Greetings, oh patient and dedicated friends! It’s been an age since I’ve last blogged, but what better to kick start me back into it than a fun Book Hop celebration!? Today I’m excited to share all about my friend Alyce Blyth’s new book Mini Masterpieces with Lucky Spool publishing, and what’s more–there’s a giveaway sponsored by Aurifil as well!To introduce you to Alyce’s fun new book, this Book Hop will take you through all of the different lessons included in the book with examples sewn by a slew of fellow quilters & pattern designers. Today we’re all about Lesson 3: Snowball Blocks. To be honest, when Alyce first asked me to sew the Snowball Block lesson and mini quilt, I was sorta wishing for foundation paper piecing, or English paper piecing, or curves or something a bit more complex.
But then I saw the mini quilt pattern called Abacus included with the Snowball Blocks lesson and I was absolutely smitten! It’s such a fun and cool aesthetic, and made with the simplest of blocks. I’m excited to play with color to see how I can make it my own.
For now, here’s the snowball block I made for today. I used some precious Tula Pink Pinkerville Unicorns and meticulously cut them so that they are facing off. Snowball blocks are great for incorporating fussy cuts of your favorite fabrics!
Here’s a closer look at those swirly twirly unicorns. A subtle but fun touch, don’t you think?
Beginning in early January, Alyce will be hosting a Sew Along where you’ll be able to sew your way right through the Mini Masterpieces book, creating a mini quilt per month, so be sure to follow Alyce’s blog at Blossom Heart Quilts and order your book now (affiliate link) so you’re ready to roll!! Mini quilts are a great way to try out new skills, stretch your design style, play with color in unexpected ways, and simply have fun with a fast finish.
To get you started in your sewing endeavors, Aurifil Thread is generously sponsoring a giveaway of two large spools of 50wt thread, selected from Alyce’s Mini Masterpieces thread set. On this stop, you can win a spool of 2865-Emerald and 2000-Sand.
Giveaway closed! Congratulations to Cindy! To enter the giveaway today, let me know your favorite classic quilt block. Leave a comment and make sure I’m able to get ahold of you if you win. For an additional entry, follow me @nightquilter, Alyce @blossomheartquilts , and Aurifil @AurifilThread on Instagram. Leave a separate comment once you complete each entry.
This giveaway is open worldwide. The giveaway will be open for one week, until November 27th when I’ll select the winner randomly with random.org. The winner will have 48 hours to reply or I will select a new winner. Good luck!
*Please note that comment moderation is on, so if you do not see your comment right after posting, do not be alarmed! I try to respond to each and every comment I get on my blog, but with giveaway posts the numbers are usually too great to do this. Follow me on IG @nightquilter or my Night Quilter Facebook page to stay fully in the social media loop.
Mini Masterpieces Book Hop
Be sure to check out all of the stops along the Mini Masterpieces Book Hop. There’s much fun to be had!
Today I’m excited to share the release of Pinnacle, the block I designed for OLFA’s 40th Anniversary Quilt Along! It’s been quiet over here on this blog lately, with summer adventures and family time filling my days. Now that school has begun, perhaps that will provide some space to write here more often. I’m hoping that this space is like an old friend–there may not be posts every week, but when there is one, it’s just like jumping back into the conversation, comfortable as ever.
Let’s start with this fun block! When OLFA invited me to design a block for a Quilt Along for their 40th Anniversary of inventing the rotary cutter, I jumped at the opportunity to help celebrate with this great company. Just think about it—40 years ago, quilters were tracing out quilt pieces using templates and pencil, and cutting out each square with scissors!! The rotary cutter is such a key invention in helping with accuracy and speed of cuts, and I’m grateful for OLFA’s giant contribution to the quilting world. I also happen to love using OLFA products and have come to trust the quality and reliability of their rotary cutters, rulers, mats, and other tools. I also kinda LOVE the multitude of colors they offer for their Splash rotary cutters! OLFA certainly makes my life easier, both by their reliably sharp tools and the ready-to-roll photo props!
OLFA requested that we create a block with OLFA rotary colors (at the time, the colors included yellow, pink, aqua, and purple), with celebrating 40 years as a focus. I chose to name my block Pinnacle, combining a celebration of a high point of achievement for OLFA—40 years since the invention of the world’s first rotary cutter!! and my love of the sharp points that result from foundation paper piecing, with an added nod to the mountains upon which I love to hike. A fairly simple foundation template is jazzed up with the use of a pre-sewn panel of fabric as the peaks, creating a fun block that will look slightly different every time you sew it.
I decided to use the purple shade and chose a small gradient of fabric in the magenta-purple fade I love so much. I chose three Alison Glass prints, which most likely comes as no surprise! The darkest purple/magenta is SunPrint 2018 Compass in Jam, the middle tone is an old one from Alison Glass SunPrint 2014 called Bike Path (I believe it was also printed as part of her Lucky Penny fabric line, so googling or Etsy searches may find some left!), and the lightest is a fabric from her Insignia 2019 fabric line. I love the way the bike path dots add fun tracks of snow down these pinnacle points! Paired with a white solid background, this block is simple and graphic and provides lots of fun for experimentation.
This block includes a fun twist to foundation paper piecing, since you premake a panel of fabric that is used to to fill each mountainous space. This means that every block you make will be slightly different, which to me equals fun! To find the instructions for this block, head over to the OLFA Quilt Along Gallery HERE.
I also was honored to be asked to photograph the full OLFA 40th Anniversary quilt, where you can see how the finished Sew Along Quilt may look. Isn’t it fun!? Do you see my block?
Today I’m excited to be joining the My Typecast of Characters Blog Tour with Sheri at Whole Circle Studio with the ubiquitous yet uplifting, uniquely utilized U is for Unicorn! When Sheri asked if I would sew up an English Paper Pieced letter with curves and landed on U, I knew immediately that it was a perfect project to showcase Tula Pink’s Pinkerville fabrics and the fabulous U-nicorn.
Though it’s subtle, I meticulously cut the background so that the unicorn is continuous and the fabrics all line up (mostly). The coordinating Tula Pink solid in Limeade made the perfect coordinating yet stand-out pop for the U. I used coordinating 50wt Aurifil thread to sew up my block, and between the 1231-Spring Green and 1148-Light Jade the stitches blended right in.
To conserve fabric with the fussy cutting, I opted to keep a few of the paper shapes together, as you can see if you inspect the backside of my letter. Can you see where there are perforations but no fabric seam? That’s where I condensed my shapes. If you’re new to EPP, basting and stitching smaller shapes may be easier, so do what’s comfortable for you.
One of the really cool aspects of these Typecast letter patterns designed by Sheri and produced by Paper Pieces is that they arrive completely assembled, with perforations where you’re to separate each piece, as you can see above. This means that not only is it easy to know exactly where each EPP pieces goes (especially if you label them before tearing the individual pieces apart–hint hint!), but it also gives you the option to condense pieces easily if you so desire and are fairly comfortable with EPP. I’m all for saving time and fabric! The Typecast Pattern Guide and paper packs are all now available, so be sure to check out details at Whole Circle Studio HERE so that you can stitch up your own EPP sentiment.
I’m pretty happy with how my fussy cutting went, and was able to give the impression that the U was just set right down on top of the continuous unicorn fabric, Frolic Imaginarium from Pinkerville by Tula Pink.
I could see this U framed in a shadowbox or stitched down onto a background fabric and wrapped around a canvas in a child’s room, or of course stitched into a pillow for a Unicorn-loving friend.
You can see the full Typecast of Characters Blog Tour schedule below, so be sure to check out all of the other letters that have been stitched up, and visit Sheri’s website to check out the weekly giveaways.
When I first saw Mathew’s Aura fabrics, of course I immediately dreamed of meticulously cutting them for days. I decided that a Pollen Pillow would be the perfect project to showcase these gorgeous fabrics while maintaining a tropical vibe that does the Hawaii-inspired fabric line justice. The Pollen Pillow is the EPP pattern that is included in the 2019 Quilter’s Planner magazine, and is a baby version of my Pollinate Quilt, distributed by Karen the DIY Addict.
I’m so thrilled with how it turned out!! AND pillows are hard to photograph! I just solved that issue by taking lots, and hope my single monstera potted plant can help bring a bit of tropical vibe to the mid-winter Maine photos.
With fussy cutting on my mind, my initial plan was to meticulously choose individual flowers from the Laki Island Daylight fabric, using 5 individual flowers in the center and then a radiating spiral of each individual flower in the outer piehex shapes. However, the scale of the flowers on the fabric were a *bit* too big to make that happen (or maybe my templates/pattern is too small?), so I had to come up with Plan B.
Looking at the varied and gorgeous flower bundles on Laki Island Daylight, I really didn’t want to chop them up tooo much, so I decided to go wild and fussy cut the fabrics so that the piehex looked like it was an uninterrupted flower bouquet, but with a blue section radiating from the center. I taped 3 templates together for the top half, and fussy cut the bottom 3 so that the fabric pattern was continuous when stitched.
They aren’t all perfect, but I’m mighty happy with the result! I also love how the blue section emphasizes the center star, while also helping blend into the Endless Paradise AGF denim background. One of my favorite aspects of the Pollen Pillow & Pollinate quilt patterns are how incredibly versatile they are.
Here’s a look at the pillow top after it was pieced and quilted, but before it was stuffed as a pillow, so that you can see the fabric placement details a bit better. Here are the Aura fabrics I used: Laki Island Daylight for the center star and outer piehexies, Hawaiian Honu Dusk (turtles!) and Hula Dolphins Ocean (tiny dolphins circle around this one) for the star, Loulu Fans Sand for the outermost triangles, Hawaiian Honu Dusk for the turtle diamonds around the outside edge, and AGF Denim in Endless Paradise for the accent pieces in the outer piehexies and the background. I LOVE the fabric names, too!
I used coordinating 50wt thread to hand stitch the full Pollen Pillow design, stitching during travel to QuiltCon, in cafes, or in the car while waiting for preschool pickup. I adore the portability of English Paper Piecing (EPP)! When the Pollen Pillow design was fully stitched, pressed, papers removed, etc., I then stitched it to the backing using 50wt thread in 2000-Light Sand and 1320-Bright Teal. I quilted the pillow with some minimal quilting to secure the pieces while still letting the fabrics shine. I quilted a fun geometric echoey pattern in the background using the walking foot on my Bernina 560, and making it up as I went along. I love using the wide width of my walking foot as a gauge when quilting, since I avoid marking fabrics whenever possible!
Even having made multiple pillows, the insertion of a zipper still gives me the willies a bit before diving in. This time I used this fabulous tutorial by Suzy Quilts and am incredibly happy with my zipper! Mental note for next time, though: when creating a side zipper pillow, you need a zipper that is at least 2″ shorter than your pillow panels. I bought a bunch of 18″ zippers, one of which is shown in the progress photo, and none of which were used for this pillow because they were too long. I settled for a 14″ turquoise zipper, which coordinates enough to seem intentional (shhh).
Those of you familiar with my Pollen Pillow pattern may have noticed that I included some extra diamonds on this pillow. The sea turtles just begged to be included more, so I borrowed the center diamonds after stitching the pillow center down, and made a few more sea turtles to swim outward around the edges. I love the effect!
Here are just a couple more photos to round out this post. The first is of my daughter Maddie, who really wanted to be a pillow holding model (so helpful!). You can see the most pattern details in this photo, I think, so I’m glad she wanted to help!
Finally, here is a photo of my original Pollen Pillow duking it out with this newbie for the prime spot. It’s so fun to see both of these pillows next to each other, since it’s a perfect example of how different fabric choices and color placement can result in very unique aesthetics with the Pollen Pillow pattern.
Thank you for swinging by to help celebrate this Friday finish, and be sure to check out the other stops on Mister Domestic’s Aura Blog Party. The projects are all stunning!
Heading into the summer, I had too many irons on the fire, as the saying goes. I began writing this post back in June, and not only did it not get published, but I haven’t blogged since. This past summer was full of so many fun things, and between a summer of family adventures, big projects, and exciting opportunities, I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to blogging about them. I take pride in the quality of the posts that I share, which means that each blog post requires forethought, a photo shoot, photo editing, writing, formatting, and of course the sewing part! With all of the deadlines I had on top of an already full summer with all three kids home and ready to rumble, blogging needed to take a back seat. I needed to let it fall off my mental (and written) to-do list.
Fast forward through summer, then back-to-school, then how are we already past Thanksgiving?! I’ve been thinking about returning to this space and I figure now is as good a time as any! I will certainly need to reevaluate the frequency and depth at which I share, but I do hope to be sharing something here with more regularity.
I thought it might be fun to return with just a few peeks at what I accomplished over the summer, some complete and some still in progress. For those of you who want to be sure to stay in the loop, you can opt in for my emails (which are nearly as infrequent as blog posts), follow me on Instagram @nightquilter, follow my Night Quilter Facebook page (which is mostly another place to view my IG posts and fun announcements), or join my Pollinate EPP Garden Party Facebook group, where there’s a fun group of stitchy friends gleefully hand-stitching my Pollinate EPP quilt (there’s so much I haven’t shared here!).
Anyway, here are some highlights of my past few months:
Quilter’s Planner 2019 Photography
Once again I was honored to have the task of doing the quilt photography for the 2019 Quilter’s Planner, and it was loads of fun this year! I’ve learned a lot each year as I have tackled the monumental task of photographing 12-15 projects out in the wilds of Maine with the help of my strong, tall, patient husband, usually in a fairly short timeframe.
This year, we were definitely a lot more relaxed and peaceful during the photoshoots, which I’m sure Garrett appreciated!
With projects photographed all through Maine, next year’s planner is sure to inspire, and if you haven’t ordered yours yet, I definitely recommend doing so! As an added bonus (and added irons on the fire) I also contributed a pattern to the Quilter’s Planner 2019 Companion Magazine (the Pollen Pillow, which is shown above and is a baby bite from my larger Pollinate EPP pattern, which I’ll talk about soon!), and I wrote an article with the basics for English Paper Piecing (EPP). There’s so much value to the package you get with the Quilter’s Planner, and I’m grateful to have been able to contribute so much to it this year. See more and order yours HERE.
Summer Adventure Quilt Pattern
In the beginning of the summer, I released my Summer Adventure Quilt Pattern, which was a project I realllllly wanted to get out before the summer months hit. It was actually my very last blog post on here before I began the summer juggle, so you can read more about it HERE. With everything else on my plate, I wasn’t able to do as much with the Summer Adventure Quilting with Kitty Wilkin group on Facebook, but there’s always next summer! The pattern is out and available in both my Craftsy and Payhip shops, which are linked in the blog post.
Pollinate EPP Pattern
Perhaps the most exciting and monumental project I tackled over the course of the summer was the design of my very first English Paper Piecing pattern with Karen the DIY Addict! My pattern is called Pollinate and it’s absolutely wonderful (yes, that’s a proud mama’s take on it, but from what I’m hearing, a lot of others agree!).
Perfect for both beginner and experienced EPPers alike, Pollinate is a diverse pattern that has endless possibilities for design and color play. Plus, the “filler” sections look like bees!! You can see the many different Pollinate quilts taking shape on Instagram by checking out the #pollinatequilt hashtag (you don’t have to have an Instagram account to see them, I don’t think). There are 3 finished quilt tops so far, and each completely different! I will definitely share more about that here soon. In the meantime, you can read more about the pattern and order yours (if you want to join in on the Garden Party fun) HERE. Join the Pollinate EPP Garden Party on Facebook for more inspiration, a joyful group of stitching cheerleaders, and a community of help! Or you can watch my totally amateur videos on YouTube. Yes, I have finally created a channel, and with my phone taped to a tripod, I’ll slowly add video tutorials all about EPP and anything else you want to know!
This summer I was honored to work with Aurifil to update the photographs on their website. As you all surely know, I love photography, and combined with my favorite quilty notion, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
I photographed all 9 different weights of thread offered by Aurifil in a variety of stagings, and truly enjoyed the process. You can scroll through the photos on the top of the Aurifil Thread website to see a selection of my photos, and I’ve included a couple of my favorites here. There’s also a fun interview with me on the Auribuzz blog HERE.
100 Days of Sew Smaller Challenge
This summer I also tackled the 100 Day Project, and chose to go with 100 Days of Sew Smaller. My goal was to sew a teeny tiny quilt block that finishes at 1 1/4″ square each day for 100 days. I created foundation paper piecing templates as I went, stretched my comfort zones in both minuscule piecing and fussy cutting at a tiny scale, and really had a great time. AND I actually finished all 100 blocks!! The progress photos and finished mini quilt will be exhibited in the special exhibit at Quilt Con in Nashville in February of 2019, so be sure to check it out if you’re planning on attending QuiltCon!
The Splendid Sampler 2
I’m excited to be one of the contributing designers to the Splendid Sampler 2 book by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson, and have been sewing along as much as I could fit in. They released 20 free blocks to kick off the Sew Along beginning in June, and now we are diving into sewing the book! My block will appear somewhere along the course of the sew along, but you’ll just have to wait and see which one it is!
Here is a screenshot showing some of the blocks I’ve made so far. You can see all of them on Instagram HERE, and I’ll aim to share updates here as I make more!
Phew! There’s surely so much more that I’ve forgotten to share, but this is a pretty decent start on catching up! What have you been up to this summer?
With one more day to get through all of the laundry and packing before I head off on my adventures to QuiltCon, I’m in that final push! Monday morning I set off south with my three little ones, driving all day down to NJ to help them get settled with my awesome parents. Then Wednesday eaaarly morning, I’ll be hopping on a plane and flying across the country to sunny Pasadena! It’s nearly here!
This year is especially exciting since I will be co-teaching four classes with my awesome friend and colleague Michelle Bartholomew: two sessions of Quilt Photography Basics, and two sessions of Advanced Quilt Photography. Michelle is the mastermind/owner of Quilt Theory and spent years as a successful wedding photographer in her past (pre-quilty) life. We’ve been working hard, collaborating via Zoom since I’m in Maine and she’s at the far reaches of the country in Washington state, and I think we’re ready! These classes are going to be awesome!
I’ll also be giving a lecture on Quilts to Mark Milestones on Sunday morning, during which I’ll talk all about my Milestone Quilt project for Finn, my Summer Adventure Quilt, and so much more! I’m honored to have the opportunity to share my journey with other like-minded people, and hope to inspire a few more makers to make meaningful quilts that document the milestones of their lives.
I’m triple excited since I *just* managed to finish my Summer Adventure Quilt flimsy, so it will be traveling to Pasadena with me! Those of you attending my lecture will be able to see it in real life! I’ll share one quick photo here now, but will write much more about it upon my return. This quilt is quite special to me, and I can’t tell you how great it feels to have the quilt top together!
Are you going to QuiltCon? I hope to see you there–please do stop me if you see me, since I’m often the deer in headlights walking around with a permagrin! Tomorrow I’ll be up to my eyeballs in laundry, packing, and prepping some hand-stitching for my travels, and then the adventure begins!
Follow me on Instagram @nightquilter for live updates next week, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you when I return home!
ps. In the whole QuiltCon-prepping, social media world, Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl is my hero. I love her post Social Media Honesty here. So so true, and worth a read!
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!
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.
So 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
I 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 oldold 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
I 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
I’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
This 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!
I ordered my copy of the magazine through the Quilting Daily website, but I also have seen copies at my local big box bookstore (Books-a-Million) and Joann Fabric stores.
Do you subscribe to this magazine? I’d love to hear what you thought about the interview, and about embroidery’s role in modern quilting! I’m excited to incorporate embroidery and hand quilting into more of my future makes. Now I just need to figure out how to jump back on the “finish the project” bandwagon! ha!
I’ve replaced my old laptop and I’m excited to have an opportunity to share once again in this space. With so many post ideas and projects underway, I’ll do my best to share my highlights from the past few weeks! Thank you for your patience as I find my blogging stride once again. xoxo
Slow Fashion has been on my mind for the past few months, or more accurately, at least the past year. I even bought a simple tank top pattern that was suggested for first time garment sewists, and have the fabric I need to make at least three. But the apprehension that stands in my way is still strong. While making 20 minutes of quilting or embroidery progress seems reasonable, 20 minutes doesn’t feel like sufficient time to let my brain wrap around the concept of garment sewing enough to dive in.
My dear dear friend Stephanie from Late Night Quilter even surprised me with an Alabama Chanin stitching book about a month ago! It’s meant to be, truly.
When I heard that Sam from A Gathering of Stitches was organizing a Slow Fashion Retreat as well as a Slow Stitching Retreat this year, I knew this was my chance. I arranged childcare thanks to the team efforts of my parents and in-laws, registered, happily agreed to teach yoga during the retreat once again, and here we are only a couple short weeks away from retreat time! I’m hoping to have a wonderfully blissfully relaxing week, knock my fear of garment sewing out of the park, mend some of my holey jeans, and play with natural dyeing! All this on the coast of Maine amidst some of the best company there is. Yes, can you tell I’m excited? If you’re feeling spontaneous, a little bird tells me there are still a few spaces available for the retreat–join me if you so desire!
In reflecting on my experience at last year’s Slow Stitching retreat and getting excited about this year’s retreat, I realized that I never did post my reflection on last year. I wrote nearly all of it, but was waiting to get it *just perfect* before posting, as well as possibly waiting to finish a couple of the projects I began on the retreat, and well… neither of those things happened. In the spirit of retreat reflections, I thought I’d share my reactions now, nearly a year later. Stitching retreats are an experience unlike any other, and rereading my reflections transports me back to the blissfully sun-filled porch, rocking and stitching and enjoying the company of like-minded makers.
*Note: the following was written a year ago, shortly upon returning from the Slow Stitching Retreat at Medomak in August of 2016*
There’s something amazing about the retreat format, where a group of likeminded strangers gathers in a quiet and often intimate setting, spending hours upon hours together in the spirit of learning, relaxing, and reconnecting with self and spirit. The people and the deep and kindred bond I feel with them at the end of such a relatively short time is always what strikes me most upon returning home from a retreat. Here was this group of nearly complete strangers four short days prior, yet tears flow and hugs abound when it’s time to part ways again and head back into our own individual corners of the game called life. It’s a tiny peek at the innate goodness, compassion, and human connection we all share, yet that is often hidden by the bustle and drama of life during our normal day to day existence. That fiber of human connection is truly beautiful, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.
So many things stand out to me about the Slow Stitching Retreat that quietly happened at Medomak Retreat Center in the woods of Washington, Maine, a couple weeks ago. Yes, the people. The new friends, the realization that even the most talented, well-known and revered makers are real people, just like you and me. And that they can be wicked silly and fun to hang out with! The surprising connections and moments of clear understanding that happen in spontaneous conversations over stitching or wine. We came from all over the country, and reflected all sorts of characters. Some quiet, some not so quiet. Some names widely known, some not. All creative. All open. All building and creating and supporting each other. All of us, human. I’m so grateful to Sam for bringing us all together.
The learning and stitching was also really fabulous, so before I get too deep into a philosophical reflection on the human condition and how hand stitching and quilting helps build positive connections, I’ll jump into the more physical aspects of the retreat–slow stitching!
On the first day, I immersed myself in the reverse applique techniques taught by Alison Glass. It was my first time working with knits, my first reverse applique, and my first time transferring a pattern to fabric by *gasp* writing on the fabric! I used a micron pen, since it was a cut line and would not be visible anyway, and amazingly, not only did it transfer the pattern beautifully, no fabric died in the process!
I decided to create a design based upon the geometry of a chapel ceiling captured by my brother-in-law in Oakland, California, so in light of the whole discussion around “derivatives” in quilting that sparked a heated discussion days before I embarked on the retreat, I spent the week being 100% derivative. And liking it.
The process of sketching out the design, transferring it to the fabric using the tips shared by Alison on how to create a repeated design, finagling the knit fabrics to do what I wanted (sort of) and finally, slowly stitching and cutting, watching the design come to life before my eyes, was extremely enjoyable.
Not to mention making slow stitching progress lakeside after a refreshing swim!
This is most certainly not the last reverse applique I’ll do. The one hesitation I have with it is its durability with washing. Having three young kids who love to have pillow fights, make pillow forts, and sneak food into the living room, I would most likely create reverse applique items and then hide them away for now. Either way, LOVE!
The second day of the retreat, I spent the day giggling uncontrollably while tiny stitching with Chawne Kimber in the amazing barn. Having witnessed this technique the year prior with Chawne, I had a little preview of the fun. There’s something about the mantra “sew smaller; no, even SMALLER” that takes quilting to a whole new level.
Chawne’s work is epically awesome on many levels, and it was fabulous to get to see many of her creations once again. They never cease to amaze me, and hearing her talk about her process is always inspiring. (Chawne will be returning for this year’s Slow Stitching Retreat, so you have a chance to stitch with her, too, if you want! I highly recommend it!)
I went into the retreat with a vague design idea, though without a full plan of how to execute it, but also the desire to keep an open mind and take advice as it was presented. At the advice of both Chawne and Sam, rather than jump into trying to execute my idea with my desired fabrics, I played around with some scraps to see if it would translate into reality the way I envisioned.
I’m very glad I did, since it did not really translate the way I had wanted, BUT I do love what I created and had a ton of fun just going wild and sewing whatever wherever, as long as it was smallllllll. Tiny stitching plus improv curves equals loads of fun!
Here are some other scenes from the retreat:
I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends and creating some more slow stitching retreat memories, this time hopefully with a bonus souvenir of a hand-made garment and the knowledge and confidence to dive more deeply into the world of Slow Fashion. As one who does not like to shop, who feels a strong stewardship toward the earth, and who loves to stitch, I’m excited to embark into this new world! Now that I have a fully functioning laptop, I will be sure to share my experiences with you. This time, I will try to post my reflections a bit sooner than a year later!
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!!
The 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.
I 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!
If 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
For 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.
I 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
Finally, 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.
I 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!
It is a very basic tote bag with extra wide handles to help make it comfortable even when filled with goodies.
I 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?
I grab a needle and thread once the kids are in bed