Lancaster American Quilter’s Society Show

Yes!  I’m freshly back from vending at my first big show, and I wanted to share how it went!

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Firstly, props to my family who subsisted on popcorn and dried beef and carrot sticks for the week before the show.  SO MANY last minute details and you maybe know that I’m not the best at getting things done in advance 😀

Second, ultimate props to my hubs who did so many last minute errands for me, always with a cheery attitude.

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So, with that out of the way, how was it?  So fun.  Just a week before, I received a huge shipment of Outback Wife barkcloth by Gertrude Made.  The American distributor of that fabric has been absolutely lovely to work with and I hope there are any more collections to come!  I have MANY ideas for samples to make up with this lovely fabric.  I noticed a lot of people were buying it for handbags and a LOT of people were saying, “oh, that reminds me of my grandmother…”  It made me super happy to bring that to the show.

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Also, the rainbow tables of perle cotton… (All arranged by my lovely friend Johanna who came to help!) I loved watching people choose their own color palettes from those.  I brought mostly Finca/Presencia, with a little Valdani just as a test.  Plenty of people were interested in the Valdani so I’ll be expanding that offering for next time.

EPP Demo!

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I demonstrated my Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes for a good part of each day.  Which means I was working on a fun project the whole time and actually made really good progress.  I was making 2″ hexies out of the barkcloth and I do have an exciting idea for putting them together once I get more solids in stock.  I glue basted these because they’re such big shapes and I just want this to come together quickly.

People!

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Seriously.  I met so many interesting people.  Friendly customers, guild members, the people working the show.  One person who I believe is my long lost twin, we are so similar in so many ways.  (Hi Andrea!)  My booth neighbors on both sides were super friendly and helpful.  And I had time to reconnect with two more friends who came to help, Heather and Mike, and I was so grateful for both their help and the time to get together!

So, I loved this.  I think it’s the perfect fit for me.  I can work from home, homeschool my kids, have my little web shop, and then dart out and get a few days of total quilt immersion to recharge my quilty soul.  I’ll be announcing more show dates soon as I get them confirmed!

I AM sewing!

Guys, I may have lost my sew-jo last year for various reasons, but it is back big time now.  I have so much to say, but I’m gonna ease myself back into blogging with a few snapshots of what I’ve been doing.

Working on this and that:

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I instagrammed a couple of videos while I was working on the above clamshells, so go look for those if you’re wondering how these go together.  20180212_164845.jpg

IMG_20180214_113020_747 - CopySent Diabolical Jane to Stitched in Color to be longarmed.  Thrilled with the results!

IMG_20180218_212812_256 - CopyThese are Paleo! 

What? your caveman ancestors didn’t have chocolate cupcakes?  well someone’s did.  The cookbook said so.  Anyway, they’re delicious and if you are eating healthy but getting desperate for a treat, check out My Paleo Patisserie.  Everything I’ve made from it has been good.

20171114_135938-copy.jpgI washed dried and folded like a million yards of fabric.  I had decided to freshen up my stash and there was no going back.  Then I donated half of it to my local crafty thrift shop because I have too much.  OK maybe a quarter donated.  But there’s more to wash.

Parenting!  Oh the parenting.  Everyone’s back to homeschooling now and I am so glad.  The school schedules were just not good for me.

20171121_162712 - CopyLooking for a farm.  Yes, I want to farm.  really bad.  But we have to come to terms with what we can afford and figure out where that’s going to be and it’s a really huge decision, so for now the talk is still all hypothetical.

IMG_20180102_141930_481 - Copy20180111_162613.jpgChicken farming:  I may not have land yet, but you don’t need much space for chickens.  We have been eating exclusively our own chicken for a couple of years, and added egg birds last fall. We love our chickens but they are definitely not pets; the kids are understanding where our food comes from and the animals that will become our food live a good life, and that means a lot to me.

So there’s a little snapshot of where I’ve been!  Back soon!

Retreat!

It’s the beginning of retreat season!  Yes somehow, I have managed to sign myself up for three quilt retreats in two months!  I’m not feeling bad about that.  I’m feeling awesome.  And yes, my co-parent is booking himself a getaway, hopefully as we speak.  Everyone needs some time for themselves.

( I guess this will do for natural lighting..)

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So this weekend is my first of three.  Here’s what I brought to work on:

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A dolly quilt for my littlest.  I forgot the backing, so I’ll have to be happy with getting the edge pieces set in and I’ll finish it at home.

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An improv quilt in weird colors. I first had the idea to put these colors together a few years ago- scarlet and lavender and marine blue and black and cream and off-shades of rust- I cut hundreds of strips in the fabrics I could find at the time, but it just wasn’t right.  The fabrics sat segregated in their special bin for a very long time, as I slowly added to and edited the collection.  Now I’m feeling pretty good that I have what I need to enact the vision.  The intent is to put it to bed this weekend and let it be whatever size I get it to by Sunday, but I’m willing to be flexible.

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A basket full of old shirts for some EPP.  So excited about this one.  But I’m excited about them all…

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A binding that’s ready for hand stitching.  I think I’ll work on this during show and tell.  Big stitches will get it done 🙂

I also packed a little cooler with lots of greens, beef stew, poached salmon, and kombucha.  And lots of tea and some super dark chocolate.  Meals are provided and so far they’ve been awesome, but it feels good to be prepared.  And to eat beef stew in bed at 10:00 pm.  🙂

Vivian’s Quilt : Complete!

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Two years ago I was blogging this quilt extensively because I wanted to link up my progress with Jessica Alexandrakis’s Star Count. Kinda feels like a million years ago.

I have this thing where, I reeeallly have to push myself to finish things, even when they are 92% done.  So this had been sitting around unbound for quite a while.  The push finally came with an entry deadline I didn’t want to miss.  The quilt was accepted and last week hung at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in Philadelphia.  I have attended that show for more than a decade and entering something was always a goal.

New-ish to me was writing a little statement to go with the quilt.  It was hard to fit all the thoughts and emotions that go into a quilt into one little paragraph.  And the theme of the show was “evolving,” and I didn’t even get to touch on that idea.  Here’s what I wrote:

This quilt began in anticipation of my daughter’s birth. I pieced the stars while homeschooling my older kids, then, while nursing baby Vivian. Next I floated the stars in a sea of pale hexagons. So many hexagons, and most were made with sleeping baby on my lap. I began to realize that this quilt is a reflection on life; bright shining moments surrounded by many more ordinary moments. The ordinary ones are no less beautiful.

I used every one of the 75 words allotted and could have said much more about technique, ideas, and how the style of this quilt fits into the theme of the show.  I would have liked to hear more about the other quilts on display as well; wish there was a way for more to be said.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to go back and round up some progress shots of this, since it’s been so long in the making.

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Courtyard Garden

Hi there friends!  I took some time over the weekend to update my Etsy shop.  I have been sewing for months with my favorite new shape, the 90 degree kites, and I thought it might be a good time to actually list them in the shop so you could sew with them too.

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Courtyard Garden Mini

I used the 2″ 90 degree kites, together with 2″ 45 degree diamonds, to make my #handpiecedminiswap2 quilt. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this- if you’re not on Instagram, I joined what is surely the only hand piecing swap going on right now and made this quilt for one participant, and received a mini quilt from another participant.  It was a blind swap, so we had to “stalk” our partners to figure out what they might like to receive.  It took me a long time to decide on something, but there were some beautifully colored yarns in my partner’s feed, and I used those as inspiration for the colors in this quilt.

 

My favorite part of this quilt is that dark raspberry border.  That and the geometry of the quilt made me think of a formal courtyard, so I’ve named this quilt Courtyard Garden.

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I decided to use some creative value placement to create a medallion layout, but there is actually an allover grid pattern going on with the shapes. 4-pointed stars or 8-pointed stars, depending on which way you look.

I’m working on another version of the quilt that highlights the 8-pointed stars.  I am so in love with these stars btw!  As a derivative of the above pattern, I’m calling them Courtyard Stars.

I have made downloadable design sheets for this pattern; one highlights the value placement of the medallion mini, and one has just a plain grid so you can do your own experimenting.  They are listed as a set in my Etsy shop.

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Courtyard Stars

 

To make either the medallion version of the pattern, or 16+ of the above stars, you will need:

Medium pack of 2″ 90 degree kites

Small pack of 2″ 45 degree diamonds

Downloadable design sheets

The pieced portion of the mini is 20.5″ square, and I recommend appliqueing onto a 24″ background square.

I hope you’ll give these shapes a try!  I’ll be back later in the week to show some of the other layouts you can achieve with these beautiful 90 degree kites.  Octagons feature prominently in these designs so first I need to get them ready and listed 🙂

Happy sewing!

Jessie

 

 

Winter Solstice

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Did you/ will you celebrate the Winter Solstice this year?  Here on the east coast of the US it was at 11:49 last night; for Europe it was early this morning. The longest night and the shortest day of the year.  It’s not an event my family has ever really celebrated, but every year I imagine us making the time to mark the event. I picture a day of peace and simple beauty. A bundled-up nature walk in the low afternoon sun, a crackling fire, a special homemade stew. New pajamas?  We did have a lovely soup for dinner last night but otherwise we didn’t break from the rush of this season.  Next year, we keep saying…

I did gather myself together long enough last night to list my Winter Solstice template pack in my Etsy shop.  I love how the star looks almost like a snowflake.  My sweet friend Carissa came up with the name for me many months ago and so I thought I should list the templates for sale in honor of the night.

Winter Solstice

Technical details:

There are three pack sizes, containing enough templates for 1, 2, or 9 stars.  The star finishes 17″ high and 15″ wide, and can be appliqued onto an 18″ pillow or quilt block or set together with 1″ hexagons and 1″ 60 degree diamonds.  Or, it can “float” alone in a sea of as many 1″ hexagons as you like!  If you want to make the 58″x64″ layout shown below, you will need a large pack of Winter Solstice stars, a large pack of 1″ hexagons, and a small pack of 1″ diamonds.  You also need a few 1″ equilateral triangles for the edges, which I include for free with your package.  If you are doing a smaller layout and only need a few diamonds/ triangles, let me know in the notes to seller and I’ll just throw them in for free 🙂

Winter Solstice Layout

So here she is, Winter Solstice.  If you have any winter solstice traditions or have heard of any nice ones, I would love to hear about it!

 

Orange Peel Inspiration

Now the fun post!  Here’s a few ideas for arranging your orange peel shapes.  If have seen (or sewn) an orange peel project you like, please link to it in the comments!

The traditional way to use orange peels is to applique each one diagonally onto a background square. They can then be sewn together in a myriad of different designs.  When used to fill the entire space, an X and O pattern starts to appear:

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4-patches with alternating plain squares make a flower pattern:

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Playing with where the pattern starts and ends brings out a stronger diagonal pattern:

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especially when you use alternating colors:

And why not put the squares on point?

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One of my favorite things to do with orange peels is to not applique each one to a background square, rather to make free form designs; flowers, feather, scales, all sorts of organic designs can be suggested by this shape. This one I made a couple of years ago now, starting from the corner and working out.

Here’s my recently completed free-form flowers:

And a few more bits and bobs still mostly in the dream-phase:

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I’ve also been thinking about combining different sizes to make a more complex flower; if you get to that first please do send me a picture.

This concludes my little series on Orange Peels; Please see the first two posts How to work with Orange Peel Templates and Tutorial: My Applique Stitch, and visit Faraway Road or my Etsy shop if you’d like to purchase Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes.  🙂

Have a lovely weekend!

Jessie

How to work with Orange Peel templates

Ready for appliqueThis method of preparing shapes for applique will work for any shapes with convex (outside) curves, like leaves or circles.

Orange peel is an applique pattern which means, at the core of things, that a piece of fabric is being cut into a certain shape and stitched down onto another piece of fabric. There are many of ways to get the shape you desire in applique, but I almost always use freezer paper templates, because I find it the easiest way to get smooth curves and sharp points.  By preparing the folded edge in advance, I feel like I can relax and enjoy the applique stitch. And, this method generally involves no extra marking pens or pencils, which I always have such a hard time with.

(Snowflakes die-cut freezer paper shapes are available for sale here)

Choosing a size:

Orange peels are sized by the finished size of the square upon which they fit diagonally. So you can plan on a 2.5” orange peel (which is actually almost 3.5” tip to tip) taking up 2.5” of space, vertically and horizontally, in your quilt.

IMG_5903Preparing the shapes:

First, lay your fabric face down on your ironing surface and give it a quick press without steam. Arrange your shapes, shiny side down, on the fabric, at least 5/8” apart. For curved applique pieces, it will help you achieve a smooth curve if you have as much of the curve on the bias (diagonal) as possible. So when possible I arrange the pieces with the corner points on the two straight grains and that puts most of the curve on the diagonal. This is the ideal method, but if you have a stripe or other design that you want to go a certain way on the pieces, go ahead and follow that instead.IMG_5909

Now press the shapes with a medium-hot iron just for a second or two to adhere them to the fabric. Wait a bit for them to cool, then cut out leaving a generous 1/4- 3/8” seam allowance.

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Now to baste the edges: Thread a sharp, thin needle, with sturdy thread (I use leftover machine or hand quilting thread) and knot the end. Starting in the center of one side, fold over the seam allowance to the back of the paper shape and take a small stitch through paper and fabric.

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Now make several small running stitches through fabric only, until you are about ¾” away from the point. Right handed folk are going counter clockwise around the shape and lefties go clockwise.

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Now take another small stitch through paper and fabric, and pull the thread to gather the running stitches you just made. The fabric will automatically smooth itself over the curve (which is such a blessing if you’ve tried other applique methods and had a hard time making smooth curves!)

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Now make a sharp fold over the point and take another small stitch through paper and fabric to anchor the point.

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Now you are ready to make another few running stitches through fabric only.

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Stop at the midway point, stitch once through the paper and fabric, and pull the gathers again. The shape is now half- basted and you can follow the same steps to baste the other half, ending with a final stitch through the paper and fabric and a knot on the back.

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Cutting background squares:

I always cut my background squares a little bigger than necessary. Just in case the orange peel shifts a bit while you applique, or the square gets a bit distorted, you will be able to trim down to the perfect size. So, for 2.5″ Orange Peels, you add .5″ for the seam allowance, plus another .25″ of insurance, making the cut size 3.25”.   (If you are beginner to applique you may want to go up to 3.5”.) After appliqueing, you will trim them down to 3”.  When sewn together they reach their final size of 2.5” and the orange peels will almost touch at the corners.  Press each square lightly in half on the diagonal to mark your placement line for the orange peel.

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OK, I think that’s enough for today!  Tomorrow I will go over my applique stitch, and then the final post will give some layout options for this versatile shape.

Applique, Art Gallery Fabrics and a Giveaway!

Orange peel applique

I have been sooo addicted to the orange peel shape lately.  When Art Gallery Fabrics asked if I would like to be a part of their celebration of National Sewing Month, at first I wasn’t sure I could come up with a project in time.  I have so many huge projects already in my queue… Then I thought, I could make another orange peel mini!  (Here, here, and here are some other orange peel projects I’ve done)  I chose Bonnie Christine’s fabric line, Cultivate.  Do you follow her on Instagram?  Such a lovely feed and at the moment she’s sharing the sweetest shots of her newborn baby girl, can’t get enough of those…
Sketch- 3 pillows-mini quilts
Of course, being myself, I couldn’t take the simple route and do just one mini.  No no, I would do three.  Above is the little sketch I sent to Art Gallery when I offered to do a project.  A pair of free-form flower pillows and a geometric one to contrast.   Then, I thought, why not bind them so I could hang them as little wall hangings or stuff them with pillows?  So that is what I did, they have a 3/4″ binding that will look like a flange if I choose to use them for pillows, or they can hang on the wall.  Great.  Love them.
Each petal is prepared by ironing down a freezer paper template and basting the raw edges over the paper.  I roughly arrange my pieces on the background, then press each shape, remove the paper, and pin them down in their final places.  I use a running stitch with #8 perle cotton to attach the shapes to the background.  I have used a regular applique stitch in the past, but for such busy fabrics I love the extra definition that the running stitch outline gives.  I started with a 19″ square, trimmed it down to 18.5″ after the applique was done, then added the wide binding, bringing the inner square down to 17″ .  So an 18″ pillow form makes them nice and plump.
If you too would like to make this pillow, you’ll need a medium pack of 2.5″ orange peel freezer paper templates, which I sell here.   They are reusable in case you’d like to make more than one.  And please use the box at top right to subscribe to my blog, as starting next Monday I’ll have a little series walking you through the process of working with orange peel templates.
(Photo shoot outtakes…  “Hey, someone made a bed out here in the woods!”)
But wait, what happened to the pillow in the middle of the sketch?
I fell so hard for these little blocks that I had to hold them back in order to make an entire quilt out of them!  I ordered more of the Pruning Roses print from Hawthorne Threads (which is also where I got the Pure Elements Icy Mint solid I used for the background) and I carry my little basket of applique with me everywhere.  The pile just grows and grows… like a baby, the quilt will be here before you know it!
Oh yes, should I do a giveaway?  Art Gallery Fabrics was very generous when sending fabrics for this project and I have a ton left over.  Some is going into my stash but I have plenty to share, too!  Leave me a comment letting me know your favorite applique pattern (if you have one!) to enter to win a generous bundle of Cultivate by Bonnie Christine.  If you follow this blog or my Instagram, you may leave me an additional comment telling me so and that will count as a second entry.  Thanks!  I’ll draw a winner on Sunday, September 13th.
… This post was sponsored by Art Gallery Fabrics….

5 Reasons to Love Freezer Paper

So, why did I go to all this trouble to make die-cut freezer paper shapes available?  Here are five reasons to love working with Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes:

Template stays put while you baste!

#1. And this would be enough, even if it were the only attribute: the paper shapes stay put while you baste. Just a touch with a hot iron, and there is absolutely no slipping, and no need for pins or paper clips to hold the fabric still as you baste.

Fabric cutting is a snap!

#2. Fabric cutting is a snap. Other methods ask you to get a separate plastic template and trace around it onto the fabric, adding time to every piece you prepare. When a freezer paper template is ironed into your fabric, it is easy to eyeball a generous 1/4 inch seam allowance as you cut, no marking necessary!

tessellating templates saves a lot of fabric!

#3. Saves fabric. If you are rotary cutting squares and then trimming them down into hexagons, you are wasting a lot of fabric!  With Snowflakes, you can arrange the pieces in a tessellating fashion, then cut them out zig-zag style without any waste. If you need a large number of shapes from one fabric, you will save a lot of fabric cutting this way.

precise fussy cutting is easy

#4  precise fussy cutting. Iron the shape onto the reverse side of your fabric, then hold up to the light from the right side to see exactly where the fabric design will fall.

templates can be reused many times

#5 Reusable.  I use my Snowflakes many times before retiring them.  Even with the holes from basting, they still iron on many times before being exhausted.

Check out Snowflakes freezer paper shapes for yourself here in my shop!