and colored circles.  But then...

Japanese inspired

My husband hung one of his favorite paintings on our bedroom wall.  Combined with the various Japanese-style art pieces he's collected over the years for our room, it sets a certain direction that just doesn't say, "Sprinkle me with Liberty florals, please and thank you."

So, I can't do it.  I just can't make a quilt I know doesn't suit him when our bedroom is the only room he really gets to decorate.  Instead I'm changing directions.  I'm Facing East.

launching Facing East

In Friedlander's book, Savor Each Stitch, there is another quilt, in addition to Aerial Grove, that has long caught my eye.  The Facing East design is visually related to the Japanese rising sun flag, which dates from feudal times.  Carolyn makes several versions, but the one which I tend to find myself staring and staring at is the all-neutral version in white and cream.

So, before I change my mind, here we go!  All my white, cream and pale gray fabrics, please report for duty.

launching Facing East

In addition to scraps, I have these recently acquired yardage cuts from Westwood Acres Inside Voices bundle and more.  That Make Drafts Paper print is one of my favorites!  That and the very pale silver script print at far right.

launching Facing East

Of course I'll be including many solids as well ranging from true white to cream to pale brown and light gray.

launching Facing East

Facing East is a machine paper pieced design with an applique finish.  It's by no means a fast sew and we're talking queen sized, so..... Yes, I am feeling intimidated.

launching Facing East

But my first block looks promising.  The "rays" print is Architextures Crosshatch in gray.  For backgrounds I used white, cream, pale gray and that script print.  It was surprising how each of the background fabrics looked more saturated (more blue, more yellow, more pink) than usual due to the relative effects of low contrast.

Such a departure from my scrap quilt project!  I am hoping to work at Facing East without getting bored by alternating with other quicker, more colorful makes.  So, it may be quite awhile before this quilt hits our bed, but I don't mind.  I've promised myself not to worry about the pace, just to celebrate the progress.

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