Tag Archives: hand stitching

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!

 

One Year of Stitches: February

I’m still working on a post about my experiences at QuiltCon last week, but as March continues to skip on, I thought I should share February’s stitches for my 1 year of stitches project in the meantime. QuiltCon post coming soon!

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.

Even after a short month, it grows! As a reminder, here’s the hoop after the month of January:

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1and here it is showing the progress from February:

february progress for 1 year of stitchesI guess 28 days can make a big difference!

erin from aurifil thread live at quiltconThe highlight of the month was getting the chance to chat with Erin from Aurifil on Facebook live while attending QuiltCon in Savannah. You can see my low key chat HERE on the Aurifil Facebook page. I talk about my process, how the project came to be, why I use Aurifil 12wt thread, and I show a quick demo on how to stitch a French knot. It was a really fun opportunity, and while a bit nerve-wracking knowing I would be live, Erin made it easy by being totally awesome and relaxed. Plus, she’s from Maine. Perfect! The whole experience inspires me to try a bit harder to figure out a way to video my stitches live each day, or at least some days each week. I’ll get right on that and will let you know if I figure it out!

1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifilBack to my embroidery progress! Here are some close up shots of the various sections of this freestyle hoop.

1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifilI am still stitching without a plan, deciding each day’s stitches the morning–or sometimes night!–of the current day. I have tried a handful of new stitches and look forward to trying even more as the year progresses!

1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifil1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifil1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery progress february 12wt aurifilThose little white three-petalled trillium flowers are the most recent addition. Time will tell where this will go from here!

Finn helping me with photographyThis month, I had a photography helper, so of course I can’t end the post without a few Finn cameos. I often use the photos on my phone as a reference, so I pulled up January’s photo to make sure I arranged the thread in a consistent way. Finn was please as punch that they matched.

Finn helping me with thread positioningHe also helped me put the thread back into the box, then arranged around the hoop, back into the box, then arranged around the hoop. What a helper!

Hmmm what shall I stitch today?

One Year of Stitches: January

As a full time mom of three little ones, but one with a strong innate need to create every day in order to maintain sanity, I feel like I do a fairly good job of creating opportunities for creativity and stitching, sprinkled throughout even the busiest of days. First, it was knitting–something I could carry with me and leave next to the couch to pick up while nursing or holding a sleeping baby in my lap. But as my children grew, their desire to turn yarn into spider webs, spy laser obstacles, leashes for stuffed pets, etc. also grew and knitting became quilt a risky endeavor.  English paper piecing helped and I dove into basting hexies and honeycombs. Then I felt like I needed something new. Enter: embroidery. It’s small, I can store it up on the counter out of reach, it’s clearly mommy’s–not simply a ball of yarn begging to be unravelled or little fabric bits to be tossed around–, and it’s something I can pick up and put down quickly.

AG stitched embroidery hoop aurifil 12wtLate last year, I kind of got hooked on the quick mental fix that comes with freestyle embroidery while I was creating this Alison Glass hoop. In late December, when some friends brought my attention to the 1 year of stitches project initiated by Hannah Claire Somerville, I was intrigued. After a bit of googling, I found this invitation by Sara Barnes of Brown Paper Bag, who helped spread Hannah’s open invitation for others to join, and I knew that I had to join in. Hannah’s specific personal rules and stipulations are here, but I chose to take a looser approach. The goal is to stitch at least 1 stitch every single day for a full year, 365 days.

night quilter 1 year of stitches beginningsI went into the year with a 10″ hoop of Robert Kaufman Essex linen in light blue, my stash of Aurifil 12wt threads, and no plan at all.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1Here is my hoop after 1 month of daily stitch-whereever-the-wind-blows stitching. Fun, right!? I created a separate account on Instagram @NQ1yearofstitches to document my daily stitches, and I am trying my hardest not to make any kind of formal plan at all.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1My basic strategy began as a daily google of “embroidery stitches” as an image search. I would scroll through, find a stitch that looked cool, and then find a tutorial on how to make the stitch.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1I began by learning bullion knots, so this whole project began with that little mass of turquoise squiggles and has grown organically from there.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1I love the texture that results when you stack embroidery stitches together. Those white floppy things are my first attempts at braided picot stitch, another fun one!

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1This has been really fun so far, and as of the writing of this post, I’m already over halfway through February, too! (You’ll have to wait until March, or check the IG account, to see those additions, though!) I’ll plan to share an update each month, so that you can see how this grows.

night quilter 1 year of stitches month 1My personal guidelines include stitching at least one stitch each day, trying to plan as little as possible and simply stitch whatever feels right each day, and not remove any stitches no matter how much I dislike the final outcome (cough, cough, that octopus family, cough). I figure this way, the stress of getting everything *just* right disappears, and instead the thought that it will all work out somehow in the end dominates. No stress!

1 year of stitches embroidery month 1This is a really fun, exhilarating project since it is pure spur of the moment random creativity. If you have any cool, unusual embroidery stitches to recommend, I’d love to add some more to my arsenal. There’s something about learning something new that makes my day.

If you are itching to learn embroidery, this is also a really fun way to do it. In the end, you end up with a hoop of many different stitches, as well as a visual story of your progress! Happy stitching!

I’m linking up with Beth at Cooking Up Quilts for MCM, since I’m excited to be blogging, and always excited to stitch!

Works in Progress: A Little of This, A Little of That

I have a lot of simultaneous projects going on right now, which is pretty typical of my sewing style. I like to have a selection of projects so that when a free moment arises, I have something to work on, but also have a choice as to what I work on each day. It helps my creativity feel refreshed and helps avoid inspiration slumps. When in doubt, I start a new project since I have no shortage of projects I *want* to create, and there’s nothing like curating a new fabric pull or cutting into a new project to renew my excitement for sewing.

It’s been a while since I’ve showed you my ongoing projects, so I thought today would be a good day! These are my most frequently worked upon projects; there are scads more on the semi-permanent back burner that I will pick up again when my plate clears *just* a bit. Today, the highlights!

IMG_5280First up is my ongoing epic Carolyn Friedlander Modern Hexies project. This is my on-the-go English Paper Piecing (EPP) project that lives in my purse. I’m making progress at a bit slower than snail paced this summer, since somehow those free moments that allow for hand stitching while the kids are occupied are few and far between. And oddly, all three kids have not simultaneously fallen asleep in the car on the way to a store even ONCE! What was somewhat regular with two kids is likened to a golden unicorn with three. But still, one stitch at a time, one hexagon at a time, this project progresses.

andover foundation paper pieced project alison glass handcrafted patchworkAnother project I’m plugging away on is a fun one for Andover Fabrics. They were awesome enough to send some Alison Glass Handcrafted Patchwork to me, as well as some yardage of Constellation by Lizzy House from her Whisper Palette collection. I picked up some Andover textured solid from my LQS Fiddlehead Artisan Supply to round it out. I’m working on a new geometric foundation paper pieced pattern, with meticulously cut sections of the gorgeous Handcrafted Patchwork fabrics. There will be a tutorial going up on Andover’s blog very soon, as well as the pattern release, so keep your eye out!

quilter's planner photography outtake karen lewis quilt acadia maineI’ve also been out on three different quilt photography adventures with my amazingly gifted quilt holding assistant, aka my husband. We have been having a blast photographing the quilts for this year’s Quilter’s Planner in a sampling of the gorgeous natural locations in Maine. The planner is now available for preorder! Reserve yours HERE… there are a limited number of early bird specials and some really fun extra bits this year! I’ve shared one fun outtake above, but more will be revealed in the coming weeks. Hint: Shown here is one of the 14 patterns that will be included in the planner this year, this one by the ever talented Karen Lewis! It’s so gorgeous; I can’t wait to show you more! Be sure to preorder yours now; you can read all about it on its Indiegogo page here.

Alison Glass fabric pull for Terrazzo quilt by Lee HeinrichThere are many other fun projects waiting patiently on the decks, including a Terrazzo Quilt (pattern by Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced) made using all of Alison Glass’s Sun Prints 2016 provided by Fat Quarter Shop (the fabric pull is shown above!), a simple new pattern I’m making for a secret side project with some fellow designers, a baby quilt for one of my best friends from college who is having her second baby soon (see the quilt I made for her first baby here), a quilt pattern that will appear in a magazine early next year, and more!

Phew! What have you been working on?

I’m linking up with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times & Main Crush Monday at Cooking up Quilts since I love to see what everyone else is working on.

Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses EPP {Sizzix Tutorial}

Today I’m excited to be blogging over on the Sizzix blog, sharing a tutorial on how to piece the iconic Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses (PoTC) block. Lucy Boston blocks allow for endless meticulous cutting fun, the most kickassiduously planned pattern meet-ups, and of course lots of color play. (Translation: You can fussy cut your heart out and the blocks will look even more amazing the more meticulous you get).  Since Lucy Boston blocks are English Paper Pieced (EPP), they are also great on-the-go projects. If you’re looking for a new EPP project but are getting a bit tired of hexies, I definitely would recommend Lucy Boston.

lucy boston patchwork of the crosses epp tutorial sizzixAs you can see, I really stretched out of my color combination comfort zone with this project. With the Tula Pink Moonshine print as my focal fabric, I went wild with the blue, mustardy-yellow, and a pop of red palette. With my favorite Essex yarn dyed linen in charcoal as the background fabric, I’m really liking the way this is headed!

lucy boston patchwork of the crosses epp tutorial sizzixIn my tutorial over on the Sizzix blog, I show how to:

  • make a fussy cutting planning template with the Sizzix Honeycombs and Squares die (so you don’t need to buy the acrylic template, too)
  • Find pattern repeats in fabric
  • Fussy cut using a Sizzix die cutting machine
  • Assemble the Lucy Boston PoTC block
  • I share tips on matching pattern meet-ups after fussy cutting, and more!

lucy boston patchwork of the crosses epp tutorial sizzixMany of these tips would be helpful to anyone wanting to create a Lucy Boston block, with or without a die cutting machine.

sizzix lucy boston tutorialSo head on over to the Sizzix blog and have a look at what I’ve been working on over the past few months!

I’m planning to turn my Lucy Boston blocks into a vertical wall hanging with three blocks and red accent squares. Stay tuned…

For other color combination inspiration, you can see another Lucy Boston PoTC project I did here, or peruse the Instagram feed of Rhea at Alewives Fabrics (one of my fav Maine quilt shops)–she’s a Lucy Boston fanatic!

I’m linking up with Design Wall Monday and tomorrow I’ll link to Stephanie’s Tips and Tutorials Tuesday. Check ’em out!

Also, just a reminder that today is the last day to enter the giveaway sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop! Comment on THIS post to enter!

Surprise Success and Stitching on the Road

I began writing this post this past Sunday, but then caught the cold/fever/cough my kids have been kicking.  So instead of finishing this post, sewing, or blogging, I’ve been sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping. And of course, making the most of the days with as much energy as I can muster. So pretend it is four days ago, and read on! The best laid plans, right?

Over the past two days, I’ve been driving from Maine to New Jersey with my three kiddos to surprise my mom (Grandma) for her birthday. I’m happy to report that the surprise was a complete success! My sister and brother who live in the area were planning on going to my parents’ house to cook dinner for her birthday, so the kids and I arrived at my sister’s house earlier in the day, then we all met up at the far end of the street before dinner, where I parked. My sister and brother walked in and Lucy said, “I invited a few more people over for your birthday; I hope that’s ok” and then Maddie and Max followed by Finn and I walked in. My mom says it was the best birthday surprise ever. Yay!

grandma's birthday surprise
Who doesn’t love little helpers when it comes to blowing out birthday candles?

Since we will be visiting here for five days before beginning the trek back up to Maine, I packed a good number of hand sewing projects so that my hands (and sewing mind) can be kept busy during the week. I contemplated bringing my sewing machine, but since the entire point of this trip is to spend family time together, I didn’t want to feel at all tempted to duck off to sew in a separate room while here. Hand stitching projects are a solution since they can be pulled out anytime, anywhere, and still ensure that I won’t be left with any thumb twiddling with all of the extra eager playmates for my kids.

I thought it would be fun give you a peek at the variety of projects I brought to satiate my need to create daily.

English Paper Piecing (EPP) at various stages of completion
EPP on the go
Basting. I still haven’t decided whether I like glue basting or thread basting best, so I’m doing both.
EPP on the go
Glue basted and ready to be stitched down.
Needle-turn applique
needle turn applique project ready to go
A new needle-turn applique project ready to go.
Embroidery & Hand Quilting
embroidery
Embroidery on a mini mini quilt
aurifil 12 wt thread for embroidery
I brought a collection of Aurifil 12wt thread for embroidery and a range of 12wt, 40wt, and 50wt for eventual hand-quilting.
Visible mending supplies.. just in case
visible mending supplies
Old cut-up jeans and perle cotton just in case my mom actually wants me to patch her jeans for her.

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced’s WiP Wednesday, since it’s already Wednesday and these are still very much works in progress. C’est la vie! Good night!

Anatomy of a Strand of Thread: Tips and Tutorials Tuesday

Welcome to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday! I’m hosting today while my dear friend Stephanie over at Late Night Quilter is traveling with her family.

One of the perks of quilting retreats and other social sewing is that little tips are tossed around. Today I’m going to share a very simple yet important tip about using the thread you cut from a spool during hand stitching. As a self-taught sewist, these are the bits of knowledge that I miss, since rarely are there blog posts about the bare basics of sewing. While basting our needle-turn applique projects around the table at the Slow Stitching Retreat, I caught this important tip:

anatomy of a spool of threadUse the thread in the same direction it comes off the spool. The tail end that you pull to unravel your length of thread should be the side you thread through your needle. The end that you cut should be the knot end. This way, you are pulling the thread through the fabric in the intended direction, which works with the ply of the thread instead of against. Using the thread in the proper direction significantly decreases tangles and twists while stitching. Simple, right?!

I never knew that it mattered which end was which, so I didn’t pay attention while cutting my thread lengths. Now, when I’m pre-threading a bunch of needles for a good binding or hand stitching session, I thread each needle as the thread is cut instead of accumulating a nice pile of threads and then grabbing any which end to thread through the needle.

Stephanie’s Tips and Tutorials link ups from previous weeks are filled to the brim with great time savers, tricks, and how-to’s. I’d definitely recommend browsing them with your Pinning finger ready. how to make your own sewing tags vini vidi vickyOne of my favorites from last week was this tutorial by Veni Vidi Vicky on how to make your own sewing tags (which could easily be adapted to making your own quilt labels!). She gives great step by step instructions on how to use Spoonflower, which is something I’ve been tempted to do but have yet to try.

Now it’s your turn! Do you have any little tips or great tutorials to share this week?  If you do, please link up below!

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Hand Stitching Preparedness {Tip}

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of hand stitching, between finishing the piecing of my English Paper Pieced table runner, and stitching the pieced Lucy Boston blocks down to the border fabric to complete my table runner quilt top. During the past weeks, I learned two tricks that have helped streamline the process, and I’d like to share them with you today. I’ll call it “hand stitching preparedness” since it seems pretty logical, even if both tips were revelations to me.

hand stitching preparednessThe first tip came in the form of an Instagram post by Carole Lyles Shaw (@carole_lylesshaw), a simple photo of a few pre-threaded and knotted needles stuck into the arm of the couch to help streamline her binding while watching a game on TV.  I saw this and a lightbulb went off in my brain: duh!!

Before sitting down with your hand stitching, whether it be EPP, hand applique, or quilt binding, pre-thread and knot a few needles and have them ready and waiting within reach.

You can keep them in a pincushion nearby (photo above)…

pre threaded and knotted needles on a needle minder
The adorable needle minder was made by @whatthebobbin on Instagram.

or you can keep them on a needle minder on your actual work…

pre threaded and knotted needles in the couch armor you can just stick them into the arm of the couch right next to you.

hand stitching with napping baby in lapThis tip came in particularly handy since I was doing my hand stitching with my sleeping baby in my lap and my scissors, thread, and other sewing tools way up high on top of the bookcase, out of reach of my curious and busy 3 year old. Talk about a game changer! I was able to finish stitching down the blocks without waking my babe or having to juggle a sleeping baby, scissors, and sewing needles to cut new threads as I progressed.

cutting threads in advance
Stunning needlebook made by @mara_makes… isn’t that thread holder awesome!?

One additional bit of advice I’ll add to this tip is to lay your threads out neatly and separately when cutting them to pre-thread your needles. If you cut them and lay them on top of each other, they *may* make a tangled mess before you can thread the needles successfully.

tangled mess of threadsAsk me how I know this 😉

And finally, learning how to tie a quilter’s knot has saved me a lot of time with my recent hand stitching. That’s one of the downfalls of being a primarily self-taught sewist: you miss the simple basic tricks that well versed quilters take for granted. My friend Stephanie at Late Night Quilter posted this video tutorial a couple weeks ago, and I’ve made dozens of quilter’s knots since.

Happy stitching!

I’m linking up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday over at Late Night Quilter.

Dropcloth Color Wheel Sampler Progress

With an infant sleeping and nursing much of the day, and still the help of my husband around the house, I’ve been making good progress on my Dropcloth Color Wheel embroidery sampler. Over the weekend, I received some new colors of 12wt Aurifil (thank you, Alex!) so I now have all of the necessary colors to complete this sampler. I’m already thinking about what I’m going to embroider next, and can’t wait to use the thread for hand–or even machine–quilting, too!dropcloth rainbow wheel embroidery sampler and 12wt aurifil

dropcloth rainbow wheel embroidery sampler and 12wt aurifilThis is my first time trying embroidery, so I’m learning the stitches as I go. YouTube is an amazing resource, isn’t it!? So far, blanket stitch is still the trickiest for me. My favorites are Algerian Eyes, Coral Knots, and Backstitch. In browsing other embroidery samplers, I’m noticing that there seems to be an endless list of stitches to try, but I want to try them all! Admittedly, I’m a bit frightened by French Knots, but will tackle them next. I chuckled at the fact that I was sewing the couched stitch while sitting on the couch (is there a couch-related reason for the name?).

rainbow of aurifil 12wt threadThe more I use the 12wt Aurifil, the more impressed I am. I’m a complete beginner at embroidery, so there may be benefits of using a floss or perle cotton thread that are unknown to me, but the smoothness of the Aurifil makes it a dream to stitch with. There’s no unraveling or splitting, and the thread is thick enough to make an impact with only one strand. The colors, of course, speak for themselves: vibrant, bold, and shiny.

rainbow of aurifil 12wt thread and dropcloth samplerI have only a few sections remaining, and then comes the fun of deciding what to do with this once it’s finished. My initial instinct is to finish it in the hoop, but I’m tempted to stitch it into a larger mini quilt for a more finished display.

If you stitch embroidery samplers, how do you finish them?

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced’s Work in Progress Wednesday and Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash (hello, shiny new Aurifil!).