All posts by kittywilkin

I'm a nature-loving yogini, crafty chick, attempted homesteader, photographer, and dedicated stay home momma and wife. With three little kids, my only sewing time is after bedtime. Thus the night quilter was born. I dream of the day when someone will pay me to quilt! This blog is all about my stitching: both quilting and knitting projects, as well as the creation of my own patterns. Kittysheartofnature.com is my first blog, written about whatever moves me... good food, attachment parenting, yoga, crafting, inspirations, and everyday miracles. It is currently lost in the interweb but should be back soon!

PSA: Unwilling Blogging Break

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!

Summer Adventure Quilt Beginnings

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!).

summer adventure quilt milestone quiltIn 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.

summer adventure quilt milestone quiltSince 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.

tall ship quilt blockI 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!

summer adventure quilt milestone quiltHere’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.

birdsacre trails ellsworth maine silly kidsPerhaps 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.

hiking friends summer adventure quiltI’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!!blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt

Great Pond Mountain, Orland, Maine

great pond mountain hike great pond mountain hike great pond mountain hike great pond mountain hike great pond mountain hike

Ecotat Garden Trails, Hermon, Maineecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine
Camden Harbor Tour, Camden, Maine

camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine

BirdsAcre Trails, Ellsworth, Maine

birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quiltbirdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quiltHere’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!

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social since it’s been a while!

Happy stitching, and happy adventuring!

 

Arrow Point Path True Love Pillow Finish

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!

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftMy 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.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftI 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.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow gift detailI quilted it with straight lines on my Bernina 560 using my walking foot and 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove thread.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftI threw in a few sharp angles to help keep the edge, and staggered the distances between lines for some fun.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow gift backI used the large scale Wound Up in Bright for the pillow backing, and closed it with my first ever side-seam zipper.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow gift zipper detailI 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).

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftI 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!

libs elliott arrow point path pillow photoshoot try 1The 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.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow photoshoot try 2The 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!

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftDefinitely 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!

I’m linking up with TGIFF and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.

One Year of Stitches: May

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:

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1…after January’s stitching…

february progress for 1 year of stitches…after February’s stitching…

march 1 year of stitches progress…after March’s stitching…

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil thread…after April’s stitching…

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil thread…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.

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI 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).

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI 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.

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadA few more flowers were also added, in the form of lavender roses and their associated greenery. The flower garden continues to grow and blossom.

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadA 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.

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadThe 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!

Happy stitching!

Fabric Skinny Bin Tutorial & Auribuzz Guest Post

Have you been eagerly awaiting the tutorial for the fabric Skinny Bins I showcased during Mister Domestic’s Sewing Party with Art Gallery Fabrics? Today, you’re in luck! The full photo tutorial went live over on the Quilt Theory blog today, offered in celebration of our Collection 2 Pattern release week! Check it out here!

Fabric bin finished 1 tutorial aurifilAs 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.

Fabric bin display aurifil thread cardToday 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.

Aurifil thread strips in use skinny binHead on over to the Auribuzz blog and be inspired!

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!

Happy stitching!

 

One Year of Stitches: April

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:

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1…after January’s stitching…

february progress for 1 year of stitches…after February’s stitching…

march 1 year of stitches progress…after March’s stitching…

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil thread…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!

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI think it all began with some rocks, and then some little critter footprints, and then took off from there.

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI 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.

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadOn 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.

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI 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.

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadThe 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.

What are your favorite embroidery resources??

Quilt Theory Release: Staggered

Today I’m excited to share my pattern for Quilt Theory’s collection for spring 2017. I’m really excited about this collection as a whole; there is such a great variety of easy, innovative, and fun quilt patterns, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with all of them. For our second collection, we challenged ourselves to write patterns that utilize precut bundles of fabric. Our hope is that you find a lot of inspiration in our collection to make quilts from your favorite bundles in your stash. In this post you’ll also have a chance to win a copy of my Staggered pattern, a rainbow bundle of Alison Glass fabric, and a spool of Aurifil thread, so read on!

Staggered

Kitty-Staggered quilt theory collection 2First, to introduce you to my contribution to the second Quilt Theory pattern collection! Staggered is a fun, easy, extremely versatile pattern that is a fun way to showcase your favorite fabric line.

staggered quilt staged quilt theoryWhen thinking about possible patterns to create for this collection, I turned again toward nature. With the vision of rock strata, water ripples, and windblown sand swirling in my mind, Staggered was born. Designed to be jellyroll friendly, the assembly instructions make it a very quick sew, perfect for all styles and quilty needs.

quilt theory spring 2017 staggered patternI used 14 of my favorite prints from the Sun Print 2017 line by Alison Glass for Andover Fabrics, with Lizzy House‘s Asterisk in white as a background. I love the vibrancy of Alison’s fabrics, and the hand of Andover fabrics is the perfect balance of soft and supple and sturdy and strong. When searching for a rainbow, I always head to Alison Glass fabrics first! Many thanks to Andover Fabrics for providing the fabric for this quilt!

Whether using a strip of yardage from your favorite designer, or an old stashed jelly roll of a favorite fabric line that’s been sitting in a drawer for years, this is the perfect pattern to put your favorite fabrics on show! I’m not a Liberty of London girl, typically, but for some reason I’m itching to make this quilt using Liberty fabrics and a textured solid background. I can’t wait to see what fabric combinations you use!

quilt theory spring 2017 staggered quilt detailI quilted my sample with alternating vertical and horizontal straight lines, emphasizing the stagger in the pattern. I used 50wt Aurifil thread in 2021-Natural White horizontally and 2600-Dove vertically, with the walking foot on my Bernina 560. The subtle color difference in thread is nearly imperceptible, but it was a fun experiment to see if Dove truly does blend in with every color. It does! Many thanks to Aurifil for supporting Quilt Theory and providing the thread needed for our projects!

Staggered-Rainbow-Binding (1)Staggered also includes a link to instructions for a bonus rainbow binding, since I couldn’t help but extend that rainbow off the edge of the quilt. So much fun!

staggered quilt theory quilt pattern flowersAll of the Quilt Theory patterns are simple enough to be printed on 4″x6″ cards or a single page downloadable pdf. At only $3 each, they are perfect for gift giving or collecting, too!

 

About Quilt Theory

Let me tell you a bit more about the designer team behind Quilt Theory.

quilt theory spring collection 2017Our goal at Quilt Theory is to create simple and modern quilt patterns, and as I mentioned above, for this collection we focused on using precuts. I am so excited about this collection as a whole, since I can see that we are really melding as a group and the efforts show.

We have become a strong team as we worked through writing, testing, editing, and quilting the patterns in our collection, and I’m excited to see how you take these patterns and make them your own.

quilt-theory-designers-row
Quilt Theory Designers (l to r): Cheryl Brickey-Meadowmist Designs, Daisy Aschehoug-Ants to Sugar, me!, Yvonne Fuchs-Quilting Jetgirl, Lorinda Davis-Laurel, Poppy and Pine, Stephanie Palmer-Late Night Quilter & The Quilter’s Planner, Michelle Bartholomew

I think many of you are familiar with the Quilt Theory team members, but for those of you who are not, here’s a brief introduction. Quilt Theory designers have been featured in 20+ major quilting publications and international quilt exhibits. Combined, we have 47 years of quilting experience, and we are excited to share our second collection for Spring 2017.

How to buy or stock Quilt Theory Patterns

You can buy either individual or a pattern collector’s package of PDF patterns through our Quilt Theory website right now!

pattern-mosiac-spring17 quilt theoryPattern cards will be coming soon to a local quilt shop near you! If you are a quilt shop and want to carry our patterns, set up a wholesale account here, or order through Checker Distributors, EE Schenck Company, or Erie Quilt Art for Canadian shops.

Want to buy the cards, but don’t own a quilt shop? Let your local quilt shop know you want them to carry Quilt Theory patterns (click for a handy note to send to your favorite local quilt shop!)

Now, for the Giveaway!

No. 10 - Staggered kitty wilkin quilt theory patternTo celebrate the release of Collection 2 for Quilt Theory, I am giving away a copy of my pattern, Staggered (printed or PDF, your choice!) along with a bundle of 11 Alison Glass fabric fat quarters straight from my stash and a large spool of Aurifil 50wt 2600-Dove, my panacea thread. See? I really do love you!

staggered quilt theory release giveaway alison glass fabric aurifil threadTo enter the giveaway today, tell me what fabric collection you would use to create Staggered. Leave a comment and make sure I’m able to get ahold of you if you win.  For an additional entry, leave another comment telling me how you follow Night Quilter (email list, instagramfacebook, twitter, blog follower, etc.) Follow Quilt Theory (facebooktwitter, Instagram, etc.) and tell me how in a third comment for a third entry.

This giveaway is open to US and international participants.  The giveaway will be open until Sunday, May 21st, at 8pm eastern time when I’ll select the winner randomly with random.org. Giveaway is open to participants 18 years or older. *If you buy my pattern and then you win it, I’ll refund you or let you pick out another free Quilt Theory pattern! Giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to Mary!

Be sure to visit the rest of the Quilt Theory designers this week during our blog hop.

Quilt Theory Release Blog Hop Schedule

Friday 5/12 – Quilt Theory
Saturday 5/13 – Kitty @Night Quilter <–YOU ARE HERE!
Monday 5/15 – Michelle @Michelle Bartholomew
Tuesday 5/16 – Daisy @Ants to Sugar
Wednesday 5/17- Stephanie @Late Night Quilter
Thursday 5/18 – Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs
Friday 5/19 – Lorinda @Laurel Poppy and Pine
Saturday 5/20 – Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl
Monday 5/22 – Quilt Theory

I’ll be linking up with Let’s Bee Social, TGIFF, and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday!

3 Self Care Tips for (Mommy) Quilters

The number one greatest challenge I’ve faced in my journey into motherhood is taking time for self care. Even the words self care sound like the antithesis of motherhood. To me, being a mother means your job is to give. Not only do you give life to amazing human beings, literally birthing them into this wild world, but you also then provide the nurturing, sustenance, protection, guidance, direction, support that they need to grow and develop into independent creatures. You’re needed literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years without any breaks, vacation time, or even sick days. Unless you make a point to create, make, steal, demand–whatever it takes!–some time for yourself, it is so easy for self care to fall completely by the wayside. (Ask me how I know!)

My self care of choice these days is taking time to sew. It took me about 5 years and 2 1/2 kids before I realized that I absolutely needed to make time to sew and create, and that making time to do something I love wasn’t selfish; it was a necessary part of this beautiful dance called life, and without it, my dance steps were more of a heavy trod than a light leap. When we’re all lightly skipping and twirling, everyone is much happier than when mommy is stomping and dragging her exhausted, grumpy self around.

tea epp self care for quilters plum deluxeEven since coming to this realization, I still struggle some weeks to set aside time for me time and self care, especially when there are deadlines looming. A while back, I was in the thick of a few looming deadlines when I received an email from Andy at Plum Organics Tea Company asking if I’d like to try some of their tea and review it on my blog. In perusing their site to see if it seemed like something I would enjoy, and more importantly, something relevant to this space, I discovered their Self Care blend. I also found myself immersed in a world of inspirational quotes, encouraging mantras, and soothing encouragements to take time for oneself.  Relevant? I think yes. Full disclosure: Plum Organics provided two packets of tea in exchange for my honest review on my blog. All opinions are always my own. My gratitude for Andy’s timely email and the resulting realization that I needed more focus on self care is also fully my own, and huge.

As a result, I’ve created this short list of three tips (or ideas) for self care for (mommy) quilters. I include “mommy” in parentheses since the tips apply to any busy quilter, mother or otherwise. I hope it will inspire you to take a moment for yourself amidst your busy day:

1 – Create just for the fun of it. No purpose. No end goal. Just make.

Especially with an endless stream of quilty requests, whether for the next baby quilt for a family member or friend, a graduation quilt for a cousin, teacher gifts for your children’s teachers, or business related quilting, the list of quilting “needs” rarely, if ever, ends. Despite this–or because of this!–it is so important to create for the sake of creating.

epp girt by sea center medallionI’ve recently joined in with the Girt by Sea sew along led by the Modern Makers Retreat and have been hand stitching the center medallion with some fabrics I won from Bari J a month or so ago (Sage fabrics for Art Gallery Fabrics). They are outside of my usual style and color scheme, it is a project with no end purpose or need, and it’s fun! Meticulous cutting, hand stitching, no stress or deadlines. That’s chicken soup for the quilter’s soul.

2 – Slow down and take time to sit. Drink tea. Hand stitch. Read.

When it feels like there’s no way you’ll ever accomplish everything on your daily to-do list day after day, it seems like leisure is impossible. Yet, truly, what’s 10-20 minutes? Take the time to sit, relax, drink some tea, hand stitch, read… whatever helps you fully relax.

tea and epp relaxTea and EPP, anyone?

I’m a huge fan of English Paper Piecing (EPP) and the tiny meticulous hand stitching is meditative for me. Sitting down with a mini pot of the Self Care tea from Plum Deluxe with a sweet snack and my hand stitching, even if only for a few moments, can help rejuvenate and reset my patience level so that I’m better able to tackle the rest of the day. Try it!

3 – Take time for yoga, or simply stretch, move, and breathe mindfully for a few moments each day.

Breathing is something that you do all day and night, but mostly likely rarely think about. Yet taking a few moments to be more mindful of your breath, notice the way you are sitting, and then sit a little bit taller, relax your shoulders, and take a few deep easy breaths can make such a difference in mood and how you feel physically. Especially when quilting or sewing, remember to take a break every so often, sit tall, breathe deeply, and gently stretch your arms, shoulders and back. Your mind and body will feel so much better!

Even on the busiest day, I hope that this list will inspire you to take a bit more time for self care. Your mind, body, and family and friends will thank you! Now I just need to help myself take my own advice more often!

More about Plum Deluxe Tea

plum deluxe organic teaThe first thing I noticed about Plum Deluxe when I visited their site was that their tea is organic, non-GMO, hand-blended, and fair-trade, all by a small independently run company out of Oregon. The focus of the company is community and inspiring people to live their best lives. Even their motto is: Making moments matter. I encourage you to read their About page; they are not your everyday tea company! Everything associated with the tea is packed full of positivity–even the ingredients list on the tea states that the tea includes love and gratitude. That’s my kind of tea!

self care blend plum deluxe teaThe Self Care tea is fruity and delicious, and smells divine as soon as you open the package. I love loose tea, since seeing the actual components makes me feel like I’m enjoying tea straight from nature.

plum deluxe tea package ingredients Andy was kind enough to send me a package of the Self Care blend and a bonus package of Oregon Breakfast Black Tea, since I’ve been wanting to decrease the amount of coffee I drink and the Oregon Breakfast flavor is rich and robust. Not only does it have hazelnut essence, it includes love and gratitude. Mmmm.

I mentioned that a big focus of Plum Deluxe is community; they also have a fabulous tea of the month club – for only $10/month subscribers receive 1 oz of a custom seasonally-perfect artisan loose leaf tea made just for the club. Subscribers also enjoy access to a robust and supportive private tea lover’s community, tea-inspired recipes, discounts on extra teas and supplies, and other surprises. They even host member meet-ups throughout the year, and several of their members host self-organized group events year-round. Andy was kind enough to offer my readers a free tea of your choice in your first month when you join the Plum Deluxe tea community. Be sure to tell him Kitty from Night Quilter sent you, and enjoy!

plum deluxe tea meaningful momentI enjoy how drinking loose leaf tea forces me to slow the daily rush. The practice of getting out the loose tea and boiling the water allows me to slow down a bit, so that I can remind myself to breathe a bit more deeply, stand a bit taller, and chill out. With three kids under 8, I have to tell myself, insist to myself–chill out–quite often. In the grand scheme of things, this mess and chaos doesn’t matter. Everyone will be better off if I take a moment to breathe. Sip some tea. Have a snack. Stitch in a sunbeam. You know, that rare rainbow unicorn called self-care for (Mommy) quilters. I’m going to *try* to work the practice into my life a bit more often. I think we’ll all be better off for it.

 

Eye Spy Picnic Plaid Flimsy Finish

I’m excited to share that I’ve finally sewn the final seam in the Eye Spy Picnic Plaid quilt top I’ve been making for my son Max. I absolutely love this quilt, made using the Scrappy Picnic Plaid quilt pattern by  Lee Heinrich from Freshly Pieced, which was part of the 2016 Quilter’s Planner. I used all fabrics from my stash, a large part of which were Alison Glass fabrics. It was sort of my safety net, as this was one of my first truly “scrappy” quilts and I wanted to be sure I would love it.  The vibrant colors and heavy hand of Alison Glass fabric contributions worked; I love this quilt!

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish If you remember, I began this quilt as part of the 2016 Quilter’s Planner Sew Along back in October of 2016 and made fairly solid progress until around December. Then the holidays and life got in the way of things and with the culmination of the sew along, this project fell back into the endless WIPs list. I think my last update here was in November. Yikes.

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish Recently, as I finished my last few deadline projects, I decided that it was high time for me to actually finish some of the works in progress I’ve been making at a snail’s pace for my family. I completed the final piecing of these blocks as a leader-ender project with other deadline sewing projects, and just this week, I finally sewed that final seam! That feeling of finally finishing a quilt top never gets old, does it?!

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish Since this quilt is slated for my nearly 5 year old son Max, I asked him to show me his favorite block. He took a quick look and pointed out a sweet and subtle yellow rabbit block, which surprised me a bit since in the past he’s claimed the turquoise scientist dog, the purple pony, or the green robot as his favorite block.

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish I thought maybe he had chosen the rabbit block as his favorite since it was closest and he was pretty enthralled in picking daffodils when I asked him outside, so when we returned in and out of the sun, I laid the quilt top out on the floor and asked him again to show me his favorite. True to form, he replied with a good dose of sass, “I already told you. It’s this one!” But of course.

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish We played a quick game of eye spy with the quilt on his lap, and I got a brief glimpse into the fun that will ensue when this quilt is actually fully quilted and bound. I have a feeling that favorite blocks will change like the wind, and there will be hours of fun centered around seeking out the little details in each print.

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish Max’s exploration of the quilt top resulted in a climb up and over, a flop all around, and culminated in a dramatic roll right off the couch (of course). This will be a fun family quilt for sure.

I pieced this top using my go-to 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove thread. I’m still trying to decide how to quilt this, and whether to use Dove to quilt with an all-over design, or to break it down into sections and use coordinating colors for more dense quilting. Max’s birthday is June 14th, so part of me wants to try to shoot for completing it in time to gift it to him then, which makes me lean toward a more simple, all over quilting design, or straight lines to stabilize without going too crazy with quilting. Then again, this quilt will definitely see a lot of use, so denser quilting might be a better choice, even if it means it’s not finished in time for birthday gifting. What would you do?

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finishI used four main strategies in piecing this quilt to ensure I would love the outcome despite any fear of scrappy quilts:

  • Rainbow ordered block arrangement
  • Bright colors including as much Alison Glass fabric as I could (easy from my stash!)
  • The middle grey squares are all the same solid Robert Kaufman Kona fabric (medium grey)
  • The black and white diamonds are all made from the same black (an unknown black with silver stars) and white (Lizzy House Twinkle Twinkle in White Metallic from her Whisper Palette for Andover Fabrics) to provide some visual consistency.

Now that I’ve made one scrappy, rainbow-ordered quilt, I absolutely understand the draw, and I don’t think I would need as many safety nets in place to ensure I love the outcome for the next one! Sticking to planned color placement and using fabrics I love would be sufficient.

What are some of your favorite patterns for using scraps?

Special thanks to everyone who sent “eye spy” appropriate scraps a couple years ago during the Instagram Quilty Wishes event. I have more to use, but this quilt would not have been possible without your contributions!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday and TGIFF which is over with Leanne at Devoted Quilter this week, and boy it feels good to have this flimsy finished! Perhaps I should get Amanda Jean’s new book No Scrap Left Behind, too!

Sewing from the Heart: Call to Action

If there’s one thing that is consistent about this online quilting community, it’s that when the unbearable happens and someone needs love and support, the community will rise to the occasion and come together to stitch their love, support, prayers, and positive intentions into literal textile hugs–quilts. Quilters have big hearts and give generously. That’s one huge reason I am proud to call myself a quilter. Recently, I’ve found myself contributing to a few different love, support, and help-filled quilting projects, and I wanted to share about them here. Not to toot my own horn, but to spread the word in case you also want to pay it forward and use your sewing powers for good.

Quilts for Seniors by Leanne at Devoted Quilter

A few weeks back, Leanne at Devoted Quilter shared that a senior home near her house burnt down and while all 21 residents thankfully got out unharmed, they lost everything. She made a call for square in a square blocks, and as testament to the huge hearts of quilters, she quickly received offers to make more than the 882 blocks that would be needed to make quilts for each resident!! Please note: She no longer needs blocks for this project!!

square in a square charity quilt blocksThe day she announced her block drive, I made three blocks to send along, and used some beloved blues and mustard fabrics from my stash, since I thought it was pretty gender neutral and could be combined with many other colors.

square in a square charity quilt blocksI mailed these blocks and some Anna Maria Horner Field Study yardage for a backing, and after over a week of still not hearing they had been received, I found the package back in my mailbox, sent back from the US-Canada border. Talk about frustrating! Note that writing your first initial and last name instead of your full first and last names on a return address for an international shipping is not sufficient. I’ve mailed the package once again, hopefully properly completed this time and have my fingers crossed that it actually arrives!

square in a square charity quilt blocksIf you’d like to contribute to this cause, Leanne is still in need of donations of batting and full backings (she has received more than enough blocks and binding fabrics!). You can find all of the info and can contact Leanne for more details at her blog here: Quilt for Seniors – Update.

Love for Linette, organized by Sarah at Berry Barn Designs

love for linette call for nine patch quilt blocksFor those of you who followed along with our Honest Craftroomies Periscope hops, you may remember Linette, one of our dear friends and fellow hoppers. Her husband has been battling cancer, and a bit over a week ago, she shared that he’s now receiving hospice care. Sarah from Berry Barn Designs saw this and immediately emailed me and a few other of the Honest Craftroomies originals with the idea to show our love and support by making a quilt. Of course we all agreed and Sarah graciously offered to organize the block drive and quilt top assembly. Stephanie from Late Night Quilter offered to quilt the quilt. The kindness of this community knows no bounds.

Sarah is spearheading the efforts on Instagram, and you can find all of the block construction details here: Love for Linette Call for Nine-Patch blocks. I suggested a bright monochromatic nine-patch block with one white or low volume square as the pattern for the quilt. Linette loves bright colors and we thought wrapping her in a rainbow hug is exactly what each of us wants to do right now. The white square is to represent the hole that will always exist in her life once this part of her journey is over, but the large swaths of bright color represent the beauty and support that remains and will always be there for her.

love for linette nine patch blocksI made three blocks using some of my favorite tertiary colors, and I plan to help Sarah “fill gaps” in color as needed as more blocks begin to arrive. I do hope that you will contribute to this quilty hug and stitch your love and positive thoughts and prayers into a block or more for Linette. Please  DM Sarah @berrybarndesigns for mailing details, or let me know if you need a different form of contact.

Busy Bag Sew Along to Benefit Sadie’s Dream for a Cure

Sadie's Dream Sew Along quilters planner busy bag charity sewingFinally, during the month of May, the Quilter’s Planner is teaming up with Sadie’s Dream for a Cure to sew as many Busy Bags as possible. The busy bags (simple tote bags from a free pattern provided on the Sadie’s Dream website) will be filled with crayons, art supplies, and small toys for children with life threatening illnesses.  Sadie’s Dream is an incredible organization, founded by Jessica and her mother, in honor of Jessica’s beautiful child named Sadie, who was diagnosed with cancer at 6 months of age.

Sadie’s Dream offers support to children who are in the hospital receiving treatment for cancer by providing them with tote bags filled with toys! They ask volunteers, like you and me, to make reusable fabric tote bags – “Busy Bags” — to give to children while they are in the hospital, often immobile and hooked to an iv. You mail the bag to Sadie’s Dream and they fill the bags with coloring books, crayons, books, craft projects, card games etc.

This Sew Along kicks off today, May 1st, so head over to the blog post on the Quilter’s Planner blog to find out all of the details, or head over to Instagram @thequiltersplanner to make a pledge to make a bag (or more!). And trust me, even if you are not a bag maker, you can make this bag! I will be posting tips along the way and even will be “going live” on the Quilter’s Planner facebook page and Instagram feed (eek!)

busy bag detail insideI sewed up a Busy Bag to become familiar with the pattern (and so that I would have a bag for photos!), and as one who is filled with trepidation over 3D sewing, I can assure you that this is an easy, clearly written pattern that even the bag-fearing sewists can tackle successfully!

busy bag detail handlesIt is a very basic tote bag with extra wide handles to help make it comfortable even when filled with goodies.

busy bag detail backI used a fun print by Robert Kaufman fabrics that I had in my stash for ages, since this bag is great for using fun panels. The front has the pocket in the middle and the full panel print is visible on the back. My panel was not quite tall enough, so I added the solid blue to the bottom before constructing the bag. It worked great!

I do hope that you will join in, since I would love to meet and even blast through our goal of having 25 bags made and donated during the Quilter’s Planner Sew Along in May. If you do plan to join, please head over to Instagram and comment with a pledge of how many bags you plan to make. We will be documenting the process and tallying bags as they are finished and mailed to Sadie’s Dream.

There are so many options for sewing from the heart, and many of them don’t take much time at all. After the past few weeks, I’m feeling like I want to add charity sewing to my monthly goals. I can take an hour or two out of my busy schedule to brighten someone’s day or show my love and support to someone in need. Want to join me?