Tag Archives: handwork

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.

Summer EPP Table Runner Progress

The fussy cutting fun involved with English Paper piecing (EPP) and Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses blocks hooked me immediately (although I still think it should be called meticulous cutting or assiduous cutting).  I’m still wondering what one is to do with these gorgeous blocks other than make a ton and stitch them into a large quilt, though. With the three I’ve completed, I decided to turn them into a summery table runner to match these placemats. I’ve begun to join them together, slowly planning how I want to border these blocks so that they finish as a table runner.  This is my first time “finishing” an EPP project, so I’m learning as I go (read: making it up as I go), as I do with most everything.
summer epp table runner

With a newborn snoozing in my lap all day and night, and since I still have the help of my visiting mom and paternity-leave-taking husband, I’ve been making steady progress on finishing the center block and making tiny 1″ squares to join the three together. Even since these photos were taken this morning, the third block is joined as well. There’s not much better than resting with a peacefully sleeping newborn on your lap, doing some stitching while watching the milk drunk stupor reflex smiles.

sleeping baby stitching
My view earlier today, shared on Instagram.
summer epp table runner
I’m loving the teeny tiny needle minder gifted to me by Mara of @mara_makes on IG.

Since I made my own 1″ square EPP templates with card stock and my paper-cutting rotary cutter, I’m thinking I may just make my own templates for the entire border. In plotting it out, a combination of squares, rectangles, and trapezoids should do the trick (I think).

Have you joined Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses blocks before? What method/shapes did you use? Please link in the comments if there’s a particular method you like, even if it’s just a general EPP tip! I honestly haven’t asked google yet, but I prefer to hear opinions from you, anyway.

perfectly matching aurifilI had been stitching the pieces together using a neutral thread, but decided that since I’m joining a bunch of blues, I should use matching thread if possible. I was pleased as punch to find a perfectly coordinating blue Aurifil thread in my stash (but not overly surprised, since there ALWAYS seems to be a perfect match!) It’s right in the middle of the darker blues and lighter turquoise, and is the perfect color for tying this whole runner together (literally!)

What do you make out of your EPP creations? I am really itching to do some more fussy cutting, but I need to have a project idea in mind before adding another project to my pile.

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced’s Work in Progress Wednesday, and then switching my gaze back to the beauty asleep in my lap. Happy stitching!

 

Nesting with Embroidery

Some people experience nesting before a baby by feeling the urge to clean and reorganize everything. I wish I felt that way, honestly. It would be wonderful to have that “nesting” drive all the time and to effortlessly have a pristine and organized home. Not being the most enthusiastic cleaner, though, I have been nesting by thinking about small stitching projects I can do a tiny bit at a time for once our little bundle of joy makes his appearance.

I’ve been wanting to try embroidery and figure this may be the perfect time! I am hoping that by having some embroidery floss or thread and a ready-to-go hoop sitting on the table next to the glider, I will have a little creative outlet while nursing and rocking and nursing and rocking (with plenty of breaks to gaze in wonderment at my little boy).

dropcloth embroidery sampler aurifil 12 wt thread and needle minderYes, I’ve been nesting. I bought the Color Wheel Sampler by Rebecca Ringquist of Dropcloth, and a couple of adorable needle minders made by Amanda from What the Bobbin (the little house is one of them!). Alex from Aurifil was kind enough to send me a collection of 12wt embroidery thread–the Splendor 1920 collection by Bari J–to get me started in my embroidery adventures. I’m already in love with the smooth, gorgeous thread and am looking forward to expanding my collection (and it just may encourage me to do some more hand quilting, or even try using 12wt thread with 50wt in the bobbin for machine quilting!).

herringbone stitchI’ve been slowly learning the stitches and so far I’ve completed the herringbone stitch section on the color wheel. Embroidery is awfully fun, and quite relaxing.

dropcloth embroidery sampler and aurifil 12 wt thread

aurifil 12wt thread by bari jThe Bari J Splendor 1920 collection of 12wt Aurifil thread is such a gorgeous rainbow of silky thread. After using embroidery thread and perle cotton for my initial embroidery attempts, using this 12wt thread is a dream. I love that it doesn’t separate into strands, and it is silky smooth without being twisty like perle cotton. At first, I thought I might need to use two strands, but one strand ended up being ample to cover the guiding lines. I’m definitely looking forward to working 12wt thread into my quilting projects, too.

dropcloth sampler and aurifil 12wt thread by bari j

dropcloth sampler and aurifil 12wt thread by bari j

For those of you who are seasoned embroiderers, do you have any tips to share with a newbie?

I’m linking up with Monday Makers, Design Wall, and Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash, since these are all gorgeous additions to my stash that have not yet been shared, and it seems like this week’s stash theme is thread! As an added fun little tidbit, my baby boy has a good chance of sharing a birthday with Mr. Molli!!

Work in Progress: Vacation English Paper Piecing

It feels like I’ve been on vacation for most of July, which is not a bad thing! While traveling and away from my sewing machine, I have taken the opportunity to try my hand at English Paper Piecing (EPP) for the first time, delving into stitching my first and second Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses blocks. I was inspired by Jan at Sew and Sow Farm blog to try the Patchwork of the Crosses as my first EPP.Lake Erie EPP Patchwork of the CrossesI completed my first block (left) during the car ride from Maine to Ohio, and have almost completed my second block (right) since I’ve been here at our rental house on Lake Erie. I have had a lot of fun finding the perfect little peeks of fabric for each of the pieces, called “fussy cutting” by the quilting community, and decidedly meticulous but perhaps not so fussy, per a discussion I recently had with my artist brother (more on that in a later post).

The coast of Lake Erie is gorgeous and very different than the coast of Maine. I had a good shot of my EPP wips on the rocks earlier today, and here are the results:

EPP work in progress

paper piecing wip on the rocks

Playing with depth of field in photographs is so much fun. I love the difference a little camera setting adjustment can make with the photo outcome.
Playing with depth of field in photographs is so much fun. I love the difference a little change of focus can make with the photo outcome.
Beautiful rocks with a gorgeous backdrop.
Beautiful rocks with a gorgeous backdrop.
Lark by Amy Butler lends itself well to "fussy cutting".
Lark by Amy Butler lends itself well to “fussy cutting”.

I have not yet removed the papers from either of the blocks, except the four center bee pieces more as a test to make sure I could get the paper out than anything else, and I love the way the backs look. Every little basting stitch, the crisp folds, the tiny hand stitches holding them all together: beauty.

back of epp

I think I have decided that these blocks will be turned into a table runner or centerpiece. My plan is to make another block the same as my first with the four bees in the center, and use the new Lark-heavy block as the center with the two bee blocks on either end, joined and bordered by some other background fabric. I still have to decide what color to use in the outermost border for the center block, but I’m leaning toward yellow.

auditioning fabric

I then might add one more outer edge of some other color, to make the center block larger than the outer ones. I am really enjoying the process of English Paper Piecing, specifically how portable it is and how it is so easy to pick up and put down for even just a five minute sewing stint. I’m looking forward to exploring other EPP template shapes. So far I’ve found hexagon, diamond, and triangle templates, but it looks like there are no rules; any shape or combination of shapes can be made into templates. Let the pattern creation begin! Well, after I finish these blocks of course.

What is your favorite EPP template or pattern?

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.

IMG_3680

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?