When Pellon asked me if I wanted to play with a new Flex Foam that is **FUSIBLE** I may have wept a little. I mean really, does it get any better than Fusible Flex Foam? I said absolutely yes!
The deets: “Pellon® Flex-Foam™ is a lightweight stabilizer consisting of a layer of foam sandwiched between two layers of soft fabric. It is excellent for use in crafts, accessories, and home décor projects for an elegant finished look. It can be used in place of or in addition to other stabilizers. Flex-Foam is a breeze to sew through and adds shape and body to projects such as computer cases, eyeglass cases, purses, tote bags, cup holders, diaper bags, and more! It is compatible with a wide variety of fabrics. It is available as a sew-in, a 1-sided fusible or a 2-sided fusible. Available 20” on the board and 60” on the roll*. ”
Flex-Foam is a great way to add soft and sturdy support to anything you want to keep it’s shape. And now you can fuse it right to your fabric.
All I could think of was how I could totally eliminate a drop in liner for simple bags and totes. For several nights I couldn’t get the idea of a simple tote made with the 2-sided fusible and bound seams out of my head. Of course, there are a multitude of other uses for the Fusible Flex Foam, but this is the one that instantly piqued my interest. Any small zip bags, basic tote or pouch could fairly easily be made with the Fusible Flex Foam foam and hiding the seams in some binding.
I like the look of quilting on the Flex Foam. I played around a little with some basic tracing of the fabric elements with my hopping foot.
The product sews like a dream. When I was sewing straight stitches, I used my walking foot and used Clover Wonder Clips to hold it all in place instead of pins. Again, with my walking foot it sews beautifully. I like the texture created by sewing on the foam. Since it is fused to the fabric, you certainly don’t need to quilt it, I just liked the look of a patchwork tote. I used a simple shape with curved bottom. The Flex Foam gives great structure to the tote without being hard. You can squish the tote up and it will bounce back into shape.
I love the way my tote turned out. It is simple and yet yummy.
The best part is the lining is perfectly snug against all the sides without any sagging or pulling. And while we are at it, no saggy bottom either! I hate a saggy bottom.
Be sure to check out the other awesome stops on the blog tour! Thanks Pellon for letting me play with more of your awesome products.
I love taking classes from other quilters. I don’t care if it is my “style” they are teaching. I can always learn something new. I honestly think that I get so much more out of the experience of making, when I can make with other makers. In the flesh I feel so connected to something more than just playing with fabric. I also think just watching how other makers make, I always pick up something new.
So fabric designer, artist, quilter, dress maker, person extraordinaire Lizzy House came to our DC area to teach her workshop only Meadow Quilt. It was pretty popular in our area, actually. It quickly grew into 5 or 6 days of workshops as well as a DCMQG sponsored lecture one evening. My friend Pam of Del Ray Fabrics hosted two of the workshops at Fibre Space. Natalie of Finch had two days as well as some of the ladies from our guild had another workshop in Virginia. I can’t remember the name of the location.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the lecture. I really wanted to hear Lizzy’s lecture. I wanted to know more about her story and how she got where she is. I heard it was great though. Not that I’m surprised at all.
Our location was just as adorable as could be. The shop inside was very clean and organized, but still comfy. If only I was a knitter. I would likely visit more often.
I was half an hour late. It was crazy! I had given myself an extra half an hour to get there on time. But DC area traffic being what it is, it took me an hour longer than I expected. (Read two and a half hours for something that should have been one and a half.) As I was driving in, I was contemplating just turning around. For raising a family, we live in a nice rural area. But for getting together with other makers, it just seems so far. A comparison of driving in the LA area and the DC area is likely a good one. It was a nightmare. I’m glad I decided to press on.
By the time I got there, I was embarrassed for being late, and a bit flustered by the drive. Luckily for me, my friend Melinda Quirky Granola Girl had saved me a space. I missed introductions from everyone and particularly Lizzy.
Lizzy was sweet and very knowledgeable! She knows this quilt inside and out. She sat down and actually stitched up the block on a close sewing machine. She was so down to earth and fun.
She makes her clothes too! I don’t know about you, but that is absolutely bonus points in my book. I’m impressed with people that know more than just quilting.
She paused for lots of pictures of each step. Waiting for each person to fully understand each step.
Here she was squaring up my block.
She also previewed her new line. I am so in love with the peachy/orange colors.
When we were done with our sample blocks, she even signed our blocks if we asked her to.
I am so glad I was able to make it to her workshop. She doesn’t sell the pattern, you have to take the workshop to learn how to make it. She finishes up the Meadow Quilt Classes this year I believe.
If you still have openings for this workshop near you, I highly recommend it.
Fast forward to this summer. I was contacted by Henry Glass again and asked if I wanted to participate in a blog hop. Sure. Of course. I am always game to play with fabric.
I present to you my Cascading Star mini quilt. Isn’t she lovely?
They sent me a bundle of Fusion Illusion fabrics from Blank Quilting Corp. (Part of the Jaftex family.) I got to use the bundle and some white textured fabric they sent, to make something for the blog hop. When the fabrics arrived, I knew exactly what I was going to make. This fabric is bright and bold and in a fairly good rainbow variety of colors.
It hangs on my family room wall and I spend a fair amount of time looking at it. When I looked at these interlocking star shapes, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would look like with the legs forming some kind of chain of cascading stars. The interlocking long legs would create a ribbon of stars that meander over a space.
I wanted to keep all the legs of each individual star in the same color so I flipped over alternating legs to use the backside of the fabric to create some dimension. I think it is very subtle but effective in creating distance and dimension. (The leg on the right is the wrong side of the fabric.)
I flipped over some of the background pieces as well, to give a subtle dimension. Then I laid out my stars into individual stars.
I wanted the legs of each star to be varied and wonky, some of the tips missing even. That is a big one for me. I normally like order and perfect points. Since I was playing, I wanted to throw caution to the wind and just explore the shapes.
I had made a mock up of how I wanted the mini to look and specifically which leg needed to be long and touching the next star. I referred to my diagram as I made each star. The colors on the diagram were purposefully done so I could tell which leg was to be with the wrong side of the fabric facing up. Each touching leg is a darker color…right side facing up.
With all the white in the background, I really took time to think about how I wanted to bind this. I didn’t want a bright color to interfere with the edge of the mini.
I figured this was the perfect time to try a faced binding. I love how it turned out.
The faced binding is hand stitched to the back so there are no lines from the front!
I love it and am so glad for the chance to participate in the blog hop celebrating Jaftex.
Now for the fun stuff. Please check out the other blogs for the rest of the month for your chance for some great prizes. Also, if you want to win a bundle of the same fabrics I used, please leave a comment on this blog post. I’m going to put the entries all in a hat and choose one winner October 1st.
Have you heard? We are celebrating the 85th anniversary of Jaftex with a blog hop. I’m stop #3. Jaftex is the parent company of Henry Glass, Studioe Fabrics and Blank Quilting.
My friend Linda Lum DeBono asked me if I wanted to play along and of course I said YES!
They gathered 30 of us to play along. During the month of September you get to see lots of great inspiration and have the opportunity to win some lovely prizes. Stop by and check out the other lovlies this month.
This summer, I went to Utah to visit my grandmother who is turning 90 in October, as well as my baby sister who just had a baby.
I haven’t kept most of the things I’ve made. Once I’m done making anything, I’m ready for my next adventure. I’ve actually given many of the items I’ve made to my grandma. She is probably the person I love most on this Earth. She is who Disney would create if they were creating the perfect grandma. Of course, when I send her something I’ve made, it is my way of expressing love.
My grandma has created every kind of thing you could imagine. She is an incredible painter. She taught me how to sew and make quilts. When I was very young, I also took tole painting with her and my older sister. Grandma is quite the distinguished artist in her own right. I don’t think there is anything she hasn’t made and made well.
While I was visiting her, I looked to find some of the things I’ve made for her, just to visit them. One of the oldest things I’ve made was a cigar box purse with my now 13 year old son’s picture on it. I had taken the picture and then changed it in Photoshop to look like a drawing. It stares at you when you walk into her house! I also specifically wanted to see a yellow Hopscotch quilt I made her as well as a Hexi Window table runner.
I was surprised and delighted with the craftsmanship on the pieces I’d made. Some of them were superb. Some of them, not so much. Let’s talk about the yellow quilt I made. It was pieced extremely well. My points were pretty much spot on. But the quilting. Oh! The quilting! I hadn’t remembered the quilting being so crappy. I checked out a few other pieces I made and in them, was able to see my growth. I’m not even kidding. It was like a report card in a way. I could see the piecing was always pretty good. The quilting started out pretty bad and ended up being pretty good. I could see my own personal evolution and growth in the quilting. My husband wasn’t too pleased to hear me judging and critiquing my own work. But I was delighted to see right in my hands, my growth.
It came right at a time when I was working on another project. I made a table runner for an upcoming blog hop. I had something on my midarm machine already. I had to quilt it up on my domestic sewing machine. I realized how it is easier to quilt on my midarm machine than on my domestic. Oh my! It was nothing like my midarm. I had been spoiled by having my midarm and comparing the quilting from my domestic to my midarm was not pretty at all.
And then I remembered that I was doing the best I could. Every time I make something, it is the best I can at that moment. I can’t compare myself to myself from years ago. I was doing the best I could at the time. Each time I make anything, I get a little better. It takes hours of making to grow.
I realize also, that when I look at other people’s work, they are doing the best they can. Sometimes I get a little crush on the way they can make something look so effortless. I know that quilting is something that takes hours and hours to become better. The more free motion quilting I do, the more I understand how talented other longarmers are. It is hard. It takes practice. Lots of practice. I know that I’ve gotten better over time. And I also can appreciate other people’s work more now. I can’t compare myself to myself. I also can’t compare myself to someone else.
I love to look at Tia Curtis’ gorgeous quilting. I’ve followed her for years online. She has quilted for years on longarms. She has years more experience than I do. And I’m not saying this in a way that I feel like I’m not good. I’m able to appreciate her work and how many hours she has spent perfecting her craft. I am perfecting mine in my own way and in my own time. And I’m thankful for the crappy quilting on my yellow quilt. I remember at the time being proud of it. I’m still proud of it. I was doing the best I could at the time.
My quilt guild, the DC Modern Quilt Guild hosted a workshop and lecture with Denyse Schmidt a few weekends ago. There were only something like 20 spots open for the workshop. If you live under a rock and don’t know, Denyse is the queen of all things Improv. She is also a big reason Modern Quilting came to be. I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t want to be labeled with that though, but it is arguably the truth.
I am a girl that likes to make things with symmetry and repetition. I’m not really one to dive into wonky. I’ve decided I like order because #1 it is about the only place in my life I can guarantee order…when I make something. #2 When I worked, I worked with numbers and accounting. Everything followed a rule and the rules were followed. I think the number cruncher in me likes repetition and order. #3 When I make something, I want my time spent to be time worth spending.
I wanted to take the workshop to open up. I’m always open to learning something or trying something new. Denyse would give you some instructions and then you would go back to your space and make whatever she told you to make. Then you would put your finished piece on your wall next to you. As the day progressed, you started seeing little bits of magic happening on people’s walls.
After we were done for the day, she took the time to look at each person’s design wall and we all had a chat about what they made. Each person would talk a little about what they did and why. She would give suggestions and we all got to peek into each person’s mind a little and learn about their creative process. I really liked this part. I think you can always learn something from everyone. I like that Denyse looks at each creation with an artist’s eye. I’m going to say something and then I’m going to duck. I think sometimes Improv is an excuse for people to mash things together when they don’t really know what they are doing. Whew! I’ve wanted to say that for a long time. I love that Denyse had us start with an actual block, with an actual pattern. Then we each sat down and tried to deconstruct it or change it and see what the outcome was. Sometimes what was made worked. Sometimes it did not. But always it was about the process.
When I set to changing up my block, I decided to go all in. I started with gentle curves. It really shrunk the size of the block to the point where I need to add a strip of fabric to make it work now. Ok.
Then I had the idea to make a triangle in the triangle. Denyse said it reminded her of cat ears. After the cat ears, I did an entire triangle in the triangle. I guess it is like a log cabin in the way you start from the center and sew each piece on in a round.
The end result I really liked! I think my last blocks were the most different from everyone elses. BUT I really dig them. And that makes me happy. They are the far right rows mostly.
Something I really enjoyed about her teaching was when she told us to really enjoy the time you spend making. Be present in the process. Sometimes I think I’m just trying to get something accomplished that I may not get as much joy out of the process as I could. I really took that in and I believe I was really present while I was making these. I really enjoyed trying new things.
She had a drawing to win a bundle of her not yet released line New Bedford tied with the most adorable vintage button from her personal collection. Guess who won? ME! I know there were other friends of mine there that were bigger fans of Denyse. But I promise you these lovely fabrics are not lost on me. I do love her fabrics. I find that I buy the same ones over and over. Then a new line comes out and I have the same handful of patterns that I buy over and over again. I have quite the collection of her fabric in my stash. Just never an entire collection of hers. I have great plans for this bundle! My expression is one of embarrassment and awkwardness for asking her to pose with me for a picture. While I do admire her and think she is awesome, I felt a bit like a crazed fangirl. A happy fangirl though.
There was a lecture after the workshop. It was cool to learn more about where she came from and what her path has been like so far. After learning about her more, I have a different plan in store for this bundle than I had before. I can’t wait to get a few more “have to do” projects off my plate before I can dive into these fabrics. I am going to be absolutely present in the making, I can promise you that.
My sweet friend Diane of Crafty Pod has done it again. She has written another great book All Points Patchwork. It needs to reside with all your other much loved reference books for creating. I’m serious. It is a fantastic book on Technique for EPP (English Paper Piecing).
I jumped at the chance to be in her blog hop promoting her new book for two reasons.
#1 I adore Diane. I have followed her for years and she has been so kind and encouraging to me the entire time. I’ve also followed her mom for years. My sister and her mom used to be pen pals until my sister’s life became crazy busy. Someday I’ll get to meet Diane in real life. In the meanwhile, I’ll admire her online.
#2 I knew her book would be awesome. I hadn’t seen it but I knew that true to Diane standards, it would be awesome. She is a fantastic teacher. She writes in a way that you feel like you are great friends, and she makes whatever she is teaching seem doable.
When I got to peek into the book I discovered that it was a bit different than many of the books out there. It is very much technique and idea driven. All these little nuggets of information I wish I learned when I started EPPing and had to figure out by trial and error. Many nuggets of information I never knew. A great resource for EPP technique!
So let’s talk about the blog hop. This week she asked us if we would use hexagons and fussy cutting. I love that she let us just go with whatever we wanted to, inside of those two words.
Maybe we should back up a little. What is “Fussy Cutting” anyway? I did a little internet search to see if there was anything saying were the term fussy cutting came from. I’m sure there is a fantastic story, but it was something I could not find. Basically, it is choosing a motif or part of the printed fabric to be in a specific place in your creating. Fussy cutting isn’t only something quilters use, but paper crafters often fussy cut too.
I see two different kinds of fussy cutting being used. The first kind of fussy cut is to cut out a novelty print or motif and position it in your patchwork in a specific way. If you were to make a pillow from a large print, you would carefully center the chosen design motif and cut to size. If you are using your sewing machine to piece a quilt, you may choose to fussy cut a bird from a print pattern and place it in the center of each block.
The second kind of fussy cutting I see is where a repeat in a pattern is used it to create other effects inside the patchwork, such as Willyne Hammerstein, author of Millefiori Quilts. For this kind of fussy cutting, you would inspect the fabric and locate repeats, color gradations, interesting parts of the pattern that cut up and put back together in a kaleidoscoping way. A great example of this is the lovely La Passacaglia Quilt you may see popping up in many photostreams particularly on Instagram. The piece on the front of Diane’s book uses fussy cut fabrics that creates the contrasting dark design in the center of the star.
I played with the latter kind of fussy cutting, but quickly decided I wanted to spend more time delving into creating more interesting repeats than I had time for. I found the kaleidescoping fussy cutting to be extremely fun and it kind of sucked me in. I will come back to this another time. (Read: I fell in love)
For either of these techniques, I suggest starching your fabric well before you start. I love to have a nice crisp hand to my fabric for EPP. Once my paper basted fabric is hand stitched together, I always press it again and I find that having it starched well before I started, I end up with a nicely finished piece.
I ended up using the first kind of fussy cutting for my project I’m sharing today. I was delighted for an excuse to use a new Layer Cake from Riley Blake designer Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches. She has recently released another adorable line called Saltwater. It features these adorable mermaids with flowing hair and seahorses and even Narwhals. I mean. I can’t even stand it’s adorableness.
I knew I wanted the goddesses of the sea to be featured. I wanted to center them on my hexagons. There are several ways to go about fussy cutting. I chose this way because I wasn’t interested in matching up an exact repeat and because the fabric I had was in 10” squares. The size of the fabric made it easy for me to tape it to my sliding glass doors and choose an image to fussy cut. With the light shining through the door, I was able to see the mermaids through my punched out hexagon papers.
I taped my fabric squares with the right side facing towards the glass and the wrong side facing me. I used my glue stick and applied some glue to the back of my paper hexagon. Looked through the paper and fabric and lined them up the way I wanted them to be and stuck the hexagon to the fabric. When I placed the next hexagon, I made sure there was enough fabric around the edges of my hexagon for a seam allowance. I like to have at least a 1/4” seam allowance for EPP. The final product isn’t going to be a quilt or something that gets washed often. Because of that, I wasn’t terribly worried about the grain of the fabric. Had this been for a quilt, I would have been more careful to use the grain to help me line the hexagons up.
I carefully took the fabric off the glass and trimmed the seam allowances around each hexagon. I used both thread basting and glue basting to baste the papers to the fabric. I do prefer thread basting, but glue basting is just so much faster. I think with thread basting, I get the corners of my paper shapes more precisely basted which means the sewing together of the paper pieced fabrics is more precise IMO. My tip for glue basting is to make sure when you are gluing the seam allowance to the papers, leave the very edge of the paper without glue. In other words, glue about 1/8” from each edge. I find that the glue basted pieces have a little less give or play where I want them to (the length of the sides) and not enough precision at the points where I want them to be precise.
Anyway, I put together a few rows of hexagons in a scrappy layout.
I decided to applique this piece onto some medium weight denim for a casual zipper pouch. I have some pouches that I use all the time. This one I made using the scrappy piece as a guide for the size.
I added a pocket and a place for needles inside the lining. I also added a little handle on the side to make it easy to carry around.
I think this size is so useful and I can see having many of them around for different projects. I typically keep one of these pouches handy for my EPP and hand stitching. Why yes, I am using a fussy cut hexagon pouch to home my other EPP projects in. Those mermaids and narwhals make me so happy! Is the plural of Narwhal “Narwals” or just “Narwhal”? Either way, they are stinking adorable!
Thanks for visiting my blog for this blog hop. Check out the other great bloggers for their day on the hop. Be sure to check out Diane’s new book All Points Patchwork. You won’t be disappointed.
Diane has also put together a giveaway of Black Gold hand sewing needles and Quilt Needle Threader from Clover. You can enter by Rafflecopter below. International entries are welcome and the giveaway closes on June 7nd. a Rafflecopter giveaway
I admit it. I am so excited about all the cool swaps happening on IG (Instagram) right now. I want to join Every. Single. One.
My friend Emily at Mommysnaptime.blogspot.com has even made a hash tag to keep you posted about all the cool swaps happening on IG #sewingandswapping. I check it all the time.
Seriously! I want in on the Harry Potter Swap, Downton Abbey Swap, Nerds Craft it Better (perfect for me), Valentine’s Day Pincushion Swap…oh why list them. I want to be in all of them. I want to have a stitched image of Nathan Fillion on a pillowcase so I can lay my head on top of him every night. I want any and everything Downton Abbey.
There are people like Kari from http://www.karriofberries.com/ who have written entire series on how to have a successful swap and even how not to be black listed from swaps.
SWAP, swap, SWAP!
I love watching what everyone is making for their swaps. I love their inspiration boards and often hunt down the original source to check out what other things the people make. I get great new ideas for things I want to make in the future with all the eye candy involved. I get excited to see who is making what and wondering if it is for me.
I instantly start singing the song from Echosmith “Cool Kids”. I want to be a cool kid! I want people to think I am awesome and want to be partnered with me. I want people to be excited with something I’ve made and hope it is being made for them. I want to meet new people in the process.
I’m the happiest when my swap partner spells out exactly what they want. When they are so detailed, I know what color underwear they wear. Ok, maybe that is a little much. The more detailed they are, the happier I am.
It is just so exciting!
The reality for me is I become a little obsessed. I worry that what I’m making isn’t the perfect thing. I put it aside for a little while while I stew over it not being perfect or a perfect fit. In the end I fall in love with the item and even hate to give it away. Then when I receive my swap, I feel bad when they send too many awesome things. I feel like I’ve ripped off the partner I swapped to. I wonder if I’ve thanked my partner appropriately. Did you see how awesome my last received swap was? It is gorgeous! And yet, somehow I feel guilty about something, or I’m sad it is over, or something.
Oh, the rollercoaster! For me it is a rollercoaster. And at the end, it is like a drug and the drug has worn off. I have my gorgeous item. It is time to sign up for another round of swaps to keep that excitement going. Hoping along the way that other people will be excited about what I’m making. Worrying about whether or not my partner is going to love what I’ve made for them based on a usually vague “Oh make anything, I’ll love it no matter what.”
Wow! Apparently I have a lot of opinions about swaps. Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that it is ok not to join every single swap. Don’t get me wrong. Swaps are fun. They are a great way to get to know people. I still follow the first person I swapped with on IG. I’m glad we are friends now. I’m not saying swaps are a bad thing.
I love that swaps take me out of my comfort zone. I play with colors I wouldn’t have before. I play with designs I’ve not been drawn to. I push myself to make something as awesome as I can make it. That is exciting.
I wonder if I should be really thinking about exactly what I want, and making it for myself. Maybe that sounds selfish. Sometimes at the end of a swap, I’m left with another thing, lovely though it may be. I have lots of stuff. I wonder if I should make specific things for me that I need. I need some sort of organizer at my sewing table. I need more organization at my cutting board/pressing station. I really need better totes for going to sewing days with my quilt guild. I need a new purse of some sort. I need more organization for my hand sewing. There are things I need that I could easily make myself. I NEED some clothes. I have a few patterns from Kitschycoo that I’ve never taken the time to make. And then there are things that I want that I know I could make. I could make my own Nathan Fillion pillow. I could make it exactly the way I want it, with the softest fabric so I could rub my face on his face every night. I’m talking specifically about Nathan Fillion from Firefly. I gotta get some of that.
Why are my wants and needs put at the bottom of the pile? I don’t have an infinite amount of time where I can just sew for other people all day long. How do my wants and needs get pushed aside for wanting to impress someone else?
When I make something for a swap, I often spend more money on the supplies than I do when I make something for myself. Why not make something for myself with the most beautiful fabric ever?
Maybe I should make up my own widget for an anti swap? I should come up with a cute and catchy name for no swapping. Let’s call it the Happiness Swap. Or how about The reason I sew in the First Place Swap? Sew for Yourself Because you are Awesome! Sew for yourself because you have needs. Sew for yourself because you know exactly what it is that makes your heart pit a pat. I challenge you all to a self swap. Dig down into your own Pinterest boards and find something that makes your heart pit a pat. Find the most beautiful fabric ever, no matter the price. Source the best supplies, even if it is a $20 polka dot zipper from Japan. If it is what is going to elevate your piece to the highest level, why are you not worthy of it? Push yourself to make something out of your norm, that you’ve always wanted to try, but never took the time? Make something purely for your own pleasure, for your needs and even wants. Why is this considered selfish sewing? Why are we not good enough reasons to make something? I think it should be called “Happiness Sewing”. There is nothing selfish about taking care of yourself. It isn’t a luxury to take care of your self. Don’t we all sew because to at least some degree, we enjoy it? Why can’t we mix in sewing for ourselves with all the swaps for other people?
So there is my opinion. There is my challenge. Anti swap with yourself. Make sure you take time for Happiness Sewing or Self Care Sewing too.
I saw a saying on Pinterest that said “Do what you love.” I decided to make up my own that said “Sew what you love.”
I think this is still exciting! And no roller coaster! The process is still the same. Create an inspiration board. Share fabric pulls if you are not exactly sure of the pull completely, or just to share what you will be working with. Share the process of your make, from initial design to completion. In the end, you won’t have to be sad when you send something lovely away. YOU GET TO KEEP IT! In the end, you remember what it is it that you love about sewing. In the end you have still challenged yourself. In the end you have maybe still shared inspiration or eye candy with your friends. In the end, you are important too!
I need to fill you in on the last little bit of 2014. First we have to go back in time about 12 years. I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself in the process.
When my oldest son was born, I was unable to get him to nurse. It happened to be right at the time of my 10 year high school reunion. I visited with a friend and mentioned I was having a very stressful and difficult time getting him to nurse. I was frustrated and about to throw in the towel in utter defeat. My friend mentioned an online group of women that pumped their milk. She suggested I check that out and see if they could help me. So I did. And I pumped exclusively for 8 1/2 months for him. It turns out, it wasn’t his fault. It was mine. My body just wasn’t a good fit for nursing. It was a good fit for pumping. Although, I hated pumping.
Ok, so imagine you are a new mom struggling. You find an online group that offers hope and help. And you stay connected to these women over the next 12 years. That is what I’m talking about. At one point, most of us moms were no longer pumping and our kids were getting older. We formed an offshoot group and continued to share our lives and what we were going through at that point in our lives. We mostly knew each other just online since we were all over the US and even in some other countries. There have been several meet ups with people in similar areas. These women are my go-tos for everything motherhood. Something about an old online group that can connect you in a way that an in real life group cannot. It is easier to talk about everything real online, for some reason.
As a group we have had parents pass away. We have had divorces and we have had lots and lots of babies born over the span of 12 years. What we had not experienced yet, was one of us dying. Ugh! That is until this summer.
Our friend had a quick and fatal cancer take over. In what seemed like a month’s time, she was gone. Thinking back, it may have been two months from diagnosis to passing away. Whatever the exact timeline, it was fast.
Of course, when I first found out about her having cancer and being sick, I thought how crappy that was. I figured I could make a lap quilt to help her through her treatments, and it would be something she could keep for, you know, ever. But I had no idea that it would be so quick and she would be gone. And I kind of didn’t know how to deal with the sadness I was feeling. There was a week that I realized it was going to be it soon. The end. One of our mutual friends had actually been best friends with this lady since they were 13. And their daughters were now 13 and close friends too. So our mutual friend had posted about holding our friend’s hand for possibly the last time. Ugh. I still can’t think clearly about it now.
What does a quilter think of at any time? Making something. I’ll make something and everything will be better. I can’t make her coming back to us. I can, however, make something for her two girls as a reminder of her mom and how this group of ladies loved her. So I rallied the troops and together we had a plan. The mama’s that could, would send me some fabric that somehow represented something about them or their relationship with our friend. I would put all these fabrics together for the girls.
I got all kinds of patterned fabric for this. Which is great. But sort of not. As I am understanding my style, I struggle with scrappy. It is growing on me. But I have something in me that wants quilts to match and have a nice symmetric flow. All these fabrics together do not go and do not have any kind of flow. I figured I would make them into a neighborhood of houses. As a group, we are a community. And I wanted the girls to know they are also part of our neighborhood or community.
Each time I would get the fabric out to sew, I would get sad and had to put it away. It took me almost 6 months to finish these two quilts. With Christmas fast approaching, I was determined to finish them up and send them off in time for Christmas. It was silly that it took me so long. Coupled with the extreme sadness, I felt self imposed pressure to make them perfect. But this was colliding with my idea of what makes an aesthetically pleasing quilt. I didn’t want to let down the ladies in my group with a set of boring quilts. It is also strange because I never met our friend in real life. I didn’t want to seem like I thought we were best friends in the whole world, when in reality we were just online friends. And that just made me feel weird. In the end, I just pressed forward. It wasn’t about making the most beautiful quilts. It was about making as a way to heal my pain of loss. It was about honoring the girls’ mother, and our friendship with her.
I don’t know if it is still a thing or not, but in our online group, when you wanted to express a hug, you would put the person’s name in parenthesis. So I put the names of the girls in parenthesis to show that they were getting a big hug from our group. I self drafted the letters and pieced them as opposed to applique. I’m pleased with how they came out. (And it also made me respect paper piecing designers even more. That is a lotta quilt maths/figuring out.)
Anyway, that is the story about these quilts. They were the quilts that took me the longest to make. There were more tears involved in this than anything I’ve ever done before. And there was more trepidation in making them than anything I’ve probably made before.
I was lucky enough to get to play along with Sew Mama Sew’s latest Oakshott Challenge. They sent me a lovely bundle of fat eighths in blues and purples. I had to come up with a table linen for the challenge. I decided to make up a placemat with some EPP (English Paper Piecing). I had fun with my tote for a challenge in April using Oakshott. I really enjoy playing with these fabrics!
Ooh, these fabrics are so spectacular. I talked about them a little bit in my tote post. The warp and weft are different colored threads that together have a wonderful way to play with the light. As in my last challenge piece, I decided simple was the best way to go with these fabrics. I wanted to use a slight turning of the pieces to show off the shimmering effect of the fabrics, and chose diamond shapes for the pattern.
Here is the how to if you want to make your own:
Oakshott fat eighth bundle
Scraps of linen to make a 14” X 18” piece. (I started bigger and trimmed down to size)
1 1/2” EPP 6 point 60 degree diamond papers I get mine from PaperPieces.com you will need 30 to make this one applique.
And of course your regular sewing supplies for cutting and hand stitching.
Let’s get started.
First I marked one side of my paper pieces so I knew which fabrics they were supposed to be used for.
You will need 6 diamonds for the inside star, I’m calling this my dark. You will need 6 diamonds for the row around the dark center star. I’m calling this my lightest fabric. For the outer hexagon shape, you will need 12 diamonds. I’m calling this my medium. And the accent diamonds on the outer hexagon, I’m calling my darkest. You will need 6 diamonds for the darkest.
Just make sure you mark your pieces so you understand what is going where.
With Oakshott fabric, the texture and weave is slightly different than other quilting cotton. Because of the weave, and because it is going to be EPPd, I starched my fabric first. Starch it well now and you will shrink the fabric a bit. It will also help to hold it’s shape as you are piecing now and when you need to take the papers out too.
Now you are ready to cut out the fabric. Because of the play on the light I wanted to achieve, it is important to make sure you are cutting all your similar colored pieces in exactly the same direction, with the grain of the fabric. Hopefully, you can see the little lines running through the fabric and can line up the tips of the points with that. Since the weave is a little different, I find that I like my seam allowances larger than a 1/4”. I like it somewhere around 1/2”. This helps keep the folds and keeps the fabric from unraveling. Place your paper on the wrong side of the fabric and cut about 1/2” around all the sides.
I start on one of my sides by finger pressing the side of the fabric down upon the paper piece.
I put a knot in an accent colored thread so I can see it easier when I remove it. Put the knot along the fold and in the seam allowance. Fold the next side down and finger press.
Finish making a stitch with the folded side. Make sure that your stitch is not going through the paper. You are basically doing a large basting stitch at each corner of the diamond, just to hold the shape of the diamond so that you can sew your diamond shapes together.
Continue taking stitches around and folding down each side.
When you get to the last point, make sure to fold the last side under the first side. Whatever you do, do it the same way for all the pieces so that when you assemble the diamonds together, you will have nesting. Each corner has the new side fabric folding over the previous side. I do not tuck in my pointy tips. Instead I leave a tail. I do not put another knot in the last stitch. I just run one more basting stitch to keep it in place.
After all your fabric is basted onto the papers, press each piece well. The starch you used before you started will help now to hold the folds well.
I used my favorite way to stitch EPP together as noted in this previous post. Remember that the pointy ends of the diamonds have tails. You just fold the tail out of the way while you are stitching the shapes together. Also, when your shape is starting to get bigger, you are going to have to fold some of the pieces, including the paper inside them to get the next piece together.
When putting EPP pieces that aren’t hexagon shapes together, I find that it works best for me to put them together in parts and not just the next piece. This way, my pieces come together much nicer than if I were to put them together in a row, one after the next. I also really like to use Clover clips to hold my pieces together while I sew. My fingers are less sore after I’m done sewing.
For this star, I decided to make the inside star into hexagon shapes first, using the lightest diamonds to keep them together.
I put together the outside hexagon with the diamond detail by putting three diamonds together. As I stitched my diamond pieces together, I made sure that my points matched as I stitched and eased any difference throughout the seam.
I stitched the hexagon shapes together and then added the remaining light diamonds to complete this shape.
Then added the outside hexagon with diamond detail shapes. This time I matched the center points together and worked out on each side.
Once you are done sewing all the pieces together, press well. I like to press from the back and make sure that my intersections have the tails all nestling in a circle.
The starch from when you first started will help hold this all together nicely.
Take out the basting stitches and papers. I like to do this in the evenings while watching TV with my hubby. Having used a thread that doesn’t match makes it easier to cut the threads and pull them out. Press again after all the papers are out.
Now you are ready to baste your piece to your placemat fabric. I had this lovely earthy linen that I thought played nicely with the Oakshott fabric.
Layer your placemat fabric and your batting, with your applique piece on top. My piece was large, so I folded it around some batting to make my quilt sandwich. I also used spray baste because it is perfect for something this small.
I opted not to first applique the star to the top layer of the fabric. Instead, I let the spray baste hold it in place and I used my walking foot to quilt around the shape at the same time as I stitched the applique to the placemat. Remember that you need to tuck in the tails on the outside edges now. I used a long pin to fold the tails inside and pinned them down before stitching the outside edge. I used a thicker weight thread for the quilting. I echoed the shape a little outside the applique. I went back and stitched a little around some of the inside shapes too. I think the quilting helps move the fabric around making the light play even more noticeable.
At this point I trimmed my placemat to 13 1/2” by 17”. It was a fairly random size based on the size of the applique, and the size of my table and plates.
Quilt your sandwich and bind. I used the remnants of the center diamond for my binding. I cut my binding to 2” wide.
I hope you love this as much as I do. You really have to try Oakshott fabric and see how it dances in the light for yourself. That center star is all cut from the same color fabric. The way it was cut on the same grain and then reassembled in a star moves the warp and weft in a way that really plays on the light effect of this gorgeous fabric.
And as always, if you make one of these placemats, I would love to see a picture of it!
Thanks Sew Mama Sew for letting me play again!
Check out the other bloggers and see what treasures they made with their challenge fabric.
AND, this part is exciting, check into Sew Mama Sew all next week for your chance to win a pack of this fabric for your very own. I promise you, if you win it, you will want to roll around naked with it. Ok, maybe not completely naked. But you will be a forever lover of Oakshott if you get these in your own little hands.