Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Heart's Desire & Quilt Finish

Have you ever wanted something so badly that it felt as if your heart literally hurt and ached? Usually such a yearning comes from the desire for personal relationships... whether it is a longing for a spouse, a friendship, or probably the ultimate of yearnings... the wish for a baby.

Before we were pregnant with our oldest son, we actually had a miscarriage. It was so early in the pregnancy that we barely had time to comprehend it ourselves, much less share it with family and friends. Even though the pregnancy was only in it's first weeks, the loss was still very real, especially since we had been trying for a while. After having gone through such a loss, I ended up coming out on the other side with a deeper understanding for others who have been hoping for, praying for, longing for, and even aching for that wee little set of ten toes and ten fingers to rest in their arms... and for some reason it just hasn't happened.

A while back a friend of mine had shared with me that they had been longing, hoping, praying, and aching for their own wee one... and for NINE years! There is a verse in Proverbs that sums up that very feeling... "Hope deferred makes the heart sick"... I so get that, I understand this, and I feel it. I especially get it for those that are in that place right now. Did you know that neurons have been discovered in the heart? With that being said, it sheds a new light on the depth of feeling that ache,


... the turn in this story is that there is a "but" to the rest of the story! The verse in Proverbs doesn't just stop at the heart being sick part, but there is a second part of this Proverb... "but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life"... and the story of my friend does not stop there either! After nine long years of waiting, my friend has just welcomed her ten fingered and ten toed wonder into the world!

The really amazing thing is that just weeks before my friend had shared her news, I had started this quilt. I had no particular plans in mind for this project at that time, or even a particular recipient, but as I read through her announcement email, I then knew why I had started this. Sometimes you just know things in your heart before they happen, and only after the fact realize why your heart led you the way it did.

If you are, as they say in German, "built close to the water", then I'll give you your chance now to transition and perhaps grab a tissue, while I give you a few stats about my "Scrappy Windmils"/"I Spy" quilt:

Quilt pattern: "Scrappy Windmill" quilt from Judith Dahmen as featured in Issue 10 of Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine.
Started: June 2015* (I had a three month waiting period for the batting. Otherwise this might have been finished sooner!)
Fabrics: Kona Cotton white and favorite fabric scraps from my stash.
Finished quilt size: ca. 50 x 60 inches (ca. 125 x 150 cm)
Backing: Zen Chic, "Swinging" and Julie Comstock, "Cameras", various scraps.
Thread: Aurifil cotton 50 wt white
Binding: Basic Grey grunge, grey  

Once the sun, moon, and stars had once again aligned to snap a few pictures, it was really fun for me to do a little "I Spy" quilt photo shot with our little guy. As you can imagine, he was all over the place like any normal three year old boy, and "can you put your leg down", "hold still", "no, don't jump" were repeated over and over again... but I think that in the end, he was a pretty good little model, don't you think?

He even pretended to take a nap on the quilt... (you can almost hear the fake snoring, can't you?)

With such an amazing story of a longing that has now been fulfilled... is it any wonder that this little bundle of joy's middle name is... Joy? Tickled pink happy for you, Jules! 

Do you have any long-time-in-the-waiting stories? 

Linking up this week with WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Super Size Me!

Since I've been in an everything in XXS phase lately, I thought that it was high time that I come back to the land of normal size. Oh, don't get me wrong, I think that I could probably carry on for a good number of months, enough to write a book Kitty suggests, but I do love a good distraction! 

So, to get back to normalcy, I thought it would be fun to super size my mini mini sunburst pattern to make a little something for myself, and I've shown a good amount of the process on Instagram. It actually took me a good bit of thinking, planning, and test cutting to figure out the seam allowance and size of the inner connecting piece for the two opposite sunbursts. Since I was making this into a pillow, I wanted to hit the right size from the beginning since trimming down would cause me to loose some of my design.

As far as other design choices, you might be a little confused thinking... hey, wait, I thought she didn't like solids?!? If you know that much about me, then you are absolutely right! I don't like working with solids, but in the same breath I can sing my never ending praises of Basic Grey grunges, which can work like a solid, but have so much more depth, in my opinion, than a true solid. I really mean it when I say that I have them in almost everything that I make!

Another off the beaten path detail that you might notice are my color choices. I guess I have a pretty true and standard palette that I tend to grab for first, sometimes without realizing it until the project is together, but it would seem that I have favorite colors to sew with and favorite colors to decorate with. Since this pillow is for my living room, you get a taste of the Art Nouveau inspired color range that adorns one of my favorite rooms in the house.

Quilting? Now that was my bear! Seam ripper... oh, how I love you! Let me count the ways... and the number of stitches that came out of this one!?! I started out simply outlining and then shadow quilting the sunbursts, but that just didn't look right. Then I started spiral quilting with the intention to spiral quilt on both ends towards the center... and as you can see, that didn't work out either! So.... simple, no fuss, (as usual) and after having lived with it a few days, I'm pleased with it.

Background: Essex Linen, Espresso from Robert Kaufman
Points: Basic Grey grunges
Quilting Thread: Aurifil cotton 50 wt 2326 Sand
Rashida Coleman Hale, "Mochifloral" purple 

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Broken Record Sewing + Free Template

Sometimes it's easy to get into a rut, right? I would think that it is safe to say that every blogger, at some point or another, has probably reached a broken record phase. You know, I keep working with the same colors, making the same favorite pattern over and over, or preaching about the same topic... well, I hope that your patience has not run its course when it comes to me sharing, yet again, a few more mini mini's... but if I include another free template, are you still with me?!?

This round of mini's has been all about slow stitching. I've been told that my work reflects a certain attention to detail, and I've always loved adding little embellishments, doilies, and do-dad's to my projects... I'm not talking about kitsch here (hee, hee for my German readers... kitsch is in the English language too!), but simply extra touches.

My mini phase has not just been about jumping on the latest craze bandwagon, but actually about testing out color combinations that I might not ordinarily pick, trying quilting techniques that I've never done before, and simply experimenting with things that I might not trust myself on for bigger projects. While I am not a beginner sewer, I am a beginner quilter, and such little projects have been the perfect opportunity for me to test the waters.

To use this Mini Mini Foliage template, you might want to refer to my tutorial on reverse applique if you have never tried this technique before. The steps are essentially the same, except I had stitched two fabrics together for the leaf instead of using a solid. Then I made a thin binding strip for the center and stitched it on after the leaves had been added. I had thought that this would be fun to make a longer row of leaves together for a bigger project... I might have to add it to the list

And just so you know, next week things will return to normal size projects AND coming soon another finished quilt reveal! 

How about you... do you get in a rut when it comes to your sewing projects? Do you stick with the same colors or patterns? Do you have your own sewing soapbox?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Take One, Take Two, Take Three

I've never been a pattern tester before... not because I didn't want to, but because it would seem that searching for testers announcements were usually made on the US side of the pond when most of Germany was already asleep. By the time the lights started coming on here, the spots were already filled up, and... well, that was that.

So, do you remember my recent butterfly mini mini’s here? The paper pieced patterns are from Lillyellasworld's, which she offers as a free pattern set… and they are so stinkin' cute, what's not to love?!? So I was thrilled when I found out that Nicole was looking for testers to try out her Forest Floor Pattern!

Firstly, the pattern itself is a extremely well done, start to finish. The pieces were clearly marked and lined up beautifully when joined together. The instructions are very clear and there are no lingering questions about how to assemble it. What I appreciated the most is that she included a diagram to make notes or play with fabric placement. This was extremely helpful for me since you essentially have to think in reverse, since that is the way that the fabrics show up once they are sewn onto the paper. Additionally coloring sheets are included if playing around with color might be a challenge for you. The finished block is a 7 x 7 inch square, with instructions on how to enlarge to a 8, 10, or 12 inch block. If you are looking for a drawback, then in comparison to the butterfly blocks, there are more tiny bits to deal with, but that's just how it is if you want to achieve a more complex shape.

Having just finished the butterflies, I was essentially going for the same effect, of using mixed low volume fabrics, with some fussy cut placements. I wanted to use low volumes with a touch of green. By the time I got the whole thing assembled, I realized that there wasn’t enough contrast with the stem and underneath side of the cap. To give it more contrast, I have toyed around with doing a little free motion outlining, but am a little uncertain that it will end up looking like an appliquĂ©d block. I do however love the placement of the text "always" from a Cori Dantini fabric scrap.

So, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again… now onto the green block. Efforts still the same, but with a darker green contrast. All in all, I think that the block is ok, but the bottom portion bothers me a lot… essentially my fabric stash was somewhat limited to achieve the look I wanted. Knowing me, I’ll probably undo the bottom half of this block until I’ve had time to re-think how I want to change it. My thought on the Heather Ross fabric at the top is that every toadstool needs a toad, right?

And last but not least… third time’s a charm block in purple! Not much to say about it, but that I much prefer the dark contrast, and this one is my favorite. Finishing three blocks was not an attempt to be an over achiever... quite the contrary... and just to be clear, showing all three is not my way of fishing for compliments. It's actually my honest effort to share a little of my thought process and frustrations when making this block. Well, perhaps it’s just my own perfectionistic tick. The good thing is that you don't have to wait very long to make your own version... this pattern will be released on November 16th... that's just around the corner.

Do you redo blocks after you’ve finished them if you are not pleased with your color or fabric choices? Or do you put them in the leftover block pile, or just incorporate them into your project anyway, like it or not? Any suggestions for finished projects for these? I would love to hear! 

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Swell Quilt Finish!

It really was no exaggeration, by any means, when I said that taking photos of quilts in Germany in the fall and winter months is like waiting for the sun, moon, and stars to all come into perfect alignment before the lighting is just right. Of course everyone at some point has suffered a touch of the blues when the warm, beautiful, and care free seasons begin to fade into the colder and greyer ones, but Northern German weather is a beast all of it's own! While there are no claims of perfect celestial alignment, there was enough (and I mean just barely enough) daylight to snap a few finish photos of my long-time-in-the-making Swell quilt!

Since this quilt had grown so enormously huge, I had grown so weary in pushing through, and that technically this is only my second quilt, I decided to keep the quilting quite simple (not to mention my comfort level, or should I say lack thereof, when it comes to free motion qulting) I essentially followed the natural lines of the blocks, and quilted diagonally through the white blocks, and again through the center of the colorful pluses.

There was quite a good bit of back and forth with my husband when it came to how I would finish the back of the quilt. Since he couldn't really grasp the concept of a pieced backing, he prefered the option of a single fabric solid backing. But since I didn't want a big seam line running down the middle of the back, which he argued didn't matter because it's the back, right?, I wanted to make good use of my leftover scraps and not eat up so much of my beloved Basic Grey grunge fabric... it's much more interesting than a solid, don't you think?

Looking back, I learned a lot after having finished this quilt... after the fact there are several things that I might have opted to do differently, but despite all those little this's and that's, I'm really happy to have finished this one. So, in case you've not been along for the whole ride since I started this quilt, here are the specifics:

Quilt pattern: "Swell" from Camille Roskelley's Simply Retro book.
Started: February 2014
Fabrics: Kona Cotton white and selected fabrics from Amy Butler fabric collections: Alchemy, Cameo, Soul Blossoms, and Love.
Finished quilt size: 83 x 91 in. (210 x 230 cm)
Backing: Basic Grey grunge - aqua, Amy Butler Memoir - pacific, Kona Cotton white, various Amy Butler scraps
Thread: Aurifil cotton 50 wt white

Binding: Kona Cotton, Copen

Linking up this week as always to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.
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