Category Archives: Design

Quilt Theory Designer Corner: Geometric Inspiration

Today I’m excited to be over on the Quilt Theory blog sharing my first post for the new Designer Corner weekly column. I love pulling inspiration from the world around me, so my posts will be focused on exactly that.

geometric inspiration found in savannah gaThis month, I talk about where you can find geometric inspiration (psst… everywhere!) and share some photos I’ve taken. Go ahead and check it out here!

The Designer Corner is a fun new weekly column where each week, one of the Quilt Theory designers shares something new with you. If you’re looking to see more of what happens behind the scenes, tips and tricks, or fabulous quilty inspiration, be sure to follow the Quilt Theory blog so that you can be in the know!

Here are the topics that have been discussed thus far, to give you taste:

Head on over and be inspired!

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 35 Flora Tutorial

Welcome to the final–yes, the very last!!!–block tutorial for the 1930 Farmer’s Wife Sew Along, hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell. If you’ve made it this far and have completed all of the blocks, congratulations!! You have finished quite an amazing accomplishment! If you haven’t completed all of the blocks but are still following along, bravo to you as well! And welcome to the club 😀

farmers wife 1930 35 flora tutorialSince at this point in this Sew Along, I’m sure there are hardly any techniques or block approaches that need additional guidance, I decided, with the approval of Angie, to approach this tutorial a little differently. Today my tutorial will focus on “what next?” Now that this epic sew along is officially complete and you may or may not have all 99 of the blocks sewn, I will reflect on and share a few different approaches you might want to take.

Tips for Foundation Paper Piecing Flora

First, let’s get Flora’s construction covered. I foundation paper pieced my block, so for those of you who do not know how to foundation paper piece, visit my Basic Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial here, as well as the Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial guest post I wrote for the Andover Fabrics blog. Trust me, it is a technique worth practicing and mastering, since it opens a whole new world of sewing possibility!

foundation paper pieced flora farmers wifeSince this block is not symmetrical, I printed a mirror image of the templates to help ensure I matched the color placement to that in the book. I selected simple dark, medium, and light green fabrics and carefully marked each piece of the template with a D (dark), M (medium), or L (light) before sewing so that once I had my fabric bits cut, I could chain piece the templates without too much thought. Those two preparatory steps (printing mirror image templates & marking each section of the templates) helped make the actual stitching of this block quick and smooth.

farmers wife 1930 floraThe final block has been sewn! Congratulations! So now what….?

Farmers Wife final layout warm coolIf we reminisce back to October 2015 when we first began this sew along, I originally planned (hoped?) to make 72 blocks instead of the full 99. I planned to sew some with cool colors on a white/low volume background and warm colors on a grey/black background and set them with solid blocks between. It seemed like a solid plan at the time, back when I had in my head that I was making “just a little 6″ block every week”. As you all know at this point, though, these little 6″ blocks pack a punch, often with 30-60 pieces and taking hours to construct. I’ve accepted that the 72 block plan just isn’t in the cards for me at this point in my life. I’m totally ok with that. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are some options.

Keep Plugging Away

all of my blocks sans flora
My full block inventory, not including Flora = 15 blocks

One option is to keep plugging away at the blocks with the goal of completing all of them eventually. If you want to be sure to complete them in a timely fashion, you may want to set a new goal for yourself and try to hold yourself to it.  Perhaps you could aim to make one block per week, at least 3 weeks out of every month.  Or you could plan to make 1 block every 2 weeks, where week 1 is spent selecting fabric and cutting and week 2 is spent sewing the blocks together. If this is your choice, make a plan, write it down, and forge ahead!

Change your Block Setting

Adjusting the way you set your blocks could also help you get a decent sized quilt from the blocks you’ve made. If you have made all 99 blocks, you could set your blocks with simple sashing and have a nice, huge quilt.

background fabric between each blockAdding solid blocks between each Farmer’s Wife block can help you get the most bang for your buck with however many (or few, in my case) blocks you’ve made. Add sashing and that will make your quilt even larger relative to the number of blocks you’ve made. My original mock-up includes both the blocks between each Farmer’s Wife block, and sashing, so you can reference that (included a few images up) for a visual.

negative space block setting - aria lane alyssa lichtnerOr you could think even further out of the box and arrange your blocks in a more modern, negative-space filled setting. I love the idea of arranging blocks similar to the design in Alyssa Lichner’s Concerto Quilt pattern for Aria Lane!

Make a Smaller Quilt

If you made less blocks than you initially had planned, you could always make a smaller quilt!  Lap quilts are all the rage these days, right!? Are any of your local farmer friends having a baby anytime soon? A good handful of these blocks could be beautifully worked into a “Farmer’s Baby Quilt”. With these intricate blocks, you don’t need many of them to make a gorgeous quilt.

Placemats & Pillows!

If, like me, these 6″ blocks showed you who’s boss (and it wasn’t you) and you only ended up successfully making a bit over a dozen of them, they sure would make beautiful placemats or pillows! Both placemats and pillows are handmade items that are often seen and appreciated daily, making sure your painstaking efforts will be appreciated to their fullest.

background fabric between each blockI’m actually thinking the blue unicorn block I made very well might have to become a pillow for one of my kiddos. It will surely be cherished that way.

With all of those options on your plate, your beautiful Farmer’s Wife blocks are sure to find their way into a finished work of beauty instead of floundering in a pile in your sewing space, right?!  Choose your own adventure, enjoy the journey, and thanks so much for joining in on this wild Farmer’s Wife Sew Along experience!

So which adventure will I choose?

Once I completed Flora, I pulled out all of my completed blocks and put them up on my design wall to take stock of my progress. As seen above, I finished a whopping 16 blocks. I am not counting the three blocks that have foundation paper piecing templates printed, cut out, and fabric pulled, since they are not yet sewn, but I do plan to make them eventually.

smaller quilt same layout planAt first I considered the “Make a Smaller Quilt” option, and thought perhaps I’ll make a few more blocks to fill out a lap sized quilt in my original layout. Note that these photos are from a purely planning phase–fabric slapped up onto my portable design wall simply for the benefit of playing with different arrangements visually. It’s wrinkled and wonky and that’s all part of the fun! 

warm on darkSince I made the warm colored blocks with a dark background and the cool colored blocks with a white background, I probably will stick with those for sashing and background blocks.

Once I began writing this post, though, the negative-space filled setting inspired by the Concerto Quilt is really calling to me. I may opt to plug away and make some more blocks, with the end goal of setting them in a fade out pattern similar to the blocks in the Concerto Quilt. Time will tell, and since I know that I want to make more blocks before settling on any of the options, it’s absolutely okay to choose later!

snail and low volumes worked into greenery
Do you see Flora?

Flora is going to go live in my Greenery 2017 quilt, though, since the block reminded me strongly of dappled light through the treetops and I thought adding a Farmer’s Wife block to my year’s Greenery project would be the perfect touch! The quilt is already a green melting pot of blocks from all of the sew alongs and bees I’m joining this year so it feels only right that a Farmer’s Wife 1930s block join the ranks.

The moral of this story is: There are no rules. This is your quilt. You can do anything you want to with these blocks!  Enjoy the adventure!

Important Links

http://www.interweavestore.com/the-farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quiltThe Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

 

The Bee’s Knees in Constant Flux

Right before the mad-dash to get packed for our trek to QuiltCon, I finished a mini quilt and excitedly mailed it to a hotel in Savannah, where it patiently waited for Giuseppe to arrive. Here’s a closer look at my mini quilt that hung in the Andover Fabrics booth at QuiltCon.

alison glass constant flux mini quilt for andoverThis quilt got its name after it was nearly completed, as I sat hand stitching the binding to the back. A mini quilt made at the request of Andover Fabrics, out of entirely Alison Glass fabrics, to be displayed in the Andover booth at QuiltCon–can you imagine how thrilled I was to make it? I had selected my pattern Constant Flux since I have been wanting to play with different arrangements and color schemes for it, and simply rearranged the blocks to create a central focal square (I rotated each block 180 degrees).

applique embroidered bee from alison glass fabric constant flux detailWith freestyle embroidery fresh on my mind and Nichole Vogelsinger’s book Boho Embroidery freshly on my bookshelf, I was inspired to add an embroidered, appliquéd bee from Alison’s Seventy-Six line in the center.

hungarian braided stitch aurifil 12wt
Just getting started with my favorite stitch: Hungarian braided chain, in 12wt Aurifil 2120-Canary.

So when a local friend of mine sent a message connecting me with a textile designer friend of hers who needed product photography, and calling me “the bee’s knees”, the name just felt right.  I think the entire world pretty much knows that I think nearly all of Alison Glass’s fabrics are the bee’s knees, so it felt like the perfect name: The Bee’s Knees (aka all of my favorite things–Alison Glass fabrics, plus meticulous cutting, plus embroidered applique, plus detailed machine and hand quilting) in Constant Flux (the pattern name). More figuratively, it’s a nod to the fact that the fabrics and styles that we consider the bee’s knees are constantly changing.

foundation paper piecing progressI had a lot of fun with the meticulously cut (yeah, yeah, fussy cut) sections, including bees and flowers as framing for the color flow. I love pairing meticulous cutting with foundation paper piecing. The fussy cutting templates I include in my pattern came in handy, too.

half inch grid quilting aurifilI knew I wanted to incorporate both hand and machine quilting, and I knew that I wanted the machine quilting to be dense. It took me a while to decide between using 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove or 5015-Gold Yellow for the quilting, and finally I opted for the Gold Yellow to pull out the gold of the centrally stitched bee. I quilted a diagonal grid approx 1/2″ apart on all of the colored sections of the quilt and I love the texture it created. I wanted the white star and central diamond to pop, so I let them be, patiently awaiting hand quilting.

hand quilting detail I used a rainbow of 12wt Aurifil thread to help pull the rainbow from the gorgeous fabrics into the white sections, and I love the outcome! I decided to switch to 12wt 2600-Dove for the center so that the bee would stand out.

hand quilting detail back of quiltThe back shows that my hand quilting still has plenty of room for improvement (especially when trying to maneuver around the bee), but it’s still fun to see the back, too!

the bee's knees in constant flux quilt back alison glassI used Seventy Six fabrics Rising in Graphite and Numbered in Duck Egg for the back, with an Insignia in Chartreuse label.

label your quilts!Labeling is one of my favorite parts–maybe because it helps me know that my name is on my work, or maybe because it means I’m finished with a project!!

Andover Booth Quilt Con 2017This quilt is currently in Andover headquarters in NYC for photography and other fun fabric adventuring before it returns to me, but it was super fun to see it hanging in the booth at QuiltCon (see it, top right??). You can see a photo of me proudly standing next to it in my QuiltCon post here.

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, since this finished mini hopped right into the mail upon its completion and hasn’t been shared in detail here yet. Finishes do feel good, don’t they!?

Kittens at Play: First Commissioned Quilt Finish

Today I am excited to share my first commissioned quilt with you! This quilt was a long time in the making, but has finally been finished, mailed, and happily received. It was a project for my father-in-law (GrandDude to my kids), who wanted to commission a secretly-made quilt for his adored wife (Grand Princess). The quilt features their two kittens Gina and Rascal, and incorporates many of my mother-in-law’s favorites. At 80″x74″, it was the largest quilt I’ve made to date, and lots of fun!

j quilt kittens at play finishWhen my FIL first suggested the idea of making a quilt for J, I asked him what he had in mind. He wanted a kitten quilt and suggested a mauve color palette. I showed him a few examples of kitten quilts with a modern aesthetic, and we decided on a quilt inspired by Luke Haynes’ Silhoucat quilt and tutorial found on Bernina’s We All Sew blog.

Mock up with kittensI sketched out a few versions with one kitten, but then he decided it would be really fabulous if I could show Gina looking out the window at a butterfly and Rascal looking out the door at a mouse. He sent a photo of the “green room” in their home since it is where the kittens often lounge, and asked if I could make the quilt look like the room. Since they live hundreds of miles away, matching the green would have been near impossible, so I grasped the mauve color palette suggestion and came up with a final layout.  My thought was that it is reminiscent of the green room in layout and kitten position, but the color would coordinate with either the green room or the living room, so the quilt could be an all purpose snuggle quilt. I sent him a rough mock up, created in EQ7 and paint–don’t you love my scribble kitties?–which amazingly came really close to looking like the finished quilt (little did we know at the time). He gave me the go-ahead to take artistic license and make the quilt, and so I began!

silhouette cat window butterfly quiltThe windows are made up of an assortment of light teal, blue, and grey half square triangles (HST), since I wanted it to look like dappled light through the windows. I’m definitely happy with the outcome, and think that it worked well! The walls and window/door frame are Interweave chambrays in colors sorbet and boysenberry, and the cats are Moda bella black, fused and raw-edge appliqued in place during quilting.

silhouette cat window mouse quiltNot having cats myself, I had to do some research into cat posture and the meanings behind different stances. Many thanks to Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl and Stephanie at Late Night Quilter for their input and cat positioning feedback. I think the playfulness of Rascal came across well as he eyed a mouse in preparation of pouncing!

finished folded quiltThe binding and backing were a step outside of my comfort zone, but I think they work well. J’s favorite color is lime green, so I knew from the start that I wanted to work some into the quilt. After considering many options (and confirming with my FIL), I made a bold choice to go with a solid lime green lawn for the backing. Lawn is super soft, so it is perfect for a couch snuggle quilt, and the solid lets the quilting shine on the back. I used Anna Maria Horner’s Spotted in the Crowd in Amelie from her Field Study line for binding, since I know J loves animal prints. Plus, the binding has both bits of lime green and teal/light blue, which helps tie the windows from the front into the lime green back.

lime green quilting detailI had lots of fun and tried new things with the quilting for this quilt, and I’m really happy with the outcome. I used coordinating 50wt Aurifil thread, changing colors for each section so that the quilting created texture without detracting from the design. I first quilted straight lines to frame the windows and keep the quilt squared (thank you, Stephanie for the pro tip!). Next, I raw edge appliquéd around the cats, butterfly, and mouse. I echo quilted inside of the cats to secure them while still keeping the shape apparent. For the walls, I free motion quilted a large mod flower pattern to give the walls texture and softness at the same time. I free motion quilted a large orange peel into the windows, using the HST grid as my base. As is my style, I didn’t mark the quilt at all and just went for it! Every time I free motion quilt, I begin terrified and quickly get into the rhythm, grinning and loving the process. I really need to do this more often!

kittens at play quilt commission finishAside from finding the necessary time to piece, layer, trace, fuse, and cut applique, baste, quilt, and finish this commission, the trickiest part was photographing the finished quilt. This quilt was too wide for even my tall 6’2″ husband to hold fully extended, although he did his best. He even tried to jump to get his feet out of the photo, but lo it only resulted in laughs. After washing and drying the quilt, I gave photographing it in full another go, trying the pant-hanger on the shed trick. Still not my favorite quilt photos, but they show the full quilt, so I’ll concede. The quilt is cute and loved, and that’s what matters!

always sign a quilt labelJ with her quilt happy recipientJ is happy with her quilt, so I’m thrilled!

Quilt Stats

Pattern: My own design, method inspired by Luke Haynes’ Silhoucat Quilt and fashioned after the recipients home and kittens

Size: 80″x74″

Fabric:
Front: The windows are an assortment of MANY teal/light blue/grey prints including but not limited to: Firefly Jar Mint from Curiosities by Jeni Baker (Art Gallery), Shimmer 2 fabric by Jennifer Sampou (Robert Kaufman), Mini Pearl Bracelets in Petal by Lizzy House (Andover), Full Circle in Robin’s Egg from Full Circle by Eloise Renouf (Cloud 9), Hilltop Mint Hearts for Wee Gallery (Dear Stella), Geo Mist in Mist from Anna Elise by Bari J (Art Gallery), Flirt Spring Branches on Grey (Dear Stella), Grey Mini Confetti from Confetti Dot (Dear Stella), Net in Smoke and Mint (Dear Stella), Crosshatch in Lake from Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander (Robert Kaufman), Chasing Butterflies in Blue by Lizzy House (Andover), Flowers on Blue by Pippa Moon (Studio E), The Sweet Life by Cori Daitini (Blend), Three French Hens by Pearl Louise Krush for Riverwoods Collection (Troy Corp), Glitz Flower in Aqua from Glitz Garden (Michael Miller);
The walls are Interweave Chambray in Sorbet (Robert Kaufman), and the door and window frames are Interweave Chambray in Boysenberry (Robert Kaufman); the cats and creatures are Moda Bella black.
Back: Cotton Lawn in Lime
Binding: Spotted in the Crowd in Amelie from Field Study by Anna Maria Horner (Free Spirit)

Batting: 100% cotton Soft n’ Crafty batting

Thread: Aurifil 50wt in 2600 – Dove for piecing and Aurifil 50wt 2800- Mint Ice, 5003-Wine, 4030-Plum and, 2692-Black for quilting

Quilting: Both straight line and free motion quilting on my Bernina 560 and a walking foot/open fronted darning foot

Time:
Piecing the top: 12 hours
Tracing, cutting, fusing applique: 4 hours
Piecing the back: 35 minutes
Squaring, layering, and basting: 1 hour 40 min
Quilting: 9 hours 30 min
Finishing (squaring & burying threads): 2 hours
Binding: 3 hours
Total: Approx. 32 hours 45 min

Related Blog Post: Slow and Steady

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, Needle and Thread Thursday, and TGIFF. I’m so excited to have my first commissioned quilt under my belt, and I’m so grateful to my FIL for not only seeing the value in handmade, but insisting on supporting the business side of what I do, too!

 

Inviting Ancestors to Tea: A Mug Rug Gift

A few months ago, my brother-in-law posted the coolest picture on Instagram of what appeared to be a little metal pin or charm. My first thought (of course) was, “That would make a cool paper pieced pattern!” His caption read: “Our ancestral emblem dates back to the 1800s.”  That sealed the deal. This HAD to be made into fiber art of some sort. How awesome is it to have an ancestral emblem!? I’ve been prodding my artist brother to design one for our family, since you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?!

ancestral emblem IG postWhen I got the reminder from my mom that his birthday was in early March, I decided it was time for this ancestral emblem creation to become a reality. I drafted a foundation paper pieced pattern, decided a mug rug would be the perfect doable yet useful gift, and set to work.

finnish ancestral emblem mug rugI’m very happy with the result!

This gift was a surprise for my brother-in-law, so I had to do some secretive research into favorites. He and my brother both have a very distinct style and I wanted to be sure to make a gift he’ll sincerely love (for more than just the fact that I made it for him). First up was to do some research to figure out a favorable color scheme. Word back from my brother was that colors were tough, and the safest bet was to go with grey, black, or white. Since Robert Kaufman’s Essex yarn dyed linen in charcoal is one of my all-time favorite fabrics, this color scheme sounded perfect to me!

finnish ancestral emblem progressWith Kona white and Essex yarn dyed in charcoal, I pieced the top using my newly created foundation paper pieced pattern. I made some binding with my go-to Carolyn Friedlander text on black from Architextures and decided the whole thing needed an accent–just a pop of color in the binding to round it out. I sent my brother the photo above for his opinion, and I’m glad I did! The texty print was vetoed and orange and black apparently are a favorite color combination (you know me–I was leaning heavily toward turquoise).

hand stitching binding relaxationI easily switched in Kona black instead of the Architextures (I’ll save that for another project!) with three narrow bits of Kona Persimmon and before I knew it, I was relaxingly hand stitching the binding to the back to finish it up.

finnish ancestral emblem mug rugI am really happy with this mug rug, and I hope that my brother-in-law loves it and better yet–uses it ALL the time! He can now invite his ancestors to tea whenever he wants.

architextures ledger perfect backing fabric straight quiltingThose of you who follow me on Instagram most likely already saw my secret trick to perfectly straight quilting lines, but I’ll share it here for those who missed it. I used Ledger from Carolyn Friedlander’s Architextures line for the backing and quilted straight lines with the backing facing up. This project was small enough that I could easily line up the backing with the front, so the lines were perfectly straight, evenly spaced, and horizontal on the front. I used 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove thread for piecing, quilting, and binding (of course).

finnish ancestral emblem mug rugThis was mailed off yesterday (better late than never!), so it should be arriving soon.

Project Stats – Mug Rug

Pattern: Finnish Ancestral Emblem foundation paper pieced pattern designed by me, inspired by a photo of a metal pin.

Size: 6.5″x11″

Fabric:
Front: Kona White (Robert Kaufman), Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Charcoal (Robert Kaufman)
Back: Ledger in Ivory from Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander (Robert Kaufman)
Binding: Kona Black with three accents of Kona Persimmon (Robert Kaufman)

Batting: 100% cotton Soft n’ Crafty batting

Thread: Aurifil 50wt in 2600 – Dove for both piecing and quilting

Quilting: Straight line quilting using the lines in Ledger as a guide, with my Bernina 560 and a walking foot

*******

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Up Friday. I have a lot of finishes to share in the coming weeks, which explains my relative quiet here on the blog. Time to show you what I’ve been making!

 

 

How Small Can You Go?

I’m certainly testing this question lately! I’ve written about the mini mini quilt swap craze, and while it seems to have died down a bit on Instagram, I’m still plugging along working to complete the many mini minis I have promised to swap. Such is life when sewing gets done 20 minutes at a time! One such mini mini has morphed into a true test of “how small can you go?”

mini mini fpp featherI designed a tiny foundation paper pieced geometric feather for the mini mini I’m making for Renee at Quilts of a Feather, since I wanted to create a purple feather (her favorite color is purple and feather is probably a clear choice), but I also wanted it to be unique. The tiny pattern crazy me developed has 60 foundation paper pieced pieces in block smaller than 3″x4″.

mini mini fpp featherBelieve it or not, the foundation paper piecing part went smoothly. That’s one of the wonders of foundation paper piecing–you can literally sew ANYthing.

quilting stiletto in useI’ve only removed the papers from half so far, but even that isn’t too bad. I quite enjoy it, actually. When foundation paper piecing, I set my stitch length to 1.2 so the paper basically melts off. I encouraged some of the teeny tiny smaller than 1/16″ bits to come off using a cute stiletto I received as part of a swap last year. (Aside–did you know that a stiletto in quilting is a skinny tool that is thicker and a bit more blunt than a pin, and is used to help feed your fabric through your sewing machine, hold down little corners while sewing, or any other task you can derive? I *just* learned what a stiletto was and so I’m trying to use it more!)

mini mini fpp featherJoining the two halves, on the other hand, was where the challenge truly arose. I broke a needle trying to get through all of those layers, and eventually settled on hand cranking my machine through the thickest part.

mini mini fpp featherNeedless to say, this baby does not lay flat, nor can I hope to press it flat no matter how much Flatter I use.  But no worries! I plan to use a double layer of batting, perhaps only under the feather (I think it’s called trapunto) so that at least it won’t seem too out of place. But it appears I have my answer: this is as small as I can go, at least with this pattern!

I originally planned to trim the outer edge and needle turn appliqué the feather to the background fabric, a gorgeous glimmering square of Anna Maria Horner’s Loominous. After requesting some tips/advice from Carolyn Friedlander via email, I am approaching it in a different way per her advice; instead I’ll do reverse appliqué, where I’ll cut the hole in the background fabric, place it on top of the feather, and stitch it down around the feather’s edge. While it will be my first time trying reverse applique, I think I have a much better chance at success using this method. Thank you, Carolyn!

mini mini fpp feather
I’m leaning toward the lighter purple Aurifil for the stitching, so that it will blend in with the Loominous.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how this mini mini turns out!

I’m linking up with Works in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, since it feels like ages since my last link up!

On the Move: 7 Months

Time is not the only thing that has been flying by. Finn is already seven months old and is officially on the move! While he still moves primarily through his inching army crawl, he is getting a lot more adept at moving his body around from belly to sitting to up on all fours, *flop* to belly and across the floor!

finn 7 month milestone quilt blockWhile I didn’t finish it before Christmas, I did finish Finn’s 7 month milestone quilt block. I’m on course to have 12 blocks by his first birthday. The photography part is definitely getting fun, since as soon as I sit Finn down, he wants to move. That squirmy wormy desire to *move* just shows his growth and personality, so I’m embracing it. It’s one more opportunity for creativity!

finn 7 month milestone quilt blockThe biggest news this month is: teeth! Finn’s two bottom teeth are in and now big enough to see when he gives his gummy smile. Teething is never fun, but Finn (and mommy & daddy) have been handling it like champs.  Between his big sister’s birthday, Christmas, and holiday travel, it has been a full and busy month!

finn 7 month milestone quilt blockNot much stands in Finn’s way these days. Trying to get him to stay on the quilt near his quilt block was tricky, so most of the photos this week are movement or snuggle photos. I’m sure you don’t mind. This was what I saw less than a minute after putting him down right next to the wall. “I want to play, Mommy!”…

finn 7 month milestone quilt block…until he got distracted by a design in the carpet. He is also really working on his fine motor skills, trying to grab tiny bits off the carpet and floors. I love watching his little mind at work. Babies are amazing; they learn so much so quickly!

finn 7 month milestone quilt block
“I like this one, Mommy!”

finn 7 month milestone quilt blockFinn’s quilt is really taking shape! You can see my full layout plan here in case you missed it a few months ago. I’m tempted to begin sewing blocks together but I think I will wait until the end to be consistent with photos. Here’s a quick photo burst since who doesn’t want to see babies in front of gorgeous quilt blur?

finn 7 month milestone quilt block

finn 7 month milestone quilt block

finn 7 month milestone quilt block
He loves to stand while holding onto my knees, and was trying to eat my colorful knees.

This project is so much fun, and I love that even if I procrastinate, sewing up a block takes less than an hour; sometimes it comes together as quickly as a half hour. For a busy mom with a million things on her plate (Hi, that’s me!), this project is a breath of fresh air and a chance to see and make progress without a huge time commitment. Plus, it’s such a fun way to document Finn’s growth and milestones.

finn 7 monthsThank you for following along!

Into the Woods with Wanderlust Quilts {Book Review & Giveaway}

Welcome to my stop on the Wanderlust Quilts blog hop! Here I’ll tell you a bit about Amanda Leins (Mandy’s) new book Wanderlust Quilts, invite you to venture into the woods with me after drawing inspiration from the book, and then tell you how you can win your very own copy of this invaluable book.

Wanderlust Quilts cover
Courtesy of Stash Books. Photo by Nissa Brehmer.

When I was first sent a review copy of Wanderlust Quilts, my initial reaction was Wow! I love how her quilt designs break all the rules! When I mentioned this to Mandy, she replied, “It’s good to know all of the rules so that you know which ones you can break”.  I love how Mandy truly draws inspiration from the world around her, specifically classic art and architecture, unbridled by labels or quilt police. She doesn’t confine her quilts to the limits of a rectangle while still employing skillfully precise quilting techniques, and she spells it out so that we can utilize the techniques, too.

Wanderlust Quilts Going Places
Going Places. Courtesy of Stash Books. Photo by Nissa Brehmer.

One of my favorite aspects of Wanderlust Quilts is that Mandy includes photos of her sources of inspiration, so that we can see how each inspiration photo is translated into a quilt. A cobblestone path in Europe becomes a baby quilt, “the beginning of the road for some little person.”

Wanderlust Quilts Fishbourne
Lovely Fishbourne. Courtesy of Stash Books. Photo by Nissa Brehmer.

In Wanderlust Quilts, Mandy not only invites us to travel to our favorite places, stretch our imaginations, squint our eyes a bit, and see the world as a quilt, but she also gives us the technical tools and skills necessary to fine tune our visions and make them a reality. Included in the book are clear instructions and tips on turning your photos or sketches into a quilt, both improv and precision piecing, sewing Y-seams, sewing curves, and more. Wanderlust Quilts is a great resource for inspiration and technique, which makes it one book that I would happily add to my library.

C&T Publishing is generously offering a copy of Wanderlust Quilts to a reader at every stop along the blog tour.  Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win your very own hard copy. If you can’t wait, Mandy is selling autographed copies in her store here.

But first, travel into the woods with me for a moment. When Mandy invited me to be a part of her Wanderlust Quilts blog hop, she suggested that I choose a place or thing that is inspiring to me and talk about what techniques I might employ to make a quilt based on that spot. With a background of environmental science and an innate love of nature, I immediately knew that I had to shrink the book to smaller than a dime and take it down to the forest floor.

mandalei-mushroom wanderlust quiltsAs I’m sure you’ve noticed in my weekly color inspiration posts, I love to get really close to nature, since changing your perspective can open up an entirely new world of beauty. I took this photo over a decade ago, in gorgeous Sussex County, New Jersey. To this day, it inspires me.

mushroom quilt inspired by wanderlust quiltsThinking about the process I would take to turn this photo into a quilt was not enough; I had to jump right in, newly inspired by Mandy’s ten unique and fabulous patterns in her book. Wanderlust Quilts not only inspired me to give improv a go, but it also inspired me to sew with brown fabric (what!?). Above is my first attempt at creating a quilt inspired by the minuscule mushrooms that unfurl from the leafy loam during particularly wet mornings.

mushroom quilt inspired by wanderlust quiltsAs is my style, I let excitement drive me and I dove into piecing improv half circles without consulting Mandy’s book. After seeing that my first try was less than perfect, I realized that this book full of techniques and tips was available right at my fingertips. Slow down, inspiration; sometimes reading and studying a technique before jumping in is key.

mushroom quilt inspired by wanderlust quiltsAfter flipping through the many techniques offered in Wanderlust Quilts, I decided to put my wonky mushroom tops aside and try the freezer paper method clearly outlined by Mandy. I didn’t have time to complete the experimental quilt before the hop, but I’m excited to put the masterful techniques Mandy includes in her book to good use in making this favorite photograph into a quilt. I’ll be sure to show you my finished work of art upon completion.

Wanderlust Quilts Giveaway

As I mentioned above, C&T Publishing is generously offering a hard copy of Wanderlust Quilts to a lucky reader at every stop along the blog tour. You can enter by leaving two comments:

  1. What location most inspires you?
  2. If you follow me, Night Quilter, let me know how–or visit my right sidebar to follow me if you don’t already, then tell me how! (e-mail, WordPress, Bloglovin’, Instagram, Twitter, Craftsy)

The giveaway will be open until Sunday, November 15th, 12noon EST. I will select one winner randomly from the comments below. Good luck! Note: This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations, Sandra!

Once you enter, be sure to check out the other great stops along the tour to see where else in the world has been visited by Wanderlust Quilts:

November 5: Gen Q
November 6: Casey York Designs
November 7: Bill Volckening
November 8: Angela Walters
November 9: Kitty Wilkin, Night Quilter <—YOU ARE HERE
November 12: Rose Hughes
November 16: Mandy herself, with a final wrap-up and additional giveaway!

 

 

Four for Four: 4 Months

Four months old! Which means I’m now four blocks into my milestone quilt for Finn. For those of you new to this project, my husband had the brilliant idea (through jest) to make a quilt block every month with which to photograph my baby Finn as he grows, and sewing them into a quilt for him as a birthday present in celebration of his first year. I took the idea and ran, and haven’t looked back yet.

finn milestone quilt 4 monthsThis project is still feeling very doable and I’m considering adding an additional four blocks to make it a big larger of a quilt at the end of the year. For now, though, I’m sticking with the one quilt block per month idea, and so far I’m four for four (great record!). You can see my planned layout in my 3 Month post here.

finn milestone quilt 4 monthsFinn is growing as only babies can. He’s a very stretched out baby, who loves to flex his legs and stand whenever he can, but he also has found the potential in rolling to the side, and has made it halfway over before getting stuck. He sucks and chews on his fingers, either for soothing or maybe he’s teething already (I sure hope not!). He is still so aware of everything around him and loves to “talk” with his baby babble and big bright eyes.

finn milestone quilt 4 monthsfinn milestone quilt 4 monthsfinn milestone quilt 4 monthsHis newfound love of movement makes it quite difficult to get a good photo, but I managed to get a few. Even today, when he’s in the thick of a slimy, drippy, coughy cold, he is so full of bright eyed smiles and giggles. I caught myself almost defiantly asking him the other day, “How are you so happy ALL the time!?”, feeling like I was missing out on something. But then I realized since smiles are contagious, seeing him smile makes me happy no matter how stressed, tired, or otherwise cranky I might be. He’s a gift for sure.

finn milestone quilt 4 months

finn milestone quilt 4 months
Always on the move, with a smile in his heart.

I am really enjoying creating this quilt along with Finn’s growth. Setting small, attainable goals makes the entire quilt-making process not only doable, but it makes it part of my journey through his first year.

Now up I go to relieve my husband and take my shift holding our poor slimy guy upright so that he can get some sleep without coughing and spitting up slimy gunk. It may be a long night ahead, but hey… it’s all part of the journey and it’s a blessed one indeed.

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sew Along

I’m excited to share another behind-the-scenes project for which I’ve been preparing: The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sew Along hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell, which kicks off on September 28th, only 2 weeks away!

The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sew-along: Learn to sew the 99 Blocks from Laurie Aaron Hird's book The Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt" with Angie Wilson of GnomeAngel.com, Fat Quarter Shop and From Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates. Find out more here: http://gnomeangel.com/farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quilt-sew-along/
The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sew-along: Learn to sew the 99 Blocks from Laurie Aaron Hird’s book The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt” with Angie Wilson of GnomeAngel.com, Fat Quarter Shop and From Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates. Find out more here: http://gnomeangel.com/farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quilt-sew-along/

The Farmer’s Wife quilt is one that while straight-up traditional, I’ve been itching to make for a while now. I’m not technically a farmer’s wife, but I certainly live in farm country and some of my closest friends are farmers (I’ll call mine the Programmer’s Wife in Farm Country quilt). There was just something about the idea of reading “inspiring letters from farm women of the Great Depression” and then making the respective quilt blocks that really appealed to me. Inspiration plus quilting: what’s not to like? When Angie asked if I would join the official bloggers team for the sew along, I knew that this was my chance–how could I say no?

farmer's wife 1930s sampler quilt
The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

This sew along is going to be super cool. All you need to participate is a copy of Laurie Aaron Hird’s book The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt and your fabric of choice. I’m going to try to make mine almost entirely from stash, since frugality is part of the farmer’s wife experience.

Over the course of the year, Angie and the blogger team (including me!) will share tips and tricks to help you create all 99 blocks from the book, 2 per week in a non-chronological, easy to more difficult, order. Blocks finish at only 6″ square, and can be paper pieced, hand pieced, you can use templates, do English paper piecing, use a rotary cutter and sewing machine, or try all methods. I will most likely use a variety of methods, heavily favoring the rotary cutter-machine piecing and foundation paper piecing options.

fermers wife meets my chickensI have my book, took it for a little photography tour of our homestead, introduced it to our chickens, and have been thinking about how I want to make my quilt. I really lean heavily toward the modern aesthetic, so I want to try to make this uber traditional quilt “night quilter style”. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

warm vs cool color palette fabric pullThe fabric pull is pretty predictable, but this time instead of a simple rainbow gradient, I want to play with warm vs. cool colors. I’m planning on making the warm colored blocks with a black background and the cool colored blocks with a low volume/white background.

warm colors with blackI really like how fiery the warm colors look paired with black.

cool color with white fabricConversely, the cool colors look almost icy paired with the low volume/whites. I’m really hoping I can find a layout that emphasizes these visual characteristics!

Now that I have EQ7, it makes playing with layout options *really* quick and easy. Knowing that I am a busy, busy mama of three and that there is a decent chance I won’t be able to make ALL 99 blocks, I’ve opted for a layout that includes whole cloth background squares between the blocks, as well as sashing. I plan to use Essex yarn dyed linen in charcoal for the whole cloth background squares, or *maybe* (with the last layout) a gradient from even lighter to darker. Here are some of the layouts I’ve played with. I haven’t landed on one I LOVE yet. What do you think?

Note that rather than buy the entire Farmer’s Wife block file for EQ7, I just used some of the free quilt blocks included in the program. I made them the colors I wanted and then used them in duplicate to get the general aesthetic of the quilt.

Farmer's Wife Layout 1: Warm Cool Converge
Farmer’s Wife Layout 1: Warm Cool Converge

Layout 1. This one feels too stark to me.

Farmer's Wife Layout 2: ROYGBIV blend
Farmer’s Wife Layout 2: ROYGBIV blend

Layout 2. Note that I’ve pretty much decided I’m not going to use this layout. It’s easy, sure, and looks great, but I want to try to stretch my color play muscles a little bit.

Farmer's Wife Layout 3: cool warm
Farmer’s Wife Layout 3: cool warm

Layout 3. I like this one, with consistently colored sashing and background/filler squares. But I’m still not sure it’s exactly what I want. I want to create the effect of the fiery warms rising to meet the cool colors, which are dripping to meet and mingle with the warm.

Layout 4: Cool Warm Converge Blended Background
Layout 4: Cool Warm Converge Blended Background

Layout 4. I like this one more than Layout 1, but I’m still not sold completely.

For now I will plan to start making my cool/warm blocks when the Sew Along begins in two weeks, and will continue to play with layout until I find one I love. Will you be joining in on the Farmer’s Wife Sew Along? If you do, be sure to join the super active Facebook group, too. It will be a fun journey!