Sew Alongs and Bees: Community Sewing Across the Miles

After a longer than intended lull in blogging, I’m back and eager to share my reflections, process, and creative adventures with you! I’ve said it before, but beginning is the hardest step. I got stuck in a cycle of the longer I waited, the harder it was to simply jump back into blogging. Today, that ends. What better place to begin than with community and some of the fun sew alongs and bees taking place this year, as well as my grand plan for stress-free participation in them!? Soon I will share my goals, focus, and “one word” for 2017, as well as some of the other fun projects on which I’ve been working. For now, hello!! It’s great to be back, and I’m excited to share inspiration and creativity with you again!

The online quilting community is known for its welcoming vibe and almost endless opportunities to sew together virtually if not in person. There are so many fun Sew Alongs and Quilt Bees happening at any given moment across the quilting community, it’s often hard to decide which ones to join and which ones to pass on. I’ve joined a few Sew Alongs in the past, typically the block-at-a-time style–specifically the Farmer’s Wife led by Angie at Gnome Angel, #100days100blocks also lead by Angie on Instagram, and the Quilter’s Planner 2016 Scrappy Picnic Plaid Sew Along led by yours truly on Instagram. I had a lovely time participating (and still participating) in them, but found that I often cannot keep up with the pace because of other obligations. For 2017, I think I’ve come up with a plan to address that and turn it into creative opportunity!

First, here are the Sew Alongs and Bees I’m currently committed to participating in:

52 weeks with the quilters planner gnome angel sew along52 Weeks with the Quilter’s Planner

by Angie of Gnome Angel
#52weekswiththequiltersplanner

Hosted by the Sew Along Queen, Angie from Gnome Angel, this sew along is a given for me! Using the block instructions on each weekly spread in the 2017 Quilter’s Planner, Angie’s leading this sew along to encourage and support you to make each block each week. Visit her page HERE to read all the details, as well as to see how you can join. This is a great sew along for those looking to get into a regular sewing habit. Plus, it’s a chance to use your Quilter’s Planner to its fullest!

the honey pot bee molli sparkles 2017The Honey Pot Bee

by Molli Sparkes
#thehoneypotbee

Molli is hosting a quilting bee that breaks all the rules–as he says, you get none of the sting, and all of the sticky goodness! I love the relaxed mentality about this bee, and it’s a little extra exciting since I’m one of the Queen Bees for April! Here are the details, straight from Molli’s announcement post:

Each month there are two queens (and/or kings, but for the sake of brevity will be called queens) who decide on The Honey Pot Bee block patterns. Each queen picks one, I announce them to the world, then each participating member (Princesses and Princes) can choose to make one of each or two of the same. Each member then keeps the blocks for themselves.

This is less of a block swap, and more of a way to find amazing block tutorials / patterns they never knew they wanted to try from other amazingly talented people. Some of the blocks will be original patterns from the queens, some will be existing tutorials from world class quilters. That will be up to the queens to choose.

The benefits for Participant Princesses and Princes:
They get to use their own fabric that they’ve been stashing
They improve and stretch their own skills
They work to their own timeline
There is no pressure
No one is disappointed if they’re late
They act as their own quality control
They meet a group of like-minded, inspiring individuals
They see the varying potential of each block
Participating with me

I love this idea since I really don’t *need* another project, but I do love the community that is built around quilt bees and sew alongs. I love that Molli encourages you to make only the blocks you love, and that there are two unique options each month. Once I came up with my 2017 grand plan (more on that below), this one definitely needed to be added to the pot! Get all the details HERE.

garden snail quilt
Photo credit: Pen and Paper Patterns

Garden Snail Quilt Snail Paced Slow-Along Sew-Along

by Angie of Gnome Angel
#snailday #gardensnailsquilt

This is another fun weekly sew along hosted by Angie, using Pen and Paper Pattern’s Garden Snail Quilt. I think these snails are super cute, so I am joining in the fun, but plan to make only a few snails to add to the mix of the rest of my blocks. The gist of this Sew Along is easy… you simply make one block each week and post it on social media of your choice on Snail Sundays. You can find all the details HERE.

So now… for my Grand Plan that makes all of this not only manageable, but also fun!

My Grand Plan

Ready? I plan to participate in all of these sew alongs and bees, but with NO pressure. I am not playing along for the prizes. I’m playing along for the community and the recurring “deadline” to make a block and share it. I plan to use the same fabric pull and color scheme for all three of these bees/sew alongs, and combine all of the blocks together at the end of the year into a (hopefully) queen sized quilt for our bed. This way, I can make the blocks I really love, whenever I have the time to make the block, and I won’t need to stress when either life obligations kick it up a notch, or I have another project that needs my attention. As they say in hashtag land, #winning!

greenery color palette sew alongs 2017I’ll write more about this in another post, but I plan to use a color palette based upon the Pantone color of the year for 2017: Greenery. While green is not a color I’ve sewn with in large quantities before, it speaks to me on many different levels–from the freshness of the color, the vibrant hope that comes from new life in the spring, to the rich green that abounds in the environment around me–which as you know, I love dearly–, to the simple challenge of making a quilt with no final assembly pattern, and no guidelines except color. I’m both invigorated and scared at this plan, but as is my style, I’m jumping in with abandon, holding onto the hope that I can pull it all together into something epically beautiful (or at least tolerably pretty) at the end of the year.

For those of you who excel at fun and clever naming, I am trying to decide on a name for this greenery quilt project and am open to any suggestions or ideas! I want to select a name for this quilt so that I can tag all of my progress together across the bees/sew alongs, but “Kitty’s Greenery Quilt” sounds a bit flat. Maybe Night Quilter Hugs Trees and Bees? LOL #NQhugstreesandbeesquilt Uhm….

I’m looking forward to sharing my progress here, and thank you as always for following along with me on my creative journey, during waves of profuse creativity as well as lulls of relative quiet. I hope 2017 is off to a great start, and I’m looking forward to creating with a hopeful heart this year.

I’ll link up with Lorna’s Let’s Bee Social tomorrow, since I’m ready to jump back in!

 

My Best of 2016

Ahhh, the time of year when busy is an understatement, yet still the desire to stop and reflect over the past year–perhaps in the twinkle of some Christmas lights with a hot mug of something sweet–is strong. The phase of feeling more stressed than blessed has passed, the excitement of Christmas Eve and morning has calmed, and now I’m enjoying the holidays in a relaxed, family-filled, grateful way. What better time to do some reflection?

best of 2016 meadow mist designsOnce again, Cheryl from Meadow Mist Designs is hosting her “Best of” linky party, inviting bloggers to share their five best posts from 2016, so I thought it was a perfect time to take a look at the statistics and reflect on the highlights of the past year here on Night Quilter. I’ve put together five of Night Quilter’s “bests” for the past year (plus one personal added bonus), and I invite you to reminisce along with me.

Most Viewed Blog Post

5 steps to sewing perfect curves tutorial nightquilterWithout a new baby announcement like last year, this year’s most viewed post was the tutorial on how to sew perfect curves. I’m especially excited about this one, since one of my goals for 2016 was to tackle curves, and I feel like I made great progress in that category. I love this method as much as you do, and I’m so glad I could share this with so many of you!

Most Viewed Non-Tutorial Blog Post

alison glass quilters planner coverSince my most viewed post from 2016 was a tutorial, I decided to also share my most viewed non-tutorial post. In Planning a Colorful Year, I shared the Riot of Color planner cover design I made for the Quilter’s Planner (which is still available for free, here–and fit’s the 2017 Quilter’s Planner! if you haven’t gotten yours yet, I highly recommend getting one here–this planner is life changing!), as well as a giveaway for a planner. It’s hard to say whether the gorgeous melding of Alison Glass fabrics with Essex linen is what drew the most attention, or if it was the chance to win a most coveted planner, but I am proud of this post all the same and I’m glad you liked it, too.

Most Viewed Blog Post
(not including Tutorials or Giveaways)

one hour basketIf you take all tutorials and giveaways out of the running, the one hour basket (that took me six hours to make!) was the most viewed. This was such a fun make, once again featuring my favorite Alison Glass fabrics paired with Robert Kaufman’s Essex linen, but also is a favorite since I made this basket while attending a class with quilty friend Sarah from Berry Barn Designs at one of my fabulous quasi-local quilt store, Alewives Fabrics.

Most Exciting New Endeavor

2016 was a big year of new endeavors for me, so this category requires a tie:

Yvonne Fuchs quilt in Quilters Planner 2017
Quilt by Yvonne Fuchs, included in the Quilter’s Planner 2017

I kicked off my quilt photography business venture by doing all of the photography for the 2017 Quilter’s Planner, photographing 14 quilts and quilted projects in gorgeous natural locations along the coast of Maine. The photo above features Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl’s lovely Starlight Crystals quilt, photographed along the coast in Acadia. Quilt photography combines three of my loves: quilting, photography, and the beauty of nature, so I’m so excited to be offering it to anyone seeking to get epic quilt photos for publication or just for fun.

quilt theoryocean path quilt white brick quilt theoryI was also one of seven quilt designers to launch Quilt Theory, kicking off with my premier pattern Ocean Path. With the enthusiasm and drive of fearless leader Michelle Bartholomew, we are working on our second round of patterns and are constantly expanding the reach of the Quilt Theory pattern cards. You can find much more information and the full line of available patterns here.

2016 Best Nine on Instagram

Instagram best 9 2016 minus repostsSince I love Instagram so, I would be remiss if I did not share my top viewed posts there as well. This collection is a fun one, including lots of posts about my stress-free stitch-wherever-the-wind-blows embroidery hoop, a fun Alison Glass table runner I don’t think I’ve shared here yet, a progress shot of my Eye Spy Picnic Plaid quilt, a progress shot of all of my thrifted City Sampler blocks, the free Safe with Me pattern I made in an attempt to spread positivity and support for those who need it, and a glimpse of one of my favorite quilt photos for the Quilter’s Planner, the epic sailboat shot of Cheryl Brickey’s Canvas Lines Quilt.

Favorite Project

finn milestone quilt 18 monthsTechnically this is my sixth category, but I can’t let my highlights pass without remembering the completion of the Milestone Quilt Blocks for my son Finnian. While the project didn’t make my top viewed posts for 2016, it is still the project that filled my heart the most. My little babe is now 18 months old, walking, talking, signing, dancing, jumping, exploring, and smiling his days away. His quilt top is together, and I hope to get the quilt layered, basted, quilted and bound early next year. There’s something about making a quilt for your child, marking his progress and growth with a bit of stitching, that really takes quilting to a new level. I’m so grateful that my silly husband made the crazy suggestion (fully in jest) on the day our third child turned 1 month old that I should make a quilt block each month for a photo shoot, since without that little laugh-filled exchange, this project would have never come to be.

2016 was a big year, with many new endeavors and a seemingly endless list of fun projects and adventures. I’m still working on the fine art of saying no and understanding my own limitations, since I really truly want to do it all. I’m a maker through and through. I’m hoping to keep 2017 fairly low key, focusing on finishing projects I’ve already begun, and participating in a few sew alongs with a relaxed mentality. Then again, I have some big goals I’d like to pursue, so we’ll see when and if those kick it all up a notch. I’ll write more about that in a future post, since after reflection comes planning and goal setting. I’m so glad I have my Quilter’s Planner for that!

Thank you, as always, for following along with me here, sharing in my inspiration and project progress, and creating the community I hold so dear. I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful holiday season and look forward to a colorful, productive, and FUN 2017.

Stitched Embroidery Hoop Finish

The finish I’m sharing today measures only 4″ across, but probably took more hours of work and provided more peaceful moments than most of my other projects. I’m relatively new to embroidery, with really only my Dropcloth Color Wheel sampler and the embroidery stitching I did on a mini quilt a while back as projects under my belt, but when Alison Glass sent me some of her Stitched fabric, part of her new Seventy Six fabric line for Andover Fabrics, it begged to be… well, stitched.

AG Stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wtI’m so happy I obliged, because I just love this little hoop!

nightquilter instagram embroidery beginning
Here’s my Instagram post from the wee beginnings of this hoop, about 12 weeks ago.

When the Stitched fabric arrived, I had just completed my Ocean Path quilt for our big Quilt Theory debut, and I was in the final push stage of finishing a quilt that will be in the February issue of Love, Patchwork and Quilting magazine, so picking up a small, no pressure, no purpose, no pattern hoop of Stitched and my 12wt Aurifil thread stash was the perfect brain palate cleanser.

embroidery back
Here’s the back of my finished hoop—see! I am totes a novice! I think this looks fun, though, crazy as ever!

This was back in September, according to my good ole’ Instagram feed, and since that time, ending just a couple of days ago, I’ve picked this little hoop up for 1-20 minute intervals (and 20 minutes might be leaning on the long end) every here and there: a quiet moment when the kids were all playing nicely together, a few seconds here while having a minute lax time while cooking dinner, or just because I needed to MAKE and had not yet had a chance that particular day.

AG stitched embroidery aurifil 12wtI stitched whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted, and tried many different stitches.

AG stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wtI used Aurifil 12wt thread from my stash, in colors (left to right from photo above): 2530-Blossom Pink, 2435-Peachy Pink, mystery orange–the only Aurifil tag that has ever fallen off a spool!, 2120-Canary, 1147-Light Leaf Green, 2884-Green Yellow, 5005-Medium Turquoise, 2540-Medium Lavender, and 2515-Light Orchid. I used a single strand for all except the turquoise x’s, for which I use two strands. If I were to do it again, I would probably stick with a single strand since I love the crisp aesthetic that results.

AG stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wt french knotsToward the end, I went a little crazy with french knots, but I do love them so and they make a great “filler” around the edges.

AG stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wtSince the pattern is printed on the fabric, there was no actual end, so it was up to me to decide how close to the edges to stitch. At first I thought I’d leave a bit open, but I just couldn’t stop stitching. As it is, most stitches extend to the absolute edge of the hoop. I kind of love it.

finishing embroidery hoop wool feltI finished it using the methods (minus the plan-ahead phase, since I didn’t plan ahead lol) shared in this tutorial on Sew Mama Sew.  I stitched the running stitch around the excess fabric, pulled it tight, knotted and tied it, then trimmed off the extra fabric. Next I cut a 4″ wool felt circle using my Sizzix machine and stitched it onto the back with coordinating 12wt Aurifil thread and a blanket stitch. I’m quite happy with the finish, and definitely plan to make more. In fact, I very well might aim to always have a  free-form brain palate cleanser embroidery hoop laying around, since it really worked wonders for helping me get back into a better mental place during especially hectic, crazy kid, too many (mostly self-imposed) expectations-filled days. Making works magic, doesn’t it?

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, and then sending this hoop off to a friend!

Finn’s Milestone Quilt Flimsy Finish

It’s about time! Six months after finishing the last block, I finally squared up and assembled Finn’s Milestone Quilt top! For those of you new to this project, I made a quilt to document my third child’s first year–one block per month for one year of his life. I finished the blocks at his first birthday, and until just this past week, they have sat quietly reflecting on what a year it had been. You can see all of the blocks taken with monthly photos of growing Finn HERE.

finn's milestone quilt flimsy I finished this quilt top two days before Finn’s 18 month milestone, which was the mental deadline I gave myself, so I guess that’s what I get for giving myself such a far-off deadline! But life with kids is busy, this summer was a whirlwind of new endeavors and family adventures, and it, like so many other projects, got tucked away out of sight and out of mind. I’m glad to have it out, quilt top together, and ready for basting and quilting. I won’t count on a Christmas finish since I have two other projects I also want to finish and Finn truly won’t mind waiting a bit longer, but I can hope.

finn 18 monthsSo, Finn! He is as wonderful and cheerful as ever, growing into such a bright soul of a little boy. In these photos he’s wearing a shirt gifted to him at birth by Nancy, one of my quilty friends met through conversations over blog posts–thank you, Nancy!

finn's milestone quilt flimsyI really wanted to get some photos of Finn wrapped up in his quilt, but he wouldn’t have it. When I tried, he enthusiastically shook his head no and ran off. When I flopped the quilt to the ground, he at first picked it up and looked at me as if to say, “What are you doing, Mama? This doesn’t belong in a pile on the ground!” Even still, this post is full of photos. I know you wouldn’t want it any other way!

finn 18 monthsWhen I asked Finn to put his quilt on his head, he ran off to jump on the trampoline instead, impishly grinning at me the whole way. He loves to jump, loves to run around with his older siblings, playing chase or attempting hide and seek. He loves “shooing” the chickens and exploring the natural world. Finn is so independent, and will often focus on a project (shaking a toy around in a bowl, or putting something in and out of an empty bottle, for example) for quite a while. If you will play with him, Finn would throw and catch a ball for hours.

finn 18 monthsHe’s so much fun to watch, constantly learning and exploring the world. Finn is starting to talk a bit more, but still primarily communicates with “Daaa” and pointing. His signing is just now starting to take off, which is fantastic since we’ve recently discovered that he has hearing loss, same as his older siblings (and same as me, his mommy, although mine started much later in life).

finn's milestone quilt flimsyI was finally able to lure him back to his quilt with a block tower. Finn loves to stack blocks and then knock them over! I love to play the game of seeing how tall I can make a tower before he decides it’s smash time. Unlike his big brother who excels in demo, Finn likes to help build just as much as break down the towers.

finn's milestone quilt flimsyfinn's milestone quilt flimsyOnce I spread the quilt out on the floor, Finn was all about it. I was able to get some fun photos of him playing with blocks on his quilt with fun little upward grins when he discovered that I was standing on a chair photographing from above.finn's milestone quilt flimsyfinn's milestone quilt flimsySuch a sweet boy!

finn milestone quilt 18 monthsThen of course, as soon as I was off the chair, he wanted to carry it around and climb up on it, too.

finn milestone quilt 18 monthsfinn milestone quilt 18 monthsHe loves flexing those muscles of his, and boy does he learn fast!

A little more about the quilt. I ended up switching around some blocks to get a better aesthetic balance. Since the quilt design developed as I went, I didn’t necessarily make the blocks in any order, so this rearrangement was pretty easy to accept. Sure, the final layout is different than the ones that appear in the progress posts, but that’s okay with me.

victory lap around the edge of quiltAfter I sewed all of the milestone quilt blocks together, I did a “victory lap” of stitches around the entire perimeter of the quilt, about 1/8″ from the edge. I saw Christa Watson of Christa Quilts encourage people to do this after finishing a quilt top, and figured it’s a great idea for holding everything together, especially when a photo shoot with a toddler is imminent.

victory lap around perimeter of quiltAlthough Finn didn’t drag the quilt around as much as I thought he might, the victory lap was definitely worth the extra time it took to stitch!

finn's milestone quilt flimsy finish 18 monthsNow all I need to do is get this layered, basted, quilted, and bound. No biggie, right? I think I’m going to use an all over boxy meander free motion quilting motif with my favorite neutral, Aurifil 2600-Dove in an attempt to keep it simple. I’m looking forward to getting this quilt into the circulation of family use, but am also savoring the journey.

Thank you for following along, and hopefully your final update on this quilt will be before Finn turns 2!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it Friday. Gosh, it’s been a while! A flimsy finish is still a finish worth celebrating, though!!

Not-So-Ugly Christmas Sweater Block Sew Along with Kid Giddy

A while back, Kerry from Kid Giddy asked if I wanted to sew along with her Ugly Christmas Sweater Sew Along, and of course I said yes. I have been wanting to make her “Ugly Sweater” block since it came out last year, so this was the perfect excuse to get it (and a deadline) on my to-do list. Plus, quick little finishes are really nice this time of year. I don’t think my sweater is very ugly, but that’s ok!

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockThe block finishes at 6″ square, so my initial thought was to shrink it down to a 3″ square and make an ornament. I love making functional items, and you know how I love to sew teeny tiny ridiculously small things! But then when I sorted through my stash and decided upon the Tula Pink Prince Charming print as the sweater body, I decided the scale would look better with the 6″ size.  Now we are going to have a festive mug rug/coaster, which I plan to have out for all of sweater season, which is nice and long here in Maine!

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockI love the subtle Cotton + Steel Mustang twinkle trim on the sweater, and the Kona Wasabi arms round it out nicely.

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockHindsight, I should have made the shoulder bits with the greeny-yellow part of the Tula print instead of the blue, since they kind of disappear into the background, but c’est la vie. My husband says he likes it this way, so all is well.

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockI plan to do some simple diagonal crosshatch quilting with the walking foot on my Bernina 560, but haven’t yet decided whether to use Aurifil 50wt Medium Delft Blue-2783 or Lemon-2115. I’m leaning toward the lemony yellow, I think. Which would you use?

Be sure to check out the other fun ugly and not-so-ugly sweater blocks on Instagram at #uglysweaterblock, or get Kerry’s pattern here.

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockI’ll be sure to share this block in action once I quilt it up and plop some delicious treats or a warm mug of something sweet on top! I borrowed some of the tiny glittery ornaments from the tiny tree my son cut for our kitchen island for my block photo shoot and now there’s glitter EVERYwhere! I hope your holiday season has been glittery and bright so far, too!

Stash Building: Libs Elliott True Love and Kona Ocean Gradient

I recently made my first fabric purchase in a loooong time, in the hopes that it will jump start progress on sewing some gifts for family and friends. There are two big projects I’m hoping to finish soon (I’ll be real–most definitely not by Christmas)–a table runner for our home, with my favorite designer’s fabric on one side (Alison Glass) and my husband’s favorite designer’s fabric on the other side (Libs Elliott). The Alison Glass side of the table runner is about half finished and uses her new Seventy Six and Insignia fabric lines, and I’ll share more about that soon.

true love fabric by libs elliott for andover fabricsI ordered quarter yards of much of Libs’ True Love fabric line, with half yards of my favorites, since my husband has also requested Libs Elliott pillows. It’s honestly pretty fun that my computer programmer husband has a favorite fabric designer, and it seems fitting that Libs is his favorite since Libs’ tag line is “Making digital code into physical quilts”. Perfect match.

true love fabric by libs elliott for andover fabricstrue love fabric by libs elliott for andover fabricsI had my usual helper, who was quite eager to jump on the fabric. That’s true love for ya! Such a helper!

kona cotton ocean gradient robert kaufman fabricsI also ordered an ocean gradient of Kona cotton solids by Robert Kaufman Fabrics for a baby quilt I plan to make for my dear friend’s new(ish) baby boy (here’s the quilt I made for their daughter, years ago). They requested an underwater ocean themed quilt, so the Kona solids will be the perfect base. I ordered these fabrics from Fabric Depot since their extensive stock of Kona colors and ability to order 1/4 yards made it an easy choice. Neither of my local quilt shops stocked what I needed, but of course I checked them first.

kona cotton ocean gradient with orangeI plan to use the Range Quilt by Nicole at Modern Handcraft as the base, and then applique some free-drawn sea creatures on top in bright orange. Nicole includes the specific Kona colors for a number of different color gradient options for Range, which is so super helpful! I used her palette as a base, and switched up a few of the lighter colors to keep the blue throughout, ending up with (from dark to light): Kona Storm, Prussian, Royal, Malibu, Water, Niagara, Bahama Blue, and Baby Blue, with the orange pop of Persimmon. I very well may add a darker orange for more detail once I get to the applique part, but first up is piecing the top!

finn helperHere’s a peek at my helper, since he’s just so adorable. I promise I am going to work on piecing his quilt top soon, too!

I’m linking up with Molli’s Sunday Stash (shhh I know it’s Monday), and hope to jump on his train a bit more in the coming weeks. I don’t have a whole lot of stash additions, but I do have a few fun tools and fabric bits that have been partying in my stash and have yet to be shared here.

Eye Spy Picnic Plaid Rainbow Progress

It’s official. I completely understand the draw and very well may be hooked to meticulously cut scrap quilts! I have been having so much fun putting together my Scrappy Picnic Plaid quilt for the Quilter’s Planner 2016 Sew Along on Instagram. The pattern is by Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced, and is one of the fabulous quilt patterns included in the 2016 Quilter’s Planner. It’s technically my first scrappy quilt, and to add to the fun, I decided to make it an Eye Spy quilt for my 4-year old son Max.

eye spy picnic plaid rainbow quilt It is such a great feeling to be creating for one of my children again (Finn’s quilt blocks are still sitting in a stack, untouched since that 12 month milestone–yes, that’s next on my list!). Every time Max sees the progress, he says, “This is fantastic!” with the enthusiasm only a four-year-old can exhibit. There’s nothing like an exuberant cheering squad to keep the motivation burning brightly.

eye spy picnic plaid rainbow quiltWe are in the second week of sewing for the sew along, so hopefully I will have the quilt top completely sewn together by Monday. Time will tell if I actually meet that goal with all of the kids home and lots of family Thanksgiving time on the docket, but I’m hoping to at least be close!

eye spy picnic plaid rainbow quilt
Yes, I accidentally created one extra block, but the funny thing is, I was thinking about one particular quilty friend the entire time I was making that block, so I’m taking it as a sign that the extra blue block has different plans. More on that later *wink*

I’ve completely finished all of the rainbow center portions, and am diving into piecing the white-grey-black border portions of each block. I love how the rainbow gradient ended up, and it is so much fun to see little peeks at previous quilts through the scraps used here.

eye spy picnic plaid rainbow quiltI put a few contingencies in place to ensure that I love this quilt even though scrappy quilts are not typically my style, and I think they are proving to be quite successful. First, I used a very large ratio of Alison Glass fabric in the rainbow portions of each block. I love just about all of Alison’s fabric, so letting her color palette and fabrics play a strong hand is a surefire way to ensure I will enjoy looking at the quilt when it’s finished.

The next two will be a lot easier to see once the neutral outer portions of the blocks are complete, but I’ll mention them anyway. Second, I am using all one solid (Kona medium grey) for all of the “light grey” pieces in the pattern, instead of an assortment of scraps. This will provide a consistent and solid resting place for my eyes, just in case I get overwhelmed (although at this point, I have a feeling I’m going to LOVE looking at this quilt, so it might not have been needed). Third, I am using all of the same silver stars on black fabric for the centers of the lighter rings in the pattern, and light Lizzy House Twinkle Twinkle from her Whisper palette (Andover Fabrics) for the centers of the dark rings. Again, a little detail that will be consistent throughout, amidst the scrappy remainder of the quilt.

eye spy picnic plaid rainbow quilt progressI love seeing my favorite designers’ fabrics together, too. The top right block in the photo above combines my favorite Carolyn Friedlander fabric from her first line Architextures (Robert Kaufman Fabrics) and the fabulous Alison Glass Grove in Grass from her Sun Prints (Andover Fabrics). They are the perfect compliments to that sweet little mushroom in the middle! Love.

If you want to spend the next week sewing to catch up, you still can join in the sew along (there are some fabulous prizes still to be won, too!); get all the details here. Also, now is a perfect time to order the 2017 Quilter’s Planner–for yourself so that you can join in on the *Spoiler Alert!* 2017 Sew Along during an inspired and productive year, and as gifts for all of your creative friends and family!

Okay, back to sewing and baking!

Many wishes for a peaceful, healthy, happy Thanksgiving spent with family and friends. I’m grateful for you and your continued support and inspiration in this wonderful quilting community.

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social since I haven’t linked up on here in far tooooo long!

Creating Positive Change

The past few weeks have been pretty crazy, for lack of a better word. The emotion from the elections, the dark realization that our country is a lot more racist, xenophobic, misoginist than I naively thought we were, and the strong desire to do something positive to help outweigh the increase of discriminatory and abusive actions that have resulted have kept my mind busy. To be honest, writing about beautiful sewing felt petty. I’ve now come to realize that sewing and creating are necessary parts of my way of sending kindness and positivity out into the world, and so I’m back to making and sharing as much as I can manage, as well as putting even more energy into fostering a giving spirit of loving kindness in my children, and doing everything else in my power to speak out for human rights and support those who are already fighting the good fight.

During those first few days post-election, I had a discussion with some of my quilty friends who also felt a strong need to create a public statement of our desire to stand with those who would be most negatively affected by the increased public shows of aggression toward minorities. Karin from Leigh Laurel Studios and Samarra Khaja brought our attention to the Safety Pin Movement, a movement that originated after British citizens voted to leave the European Union in June, when the nation experienced a 57 percent rise in reported xenophobic incidents. According to a NY Times article, it began with a tweet by an American woman living in Britain suggesting that people wear safety pins to show support to those experiencing abuse, inspired by the #illridewithyou movement in Australia, in which people offered to take public transportation with Muslims fearing a backlash after a Muslim gunman held people hostage in a cafe in 2014. (NY Times)  It felt like the perfect, simple, symbol that could show others that you are an ally, ready to stand with those being abused, speaking out against hate. Mandy from Mandalei Quilts decided that she was going to make a large safety pin quilt to hang on her porch, and I did what I do–I created a foundation paper pieced block.

safe with me sewn by kate bastiSafe With Me is a simple block, offered for free on my Craftsy site. It’s a symbol to signify you are an ally (no matter who you voted for). Wearing or displaying the safety pin means: You are safe with me. I stand beside you. I created this pattern to help spread the word, and spread the love. Sewing up or even wearing a safety pin is not the end, though–be sure to use your voice. If you see or hear injustice, stand with the persecuted and provide help whenever you can. Call your governmental representatives, make your voice heard and join the fight with love (albiet fierce love). I’m grateful to Kate Basti for quickly offering and sewing up the block within hours so that I could release it into the world on a hopeful mission of good. Hers is the safety pin above, on purple.

safe with me patternI’ve given a lot of thought to this pattern, since there is criticism that the safety pin is just a way for us to feel better about ourselves, or even that being such a widely known symbol, it could be used in nefarious ways. After much reflection and discussion with my husband, I decided that despite these criticisms, I think the safety pin symbol is a good thing. My intention was purely to try to spread some hope and goodness with a further reach than my little rural Maine town. Even if the act of wearing or sewing a safety pin doesn’t make any difference in and of itself, it is a conversation starter, keeping the conversation about the need to stand up for human rights and fight bigotry going, and will hopefully act as a personal reminder for those of us who are not in the minority to step up and use our privileged voices for good. We have a lot of work to do.

There are many others in the quilty community who are making efforts to raise money for different organizations that need our support more than ever right now, and while this is in no way an extensive list, here are a couple:

samarra-auctionThe ever-talented Samarra (SammyK) is holding an amazing auction on her Instagram account now through Friday. As she says in her Instagram post:

I’ve selected 12 of my one-of-a-kind lady portraits (including the nine seen in this photo and at least two you haven’t seen before. They are each approx. 18″x22″ in size). All proceeds, minus actual shipping will be donated directly to the Sierra Club, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. The auctions for each portrait will end Friday, November 25th so you’ll get ample time to watch the auctions build throughout the week and throw in any last minute tryptophan-fueled bids for great causes the day after Thanksgiving. It’s all an experiment in doing good and giving back in creative ways, so let’s all make this happen…with festive sprinkles on top!

I have my eye on a few of these, and have already bid and been out-bid a few times, so head over and get into the game for a good cause (and an amazing one of a kind piece of fiber art).

black-lives-matter-fundraiserRachael from Imagine Gnats has teamed up with Sam from What Sam Made to host a t-shirt fundraiser for the Black Lives Matter movement. Rachael’s post here really hit home, and talks more about the collaboration and the movement.

 

I know that emotions are high right now and that there are many differing opinions about everything, but in my heart I know that working toward human rights and the ability for all of us to live and thrive peacefully on this beautiful earth is the right thing to do. I truly believe that love will win, and that generous loving kindness does far, far more good than harm (if it ever does actually do harm). No matter what your political affiliation, no matter your personal beliefs, I hope that we can agree that there is always room for more kindness in the world. Please be kind.

Making Time & A Thrifted City Sampler Update

I’ve finally decided that the day isn’t going to arrive when I have a window of “free” time where I’m just sitting around wondering what I could do. The past few months have been really busy and exciting with a lot of new opportunities and projects, and while a lot of big projects are finally wrapped up–the photography for the Quilter’s Planner is complete and the amazing planner is now available for sale, Quilt Theory has been announced and our premier line of pattern cards have been released, I just finished and mailed a quilt sample for a pattern that will appear in the February 2017 issue of Love, Patchwork & Quilting magazine, I’m manning the Quilter’s Planner Instagram feed and leading its (and my) very first Sew Along–there seems to always be one more thing. I’ve finally decided that I’m going to make time to work on little side projects, AND I’m going to make time to blog regularly again so that I can share my projects, process, and inspiration with you. You can hold me accountable for taking time to sew for me, okay?

thrifted city sampler progressTo kick off this new resolution of making time for my own sewing on top of my more business-directed projects, I made three more blocks as part of the #100days100blocks challenge hosted by Angie from Gnome Angel. I think I left off around block 22 and the challenge is now heading into the 80s, but as I do with most projects, I set my goal low and I’m happy with just picking up again and making whatever blocks I can. As you may or may not remember, I am making my blocks entirely out of old and worn or thrifted garments, including a black leather skirt, some wool slacks, some cotton-poly blend men’s shirts, and an old pair of corduroy maternity pants. It has been *really* fun sewing with different materials, and with a mostly grey-scale color palette, I’m really focusing on textures within the blocks.

The environmental impact of our actions and the philosophy promoted through Sherri Lynn Wood’s #makedoquilt project are a large part of what spurred me to use only thrifted materials in these blocks, and so I’m presenting each block on Instagram photographed with some plant or natural phenomenon. In each description, I am sharing some information about the species or some interesting fact about its relationship with the rest of the environment. My hope is that by learning more about the world around you, you will feel more invested in preserving and improving it, or at the very least, minimizing damage done to it. This is truly a fun project that combines three of my passions: quilting, the environment, and photography.  Since it has been far too long since I’ve shared my creative process with you, I thought I’d share my three latest blocks and descriptions here, too. All blocks are from Tula Pink’s City Sampler, 100 Modern Quilt Blocks book, and so I’m calling my quilt the Thrifted City Sampler (#thriftedcitysampler).

block 73 thrifted city samplerBlock 73: old wool trousers, thrifted cotton-poly men’s shirt

Remember the milkweed from Block 15? Well here it is in all its seed dispersing glory! After a fun chat with Sharon from Sharon Holland Designs the other day about the amazing seed dispersal technique of jewelweed, I decided to make these next posts all about seed dispersal. As with any organism, the continuation of the species is an extremely important aspect–almost THE main purpose–of life. Since plants can’t move, they’ve developed some really clever ways to ensure their potential offspring (aka seeds) get spread far and wide and/or have a good chance of success.

Milkweed seeds are attached to a thick, light weight fluff tuft that, once matured, emerges from the dried, cracked open seed pod and is carried by the wind. Wind dispersal!! This helps spread the species into new areas, giving the species as a whole a greater chance to survive and thrive. Can you name another common plant that uses wind seed dispersal??

block 72 thrifted city samplerBlock 72: thrifted black leather skirt, pink cotton women’s capris, my husband’s worn-through 100% cotton slacks.

We are fully in the most drab time of year in Maine. The gorgeous leaves are mostly brown and dropped, the flowers are in their winter form or gone, everything is finding dormancy. But plant identification is still not only possible, but fun! I hope you enjoy finding the beauty in winter weeds with me.

These asters have a small tuft that allows for wind dispersal, but they also use power in numbers to their advantage. A super hardy weed, asters produce many flowers, approximately 300 individual flowers per flower head, with many seeds resulting. The sheer number of seeds helps promote the success of their species. Paired with the wind, it’s no wonder there are asters everywhere!

block 77 thrifted city samplerBlock 77: thrifted cotton-poly men’s shirt, old cotton slacks, worn men’s shirt, black leather skirt.

Another fun installment in the “amazing seed dispersal” adventure is burdock. Burdock (Arctium) is equipped with hooks and spines that latch onto any creature passing by too closely (just like Velcro). The creature continues walking until the spikey, itchy seed pod irritates him enough, spurring him to remove it and toss it aside, hopefully (for the burdock) on fertile ground. This allows the seeds to spread far, far further than a stationary plant could reach. While this is a super cool seed dispersal trait, anyone who has “fixed” her children’s coat, hair, and wool mittens after the child has discovered a burdock plant fully understands the annoyance the poor deer, bear, foxes, coyotes, and other creatures must feel toward this and similar plants! (Note that I was VERY careful not to let my block touch the seeds when taking this photo. Those barbs are sharp and definitely would result in pulls in the fabric.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing these blocks and their accompanying environmental tidbits. I’m looking forward to updating you on the other small side projects I’ve been working on between deadline projects, AND hope to even finish some of the many (oh, embarrassingly many) works in progress that are stuck in the “soooo close to finished but temporarily abandoned pile”.  I have so much fun to share with you! Hope you’ve been well, and I’m looking forward to being more present in this space again.

 

Quilt Theory Goes to Market

Tomorrow kicks off the Quilt Market and Quilt Festival fun in Houston, and while I’ll be hanging out at home (participating in #missingmarket on IG, though!), all of our Quilt Theory quilts and a few of our fearless team members will be representing in Houston. We are so excited to have our patterns at Market and Festival, so if you’re going to Houston, please stop by and say hi (and take a photo for me!)

quilt-market-featuredHere’s where you might spot some Quilt Theory goodness if you’ll be there too! (For those of you like me who can’t make it, you can follow everything on Instagram @quilt.theory and there will be a recap on the Quilt Theory blog when everyone is home and settled).

First off, one of the amazing Quilt Theory designers and my good friend, Stephanie Palmer will be participating in a schoolhouse session with Christa Watson and Leah Day on book publishing at Quilt Market. If you have any interest in writing a book or just want to hear some great folks speak, definitely check them out on Friday at 4:55pm… these ladies know their stuff!

scrappy-geese-postcard-michelleScrappy Geese Quilt, the back of our postcard, and Michelle, so you know who you’re looking for at Market!

Michelle Bartholomew will be joining in the fun on Saturday & Sunday, walking around the convention center, taking photos and chatting up whomever she can! She is bringing some exclusive quilty postcards to hand out too, so if you are there, be sure to hunt her down, say hi, and take a few postcards to mail to your friends back home (pst… like me!!)!

checker distributors quilt marketTiled Parquet, Ocean Path, and Strip It Down will be at Checker Distributors

If you’ve been excited to see all of the quilts in person, the wait is over! Three of the quilts (Tiled Parquet, Ocean Path–that’s mine!, and Strip It Down) will be in the Checker Distributor’s area along with all of our patterns. Scrappy Geese (shown in the top photo), will be in the Michael Miller Fabrics area.

quilt festival quiltsJelly Lanterns, Cross Cabins, and Highland Tile will be at Quilt Festival
quilt festival booth
Stephanie on the left, amazing Quilter’s Planner 2017 in the middle, and Yvonne on the right–look for these beauties in Houston, too!

Additionally, Stephanie will have a booth at Quilt Festival for the Quilter’s Planner. Yvonne Fuchs from Quilting Jetgirl, another one of our wonderful designers, will be joining her in her booth and will have Quilt Theory patterns available for sale. They’ll also have three of the quilts on display (Jelly Lanterns, Cross Cabins, & Highland Tile).

Have a great time if you are going to Houston, and be sure to say hi to Michelle, Stephanie, and Yvonne for me!