Category Archives: Hand Stitching

Balance

The internet has been down for most of the week here at home, which translates to radio silence on this here blog. My goal for the year was “Balance”, after all, so maybe it was decided that I needed to take a blogging break. Either way, here’s a little peek at what I’ve been doing during the silence.

visible mending

I mended my first pair of jeans. Yes, I know, it’s a little embarrassing that as an almost-34 year old, I have yet to mend clothes. I did try mending a hole in a pair of jeans a couple years back, but it was such an epic fail I can hardly count it. This time I used a patch cut from another pair of old holey jeans, zig zag stitched the edges to prevent fraying, and hand stitched it on with Aurifil floss. Many thanks to Dorie (@tumblingblocks on IG) for the inspiration and tips! The floss was gorgeous to work with, but I was later informed (thanks for the heads up, Sam!) that embroidery floss won’t be strong enough to hold up well as a jeans knee patch. I plan to supplement the stitching with a rainbow of perle cotton and hope for the best. At least it looks awesome, and these favorite post-partum maternity-esque jeans are ready to wear post-baby. It is so peaceful to sit and stitch while sitting next to my kiddos watching a movie. Balance, right?

skinny fabric scraps for the birds

I put my skinny strip scraps outside for the birds. I’ve never tried this before, but have seen that others save their fabric shavings to put out during nest-building season. I’ve been saving my skinnies all winter so I’m really hopeful that we see some colorful, soft nests around the yard this year!

alison glass prismatic medallion mini quilt progress

I’ve been working on my Prismatic Medallion mini quilt for my Alison Glass Mini Quilt swap partner. I’m still waiting on a few fabrics, but I’m loving the progress so far!

bean sprout foundation paper piecing pattern

I made a bit of progress on my newest foundation paper piecing pattern, Bean Sprout. Can you tell my mind is on spring?

planting seeds

We finally planted seeds. Today, April 3rd, we FINALLY got seeds into planters. It’s far too cold to plant seeds in the ground still, especially since there are still multiple feet of snow on top, but starting seeds inside is one of my favorite parts about spring. It felt so good to get dirt under my fingernails! Last year, we planted seeds in late February, so waiting until April is crazytown. This winter was just so brutal it felt wrong to plant seeds when the temperatures were in the teens and the snow just kept coming. I’m hoping the seeds still get a good enough head start to flourish once the garden is ready for them.

Back outside I go to enjoy this glorious day with my kids. The weekend forecast is for more snow (it darn well better not stick!), but I know that spring is near. Hope, balance, love. That’s what life is about!

Tutorial: Embroidery Floss Organization Made Easy

In the weeks leading up to QuiltCon (yes, I’m still talking about it), the Instagram hashtag #quiltconprep made it easy to see what others were doing to get ready for the big event. During those mad dash prep days, one of my IG friends posted a picture of a whole bunch of 2.5″ fabric squares of Carolyn Friedlander fabrics that she had cut in preparation for Carolyn’s Aerial Grove class. She noted that all she needed was a few squares of the architextures crosshatch and she’d have enough for a fully-Carolyn Friedlander aerial grove. What does this have to do with embroidery floss? I’m getting there! Long story short, I offered to give some squares to her at QuiltCon, and when she asked what she could give me in return, I said “knowledge.” I asked her to share a tip or trick that she found particularly helpful. It’s such a useful tip that I decided to share it here, with her permission, of course! Today’s tip was taught to me by Rebecca Cleaver (@cleaverr on Instagram), who learned it from Maura Ambrose (@folkfibers).

tutorial embroidery floss organization made easy

How to Organize and Store Embroidery Floss
So that it’s super quick and easy to use!

I’ve seen cringe-worthy photos of tangled piles of embroidery floss, and I admit that I am not that person. Even before learning this tip, I stored my floss on a wooden dowel, hanging in its original skein. This looked pretty, but when it was time to actually use a strand, that’s when it became tricky. I’d have to take all of the skeins off the dowel and gently and painstakingly remove a thread a tiny tug at a time (yes, I’m nutty).

embroidery floss organization tip

Here’s a much better way.

Step 1:

Embroidery floss tutorial Step 1- Remove papers and unwind skeinCarefully remove the paper holding the skein together and untwist the skein.

Step 2:

Step 2- Extend flossExtend the floss, holding the fully extended loop in your hands.

Step 3:

Step 3- Cut one endCut one end, cutting through all of the embroidery floss strands.

It should now look like this:

IMG_9732

 Step 4:

Step 4- Divide into 3 equal sectionsDivide the floss into three approximately equal sections. This doesn’t have to be perfect; I didn’t sit and count out the strands to make it perfect. If that’s your thing, then feel free to do so, but just eyeing it will be sufficient.

Step 5:

Step 5- Loosely braid (1)Loosely braid the three sections together.  If you have a willing and capable helper, you could ask them to hold the looped end while you braid. My 2 1/2 year old was not willing today, so I used an “S” hook to hold the looped end while I braided. You can hook the “S” hook on just about anything, but I used the cuff of my jeans. Here’s a behind the scenes peek:

hook to cuff of pants to braid

Step 6:

Step 7-Using a separate, short length of floss, tie a knot around the end of your braid to hold it in place.

Now you have your floss,  ready to hang in an aesthetically awesome, organized way, AND ready to go whenever you need a strand.

Here comes the really awesome part!

How To Remove a Strand of Floss from your Braid

Holding the top of your braid, gently pull one strand away from the rest of the loop.

removing strand of floss from braidThen, get a bit better grasp on the rest of the braid–no need for a vice grip, just hold it steady as you pull out the single strand–and pull the strand out completely.

Pull strand of embroidery floss out of braidThe braid will bunch up when you pull, so don’t be alarmed. Once the single strand is out, just smooth out your braid again and you’re ready to go. Your floss is the perfect length for some hand quilting or embroidery, and the rest of your floss is sitting pretty in its braid.

Single thread removed from embroidery floss braid

Go ahead and braid all of your other skeins of floss, and you will never have a tangled pile of embroidery floss again!Rainbow embroidery floss braids

I think this method is genius, since now not only is my floss gorgeously organized and displayed, but I can get a single strand without even taking the braid off the wooden dowel!

rainbow floss braids on wooden dowelI just hold the braid right below the dowel, separate a single strand, pull, and viola! No muss, no fuss.

Many thanks to Rebecca for sharing this tip, and I hope you find it helpful, too. I’m linking up with Stephanie & Michelle’s Tips & Tutorials Tuesday.

Did you know about this tip? How do you store and organize your embroidery floss? 

 

 

Flowers for Eleni: Pause, Pray, Stitch

I’ve written many times about the amazing online community of quilters and the powerful connections made across the world in this quilting blogosphere. While many times, this community helps us share inspiration and joy, sometimes that close-knit community must play another role: sharing sorrow and hope. Recently, Rachel from Stitched in Color, a fellow quilty blogger, had a much-anticipated baby. While typically the birth of a baby ignites much shared joy, this birth did not go well.  I frequent Rachel’s blog, but actually found out about the unexpected complications through Instagram before reading about it on her blog. Jodi from Tales of Cloth has organized a world-wide support for Rachel and her family, in the form of English Paper Pieced hexi flowers. You can read about her plan HERE, where she shares a tutorial on how to make an EPP hexi flower, and explains her plan of expressing all of our support and love. Needless to say, I dropped my to-do list, hugged my kids, and got started on a couple of flowers.

hexi flowers for eleniMy plan is to make as many of these as I can by the end of the week (I’m aiming for 2-4) and mail them to Jodi in Australia on Saturday.

I am so grateful to Jodi for organizing this effort, since with such a devastating event, one can feel so hopeless. Yet, I fully believe in the power of prayer and positive intention. Call it what you will, but think about this: hundreds of people stitching hexi flowers with Eleni, Rachel, and the rest of their family in mind. Maybe praying, maybe crying, maybe just thinking the most positive, healing, hopeful thoughts they can muster. Each person putting his or her love, hope, prayer, and positive healing intention into every. single. stitch. THAT is powerful.

flowers for eleni

I’m stitching, praying, sending healing thoughts and energy, and hoping for a miracle. Miracles happen. Sometimes, they appear in very unexpected situations, and sometimes they may not seem like a miracle at first, but miracles happen. If nothing more, we can wrap Rachel and her family in a literal blanket of love with this quilt.

flowers for eleni

If you would like to join this effort of support, send Jodi a message to find out more information on where to send your flowers. There’s also an Auction for Eleni to raise money to help support the family. Or, you could just pray or send your healing and hopeful energy & intentions their way. Check out the hashtag #flowersforeleni on Instagram to see the flowers in progress so far. For me, I am taking moments throughout the day to pause, pray, and stitch, grateful for the opportunity to show my love, and always, always hoping for a miracle and peace for the family.

Read an update on Eleni here.

I’m linking up with Monday Makers, Design Wall, and Making Monday, since spreading the word never hurts!

 

 

A Mini Sneak Peek

I finally chose the pattern I am going to use for my Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt swap quilt for my partner, and boy am I excited! My inspiration is a quilt I’ve been drooling over since its unveiling by Nicole at  Modern Handcraft, and I’m excited to give a go at recreating it.

modern handcraft modern hexies quilt

modern handcrafts modern hexies

As much as I was tempted to use Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics to recreate this stunning quilt exactly, I decided to be a *little* original and use a fabric line by another one of the designers listed as a favorite of my secret partner: True Colors by Anna Maria Horner. I’ve made a little bit of slow progress.

hexagon mini quilt progress anna maria horner
I took my photo shoot outside on a cutting board, since we have yet another cloudy, overcast day and a winter storm brewing. 8-14″ of snow forecast for tonight!

At first, I wasn’t sure about these fabrics and how they would work in a modern hexies mini quilt, but once I put them together and took a photo, I’m a lot more encouraged. For some reason, when looking at the fabrics in a stack, they don’t seem to flow as well as I’d like. Looking at them arranged like so and through the eye of a camera, it definitely “works”. Woo hoo!

modern hexies anna maria horner

I ordered a small pack (100 pieces) of 1″ hexagons from Paper Pieces, but I got a little antsy waiting for them to arrive, since my charm pack of Anna Maria Horner arrived first. Rather than wait, I pulled out some card stock and printed off a page of adorable Happy Hexies by Mollie Johanson of Wild Olive. I had bookmarked these a few months back, and was thrilled to finally use them. I mean, how cute are these little guys peeking out the back!?

happy hexies by mollie johanson

Now that my Paper Pieces hexies have arrived, I can go to town on this project, but I’m so grateful for these cheerful little guys and Mollie’s free download since they allowed me to get a little head start on the mini. Hopefully, we will see this cute little stack of hexagons grow and grow and GROW over the next couple weeks!rainbow stack of hexagons

 

I’m linking up with Lee’s Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Work in Progress: Vacation English Paper Piecing

It feels like I’ve been on vacation for most of July, which is not a bad thing! While traveling and away from my sewing machine, I have taken the opportunity to try my hand at English Paper Piecing (EPP) for the first time, delving into stitching my first and second Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses blocks. I was inspired by Jan at Sew and Sow Farm blog to try the Patchwork of the Crosses as my first EPP.Lake Erie EPP Patchwork of the CrossesI completed my first block (left) during the car ride from Maine to Ohio, and have almost completed my second block (right) since I’ve been here at our rental house on Lake Erie. I have had a lot of fun finding the perfect little peeks of fabric for each of the pieces, called “fussy cutting” by the quilting community, and decidedly meticulous but perhaps not so fussy, per a discussion I recently had with my artist brother (more on that in a later post).

The coast of Lake Erie is gorgeous and very different than the coast of Maine. I had a good shot of my EPP wips on the rocks earlier today, and here are the results:

EPP work in progress

paper piecing wip on the rocks

Playing with depth of field in photographs is so much fun. I love the difference a little camera setting adjustment can make with the photo outcome.
Playing with depth of field in photographs is so much fun. I love the difference a little change of focus can make with the photo outcome.
Beautiful rocks with a gorgeous backdrop.
Beautiful rocks with a gorgeous backdrop.
Lark by Amy Butler lends itself well to "fussy cutting".
Lark by Amy Butler lends itself well to “fussy cutting”.

I have not yet removed the papers from either of the blocks, except the four center bee pieces more as a test to make sure I could get the paper out than anything else, and I love the way the backs look. Every little basting stitch, the crisp folds, the tiny hand stitches holding them all together: beauty.

back of epp

I think I have decided that these blocks will be turned into a table runner or centerpiece. My plan is to make another block the same as my first with the four bees in the center, and use the new Lark-heavy block as the center with the two bee blocks on either end, joined and bordered by some other background fabric. I still have to decide what color to use in the outermost border for the center block, but I’m leaning toward yellow.

auditioning fabric

I then might add one more outer edge of some other color, to make the center block larger than the outer ones. I am really enjoying the process of English Paper Piecing, specifically how portable it is and how it is so easy to pick up and put down for even just a five minute sewing stint. I’m looking forward to exploring other EPP template shapes. So far I’ve found hexagon, diamond, and triangle templates, but it looks like there are no rules; any shape or combination of shapes can be made into templates. Let the pattern creation begin! Well, after I finish these blocks of course.

What is your favorite EPP template or pattern?

A Perfect Pair: Wine and Fabric

Sometimes, after a long, hot day on vacation, you open up the perfect bottle of wine to help refresh the evening. And sometimes, when you open up that perfect bottle of wine, something serendipitous happens: you realize that it’s also the perfect bottle of wine to pair with your current handwork project.

pairing wine and fabric

Who knew that wine and fabric could pair so well? There’s no debate that this is the perfect pair, though. Birds & Bees Sweet White wine is a refreshing and crisply sweet wine perfect for cooling off on a hot summer’s evening.  Properly chilled, this wine is smooth and has the perfect balance of sweetness to make it pleasant and refreshing. I love that the back label says “Birds and Bees Sweet White evokes sunshine and laughter, passion and romance.” What’s not to love?

As I enjoyed this lovely wine, I worked on my Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses, my first ever foray into English Paper Piecing. The feature fabric fussy cut for the center cross is none other than the Bee Sweet Fabric from Bonnie Christine‘s Sweet as Honey line. Talk about the perfect fabric to pair with Birds & Bees Sweet White!

english paper piecing at the ocean

This serendipitous encounter on the coast of Maine got me thinking about pairing wine and fabric more often. For those of us who love stitching, and love a glass of wine at the end of a long day, why can’t there be a perfect pairing of the two? You would pair the “right” wine with your dinner, so why not pair the “right” wine with your stitching? I admit, this idea of pairing wine and fabric had me giggling and laughing into the next day (or was it the wine?), so it is decidedly something I must try to do again.

The perfect pair:

Fabric
Fabric: Bee Sweet in Sunset
Collection: Sweet as Honey
Designer: Bonnie Christine
Manufacturer: Art Gallery Fabrics

Wine
Wine: Birds & Bees Sweet White
Producer: Trivento

What is your favorite wine? Favorite fabric? Maybe I’ll try to find its perfect pair!