Category Archives: Hand Stitching

Moonstone Madness (in the Best Way)

I was bitten by the EPP bug years ago, but this summer I came down with a serious case of Moonstone Madness, and in the best possible way! In June, my talented friend Giuseppe Ribaudo aka @giucy_giuce released his first English Paper Pieced pattern in partnership with Karen of @karenthediyaddict, called Moonstone. He was kind enough to send me a kit and boy has it kept me busy and grinning pretty much all summer! I love EPP and hand stitching is the perfect solution for busily adventuring makers in the summer months, and this pattern didn’t disappoint.

moonstone quilt progress giucy giuce pattern alison glass fabricIn the spirit of setting myself up for success, I opted to make four (4) blocks to make a pillow rather than a full sized quilt, and I dove into my bright Alison Glass stash to put together a fully saturated, smooth rainbow gradient. You know how I feel about rainbows. Alison Glass fabric rainbow + Giucy Giuce EPP project = heaven on a summer’s day!

alison glass rainbow moonstone giucy giuce epp pattern aurifil threadI used mostly 50wt Aurifil thread, with a few 80wts thrown in, using coordinating colors so that the stitches blend right in with the blocks. The threads shown here are (from top left clockwise): 2535-Magenta, 1154-Dusty Orange, 5015-Gold Yellow, 5017-Shining Green, and 1125-Medium Teal, all 50wt. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as matching the perfect thread to your fabric!

alison glass ex libris art theory panel rainbow epp moonstone quiltAlison’s Art Theory print from her Ex Libris line (still my ultimate favorite fabric ever) was my color inspiration, so I planned my 4-block panel around the color flow in the center octagon. Throughout the course of the summer, I finished the four blocks and completely stitched them together!

alison glass rainbow moonstone quilt giucy giuce epp patternNow I am at the point in the game where this could lounge in the works in progress pile for a while, but instead, I am going to use my excitement to forge ahead and aim to finish this beauty, which is sure to be my most favorite pillow of all time.

choosing a background fabric alison glassMy next step is to choose background fabric, press the pieced panel thoroughly, remove the template papers (so that I can use them again!!), and then hand stitch the panel down onto the background fabric. Just last week, I visited my local quilt shop Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast, ME, in the hopes of buying some yardage of Insignia in charcoal by Alison Glass, which is a nearly-solid. While Fiddlehead did not have the Insignia, they did have two other options that I bought to try out: Flying Geese in Dark Charcoal from Handcrafted, and Ink in Charcoal from Sun Print 2016 (all for Andover Fabrics).

alison glass rainbow moonstone giucy giuce epp patternAfter looking at those options, I still felt like I needed to see the Insignia before deciding, and with the encouragement of a few friends on Instagram, especially Erin who said, “I’m a strong believer in first instinct=best instinct!”, I ordered a yard of Insignia in Charcoal from Alison Glass’s shop. (Thank you Erin!). Clearly, my first gut choice is the winning choice!

alison glass rainbow moonstone quilt giucy giuce pattern aurifil monofilament threadNext I will hand stitch this epic panel to the perfect Insignia background using Aurifil’s monofilament thread in Smoke. I plan to quilt this with the Smoke monofilament thread, too, and I’m so excited just thinking about how amazing this pillow will be. This will be my first time sewing with monofilament thread, either by hand or machine, so I’ll be sure to share how it goes.

If you’d like to get a Moonstone kit for yourself, you can order one HERE on Karen the DIY Addict’s site. The kit is pretty amazing, with acrylic templates for every piece, as well as enough pre-cut foundation papers to make a full 72″x72″ quilt (or lots of pillows!), a booklet with Giuseppe’s reflections, thoughts, tips, and four (4) different layout suggestions, and of course coloring pages for all four layouts.

moonstone quilt ocean theme tula pink giucy giuce pattern aurifilAs for me, I’m nearly finished piecing my next rendition of a Moonstone block, going with the Gems layout and a more nautical theme. I plan to make only one block and top stitch it to a large zippered pouch for a friend to whom I owe a quilt. I’m hoping the consolation diaper pouch/zipped pouch will hold her (and her nearly 1 year old baby) over until I manage to make the quilt!

moonstone madness giucy giuce epp kit patternAs you can see, I’ve been absolutely struck with Moonstone Madness and it doesn’t appear to be tapering off just yet. I’ve had a wonderful time piecing together these blocks, and the portable nature of English Paper Piecing ensures that it is still very much on the top of my “summer stitching” projects list!

What did you stitch this summer? 

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social, since it’s about time I was social in blogland again!

Slow Fashion on my Mind & 2017 Slow Stitching Retreat Reflections

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 on my mind garment sewing
Fabrics shown are a selection by Sharon Holland for Art Gallery Fabrics, and a print by Carolyn Friedlander paired with a Kona solid, all by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

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.

alabama chanin stitch bookMy 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*


slow stitching retreat a gathering of stitches medomak maineThere’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.

slow stitching retreat a gathering of stitches maineSo 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!

alison glass slow stitching retreat a gathering of stitchesOn 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!

alison glass slow stitching retreat a gathering of stitches reverse appliqueI 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.

alison glass slow stitching retreat a gathering of stitchesThe 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.

slow stitching lake side reverse appliqueNot 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!

chawne kimber slow stitching retreat 2016 a gathering of stitches maineThe 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 kimber sew smaller hand stitched
Hand pieced! Chawne Kimber is amazing, and seeing these works in person was so inspiring!

chawne kimber sew smallerChawne’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.

sew smaller with chawne kimberI’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:

Weeks Dye works floss care of Alison Glass

stitching on the porch

katherine doing her garment sewing thing


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!

One Year of Stitches: May

June! How can that be!? Between a camera battery charger that went on a mischievous vacation (I finally folded and ordered a replacement) and a busy end of the school year/birthday season rush, there is so much to share and catch up on!

Since June is well underway, I thought I would start with my 1 year of stitches progress from May. For those who are new to this project, my 1 year of stitches project is a personal challenge to stitch at least one stitch every single day. I am working with no set plan, I don’t mark the fabric before stitching; I simply stitch whatever wherever whenever. I’ve been using my stash of 12wt Aurifil thread and loving it! It’s quite fun!! You can follow along with my daily stitches at @NQ1yearofstitches on Instagram.

Here’s a refresher of the monthly progress so far:

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

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

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

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

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil thread…and here it is after May’s stitching!

After staying entirely in one section for the month of April, I hopped around quite a bit in May.

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI added a whole sun burst super nova element in that warm sunny section of the hoop, as well as some added texture with different rows of yellow stitches. This little supernova was very fun to make, and grew day to day. Again, I began with not much of a plan at all, just wanting to add some more bright yellow to the top portion of the hoop. After a few days, it took on a life of its own and continued to grow and take shape until the flowery starbursts decided to cap the growth (for now).

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI also added some “background” plant like elements behind the patch that began this whole hoop back in January. My biggest challenge with this daily stitching challenge is figuring out how to create background behind stitches that have already been stitched. Some attempts are more effective than others, but I figure it’s all part of the learning experience.

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

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadA month of progress wouldn’t be complete without adding some motion to the ocean! There wasn’t all that much growth here this month, but some running stitch and french knots helped begin to create some more flow.

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadThe hoop is beginning to fill out, but knowing that I’m just about halfway through the year, I do think I should be able to fit the entire year in this hoop without extending off the sides. There are lots of little spaces between elements, and while I hope to not fill every *single* one, there is a lot of room for depth and texture and who knows what else!

Happy stitching!

One Year of Stitches: April

Whoa! May is trucking along at quite a rate! Now that we are halfway through May, I thought it might be a nice time to share my April update for my 1 year of stitches embroidery project. I also share some of the embroidery resources I find myself visiting again and again.

For those who are new to this project, my 1 year of stitches project is a personal challenge to stitch at least one stitch every single day. I am working with no set plan, I don’t mark the fabric before stitching; I simply stitch whatever wherever whenever. I’ve been using my stash of 12wt Aurifil thread and loving it! It’s quite fun!! You can follow along with my daily stitches at @NQ1yearofstitches on Instagram.

Here’s a refresher of the monthly progress so far:

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

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

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

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil thread…and finally, here it is after April’s stitching!

I realized when looking at the photos that in April, I worked entirely in that center “coastline” section. It was not really intentional, but I suppose it just kept asking for more!

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

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI mostly stitch whatever comes to mind each day, without much influence from my everyday happenings. A couple stitches this month had some subtle meaning, however. I stitched a large rock on Good Friday and a lily flower sprouting out of the rock on Easter. Sometimes it just sneaks in.

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadOn one particularly uninspired day, I showed my hoop to my husband and prompted, “Where should I stitch? Tell me a color and point to a spot.” He pointed to a spot and said “A piece of driftwood here.” Thus originated the couched stitch driftwood, which was followed by some 12wt Aurifil 2600-Dove sand and a few tufts of beach grass. Some days inspiration strikes; some, not so much.

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI also added another wild and crazy layered flower consisting of long tailed lazy daisy stitches, lazy daisy, and pistil stitch. There might be a few french knots in there, too.

april 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadThe boldness of the flower begged for some offsetting feature, so another woven picot appeared in the form of a big green leaf. I love the little 3-dimensional elements on this hoop!

I’ve had a few people ask about the embroidery books and resources I use, so I thought it would be helpful to compile a short list of some of my oft-visited resources.

What are your favorite embroidery resources??

The Art of Action

When my local friend Kim told me about an art auction she was organizing to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), I knew that no matter how much I had on my plate, I wanted to make something to contribute. I finished just under the wire, but was able to finish this 6″ hoop for the Art of Action, which will take place tomorrow in Bangor, Maine. Don’t worry–I got the hoop to Kim earlier this week so that she had time to hang it!

nevertheless she persisted embroidery hoop art of actionThis hoop primarily features a quote that has become a war cry that helps women honor their strength and their ability to fight for what they believe in, and I added freestyle embroidery flowers for a light aesthetic touch.

nevertheless she persisted embroidery hoop art of actionMy goal was to make it bold and strong, yet pretty at the same time. Rosie the Riveter meets a lovely sunlit tea room.

nevertheless she persisted embroidery hoop art of actionThis was the first time I actually wrote on a hoop before stitching, but I knew with lettering I wanted it to look perfectly centered, and advance planning was necessary. I printed the quote I wanted in the fonts I wanted, held it up to a window with my cotton and steel background fabric held on top, and then traced it with a regular pencil. I’m really high-tech here, as you can see.

nevertheless she persisted embroidery hoop art of actionThe stem stitch “Nevertheless” was fairly straight-forward, but by golly, that cursive “she persisted” was tricky! Nevertheless, I persisted. I give mad props to those of you who hand embroider lettering regularly! It’s not for the faint of heart.

nevertheless she persisted embroidery hoop art of actionOverall, I’m happy with the lettering even though it’s far from perfect. I ultimately outlined the thicker parts of each letter with backstitch, and then went back over the entire thing with satin stitch to fill in. Some letters are more rough than others, but that’s all part of the charm of handmade, right?

nevertheless she persisted embroidery hoop art of actionMy favorite part other than the message and the really good letters (there are a couple!) is the bunch of flowers at the bottom. The french knot lavender flowers are so much fun to stitch, and I love the  look of the tall, single chain stitch flowers. I used 12wt Aurifil thread for all of the stitching, and as usual, I’m quite happy with the thickness and silkiness of the stitches.

hoop finishing and signatureI finished the hoop with a felt backing, blanket stitched in place and embroidered with a very simple signature and date.

If you are in the Bangor, Maine area tomorrow evening, April 8, 2017, please come by the Art of Action Auction, a silent auction of art to benefit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) taking place at 58 Main, a pop-up event venue in the heart of downtown Bangor.

The juried art show will be auctioning more than 60 pieces of art and works at varying price points done by Maine artists, living, working or with roots in Maine. This grass roots effort is intended to promote Maine Artists, bring the community together and safeguard individual rights and freedoms. (Information from the Art of Action website) I’ll see you there!

Linking up with Finish it up Friday, since every finish deserves a bit of celebration.

One Year of Stitches: March

With April ticking quickly away, it’s time to share my March progress on my 1 year of stitches project!

For those who are new to this project, my 1 year of stitches project is a personal challenge to stitch at least one stitch every single day. I am working with no set plan, I don’t mark the fabric before stitching; I simply stitch whatever wherever whenever. It’s quite fun!! You can follow along with my daily stitches at @NQ1yearofstitches on Instagram.

Here’s a refresher of the monthly progress so far:

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

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

march 1 year of stitches progress…and here it is after the month of March!

I seem to have branched out in March and created two entirely new sections. In the first two months of the year, I mostly aimed to extend from the existing stitching, and this month as I look at my hoop progress in full, I mostly started new little islands of stitches rather than building upon what is already there. (self reflection aside: interesting!)

march 1 year of stitches progress deep seaThere is the “deep sea” region of the hoop, where I played with my 12wt Aurifil blues and explored the nuances of spiral trellis stitch, done both correctly (the top light blue circle with the light grey star in the center) and incorrectly (the big bubbly center thing, where I accidentally began the stitch with a running stitch circle instead of backstitch). I have not conquered this stitch yet, but I also am not yet finished. I will tackle it again, for sure!

march 1 year of stitches progress flowerA little flower garden island also popped up this past month, built around those turquoise bullion knot flowers.  I enjoy using both pistil stitch and long tailed daisy stitch for flowers, and you certainly have not seen the last of these stitches!

march 1 year of stitches progressThe center ecotone did not grow much at all, but still acts as a neutral divide between deep sea and lush greenery. Here’s the scientific definition care of google, just for fun!google definition of ecotone

A few days ago, I realized we were exactly one quarter of the way through the year, day 92.

march 1 year of stitches progressLooking at my hoop overall, I think I have covered about one quarter of it, so I’m feeling good about my progress! I also am very curious to see where this goes, since nearly every day, it’s as much of a surprise to me as it is to you!

Just to share some of my thought process, some daily thoughts I have are:

  • Should I learn a brand new stitch or use a tried and true favorite?
  • Which is often preceded by: How much time do I have today?
  • Do I fill in between or layer my stitches? or should I stitch in an open spot?
  • Should I stick with these colors only, or should I expand my Aurifil 12wt thread stash *just* a bit?
  • Should I leave that warm top left portion allll warm and sunny and bright? or do I throw in a cool green or turquoise?
  • Is this going to be a crazy mess at the end of the year?! (laugh here with me)

Either way, I’m having fun with it, exploring my creativity and keeping the pressure light. I hope you’re enjoying following along, too!

 

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!?

One Year of Stitches: February

I’m still working on a post about my experiences at QuiltCon last week, but as March continues to skip on, I thought I should share February’s stitches for my 1 year of stitches project in the meantime. QuiltCon post coming soon!

My 1 year of stitches project is a personal challenge to stitch at least one stitch every single day. I am working with no set plan, I don’t mark the fabric before stitching; I simply stitch whatever wherever whenever. It’s quite fun!! You can follow along with my daily stitches at @NQ1yearofstitches on Instagram.

Even after a short month, it grows! As a reminder, here’s the hoop after the month of January:

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1and here it is showing the progress from February:

february progress for 1 year of stitchesI guess 28 days can make a big difference!

erin from aurifil thread live at quiltconThe highlight of the month was getting the chance to chat with Erin from Aurifil on Facebook live while attending QuiltCon in Savannah. You can see my low key chat HERE on the Aurifil Facebook page. I talk about my process, how the project came to be, why I use Aurifil 12wt thread, and I show a quick demo on how to stitch a French knot. It was a really fun opportunity, and while a bit nerve-wracking knowing I would be live, Erin made it easy by being totally awesome and relaxed. Plus, she’s from Maine. Perfect! The whole experience inspires me to try a bit harder to figure out a way to video my stitches live each day, or at least some days each week. I’ll get right on that and will let you know if I figure it out!

1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifilBack to my embroidery progress! Here are some close up shots of the various sections of this freestyle hoop.

1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifilI am still stitching without a plan, deciding each day’s stitches the morning–or sometimes night!–of the current day. I have tried a handful of new stitches and look forward to trying even more as the year progresses!

1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifil1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifil1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifilThose little white three-petalled trillium flowers are the most recent addition. Time will tell where this will go from here!

Finn helping me with photographyThis month, I had a photography helper, so of course I can’t end the post without a few Finn cameos. I often use the photos on my phone as a reference, so I pulled up January’s photo to make sure I arranged the thread in a consistent way. Finn was please as punch that they matched.

Finn helping me with thread positioningHe also helped me put the thread back into the box, then arranged around the hoop, back into the box, then arranged around the hoop. What a helper!

Hmmm what shall I stitch today?

One Year of Stitches: January

As a full time mom of three little ones, but one with a strong innate need to create every day in order to maintain sanity, I feel like I do a fairly good job of creating opportunities for creativity and stitching, sprinkled throughout even the busiest of days. First, it was knitting–something I could carry with me and leave next to the couch to pick up while nursing or holding a sleeping baby in my lap. But as my children grew, their desire to turn yarn into spider webs, spy laser obstacles, leashes for stuffed pets, etc. also grew and knitting became quilt a risky endeavor.  English paper piecing helped and I dove into basting hexies and honeycombs. Then I felt like I needed something new. Enter: embroidery. It’s small, I can store it up on the counter out of reach, it’s clearly mommy’s–not simply a ball of yarn begging to be unravelled or little fabric bits to be tossed around–, and it’s something I can pick up and put down quickly.

AG stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wtLate last year, I kind of got hooked on the quick mental fix that comes with freestyle embroidery while I was creating this Alison Glass hoop. In late December, when some friends brought my attention to the 1 year of stitches project initiated by Hannah Claire Somerville, I was intrigued. After a bit of googling, I found this invitation by Sara Barnes of Brown Paper Bag, who helped spread Hannah’s open invitation for others to join, and I knew that I had to join in. Hannah’s specific personal rules and stipulations are here, but I chose to take a looser approach. The goal is to stitch at least 1 stitch every single day for a full year, 365 days.

night quilter 1 year of stitches beginningsI went into the year with a 10″ hoop of Robert Kaufman Essex linen in light blue, my stash of Aurifil 12wt threads, and no plan at all.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1Here is my hoop after 1 month of daily stitch-whereever-the-wind-blows stitching. Fun, right!? I created a separate account on Instagram @NQ1yearofstitches to document my daily stitches, and I am trying my hardest not to make any kind of formal plan at all.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1My basic strategy began as a daily google of “embroidery stitches” as an image search. I would scroll through, find a stitch that looked cool, and then find a tutorial on how to make the stitch.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1I began by learning bullion knots, so this whole project began with that little mass of turquoise squiggles and has grown organically from there.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1I love the texture that results when you stack embroidery stitches together. Those white floppy things are my first attempts at braided picot stitch, another fun one!

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1This has been really fun so far, and as of the writing of this post, I’m already over halfway through February, too! (You’ll have to wait until March, or check the IG account, to see those additions, though!) I’ll plan to share an update each month, so that you can see how this grows.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1My personal guidelines include stitching at least one stitch each day, trying to plan as little as possible and simply stitch whatever feels right each day, and not remove any stitches no matter how much I dislike the final outcome (cough, cough, that octopus family, cough). I figure this way, the stress of getting everything *just* right disappears, and instead the thought that it will all work out somehow in the end dominates. No stress!

1 year of stitches embroidery month 1This is a really fun, exhilarating project since it is pure spur of the moment random creativity. If you have any cool, unusual embroidery stitches to recommend, I’d love to add some more to my arsenal. There’s something about learning something new that makes my day.

If you are itching to learn embroidery, this is also a really fun way to do it. In the end, you end up with a hoop of many different stitches, as well as a visual story of your progress! Happy stitching!

I’m linking up with Beth at Cooking Up Quilts for MCM, since I’m excited to be blogging, and always excited to stitch!

Stitched Embroidery Hoop Finish

The finish I’m sharing today measures only 4″ across, but probably took more hours of work and provided more peaceful moments than most of my other projects. I’m relatively new to embroidery, with really only my Dropcloth Color Wheel sampler and the embroidery stitching I did on a mini quilt a while back as projects under my belt, but when Alison Glass sent me some of her Stitched fabric, part of her new Seventy Six fabric line for Andover Fabrics, it begged to be… well, stitched.

AG Stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wtI’m so happy I obliged, because I just love this little hoop!

nightquilter instagram embroidery beginning
Here’s my Instagram post from the wee beginnings of this hoop, about 12 weeks ago.

When the Stitched fabric arrived, I had just completed my Ocean Path quilt for our big Quilt Theory debut, and I was in the final push stage of finishing a quilt that will be in the February issue of Love, Patchwork and Quilting magazine, so picking up a small, no pressure, no purpose, no pattern hoop of Stitched and my 12wt Aurifil thread stash was the perfect brain palate cleanser.

embroidery back
Here’s the back of my finished hoop—see! I am totes a novice! I think this looks fun, though, crazy as ever!

This was back in September, according to my good ole’ Instagram feed, and since that time, ending just a couple of days ago, I’ve picked this little hoop up for 1-20 minute intervals (and 20 minutes might be leaning on the long end) every here and there: a quiet moment when the kids were all playing nicely together, a few seconds here while having a minute lax time while cooking dinner, or just because I needed to MAKE and had not yet had a chance that particular day.

AG stitched embroidery aurifil 12wtI stitched whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted, and tried many different stitches.

AG stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wtI used Aurifil 12wt thread from my stash, in colors (left to right from photo above): 2530-Blossom Pink, 2435-Peachy Pink, mystery orange–the only Aurifil tag that has ever fallen off a spool!, 2120-Canary, 1147-Light Leaf Green, 2884-Green Yellow, 5005-Medium Turquoise, 2540-Medium Lavender, and 2515-Light Orchid. I used a single strand for all except the turquoise x’s, for which I use two strands. If I were to do it again, I would probably stick with a single strand since I love the crisp aesthetic that results.

AG stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wt french knotsToward the end, I went a little crazy with french knots, but I do love them so and they make a great “filler” around the edges.

AG stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wtSince the pattern is printed on the fabric, there was no actual end, so it was up to me to decide how close to the edges to stitch. At first I thought I’d leave a bit open, but I just couldn’t stop stitching. As it is, most stitches extend to the absolute edge of the hoop. I kind of love it.

finishing embroidery hoop wool feltI finished it using the methods (minus the plan-ahead phase, since I didn’t plan ahead lol) shared in this tutorial on Sew Mama Sew.  I stitched the running stitch around the excess fabric, pulled it tight, knotted and tied it, then trimmed off the extra fabric. Next I cut a 4″ wool felt circle using my Sizzix machine and stitched it onto the back with coordinating 12wt Aurifil thread and a blanket stitch. I’m quite happy with the finish, and definitely plan to make more. In fact, I very well might aim to always have a  free-form brain palate cleanser embroidery hoop laying around, since it really worked wonders for helping me get back into a better mental place during especially hectic, crazy kid, too many (mostly self-imposed) expectations-filled days. Making works magic, doesn’t it?

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, and then sending this hoop off to a friend!