Vacation Rainy Day Sewing: First Foray into English Paper Piecing

I never wish for rain while I’m on vacation, and this trip isn’t any different. Sometimes, though, you get rain even if you don’t want it. We are on vacation on Hancock Point, Maine, for the week with my husband’s family. The rental house is right on the ocean and has an amazing view of Bar Harbor and Acadia, located directly across the bay.

Acadia and Bar Harbor as seen from our rental house on Hancock Point, Maine.
Acadia and Bar Harbor as seen from our rental house on Hancock Point, Maine.

Until today, we have had gorgeous weather and have spent much of our time swimming (or quickly dipping, in my case) in the ocean or walking along the beach looking for treasures. I don’t think I could ever tire of gazing at the beauty left by the tides.

Swimming in the ocean in Maine

Rocky coast beach treasures in Maine

maine beach treasures

Today, it is cold, dreary, and pouring. In trying to beat the rainy vacation day humdrums, I decided to pull out my sewing stuff. This morning I tried my hand at English Paper Piecing, starting with the fussy cut center for a Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses. I must say, handwork is quite fun!

english paper piecing on vacation

Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses EPP

Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses center

I had to unstitch and retry one of the honeycomb pieces since the pattern didn’t even come close to lining up on one side. Admittedly, it wasn’t a whole lot closer after I redid it, but I decided to go with it.

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Having never done any handwork before, I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants. How far apart should the stitches go when joining pieces? How exactly does one “whip stitch” the corners? I think I did two whip stitches, but it seems to have worked for the moment. I can see the stitches a bit, but my mother-in-law said that the slight peek of stitches is part of the charm of hand sewn creations. I’ll take her word for it.

Beach rainy day sewing patchwork of the crosses

I can certainly see why so many people travel with their English Paper Piecing projects. Progress is made in small bits, so it is easy to pick up and put down as needed. I finished sewing the center four honeycombs together at the breakfast table this morning, and once I figure out what color scheme to go with for the rest of it, I am looking forward to passing the rainy days with stitching.

I also brought my sewing machine with me on this trip. It’s the first time I’ve ever brought a sewing machine on vacation, and I debated for quite a while whether I should take it with me or not. Now, with the next two days forecasted as torrential rain and chilly cold, I’m so glad I did. Not to mention the fact that there is a singer treadle and table right next to my bed in our bedroom.

Singer treadle sewing machine and table in vacation bedroomWhile this treadle is missing its belt and therefore doesn’t work, I am taking it as a clear sign that I was meant to bring my sewing machine on vacation with me. Perhaps this afternoon I’ll do a bit of machine sewing as well!

My loaner Bernina, ready to go on her Singer table.
My loaner Bernina, ready to go on her Singer table.

Do you take your sewing on vacation with you?

Color Inspiration Thursday {9}

Thursday… was yesterday. I had a rare date night with my husband last night, which meant the day was spent packing overnight bags and getting us and the kids up to the in-law’s house, getting ready, etc.  So this week you’ll get your color inspiration on Friday, just in time for the weekend! This summer has been a great reminder as to why summer is one of my all-time favorite seasons. I just love the endless beauty that grows, blooms, and emerges daily.  This week’s color palettes feature a few newly blooming flowers from my garden. I certainly hope you are not tiring of flower photos! Created with the Play Crafts Palette Builder 2.1, here are your inspiration palettes for the week. color palette

  Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right: Palm, O.D. Green, Pewter, Leprechaun, Hibiscus, Cappuccino

This palette is exactly as it was created by the Palette Builder, without any tweaking or moving of colors. I love it. The little burst of bright green (Leprechaun) and purple (Hibiscus) are so well balanced by the more muted greens, grey, and dark brown. I could see these colors in a throw quilt for a couch in an elegant living room. sunny yellow color palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right: Sunny, Yarrow, Gold, Cedar, Paprika, Corn Yellow

You can’t go wrong with a sunny palette like this one! Everyone needs a bit more yellow in their lives, right?

pink purple flower palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Peridot, Basil, Eggplant, Violet, Magenta, Punch

This flower was actually photographed at a friend’s house at Pemaquid Point, Maine. I saw the flowers dangling from a trellis alongside the house and simply had to take a few photographs. Such a voluptuous, gorgeous flower! And the colors are among my favorites these days. All I need is a bright teal background and it would be perfect. Even as is, I love this palette of brightness.

Tomorrow my family and I are headed off to the coast of Maine, to a house in Hancock right on the ocean. I’m excited to spend some quality time with my family, swimming, kayaking, and taking walks along the coast in search of treasures. I hope to do some sewing if we have any rainy days, but as with any vacation, who knows what each day will hold? I do know that I will be on the lookout for splashes of unexpected color! You never know what you will find by the ocean.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Work in Progress: Rainbow Jellyroll Quilt

Lately I’ve been trying to multitask during my sewing time, since this summer is so full of outdoor adventuring that my time spent sewing is little. The last time I had a good chunk of sewing time, I worked on piecing three projects at once. It made for little bits of progress for each, but no big noticeable progress on any one quilt. Today I decided to focus on one quilt so that I can hopefully get a finish under my belt to renew my quilting fury. Since I have yet to complete quilts for my kids, I decided it was high time I remedied that, and I decided to focus on sewing together my daughter’s rainbow quilt.

rainbow quiltMy design wall is one huge fail, so I had to lay out the strips while the “wall” was laying flat on the ground, and then slide it up to take photographs as quickly as possible before the pieces all fell to the ground. The bumps bug me, but such is life. Nothing’s perfect, especially not a partially pieced quilt top! A new design wall is creeping its way up my to-do list.

My four-year-old daughter wanted a rainbow quilt, and while searching for ideas, I came across this gorgeous quilt on Creativebug.

Rainbow_Jellyroll_Quilt_on_Creativebug2I had never created a quilt using jellyrolls before, but only a couple of days after seeing this quilt, the deal of the day on Missouri Star Quilt Company’s site was the Andover Fabrics Color Collection Jellyroll. Sweet! Needless to say, I bought the jellyroll and added another work in progress to my list.

Today during my two-year-old’s nap, I finished sewing the strips into pairs. I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish sewing all of the paired strips together soon and will have a completed quilt top within a week or two. Next I will have to decide whether to keep it simple and finish it, or to add a border or edging to the quilt. Because it’s for my four-year-old, I’m leaning toward finishing it simply and letting it be small enough for her to drag around with her. What would you do?

I’ll leave you with some fun photographs from my playroom photo shoot today.

Depth of field rainbow jellyroll quilt

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I love playing with depth of field!

IMG_3274Since I’m sneaking this in before midnight, I’ll link up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday

Color Inspiration Thursday {8}

In honor of the 4th of July tomorrow, your inspiration color palettes for the week feature red, white, and blue in true patriotic fashion. I have a confession to make: I did a lot of tweaking to these palettes to get them to be primarily red, white, and blue. Don’t get me wrong–the colors are all present in the photographs; they just were not the colors that came up on the palette when first created. That’s one of the features of the Play Crafts Palette Builder 2.1 that I love, though. You can move the color-choosing dots around on the photograph until you find the featured colors you love.

red white and blue color palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Wine, Tomato, Rose, Snow, Fog, Regal

Our garden strawberries are now slowing to a trickle, but we had a decent crop this year despite an overly weedy strawberry bed. I took these pictures of our first harvest, a bit over a week ago. Nothing like some good red, white, and blue (blueberries won’t be far behind) from the garden!

strawberries color palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Coal, Shale, Crimson, Paprika, Shadow, Pewter

I love all of the stony grey-blues that find their way into this palette. I think it would make a great patriotic quilt, or depending on how you lay out the colors, would be quite a nice earthy quilt with the red as a feature color.

What would you make with these palettes? 

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend to those of you in the United States!

 

 

Color Inspiration Thursday {7}

This week’s color inspiration comes from yet another flower adorning our yard: the locust tree’s gorgeous pink blooms. Many locust trees have white flowers, but the previous owners of our house had a serious thing for beautiful flowers, so it does not surprise me that ours flowers pink. These flowers not only look beautiful, but they smell great as well. Here are color palettes from two very different photographs of these beautiful blooms, created with Play Crafts’ Palette Builder 2.1 combined with my photographs. I hope they inspire you!

fuschia flower color palette pink

 Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Cerise, Olive, Plum, Lupine, Petunia, Raffia

The locust blooms begin with this glorious, vibrant pink, but slowly fade to a hazy purple as the petals die and blow off the tree. The tree’s show of beauty is not yet complete, however. The purple petals cover the ground beneath the tree, blowing about in the breeze and making everything prettier.

petal palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Steel, Raisin, Coal, Bone, Pansy, Lilac

Color Inspiration Thursday {6}

Here in midcoast Maine, summer is upon us. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, and I have been taking full advantage. I have not spent much time in front of my sewing machine, but have spent a LOT of time exploring local islands, playing at the beach, and swimming in Swan Lake with my kids. Today’s color inspiration palettes come from some photographs from our adventures; sea glass on a drift wood log, and a gorgeous iris seen along a wooded path.

The palettes were created using Play Crafts’ Palette Builder 2.1. May you be inspired.

sea glass color palette

 Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Shale, Steel, Charcoal, Spring, Peridot, Blue Jay

iris color palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Black, Forest, Basil, Ash, Magenta, Lavender, Amethyst

Here are some more photos of the gorgeous spots we’ve been exploring lately:

Sears Island, Maine
Sears Island, Maine
Headed toward the sandbar connecting Hutchins Island to Islesboro, Maine.
Headed toward the sandbar connecting Hutchins Island to Islesboro, Maine.
Playing in tide pools on Hutchins Island.
Playing in tide pools on Hutchins Island.

I’ll leave you with one more adorable color palette.

IMG_2071-palette

 Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Medium Gray, Blueberry, Charcoal, Laurel, Old Green, Indigo

Where is your favorite place for adventure during the summer?

Color Inspiration Thursday {5}

It’s peony time in my garden, so today’s inspiration comes entirely from those large, voluptuous flowers. There’s something about flowers that makes me reflect in awe about nature’s complexity. The petals are so soft, often symmetrical, yet abstractly swirling, the centers are a little universe of stamen and pistil, drawing the bees and butterflies into their little world to ensure the spread of future generations. It’s just flat out amazing!

Here are your color inspiration palettes for the week, created using Play Crafts’ Palette Builder 2.1. I hope they inspire you in the creation of a new quilt or project, or even just to take an extra moment to pause, get close, and really look at the next flower you pass. You may be surprised at what a closer look reveals.

pink peony color paletteCorresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Coal, Steel, Magenta, Garnet, Raisin, Palm

bright pink peony color paletteCorresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Candy Pink, Azalea, Pomegranate, Kelly, Brick, Cerise

peach pink color palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Salmon, Smoke, Sienna, Poppy, Gold, Grass Green

Can you think of anything more beautiful than a freshly blooming peony?

 

Let’s Get Acquainted!

2014newbloggersbutton3The past few months I have been getting to know a great group of new quilting bloggers, making new friends, fine tuning my blog, and learning a ton about quilting and blogging, as part of the 2014 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop organized by Beth at Plum and June. Today it’s my day to tell you a bit about myself and my journey into quilting.

What defines me? mother, gardener, crafter. If there were a quilt hanging somewhere in this picture, this would be quintessential me.
What defines me? mother, gardener, crafter. If there were a quilt hanging somewhere in this picture, this would be quintessential me. (Photo by Brittany White Photography)

Tell us a little about yourself.

When I think about what defines me, “mom” is the absolute first word that arises. I’m a full time mom of two little ones, and to say my life is filled with that blessed duty is an understatement. I also have a degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in elementary education. I’ve worked as a lifeguard, an environmental scientist–wetland and land use specialist, an elementary school teacher, and a yoga teacher. I grew up in New Jersey, but now live in rural Maine and love it. I also love to garden to grow my own organic food, enjoy nature, practice yoga, and of course craft! I have always been crafty, and have dabbled in card making, scrap-booking, jewelry making, mosaic, polymer clay, painting, and more, but only recently found the fiber arts. Now my crafts of choice are quilting and knitting.

Family
Family time is the best! (Photograph by Brittany White Photography)

How did you begin quilting?

There are a few catalysts that propelled me toward quilting, from my lifelong sewist mother, a gift of a simple squares quilt gifted by my talented cousin Hannah, and of course my expert quilter grammy. Shortly after having my son, when I had a gift-quilt only half finished, I discovered that sewing 20 minutes at a time could result in finished projects. This was a revelation for me, and thus began the Night Quilter: I grab a needle and thread when the kids are in bed.

Show us some of your favorite finished quilts.

Click on the name of each quilt to visit its relevant blog post (when there is one). If there is more than one relevant blog post, I will link them all at the end.

delight in the little things

Delight in the Little Things is a 12×12″ art quilt I made as a donation for a local Art Auction to benefit a couple faced with an expensive illness. It was inspired by a Facebook group called 12x12s with Cosmo and Cook, where a word is given each month and the goal is to create a 12×12″ art quilt inspired by that word. The word for December, my first month involved, was “Delight”. “Delight in the little things” immediately came to mind, and so I figured I’d make my art quilt out of 1″ squares (little!), featuring a tiny paper pieced sunburst star and a dandelion seed applique. I love the outcome, especially the yellow bits in the binding. For this quilt, it was my first time creating an art quilt, my first time making anything out of 1″ squares, I designed my first paper piecing pattern for the star, and it was one of my first times free motion quilting.

rainbow xo quilt

Rainbow Hugs & Kisses is the result of a test run of a paper piecing pattern called Oops, I Scrapped My Pants by ShannonMac Designs. I offered to test her pattern for her, but wanted to make something bright and modern. I am all about rainbow gradient, so that was an obvious add. The black and white stripey binding makes this one of my favorites, and it hangs happily on my craft room pegboard. The pattern is free in Shannon’s Craftsy shop, and it includes a tutorial on the freezer paper method of paper piecing, in case you’d like to make your own.

lillians baby quilt

Lillian’s Baby Quilt is one of the quilts of which I’m most proud. It’s one of the largest quilts I’ve made so far at about 58×58″, I designed the outermost border including the heart corner stones, and I kind of went crazy free motion quilting it. It was my first large-scale free motion quilting foray and I dove in head first. I even FMQed alphabetical baby-related words around the outermost white border.

2014-03-30 21.28.38

There are many blog posts outlining my process and featuring better photographs of the free motion quilting, here, here, here, and here.

I’ve also been designing paper piecing patterns. I tend to gravitate toward more modern quilts, yet I also love paper piecing. Go figure. Here are some of my latest paper piecing patterns:

paper pieced lupine quilt block
Lupine 10×10″ paper piecing pattern
Circling Gulls 12x12" paper piecing pattern
Circling Gulls 12×12″ paper piecing pattern

What are you up to now?

  • I’m making a quilt for myself!

quilt for me

late night quilters club

3756124115_d34310a16a_b-palette

  • Finally, I’ve posted my very first tutorial on Basic Foundation Paper Piecing. I’m working on a series to outline what next–now that you’ve made a paper pieced block, what can you do with it? Stay tuned!

To finish off my post, here are some tips and fun facts:

Blogging tip: Take great photographs. The aesthetic pull of an artistically arranged and naturally lit photo is STRONG. Learn to use the manual setting on your camera (try P) and wait for the right lighting. It makes a world of difference!

Quilting tip: Pressing seams open helps improve accuracy of piecing, and helps make matching seams a breeze. Also, when trying to match seams, pin right after the seam. This creates the least torque and at least in my experience, the most consistently matched seams.

Question for you: Who is your favorite fabric or quilt designer, and why? I have my top favorites, but I’d love to expand and see whose fabric you just can’t live without!

Fun facts:
Dream vacation spot: Galapagos Islands
Favorite book: tough question! My Side of the Mountain, 1984, or The Housekeeper and the Professor
Favorite movie: Overboard, or Pride and Prejudice, the Colin Firth version
Favorite TV show: I don’t have a TV, but I’ve been sucked into Downton Abbey on Netflix!
Random bits:

  • After each blog post or email I write, I go back and take out 2/3 of the exclamation points and all of the :). I’m a happy, excited person but even I get annoyed when I read something with a gabillion !!!!!!
  • I hate olives. I try them every year to see if I like them yet, but I still hate them.
  • I was a competitive swimmer through high school and college. If you start talking swimming, I’ll talk for hours.

Now that you know more than you ever wished to know about me, go check out these other great bloggers involved in the hop. Have fun!

Jill @ Pie Lady Quilts

 Chelsea @ Patch The Giraffe

 Daisy @ Ants To Sugar

 Rachael @ The Floral Suitcase

 Elizabeth @ And Pins

 Jennifer @ Never Just Jennifer

 Alice @ Blossom Quilts

 Megan @ Sew Stitching Cute

 Stephanie @ Late Night Quilter

 Kelsey @ Lovely And Enough

 

 

Stash Building: Rainbow Sketch, Grays, & Aurifil

I’m one of those online window shoppers, with about fifty items in a “shopping cart” at a variety of fabric shops at all times. One of the bundles that has been in my virtual shopping cart forever is the Jewel Tone Sketch Fat Quarter Bundle at Stash Fabrics. Last week, when I saw Stash was having a sale on all Bella Solids, I knew that the time had come. I needed some more gray yardage as a background for my in-progress Canvas place mats, so with the sale on solids paired with free shipping on orders over $50, I decided to build my stash 56 dollars worth. Here’s what I bought:

fabric stash additions
Stash building from Stash Fabrics.

Let’s take a closer look, since who doesn’t want to get a closer look at fabulous fabric?

bella solids, sweet as honey, and pointelle in noir

From bottom to top, I got 1 yard each of Bella Zen Gray, Silver, and Steel, as well as 1 yard of Pointelle in Noir from the Art Gallery Fabrics Chromatic Collection (swoon). I also added in 1/4 yard each of Bee Sweet in Sunset and Morning colorways, from the Sweet as Honey line by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery. I’ve been eyeing them for ages and just couldn’t pass up the chance to have even a bit in my stash.

IMG_1793

Of course, the Jewel Tone Sketch bundle got a photo shoot all its own. How could you resist!? Mid-photo-shoot, I decided that these lovely colors really needed more of a white backdrop. The only problem is, we have blue walls. Here was my solution:

helpful kids

Blue walled background + some momentarily helpful kids who had refused to nap + 1 white poster board = whiter background to help the rainbow colors pop!

IMG_1813Yes? Yes! I love the difference the slightly different angle paired with the white background make.

This week, I also got a fabulous package from Alex Veronelli of AURIfil. A few weeks ago, I semi-jokingly, very-hopefully tweeted:

Much to my excitement, yesterday I received the best package ever!

AURIfil thread giftIt didn’t take me long once I started quilting and getting into the modern quilting community to realize that many of my favorite quilters raved about AURIfil thread. I finally found a local shop that carried AURIfil and bought my very first spool: a gorgeous all-purpose gray. I haven’t used anything except AURIfil since. Look at it-you can see the shine even in photos. The colors are fabulous, the thread is smooth and I haven’t had a break yet.

Rather than swoon, here are some more photographs so that you can see for yourself:

i can fly aurifil thread kit

depth of aurifil

aurifil basics

aurifil color card

aurifil magentaI’m very excited about the color cards, since now I will be able to order the perfect color thread for every project, even though my LQS doesn’t carry the full spectrum. You know how I am about color; I am thrilled to have these added to my stash. I can’t wait to play!

I’m linking up with Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash because, well, it matches my favorite bits on the aurifil color card!

7d5d3-molli_sparkles_sunday_stash_button

Color Inspiration Thursday {4}

The past two days have been gloomy and rainy, but I can’t complain. My garden and all the newly planted seedlings and seeds are surely loving the rain, and before the rain we enjoyed quite a few blissfully perfect days here in midcoast Maine. Warm sun with days in the mid 70s, a cool breeze, minimal bugs, nature’s blooming glory all around: perfect.

As a result of these perfect days, I have some new spring photographs to showcase in this week’s Color Inspiration Thursday. As a treat, and because I couldn’t help myself, I’ll be posting more than two this week. Just a reminder for those of you who are new to Color Inspiration Thursday, I’ve created these palettes using the Play Crafts Palette Builder and my photographs. The corresponding Kona cottons are also supplied by the Palette Builder, so those are listed below each palette.

pink palette color inspiration Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Plum, Medium Grey, Petal, Cerise, Candy Pink, Pomegranate

Pink, pink, pink. I just love the blooms on this apple tree. They first emerged in perfect spherical pinkness, slowly opening like a rose to unfurl their soft petals into a glorious array. I probably took at least 200 photographs of these blooms over the past week; I just couldn’t help myself! My sister-in-law absolutely loves the color pink, so I think she would quite appreciate a quilt in these colors. The grey is a nice added touch to help smooth out the pinkalicious overload!

pink and blue color palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Periwinkle, Deep Blue, Crimson, Deep Rose, Sweet Pea, Avocado

I just had to include another photograph of this tree. The ceramic bright blue bird feeder we have hanging in it contrasts so nicely with the pink blooms and green leaves, creating a lovely balanced palette. I love the inclusion of a dark and light in each color for this combination.

lights whites blue green palette

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Steel, Palm, Fog, Ivy, Parchment, Medium Grey

Do you see the bee on his way to fill his pollen pouches to overflowing? This cherry tree is a cacophony of sound this time of year, resonating with a deep, constant, humming buzz. I’m hard of hearing, and my hearing is progressively worsening each year, yet I can hear the buzz in this tree loud and clear. It is right in front of our porch, so my kids and I love to sit and watch the hundreds of bees buzzing around us, and listen to their harmonious hum.

To be honest, I was going for a white-on-white palette when taking this photograph, but no matter how white-on-white the tree seems in real life, and no matter how many angles I tried, those blues and greens still emerged. I like the palette, though. It feels soft and gentle to me, and while I’m not typically a pastel person, I think I would like a quilt made with this color scheme.

purple color palette lilacs

Corresponding Kona cottons from left to right:
Baby Blue, Crocus, Hibiscus, Evergreen, Spring, Petunia, Lilac

No collection of spring photographs is complete without lilacs. I used the feature on the palette builder to add more colors for this palette, since I wanted to get a few more purples into the mix without losing that lovely baby blue and the contrasting greens.

What is your favorite spring/early summer flower?  Would you plan a quilt around its color scheme?

I grab a needle and thread once the kids are in bed