Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Do You Approach a Quilt?

DFD quilt, WIP
Wrestling to quilt my "Damn Fine Day" queen size quilt in my home studio

I've scraped together some bits of studio time over the past few weeks and have managed to make a lot of progress on my personal projects including getting three quilts near to finished! Two just need binding now and one is ready for hand quilting with my new q-snap frame.

As my list of WIP projects slowly but surely diminishes, I can't help myself but start to dream up more and sketch out quilt ideas that I've had on the back burner. I'm not the type to get through several quilts in a year due to my museum work, teaching, etsy, and grad school (yes, I'm crazy), but I do so like making plans and there is nothing more inspiring than a cleared worktable and fabric that has waited so patiently for its turn in the ring. Whether it's planning, starting, or finishing a quilt, it's an activity that allows me lots of creative freedom while also calming me down and focusing my overly-scheduled self.

Quilting PlansI should invest in some graph paper, but find reusing the back of
scrap paper around the house is so much easier to grab when an idea strikes!

We all have different ways of going about a quilting project and I find many of the different approaches help the quilter focus on whatever part of the process they most enjoy. For me, I can't get enough of playing with different patterns and colors as well as how to best combine my fabric choices with an appropriate piecing and quilting design. I wish I had a big ole design board but the low slanted ceilings in my attic studio won't stand for it (get it?! ok, sorry 'bout that one...). Instead I often reach for paper and colored pencils which allow me to still envision the overall look (but, alas, does limit the ability to improv-piece). I love the drawings all on their own and find it a relaxing activity I can accomplish while catching up on a favorite tv show without being stranded in another room away from my husband in the few hours we have together each day.

I usually start with a person/holiday/purpose that the quilt is destined for and start to play with fabrics that would be a good match. I've been getting more adventurous in my groupings, sometimes sticking to just one fabric designer/line, and sometimes combining lots of different ones for the desired effect. Recently, I've been toying with the low-volume trend and arranging designs of different scales or illustrated vs. pattern to achieve what I'm calling a "sketchbook look." My fabric choices are usually quite bright and bold, but I try to keep my walls and decor very neutral and sparse so textiles can stand out in nice way (as opposed to looking like clown vomit).

Quilting Plans Fabric I've started to set aside for Valentine and Halloween quilts:
Sometimes I let things sit out where I can see them for awhile to see if I like they way they work
together over time, also allowing for the combination of new/unexpected fabric releases

Not every sketch or fabric stack I dream up becomes a quilt, but those that do definitely evolve over time for me and therefore represent a range of memories, decisions, and build on my evolving skill set (every quilt I make seems to make me realize how much more I have to learn!). How about you? What influences the way you approach a quilting project? What is your favorite part of the process and how do you go about putting a quilt together that highlights that part?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Get Your Craft On: Upcoming Class Schedule

 Stitched Valentines
Looking for a fun valentine activity for your kids?
Have them join us in learning how to use simple embroidery stitches to craft paper valentines this February 8th!

I've got a good bunch of classes scheduled that I'll be teaching in the coming weeks at J.P. Knit & Stitch in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. If you (or your kids!) are in the Boston area and looking to learn or brush up on your embroidery or sewing skills, I hope you'll consider joining me!  All registration details can be found by clicking on the links below.

Saturday Kid's Sewing Club: Machine and Hand Sewing
February 1, February 8, February 22, and March 1 (No class on February 15)

Valentine Workshop: Kid's Card Crafting
February 8

1 Day Workshop, Learn to Sew! Crash Course
March 1

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Into the Winter Woods

Into the Winter Woods

 It's a new year and I've got a new embroidery pattern for you! This one is called "Into the Winter Woods" and I hope you enjoy stitching it as much as I enjoyed creating it. Click here to purchase in my etsy shop where you will find more photos and details.

It seems a fitting time to release this one, what with the frigid temps and heavy snowfall across the country right now. We just shoveled ourselves out from a blizzard a few days ago after coming home from visiting my family in the midwest for the holidays and are now bracing ourselves to see if our mercury is going to drop that drastically as well. Sometimes winter can be downright rough, but it also brings with it lots of great sports, vistas, and opportunities for indulging in cozy cabin getaways and festive comfort food....definitely some of my favorite things that I could not easily get away with in warmer months.

Into the Winter Woods, detail

One of the things I'm trying to focus on in my patterns now is the ability for any novice stitcher to do them up very simply with basic outline stitches or for more intermediate to advanced stitchers to have a modern pattern they can really sink their teeth into. It can be hard to do that with a lot of the modern patterns out there, as adorable as they may be of course!, and so I had a lot of fun especially devising these show shoes for you as well as the little poof on the hat. It can be done with a simple french knot but if you are up to it and want to recreate the look I have here, you can try your hand at this "turkey stitch." Check back soon as I will be supplying a live link to my own tutorial for this stitch complete with lots of detailed photos for you.

In the meantime, happy stitching and happy 2014!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holiday Classes at J.P. Knit & Stitch

Mini embroidered felt gingerbread house
Join us and learn how to make this adorable mini felt and embroidery gingerbread house!

I've got a full slate of embroidery classes that I'll be teaching this holiday season at J.P. Knit & Stitch in Jamaica Plain, MA. I've been working on so many fun sample pieces and hope you'll join us for some community and stitching fun! Just click the link below to register, check out project photos, and read more about class content and details:

Wednesday Night Embroidery: Sublime Stitches
November 20, 27; December 4, 11

1 Day Workshop: Embroidery 101
November 24

Embroidered felt Ornaments
The whole family is welcome to join us in early or late December to join in some crafting together.
Pick one of the above ornaments and I'll show you how to embellish and assemble it

Friday Kid's Sewing Club: Felt Gingerbread Houses
December 6, 13, 20

Early December Family Fun: Felt Ornaments
December 7

Late December Family Fun: Felt Ornaments
December 21

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kindred Stitches: Exclusive Embroidery Pattern

Vintage Bowls Hand Embroidery Pattern

The new issue of Kindred Stitches is now available and it features a hand embroidery pattern by yours truly!

Kindred Stitches is a new digital craft magazine available for download exclusively via the iTunes store for the iPad and iPhone. Because it is digital, it includes live links to this PDF pattern (and all the other projects featured therein), video tutorials, and places to shop for materials. I love how interactive and convenient that is. Just download the free Kindred Stitches app in the iTunes store and then choose a subscription or individual issues to purchase and download right to your iPhone or iPad.

Kindred Stitches, Issue Two

I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to this, their second issue, and had a lot of fun drawing the "Vintage Bowls" pattern to coordinate with their "retro vintage" issue theme. It brings to life the retro lines and designs of mid-century kitchenware in a handy printable PDF that you can apply to a simple tea towel or any other embroidery project you have in mind. Also included in the magazine are step-by-step how-to photos for each stitch and a floss color guide so it is beginner and intermediate friendly. Feel free to stitch it up in the same colors I've used or customize it to match your own kitchen or a friends—the choice is up to you!

Vintage Bowls Hand Embroidery Pattern, WIP detail
"Vintage Bowls" hand embroidery pattern WIP

This issue also includes an interview and gallery of my work—I'm flattered to have been asked by the lovely ladies at Kindred Stitches and really hope you all enjoy the magazine and my little contribution!
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