Do you remember my post about getting started on this bright bunny English Paper pieced (EPP) mug rug, my Sizzix Design Team debut? I’m sure you have your stack of basted pieces all ready to go, sitting at the edge of your seat patiently awaiting my finishing directions, right? Great! Either way, I’m excited to finally share the finishing directions today on the Sizzix blog.
This is a great project for those of you who want to do more hand stitching in the uber portable form of EPP, but who are not quite ready to hand baste and piece an entire quilt.
In this tutorial, I take you through:
stitching the basted pieces together;
savvily removing the template papers;
attaching the completed EPP to the background fabric;
removing excess fabric to help reduce bulk; and,
using the backing to bind the mug rug.
These are all great techniques for any EPP project.
One little forewarning: making a bright and bold mug rug like this one may draw extra attention to the plate of treats you rest on it. This most likely will result in extra sneaky small hands swiping your snacks.
As this crazy month of November winds down (already!?), I’m trying to get a bit organized with my sewing projects. I truly enjoy having a lot of projects going, and I’m excited about all of the different quilting adventures I’ve joined lately (mini mini quilt swaps, Sizzix Design Team, a small private swap, my first commissioned quilt, and the Farmer’s Wife Sew Along as an official blogger, among others I’m surely missing). But life happens, and when it does, it can certainly throw a wrench into best laid plans. Yesterday I decided it was time to reevaluate, make some lists, and wrap my head around a plan for creating with little stress.
Yesterday I plopped down on a quilt on our living room floor, pulled out my notebook, my Farmer’s Wife book, and my laptop directed to Angie’s block tutorials page, and made a list. Per my calculations, 21 blocks have been released and I’ve made 6. Oops. I guess I’m just a BIT behind. (Update while writing this post–another block was just released! Make that 22 blocks!)
I made myself a comprehensive list complete with a space to check off when a block has been released or made. I LOVE checking things off a list, so I am hoping this is just what I need to catch up a bit. I also put post-its on the pages of blocks that have been released so that when I have a free minute, I can easily flip to one, grab some fabric, and dive in. My mind is much more at rest knowing that everything is written down and ready to check off.
Now, for the fun update! Here are the blocks I’ve created so far.
I’ve decided on a photographing style, organized my notes, made a checklist of released vs finished blocks, bookmarked pages with blocks I need to make, and am reenergized and ready to do some catching up!
Online Sale – This is their big online sale for the holidays!
Take 15% off online starting Thanksgiving Day through Monday, November 30th. Please use the code “Thanks2015” to receive a 15% discount on your entire order (before shipping) anytime over those five days.
In-Store Sale – For those of you in the Belfast, Maine area, Fiddlehead Artisan Supply is also having in-store sales during this long holiday weekend, AND an early bird special sale day on Saturday December 5th. Check them out!
I began writing this post this past Sunday, but then caught the cold/fever/cough my kids have been kicking. So instead of finishing this post, sewing, or blogging, I’ve been sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping. And of course, making the most of the days with as much energy as I can muster. So pretend it is four days ago, and read on! The best laid plans, right?
Over the past two days, I’ve been driving from Maine to New Jersey with my three kiddos to surprise my mom (Grandma) for her birthday. I’m happy to report that the surprise was a complete success! My sister and brother who live in the area were planning on going to my parents’ house to cook dinner for her birthday, so the kids and I arrived at my sister’s house earlier in the day, then we all met up at the far end of the street before dinner, where I parked. My sister and brother walked in and Lucy said, “I invited a few more people over for your birthday; I hope that’s ok” and then Maddie and Max followed by Finn and I walked in. My mom says it was the best birthday surprise ever. Yay!
Since we will be visiting here for five days before beginning the trek back up to Maine, I packed a good number of hand sewing projects so that my hands (and sewing mind) can be kept busy during the week. I contemplated bringing my sewing machine, but since the entire point of this trip is to spend family time together, I didn’t want to feel at all tempted to duck off to sew in a separate room while here. Hand stitching projects are a solution since they can be pulled out anytime, anywhere, and still ensure that I won’t be left with any thumb twiddling with all of the extra eager playmates for my kids.
I thought it would be fun give you a peek at the variety of projects I brought to satiate my need to create daily.
English Paper Piecing (EPP) at various stages of completion
Embroidery & Hand Quilting
Visible mending supplies.. just in case
I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced’s WiP Wednesday, since it’s already Wednesday and these are still very much works in progress. C’est la vie! Good night!
Welcome to my stop on the Wanderlust Quilts blog hop! Here I’ll tell you a bit about Amanda Leins (Mandy’s) new book Wanderlust Quilts, invite you to venture into the woods with me after drawing inspiration from the book, and then tell you how you can win your very own copy of this invaluable book.
When I was first sent a review copy of Wanderlust Quilts, my initial reaction was Wow! I love how her quilt designs break all the rules! When I mentioned this to Mandy, she replied, “It’s good to know all of the rules so that you know which ones you can break”. I love how Mandy truly draws inspiration from the world around her, specifically classic art and architecture, unbridled by labels or quilt police. She doesn’t confine her quilts to the limits of a rectangle while still employing skillfully precise quilting techniques, and she spells it out so that we can utilize the techniques, too.
One of my favorite aspects of Wanderlust Quilts is that Mandy includes photos of her sources of inspiration, so that we can see how each inspiration photo is translated into a quilt. A cobblestone path in Europe becomes a baby quilt, “the beginning of the road for some little person.”
In Wanderlust Quilts, Mandy not only invites us to travel to our favorite places, stretch our imaginations, squint our eyes a bit, and see the world as a quilt, but she also gives us the technical tools and skills necessary to fine tune our visions and make them a reality. Included in the book are clear instructions and tips on turning your photos or sketches into a quilt, both improv and precision piecing, sewing Y-seams, sewing curves, and more. Wanderlust Quilts is a great resource for inspiration and technique, which makes it one book that I would happily add to my library.
C&T Publishing is generously offering a copy of Wanderlust Quilts to a reader at every stop along the blog tour. Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win your very own hard copy. If you can’t wait, Mandy is selling autographed copies in her store here.
But first, travel into the woods with me for a moment. When Mandy invited me to be a part of her Wanderlust Quilts blog hop, she suggested that I choose a place or thing that is inspiring to me and talk about what techniques I might employ to make a quilt based on that spot. With a background of environmental science and an innate love of nature, I immediately knew that I had to shrink the book to smaller than a dime and take it down to the forest floor.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed in my weekly color inspiration posts, I love to get really close to nature, since changing your perspective can open up an entirely new world of beauty. I took this photo over a decade ago, in gorgeous Sussex County, New Jersey. To this day, it inspires me.
Thinking about the process I would take to turn this photo into a quilt was not enough; I had to jump right in, newly inspired by Mandy’s ten unique and fabulous patterns in her book. Wanderlust Quilts not only inspired me to give improv a go, but it also inspired me to sew with brown fabric (what!?). Above is my first attempt at creating a quilt inspired by the minuscule mushrooms that unfurl from the leafy loam during particularly wet mornings.
As is my style, I let excitement drive me and I dove into piecing improv half circles without consulting Mandy’s book. After seeing that my first try was less than perfect, I realized that this book full of techniques and tips was available right at my fingertips. Slow down, inspiration; sometimes reading and studying a technique before jumping in is key.
After flipping through the many techniques offered in Wanderlust Quilts, I decided to put my wonky mushroom tops aside and try the freezer paper method clearly outlined by Mandy. I didn’t have time to complete the experimental quilt before the hop, but I’m excited to put the masterful techniques Mandy includes in her book to good use in making this favorite photograph into a quilt. I’ll be sure to show you my finished work of art upon completion.
Wanderlust Quilts Giveaway
As I mentioned above, C&T Publishing is generously offering a hard copy of Wanderlust Quilts to a lucky reader at every stop along the blog tour. You can enter by leaving two comments:
What location most inspires you?
If you follow me, Night Quilter, let me know how–or visit my right sidebar to follow me if you don’t already, then tell me how! (e-mail, WordPress, Bloglovin’, Instagram, Twitter, Craftsy)
The giveaway will be open until Sunday, November 15th, 12noon EST. I will select one winner randomly from the comments below. Good luck!Note: This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations, Sandra!
Once you enter, be sure to check out the other great stops along the tour to see where else in the world has been visited by Wanderlust Quilts:
Five months; five blocks. Finn very nearly grew faster than his quilt this month, but I managed to sew up his five month block during his nap yesterday, and we had a fun photo shoot as soon as he awoke. Thank goodness for #sewtake20! For those of you new here, I’m making a milestone quilt for my infant son, one 12 1/2″ block per month for one year of his life. You can see the layout I’ve decided upon here, and I’ve created a separate page collecting the photos and posts from each month here (or you can click the tab at the top of this page that says “Milestone Quilt”).
Finn and his quilt are quickly outgrowing the background I’ve been using for photographs, so I may need to get creative in the coming months! For now, we had a typically smiley photo shoot.
In the past week, Finn has discovered that he can actually move across the ground by running his legs like mad and inching like an inchworm. Boy does he put his heart into it, too! It’s so fun to see his intent face and his one leg kicking up like a donkey. He still is a happy, easy going, smiley boy and talks up a storm to anyone who will maintain eye contact with him.
Finn has also discovered his hands and feet, so he’s slowly working on his yoga poses, starting of course with “happy baby”. He’s mastering the reach and grab, and everything goes straight to his mouth.
This month was the first month where Finn noticed the quilt blocks next to him, so he’s already begun to break in his quilt with baby drool and tough love. Reach. Grab. Mouth. Mmmm!
Next month I vow to make his block before the 5th, but in the meantime I’ll continue to love on this boy every single day. I am enjoying these immobile days as much as I can, since it won’t be long before this guy is cruising around the house!
Yesterday was one of those gorgeously warm days that pop up amidst the weeks of solid autumn chill. The kids and I took advantage and spent as much time outside as we could. It was a much needed reminder of how rejuvenating time outside is for everyone; I think the entire afternoon and evening went by without a single bicker, request for a movie, or beg for Halloween candy. That’s the way I like it. Today’s color inspiration comes from some photos taken during our outside play. These are colors of the season, muted and earthy. Color palettes are created using Play Crafts’ Palette Builder 2.1 and my photos.
Corresponding solids from left to right: Bella Graphite, Kona Ash, Kona Celadon, Bella Chocolate, Kona Hibiscus, Bella Paper Bag
Corresponding Aurifil thread from left to right: 2625 – Arctic Ice
2600 – Dove 2850 – Med Juniper 1140 – Bark 2465 – V Dk Brown 2335 – Lt Cinnamon
Remember those vibrant and colorful zinnias that brightened our yard not so long ago and made cheery color palettes here? Well here they are now, in all of their back to the earth autumnal glory. This palette embraces the earth tones that I enjoy so much while out in the world, but very rarely include in my quilts.
Corresponding solids from left to right: Bella Grape, Bella Etchings Slate, Bella Baby Blue, Kona Blue, Kona White, Kona Titanium
Corresponding Aurifil thread from left to right: 1158 – Med Grey
2625 – Arctic Ice
5008 – Sugar Paper
2710 – Lt Robins Egg
2024 – White
2612 – Arctic Sky
Ahhh, the season of seed dispersal! The way different plants attempt to champion the continuation and widespread of their species never ceases to amaze me. From burdock seed pods that stick your clothes and refuse to be removed, to the delicate and beautiful milkweed seeds that blow gently in the wind. Want to have a fun afternoon with your kids? Set them free in a field of milkweed that has gone to seed. Here are some more glimpses into our afternoon of exploration and seed dispersal.
Do you ever meet someone and know immediately that you will be fast friends? Stephanie from Late Night Quilter is one such person; I truly feel like we are sewing soul sisters despite our proximity across the country. She’s the mom of 4 little ones; I’m the mom of 3. We both love quilting and designing and try to juggle our busy lives to find balance with family, other obligations, and of course, creating. We both began blogging mere months apart, and named our blogs essentially the same name! While we’ve only spent time together in person once, we talk daily thanks to the convenience of Facebook messenger and texting. I’m not exaggerating when I say she’s my rock.
A few months ago, my daily conversation with Stephanie began the way so many do: “Hey! So I have this idea…” Since that paramount conversation, I have been privileged to be part of Stephanie’s sounding board along her path as she researched, designed, redesigned, adjusted, and tweaked a true labor of love, all in the name of helping busy quilters like us find a bit more order, organization, and help in planning a balanced life. Today I’m excited to tell you all about this labor of love, which has now been released into the wild in the hopes that it flies.
The Quilter’s Planner is 8″ x 11″, made in the USA, and includes everything you need to organize your life, plan and track your sewing projects and be inspired to create something beautiful every day! Here are some more peeks at some of what’s included in the planner, but you can see so much more HERE. I also suggest you watch the video Stephanie made about it. (Get your tissues handy–I totally cried!–then again, maybe I’m just sappy)
Not only is the Quilter’s Planner a labor of love created by Stephanie while supported by her BQF (best quilty friends) and family, but it’s also a melding of the quilting community unlike any other. Stephanie has been working with the quilting community throughout the entire process; everything from asking what features should be included in the planner to actually including 52 original quilt block designs from awesome quilt bloggers AND 8 full quilt patterns from amazing designers (Cheryl Brickey (Meadowmist Designs), Yvonne Fuchs (Quilting Jetgirl), Amy Garro (13 Spools), Lee Heinrich (Freshly Pieced), Mandy Leins (Mandalei Quilts), Pat Sloan (Pat Sloan), me! (Night Quilter) and Stephanie herself (Late Night Quilter). She also worked with another quilt blogger friend, talented artist and designer Kelsey Boes from Lovely and Enough, to include gorgeous and inspiring artwork pullouts. Yes, you read that correctly–the planner also includes a whole bunch of patterns to help inspire you to create something beautiful every. single. day. It is a real passion project of Stephanie’s and she feels strongly about making it a community-based project including lots of people’s work who want to share their creativity with others. What’s not to love?
I invite you to visit the Indigogo Campaign to read more about this planner and all it has to offer. If you’re like me and can’t wait to have a one-stop-spot for all of your day to day appointments, obligations, AND quilty project goals and to-do lists (not to mention ample space to sketch new ideas and record inspiration), you can preorder yours now, too. There’s even a 95% guarantee that you’ll get it before Christmas. (hello, Santa!)
I do want to note that this post is purely my desire to share a heart-filled, community-based project that I’ve been honored enough to see grow from infancy into near-adulthood. I have already ordered my own planner and would not let Stephanie gift one to me. I share this project because I believe in it, and I honestly think that many of you probably will love it, too! I am very much looking forward to getting organized in 2016! So much love for Stephanie and all of her hard work that has gone into making this planner a reality, all for the sake of helping her fellow busy quilters find a bit more balance and organization in life.
You can see my quilts in both the Large Quilts and ROYGBIV categories. I had a bit of silly fun trying to get a photo of my large quilt entry, Unlocked, next to the mini mini Modern Hexies quilt, my ROYGBIV entry. My son Max was excited to help out like Daddy, but is also a super silly three year old.
I managed to get a few photos before he ran off flapping the mini mini like a wing, flying over the muddy driveway, as I panicked and thought, “What was I thinking!?”. Fortunately, no quilts were harmed or dirtied during this photo shoot, and calm was somehow maintained.
You can read more about each of these quilts in my entry posts:
This mini mini quilt makes me giggle. The English paper pieced hexies are 1/4″ each, and were hot-iron-basted in lieu of thread or glue due to their size. I then carefully removed the cardstock templates and followed this awesome tutorial by Nicole at Modern Handcraft to attach the hexies to the mini mini quilt, which finishes at 4 1/2″ square (18″ around–it would easily fit into the mini quilts category, too!).
I love how teeny tiny the hexagons are, and how well the diagonal quilting worked despite slight wonkiness due to their teeny size. I quilted with 50wt Aurifil thread in 2600-Dove, using the walking foot on my Bernina 560.
A single-fold binding with my favorite neutral from Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics line finished this quilt in a subtle way, letting the rainbow hexagons be the stars. I really love this mini mini quilt and had such a fun time shrinking the pattern as much as my adult fingers could manage.
The toothpick for scale in this process photo helps you see exactly how tiny these hexagons are!
Just one more peek with a US quarter after quilting. Such cute little hexies!
Halloween is a fun time of year around our house, since my kiddos love to dress up in costumes from years past all year ’round, and the end of October means NEW costumes and candy! While I’m not really big into decorating the house for holidays (with the exception of Christmas and Easter–how can you resist those?), I do like making holiday crafts with the kids to help build excitement.
Today I’m going to share a quick tutorial for some spooktacularly sturdy beanbags, a perfect addition to a Halloween party but also a great addition to any child’s toybox. I should note, too, that beanbags are my go-to gift for two year old birthday parties. When a child turns two, I’ve found it’s really fabulous to have something you’re SUPPOSED to throw. Beanbags are such a versatile gift since they can be personalized in any way; you can change the shape, change the fabric, or personalize with applique letters or pictures. I’ve included affiliate links in this post so that if you decide to buy any of the tools I’m using, I will receive a small commission, too. I only share tools and products I love, so you can be sure they are tried, tested, and loved!
I figured since it’s nearly Halloween, it was the perfect time to use my Cotton + Steel Spellbound Collaboration charm pack that I bought from Fat Quarter Shop. The 5″ circle die worked perfectly with the charm squares, which made my job even easier! I used my go-to thread, 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove for all sewing.
Choosing four pairs of coordinating charm squares, cut eight (8) 5″ circles, layering your Sizzix sandwich: bottom cutting pad, die with the blades facing up, fabric centered over the circle blade, and top cutting pad. All necessary circles for this project can be cut with one pass through the fabi, which made this a really quick project to make with my kids.
Next, pin your pairs of fabric right sides facing. I used only four pins, two of which marked a 2″ opening. With a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the circles together, leaving 2″ open for turning and filling. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam.
Turn beanbags right side out through the 2″ opening. Gently slide your finger along the seam from the inside to make sure the circle is fully turned. Press with a hot iron. Turn in the seam allowance around the opening and press, too, since that will make sewing the beanbags together much smoother once they are filled with dried beans. Since it’s a curve, this step is a little tricky (or at least it was a little tricky for me). Just remember what you’re making: these are going to be tossed and thrown and loved, and perfection is overrated!
Now comes the fun part! Grab some small dried beans (I used dried black beans), a funnel and/or spoon, and a couple of eager helpers.
Fill the beanbags with dried beans, leaving at least an inch of empty space at the top. Trust me here; the beanbags will seem too empty, but while you are sewing them shut and top-stitching, you will want that extra wiggle room.
We found that a combination of funnel, spoon, and simple “use your hands to put the beans in” worked well for us.
Either pin or clip the tops once the beanbags are filled (remember to leave that good inch or inch and a half of empty space in the top). This will both remind you that the beanbag is “finished filling”, and remind your kiddos not to cram any more beans into it. (We definitely took as many beans out of the beanbags as we put it. All part of the fun, right!?)
Depending on the size of your helpers, this may be a messy activity. Plan accordingly, or embrace the chaos.
Once all of your beanbags are sufficiently filled, head back to the sewing machine and topstitch about 1/8″ inch from the edge of the beanbag, beginning by sewing the opening closed. This extra round of sewing will securely close the opening, and will also provide extra durability for the entire beanbag. I made some beanbags for my nearly-six year old when she turned two, and they are still going strong in our playroom.
I used my zipper foot to sew these beanbags closed, and sewed most of them with the needle between the foot and the beanbag (shown in the top photo above). It proved more finicky than I remembered, so with the final beanbag, I moved the needle so that the foot was between the needle and the beanbag (shown in the photo above). This worked much more smoothly for me. As you sew around the edges of the beanbag, stop every couple inches with the needle down to reposition the beans, pushing them away from the part of the beanbag you are about to sew. Sew all the way around each beanbag.
Now you have a handful of spooktacular sturdy beanbags and you’re ready for fun! Toss them at pumpkins, into trick-or-treat buckets, or at each other (avoid faces!). Have fun!
I grab a needle and thread once the kids are in bed