Tag Archives: aurifil

Moonstone Madness (in the Best Way)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you stitch this summer? 

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

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!

 

Summer Adventure Quilt Beginnings

I’ve recently begun a really fun summer project to help replace the absence of Finn’s milestone quilt, now that that’s completely finished (blog post coming soon!).

summer adventure quilt milestone quiltIn the spirit of documenting our days through the creation of a quilt, I’ve decided to create a Summer Adventure Quilt with each block representing a different family adventure. Each block will accompany us on its adventure, be photographed along with our fun, and then become a part of a quilt stitched together in the fall.

summer adventure quilt milestone quiltSince our adventures primarily consist of hikes and beach days, I am making an improv tree block for every hike and an oceany, quasi-improv block for every beach day. The beach day blocks are entirely inspired by the Beach & Boots block from Piece n Quilt’s 30 Days and 30 Blocks sew along in 2015. I really wanted the white negative space to be a big part of the block to match the aesthetic of the trees and this block fits the bill! To go with the improv trees, I am making mine a bit wonky and imperfect, so I’m not using the exact measurements in the tutorial, but the overall design is the same. I decided that I will be making mine in full and half blocks to increase the wonkiness of the quasi-improv nature of my piecing.

tall ship quilt blockI will be making a few unique blocks here and there to represent other adventures, such as a tent for when we go camping in the Adirondacks with my parents, a bridge for when we visit my husband’s dad and stepmom (GrandDude & GrandPrincess) in Pittsburgh, and a big sailing ship I made for a Camden Harbor tour we went on last weekend while GrandDude and GrandPrincess were visiting us here in Maine, shown above. I hope to fit these blocks in smoothly with the rest of the quilt and think it will work nicely!

summer adventure quilt milestone quiltHere’s my progress so far!! As of today, we’ve been on 8 hikes and 1 Camden Harbor tour (on a lobster boat, but the tall ship is representative of the harbor, not the vessel!). We have not yet “earned” the ocean block to the right of the ship block, but I included it for the photo to help show how the block will work into the overall quilt.

birdsacre trails ellsworth maine silly kidsPerhaps the most fun aspect of this quilt is that one block accompanies us on each adventure, and therefore appears in memorable photographs.  I’m hoping to be able to put a photo book together at the end of the summer with photos from each adventure. It’s a big hope, since my list of hopes is endless, but I really think it would be the icing on the cake for this project.

hiking friends summer adventure quiltI’m grateful to have a wonderful group of mom friends who also have kids the same ages as mine and who love to get out and hike. We have created a Mommy Hiking Club (unofficially coined Mountain Mamas Lugging Babies & Towing Trekking Toddlers… it’s a bit of a mouthful, but gets the idea across!!) and we are determined to hike at least once per week with all of the kids. Our hiking groups vary from 3 moms plus kids to up to 5 or 6 moms plus kids, just about every mom is also carrying a baby or toddler in an Ergo or similar carrier, and everyone is welcome. Sure, sometimes there are crying babies, whining toddlers, bug bites, scratched knees, and I’ve been known to have to carry both of my boys (ages 2 and 5) simultaneously on some hikes, but it’s all worth it! Here are some memories from a few of our hikes (since we are 8 hikes in, I am not including every one, but from here on out I will try to share regular updates!).

Blue Hill Mountain, Blue Hill, Maine
The FIRST hike of the summer!!blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt blue hill mountain summer adventure quilt

Great Pond Mountain, Orland, Maine

great pond mountain hike great pond mountain hike great pond mountain hike great pond mountain hike great pond mountain hike

Ecotat Garden Trails, Hermon, Maineecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine ecotat garden trails hermon maine
Camden Harbor Tour, Camden, Maine

camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine camden harbor tour camden maine

BirdsAcre Trails, Ellsworth, Maine

birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quiltbirdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quilt birdsacre trails ellsworth maine summer adventure quiltHere’s to many more adventures, and to keeping up with the quilt blocks so that there’s always one on the ready for any given adventure. I currently have 3 extra trees and 3 beach/ocean blocks ready to go, so right now I’m feeling ahead of the game!

What adventures do you go on with your family? I’m brainstorming other blocks I could make, and *might* make a few rainbow segments to include for every time we see a rainbow this summer. Rainbow sightings are always exciting!

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social since it’s been a while!

Happy stitching, and happy adventuring!

 

Arrow Point Path True Love Pillow Finish

Today I’m sharing a finish that has been completed since early May as a gift for my husband’s birthday, but could not yet be shared since the pattern hadn’t been released. Now that the pattern has been released, the pillow has been gifted, and it has lived in our rough and tumble home for a month, I thought it would be fun to share all the details, as well as a sneak peek behind the scenes of my quilt photography process!

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftMy husband has been requesting a pillow made with Libs Elliott fabric for a while, and so when the latest round of Quilt Theory pattern testing came around, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get his pillow made. I tested Cheryl Brickey’s pattern Arrow Point Path, and the pattern struck me as the perfect choice for the bundle of True Love fabrics I had patiently waiting for a project.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftI made 16 quick blocks using the white heavy fabrics and black-heavy fabrics from True Love, Libs Elliott‘s first fabric line for Andover Fabrics as the color/background pieces, and added a few pops of the awesome neon print. I love the way this pattern looks as a pillow, and it’s also really fun to see the pattern in a completely different aesthetic style.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow gift detailI quilted it with straight lines on my Bernina 560 using my walking foot and 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove thread.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftI threw in a few sharp angles to help keep the edge, and staggered the distances between lines for some fun.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow gift backI used the large scale Wound Up in Bright for the pillow backing, and closed it with my first ever side-seam zipper.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow gift zipper detailI love how this magenta zipper I had on hand coordinates with the pink from the Wound Up print. Perrrrfect. I do need quite a bit of practice with sewing zippers, but we won’t focus on the wobbles and such. The pillow was well received and lives happily on our couch. Now I just need to make about 5 more to cover the rest of our *cough-cough-ugly-cough* couch pillows, and then redo our living room decor to match our more modern design aesthetic. All in good time, right? (haha laugh with me here).

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftI did enjoy making this pillow, though, and I’m happy I can finally say I’ve sewn something for my husband. Today is our 10th wedding anniversary, too, so it seems fitting that I share this true love pillow gift!

Behind the Scenes at a Quilty Photoshoot

Just for fun, I thought I’d share a little peek at what goes into getting the perfect quilty photo, since while I absolutely LOVE these photos, I very easily could have gone home without them.

Rather than photograph this pillow on our couch, which is brown and doesn’t coordinate *at all*, I wanted to photograph it out in the wild, as is my preference. I again borrowed this awesome chair from my friend Emily, and requested that she bring it on our Mommy hiking club hike yesterday. While trying to get it into her trunk, one of the legs snapped pure off. Yikes! Fortunately, the leg was able to be propped on, AND it seems like something that should be able to be fixed. Talk about a wrench thrown into the day, though!

After that rough start, we all met at a hiking spot with our babies and toddlers and went on a 3 hour hike up a mountain. There was plenty of fun, plenty of whining and crying, and a good dose of bug bites and skinned knees. Overall, though, it was a fabulous day and my boys got good and tired out. My plan was to find the perfect photo shoot spot along the way home, and because I wanted to photograph this pillow in more of an urban scene, I stopped at the one town between the hike and our home, in search of a good alley or building face in the shade. Not so easy to find in Maine at 1pm on a bright sunny day!

libs elliott arrow point path pillow photoshoot try 1The first spot that seemed like it could potentially work was the shaded side of a cafe. The dark blue-grey surface first attracted my attention, and the fact that it was in full shade was a big plus. However, it seemed flat. Above you can see try #1. I did a full photo shoot here, just in case I didn’t find anything better. Fortunately my nearly 5 year old son was asleep in the car, and my 2 year old was content to watch from his carseat. After the shoot, I drove around a bit more seeing if I could find a better spot.

libs elliott arrow point path pillow photoshoot try 2The second spot I tried was a rusted metal shed in a back parking lot, which I spied while turning around to get back to the main road after my first attempt. This was a bit more of the urban feel I was looking for, but still a bit flat. A bit of graffiti or added interest would have made this potentially a winner, but still, I felt there had to be a better spot. While running back and forth from the shed to the trunk of my car, I spotted the back of a red brick building. The big concrete slabs and tall seeded dandelions are what attracted my attention most. Rather than move my car again, I simply carried everything the extra 50 feet to this next, winning location and had at it!

libs elliott arrow point path pillow giftDefinitely my favorite of all of the attempts, and the photo shoot location winner of the day! The moral of this story? When seeking that perfect photo location, don’t be afraid to experiment and try a few different spots! That perfect shot will come.

If you’re interested in learning ALL about how to take epic quilt photos, you’re in luck! I’ll be teaming up with Michelle Bartholomew to teach both Basic (MSC 101 or 102) and Advanced (MSC 300 or 301) Quilt Photography at QuiltCon 2018 in Pasadena in February! You can see the full Quilt Con 2018 Catalog here, and I do hope to see you there!

I’m linking up with TGIFF and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.

One Year of Stitches: May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy stitching!

Fabric Skinny Bin Tutorial & Auribuzz Guest Post

Have you been eagerly awaiting the tutorial for the fabric Skinny Bins I showcased during Mister Domestic’s Sewing Party with Art Gallery Fabrics? Today, you’re in luck! The full photo tutorial went live over on the Quilt Theory blog today, offered in celebration of our Collection 2 Pattern release week! Check it out here!

Fabric bin finished 1 tutorial aurifilAs I mentioned in my post a few week ago, the list of use ideas for this tall and skinny fabric bin just keeps growing. From sorting tiny fabric scraps to housing your favorite adult beverage bottle, the sky’s the limit.

Fabric bin display aurifil thread cardToday I’m also sharing one such use over on Auribuzz, the Aurifil thread blog. It turns out that my Skinny Bins are the perfect size for holding cut up Aurifil thread card strips, too! Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl and I co-wrote a post for Auribuzz all about how to cut apart your Aurifil thread color card and the many ways to display and store the strips, since cutting the cards really is super helpful when it comes to finding that perfect color match.

Aurifil thread strips in use skinny binHead on over to the Auribuzz blog and be inspired!

When you make your own fabric Skinny Bins, please use #fabricskinnybin and tag me @nightquilter and @quilt.theory so that I can see them (and see how you decided to use them!). Patterns for customizing the exterior panel will be available in the coming weeks.

I thought this also might be a great time to share that I’ve been selected to be an Aurifil Artisan for 2017, so I’m honored and excited to be a part of the talented team of makers that love to work with Aurifil thread. Visit this post on the Aurifil blog to see the whole Aurifil Artisan team!

Happy stitching!

 

One Year of Stitches: April

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your favorite embroidery resources??

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!

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!