Friday, February 24, 2017

Mad About Patchwork Scrap Challenge Victories!

Happy Friday to all! 

Today I get to have some fun showing off the creations made by our Mad About Patchwork Scrap Challengers.  These girls didn't mess around!  The original challenge prompted each to work with the 8 fabrics included in the Dreaming at Dusk bundle.  They could add one other fabric and trims as desired and they had a little over a week for the making.

First up, Christine (aka SewCoole on Instagram) bravely attacked her first Sew Together bag.  She's pleased with the outcome and says, "The fabrics were perfect for it!"
 
I'm loving the way the different fabrics highlight each of the pockets and special details in the bag construction.  Way to show off all that work!

Challenge Christine

Next we have Adrienne of Chezzetcook Modern Quilts.  She used the challenge as an opportunity to research quilting heritage in her home province, Nova Scotia.  Adrienne said:
The quilters in Nova Scotia have been making the same patterns that all quilters have been making since the beginning of quilty time. Four patches, hexagons, Irish chains, bear paws, strip quilts, flying geese, HSTs. I was looking for something different. What I found was a comfortable solid ground.
So, she made a string quilt!

Challenge Adrienne

It's foundation pieced with improv-cut string widths to keep her mind engaged.  I love how it turned out, don't you?

Challenge Adrienne close

And from our third challenger, Laura, we have a very meaningful mini quilt, designed to be a reminder to herself of what she has earned by enduring quite a bit of adversity in her life.  Laura's thoughts on her design and intentions are too inspiring not to share in detail:

I think Freedom is a wonderful word. It means so much to many. To me it means freedom from my past and the permission to move forward in life with grace and enthusiasm!

Challenge Laura
I visualize the center bird of the ribbon dresden medallion as a phoenix rising from oppression. The quilting in the background of this section is quilted in flame.... using a variegated cotton thread from gutterman. The Freedom was free pieced sketching my idea out on graph paper and doing the maths to get all my letters the right height and a good width... I sketched stitched in navy blue the year in which I earned my freedom: 2017. The extra fabric I added to the mix is an old print, so I will look at this piece and always remember this time in my life. 
They say we have 5-10 pivotal moments in our lives that change us. This will be a reminder of a very important pivotal moment in my life, in which I take back charge of who I am and that it is important to take care of me.
Thank you for this challenge. I enjoyed every stitch.

Thank you, Laura, for stitching from the heart and sharing yourself with us.

A great big thanks to all challengers for inspiring us with your creativity!  It's incredible to see all that can be done with a handful of fat eighths.

And, of course, thanks to Mad About Patchwork for composing the scrap bundle and sharing it with us! 

Guess what?  The fun is not over.  One reader, anywhere in the world, will win a Dreaming in Dusk fat eighth bundle just for reading along!  To enter to win, add your comment to this post now through noon, Monday February 27th.  Don't forget to include an email address, if necessary, so I can reach you if you win.

Good luck!


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Elora, 3 months

Elora, 3 months

This month baby is photographed on Sleeping Porch Moths in Twilight.  Sleeping Porch is in stock now at Fat Quarter Shop, Bobbie Lou's Fabric Factory and Gotham Quilts.

Elora, 3 months

Most of the time when I put a device in front of baby Rora to photograph or video her, this is what I get...

Elora, 3 months

Which translates to, "Where did you go, Mommy?" and instantly stops the smiles.  But today I managed to get all of her, all thirteen pounds of her... Smiling!

Elora, 3 months

That's our girl!  You may have noticed we adopted the nickname "Rora" over her full given name, Elora.  Well, that's what Brandon and I call her, anyways.  Aria calls her "Nora" and Liam calls her "Lora-Lori."  Every day she brings us so much joy, and she brings us together in a special way.

Elora, 3 months

I can't get enough of her on this fabric.  It's a perfectly delightful pairing!

Memory Box {Three Months}

MilestonesHand to Mouth:  Is all the time now.  She'll also take a toy to her mouth and hold a rattle.  Sleeping Through the Night!  She goes 8-9 hours between feedings most every night.  Tummy time:  She's finally comfortable lifting her head when lying on her tummy.  But she seems to be trying to scoot forward rather than figuring out the whole rolling concept.  I'm not worried, though.  I can luxuriate in the glorious expectation that it will all come eventually!

Elora, 3 months

Biggest Challenge:  Naptimes.  Everything in phases, right?  This baby used to be impossible to wake until it was feeding time for the first two months of her life.  Now she's struggling to connect her sleep cycles when napping, so she sometimes needs help to stay asleep about 40 minutes into a nap.  Not a biggie, though.  It's been a great month!

Biggest Surprise:  She's such a happy baby and so easy-going that she smiles nearly all. of. the. time.  She smiles literally every time she's having her diaper changed.  She smiles when she's being undressed for her bath.  She smiles when she's coming out of her bath, wet and dripping.  And the last three times I used the NoseFrida to clean her nose, she smiled while I was cleaning her nose.  Seriously. 

Special Memory:  Rora is already a talker!  She has so many sounds and likes nothing more than to have a conversation after breastfeeding or while being changed.  I love the way she answers my babbles with coos and tells me when she needs a change of scenery by getting loud and screechy.  Even with new church nursery workers, they tell me, "She's so vocal!" when I pick her up.  Aria was a big talker too.  I know where this is headed, come toddler time...

Elora, 3 months

That's her saying, "Bye-bye, friends" in baby.  We hope you have a great day!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Little Bird + Dilly Bird {Penny Sampler}

Hurray!  I've completed my February blocks for the 6-month Penny Sampler.  Little Bird and Dilly Bird were the last of the applique blocks and the end of the applique module.  At this point we've made a total of nine blocks that were purely applique, plus a few patchwork blocks for our Scandinavian-inspired sampler.  I'm looking forward to starting the precise piecing module in March.  It's nice that the applique blocks are so quick and adorable, but patchwork is still my first love!

Birdies for Penny Sampler

Here is Dilly Bird.  I used Freespirit Lavender for the background and Filigree by Anna Maria Horner in gray for her body.  I love how the shapes of this print suggest feathers and birdie markings.  Instead of the eye style suggested in the course, I opted for a tight cluster of French knots to form her eye.  Alone she seems kind of plain, but placed in her spot in the quilt layout, my Dilly Bird is a nice foil for the busier blues.

Birdies for Penny Sampler

Little Bird, I'm not so sure about.  The bold royal blue background may not fit in with my quilt palette after all.  Since I've already made the block, I'm going to keep it for now and just redo it later if another background color will improve the quilt.  That decision will be easier when I have more blocks completed!

Birdies for Penny Sampler

I do like how this version of the Filigree print forms Little Bird's body.  And, I also enjoy how my caramel embroidery formed the feet and head feathers.  I started making those accents in black, but they didn't show up well on royal blue.  Tracing alongside my black sketch stitch with the caramel embroidery fixed things!

Birdies for Penny Sampler

Here is a glance at the quilt as a whole, so far.  I think I may take things out of order and sew the block I am designating with the blue window dressing print next.  That block is part of the precise piecing module, but scheduled for April.  I think I need to skip ahead to it though, so I can make sure that print is going to work.  I'd hate to plan everything around it only to change my mind later!

Well that's all for now.  How about you?  I invite you to share some photos here of your Penny Sampler progress this month, wherever you are in the process!


Friday, February 17, 2017

Flowers, Vines & Forests {Penny Sampler}

This February in the 6-month Penny Sampler we are continuing to use applique techniques to make Scandinavian sampler blocks.  This week I made two sweet sunflowers, the little vine block and a spruce forest.  Come see!

Flowers & Forests {Penny Sampler}

First my 6" finished applique blocks.  Applique makes for such simple construction, even if pressing the little leaves on the vine block is a bit tedious.

Flowers & Forests {Penny Sampler}

A sampler friend reminded me that this would be a good chance to use my mini iron.  This little device found its way to me awhile back, and I don't think I've ever thought to use it.  But it's absolutely perfect for pressing little leaves!  I didn't get burned even once.  Nice!

Flowers & Forests {Penny Sampler}

Here's where my salmon pink sunflower fits into the sampler.  I love how it pops with those blues!  The lagoon window dressing print pinned up there is one I have set aside to use on a focal block that falls near the quilt's center.  Keeping it pinned up on the design wall helps me choose other fabrics in colors that mix well.

Flowers & Forests {Penny Sampler}

This week I also completed my spruce forest block.  It's one of the pieced (not appliqued) blocks assigned to February to mix things up.  I bravely used a Loominous II woven for the background on spruce forest.

Flowers & Forests {Penny Sampler}

Using a print rather than a solid could have majorly backfired, but I think it worked in this case.  I like that it softens the block so that the trees stand out a bit less.  I think that will help this block merge more gently with the rest of the quilt.  Soon we'll be making applique birds and some other special blocks that I'll want to have stand out from the rest.  I'm being mindful to save my bright and bold fabrics for those moments!

Flowers & Forests {Penny Sampler}

If you're sewing along too, how is your sampler coming?  Do you have a favorite block so far?


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Welcome, The Confident Stitch!

I love online shopping in general.  I'm a homebody and would much rather stay home, cozy and crafty, than run errands around town.  I do all of my fabric shopping online, but if I had a store local to me that stocked designer quilting cottons, you can bet I'd be a regular there too!

Well, those of you near Missoula, Montana are in luck because The Confident Stitch is both a brick and mortar store AND an online destination.  They carry quite a selection of fabrics, notions, books and patterns.  And that's not just quilting cottons!  They have tons of other substrates like canvas for making that tote, Japanese gauze for a dreamy scarf, silk for a fine blouse and so many, many knits of all kinds!

Plus, since it's a full-service store,  you can add the hardware and interfacings you need for your bags and apparel to your cart while you're at it.  They even carry batting, rulers and rotary cutters.

The Confident Stitch is a gathering spot for anyone who delights in the fine details of handcrafted garments and unique, modern quilting cottons.  Darn, I wish they were located in my town!

Here are some snapshots of their quilting cotton selection.  They have pages of Alison Glass:


A nice variety from Carolyn Friedlander:


Pretty prints by Cotton & Steel, plus their knits, rayons and such:


 Plenty of Anna Maria Horner, especially her Loominous wovens:


And many of my favorite Art Gallery prints:



Do you like to sew clothing?  Pop over to The Confident Stitch blog to find pages and pages of detailed pattern reviews.  When store employees sew items, they log information about sizing, pattern alterations, fabrics used and more.  What a great resource!  The latest entry discusses Bonnie's experience sewing this Ruffle Hem Top in organic soy knit. 

Thank you, Kate, for bringing The Confident Stitch to readers of Stitched in Color.  I'm excited to partner with you!  Likely I'll be visiting your shop again soon to get inspired about some spring apparel sewing for my big and little girls!

p.s.  They're stretching their Valentine's Day sale through Saturday!  25% off all quilting cottons!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sleeping Porch Dresdens

Do you like dresdens?  For so many years, I thought I didn't.

Dresden plates are a traditional block made with many wedges arranged in a circle.  Typically you sew wedges to make pointed, turned-under edges.  Then you join those wedges to form a circle, applique the dresden on a background and cover the center of the dresden plate with a smaller applique circle.

vintage quilts on aqua and on white

When you begin quilting you start looking at quilts in a new way, often thinking, "Do I want to make that?"  Usually the answer was "no" for me with dresden plate quilts.  But from time to time I'd see one that was different.  Exactly how, I wasn't sure...  In 2015 I first attempted to capture the kind of dresdens I favor via an Inspiration post.  Finally, two years later I'm making my first dresden quilt.  And, I'm finding my way to love them!

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It doesn't hurt that I'm starting with a gorgeous fabric collection: Sleeping Porch by Heather Ross.  The dreamy, lightweight lawn fabrics should yield an applique quilt that is still supple despite multiple layers. 

If you're sewing with Sleeping Porch, try a Microtex Sharp size 10 needle, which easily pierces the tighter weave, and avoid steam since they seem to distort easier than quilting cottons.  Also, I suggest you don't mix heavier weight quilting cottons in your lawn patchwork.  Best to keep all fabrics the same weight (lawn, voile, muslin, etc.) so that the seams will not fray.  I know by experience that mixed-weight quilts, while lovely, don't hold up well to family use.

Sleeping Porch is in stock now at Fat Quarter Shop, Bobbie Lou's Fabric Factory and Gotham Quilts.


Sleeping Porch dresdens

So, back to the dresdens!  First I found that I prefer dresdens with sixteen wedges rather than the more popular twenty.  The wedges are bigger this way.  Also I like a large circular center and even better if the center is the same fabric as the background.  This creates a dresden circle that seems to float on the background fabric.  I made three different dresdens over the last week to test my custom-designed template.  The green dresden was my first.  It has pointed edges and a slightly too-large center circle.  The pale peach dresden is my second.  It has curved edges, but not quite enough curve.  It's vaguely donut-like, right?

Sleeping Porch dresdens

Here is my third dresden.  Now the curve proportions and circle size are just right, and there is an ideal amount of contrast between my two dresden prints.  Yay!  Do you like?

Don't worry, I plan to use all of my dresdens.  I'm planning to have variety in the quilt with both curved and pointed-edge plates.  The more the merrier!

Sleeping Porch dresdens

At first I thought I'd consistently use the charcoal gray print or solid gray for my backgrounds, but now I am planning to use a variety of the darker Sleeping Porch prints.  This gray-purple moth print is dreamy with the pinks.  Also, I need more of the navy snails!

Sleeping Porch dresdens

For the center circles I'm actually using a reverse applique technique that's quick and saves fabric.  After going to all the trouble to develop the perfect (for me) dresden templates and figure out the reverse applique technique, I am considering creating a pattern.  Let me know if there is interest, OK?

Hmm... what do you think about a few multi-color, wild dresdens with lots of prints on the solid gray?  I can't quite decide if I want to go that way or keep things more dreamy and soft.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Three Things

{thing One}  Dirty Irons

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Do you have one?  I have two.  Well, I had two really dirty irons, and now I have two kinda dirty irons after scrubbing and scrubbing with baking soda and white vinegar.

_MG_9379sm

So, do you have any tricks for cleaning irons?  Even if it's some special iron-cleaning product that you swear by, I'm all ears.  I usually keep it simple with cleaning products, but this is a tricky one.

{thing Two}  Cloth Diapers

Did you know it's rather easy to put new elastic in bumGenius cloth diapers?  Yep.  True.  There are oodles of tutorials out there, but basically it just involves turning the diaper inside out and running new elastic through original casings.  Once I learned how, I found I could replace elastics in 5 minutes per diaper!

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I've been fixing Rora's cloth diapers, which weren't up to the task of staying snug on her wee baby thighs.  Our rainbow of cloth diapers are hand-me-downs from Eleni who must have worn them more often than I realized.  Look how much shorter the diapers are with refreshed elastic!

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So that's mundane, but super useful sewing.

{thing Three}  New Fabric!

Don't know about you, but I've been making eyes at the new fabric lines lately.  It seems like a bunch of awesome stuff is coming out all at once.  I subscribe to newsletters from several of my favorite fabric store sponsors, which alerted me to the new collections in advance.  With stunning self-control (wink), I narrowed it down to just two collections:  Sleeping Porch by Heather Ross from Windham Fabrics and Friedlander by Carolyn Friedlander from Robert Kaufman.

Sleeping Porch

Friedlander

They couldn't be more different!  Sleeping Porch wants to be a pretty, pretty dresden quilt and Friedlander is heading for ruler-free improv.  Both fabric stacks have recently arrived in the mail and begun vying for my attention. 

I may have narrowed it down to two collections, but with each I wanted the entire range.  They are both such complete winners, in my opinion.  I know I won't regret it!  First up, Sleeping Porch...

_MG_9384sm

Crossing fingers I'll be back after the weekend with lots to show!

Sleeping Porch is in stock now at Fat Quarter Shop, Bobbie Lou's Fabric Factory and Gotham Quilts

Friedlander is in stock now at Lark Cottons, Westwood Acres, Fat Quarter Shop, Gotham Quilts, Quilt Sandwich and Mad About Patchwork.

_MG_9426sm

Signing off with this precious little yawn...

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sewing Machines for Stitched Workshops!

Would you like to come sew with us at the improv piecing Stitched Workshop this spring, but you didn't want to attempt travel with your sewing machine?  Well, I have some great news!

spring has sprung here!

Thanks to my partnership with SewVacDirect.com, I now have six snazzy sewing machines to offer as rentals!!!  I have two Juki TL2010Q's and four Janome HD3000's.  These just happen to be the two very machines I've used and recommended at Stitched in Color, so I couldn't be happier to offer them to students!

FMQ Continuous Eight tutorial

The Juki TL2010Q is the sewing machine I use every day. In fact, one attendee has already laid claim to my own machine!  I won't be sewing during the workshop, of course, so I was happy to lend it out.   The Juki is a powerful home sewing machine ideal for quilters, with an 8.5" harp space, knee lift, automatic needle down and pedal-activated thread cutters, to name a few fantastic features.  If you're shopping for a sewing machine upgrade, I enthusiastically recommend the Juki!

review and giveaway

The Janome HD3000 is a machine I tested for an extended period in my home in 2013.  I wanted to be able to recommend an entry level sewing machine to someone new to our hobby or on a tighter budget.  Since the HD3000 is not computerized, it's built to last.  In 2014 one of my local friends bought the Janome HD3000 from Sew Vac Direct on my recommendation.  She's been sewing with it almost daily since then and is still pleased with her purchase. In fact, she thought it'd be a great model for my rental needs!

You can read my original descriptions of these two machines here:  Juki TL2010Q and Janome HD3000.  Both are available at Sew Vac Direct, who offers excellent mail-in warranty service and extended warranties too, if you'd like the extra reassurance of their ongoing support.

Design {Improv Handbook Score #2}

Our workshop will welcome eight students total, so six rental machines is almost enough for everyone.  If you're driving to the event, I encourage you to bring your own machine, if possible, so we have enough to go around.  The weekend rental fee is $30 for the Janome and $45 for the Juki.  First come, first served!  Register for the workshop, selecting your machine rental preference at the same time.

Need more details?  Here is the full Stitched Workshop: Improv Round Robin description.  We're still a small group, so here's hoping YOU will be joining us!


Monday, February 6, 2017

Scrap Challengers!

Happy Monday!  It feels like the start of a good week.  Baby slept through the night for the first time last Thursday night (yes, I'm still talking about it), and life is finally getting back to normal after the War on Mold.  Anyhoo, it's time to announce our 3 lucky, Canadian scrap challengers.

From top left:  Skipping Stones Eucalyptus in Silver (sold out), Sun Print End Paper in Goldenrod, Ticking Away in Charcoal, Raindrop Rain Walk in Bubblegum, Seventy Six Rising in Graphite, Andover Chambray in Eggplant, Add It Up in Sea Glass (sold out) and Kujira & Star Sea Urchin in Deep (sold out)

Thanks for sharing your ideas for our Mad About Patchwork Dreaming at Dusk bundle.  Soooo many good ideas, from clothing to runners.  Do remember that there's a fair bit of luck to which ideas get chosen.  As in, do I feel like pillows today?  Without further ado, our challengers are...

Adrienne of Chezzetcook Modern Quilts, who says "I am in the East Coast (NS) and am dreaming of a pattern. A pattern that brings traditional NS quilting and modern themes together. Modern Heritage?"


Judging by this mini quilt recently created for a swap, I can see that Adrienne has a knack for making modern.  Would love to see traditional Nova Scotia quilting merged with your modern aesthetic!

Laura, who declared, "I am game. I have a quilty idea for these fabrics. Some type of wall hanging with an amazing message!"  Laura is mom to a boy with special needs, who I will guess requires quite a large share of her time and energy.  I'm glad you're pursuing your creative side too, Laura.  Enjoy!  We are sure you do have an amazing message.

Christine aka SewCoole on Instagram.  Here latest capture proves she's a true Tula fan:



Christine commented, "Well these are stunning! I've always wanted to try my hand at making a sew-together bag... I think these fabrics would make one that is absolutely dreamy!"  That's a popular little bag, I've noticed.  Let's see yours happen!

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Now, if you're thinking, "she totally should have picked me", you're probably right!  I'll try to pick you next time.  A great big thanks to Mad About Patchwork for this fun challenge.  We'll totally do it again sometime!  (And, if the Dreaming at Dusk bundle had your name written all over it, snatch one up before they're gone!)

Have fun, challengers!  We can't wait to see what you cook up!!!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Wintermint Snowflakes baby quilt

Wintermint Snowflakes baby quilt

Our winter this year is rather fickle, with 70 degree sunny days alternating with 40 degree weather.  The south may be confused, but I'm pretty sure it's still winter.  Well, I'm making my own snow this year - minty, sparkly, patchwork snow!

Wintermint Snowflakes baby quilt

My Wintermint Snowflakes is a baby quilt about 40" square.  I thought it would be nice to try The Warm Company's new 100% cotton, low loft batting called 100 Warm.  It has the same feel as my staple batting, Warm & Natural.  In fact, they feel so similar that I'll be able to mix those batting scraps in my next quilt-as-you-go project.  Of course, the difference is that 100 Warm has no synthetic fibers for stabilization.  Instead it is the only batting I know of with a 100% cotton scrim.

Wintermint Snowflakes baby quilt

I chose to hand tie this quilt with thick, cream Aurifil thread.  There are 9 ties per block and 3 knots per tie, which figures to, let's see... 432 knots!  I wanted to tie the quilt to keep it soft and supple, but as an added benefit tying made the finishing process quite portable.  This week, while baby Rora was drifting off to sleep, I'd often be sitting just out of her eyesight, tying this quilt.

Wintermint Snowflakes baby quilt

And the finish!  Silver and gold snowflakes in a wintry mint sky.  This snowflake block design is one of many sweet blocks from The Penny Sampler.  Those sewing along with the sampler this year will find the snowflake in Section 2: Precise Piecing. 

Wintermint Snowflakes baby quilt

My mint fabrics include solids and text, snowflakes and herringbone most all from Fat Quarter Shop.  I have some leftover Netorioius in Cloud and Netorious in Goldilocks to glitz up some other project too.

Wintermint Snowflakes baby quilt

For the back I used a large piece of Jade Labyrinth by Anna Maria Horner and three scraps from the quilt top along the bottom.

Wintermint Snowflakes baby quilt

So the back sports snowflakes and rain drops too!  Bound in silvery Netorious and listed in my shop this evening.

It's such a treat to get to bring creative fantasies like this quilt to life.  Thank you for sharing this space with me and making such things possible!

xo,

Rachel


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