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!

2018 Finish-A-Long Q1 Goals

It’s no secret I struggle to finish things. In fact, last year, I made it my yearly focus to finish what I started, but then got distracted by other fun ideas and didn’t actually succeed in finishing much of anything! Oops. Life happens and all is fair in love and creativity, right? This year I’m going to try something a bit different. I’m going to *try* to join in on the community link ups that focus on FINISHING projects completely, namely the 2018 Finish-A-Long hosted by a group of bloggers across the world, and One Monthly Goal hosted by Patty at Elm Street Quilts. In my style, I’ve already missed the link up for the January goal for One Monthly Goal, but perhaps I’ll get February’s posted in time! I’m sneaking in right under the wire for the Finish-A-Long Quarter 1 link up, but I made it!

2018 Finish A Long Logo 2

There is a lot going on behind the scenes here, between preparing for my QuiltCon classes and lecture, working for the Quilter’s Planner manning the Instagram feed and leading a January daily photo challenge as well as helping guide the 2018 Block of the Month Sampler sew along (so many fun things happening over in the QP community!), working on the development of a couple of patterns I hope to release before summer hits, and of course being a full time mom and wife, so I don’t imagine my lists will be long. But any progress is progress, and one more way to help keep me motivated can’t be a bad thing.

As seen in December when I joined the 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge, committing to a public community goal helps motivate me to meet my goals. While I didn’t post a blog post every day in December (note that I went into it not expecting to post every day), I did write or work on blog posts nearly every day and I published 8 posts for the month when my monthly average for the 6 months prior was 2-3 posts. That’s a marked improvement and I consider my goal met.

finish along 2018 q1 goalsSo here I go again, publicly announcing my goals so that maybe the thought that you or someone out there is eagerly anticipating my finish, cheering me on, and helping spark my fire even when I’m feeling heavily weighted with other responsibilities, will help me stay on track.

The first quarter of this year includes a good amount of travel and preparation for QuiltCon, which is in late February in Pasadena, California, so I know most of my time will be spent fine-tuning my classes, preparing handouts, and practicing my lecture so that I can share my knowledge, inspiration, and tips the best I possibly can (It’s not too late to sign up for the Advanced Quilt Photography classes I’m teaching with Michelle Bartholomew at QuiltCon, or to register for my Quilts to Mark Milestones lecture Sunday morning, so go register if you will be in Pasadena and haven’t already!).  The Finish-A-Long guidelines clearly encourage us to set high goals, but I also know I need to set myself up for success so I don’t get too overwhelmed or discouraged, so I’m going to start with four projects I hope to have completely finished by early April when Q1 ends:

1 – One Year of Stitches Embroidery hoop from 2017

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI still have about 14 days worth of stitches to complete to have fully finished the stitching for my 364 days of stitching, 1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery project I took on in 2017.  The photo included above is an old old old one from May 2017, so there is MUCH more stitched at this point (see the photo with the projects together to get a peek!)! I want to get the stitches finished and documented, post the fully updated post on IG at my @nq1yearofstitches account, publish a blog post with monthly updates that has been in draft form since May 2017, and fully finish the hoop so it’s ready to hang on my wall.

2 – Rainbow Moonstone Pillow

alison glass rainbow moonstone giucy giuce epp patternI want to completely finish my epically gorgeous (modest, aren’t I? haha) rainbow Moonstone pillow I made using Giuseppe @giucy_giuce’s Moonstone quilt EPP pattern and Alison Glass fabrics. Right now, it’s fully stitched together, stitched onto the backing, and most of the papers are removed.  I still need to finish removing the papers, trim the seam allowance edges of the backing fabric, layer, baste and quilt the pillow front, make the pillow back (I want it to have a zipper closure–I haven’t yet decided whether it will be a side seam zipper or a zipper across the backing yet–and finish the pillow. I’m using Aurifil monofilament thread to stitch and quilt this, and it’s an exciting new look (it really is invisible!).

3 – Secret Sewing Project

secret sewing fabric pullI’m doing some secret sewing for a book release blog tour in March, and unfortunately can’t tell you much more than that. I have my project chosen and fabrics pulled, but haven’t cut into it yet. I’m planning to use some thrifted leather and scraps of Oakshott Lipari red fabrics in this one, paired with Essex Linen in charcoal. It’s a small project, but I’m excited about this one! This project is my given, since the fact that I have a hard deadline means that I will finish this project no matter what. I don’t mind setting myself up for some success, though, so it’s included here.

4 – Max’s Eye Spy Picnic Plaid Quilt

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finishThis one is a stretch only because of the limited time I have this quarter, but I want to put this quilt at the top of my list. I began it back in 2016 during the Quilter’s Planner Sew Along and have the full quilt top finished and the backing pieced. I need to layer and baste the quilt (my brick wall when it comes to finishes!), quilt it, bind it, finish it, and finally gift it.  I’m thinking Max has most likely forgotten about it at this point, so it will be a fun surprise when (if?… no, WHEN) I finish it.

So there you have it. Think I can do it? I’m excited at the prospect of having a little extra motivation to finish these projects, and also hope this can get me back into the thick of the quilt blogging community. There’s so much inspiration to share! Here’s to fabulous finishes!

My Best of 2017

I’m in the thick of that time warp of a week between Christmas and the New Year, and I admittedly don’t even know what day it is. We are traveling, visiting my family in New Jersey, spending days relaxing, visiting, and watching the kids play with toys, aunts, and uncles. I *do* know that it’s not yet 2018, though, so I’m reveling in that end of year coast into the new year.

Best of 2017 meadow mist designMy dear friend Cheryl at Meadow Mist Design is once again hosting a “Best of” linky party, inviting bloggers to share the best five posts from 2017, so it’s a perfect time to look at the analytics and statistics from my blog, as well as reflect on my personal highlights from the year. I invite you to reminisce along with me.

Most Viewed Blog Post(s)

I’m considering this one a tie, since the views for these posts have a less than 20 views difference:staggered quilt theory quilt pattern flowersMy Staggered Quilt pattern release for Quilt Theory’s spring collection had the most views from 2017. I did not have many big quilt finishes this year, and this is definitely one of my favorite quick and easy patterns, so I’m excited to see this one at the top.

Finn's Milestone quilt finishA very close runner up was my post about Finn’s Milestone Quilt finish. This project is very near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons, and I’m happy that its completion was as exciting for you as it was for me.  What an epic project, and I’m happy to report that Finn sleeps with the quilt every night and still drags it around with him from time to time.

Most Viewed Tutorial Blog Post

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyI was happy to see that my Easter collaboration with Hillary of Entropy Always Wins ranked the highest on tutorial posts this year! A combination of using repurposed materials (leather, wool, felt, etc) and hand stitched detail, this project is uber versatile and so much fun. It also can be made in any imagined shape, so it’s pretty timeless.

My Favorite New Projectsummer adventure quilt progress

While my Summer Adventure Quilt didn’t rank among highest views, it’s definitely my favorite new project.  I’m guessing that the fact that I’ve not yet been able to complete all of the blocks and get the quilt top together is part of what’s to blame with its lack of public enthusiasm, since it’s kind of hard to be enthusiastic about a project you haven’t yet seen in its entirety, but it’s one of my favorites. I’m hoping to have the blocks finished and the quilt top complete by early 2018, so it just might actually rank a bit higher next year. Time will tell!

2017 Best Nine on Instagram

nightquilter best nine 2017 IGSince 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 my big 10K follower milestone, two of my favorite Greenery quilt blocks, my Bee’s Knees quilt, Plenty of EPP, from Flowermania, to Moonstone, to the EPP and pieced skinny bins I made for an Art Gallery Fabrics stitchy party with Mathew at Mister Domestic, and a cameo by the gorgeous mini quilt Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl made for me (bottom center). Neither Finn’s quilt nor my Summer Adventure quilt made the cut this year, but they still rank high in my list of favorites for the year.

Most Viewed Blog Post EVER

one hour basketWhile the blog posts listed above rank highest of those written in 2017, the post about the one hour basket (that took me six hours to make!) written back in 2015 was the most viewed ever with over 7,000 views since it was written. This was such a fun make, 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. It’s fun to see how timeless this post is, and I’m thinking perhaps it’s time I make a few more one hour baskets. They are a super handy and quick project!

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’m hoping to blog a bit more regularly in 2018 and look forward to sharing more tips, tutorials, project progress, and inspiration with you! I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful holiday season and look forward to a colorful, productive, and FUN 2018!

Reflections & Goals for 2018

This time of year always results in the oddest collision of feelings–excitement for the family filled fun that comes during the holiday season, either stress over the projects I need to finish for the holidays or disappointed-letting-go of projects I will never complete in time, introspection and reflection on what goals I met (and didn’t meet) in the year behind me, eager anticipation and renewed inspiration for the possibilities that exist in the new year, gratitude for the gifts that I experience daily, and many more in between. As 2017 leads into 2018, these feelings seem to crash together like waves, one emerging strongly at one point only to be engulfed and buried by another the next moment. That odd transition from one year to the next, it’s really just the passing of a day like any other, so how does it hold such power? Does this happen for you, too? or is it just me?

goal setting planning for new year quilter's plannerEvery year, my dear friend Yvonne hosts a Planning Party on her blog Quilting Jetgirl, which really helps motivate me to sit down and sort through all of these feelings, reflections, dreams, and limitations, and try to determine my goals for the next year. I’ve decided to share my reflections on 2017 and goals for 2018 here, both to make a record of my intentions at this moment, and to maybe help inspire you to not only define your goals and determine steps to help you reach them, but also to be gentle with yourself when life doesn’t go as planned. Since honestly, when does life ever go as planned?

Reflection on 2017

Let’s start by looking at the goals I set for myself in January of this year. A few days ago when I read this over, I honestly laughed out loud.  I’ll give you a spoiler: I accomplished hardly any of these goals, but oh, I had such high hopes back in January! Here’s the list, with my comments in bold after each one.

  • Focus on incorporating repurposed textiles into at least three (3) quilt projects. Here I intended to pick up my repurposed 100 blocks in 100 days project that used all upcycled garments, but that wasn’t meant to be. I did use repurposed textiles in my contribution to Mel from Mel in the Attic’s Woman’s Work, so I’ll give myself a 1. I also am realizing I never shared about that collaboration here!;
  • Minimize new fabric purchases; focus on using the fabrics that exist in my stash already (not very measurable, but important to state!) I definitely did that this year. I only bought fabric for specific projects, or Alison Glass fabric (my weakness!), and not much at that.  I consider this one met.;
  • Experiment with at least six (6) of the #beesewcial prompts to help stretch my creativity and build improv skills. While I sketched out ideas for three (3) of these prompts, not a one made it into reality. I did not meet this goal.;
  • Use a purely green color palette (inspired by Patone’s color of the year, Greenery) on all bee and quilt along blocks to help create a visual statement on being “green” and to stretch my design skills by fitting them all together at the end. I did this!!! My Greenery quilt was really quite fun, and I did a fairly good job of making blocks from various bees here and there, until I had the idea for my Summer Adventure Quilt. Once my Summer Adventure Quilt began (see the most recent update here), Greenery took a backseat and has been sorely neglected. I do not have enough blocks for a full quilt yet and I’m still deciding what to do about it.;
  • Create a more concrete plan for my social action quilt idea, including:
    • a full sketch
    • 2-3 sample blocks
    • brief description I did not meet this goal. Fear, or fear that I would not be able to dedicate the time needed to organize, piece, and follow through with this idea has stalled me. It’s still simmering, but has not been met.
  • Dive further into the “Slow Fashion” movement:
    • Overcome my fear of garment sewing by making at least three (3) items of clothing I attended the Slow Fashion Retreat with A Gathering of Stitches in August and I very much am slowly wading into the Slow Fashion movement. I’ve made two tops–one of which I might actually wear!, and I’ve found a sewing buddy with whom I aim to sew 9 garments in 2018, so I did pretty well with this one!
    • {BONUS} hand stitch one garment. I did not hand stitch a garment, although I’ve mended 2 pairs of my jeans, a pair of my son’s shorts, and began repairs on my daughter’s jeans. Not what I meant by the goal, but hand stitched garments all the same!;
  • Complete two (2) quilt photography projects to deepen my repertoire and experience. I did this! I did quilt photography for Carole Lyle Shaw’s newly released book Patriotic Modern, did product photography for two local artisans (including Spring Fed Farm), and I also completed the epic Quilter’s Planner photography project of 14 quilted items for the 2018 Planner. Combined with ongoing photography projects for the Quilter’s Planner, I consider this goal met and surpassed!;
  • Teach at least three (3) different quilting and quilt photography related classes–spread the love and inspiration for creating beautiful things! Not yet! I am teaching at QuiltCon in Pasadena in February 2018, so that will be one (well, 4 courses and 1 lecture!). 
  • Use my Quilter’s Planner to set manageable goals and help myself feel successful and motivated–including building up to exercising 5 times per week! Sad to say the exercise habit hasn’t happened. I have built up to doing yoga 3ish times per week, and I did a LOT of hiking over the summer, but I consider this goal not met.
  • Stitch daily for 365 days as part of my participation in #1yearofstitches (more on this soon!) I very nearly succeeded in this! Near the end of the summer, I got off track, but so far have stitched for each day, even if it’s not posted on the correct day. I have a couple week’s worth of stitches to update on Instagram, but it looks like I’m actually going to meet this goal! 
  • Finish eight to ten (8-10) works in progress from last year!!! Oh goodness. No goal met here. I finished Finn’s Milestone quilt, but that might be the only WIP from 2016 that I finished. Oops. Yikes. 

So clearly, I did not meet many of my goals from 2017. It really was a year of very few finishes. In looking back at what quilts or projects I’ve finished, the list is very short: Finn’s Milestone quilt, two quilts for Quilt Theory: Staggered and Into the Forest, and my Superbolt Mini Quilt. I may have missed one, but that very well may be the extent of my finishes for 2017. So much for the mantra of “Finish what I’ve started.”

summer adventure quilt progress
Photo from about midway through the summer. There are many more blocks than these!

So what did I do in 2017? I did a LOT of hiking! We hiked at least once per week pretty much every week from March through September.

great pond mountain hikePaired with making an improv tree block before every hike, as well as other blocks to represent other summer adventures, my summer was pretty much filled with the Summer Adventure Quilt and all of the family adventures that went with it. I call that a win.

2018 Quilters Planner and mini-hi resI also did a lot of work for the Quilter’s Planner. Between photographing all 15 projects (I really need to share a post on this soon!), taking photos of the 2017 and 2018 planner both for marketing and for posting on the Instagram feed, and working as the Social Media Manager heading off the Instagram feed, I spent a lot of my time helping inspire others and providing tips on how to plan, stay organized, and create a positive routine of productivity and inspiration. In 2018, I aim to practice what I preach! (laugh with me here!) Honestly, though, the Quilter’s Planner is such an amazing tool, jam packed full of inspiration. Working with Stephanie is really fulfilling and I really do love it.  As with any job, it takes time.

Finally, of course I’m also the full time mom of three amazing children, the wife of a fun-loving husband, and the keeper of a lovely home in rural Maine. That in and of itself is a full time job. All this to say, I’m not disappointed in what I accomplished in 2017. I do, however, hope to use this reflection to help me set more manageable goals for 2018.

Goals for 2018

Where to begin? Since my high aspirations were a bit too high for 2017, I decided to focus on self care, family time, and finding a good balance of time spent on work and fun (both quilting and otherwise!).

I pulled out my 2018 Quilter’s Planner and opened to the Yearly Goals page (this planner really is amazing… and that’s not just my bias talking) to help me brainstorm and get ideas down on paper.

goal setting planning for new year quilter's plannerI chose 3 main goals, and then listed a few steps that would help me achieve each goal. Here they are:

1 – Sew for my family and me, and not just work

  • Finish Max’s Eye Spy quilt
  • Finish Moonstone pillow
  • Plan for 2-3 hours per week dedicated to me-makes
  • Finish Summer Adventure Quilt–finish making blocks, piece top, quilt, finish
  • Sew 9 garments for me!
    • Pick patterns
    • Find sewing buddy!

2 – Focus on Self Care and Family Time

  • Yoga-make it a routine at least 3x per week
  • Schedule and plan ahead more (using Planoly, scheduled blog posts, etc.) so that work isn’t constantly on my mind
  • Actually make goal #1 happen–finish the family quilts that have been on my WIP list for a year+
  • Say NO to some opportunities
  • Summer Adventure 2018?

3 – Continue to Grow and Maintain Night Quilter

  • Blog 3x per week
  • Newsletter 1x per month
  • Quilt & Product Photography – 2 jobs (Quilter’s Planner and ???)
  • Pattern Development:
    • Release 2-3 personal patterns
    • 1 submission to a magazine
    • Stretch: QAL
  • Teach – rock my QuiltCon classes and lecture and then evaluate direction from there–do I actively pursue teaching gigs, or focus on home and family time until my kids are older?
  • Take on no more than 4 outside sew-along, blog hop, or other pattern promoting projects unless it has a measurable impact to build my business.

goal setting planning for new year quilter's plannerSo there you have it. My goals for 2018 are laid out and in public. They now are real, even if they are still written in pencil in my planner.

Any tips to sticking with your goals and making it happen? I’m going to begin by using my Quilter’s Planner in a more organized way. Right now, I absolutely can’t live without it, but I use it more of a to-do list brain dump and “if all stars align and everything is awesome” weekly and daily goals list, than a meticulous plan with actionable, measurable, and attainable steps to get me there. The brain-dump helps keep me sane, prevents me from missing appointments, and helps me feel like I accomplished something even on my craziest days. Now I think it’s time to step it up a notch and work on improving my routines to help me make better use of my time AND take better care of myself.

Here’s to an inspired, productive, and nurturing year ahead!

What are your goals for 2018?

2018 Planning Party

I’m linking up with Yvonne’s Planning Party 2018 over at Quilting Jetgirl.

Constant Flux Three Ways

There’s something about making a pattern your own that is especially desirable for many makers. Whether through varied fabric choices, changes in color and value placement, or even addition of new features, taking a set pattern and making it look distinctly yours is satisfying. I also have a really hard time following a pattern without adding at least a *little* change to make it my own, even, as it seems, with patterns I designed myself!

As I photographed my latest Constant Flux Christmas mini quilt top, I realized that I’ve sewn up my Constant Flux foundation paper pieced pattern in three very distinctly different ways. One was even so distinctly different I decided a stand-alone pattern was the best route, since explaining my section-grouping might not be the easiest to do! I thought it would make a fun blog post to show you different ways you can take one pattern (Constant Flux, in this case) and make it look completely uniquely different.

constant flux mini quiltWhen I first designed Constant Flux, I was aiming for a pattern that was fun and geometric, but allowed for meticulous cutting fun. I used Alison Glass Handcrafted fabrics from Andover, and my focus was on the big scale prints in that line. With meticulous cutting and careful placement, the radiating pattern is clear, with the white star-like secondary pattern for some added interest.

alison glass constant flux mini quilt for andoverThen Alison Glass came out with her Seventy-six fabric line and Andover Fabrics asked if I would make a mini quilt for their booth at QuiltCon. How could I resist!? I had been wanting to sew up a Constant Flux quilt in a different colorway anyway, and in looking at Alison’s fabrics, I wanted to use all of the colors.

applique embroidered bee from alison glass fabric constant flux detailI had recently discovered Nichole Vogelsinger’s Boho Embroidery book, and really wanted to incorporate a Wild Boho-style embroidered applique in the center, so I rotated the blocks 90 degrees. Same exact blocks and pattern as my original Constant Flux, only rotated and shrunk to 80% so that the scale of the bee fit better. Constant Flux a second way.

constant flux christmas foundation paper pieced patternFinally, while playing around with color placement options on my original Constant Flux pattern, I discovered that when arranged a certain way, it looked very much like a Christmas wreath! Because this required merging large sections of the pattern into one fabric instead of many, I decided that it was high time I tackle a holiday pattern, and I made three new templates to make Constant Flux Christmas come together smoothly and easily. It is closely derived from the original pattern, and if you have the original Constant Flux pattern you can technically make the Christmas version if you have a strong understanding of foundation paper piecing and how to join pieces to make it happen. I created a separate pattern to make it easier for everyone. That brings us Constant Flux a third way.

I wonder what it will look like in my fourth rendition?

Do you follow patterns to a T, or do you change things? I’m always curious to hear, since from talking to other quilters, it seems that we fall into two pretty clear camps: those who follow patterns meticulously, and those who just can’t seem to follow the pattern as written and must change or add some feature nearly every time. I clearly fall into the latter. I’d love to know what camp you fall into!

 

Stash Building: Alison Glass Sun Print 2018

It’s no secret that I love rainbows. It’s probably also no secret that I’m a huge fan of how Alison Glass does rainbows with her fabric lines for Andover Fabrics. Saturated tone-on-tone fabrics, with a bright spectrum of tertiary-heavy colors, natural elements in each print that sing to my nature-loving heart, and fabric lines that flow into and complement each other wonderfully; what’s not to love?! With the rainbow stage set, I will apologize in advance for enabling my fellow rainbow lovers, but I’m excited to be adding a bit of Alison Glass’s newest Sun Print line to my stash. She & Chen  kindly sent me a fat eighths bundle of the line, and I can assure you there will be more joining my stash (or hopefully if all goes as planned, an actual in-progress project or two!) as soon as the fabric is available in shops (slated for late January 2018).

alison glass sun print 2018 rainbowFeast your eyes upon this! Can you blame me!? I mean, seriously…. is there anyone who doesn’t love a rainbow? Here’s a quick introduction to the line, with attention drawn to a few details I especially love, and far too many photos, as is my style.

alison glass sun print 2018 rainbow

Here are the full spectrums of each line within Sun Print 2018, from left to right: Diatom, Compass, and Depths.

alison glass sun print 2018 rainbow diatomDiatom reminds me a bit of Insignia, with its large solid portions, only a bit softer. I love how the colors play wonderfully together, yet you can get different value play within each color.

alison glass sun print 2018 rainbow compassCompass is definitely the boldest in color, and I love the addition of complementary colored details on some of the fabrics.

alison glass sun print 2018 rainbow depthsWith the dense white sketch-like pattern on Depths, it reads the lightest in color.

alison glass sun print 2018 rainbow  and diving boardThe designs are reminiscent of Alison’s most recent fabric line Diving Board, with a definite nautical vibe. You can see one of the Diving Board prints on the card in the center in the photo above, and see how compatible it all is.

alison glass sun print 2018 rainbow Together, these fabrics make a rainbow that fits in wonderfully with the rest of my rainbowtized stash (let’s be honest, it’s probably 90% Alison Glass fabrics anyway), and I can’t wait to work them into my projects. I already have two new rainbow project ideas in the works, even though I really could do with some project finishing before I begin more new ones (shhh).

alison glass sun print 2018 rainbow white and greyI also love that Alison includes white and grey versions of each print, since both act as the perfect neutral to help the rainbow truly pop. She’s thought of everything.

alison glass sun print 2018 rainbow Soooooo so pretty! I’m thinking I’ll use these in an EPP project or two, and I’m planning on using mostly this line (with a few other Alison Glass fabrics of old) in my Quilter’s Planner Sampler quilt for the Sew Along happening in 2018.

What would you make with this rainbow?

I’m linking up with the sparkly Molli Sparkles’ next Sunday Stash since it’s been AGES since I’ve added to my stash and shared about it. I have a few new books and notions to share, too, so hopefully I’ll get those photographed soon! Happy sewing!

 

 

Constant Flux Christmas: Pattern Release!

constant flux christmas foundation paper pieced pattern snowfallBack in July, I promised to release this pattern to the public when the snow began to fly. This past weekend, we had our very first snow of the season here in midcoast Maine, which happened to be perfect timing since today I’m pleased to present Constant Flux Christmas, a pattern hack on my original Constant Flux pattern.

constant flux christmas foundation paper pieced pattern snowfallWhen playing around with color placement on my Constant Flux pattern, I realized that by merging large sections, an entirely new pattern emerged–one that looks to me like a modern take on a wreath and star. I decided to make it easy and adjusted the pattern templates to reflect this heavily altered version, and thus Constant Flux Christmas was born. This is a fun, beginner-friendly pattern that would look great not only in traditional colors, but also in any other colors you throw its way! I’ll be sharing photos of all of the gorgeous versions sewn up by my pattern testers so you can see for yourself!

Constant Flux Cover--Christmas! foundation paper pieced patternThe pattern includes printable foundation templates, cutting suggestions, general foundation paper piecing tips, clear assembly instructions, and a coloring page to help you plan your project. There are no tricky angles, odd shapes, or difficult joins, yet the design options are boundless.

constant flux christmas foundation paper pieced patternConstant Flux Christmas is now available for digital download both on Craftsy and in my Payhip shop for those of you in the EU. This week it will be available for an introductory price of $5, after which it will return to its standard price. ‘Tis the season for adding one more holiday sew to your list, right?

Pattern Tester Versions

Constant Flux Christmas by Jitka Clements
Pattern tested by Jitka Clement @jitkadesign

With this pattern, I finally got brave and put a call out for pattern testers on Instagram. I was amazed by the response, and within 24 hours had an eager and skillful crew of quilters ranging from absolute foundation paper piecing beginner to experienced, ready to tackle Constant Flux Christmas and provide feedback.

Constant Flux Christmas by Jitka Clement straight on
Pattern tested by Jitka Clement @jitkadesign

Future pattern testing groups will be quite a bit smaller, but there was so much excitement, I accepted quite a few!

Constant Flux Christmas by Isabelle Selak
Pattern tested by Isabelle Selak @southbaybella

Every single one of them did an amazing job, sewed up the mini quilt in less than a week (some were finished the first day!), and provided excellent feedback on ways to make the pattern even better. I’m so grateful for all of them, and am excited to show you all of their different versions.

Constant Flux Christmas by Nissa Boeckman
Pattern tested by Nissa Boeckman @baladigiraffe

Some stuck to the traditional red, green, and gold colorway, using both consistent fabrics throughout and scrappy versions.

Constant Flux Christmas by Lauren Wood
Pattern tested by Lauren Wood
Constant Flux Christmas by Jessical Lopez Enriquez
Pattern tested by Jessica Lopez Enriquez @thegorillaandthepig
Constant Flux Christmas by Angela
Pattern tested by Angela Hardin @pepperhardin4356
Constant flux by Amanda Allen
Pattern tested by Amanda Allen @another.amanda
Constant Flux by Alyson Olander
Pattern tested by Alyson Olander @alysonwonderlan
Constant Flux Christmas by Karen Weiderman
Pattern tested by Karen Weiderman @kayweedie
Constant Flux Christmas detail by Karen Weiderman
Constant Flux Christmas quilting detail by Karen Weiderman.
Constant Flux Christmas by Katharine Vonbibra
Pattern tested by Katharine Vonbibra. Love that EPP center!!!

I love how a couple of the testers got really creative with their centers–maybe the clever additions cover up a not-quite-perfectly-aligned center, or maybe the centers are PERFECT and it’s simply an added design element–you’ll never know, and the mini quilts look fantastic! LOL

Constant Flux Christmas by Darlene Cunningham
Pattern tested by Darlene Cunningham @dcapulus

Some of the pattern testers tried out different color palettes, and I really love the way this pattern looks in all of them!

Constant Flux Christmas by Lisa Tucker
Pattern tested by Lisa Tucker @duhquilts
Constant Flux Christmas by Cheryl Kirk
Pattern tested by Cheryl Kirk.
Constant Flux Christmas by Kat Ayers
Pattern tested by Kat Ayers @kitkabbit
Constant Flux Christmas by Evie Landry
Pattern tested by Evelyn Landry @evie_landry
Constant Flux Christmas by Rachael Loving-Painter
Pattern tested by Rachael Loving-Painter @glamstream

Aren’t they all gorgeous!?

I can’t wait to see Constant Flux Christmas done up in your fabric choices! Get yours on Craftsy and in my Payhip shop for those of you in the EU. Enjoy, and happy holidays!

I’ll be linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Finish it up Friday, and TGIFF. Flimsy finished are double the fun when they come with a pattern release!

The Mug Club: Paper Love Doppelganger Mug

Today I’m joining in on another sew along hosted by Kerry Goulder of Kid Giddy and her twin sister Sue of Moss and Lotus. The Mug Club Sew Along is a year long event hosted on Instagram in which participants sew up any one of the 12+ mug paper pieced patterns in the Mug Club and share on social media. Check the hashtags #TheMugClub or #TheMugClubSAL to see the most eclectic and amazing collection of fabric mugs you’ve ever seen.

There’s something particularly inviting about these mug patterns, since anything can go on a mug. A person’s collection of coffee mugs can tell you so much about them–places they’ve gone, their sense of humor, their family (do they have a “I love Grandma” mug? Most likely, they have doting grandchildren!) Maybe it’s just me who reads into coffee mugs, but either way, I feel like these patterns allow SO much room for creativity, expression, and sometimes just straight quirkiness (always a good thing!).

alexander henry steven mug club mug rugAs soon as Kerry asked me to play along, I knew exactly what fabric I was going to use. A few years ago, while stopping in at Clementine Fabrics in Rockland, Maine, after a family day at the beach, I spotted this amazing Alexander Henry fabric with a geometric sketched ocean, sailing ships, anchors, a buxom mermaid figurehead, and (the part that caught my attention) a large face that looks exactly like my brother. The fabric is called Lost at Sea and although my brother is not a salty sailor, it was one of those fabrics that I knew I had to buy even though I had no idea what to make with it, since the face looked so uncannily like Steven. As a little backstory, my brother is an extremely talented artist who spent much of his high school years painting portraits, nearly always using his own reflection as his reference. He already has countless creations sporting his likeness, so what’s one more to the pile, right?

alexander henry steven mug club mug rugI used the 10″ Paper Love Mug since it was *just* large enough to fit the full face, and simple enough not to seem busy with the wavy background. Whether my brother will love the mug rug I make with this mug block or just get a good hearty laugh over it, I don’t care. It’s just one of those gifts that must be given.

the mug club alexander henry lost at seaI visited my local quilt shop Fiddlehead Artisan Supply and got some perfect Robert Kaufman Essex Linen in Navy as the background, and used stashed Kona Navy Blue as the handle. I stitched the block with Aurifil 50wt 2600-Dove, but plan to use a dark navy for quilting. I’m still trying to decide whether to quilt the face, or whether I should leave it as is. I might *try* to stitch some hand quilting with 50wt dark navy thread so that I’m sure to get it exactly on the drawn lines.

the mug club alexander henry lost at seaI also might add some embroidered detail to that anchor tattoo. We’ll see how brave I get. That’s the one thing with using my brother’s Doppelganger fabric–I daren’t mess up the face! Either way, I think he’ll get a kick out of the gift, and I have finally found a way to gift a piece of this stashed fabric to him!

mug club part 1 by kidgiddyThe Paper Love Mug (top center) is part of the Mug Club Part 1, designed by Kerry at Kid Giddy.

mug club part 2 by sue moss and lotusThe Mug Club Part 2 has another fun selection of 6 mugs, designed by Sue of Moss and Lotus. Aren’t they all so fun! Do you see your favorite mug? If you don’t follow Kerry and Sue yet, I recommend it–they are always having some creative sisterly fun together!

Go ahead and have some fun perusing some of the other mugs at #TheMugClub or #TheMugClubSAL since there is SUCH a fun variety.

What would you put on your mug?

Sunday Musings and Why I Quilt

This morning during the weekly coffee date I have with my husband and youngest son while our big kids are at Sunday school, while I was soaking in the bliss of a peaceful moment, I had a fleeting thought of how lovely it would be to write a bit while sitting there in the quiet West Market Square Coffee house. Isn’t that where many people write? In the peace of a moment in the corner of a coffee house while enjoying a latte and a delicious piece of almond coffee cake? But then, Finn eagerly handed me a carefully curated word built with Bananagram tiles in his little palm by my loving husband, and I realized that this moment was not for writing about quilting. I took a quick photo, then put my phone away. With this daily writing challenge on my mind, I’m realizing that my lack of writing is not because of other tasks getting in the way; it’s because little people are always needing, wanting, and deserving of my attention.

We spent the rest of the day in the thick of Sunday family activity: we went to church, went out for a special family brunch at Dysarts (those familiar with Maine will know the draw of a good Dysarts breakfast), then headed off to our local tree farm to cut the perfect, tallest-one-yet, Christmas tree. I sit here now, the rest of the family asleep, typing by the glow of the lights of that tree, which was fully dressed in lights and ornaments before the kids would even think about heading up to bed. It was a full day, an exhausting day, and one during which I didn’t stitch a single stitch or write a single word (until now), but that’s ok.

As I opened my laptop to write, I saw that my dear friend Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl wrote today about why she quilts, and her post really resonated with me. I found myself reading along, nodding, reminiscing, and reflecting. I highly recommend heading over to her blog, giving it a read, and joining the conversation. I especially love the part where she talks about what she believes and wants other quilters to believe–absolutely, this!!

I think it’s so important to reflect on why we do the things we do, and especially on a day–a weekend, really–during which I did zero quilting or sewing or writing, it’s the perfect time to revisit some posts I wrote on the topic a couple years ago. In reading through these, the reasons still ring true. I definitely have another post to add to the series, though, since much of why I quilt and make now are for the sake of my own sanity. Quilting is an escape from the busyness and chaos of life with little kids. I’ve come to realize that it’s part of my self care regimen, and fortunately for me, my family does, too.

I still very much quilt because I love to make beautiful things, and I love to wrap my loved ones in gifts from the heart, and I love to share inspiration. I also find peace in the quiet of my sewing loft, matching seams and choosing color flow, watching beauty come from tiny pieces of fabric.

Here are my original reflections in case you’d like to reminisce with me:

make beautiful things
Photo by Liz West, used from Flickr with Creative Commons. Text added by me.

Missing June {Why I Quilt}

gift of love quiltThe Gift of Love {Why I Quilt}

I could write pages on the sanity that comes from sewing, but for now, I’m going to head to bed since sleep is another KEY factor in my self care regimen, and it’s one that often gets left by the wayside to make up for other things (like late night sewing and crack-of-dawn-waking toddlers).

Here’s to a good night’s sleep, and the promise of a naptime sewing session tomorrow!

 

The 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge

December! Say, what!? The end of the year always spurs a rekindling of intentions, fueled by reflections on the past year as well as the promise of a fresh start and a clean slate in one short month. I’m not really one for new year’s resolutions, but I also am not afraid of beginning fresh. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the habits I’d like to rekindle, routines I’d like to develop and actually stick to, practices that can help my body, mind, soul, and creativity, and then trying to decide how to make it happen.  I finally decided that the best way to begin is to JUST DO IT.  Nike really was on to something.

This past week, for example, I’ve practiced ashtanga yoga three times; the first three times in over 3 years. What changed? Absolutely nothing, except for the fact that I rolled out my mat in the middle of the living room with my 2 year old climbing all over me, under me, on top of me, and instead of stopping and lamenting that I cannot practice yoga with a little one, I just KEPT GOING. And you know what? Finn did fine and I felt fantastic.

quilters planner and computer equals productivityYou may have noticed, but I also blogged… twice (make that thrice, now!) in the past week. Activities that once were part of my routine have dropped off, with enough excuses to bury them for life if I’d let them. But you know what? I’m not going to let the excuses win. I’m going to make a schedule, create habits, form a routine, and find a way to keep myself motivated so that the things that help me be a better mom, wife, friend, and human can become a firm and comfortably permanent part of my life again.

BlogChallengeYr3-1Today I saw a post about the 3rd annual 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge, hosted by Cheryl at Muppin.com, and it felt like a perfect tool to help me jump start back into regular writing again. Now I know better than to think I will post every single day for the next 31 days, but I’m going to use this challenge to make it a point to write every day. My goal is to post at least 3-5 posts per week again, and to write a little bit every day.

So, hi! Remember me? Here’s to a month of getting a head start on new year’s resolutions, trying on new habits to see which fit best, and finding a routine that has room for self care and exercise, creating beautiful things daily, sharing inspiration and creativity here, keeping my house in order, and of course playing and exploring with my kids and husband. It’s going to be a beautiful month.

Panache Mini Quilt Finish: Superbolt!

A few months ago, my friend Rebecca Bryan from Bryan House Quilts asked me if I wanted to play with her new Panache fabric, her premier line for Robert Kaufman Fabrics. One look at the fabric line, and I was sold. Of COURSE I wanted to play with it!

superbolt mini quilt panache fabric I’ve been wanting to create a pattern exclusively for newsletter subscribers, and as I played around with simple and fun mini quilt/pillow patterns, this one jumped out at me. You could say it electrified me. Inspired by lightning, the Superbolt Mini Quilt came to be.


A superbolt is a bolt of lightning around a hundred times brighter than normal. On Earth, one in a million lightning strikes is a superbolt.


That’s pretty special, isn’t it? Absolutely worthy of its own quilt pattern!

Panache-Preview rebecca bryan robert kaufman fabrics
Photo by Rebecca Bryan, Panache fabrics preview

I had a lot of fun sewing with Becca’s fabrics, since she totally nailed my favorite color palette with this fabric line. Teals and magentas, blues and purples, a bit of gold, and of course a solid showing of black and whites. The stripes are a really fun addition, and while I don’t usually gravitate toward stripes, I find myself wanting to work these in anywhere I can!

Superbolt panache quilt detailIt was tough to limit myself to just a few of the colors, but with my design I had to pick my top favorites. Turquoise and magenta won the day, and that perfect purple print with both turquoise and magenta details, called Energy in Berry, was the perfect middle man! Plus, I can’t think of a better fabric name to go in a Superbolt!

superbolt mini quilt top with aurifil threadsI quilted Superbolt with a variety of color-coordinating Aurifil 50wt and 40wt threads. I quilted straight lines in the lighting bolt white sections using 50wt thread in 2600-Dove and the walking foot on my Bernina 560. I’ve been wanting to practice free motion quilting ever since taking Christa Watson’s class at QuiltCon, but haven’t had the right sized project to dive in. I finally bit the bullet with this mini, since using coordinating colors of thread meant I had room to mess up without it being very noticeable. The good news is, I am really happy with how smoothly the quilting ended up, and my confidence is built enough that I think I will be playing with free motion quilting a lot more in the future, even for larger quilts.

quilting detail and striped binding aurifil superbolt panache fabricI used a different design in each colored section, and tried to choose mostly curved designs for the darker areas, with more angular and sharp designs for the light ones. I used 40wt 1148-Light Jade in the teal section (Charisma in Seafoam from Panache), 50wt 2535-Magenta in the purple (Energy in Berry), and 40wt 1100-Red Plum in the bright pink (Spirit in Pink). Because the thread color blends in so well, it’s hard to see how fantastic my free motion quilting was, so you’ll just have to take my word for it! LOL

superbolt mini quilt backingI found the perfect backing fabric for this mini in my stash, Aloe Vera in Candy from Pretty Potent by Anna Maria Horner, and with the addition of a few leftover blocks from the mini quilt top, it came together as a really fun quilt back.

superbolt quilt labelThe striped fabric makes a perfect binding, but also makes a great label! I took the photo before I hand stitched the top edge, and don’t mind that top stray thread that escaped my snips, but I love how easy the stripes made it to write in a straight line! I usually kilter when I write, so having that extra guide was super helpful.

In between the family holiday fun this next month, I will be writing up this Superbolt mini quilt pattern and as soon as it’s ready, it will head out to all of my email newsletter subscribers. Those of you on the list know that my emails are sparse; at most once per week, but more often once per month. Being on my email newsletter list is a way to ensure you’re in the know and the first one to hear about any new patterns, projects, or fun events in the Night Quilter world. You can opt-in HERE. 

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