At the beginning of this year, I had one of those moments. A moment which, though you don’t know it at the time, is going to change everything that comes after. I was having a little new-years introspection and I realized that this year I turn 37, our oldest child turns 12, and we’re still not living life as I imagined it. I felt like my life so far has been just a giant holding pattern, we are circling, circling, waiting for something to happen. But what, exactly?
“Welcome to the club,” some might say, but I wanted to do something about it. This is not at all about having the money to do whatever, and all about the choices we have been making. It’s been 7 years since I graduated and since then we’ve been renting a variety of places, moving here and there, never wanting to commit to anything. We’ve been in our current house for 3 years, mostly just because it was easier to stay than to make any more choices. I shared my feelings with my spouse, and we decided that we would commit to looking for a permanent home.
SO. We were looking for something to buy. I want land, privacy, space. Well guess what? So do a whole bunch of people in the greater DC/Baltimore region. Places with any land in our price range were an hour or more from Garrett’s job. He was willing to commute, and in the past has done so up to 1.5 hours each way, but was that the lifestyle we wanted to commit to?
We discussed very seriously getting a country place for the family and having Garrett live in a hotel 3-4 nights a week for work. I think that was the solution we had settled on when on a lark, he applied for a job in our hometown. We were rather astounded with the speed at which the whole apply-interview-offer process went, and he got the job.
Oh my god, we could move back home! Really? Family, the ease of small town life, the mountains… All those things I’ve been pining for, could be mine! Never mind the massive pay cut. It doesn’t matter; we don’t care. Now we can build a life!
We have found a tiny house to rent, well within our means, while we look for a home, a true home, where our kids can spend the rest of their formative years and hopefully remember it fondly as they grow into themselves and away from us. Where I can plant those fruit trees and be there when they begin to bear, and have piggies and chickens and just be able to go for a walk without being assaulted by the relentless traffic….
So, here’s what’s happening. We move home to Central Pennsylvania in 3 weeks. Just enough time here for one more DCMQG meetup. 🙂
Our tiny new place won’t support a home studio, so Faraway Road is going big-time and moving to its own address!
Husband will have a truly “new” job for the first time in 15 years! What else? Just a complete lifestyle shift is all…
In very big denial of how much work I have to do in the next 3 weeks :-).
But happy. So happy!
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:
#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.
#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!
#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.
#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.
#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!
A couple of weeks ago (wow, was it really like a month ago?) the DC Modern Quilt Guild had our annual outdoor sewing meeting. I love this meeting, even though this time it made me hate the DC Metro sooo much… What would have taken me an hour to drive, on the Metro was 1.5 hours on the way in to the city and 2.5 hours on the way out. 45 minutes of which were in a sweltering rail car with the A/C out… Arrgh. But I digress.
We have a lovely space where we like to meet in the US Botanical Gardens. I was pleased to be asked to demo English Paper Piecing this time! How fun that was, to have so many other people around me catching the EPP bug!
I brought some bits of fabric for everyone to practice on, and at the end of the day there were lots of basted hexies left behind, some even joined into pairs or trios. What to do with them? Certainly not throw them out! I joined then all together and made this little pouch as a little memento of the day. I’m thinking this will be the perfect size to transport sewing machine and extension cords to sewing meetings. If it doesn’t get swiped for My Little Pony figurines first!
Would your guild or shop like me to demo English Paper Piecing with freezer paper shapes? Please get in touch!
As promised, if you just want to dabble into English Paper Piecing, but still end up with a sweet and eminently useable project, this version of my free Spring Basket pattern is just the thing for you!
To make this version of the basket, you’ll follow all the original steps as posted on Sew Mama Sew with just these few modifications:
You’ll need a 32 inch x 6 inch piece of fabric for the outer basket, and only 16, 2.5 inch square-ish scraps for the hexagons.
Prepare and baste 16, 1 inch hexagons. Lay them out and sew into a zigzag line as shown. Then join the two end hexagons together to form a ring. Press well and remove the papers. If you are new to English Paper Piecing, here is the information you need.
Using the extra pattern piece marked [Outer fabric- non-pieced version only], cut four pieces from your outer fabric and sew together as described for the lining pieces.
Line up your ring of hexagons 1/2 inch from the top edge. The top left corner of every fourth hexagon should line up with a seam in the outer fabric. Pin well, then topstitch with your machine on both edges of the ring. (Or hand applique if you are more comfortable with that technique.)
You can cut away your base fabric from behind any light-colored hexies if it shows through. Be sure to leave 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Follow the rest of the project as written. Then, start a new English Paper Piecing project and use this basket to store the pieces 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Now that “Baby Vivian” is firmly a toddler, I want to talk about another little pet project I’ve been nursing along in my spare moments. I’m so excited to announce it here today!
You all know I love English Paper Piecing. Well, I like to use freezer paper templates for my EPP, and I used to wish and hope and Google in vain for a supplier of precut freezer paper shapes. No luck. Eventually I realized that I could be the one to supply them for everyone!
So for the past year or so I’ve been working with a great company to create the dies and have these shapes professionally cut, working with another company to get some packaging created, setting up a website, and of course basting and sewing hundreds and hundreds of little shapes. (In the name of research, y’know?!) I’ve even quietly sold a few packs on my Etsy shop. It’s been so fun.
So… why freezer paper? Quite simply, because freezer paper sticks to your fabric with just a touch from the iron. Then you can just eyeball your seam allowance as you cut around the paper. No tracing around a plastic template and cutting on the lines. The freezer paper sticks to the fabric while you baste the edges, eliminating the need for pins or paper clips. Nothing for your thread to get caught on!
Furthermore, some instructions for EPP would have you start by cutting out your own paper shapes from freezer paper or card stock. That is time that I could be playing with my fabric and sewing, so I’d much rather NOT hand cut a billion paper shapes, thank you very much! Snowflakes are professionally die cut, saving you that time of cutting them yourself, and giving you more accurate results too! I have five shapes in 3-4 sizes each and I’ll be adding more shapes as we go along. In fact, I’m finalizing my next additions now, so if you have a shape you’d like to see, I’d love to hear your opinion!
To celebrate my “soft launch” I’ve got a free pattern for this little Spring Basket over on Sew Mama Sew today! It’s a sweet and rather quick little project (as far as EPP goes), but if you just want to dip your pinky toe into English paper piecing, I’ll be posting a variation later today that’s even quicker. I have a starter kit for sale both in my Etsy shop and on FarawayRoad.com that includes the Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes for this project and enough In-R-Form stabilizer for one basket.
For those of you who are curious about EPP but have never tried it, check out my YouTube tutorials here. In the meantime please check out my shop and let me know what shapes you’d like to see Faraway Road produce next!
Thanks for reading!
I’ve been told that I am not posting enough baby pics, so allow me to recap Vivian’s journey in photos…
Above selfie taken this moment as I blog – she’s asleep in her baby pack, 21 pounds strapped to my chest 🙂
I said to myself that I wasn’t going to blog any more progress photos of Vivian’s quilt until it was in the quilting frame… so, finally, here it is 🙂 I pieced this quilt in the little, tiny amounts of time that I can fit in between all this kid-ness around me. One early morning at the end of summer, all the children were sleeping in and I got the quilt into the frame and this little corner quilted. And then it sat, for two months. Lately I’ve been quilting with thick, lustrous perle cotton, but I imagined this quilt was too delicate and sweet to stand up to those heavy threads, so I started out with standard hand quilting thread. After doing this little corner with standard thread and standard background quilting, it seemed so, well, standard. I wasn’t excited to work on it anymore, and that is a sad state to be in. So it sat, while I ruminated on it. I have a plan now to include some perle cotton and a pattern that’s fun to stitch so I will want to work on it again.
The motion of hand quilting is so satisfying. I said to my husband, I always think my quilt tops are pretty before they are quilted, but once I start hand quilting them, they seem to come to life. Can’t wait to get going on this one again!
Today I’m participating in a blog hop for my friend Anna over at Life Sew Crafty. Anna is raising money to help with her Mother-in-law Tina’s medical bills after lengthy cancer treatments. Anna writes that her mother in law has remained cheerful and upbeat through it all, but now that she is cancer-free the looming medical bills are putting a real damper on her spirits. I was especially inspired to help Anna and Tina after reading this, since I know a bit about looming medical bills dragging down what should otherwise be a joyous thing. We chose a home birth for Vivian’s arrival back in April, but after her birth I was transferred to the hospital. So, we paid for both the home birth and a stay in the maternity ward. Our insurance picked up some of the cost, but more than half is coming of our pockets, and sometimes when I think of how grateful I am for her beautiful birth, my mind also drifts to all that we had to lay out to make it happen, and the bills that are still rolling in…. All that is to say that it just sucks to have a dollar amount on a life, so let’s help Tina and her family get over that hurdle.
The block above is going to a quilt that Anna will make and donate to the center where Tina had all her treatments. It’s English Paper Pieced, with 3″ and 1.5″ 60 degree diamonds. Then I hand appliqued the star onto a white background. The block is big; 14.5″, but Anna can trim it down to 12.5″ if that fits better into her quilt.
I’ve also made this little pouch to give away to one reader who contributes to Anna’s cause:
The pink star is made from one of very favorite Liberty of London Tana Lawns. I intended to make the background mostly white, but somehow all those lovely aquas crept in… it was pure enjoyment putting this little guy together!
For a chance to win the pouch,
1. Go to Anna’s fundraiser page and make a donation in any amount, then come back and leave a comment that you have done so.
2. Make a pink block for Anna’s quilt, which will be donated to the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion in Grand Rapids, MI, then leave me a comment that you’ve done so.
3. Publicize this giveaway on the social media platform of your choice, and leave me a comment that you have done so.
If you do more than one of the things above, please leave a separate comment for each action. The comments are your entries to win. This blog hop has been going on for a little while now, so if you’ve already donated (thank you), of course you are welcome to enter this giveaway. I’ll draw the winner on Monday, July 28th.
Please also visit the other folks on the blog hop:
Anna also will be doing a drawing for some really nice prizes for anyone who participates in the above ways, so be sure to check back with her on August 2nd for a chance to win.
ETA: Linking up with Monday Morning Star Count at Life Under Quilts. So excited to have a finished project to share this week!