I’m home for just a few short days between the amazing, somewhat surreal dream that was the Slow Fashion retreat (it deserves its very own post, which I vow to share before the end of August), and a week long camping trip in the Adirondacks with my extended family, and wanted to just check in here briefly.
Despite my best intentions, between a broken computer in June, whirlwind quilt photography adventures in July, the Slow Fashion retreat last week, and my family camping trip for which I leave tomorrow, I seem to be officially retreating into the wild fun of summer and out of blogging for the season.
My Summer Adventure Quilt is growing almost as fast as my list of things to share with you, and I will share more detailed updates once the summer winds down.
Here are the blocks I made this week to accompany us on our camping adventure next week. A improvisationally pieced tent block for camping, a canoe tied to a tree for our canoeing trips, and a lake section to add for every time we paddle. I made 5 extra trees in case we do lots of hiking, which are positioned around the top and left side of the tent, lake and canoe, and I put a few already-earned tree blocks around the bottom to show what it will look like all together. Hopefully with all of these blocks ready to roll, we’ll have a grand old time. I hope that you are enjoying these fast, hot months, and living life adventurously!
I’m also excited to share that the 2018 Quilter’s Planner is officially released and ready for pre-order! This year, Alison Glass is the featured designer, too, and I’m sure you know how I feel about that! I’ll share much more about the planner and all of my quilt photography fun in a later post, too. For now, visit Quilter’s Planner site to preorder domestically, and international friends can preorder a planner or a planner bundle through Fat Quarter Shop.
Know that I have not forgotten this space, and I fully intend to return with intention once the weather cools, the big kids return to school, and the adventures subside a bit. Until then, happy stitching… and adventuring!
Today I’m excited to be over on the Quilt Theory blog sharing my first post for the new Designer Corner weekly column. I love pulling inspiration from the world around me, so my posts will be focused on exactly that.
This month, I talk about where you can find geometric inspiration (psst… everywhere!) and share some photos I’ve taken. Go ahead and check it out here!
The Designer Corner is a fun new weekly column where each week, one of the Quilt Theory designers shares something new with you. If you’re looking to see more of what happens behind the scenes, tips and tricks, or fabulous quilty inspiration, be sure to follow the Quilt Theory blog so that you can be in the know!
Here are the topics that have been discussed thus far, to give you taste:
The Christmas in July Bundle Sale has ended!! Thank you to everyone who purchased a bundle, and happy sewing!July is well underway which means it’s time for the second annual Christmas in July Pattern Bundle Sale! Get it before it melts!
Once again I’m joining a fantastic group of pattern designers to bring you a Christmas in July pattern bundle, available for $25 for three days only. The bundle includes 23 diverse patterns as well as some great sponsor prizes. This year, my Constant Flux foundation paper pieced mini quilt pattern is included in the bundle, as well as a variety of other fantastic patterns by talented designers, both holiday themed and all purpose patterns great to have in your library.
As a bonus, when you purchase the bundle through me, here, you will also get an exclusive Christmas version of Constant Flux, complete with additional pattern templates and fabric requirements to make stitching a Constant Flux Christmas wreath mini quilt easy peasy. Creating the Christmas Wreath version of the Constant Flux pattern is possible with the original pattern by combining necessary piecing segments as long as you have an understanding of how foundation paper piecing works, but the bonus pattern spells it out clearly. Be sure to get yours today, since this pattern will not be released individually until the snow begins to fall.
Many thanks to Jen Frost from Faith & Fabric, who has organized this bundle sale and helped get everyone together to offer this great deal. Here’s a bit more about what’s included in the purchase of the bundle.
You will get immediate digital download of all of the patterns shown above, plus*:
coupon codes for Sulky and Make Modern,
one entry to win a gift card from Fort Worth Fabric Studio or UpCraft Club,
one entry to win a free Craftsy Class,
one entry to win a 6mo subscription to Make Modern, and,
one entry to win a pattern bundle of Quilt Theory patterns.
PLUS, as I mentioned above, if you buy the bundle HERE you also receive an exclusive Christmas Constant Flux pattern, which will give you plenty of time to sew up a wreath or two before the holidays!
The bundle is available HERE and will only be live for 72 hours beginning RIGHT NOW! This sale runs from Monday 3pm EST until Thursday 3pm EST, so be sure to catch it now. Once you purchase this bundle, greatly expand your library of sewing and quilt patterns, and get sewing, please share your creations using #sewchristmasinjuly on social media. When you make your Christmas Constant Flux Wreath Mini quilt, please use #constantfluxchristmas and #constantfluxquilt. We would all love to see what you create!
*No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. To enter to win one of the prizes listed without purchasing the bundle, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact information.
I’ve replaced my old laptop and I’m excited to have an opportunity to share once again in this space. With so many post ideas and projects underway, I’ll do my best to share my highlights from the past few weeks! Thank you for your patience as I find my blogging stride once again. xoxo
Slow Fashion has been on my mind for the past few months, or more accurately, at least the past year. I even bought a simple tank top pattern that was suggested for first time garment sewists, and have the fabric I need to make at least three. But the apprehension that stands in my way is still strong. While making 20 minutes of quilting or embroidery progress seems reasonable, 20 minutes doesn’t feel like sufficient time to let my brain wrap around the concept of garment sewing enough to dive in.
My dear dear friend Stephanie from Late Night Quilter even surprised me with an Alabama Chanin stitching book about a month ago! It’s meant to be, truly.
When I heard that Sam from A Gathering of Stitches was organizing a Slow Fashion Retreat as well as a Slow Stitching Retreat this year, I knew this was my chance. I arranged childcare thanks to the team efforts of my parents and in-laws, registered, happily agreed to teach yoga during the retreat once again, and here we are only a couple short weeks away from retreat time! I’m hoping to have a wonderfully blissfully relaxing week, knock my fear of garment sewing out of the park, mend some of my holey jeans, and play with natural dyeing! All this on the coast of Maine amidst some of the best company there is. Yes, can you tell I’m excited? If you’re feeling spontaneous, a little bird tells me there are still a few spaces available for the retreat–join me if you so desire!
In reflecting on my experience at last year’s Slow Stitching retreat and getting excited about this year’s retreat, I realized that I never did post my reflection on last year. I wrote nearly all of it, but was waiting to get it *just perfect* before posting, as well as possibly waiting to finish a couple of the projects I began on the retreat, and well… neither of those things happened. In the spirit of retreat reflections, I thought I’d share my reactions now, nearly a year later. Stitching retreats are an experience unlike any other, and rereading my reflections transports me back to the blissfully sun-filled porch, rocking and stitching and enjoying the company of like-minded makers.
*Note: the following was written a year ago, shortly upon returning from the Slow Stitching Retreat at Medomak in August of 2016*
There’s something amazing about the retreat format, where a group of likeminded strangers gathers in a quiet and often intimate setting, spending hours upon hours together in the spirit of learning, relaxing, and reconnecting with self and spirit. The people and the deep and kindred bond I feel with them at the end of such a relatively short time is always what strikes me most upon returning home from a retreat. Here was this group of nearly complete strangers four short days prior, yet tears flow and hugs abound when it’s time to part ways again and head back into our own individual corners of the game called life. It’s a tiny peek at the innate goodness, compassion, and human connection we all share, yet that is often hidden by the bustle and drama of life during our normal day to day existence. That fiber of human connection is truly beautiful, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.
So many things stand out to me about the Slow Stitching Retreat that quietly happened at Medomak Retreat Center in the woods of Washington, Maine, a couple weeks ago. Yes, the people. The new friends, the realization that even the most talented, well-known and revered makers are real people, just like you and me. And that they can be wicked silly and fun to hang out with! The surprising connections and moments of clear understanding that happen in spontaneous conversations over stitching or wine. We came from all over the country, and reflected all sorts of characters. Some quiet, some not so quiet. Some names widely known, some not. All creative. All open. All building and creating and supporting each other. All of us, human. I’m so grateful to Sam for bringing us all together.
The learning and stitching was also really fabulous, so before I get too deep into a philosophical reflection on the human condition and how hand stitching and quilting helps build positive connections, I’ll jump into the more physical aspects of the retreat–slow stitching!
On the first day, I immersed myself in the reverse applique techniques taught by Alison Glass. It was my first time working with knits, my first reverse applique, and my first time transferring a pattern to fabric by *gasp* writing on the fabric! I used a micron pen, since it was a cut line and would not be visible anyway, and amazingly, not only did it transfer the pattern beautifully, no fabric died in the process!
I decided to create a design based upon the geometry of a chapel ceiling captured by my brother-in-law in Oakland, California, so in light of the whole discussion around “derivatives” in quilting that sparked a heated discussion days before I embarked on the retreat, I spent the week being 100% derivative. And liking it.
The process of sketching out the design, transferring it to the fabric using the tips shared by Alison on how to create a repeated design, finagling the knit fabrics to do what I wanted (sort of) and finally, slowly stitching and cutting, watching the design come to life before my eyes, was extremely enjoyable.
Not to mention making slow stitching progress lakeside after a refreshing swim!
This is most certainly not the last reverse applique I’ll do. The one hesitation I have with it is its durability with washing. Having three young kids who love to have pillow fights, make pillow forts, and sneak food into the living room, I would most likely create reverse applique items and then hide them away for now. Either way, LOVE!
The second day of the retreat, I spent the day giggling uncontrollably while tiny stitching with Chawne Kimber in the amazing barn. Having witnessed this technique the year prior with Chawne, I had a little preview of the fun. There’s something about the mantra “sew smaller; no, even SMALLER” that takes quilting to a whole new level.
Chawne’s work is epically awesome on many levels, and it was fabulous to get to see many of her creations once again. They never cease to amaze me, and hearing her talk about her process is always inspiring. (Chawne will be returning for this year’s Slow Stitching Retreat, so you have a chance to stitch with her, too, if you want! I highly recommend it!)
I went into the retreat with a vague design idea, though without a full plan of how to execute it, but also the desire to keep an open mind and take advice as it was presented. At the advice of both Chawne and Sam, rather than jump into trying to execute my idea with my desired fabrics, I played around with some scraps to see if it would translate into reality the way I envisioned.
I’m very glad I did, since it did not really translate the way I had wanted, BUT I do love what I created and had a ton of fun just going wild and sewing whatever wherever, as long as it was smallllllll. Tiny stitching plus improv curves equals loads of fun!
Here are some other scenes from the retreat:
I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends and creating some more slow stitching retreat memories, this time hopefully with a bonus souvenir of a hand-made garment and the knowledge and confidence to dive more deeply into the world of Slow Fashion. As one who does not like to shop, who feels a strong stewardship toward the earth, and who loves to stitch, I’m excited to embark into this new world! Now that I have a fully functioning laptop, I will be sure to share my experiences with you. This time, I will try to post my reflections a bit sooner than a year later!
I just wanted to share that my laptop is on its last legs. It only works some of the time, and holds a charge when it so desires. My blogging, as you may have noticed, has suffered because of the sporadic availability of my computer. It gifted me with an afternoon of turning on and maintaining a 100% charge, so I was able to post about my Summer Adventure Quilt finally (yay!). I’m working on replacing my laptop, but in the meantime my posts may be more infrequent or brief. Hopefully I’ll be up and running again soon!
In the meantime, feel free to follow along with my stitching via Instagram (to which I can easily post from my phone), or go ahead and grab yourself one of my patterns to stitch while you await more inspiration and Night Quilter stitching fun! The buoy and lupine patterns are especially timely right now! (Craftsy, Payhip, and Quilt Theory)
I hope your summer is off to a wonderful start and I look forward to sharing inspiration with you again soon!
I’ve recently begun a really fun summer project to help replace the absence of Finn’s milestone quilt, now that that’s completely finished (blog post coming soon!).
In the spirit of documenting our days through the creation of a quilt, I’ve decided to create a Summer Adventure Quilt with each block representing a different family adventure. Each block will accompany us on its adventure, be photographed along with our fun, and then become a part of a quilt stitched together in the fall.
Since our adventures primarily consist of hikes and beach days, I am making an improv tree block for every hike and an oceany, quasi-improv block for every beach day. The beach day blocks are entirely inspired by the Beach & Boots block from Piece n Quilt’s 30 Days and 30 Blocks sew along in 2015. I really wanted the white negative space to be a big part of the block to match the aesthetic of the trees and this block fits the bill! To go with the improv trees, I am making mine a bit wonky and imperfect, so I’m not using the exact measurements in the tutorial, but the overall design is the same. I decided that I will be making mine in full and half blocks to increase the wonkiness of the quasi-improv nature of my piecing.
I will be making a few unique blocks here and there to represent other adventures, such as a tent for when we go camping in the Adirondacks with my parents, a bridge for when we visit my husband’s dad and stepmom (GrandDude & GrandPrincess) in Pittsburgh, and a big sailing ship I made for a Camden Harbor tour we went on last weekend while GrandDude and GrandPrincess were visiting us here in Maine, shown above. I hope to fit these blocks in smoothly with the rest of the quilt and think it will work nicely!
Here’s my progress so far!! As of today, we’ve been on 8 hikes and 1 Camden Harbor tour (on a lobster boat, but the tall ship is representative of the harbor, not the vessel!). We have not yet “earned” the ocean block to the right of the ship block, but I included it for the photo to help show how the block will work into the overall quilt.
Perhaps the most fun aspect of this quilt is that one block accompanies us on each adventure, and therefore appears in memorable photographs. I’m hoping to be able to put a photo book together at the end of the summer with photos from each adventure. It’s a big hope, since my list of hopes is endless, but I really think it would be the icing on the cake for this project.
I’m grateful to have a wonderful group of mom friends who also have kids the same ages as mine and who love to get out and hike. We have created a Mommy Hiking Club (unofficially coined Mountain Mamas Lugging Babies & Towing Trekking Toddlers… it’s a bit of a mouthful, but gets the idea across!!) and we are determined to hike at least once per week with all of the kids. Our hiking groups vary from 3 moms plus kids to up to 5 or 6 moms plus kids, just about every mom is also carrying a baby or toddler in an Ergo or similar carrier, and everyone is welcome. Sure, sometimes there are crying babies, whining toddlers, bug bites, scratched knees, and I’ve been known to have to carry both of my boys (ages 2 and 5) simultaneously on some hikes, but it’s all worth it! Here are some memories from a few of our hikes (since we are 8 hikes in, I am not including every one, but from here on out I will try to share regular updates!).
Blue Hill Mountain, Blue Hill, Maine The FIRST hike of the summer!!
Great Pond Mountain, Orland, Maine
Ecotat Garden Trails, Hermon, Maine
Camden Harbor Tour, Camden, Maine
BirdsAcre Trails, Ellsworth, Maine
Here’s to many more adventures, and to keeping up with the quilt blocks so that there’s always one on the ready for any given adventure. I currently have 3 extra trees and 3 beach/ocean blocks ready to go, so right now I’m feeling ahead of the game!
What adventures do you go on with your family? I’m brainstorming other blocks I could make, and *might* make a few rainbow segments to include for every time we see a rainbow this summer. Rainbow sightings are always exciting!
Today I’m sharing a finish that has been completed since early May as a gift for my husband’s birthday, but could not yet be shared since the pattern hadn’t been released. Now that the pattern has been released, the pillow has been gifted, and it has lived in our rough and tumble home for a month, I thought it would be fun to share all the details, as well as a sneak peek behind the scenes of my quilt photography process!
My husband has been requesting a pillow made with Libs Elliott fabric for a while, and so when the latest round of Quilt Theory pattern testing came around, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get his pillow made. I tested Cheryl Brickey’s pattern Arrow Point Path, and the pattern struck me as the perfect choice for the bundle of True Love fabrics I had patiently waiting for a project.
I made 16 quick blocks using the white heavy fabrics and black-heavy fabrics from True Love, Libs Elliott‘s first fabric line for Andover Fabrics as the color/background pieces, and added a few pops of the awesome neon print. I love the way this pattern looks as a pillow, and it’s also really fun to see the pattern in a completely different aesthetic style.
I quilted it with straight lines on my Bernina 560 using my walking foot and 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove thread.
I threw in a few sharp angles to help keep the edge, and staggered the distances between lines for some fun.
I used the large scale Wound Up in Bright for the pillow backing, and closed it with my first ever side-seam zipper.
I love how this magenta zipper I had on hand coordinates with the pink from the Wound Up print. Perrrrfect. I do need quite a bit of practice with sewing zippers, but we won’t focus on the wobbles and such. The pillow was well received and lives happily on our couch. Now I just need to make about 5 more to cover the rest of our *cough-cough-ugly-cough* couch pillows, and then redo our living room decor to match our more modern design aesthetic. All in good time, right? (haha laugh with me here).
I did enjoy making this pillow, though, and I’m happy I can finally say I’ve sewn something for my husband. Today is our 10th wedding anniversary, too, so it seems fitting that I share this true love pillow gift!
Behind the Scenes at a Quilty Photoshoot
Just for fun, I thought I’d share a little peek at what goes into getting the perfect quilty photo, since while I absolutely LOVE these photos, I very easily could have gone home without them.
Rather than photograph this pillow on our couch, which is brown and doesn’t coordinate *at all*, I wanted to photograph it out in the wild, as is my preference. I again borrowed this awesome chair from my friend Emily, and requested that she bring it on our Mommy hiking club hike yesterday. While trying to get it into her trunk, one of the legs snapped pure off. Yikes! Fortunately, the leg was able to be propped on, AND it seems like something that should be able to be fixed. Talk about a wrench thrown into the day, though!
After that rough start, we all met at a hiking spot with our babies and toddlers and went on a 3 hour hike up a mountain. There was plenty of fun, plenty of whining and crying, and a good dose of bug bites and skinned knees. Overall, though, it was a fabulous day and my boys got good and tired out. My plan was to find the perfect photo shoot spot along the way home, and because I wanted to photograph this pillow in more of an urban scene, I stopped at the one town between the hike and our home, in search of a good alley or building face in the shade. Not so easy to find in Maine at 1pm on a bright sunny day!
The first spot that seemed like it could potentially work was the shaded side of a cafe. The dark blue-grey surface first attracted my attention, and the fact that it was in full shade was a big plus. However, it seemed flat. Above you can see try #1. I did a full photo shoot here, just in case I didn’t find anything better. Fortunately my nearly 5 year old son was asleep in the car, and my 2 year old was content to watch from his carseat. After the shoot, I drove around a bit more seeing if I could find a better spot.
The second spot I tried was a rusted metal shed in a back parking lot, which I spied while turning around to get back to the main road after my first attempt. This was a bit more of the urban feel I was looking for, but still a bit flat. A bit of graffiti or added interest would have made this potentially a winner, but still, I felt there had to be a better spot. While running back and forth from the shed to the trunk of my car, I spotted the back of a red brick building. The big concrete slabs and tall seeded dandelions are what attracted my attention most. Rather than move my car again, I simply carried everything the extra 50 feet to this next, winning location and had at it!
Definitely my favorite of all of the attempts, and the photo shoot location winner of the day! The moral of this story? When seeking that perfect photo location, don’t be afraid to experiment and try a few different spots! That perfect shot will come.
If you’re interested in learning ALL about how to take epic quilt photos, you’re in luck! I’ll be teaming up with Michelle Bartholomew to teach both Basic (MSC 101 or 102) and Advanced (MSC 300 or 301) Quilt Photography at QuiltCon 2018 in Pasadena in February! You can see the full Quilt Con 2018 Catalog here, and I do hope to see you there!
June! How can that be!? Between a camera battery charger that went on a mischievous vacation (I finally folded and ordered a replacement) and a busy end of the school year/birthday season rush, there is so much to share and catch up on!
Since June is well underway, I thought I would start with my 1 year of stitches progress from May. For those who are new to this project, my 1 year of stitches project is a personal challenge to stitch at least one stitch every single day. I am working with no set plan, I don’t mark the fabric before stitching; I simply stitch whatever wherever whenever. I’ve been using my stash of 12wt Aurifil thread and loving it! It’s quite fun!! You can follow along with my daily stitches at @NQ1yearofstitches on Instagram.
Here’s a refresher of the monthly progress so far:
…after January’s stitching…
…after February’s stitching…
…after March’s stitching…
…after April’s stitching…
…and here it is after May’s stitching!
After staying entirely in one section for the month of April, I hopped around quite a bit in May.
I added a whole sun burst super nova element in that warm sunny section of the hoop, as well as some added texture with different rows of yellow stitches. This little supernova was very fun to make, and grew day to day. Again, I began with not much of a plan at all, just wanting to add some more bright yellow to the top portion of the hoop. After a few days, it took on a life of its own and continued to grow and take shape until the flowery starbursts decided to cap the growth (for now).
I also added some “background” plant like elements behind the patch that began this whole hoop back in January. My biggest challenge with this daily stitching challenge is figuring out how to create background behind stitches that have already been stitched. Some attempts are more effective than others, but I figure it’s all part of the learning experience.
A few more flowers were also added, in the form of lavender roses and their associated greenery. The flower garden continues to grow and blossom.
A month of progress wouldn’t be complete without adding some motion to the ocean! There wasn’t all that much growth here this month, but some running stitch and french knots helped begin to create some more flow.
The hoop is beginning to fill out, but knowing that I’m just about halfway through the year, I do think I should be able to fit the entire year in this hoop without extending off the sides. There are lots of little spaces between elements, and while I hope to not fill every *single* one, there is a lot of room for depth and texture and who knows what else!
As I mentioned in my post a few week ago, the list of use ideas for this tall and skinny fabric bin just keeps growing. From sorting tiny fabric scraps to housing your favorite adult beverage bottle, the sky’s the limit.
Today I’m also sharing one such use over on Auribuzz, the Aurifil thread blog. It turns out that my Skinny Bins are the perfect size for holding cut up Aurifil thread card strips, too! Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl and I co-wrote a post for Auribuzz all about how to cut apart your Aurifil thread color card and the many ways to display and store the strips, since cutting the cards really is super helpful when it comes to finding that perfect color match.
When you make your own fabric Skinny Bins, please use #fabricskinnybin and tag me @nightquilter and @quilt.theory so that I can see them (and see how you decided to use them!). Patterns for customizing the exterior panel will be available in the coming weeks.
I thought this also might be a great time to share that I’ve been selected to be an Aurifil Artisan for 2017, so I’m honored and excited to be a part of the talented team of makers that love to work with Aurifil thread. Visit this post on the Aurifil blog to see the whole Aurifil Artisan team!
Whoa! May is trucking along at quite a rate! Now that we are halfway through May, I thought it might be a nice time to share my April update for my 1 year of stitches embroidery project. I also share some of the embroidery resources I find myself visiting again and again.
For those who are new to this project, my 1 year of stitches project is a personal challenge to stitch at least one stitch every single day. I am working with no set plan, I don’t mark the fabric before stitching; I simply stitch whatever wherever whenever. I’ve been using my stash of 12wt Aurifil thread and loving it! It’s quite fun!! You can follow along with my daily stitches at @NQ1yearofstitches on Instagram.
Here’s a refresher of the monthly progress so far:
…after January’s stitching…
…after February’s stitching…
…after March’s stitching…
…and finally, here it is after April’s stitching!
I realized when looking at the photos that in April, I worked entirely in that center “coastline” section. It was not really intentional, but I suppose it just kept asking for more!
I think it all began with some rocks, and then some little critter footprints, and then took off from there.
I mostly stitch whatever comes to mind each day, without much influence from my everyday happenings. A couple stitches this month had some subtle meaning, however. I stitched a large rock on Good Friday and a lily flower sprouting out of the rock on Easter. Sometimes it just sneaks in.
On one particularly uninspired day, I showed my hoop to my husband and prompted, “Where should I stitch? Tell me a color and point to a spot.” He pointed to a spot and said “A piece of driftwood here.” Thus originated the couched stitch driftwood, which was followed by some 12wt Aurifil 2600-Dove sand and a few tufts of beach grass. Some days inspiration strikes; some, not so much.
I also added another wild and crazy layered flower consisting of long tailed lazy daisy stitches, lazy daisy, and pistil stitch. There might be a few french knots in there, too.
The boldness of the flower begged for some offsetting feature, so another woven picot appeared in the form of a big green leaf. I love the little 3-dimensional elements on this hoop!
I’ve had a few people ask about the embroidery books and resources I use, so I thought it would be helpful to compile a short list of some of my oft-visited resources.