Tag Archives: sewing

A New Year’s Goal: Balance

I’m  baaaaack!! Did you miss me!? I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and that the new year is off to a great start. As lovely as our extended vacation was, I’m happy to be home, even if it is -12 degrees outside right now. I’m also happy to be back in this space, sharing inspiration with you. I have some gifty and secret projects  I am itching to show you… all in good time. There’s so much to share, I hardly know where to begin. So I’ll begin with my favorite, a photo:

hexies in paradise
I did not do a stitch of sewing while actually on vacation, but I brought these hexies along for a tropical photo shoot in Cozumel. Talk about paradise!!

Every new year, it feels like a chance to begin fresh, set new goals, and form new habits. I am so excited for this new year and all the potential it holds. I have some big goals for this year, both crafty and family-related. I’m heading to my first QuiltCon in February, and our family is welcoming a third child in late May or early June. Many of you have shared a word to guide your year, and I’ve decided that my word should be “balance”. I love to sew, quilt,  create patterns, and share inspiration. I’m also a full-time wife and mom to a wonderful 5 year old and busy, busy, busy (and equally wonderful) 2 1/2 year old. With another baby coming into our family mid-year, I know that finding a good balance between family and sewing is going to be my biggest goal. On a slightly jestful note, I’ve already been practicing balance; I spent the first week of the year in the 80+ degree tropics and the second week of the year (and every one hereafter) in -10 degree Maine! giggle-freeze

2015 balance

To help me learn to focus on one main goal project at a time, I’ve decided to join in with A Lovely Year of Finishes. I missed the January goal-setting post deadline since I was away, but that doesn’t mean I can’t set a goal! I think my favorite part about ALYoF is that it forces you encourages you to choose just one project to finish each month. I am a perfect case of an ADD quilter–I often work on many projects simultaneously, not making any serious progress on any particular one. I’m hoping that joining ALYoF will help me stay focused and actually FINISH some serious projects.

A Lovely Year of Finishes 2015

For January, my goal is to finish my secret sewing quilt. I know, I know… I can’t show you much since it’s a secret!! But I can show you the little peeks I’ve shared on Instagram, and can tell you that so far I have the quilt top finished. I need to piece the back (I have a grand plan of trying needle-turn applique for the first time ever to make the back as awesome as the front), baste, quilt, and finish the quilt. For a busy momma who gets maybe 5 hours tops per week to sew, this is a big goal. Why not start with a bang, right!?

Since this is already one of the wordiest posts I’ve written, I’ll finish up with some peeks at my secret quilt progress. I get to play with Carolyn Friedlander’s new Doe fabric, which Robert Kaufman Fabrics was kind enough to send me a month in advance so that I could get the quilt finished in time despite the late December release date in the US.

doe fabric peek

doe fabric peek

doe fabric peek
Doe goes SO well with its coordinating Kona solids.
This project has helped me let go of a bit of my OCD. I let this imperfect seam match go, but the perfect center (far left) made up for it!
This project has helped me let go of a bit of my OCD. I let this imperfect seam match go, but the perfect center (far left) made up for it!

I can’t wait to show you more, and I hope I can get it finished!!

What are your goals for the new year? 

Much to Sew, About Nothing (to Blog)

This is a tough time of year for me in terms of blogging. I mostly like to share photographs of my progress and projects, but this time of year I’m spending every free second frantically trying to get projects done (and not very many free seconds blogging). On top of that, I’m currently working on two secret projects and three Christmas gifts, so there’s not a whole lot I can really share in full. I’m considering taking an official “Christmas vacation” from my blog, but also don’t want to miss all of you too much.

For now, I decided to take some crazy close-up photographs of some of my works in progress to share with you in an aura of mystery. Here are some of the things I’ve been working on. Go ahead and guess what they are, if you want! It reminds me of the backs of Ranger Rick magazines I read as a child, where they had a grid of super macro photographs of everyday objects and you had to guess the object. Have fun!

secret sewing peek

secret sewing peek

secret sewing peek

secret sewing peek

secret sewing peek

I also have to include this process shot, completely unedited. This was my first time using my new Massdropped pink clover clips, and this one glows in the dying light. I think it’s such a cool photo!

secret sewing peek glowing clover clip

If you’re a quilter-blogger who also has a lot of holiday and family obligations this time of year, what do you do to ease your stress levels? Take a break from blogging? Let go of obligations or personal expectations? I’d love to know!

Ready to Go Anywhere: My First Bag!

I did it! I made a bag! It’s definitely not perfect, but for my first bag, I am SO happy with it. I followed Anna from Noodleheads pattern for the Go Anywhere Bag, and it was quite easy to follow, even for an absolute beginner like me.

go anywhere bag by noodlehead first bag

Going into making this bag, I was extremely, unnaturally scared of the whole process. I was seriously terrified! A huge thank you goes out to Sarah Fredett from Smiles too Loudly, for being there as real-time support on Instagram when I first got started on the pattern. Sarah walked me through the tangled mystery of interfacing, and helped me gain that first bit of confidence to forge ahead. Thank you SO much, Sarah!

go anywhere bag detail

Anna’s pattern was very clear and specific, going as far as to suggest little triangles at the tops of each pocket to reinforce the opening (genius!?). The images in the pattern were a great help for me, a visual learner. The steps were clear and well sequenced, and I feel like I was able to follow along without too much reading ahead or back-tracking to make sense of it all. It is my first bag ever, but most definitely not my last! (I’ve already bought a bit of the coveted Anna Maria Horner Field Study Feathers-Parenthetical Linen in the Deep colorway for my next bag. Shhh!).

inner pocket and snap in go anywhere bag

While this bag did not include the installation of a zipper, I’m proud to say that not only did I create pleats for the first time, but I also installed two magnetic snaps and sewed inner pockets (not to mention taming the dreaded interfacing). Go me!

go anywhere bag top view
Top view of the Go Anywhere Bag. Pleated pockets!

I think of myself as a very practical person, so choosing a white-based fabric for the outside was initially a hesitation. Before making the bag, I figured since I loved the fabric so much, I would go ahead and use it for the front and back pockets (aka the feature fabric), but would only use the bag for special occasions. Now that the bag is complete, I can’t help but use it as my everyday purse. Sure, it probably will get dirty, but it’s pretty fabulous in the meantime!

Like I said, since it’s my first bag, it’s far from perfect. I had quite a bit of difficulty maneuvering the whole thing in a smooth manner through my domestic machine, so there are wiggle waggles in the stitching here and there. All you expert bag-makers extraordinaire (Hillary, you’re on the top of this list!)–how do you smoothly finagle thick layers of bag under your machine?! I am clearly in need of some tips!

imperfections in sewing bag
Wiggle waggle stitching.

I also made the executive decision to create two impromptu pleats in the back pocket to ensure that the front and back pocket tops lined up with each other. The alternative would have been a smooth back pocket, but completely unaligned pockets on one edge (shudder).

Extra impromptu pleats on back pocket.
Extra impromptu pleats on back pocket.

go anywhere bag ready to go anywhere

All in all, making this bag was a really fun activity. I’m proud of myself for biting the bullet and trying something new, and I’m excited to try making more bags! Next up will be a zip pouch–small, but with a (dun dun DUN) zipper!

I didn’t get very many great photos of my bag, since I had my usual helper with me. He’s pretty cute, though, huh? It’s worth the bit of blur, and he certainly seemed ready to go anywhere with my new bag! (I’m leaving out the photos of him actually taking off running with my bag, since I realized post-photo that our messy house litters the background!)

my bag photography helper

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday. Bag #1: done and done!

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?