Category Archives: Life

QuiltCon or Bust!

With one more day to get through all of the laundry and packing before I head off on my adventures to QuiltCon, I’m in that final push! Monday morning I set off south with my three little ones, driving all day down to NJ to help them get settled with my awesome parents. Then Wednesday eaaarly morning, I’ll be hopping on a plane and flying across the country to sunny Pasadena! It’s nearly here!

quilt con teaching quilt photographyThis year is especially exciting since I will be co-teaching four classes with my awesome friend and colleague Michelle Bartholomew: two sessions of Quilt Photography Basics, and two sessions of Advanced Quilt Photography. Michelle is the mastermind/owner of Quilt Theory and spent years as a successful wedding photographer in her past (pre-quilty) life. We’ve been working hard, collaborating via Zoom since I’m in Maine and she’s at the far reaches of the country in Washington state, and I think we’re ready! These classes are going to be awesome!

quilt con lecture milestone quiltsI’ll also be giving a lecture on Quilts to Mark Milestones on Sunday morning, during which I’ll talk all about my Milestone Quilt project for Finn, my Summer Adventure Quilt, and so much more! I’m honored to have the opportunity to share my journey with other like-minded people, and hope to inspire a few more makers to make meaningful quilts that document the milestones of their lives.

I’m triple excited since I *just* managed to finish my Summer Adventure Quilt flimsy, so it will be traveling to Pasadena with me! Those of you attending my lecture will be able to see it in real life! I’ll share one quick photo here now, but will write much more about it upon my return. This quilt is quite special to me, and I can’t tell you how great it feels to have the quilt top together!

Are you going to QuiltCon? I hope to see you there–please do stop me if you see me, since I’m often the deer in headlights walking around with a permagrin! Tomorrow I’ll be up to my eyeballs in laundry, packing, and prepping some hand-stitching for my travels, and then the adventure begins!

Follow me on Instagram @nightquilter for live updates next week, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you when I return home!

ps. In the whole QuiltCon-prepping, social media world, Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl is my hero. I love her post Social Media Honesty here. So so true, and worth a read!

My Best of 2017

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

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

Most Viewed Blog Post(s)

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

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

Most Viewed Tutorial Blog Post

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

My Favorite New Projectsummer adventure quilt progress

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

2017 Best Nine on Instagram

nightquilter best nine 2017 IGSince I love Instagram so, I would be remiss if I did not share my top viewed posts there as well. This collection is a fun one, including my big 10K follower milestone, two of my favorite Greenery quilt blocks, my Bee’s Knees quilt, Plenty of EPP, from Flowermania, to Moonstone, to the EPP and pieced skinny bins I made for an Art Gallery Fabrics stitchy party with Mathew at Mister Domestic, and a cameo by the gorgeous mini quilt Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl made for me (bottom center). Neither Finn’s quilt nor my Summer Adventure quilt made the cut this year, but they still rank high in my list of favorites for the year.

Most Viewed Blog Post EVER

one hour basketWhile the blog posts listed above rank highest of those written in 2017, the post about the one hour basket (that took me six hours to make!) written back in 2015 was the most viewed ever with over 7,000 views since it was written. This was such a fun make, featuring my favorite Alison Glass fabrics paired with Robert Kaufman’s Essex linen, but also is a favorite since I made this basket while attending a class with quilty friend Sarah from Berry Barn Designs at one of my fabulous quasi-local quilt store, Alewives Fabrics. It’s fun to see how timeless this post is, and I’m thinking perhaps it’s time I make a few more one hour baskets. They are a super handy and quick project!

Thank you, as always, for following along with me here, sharing in my inspiration and project progress, and creating the community I hold so dear. I’m hoping to blog a bit more regularly in 2018 and look forward to sharing more tips, tutorials, project progress, and inspiration with you! I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful holiday season and look forward to a colorful, productive, and FUN 2018!

Reflections & Goals for 2018

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

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

Reflection on 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goals for 2018

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

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

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

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

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

2 – Focus on Self Care and Family Time

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

3 – Continue to Grow and Maintain Night Quilter

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

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

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

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

What are your goals for 2018?

2018 Planning Party

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

Sunday Musings and Why I Quilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missing June {Why I Quilt}

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

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

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

 

The 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

Glade Pillow: A Closer Look

into the forest quilt theory pattern cloud9 organic fabrics aurifilWhile I was piecing my newest Quilt Theory quilt, Into the Forest, I was lamenting the scraps that resulted. With conservation on my mind more than ever lately, I knew I wanted to create a supplemental pattern that would make efficient use of the scraps as the quilt was pieced. I know that for me, using scraps left over from a pattern often falls to the bottom of my to-do list, or the scraps fall into the pile that will slowly and eventually feed tiny scrap projects here and there, but with the little time I have to sew, those projects often fall into the “someday” category, aka an overflowing scrap bin. When all of the necessary piecing is done WHILE you’re sewing together your quilt top, on the other hand, it makes it so much easier to actually put the scraps to good use.

Glade Pillow pattern Into the Forest Quilt Theory bonus patternThus, the Glade Pillow was born. A free bonus pattern for all who purchase Into the Forest, the Glade Pillow uses up a large majority of your scraps, and the pieces are actually sewn while you piece your quilt blocks. That’s a win in my book. I hope you like it, too.

Glade pillow at duskI had a fun photoshoot for this pillow, caught right at dusk with two of my little ones in tow, and thought it would be fun to show you a bit more about the pillow, as well as share peeks at our fun photo shoot. The light is low, and less than optimal, but the photos and memories made are fun ones. It turns out kids have as much fun with a fancy arm chair in the forest as quilters do!

glade pillow backing cloud 9 fabricsFirst, how about some more details about the pillow? Here’s the backing, which I absolutely love! I made an envelop closure but plan to add snaps or buttons in the near future.glade pillow backing cloud 9 fabricsI used scraps from my Into the Forest quilt backing, Birds of a Feather from Bird’s Eye View by Sarah Watson for Cloud 9 Fabrics, as the backing for my Glade Pillow, and used the selvedge as the raw edge of the envelop back closure.

dense quilting with aurifil thread glade pillowI had fun quilting my Glade Pillow with an assortment of Aurifil threads: 40wt: 5005-Medium turquoise, 2785-Very dark navy and 50wt: 2579-Medium orchid, 2800-Mint ice, 2021-Natural white, and of course 2600-Dove. I love the texture that comes with the dense vertical lines and multiple weights of thread, all quilted with my walking foot on my domestic Bernina 560 machine.

You can get the pdf Into the Forest quilt pattern for only $4 in the Quilt Theory shop here, and the Glade Pillow tutorial is linked in the description. You can peek at it here, but just a heads up that some of it won’t make sense without the Into the Forest pattern in front of you.

2 year old pillow photo shoot helperGetting photos of this pillow proved a bit tricky, since an eager 2 year old helper often means photos like this (above). Add a 7 year old sister helper, and they quickly morph to this:

2 year old pillow photo shoot helperSeriously cute!

2 year old pillow photo shoot helper distractionFinn was soon once again distracted by a nearby plant, so Maddie stepped in for her turn.

7 year old pillow photo shoot helperBig girl helper, in so many ways! After the photo shoot, Maddie wanted a turn with my camera. With the strap securely around her neck and extra reminders to be extremely careful, I let her commandeer the camera.

quilty photo shoots with helpAs a result, there’s a bit of proof of what it looks like to have quilty photo shoots with little ones’ help. My middle son was inside intently building with legos and had no interest in helping with our forest romp, but it was really fun to wander into the forest behind our house for a bit. Maddie and Finn had a wonderful time rolling around and being silly in the grass afterward.

kids rolling in the grass

I hope you have fun with the Glade Pillow if you do decide to make Into the Forest! My pile of triangle trimmings from past projects is so large that I knew for this one I just had to use them up immediately or else they were destined to languish with the others. Scrap busting is an art, and not one I have yet mastered!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday and TGIFF. Finishes feel good and absolutely worth celebrating! (Especially when they are so few and far between!)

Happy sewing!

Finn’s Milestone Quilt Finish: Two Years!

Whoa summer! What better post to spearhead my return to blogging than this one!?

Finn's Milestone quilt finishThis is a bittersweet post to share. Finn’s Milestone Quilt, the quilt that I created to document his first year of life, sewing and photographing one block per month, is finally finished. It’s quilted and bound and was gifted to my sweet third child for his 2nd birthday nearly 3 months ago. Yes! Baby Finn is officially into toddlerhood and joining the ranks of the twos (I daren’t call them “terrible”).

Finn snuggled in his finished milestone quiltFinn is jumping into the twos with a gusto, expressing his emotions and emphatically requesting (demanding?) “I do it! I do it!” for just about every activity in life. He’s a joyful, social boy who absolutely adores his older siblings, and thusly, mimics their every move. While heart-meltingly adorable, this poses difficult when the 5 year old pitches a fit and storms off in a rage because he can’t cut up all the fruit and vegetables in the house and make soup in a giant pot on the stove at 8 in the morning. I should note that if he ate the soup, I would have no problem with this plan. Finn will watch, then as soon as Max storms off, will exactly replicate his angry sounds and stomps and follow him in an adoring rage. Life is… fun.

impish finn eating ice cream age 2Truly, though, I’m blessed. Even on the most challenging days, I know that I will look back at these years with longing, wishing for Finn to come ask for kisses only so that he can impishly wipe them off with a giggle, then ask for more. Remembering how magically a mommy kiss can heal a hurt, and how simply holding my hand makes even a fearful task manageable. Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to hold onto the blissful moments, and like childbirth, block out the chaotic torpedoes of childhood destruction? Or will I miss those too? Only time will tell. For now, I’m happy to have completed Finn’s quilt and hope to see him drag it around behind him on his adventures.

Finn's Milestone quilt finishFinn's Milestone quilt finishFinn's Milestone quilt finish

Now, how about a bit about the quilt?

Finn's Milestone quilt finish freemotion quilting aurifil threadAfter debating whether to use different quilting designs in different sections, or going with an all-over quilting design, I decided to mix it up. I quilted with a variety of Aurifil thread to blend with the different sections of the quilt while creating a variety of textures. I used 40wt 1148-Light Jade with 50wt 4093-Jade in the bobbin for the dark turquoise sections, using a free motion quilting boxy spiral motif.

Finn's Milestone quilt finish freemotion quilting aurifil threadI used my go-to 50wt 2600-Dove to quilt wavy straight lines with my walking foot in the lightest areas, creating a smooth flowing feel.

Finn's Milestone quilt finish freemotion quilting aurifil threadThen I used 50wt 2692-Black to stitch nearly in the ditch, tracing the seam lines in the black log cabin section. This helps define the log cabins while emphasizing their boxy nature. I like the way the squared quilting in the darker sections plays with the smooth flow of the quilting in the lighter section. I certainly need to practice my free motion quilting more, but I’m happy with this quilt finish!

Finn's Milestone quilt finishI opted for the Stoff fabric that looks like birch trees as the backing, and honestly until writing this post, I forgot that I had mentally decided on the *other* fabric I bought back when Finn was 10 months old! Oh well, the birch trees look lovely, too!

Finn's Milestone quilt finishI used a scrappy binding, perhaps for the first time, using up some of my black and dark grey strip scraps. I machine stitched the binding to the front of the quilt, and then hand stitched it to the back with 50wt black Aurifil thread. Normally, for a baby quilt I would machine stitch the binding completely, but I wanted some extra time to reflect on the making of this quilt, and stitch my love into it just a tiny bit more. Or maybe I’m finish-averse. I haven’t decided yet! Either way, I know that if the binding ever begins to fall off, I know just how to fix it, so no worries! I think it will be nice and secure.

Finn's Milestone quilt finishI hand wrote a label and stitched it down with the binding on one of the back corners. Doesn’t it look delicious?  For as easy as labels normally come to me, this one was tough. I wanted to write more than the usual “Made for x, by y, date, location” but also didn’t want to write a novel. I definitely could have written a novel. This will have to do. My love is there. My silly boy clearly knows it! (Click the photo above to see a larger version for easier reading).

Finn's Milestone quilt finishFinn's Milestone quilt finishSo, thus ends the era. The exciting, fun, endearing, and so sentimental Milestone Quilt project has officially come to an end. Finn will continue to grow, quilts will continue to be made, but I can’t help but be more than a little sad that this project is finished. Next up: I hope to create a photo book with all of the progress photos and growth updates. One more way to drag this project out juuuuust a little bit longer! I will also be lecturing about this and other quilts to mark milestones at QuiltCon 2018 in Pasadena, so please come have a listen if you are attending QuiltCon!

I also started another version of a milestone quilt in my Summer Adventure Quilt, about which I’ll share more updates shortly! Just because you don’t have a newborn baby doesn’t mean you can’t create a quilt to document your days!

snuggling with Finn under his finished quilt
Early morning story snuggles with Finn and his quilt.

Thank you so very much for joining in with this fun project, and I hope it has inspired you to find ways to make the creation of a quilt a manageable task even when impossibly busy, and to find ways to document your days through the construction of a quilt. Here’s to the next fun adventure!

For direct links to each of the monthly posts, visit the Milestone Quilt page here. Later in the week, I’ll link up with Let’s Bee Social, Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, and TGIFF hosted at Finished or Not Friday since this is a pretty epic finish and I’m excited to finally share it!

 

Retreating for the Summer

I’m home for just a few short days between the amazing, somewhat surreal dream that was the Slow Fashion retreat (it deserves its very own post, which I vow to share before the end of August), and a week long camping trip in the Adirondacks with my extended family, and wanted to just check in here briefly.

natural dyeing slow fashion retreat maine 2017
A peek at our foray into natural dyeing with Jessica Lewis Stevens from the Slow Fashion Retreat with A Gathering of Stitches 2017.

Despite my best intentions, between a broken computer in June, whirlwind quilt photography adventures in July, the Slow Fashion retreat last week, and my family camping trip for which I leave tomorrow, I seem to be officially retreating into the wild fun of summer and out of blogging for the season.

summer adventure quilt progressMy Summer Adventure Quilt is growing almost as fast as my list of things to share with you, and I will share more detailed updates once the summer winds down.

summer adventure quilt Adirondack camping trip additionHere are the blocks I made this week to accompany us on our camping adventure next week. A improvisationally pieced tent block for camping, a canoe tied to a tree for our canoeing trips, and a lake section to add for every time we paddle. I made 5 extra trees in case we do lots of hiking, which are positioned around the top and left side of the tent, lake and canoe, and I put a few already-earned tree blocks around the bottom to show what it will look like all together. Hopefully with all of these blocks ready to roll, we’ll have a grand old time. I hope that you are enjoying these fast, hot months, and living life adventurously!

2018 Quilters Planner and mini-hi resI’m also excited to share that the 2018 Quilter’s Planner is officially released and ready for pre-order! This year, Alison Glass is the featured designer, too, and I’m sure you know how I feel about that! I’ll share much more about the planner and all of my quilt photography fun in a later post, too. For now, visit Quilter’s Planner site to preorder domestically, and international friends can preorder a planner or a planner bundle through Fat Quarter Shop.

Know that I have not forgotten this space, and I fully intend to return with intention once the weather cools, the big kids return to school, and the adventures subside a bit. Until then, happy stitching… and adventuring!

 

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!

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!