3 Self Care Tips for (Mommy) Quilters

The number one greatest challenge I’ve faced in my journey into motherhood is taking time for self care. Even the words self care sound like the antithesis of motherhood. To me, being a mother means your job is to give. Not only do you give life to amazing human beings, literally birthing them into this wild world, but you also then provide the nurturing, sustenance, protection, guidance, direction, support that they need to grow and develop into independent creatures. You’re needed literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years without any breaks, vacation time, or even sick days. Unless you make a point to create, make, steal, demand–whatever it takes!–some time for yourself, it is so easy for self care to fall completely by the wayside. (Ask me how I know!)

My self care of choice these days is taking time to sew. It took me about 5 years and 2 1/2 kids before I realized that I absolutely needed to make time to sew and create, and that making time to do something I love wasn’t selfish; it was a necessary part of this beautiful dance called life, and without it, my dance steps were more of a heavy trod than a light leap. When we’re all lightly skipping and twirling, everyone is much happier than when mommy is stomping and dragging her exhausted, grumpy self around.

tea epp self care for quilters plum deluxeEven since coming to this realization, I still struggle some weeks to set aside time for me time and self care, especially when there are deadlines looming. A while back, I was in the thick of a few looming deadlines when I received an email from Andy at Plum Organics Tea Company asking if I’d like to try some of their tea and review it on my blog. In perusing their site to see if it seemed like something I would enjoy, and more importantly, something relevant to this space, I discovered their Self Care blend. I also found myself immersed in a world of inspirational quotes, encouraging mantras, and soothing encouragements to take time for oneself.  Relevant? I think yes. Full disclosure: Plum Organics provided two packets of tea in exchange for my honest review on my blog. All opinions are always my own. My gratitude for Andy’s timely email and the resulting realization that I needed more focus on self care is also fully my own, and huge.

As a result, I’ve created this short list of three tips (or ideas) for self care for (mommy) quilters. I include “mommy” in parentheses since the tips apply to any busy quilter, mother or otherwise. I hope it will inspire you to take a moment for yourself amidst your busy day:

1 – Create just for the fun of it. No purpose. No end goal. Just make.

Especially with an endless stream of quilty requests, whether for the next baby quilt for a family member or friend, a graduation quilt for a cousin, teacher gifts for your children’s teachers, or business related quilting, the list of quilting “needs” rarely, if ever, ends. Despite this–or because of this!–it is so important to create for the sake of creating.

epp girt by sea center medallionI’ve recently joined in with the Girt by Sea sew along led by the Modern Makers Retreat and have been hand stitching the center medallion with some fabrics I won from Bari J a month or so ago (Sage fabrics for Art Gallery Fabrics). They are outside of my usual style and color scheme, it is a project with no end purpose or need, and it’s fun! Meticulous cutting, hand stitching, no stress or deadlines. That’s chicken soup for the quilter’s soul.

2 – Slow down and take time to sit. Drink tea. Hand stitch. Read.

When it feels like there’s no way you’ll ever accomplish everything on your daily to-do list day after day, it seems like leisure is impossible. Yet, truly, what’s 10-20 minutes? Take the time to sit, relax, drink some tea, hand stitch, read… whatever helps you fully relax.

tea and epp relaxTea and EPP, anyone?

I’m a huge fan of English Paper Piecing (EPP) and the tiny meticulous hand stitching is meditative for me. Sitting down with a mini pot of the Self Care tea from Plum Deluxe with a sweet snack and my hand stitching, even if only for a few moments, can help rejuvenate and reset my patience level so that I’m better able to tackle the rest of the day. Try it!

3 – Take time for yoga, or simply stretch, move, and breathe mindfully for a few moments each day.

Breathing is something that you do all day and night, but mostly likely rarely think about. Yet taking a few moments to be more mindful of your breath, notice the way you are sitting, and then sit a little bit taller, relax your shoulders, and take a few deep easy breaths can make such a difference in mood and how you feel physically. Especially when quilting or sewing, remember to take a break every so often, sit tall, breathe deeply, and gently stretch your arms, shoulders and back. Your mind and body will feel so much better!

Even on the busiest day, I hope that this list will inspire you to take a bit more time for self care. Your mind, body, and family and friends will thank you! Now I just need to help myself take my own advice more often!

More about Plum Deluxe Tea

plum deluxe organic teaThe first thing I noticed about Plum Deluxe when I visited their site was that their tea is organic, non-GMO, hand-blended, and fair-trade, all by a small independently run company out of Oregon. The focus of the company is community and inspiring people to live their best lives. Even their motto is: Making moments matter. I encourage you to read their About page; they are not your everyday tea company! Everything associated with the tea is packed full of positivity–even the ingredients list on the tea states that the tea includes love and gratitude. That’s my kind of tea!

self care blend plum deluxe teaThe Self Care tea is fruity and delicious, and smells divine as soon as you open the package. I love loose tea, since seeing the actual components makes me feel like I’m enjoying tea straight from nature.

plum deluxe tea package ingredients Andy was kind enough to send me a package of the Self Care blend and a bonus package of Oregon Breakfast Black Tea, since I’ve been wanting to decrease the amount of coffee I drink and the Oregon Breakfast flavor is rich and robust. Not only does it have hazelnut essence, it includes love and gratitude. Mmmm.

I mentioned that a big focus of Plum Deluxe is community; they also have a fabulous tea of the month club – for only $10/month subscribers receive 1 oz of a custom seasonally-perfect artisan loose leaf tea made just for the club. Subscribers also enjoy access to a robust and supportive private tea lover’s community, tea-inspired recipes, discounts on extra teas and supplies, and other surprises. They even host member meet-ups throughout the year, and several of their members host self-organized group events year-round. Andy was kind enough to offer my readers a free tea of your choice in your first month when you join the Plum Deluxe tea community. Be sure to tell him Kitty from Night Quilter sent you, and enjoy!

plum deluxe tea meaningful momentI enjoy how drinking loose leaf tea forces me to slow the daily rush. The practice of getting out the loose tea and boiling the water allows me to slow down a bit, so that I can remind myself to breathe a bit more deeply, stand a bit taller, and chill out. With three kids under 8, I have to tell myself, insist to myself–chill out–quite often. In the grand scheme of things, this mess and chaos doesn’t matter. Everyone will be better off if I take a moment to breathe. Sip some tea. Have a snack. Stitch in a sunbeam. You know, that rare rainbow unicorn called self-care for (Mommy) quilters. I’m going to *try* to work the practice into my life a bit more often. I think we’ll all be better off for it.

 

Eye Spy Picnic Plaid Flimsy Finish

I’m excited to share that I’ve finally sewn the final seam in the Eye Spy Picnic Plaid quilt top I’ve been making for my son Max. I absolutely love this quilt, made using the Scrappy Picnic Plaid quilt pattern by  Lee Heinrich from Freshly Pieced, which was part of the 2016 Quilter’s Planner. I used all fabrics from my stash, a large part of which were Alison Glass fabrics. It was sort of my safety net, as this was one of my first truly “scrappy” quilts and I wanted to be sure I would love it.  The vibrant colors and heavy hand of Alison Glass fabric contributions worked; I love this quilt!

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish If you remember, I began this quilt as part of the 2016 Quilter’s Planner Sew Along back in October of 2016 and made fairly solid progress until around December. Then the holidays and life got in the way of things and with the culmination of the sew along, this project fell back into the endless WIPs list. I think my last update here was in November. Yikes.

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish Recently, as I finished my last few deadline projects, I decided that it was high time for me to actually finish some of the works in progress I’ve been making at a snail’s pace for my family. I completed the final piecing of these blocks as a leader-ender project with other deadline sewing projects, and just this week, I finally sewed that final seam! That feeling of finally finishing a quilt top never gets old, does it?!

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish Since this quilt is slated for my nearly 5 year old son Max, I asked him to show me his favorite block. He took a quick look and pointed out a sweet and subtle yellow rabbit block, which surprised me a bit since in the past he’s claimed the turquoise scientist dog, the purple pony, or the green robot as his favorite block.

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish I thought maybe he had chosen the rabbit block as his favorite since it was closest and he was pretty enthralled in picking daffodils when I asked him outside, so when we returned in and out of the sun, I laid the quilt top out on the floor and asked him again to show me his favorite. True to form, he replied with a good dose of sass, “I already told you. It’s this one!” But of course.

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish We played a quick game of eye spy with the quilt on his lap, and I got a brief glimpse into the fun that will ensue when this quilt is actually fully quilted and bound. I have a feeling that favorite blocks will change like the wind, and there will be hours of fun centered around seeking out the little details in each print.

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finish Max’s exploration of the quilt top resulted in a climb up and over, a flop all around, and culminated in a dramatic roll right off the couch (of course). This will be a fun family quilt for sure.

I pieced this top using my go-to 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove thread. I’m still trying to decide how to quilt this, and whether to use Dove to quilt with an all-over design, or to break it down into sections and use coordinating colors for more dense quilting. Max’s birthday is June 14th, so part of me wants to try to shoot for completing it in time to gift it to him then, which makes me lean toward a more simple, all over quilting design, or straight lines to stabilize without going too crazy with quilting. Then again, this quilt will definitely see a lot of use, so denser quilting might be a better choice, even if it means it’s not finished in time for birthday gifting. What would you do?

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finishI used four main strategies in piecing this quilt to ensure I would love the outcome despite any fear of scrappy quilts:

  • Rainbow ordered block arrangement
  • Bright colors including as much Alison Glass fabric as I could (easy from my stash!)
  • The middle grey squares are all the same solid Robert Kaufman Kona fabric (medium grey)
  • The black and white diamonds are all made from the same black (an unknown black with silver stars) and white (Lizzy House Twinkle Twinkle in White Metallic from her Whisper Palette for Andover Fabrics) to provide some visual consistency.

Now that I’ve made one scrappy, rainbow-ordered quilt, I absolutely understand the draw, and I don’t think I would need as many safety nets in place to ensure I love the outcome for the next one! Sticking to planned color placement and using fabrics I love would be sufficient.

What are some of your favorite patterns for using scraps?

Special thanks to everyone who sent “eye spy” appropriate scraps a couple years ago during the Instagram Quilty Wishes event. I have more to use, but this quilt would not have been possible without your contributions!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday and TGIFF which is over with Leanne at Devoted Quilter this week, and boy it feels good to have this flimsy finished! Perhaps I should get Amanda Jean’s new book No Scrap Left Behind, too!

Sewing from the Heart: Call to Action

If there’s one thing that is consistent about this online quilting community, it’s that when the unbearable happens and someone needs love and support, the community will rise to the occasion and come together to stitch their love, support, prayers, and positive intentions into literal textile hugs–quilts. Quilters have big hearts and give generously. That’s one huge reason I am proud to call myself a quilter. Recently, I’ve found myself contributing to a few different love, support, and help-filled quilting projects, and I wanted to share about them here. Not to toot my own horn, but to spread the word in case you also want to pay it forward and use your sewing powers for good.

Quilts for Seniors by Leanne at Devoted Quilter

A few weeks back, Leanne at Devoted Quilter shared that a senior home near her house burnt down and while all 21 residents thankfully got out unharmed, they lost everything. She made a call for square in a square blocks, and as testament to the huge hearts of quilters, she quickly received offers to make more than the 882 blocks that would be needed to make quilts for each resident!! Please note: She no longer needs blocks for this project!!

square in a square charity quilt blocksThe day she announced her block drive, I made three blocks to send along, and used some beloved blues and mustard fabrics from my stash, since I thought it was pretty gender neutral and could be combined with many other colors.

square in a square charity quilt blocksI mailed these blocks and some Anna Maria Horner Field Study yardage for a backing, and after over a week of still not hearing they had been received, I found the package back in my mailbox, sent back from the US-Canada border. Talk about frustrating! Note that writing your first initial and last name instead of your full first and last names on a return address for an international shipping is not sufficient. I’ve mailed the package once again, hopefully properly completed this time and have my fingers crossed that it actually arrives!

square in a square charity quilt blocksIf you’d like to contribute to this cause, Leanne is still in need of donations of batting and full backings (she has received more than enough blocks and binding fabrics!). You can find all of the info and can contact Leanne for more details at her blog here: Quilt for Seniors – Update.

Love for Linette, organized by Sarah at Berry Barn Designs

love for linette call for nine patch quilt blocksFor those of you who followed along with our Honest Craftroomies Periscope hops, you may remember Linette, one of our dear friends and fellow hoppers. Her husband has been battling cancer, and a bit over a week ago, she shared that he’s now receiving hospice care. Sarah from Berry Barn Designs saw this and immediately emailed me and a few other of the Honest Craftroomies originals with the idea to show our love and support by making a quilt. Of course we all agreed and Sarah graciously offered to organize the block drive and quilt top assembly. Stephanie from Late Night Quilter offered to quilt the quilt. The kindness of this community knows no bounds.

Sarah is spearheading the efforts on Instagram, and you can find all of the block construction details here: Love for Linette Call for Nine-Patch blocks. I suggested a bright monochromatic nine-patch block with one white or low volume square as the pattern for the quilt. Linette loves bright colors and we thought wrapping her in a rainbow hug is exactly what each of us wants to do right now. The white square is to represent the hole that will always exist in her life once this part of her journey is over, but the large swaths of bright color represent the beauty and support that remains and will always be there for her.

love for linette nine patch blocksI made three blocks using some of my favorite tertiary colors, and I plan to help Sarah “fill gaps” in color as needed as more blocks begin to arrive. I do hope that you will contribute to this quilty hug and stitch your love and positive thoughts and prayers into a block or more for Linette. Please  DM Sarah @berrybarndesigns for mailing details, or let me know if you need a different form of contact.

Busy Bag Sew Along to Benefit Sadie’s Dream for a Cure

Sadie's Dream Sew Along quilters planner busy bag charity sewingFinally, during the month of May, the Quilter’s Planner is teaming up with Sadie’s Dream for a Cure to sew as many Busy Bags as possible. The busy bags (simple tote bags from a free pattern provided on the Sadie’s Dream website) will be filled with crayons, art supplies, and small toys for children with life threatening illnesses.  Sadie’s Dream is an incredible organization, founded by Jessica and her mother, in honor of Jessica’s beautiful child named Sadie, who was diagnosed with cancer at 6 months of age.

Sadie’s Dream offers support to children who are in the hospital receiving treatment for cancer by providing them with tote bags filled with toys! They ask volunteers, like you and me, to make reusable fabric tote bags – “Busy Bags” — to give to children while they are in the hospital, often immobile and hooked to an iv. You mail the bag to Sadie’s Dream and they fill the bags with coloring books, crayons, books, craft projects, card games etc.

This Sew Along kicks off today, May 1st, so head over to the blog post on the Quilter’s Planner blog to find out all of the details, or head over to Instagram @thequiltersplanner to make a pledge to make a bag (or more!). And trust me, even if you are not a bag maker, you can make this bag! I will be posting tips along the way and even will be “going live” on the Quilter’s Planner facebook page and Instagram feed (eek!)

busy bag detail insideI sewed up a Busy Bag to become familiar with the pattern (and so that I would have a bag for photos!), and as one who is filled with trepidation over 3D sewing, I can assure you that this is an easy, clearly written pattern that even the bag-fearing sewists can tackle successfully!

busy bag detail handlesIt is a very basic tote bag with extra wide handles to help make it comfortable even when filled with goodies.

busy bag detail backI used a fun print by Robert Kaufman fabrics that I had in my stash for ages, since this bag is great for using fun panels. The front has the pocket in the middle and the full panel print is visible on the back. My panel was not quite tall enough, so I added the solid blue to the bottom before constructing the bag. It worked great!

I do hope that you will join in, since I would love to meet and even blast through our goal of having 25 bags made and donated during the Quilter’s Planner Sew Along in May. If you do plan to join, please head over to Instagram and comment with a pledge of how many bags you plan to make. We will be documenting the process and tallying bags as they are finished and mailed to Sadie’s Dream.

There are so many options for sewing from the heart, and many of them don’t take much time at all. After the past few weeks, I’m feeling like I want to add charity sewing to my monthly goals. I can take an hour or two out of my busy schedule to brighten someone’s day or show my love and support to someone in need. Want to join me?

Crank Up the Volume with AGF Lower the Volume Skinny Bins

Mister Domestic Sewing PartyLeave it to Mathew aka Mister Domestic to throw a party instead of a blog tour. Mathew is one of those talented folks whose enthusiasmmathew and kitty at quilt con 2017 for making is clearly evident all the time. I love his bubbling enthusiasm, his signature communication style, his bear hugs and kind heart, and after you throw in his mad skills with a sewing machine, how could I resist a chance to party down with him?! I was fortunate enough to meet Mathew at QuiltCon, and he’s as awesome in person as he is online. Plus, who doesn’t love a party!? Needless to say, when Mathew invited me to join in on his #misterdomesticssewingparty to help spread the word about the new Art Gallery Fabrics Capsules and Fusions, I was absolutely in! I’m excited to be joining the fun, cranking up the volume for the party with some tall and skinny bins made out of Art Gallery Fabrics’ Lower the Volume Capsule.

lower the volume capsule art gallery fabrics with rainbow of pure elements solidsWhen faced with choosing one of the Capsules or Fusions, the Lower the Volume Capsule seemed like the obvious choice since I love low volume fabrics and seem to incorporate them into most of my projects. They go with absolutely everything, and my favorite bright colors shine when they are paired with low volumes. As soon as I RSVPed an enthusiastic yes, I started thinking about what project I could make that would let the low volumes be the star of the show. I decided to add a rainbow of Art Gallery Pure Elements solids and make a rainbow of tall skinny fabric bins to store my small, but not-small-enough-to-toss fabric scraps.

tall skinny scrap fabric bins agf lower the volumeThe tall and skinny shape gives you the most bang for your buck when storing small scraps, since you can fit a lot of them along a wall or shelf, but still have enough volume to hold a decent amount of scraps. See? I cranked up the volume with this Lower the Volume capsule bundle! The result? The Skinny Bin!

lower the volume agf detailsI love the Lower the Volume Capsule collection, but my favorite might be the little details on the Quiet Downtown print. I can see myself meticulously cutting specific quilty street names to add to my projects, and couldn’t resist some meticulous cutting in making the bins.

lower the volume skinny bins progressTo get started, I sketched out a bunch of Skinny Bin design options in my Quilter’s Planner over the course of a week or so. I absolutely love the handy graph paper section of the planner! The first design that came to mind was the hexagon English Paper Pieced (EPP) Skinny Bin. I jokingly call it iBin because of the design that appears when using the extra-long hexagons I used for the bottom of the bin. Even with the time-saving elongated hexagons, I decided that rather than EPP ALL of the bins, why not mix it up and try a whole selection of block designs?!

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsuleI love the variety of shapes, color, and design in these bins, and plan to add to them until I have a full primary, secondary, and tertiary rainbow! I sewed all of the bins with my go-to Aurifil 50wt 2600-Dove thread, but used 80wt to piece the EPP iBin. I absolutely understand the excitement about 80wt for EPP–the stitches melt right in!

I am getting better at making introductions at parties, so why don’t I introduce you? Be sure to oogle the awesome variety of low volume prints as we go through introductions.

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsule plus block redFirst in line we have Mr. Plus in Pure Elements Red. He’s first aid certified, so you can rest easy at this party.

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsule orange triangleNext is Madam Isosceles, a triangle jam in Pure Elements Burnt Orange. She can be a bit pointy at times, but is good at heart.

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsule yellow wonky starThird is sunny Sir Wonky Star in Pure Elements Canary. He is channeling a sun a bit more than a star, but all are welcome here, right?

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsule green inset improv circleNext is my favorite (shh don’t tell the others), Miss Inset Circle in Pure Elements Dark Citron. She loves to hug trees and has an unusual obsession with maps. Please don’t mistake her for Olive, her twin sister.

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsule EPP teal hexagon ibinNo party is complete without Dr. iBin EPP, sporting Pure Elements Emerald. This tech mastermind was put together a bit differently due to her seamless exterior construction, but she fits in just fine despite her genius.

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsule log cabin blueFinally, Mr. Log Cabin in Pure Elements Denim Blue. He’s a bit casual for this party, but who needs a dress code?

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsuleThere are also two more bins in active progress: Ms. Lucy Boston in Pure Elements Purple Pansy and Miss Raspberry Kiss in fitting Pure Elements Raspberry Rose. They will be fashionably late to the party, but hopefully they’ll bring dessert.

agf pure elements tall skinny fabric binsOkay, that was silly but quite fun. All of the bins are lined with their feature Pure Element solids, so it makes for quite a colorful crowd. Now you’re acquainted with my new friends and we can all party on!

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsule wine cozyWhile designing this bin, I conveniently discovered that it really is perfect for a party. Not only does it provide a colorful place to put your itty bitty scraps, but it can also double as a wine cozy for storing or toting your party beverage of choice. Totally #winning!

art gallery fabrics writing on selvedgeI also discovered that Art Gallery Pure Element solids have writing on their selvedge! Solids are often really difficult to keep track of once they dive into a stash, so the printed selvedge is a super helpful detail!

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsule scrapsI’m now excited to sort through my pile of tiny scraps so that I can fill these beauties!

skinny bin and aurifil thread cardI actually discovered yet another use for these bins, but you’ll have to wait to see any more than this sneak peek. Be sure to keep your eye on this space. Ahhh, gotta love a rainbow of Aurifil thread!

Fabric skinny bin AGF lower the volume capsuleAt least in my opinion, one of the best parts of having a party is how clean your house gets in the process. There’s nothing like having an excuse to tidy up and rainbowtize. I haven’t yet decided whether these bins will live right here, hanging from the peg board behind my sewing machine, or if I will hang them near my cutting table for easy access. Either way, they will certainly brighten up the room!

Thank you so much for coming to the party, and be sure to check out all of other talented makers who will be partying down for the next couple of weeks:

Many thanks to our fabulous host, Mathew Boudreaux, Mister Domestic: (@misterdomestic)
Art Gallery Capsules (April 17th – 21st)
Monday, April 17: Cristy Stuhldreher (@loveyousew_)
Tuesday, April 18: Kitty Wilkin (@nightquilter) <—-That’s me!
Wednesday, April 19: Sharon McConnell (@colorgirlquilts)
Thursday, April 20: Stephanie Palmer (@latenightquilter)
Friday, April 21: Nicole Young (@lillyellasworld)

Art Gallery Fusions (April 24th – 28th)
Monday, April 24: Nicole Daksiewicz (@modernhandcraft)
Tuesday, April 25: Tara Curtis (@t_jaye, @WEFTYneedle)
Wednesday, April 26: Melissa LeRay (@ohhowsweetco)
Thursday, April 27: Sarah Thomas (@sariditty)
Friday, April 28: Jennifer Rossotti (@jennrossotti)

Tomorrow I’ll be linking up with Lorna’s Let’s Bee Social and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Friday, since the more the merrier at this party!

Modern Triangle Quilts Blog Tour

I’m excited to be the next stop on the Modern Triangle Quilts book blog tour, in celebration of my friend Rebecca Bryan’s new book published by Stash Books/C&T Publishing. In this post, I’ll tell you about her awesome spin on the typical book tour blog hop, I’ll share my highlights from her book, and I’ll tell you how you can enter to win either a fabulous charity quilt benefitting Living Water International, or a copy of the Modern Triangle Quilts book (or both if you’re crazy lucky!) Read on, friends!

modern triangle quilts blog hop rebecca bryanI first met Becca right around when she published her first book, Modern Rainbow, and I knew we’d be fast friends. I mean, rainbow!? I LOVE rainbows! That book did not disappoint, and Modern Triangle Quilts is just as amazing. Becca also just announced her first fabric line with Robert Kaufman Fabrics, called Panache. She’s a rockstar, I tell ya!!

modern triangle quilts rebecca bryan

facets from modern triangle quilts by rebecca bryanModern Triangle Quilts takes triangles to a whole new level. With 70 graphic triangle block patterns including equilateral, right, and isosceles triangles, plus 11 sampler patterns and a section on graphic design, the design possibilities are endless. Above are the Isosceles Sampler and Facets, two of the strikingly unique patterns included in the book.

block construction modern triangle blog hop book tourI had so much fun choosing a design and making a block from the book, especially since the color palette requested by Becca meant that I could combine my two favorite fabric designers–a crosshatch from Carolyn Friedlander‘s architextures basics, and two of Alison Glass‘s recent fabrics, Insignia and Sun Print 2017 fit the bill.

block construction modern triangle blog hop book tourThe piecing of these designs is so clever, and utilizes many techniques–from foundation paper pieced designs to improv. This book really gets me thinking outside the box (and into the triangle ha ha ha), which is what I look for in a quilting book. This is definitely a book worth adding to your quilty library.

block construction modern triangle blog hop book tourHere’s the block I made for Becca, and I had the pleasure of giving this block to her over lunch while at QuiltCon in Savannah. Read on to see what she did with all of the blocks, and how you can be entered to win the gorgeous sampler quilt that resulted!

Charity Quilt Giveaway Details

Well Wishes Charity Quilt Rebecca BryanInstead of the typical book release blog hop, Becca asked each of us on the blog hop to make a block (or more), and she made all of the blocks into this gorgeous Charity Bee Well Wishes quilt. For the duration of the Blog Tour (April 2 – April 18) Becca is offering the pattern for this quilt in her shop HERE for only $5. Every time you purchase the pattern, you are entered to win the quilt. You can purchase the pattern as many times as you want. Each purchase equals one entry. All proceeds of the sales from the Well Wishes PDF pattern will go directly to Living Water International. Visit her blog post HERE for more details. By purchasing this pattern, not only will you be entering into the running to win this gorgeous quilt, you’ll be directly helping make positive change in the world. That’s a win-win if I ever heard one!

Modern Triangle Quilts Book Giveaway

Rebecca Bryan and Stash Books / C&T Publishing are kind enough to offer one copy of Modern Triangle Quilts to one of my readers!

modern triangle quilts by rebecca bryanTo enter the giveaway today, tell me what color combination you would use to make a modern triangle quilt. I love sharing color inspiration and hearing favorite color combinations! Leave a comment and make sure I’m able to get ahold of you if you win.

This giveaway is open to US and international participants. Note that only addresses within the U.S. will receive a hard copy of the book. Due to the extreme cost of international shipping, international winners receive the e-book version. The giveaway will be open until April 18th at 8pm EST when I’ll select the winner randomly with random.org. Winners will be announced by the 21st of April. Good luck! Giveaway is now closed! A winner will be announced shortly!

Blog Hop Schedule

Here’s the rest of the schedule so that you can follow along with the fun!

Sunday, April 2nd: Becca Bryan – Bryan House Quilts
Monday April 3rd: Jessee Maloney – Art School Dropout
Monday April 3rd: Stash Books – C&T Publishing
Tuesday April 4th: Heidi Staples – Fabric Mutt
Wednesday April 5th: Felice Regina – Sew Scatterbrained
Thursday April 6th: Giuseppe Ribaudo – @giucy_giuce
Friday April 7th: Christa Watson – Christa Quilts
Saturday April 8th: Christopher Thompson – The Tattooed Quilter
Monday April 10th: Karin Jordan – Leigh Laurel Studios
Tuesday April 11th: Kitty Wilkin <–YOU ARE HERE!
Wednesday April 12th: Nicole Daksiewicz – Modern Handcraft
Thursday April 13th: Sarah Thomas – Sariditty
Friday April 14th: Amy Sinibaldi – Nana Company
Saturday April 15th: Rebecca Bryan – Bryan House Quilts
Many congratulations to Becca for another fabulous book! I look forward to seeing everyone’s triangular creativity blossom as a result.
Happy sewing!

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 Honey Pot Bee – April Queen Bee Fun

Ahhh, April! My favorite month! April is the month when spring usually begins to prevail over the last cold days of winter, with days getting a tad bit warmer, hopefully the snow melting enough to make way for sprouting crocuses and daffodils, and a prevalence of sun instead of sleet and snow. Not only that, it’s my birthday month, which is always a fun excuse to celebrate a little bit extra. To add some frosting to the cake, this month, I’m also one of the Queen Bees for The Honey Pot Bee hosted by Molli Sparkles. So fun!

the honey pot bee molli sparkles 2017When I was trying to decide what block to throw into the Honey Pot, I stumbled upon the Starry Sky block by Kylie at A Persevering Mom and completely fell in love.  Let me count the ways: 1) it’s foundation paper pieced yet very simply so, 2) the possibilities for color play are endless and I just LOVE Kylie’s warm/cool on low volume background sample block, 3) it comes in three sizes–2.5″, 6″ and 12″ finished squares, and 4) it’s free which makes it a prime choice for a bee! Decision made!

starry sky block by a persevering momBecause the foundation paper piecing in this block is so simple, it is a perfect block for some meticulous cutting fun. I decided that I wanted to use my precious Friedlander fabric for the background, but I wanted it to look like the tree scene was continuous across the block. I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few tips on how I did it.

starry sky block by a persevering momRemember that in foundation paper piecing, you are building the block on the back of the template. For this reason, when cutting each fabric piece, be sure to position the template with the printed lines facing the right side of the fabric to ensure the direction of the fabric is correct.

starry sky block by a persevering momIt’s also helpful to cut as you go, completing one template piece at a time and double checking your progress along the way. This certainly takes longer than cutting all of the necessary fabric pieces and chain piecing each section, but when playing the meticulous cutting game, it’s wise to go slowly and steadily, checking and double checking along the way.

starry sky block by a persevering momIn the photo above, the pieces of background fabric are cut for each section of the final foundation template (remember that the fabric will go on the back, so it appears mirrored when looking at them next to each other this way.) The final adjustment that can be made is with the numbering and order in which fabrics are sewn. With a basic understanding of how foundation paper piecing works, you can rearrange your piecing order to help easily align your fabric pieces. For this block, I always began with the center of the star points when at all possible so that it made it easy to keep the background fabric level and headed in the desired direction. For the piece shown, instead of sewing them in the listed order of A1, A2, A3, etc…, I positioned A3, then sewed A2, then A4, then A1.  This way, I only had one angled seam to line up properly (A5 to A6) in the entire block.

starry sky block by a persevering mom
A final shot of all of the block components in the dying evening light, right before final assembly.

While this seamless background didn’t come across as clearly as I hoped due to the intricacies of the branches and print, I’m still glad I went through the extra effort to get those bushes lined up along the bottom. Even if at first glance, it’s not obvious that the background fabric lines up, I know it does, and that’s what matters, right!?

starry sky block by a persevering momI love how the Friedlander Tree Stripe border in Pistachio looks with the star points, which include fabric from both Carkai and Architextures also by Carolyn Friedlander, some favorite Alison Glass Sun Prints from 2016 and 2017, a Free Spirit solid, Gum Leaves from Terra Australis 2 by Emma Jean Jansen, and an unknown green swirl from my stash. I sewed the block with my favorite 50wt Aurifil thread, 2600-Dove, but was excited to find two lovely greens in my stash, which will come in handy when it’s quilting time! My block will obviously be added to my Greenery Quilt, and I most likely will aim to also make a 12″ version of the block in a different arrangement of greens since I love the block so much. Can’t you see this block looking fab in just about any color combination!?

Head on over to Molli’s blog to see the other gorgeous block for April, and have fun with this Starry Sky block!

I’m linking up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday with Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl and Stephanie at Late Night Quilter in case anyone else wants a few tips on creating a seamless background panel for a pieced block. Enjoy!

 

Stash Building: Culcita Box

Living out in the country, if I can order something online and have it delivered literally to my door (rural mail delivery is awesome!), I do it! Don’t get me wrong–I’m all about shop local and I support local businesses as much as I can. But with three little ones to wrangle into and out of carseats for every errand, some things like toothpaste, shampoo, kid sneakers, and … fabric!? Those can be delivered right to my door, thank you!

culcita box march fq boxSo when Jamie, co-founder of Culcita Box, emailed me a while back and asked if I would be interested in checking out their new fabric subscription service, I only needed a little nudge to say yes. That nudge was in the form of a quick perusal of their website and what their boxes included to make sure it was my style, and instead of a little nudge it was an “absolutely yes!” Full disclosure: Culcita Box provided compensation in the form of product, a subscription box with fabric. All opinions expressed are my own. My excitement and heart eyes are also my own. 

culcita box march fq boxThere are many things I really love about what Culcita Box is offering. They include modern fabric lines in their boxes, and you can basically customize your subscription, choosing the yardage and frequency that best fits your sewing style (1/4 yard or 1/2 yard, delivered monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly). Not only that, Culcita Box also offers specific kit subscriptions including everything you need to make a quilt or a bag/accessory, or kits to help you improve your skills. I think those options are super cool and unique, and I could definitely see gifting someone the improve your skills kit subscription if they wanted to get more into sewing.

culcita box march fq boxJamie was kind enough to send me the March fat quarter bundle box, so let’s take a look at what was in it!

culcita box march fq boxFirst the deets: the March Culcita box included a bundle of 12 fat quarters of luscious Art Gallery Fabrics–from the Take Shape Capsule, two (2) sew-in labels, a Quilt Theory pattern card for Ocean Path (my pattern!), and perhaps my favorite part–a quilty fortune cookie. I love the attention that clearly went into every detail of this subscription box–from the fun text all over the box, the wrapping, the hand-written note, and even a sewing-related message in the fortune cookie!! It’s like unwrapping a present, and honestly, who doesn’t like unwrapping presents?

culcita box march fq box labelsI love that the box included two labels, since I think labeling is one of the most important parts of making, yet it’s something that so many people omit from the process. I bet having labels ready to go would help at least get a name and date added to the quilty goodness stitched with love daily. I’m excited to put these to use!

culcita box march fq box fortune cookieThe fortune cookie was such a fun addition. With a sewing-related inspiring message/fortune inside, and a delicious cookie to boot, how can you not love this little detail? Those who sew, sow peace. Yes!

culcita box march fq box fabricThe fabric is luxuriously soft, as we’ve all come to love about all Art Gallery fabrics, and included fabric from one of the new fabric capsules, namely Take Shape. I love the bold geometric shapes and gorgeous color palette. I also really love that these fabrics are a palette and style somewhat different than my usual saturated rainbow tone on tones. With the inclusion of my Quilt Theory Ocean Path quilt pattern card, I’m really wanting to make an Ocean Path pillow version with 2 offset blocks in these geometric beauties. Will my to-do list allow? Time will tell! Either way, I’m excited to add these fabrics to my stash… or projects list!

Many thanks to Culcita Box for letting me try out their subscription box! I would definitely recommend this box for the modern quilter looking to build a stash of beautiful fabrics, or as a gift for those who prefer making bags, working from quilt kits, or building their skills.

I’ll be linking up with Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash since gosh, it’s been a while since I’ve built my stash!

 

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 35 Flora Tutorial

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

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

Tips for Foundation Paper Piecing Flora

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

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

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

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

Keep Plugging Away

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

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

Change your Block Setting

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

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

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

Make a Smaller Quilt

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

Placemats & Pillows!

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

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

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

So which adventure will I choose?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Links

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