Tag Archives: quilting

QuiltCon or Bust!

With one more day to get through all of the laundry and packing before I head off on my adventures to QuiltCon, I’m in that final push! Monday morning I set off south with my three little ones, driving all day down to NJ to help them get settled with my awesome parents. Then Wednesday eaaarly morning, I’ll be hopping on a plane and flying across the country to sunny Pasadena! It’s nearly here!

quilt con teaching quilt photographyThis year is especially exciting since I will be co-teaching four classes with my awesome friend and colleague Michelle Bartholomew: two sessions of Quilt Photography Basics, and two sessions of Advanced Quilt Photography. Michelle is the mastermind/owner of Quilt Theory and spent years as a successful wedding photographer in her past (pre-quilty) life. We’ve been working hard, collaborating via Zoom since I’m in Maine and she’s at the far reaches of the country in Washington state, and I think we’re ready! These classes are going to be awesome!

quilt con lecture milestone quiltsI’ll also be giving a lecture on Quilts to Mark Milestones on Sunday morning, during which I’ll talk all about my Milestone Quilt project for Finn, my Summer Adventure Quilt, and so much more! I’m honored to have the opportunity to share my journey with other like-minded people, and hope to inspire a few more makers to make meaningful quilts that document the milestones of their lives.

I’m triple excited since I *just* managed to finish my Summer Adventure Quilt flimsy, so it will be traveling to Pasadena with me! Those of you attending my lecture will be able to see it in real life! I’ll share one quick photo here now, but will write much more about it upon my return. This quilt is quite special to me, and I can’t tell you how great it feels to have the quilt top together!

Are you going to QuiltCon? I hope to see you there–please do stop me if you see me, since I’m often the deer in headlights walking around with a permagrin! Tomorrow I’ll be up to my eyeballs in laundry, packing, and prepping some hand-stitching for my travels, and then the adventure begins!

Follow me on Instagram @nightquilter for live updates next week, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you when I return home!

ps. In the whole QuiltCon-prepping, social media world, Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl is my hero. I love her post Social Media Honesty here. So so true, and worth a read!

2018 Finish-A-Long Q1 Goals

It’s no secret I struggle to finish things. In fact, last year, I made it my yearly focus to finish what I started, but then got distracted by other fun ideas and didn’t actually succeed in finishing much of anything! Oops. Life happens and all is fair in love and creativity, right? This year I’m going to try something a bit different. I’m going to *try* to join in on the community link ups that focus on FINISHING projects completely, namely the 2018 Finish-A-Long hosted by a group of bloggers across the world, and One Monthly Goal hosted by Patty at Elm Street Quilts. In my style, I’ve already missed the link up for the January goal for One Monthly Goal, but perhaps I’ll get February’s posted in time! I’m sneaking in right under the wire for the Finish-A-Long Quarter 1 link up, but I made it!

2018 Finish A Long Logo 2

There is a lot going on behind the scenes here, between preparing for my QuiltCon classes and lecture, working for the Quilter’s Planner manning the Instagram feed and leading a January daily photo challenge as well as helping guide the 2018 Block of the Month Sampler sew along (so many fun things happening over in the QP community!), working on the development of a couple of patterns I hope to release before summer hits, and of course being a full time mom and wife, so I don’t imagine my lists will be long. But any progress is progress, and one more way to help keep me motivated can’t be a bad thing.

As seen in December when I joined the 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge, committing to a public community goal helps motivate me to meet my goals. While I didn’t post a blog post every day in December (note that I went into it not expecting to post every day), I did write or work on blog posts nearly every day and I published 8 posts for the month when my monthly average for the 6 months prior was 2-3 posts. That’s a marked improvement and I consider my goal met.

finish along 2018 q1 goalsSo here I go again, publicly announcing my goals so that maybe the thought that you or someone out there is eagerly anticipating my finish, cheering me on, and helping spark my fire even when I’m feeling heavily weighted with other responsibilities, will help me stay on track.

The first quarter of this year includes a good amount of travel and preparation for QuiltCon, which is in late February in Pasadena, California, so I know most of my time will be spent fine-tuning my classes, preparing handouts, and practicing my lecture so that I can share my knowledge, inspiration, and tips the best I possibly can (It’s not too late to sign up for the Advanced Quilt Photography classes I’m teaching with Michelle Bartholomew at QuiltCon, or to register for my Quilts to Mark Milestones lecture Sunday morning, so go register if you will be in Pasadena and haven’t already!).  The Finish-A-Long guidelines clearly encourage us to set high goals, but I also know I need to set myself up for success so I don’t get too overwhelmed or discouraged, so I’m going to start with four projects I hope to have completely finished by early April when Q1 ends:

1 – One Year of Stitches Embroidery hoop from 2017

may 1 year of stitches embroidery freestyle aurifil threadI still have about 14 days worth of stitches to complete to have fully finished the stitching for my 364 days of stitching, 1 year of stitches freestyle embroidery project I took on in 2017.  The photo included above is an old old old one from May 2017, so there is MUCH more stitched at this point (see the photo with the projects together to get a peek!)! I want to get the stitches finished and documented, post the fully updated post on IG at my @nq1yearofstitches account, publish a blog post with monthly updates that has been in draft form since May 2017, and fully finish the hoop so it’s ready to hang on my wall.

2 – Rainbow Moonstone Pillow

alison glass rainbow moonstone giucy giuce epp patternI want to completely finish my epically gorgeous (modest, aren’t I? haha) rainbow Moonstone pillow I made using Giuseppe @giucy_giuce’s Moonstone quilt EPP pattern and Alison Glass fabrics. Right now, it’s fully stitched together, stitched onto the backing, and most of the papers are removed.  I still need to finish removing the papers, trim the seam allowance edges of the backing fabric, layer, baste and quilt the pillow front, make the pillow back (I want it to have a zipper closure–I haven’t yet decided whether it will be a side seam zipper or a zipper across the backing yet–and finish the pillow. I’m using Aurifil monofilament thread to stitch and quilt this, and it’s an exciting new look (it really is invisible!).

3 – Secret Sewing Project

secret sewing fabric pullI’m doing some secret sewing for a book release blog tour in March, and unfortunately can’t tell you much more than that. I have my project chosen and fabrics pulled, but haven’t cut into it yet. I’m planning to use some thrifted leather and scraps of Oakshott Lipari red fabrics in this one, paired with Essex Linen in charcoal. It’s a small project, but I’m excited about this one! This project is my given, since the fact that I have a hard deadline means that I will finish this project no matter what. I don’t mind setting myself up for some success, though, so it’s included here.

4 – Max’s Eye Spy Picnic Plaid Quilt

rainbow eye spy picnic plaid quilt flimsy finishThis one is a stretch only because of the limited time I have this quarter, but I want to put this quilt at the top of my list. I began it back in 2016 during the Quilter’s Planner Sew Along and have the full quilt top finished and the backing pieced. I need to layer and baste the quilt (my brick wall when it comes to finishes!), quilt it, bind it, finish it, and finally gift it.  I’m thinking Max has most likely forgotten about it at this point, so it will be a fun surprise when (if?… no, WHEN) I finish it.

So there you have it. Think I can do it? I’m excited at the prospect of having a little extra motivation to finish these projects, and also hope this can get me back into the thick of the quilt blogging community. There’s so much inspiration to share! Here’s to fabulous finishes!

My Best of 2017

I’m in the thick of that time warp of a week between Christmas and the New Year, and I admittedly don’t even know what day it is. We are traveling, visiting my family in New Jersey, spending days relaxing, visiting, and watching the kids play with toys, aunts, and uncles. I *do* know that it’s not yet 2018, though, so I’m reveling in that end of year coast into the new year.

Best of 2017 meadow mist designMy dear friend Cheryl at Meadow Mist Design is once again hosting a “Best of” linky party, inviting bloggers to share the best five posts from 2017, so it’s a perfect time to look at the analytics and statistics from my blog, as well as reflect on my personal highlights from the year. I invite you to reminisce along with me.

Most Viewed Blog Post(s)

I’m considering this one a tie, since the views for these posts have a less than 20 views difference:staggered quilt theory quilt pattern flowersMy Staggered Quilt pattern release for Quilt Theory’s spring collection had the most views from 2017. I did not have many big quilt finishes this year, and this is definitely one of my favorite quick and easy patterns, so I’m excited to see this one at the top.

Finn's Milestone quilt finishA very close runner up was my post about Finn’s Milestone Quilt finish. This project is very near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons, and I’m happy that its completion was as exciting for you as it was for me.  What an epic project, and I’m happy to report that Finn sleeps with the quilt every night and still drags it around with him from time to time.

Most Viewed Tutorial Blog Post

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyI was happy to see that my Easter collaboration with Hillary of Entropy Always Wins ranked the highest on tutorial posts this year! A combination of using repurposed materials (leather, wool, felt, etc) and hand stitched detail, this project is uber versatile and so much fun. It also can be made in any imagined shape, so it’s pretty timeless.

My Favorite New Projectsummer adventure quilt progress

While my Summer Adventure Quilt didn’t rank among highest views, it’s definitely my favorite new project.  I’m guessing that the fact that I’ve not yet been able to complete all of the blocks and get the quilt top together is part of what’s to blame with its lack of public enthusiasm, since it’s kind of hard to be enthusiastic about a project you haven’t yet seen in its entirety, but it’s one of my favorites. I’m hoping to have the blocks finished and the quilt top complete by early 2018, so it just might actually rank a bit higher next year. Time will tell!

2017 Best Nine on Instagram

nightquilter best nine 2017 IGSince I love Instagram so, I would be remiss if I did not share my top viewed posts there as well. This collection is a fun one, including my big 10K follower milestone, two of my favorite Greenery quilt blocks, my Bee’s Knees quilt, Plenty of EPP, from Flowermania, to Moonstone, to the EPP and pieced skinny bins I made for an Art Gallery Fabrics stitchy party with Mathew at Mister Domestic, and a cameo by the gorgeous mini quilt Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl made for me (bottom center). Neither Finn’s quilt nor my Summer Adventure quilt made the cut this year, but they still rank high in my list of favorites for the year.

Most Viewed Blog Post EVER

one hour basketWhile the blog posts listed above rank highest of those written in 2017, the post about the one hour basket (that took me six hours to make!) written back in 2015 was the most viewed ever with over 7,000 views since it was written. This was such a fun make, featuring my favorite Alison Glass fabrics paired with Robert Kaufman’s Essex linen, but also is a favorite since I made this basket while attending a class with quilty friend Sarah from Berry Barn Designs at one of my fabulous quasi-local quilt store, Alewives Fabrics. It’s fun to see how timeless this post is, and I’m thinking perhaps it’s time I make a few more one hour baskets. They are a super handy and quick project!

Thank you, as always, for following along with me here, sharing in my inspiration and project progress, and creating the community I hold so dear. I’m hoping to blog a bit more regularly in 2018 and look forward to sharing more tips, tutorials, project progress, and inspiration with you! I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful holiday season and look forward to a colorful, productive, and FUN 2018!

Reflections & Goals for 2018

This time of year always results in the oddest collision of feelings–excitement for the family filled fun that comes during the holiday season, either stress over the projects I need to finish for the holidays or disappointed-letting-go of projects I will never complete in time, introspection and reflection on what goals I met (and didn’t meet) in the year behind me, eager anticipation and renewed inspiration for the possibilities that exist in the new year, gratitude for the gifts that I experience daily, and many more in between. As 2017 leads into 2018, these feelings seem to crash together like waves, one emerging strongly at one point only to be engulfed and buried by another the next moment. That odd transition from one year to the next, it’s really just the passing of a day like any other, so how does it hold such power? Does this happen for you, too? or is it just me?

goal setting planning for new year quilter's plannerEvery year, my dear friend Yvonne hosts a Planning Party on her blog Quilting Jetgirl, which really helps motivate me to sit down and sort through all of these feelings, reflections, dreams, and limitations, and try to determine my goals for the next year. I’ve decided to share my reflections on 2017 and goals for 2018 here, both to make a record of my intentions at this moment, and to maybe help inspire you to not only define your goals and determine steps to help you reach them, but also to be gentle with yourself when life doesn’t go as planned. Since honestly, when does life ever go as planned?

Reflection on 2017

Let’s start by looking at the goals I set for myself in January of this year. A few days ago when I read this over, I honestly laughed out loud.  I’ll give you a spoiler: I accomplished hardly any of these goals, but oh, I had such high hopes back in January! Here’s the list, with my comments in bold after each one.

  • Focus on incorporating repurposed textiles into at least three (3) quilt projects. Here I intended to pick up my repurposed 100 blocks in 100 days project that used all upcycled garments, but that wasn’t meant to be. I did use repurposed textiles in my contribution to Mel from Mel in the Attic’s Woman’s Work, so I’ll give myself a 1. I also am realizing I never shared about that collaboration here!;
  • Minimize new fabric purchases; focus on using the fabrics that exist in my stash already (not very measurable, but important to state!) I definitely did that this year. I only bought fabric for specific projects, or Alison Glass fabric (my weakness!), and not much at that.  I consider this one met.;
  • Experiment with at least six (6) of the #beesewcial prompts to help stretch my creativity and build improv skills. While I sketched out ideas for three (3) of these prompts, not a one made it into reality. I did not meet this goal.;
  • Use a purely green color palette (inspired by Patone’s color of the year, Greenery) on all bee and quilt along blocks to help create a visual statement on being “green” and to stretch my design skills by fitting them all together at the end. I did this!!! My Greenery quilt was really quite fun, and I did a fairly good job of making blocks from various bees here and there, until I had the idea for my Summer Adventure Quilt. Once my Summer Adventure Quilt began (see the most recent update here), Greenery took a backseat and has been sorely neglected. I do not have enough blocks for a full quilt yet and I’m still deciding what to do about it.;
  • Create a more concrete plan for my social action quilt idea, including:
    • a full sketch
    • 2-3 sample blocks
    • brief description I did not meet this goal. Fear, or fear that I would not be able to dedicate the time needed to organize, piece, and follow through with this idea has stalled me. It’s still simmering, but has not been met.
  • Dive further into the “Slow Fashion” movement:
    • Overcome my fear of garment sewing by making at least three (3) items of clothing I attended the Slow Fashion Retreat with A Gathering of Stitches in August and I very much am slowly wading into the Slow Fashion movement. I’ve made two tops–one of which I might actually wear!, and I’ve found a sewing buddy with whom I aim to sew 9 garments in 2018, so I did pretty well with this one!
    • {BONUS} hand stitch one garment. I did not hand stitch a garment, although I’ve mended 2 pairs of my jeans, a pair of my son’s shorts, and began repairs on my daughter’s jeans. Not what I meant by the goal, but hand stitched garments all the same!;
  • Complete two (2) quilt photography projects to deepen my repertoire and experience. I did this! I did quilt photography for Carole Lyle Shaw’s newly released book Patriotic Modern, did product photography for two local artisans (including Spring Fed Farm), and I also completed the epic Quilter’s Planner photography project of 14 quilted items for the 2018 Planner. Combined with ongoing photography projects for the Quilter’s Planner, I consider this goal met and surpassed!;
  • Teach at least three (3) different quilting and quilt photography related classes–spread the love and inspiration for creating beautiful things! Not yet! I am teaching at QuiltCon in Pasadena in February 2018, so that will be one (well, 4 courses and 1 lecture!). 
  • Use my Quilter’s Planner to set manageable goals and help myself feel successful and motivated–including building up to exercising 5 times per week! Sad to say the exercise habit hasn’t happened. I have built up to doing yoga 3ish times per week, and I did a LOT of hiking over the summer, but I consider this goal not met.
  • Stitch daily for 365 days as part of my participation in #1yearofstitches (more on this soon!) I very nearly succeeded in this! Near the end of the summer, I got off track, but so far have stitched for each day, even if it’s not posted on the correct day. I have a couple week’s worth of stitches to update on Instagram, but it looks like I’m actually going to meet this goal! 
  • Finish eight to ten (8-10) works in progress from last year!!! Oh goodness. No goal met here. I finished Finn’s Milestone quilt, but that might be the only WIP from 2016 that I finished. Oops. Yikes. 

So clearly, I did not meet many of my goals from 2017. It really was a year of very few finishes. In looking back at what quilts or projects I’ve finished, the list is very short: Finn’s Milestone quilt, two quilts for Quilt Theory: Staggered and Into the Forest, and my Superbolt Mini Quilt. I may have missed one, but that very well may be the extent of my finishes for 2017. So much for the mantra of “Finish what I’ve started.”

summer adventure quilt progress
Photo from about midway through the summer. There are many more blocks than these!

So what did I do in 2017? I did a LOT of hiking! We hiked at least once per week pretty much every week from March through September.

great pond mountain hikePaired with making an improv tree block before every hike, as well as other blocks to represent other summer adventures, my summer was pretty much filled with the Summer Adventure Quilt and all of the family adventures that went with it. I call that a win.

2018 Quilters Planner and mini-hi resI also did a lot of work for the Quilter’s Planner. Between photographing all 15 projects (I really need to share a post on this soon!), taking photos of the 2017 and 2018 planner both for marketing and for posting on the Instagram feed, and working as the Social Media Manager heading off the Instagram feed, I spent a lot of my time helping inspire others and providing tips on how to plan, stay organized, and create a positive routine of productivity and inspiration. In 2018, I aim to practice what I preach! (laugh with me here!) Honestly, though, the Quilter’s Planner is such an amazing tool, jam packed full of inspiration. Working with Stephanie is really fulfilling and I really do love it.  As with any job, it takes time.

Finally, of course I’m also the full time mom of three amazing children, the wife of a fun-loving husband, and the keeper of a lovely home in rural Maine. That in and of itself is a full time job. All this to say, I’m not disappointed in what I accomplished in 2017. I do, however, hope to use this reflection to help me set more manageable goals for 2018.

Goals for 2018

Where to begin? Since my high aspirations were a bit too high for 2017, I decided to focus on self care, family time, and finding a good balance of time spent on work and fun (both quilting and otherwise!).

I pulled out my 2018 Quilter’s Planner and opened to the Yearly Goals page (this planner really is amazing… and that’s not just my bias talking) to help me brainstorm and get ideas down on paper.

goal setting planning for new year quilter's plannerI chose 3 main goals, and then listed a few steps that would help me achieve each goal. Here they are:

1 – Sew for my family and me, and not just work

  • Finish Max’s Eye Spy quilt
  • Finish Moonstone pillow
  • Plan for 2-3 hours per week dedicated to me-makes
  • Finish Summer Adventure Quilt–finish making blocks, piece top, quilt, finish
  • Sew 9 garments for me!
    • Pick patterns
    • Find sewing buddy!

2 – Focus on Self Care and Family Time

  • Yoga-make it a routine at least 3x per week
  • Schedule and plan ahead more (using Planoly, scheduled blog posts, etc.) so that work isn’t constantly on my mind
  • Actually make goal #1 happen–finish the family quilts that have been on my WIP list for a year+
  • Say NO to some opportunities
  • Summer Adventure 2018?

3 – Continue to Grow and Maintain Night Quilter

  • Blog 3x per week
  • Newsletter 1x per month
  • Quilt & Product Photography – 2 jobs (Quilter’s Planner and ???)
  • Pattern Development:
    • Release 2-3 personal patterns
    • 1 submission to a magazine
    • Stretch: QAL
  • Teach – rock my QuiltCon classes and lecture and then evaluate direction from there–do I actively pursue teaching gigs, or focus on home and family time until my kids are older?
  • Take on no more than 4 outside sew-along, blog hop, or other pattern promoting projects unless it has a measurable impact to build my business.

goal setting planning for new year quilter's plannerSo there you have it. My goals for 2018 are laid out and in public. They now are real, even if they are still written in pencil in my planner.

Any tips to sticking with your goals and making it happen? I’m going to begin by using my Quilter’s Planner in a more organized way. Right now, I absolutely can’t live without it, but I use it more of a to-do list brain dump and “if all stars align and everything is awesome” weekly and daily goals list, than a meticulous plan with actionable, measurable, and attainable steps to get me there. The brain-dump helps keep me sane, prevents me from missing appointments, and helps me feel like I accomplished something even on my craziest days. Now I think it’s time to step it up a notch and work on improving my routines to help me make better use of my time AND take better care of myself.

Here’s to an inspired, productive, and nurturing year ahead!

What are your goals for 2018?

2018 Planning Party

I’m linking up with Yvonne’s Planning Party 2018 over at Quilting Jetgirl.

Constant Flux Three Ways

There’s something about making a pattern your own that is especially desirable for many makers. Whether through varied fabric choices, changes in color and value placement, or even addition of new features, taking a set pattern and making it look distinctly yours is satisfying. I also have a really hard time following a pattern without adding at least a *little* change to make it my own, even, as it seems, with patterns I designed myself!

As I photographed my latest Constant Flux Christmas mini quilt top, I realized that I’ve sewn up my Constant Flux foundation paper pieced pattern in three very distinctly different ways. One was even so distinctly different I decided a stand-alone pattern was the best route, since explaining my section-grouping might not be the easiest to do! I thought it would make a fun blog post to show you different ways you can take one pattern (Constant Flux, in this case) and make it look completely uniquely different.

constant flux mini quiltWhen I first designed Constant Flux, I was aiming for a pattern that was fun and geometric, but allowed for meticulous cutting fun. I used Alison Glass Handcrafted fabrics from Andover, and my focus was on the big scale prints in that line. With meticulous cutting and careful placement, the radiating pattern is clear, with the white star-like secondary pattern for some added interest.

alison glass constant flux mini quilt for andoverThen Alison Glass came out with her Seventy-six fabric line and Andover Fabrics asked if I would make a mini quilt for their booth at QuiltCon. How could I resist!? I had been wanting to sew up a Constant Flux quilt in a different colorway anyway, and in looking at Alison’s fabrics, I wanted to use all of the colors.

applique embroidered bee from alison glass fabric constant flux detailI had recently discovered Nichole Vogelsinger’s Boho Embroidery book, and really wanted to incorporate a Wild Boho-style embroidered applique in the center, so I rotated the blocks 90 degrees. Same exact blocks and pattern as my original Constant Flux, only rotated and shrunk to 80% so that the scale of the bee fit better. Constant Flux a second way.

constant flux christmas foundation paper pieced patternFinally, while playing around with color placement options on my original Constant Flux pattern, I discovered that when arranged a certain way, it looked very much like a Christmas wreath! Because this required merging large sections of the pattern into one fabric instead of many, I decided that it was high time I tackle a holiday pattern, and I made three new templates to make Constant Flux Christmas come together smoothly and easily. It is closely derived from the original pattern, and if you have the original Constant Flux pattern you can technically make the Christmas version if you have a strong understanding of foundation paper piecing and how to join pieces to make it happen. I created a separate pattern to make it easier for everyone. That brings us Constant Flux a third way.

I wonder what it will look like in my fourth rendition?

Do you follow patterns to a T, or do you change things? I’m always curious to hear, since from talking to other quilters, it seems that we fall into two pretty clear camps: those who follow patterns meticulously, and those who just can’t seem to follow the pattern as written and must change or add some feature nearly every time. I clearly fall into the latter. I’d love to know what camp you fall into!

 

Sunday Musings and Why I Quilt

This morning during the weekly coffee date I have with my husband and youngest son while our big kids are at Sunday school, while I was soaking in the bliss of a peaceful moment, I had a fleeting thought of how lovely it would be to write a bit while sitting there in the quiet West Market Square Coffee house. Isn’t that where many people write? In the peace of a moment in the corner of a coffee house while enjoying a latte and a delicious piece of almond coffee cake? But then, Finn eagerly handed me a carefully curated word built with Bananagram tiles in his little palm by my loving husband, and I realized that this moment was not for writing about quilting. I took a quick photo, then put my phone away. With this daily writing challenge on my mind, I’m realizing that my lack of writing is not because of other tasks getting in the way; it’s because little people are always needing, wanting, and deserving of my attention.

We spent the rest of the day in the thick of Sunday family activity: we went to church, went out for a special family brunch at Dysarts (those familiar with Maine will know the draw of a good Dysarts breakfast), then headed off to our local tree farm to cut the perfect, tallest-one-yet, Christmas tree. I sit here now, the rest of the family asleep, typing by the glow of the lights of that tree, which was fully dressed in lights and ornaments before the kids would even think about heading up to bed. It was a full day, an exhausting day, and one during which I didn’t stitch a single stitch or write a single word (until now), but that’s ok.

As I opened my laptop to write, I saw that my dear friend Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl wrote today about why she quilts, and her post really resonated with me. I found myself reading along, nodding, reminiscing, and reflecting. I highly recommend heading over to her blog, giving it a read, and joining the conversation. I especially love the part where she talks about what she believes and wants other quilters to believe–absolutely, this!!

I think it’s so important to reflect on why we do the things we do, and especially on a day–a weekend, really–during which I did zero quilting or sewing or writing, it’s the perfect time to revisit some posts I wrote on the topic a couple years ago. In reading through these, the reasons still ring true. I definitely have another post to add to the series, though, since much of why I quilt and make now are for the sake of my own sanity. Quilting is an escape from the busyness and chaos of life with little kids. I’ve come to realize that it’s part of my self care regimen, and fortunately for me, my family does, too.

I still very much quilt because I love to make beautiful things, and I love to wrap my loved ones in gifts from the heart, and I love to share inspiration. I also find peace in the quiet of my sewing loft, matching seams and choosing color flow, watching beauty come from tiny pieces of fabric.

Here are my original reflections in case you’d like to reminisce with me:

make beautiful things
Photo by Liz West, used from Flickr with Creative Commons. Text added by me.

Missing June {Why I Quilt}

gift of love quiltThe Gift of Love {Why I Quilt}

I could write pages on the sanity that comes from sewing, but for now, I’m going to head to bed since sleep is another KEY factor in my self care regimen, and it’s one that often gets left by the wayside to make up for other things (like late night sewing and crack-of-dawn-waking toddlers).

Here’s to a good night’s sleep, and the promise of a naptime sewing session tomorrow!

 

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!

 

Christmas in July Pattern Bundle Sale – 72 Hours Only!

The Christmas in July Bundle Sale has ended!! Thank you to everyone who purchased a bundle, and happy sewing!July is well underway which means it’s time for the second annual Christmas in July Pattern Bundle Sale! Get it before it melts!

Once again I’m joining a fantastic group of pattern designers to bring you a Christmas in July pattern bundle, available for $25 for three days only. The bundle includes 23 diverse patterns as well as some great sponsor prizes. This year, my Constant Flux foundation paper pieced mini quilt pattern is included in the bundle, as well as a variety of other fantastic patterns by talented designers, both holiday themed and all purpose patterns great to have in your library.

constant flux christmas bonus wreath quilting patternAs a bonus, when you purchase the bundle through me, here, you will also get an exclusive Christmas version of Constant Flux, complete with additional pattern templates and fabric requirements to make stitching a Constant Flux Christmas wreath mini quilt easy peasy. Creating the Christmas Wreath version of the Constant Flux pattern is possible with the original pattern by combining necessary piecing segments as long as you have an understanding of how foundation paper piecing works, but the bonus pattern spells it out clearly. Be sure to get yours today, since this pattern will not be released individually until the snow begins to fall.

Many thanks to Jen Frost from Faith & Fabric, who has organized this bundle sale and helped get everyone together to offer this great deal. Here’s a bit more about what’s included in the purchase of the bundle.

2017 christmas in july quilt pattern bundle contents2017 Includes Patterns ByYou will get immediate digital download of all of the patterns shown above, plus*:

  • coupon codes for Sulky and Make Modern,
  • one entry to win a gift card from Fort Worth Fabric Studio or UpCraft Club,
  • one entry to win a free Craftsy Class,
  • one entry to win a 6mo subscription to Make Modern, and,
  • one entry to win a pattern bundle of Quilt Theory patterns.

PLUS, as I mentioned above, if you buy the bundle HERE you also receive an exclusive Christmas Constant Flux pattern, which will give you plenty of time to sew up a wreath or two before the holidays!

The bundle is available HERE and will only be live for 72 hours beginning RIGHT NOW! This sale runs from Monday 3pm EST until Thursday 3pm EST, so be sure to catch it now. Once you purchase this bundle, greatly expand your library of sewing and quilt patterns, and get sewing, please share your creations using #sewchristmasinjuly on social media. When you make your Christmas Constant Flux Wreath Mini quilt, please use #constantfluxchristmas and #constantfluxquilt. We would all love to see what you create!

constant flux christmas wreath pattern fabric pull
I’m still debating that middle green, but this pull will become a Constant Flux Christmas wreath mini soon!

*No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. To enter to win one of the prizes listed without purchasing the bundle, send an email to: patternbundlesale@gmail.com with your contact information.

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!

 

3 Self Care Tips for (Mommy) Quilters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tea and epp relaxTea and EPP, anyone?

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

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

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

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

More about Plum Deluxe Tea

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

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

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

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

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