Bee Adventurous – Round 2

Bee Adventurous Round 1

Remember when I told you about Bee Adventurous, the new round robin-style quilting bee I’m in? Well, the work I showed you then was Round 1, when we all made our own pieces to pass on.

Round 2 was just a touch trickier. Who knew adding something to someone’s beautiful handmade work was going to be so damn difficult??! Ok, so maybe I should’ve seen that coming.

Bee Adventurous Round 1

I knew that my contribution to Rebecca’s (@greenandbell on IG, a friend whose work I admire more than I can say) quilt was going to include low volume flying geese – I could see that almost immediately. Her segment was made of intricate, colorful squares, and my gut said it wanted angles and couldn’t have anything too colorful next to her section or it would drown it out. I sewed a bunch of low volume, low contrast flying geese and was crazy about them. And then got stuck.

I originally placed a couple of stars between the geese and it was pretty, but it had no cohesion with Rebecca’s piece. I also went back to the original assignment, as it were, and looked at Rebecca’s Pinterest inspiration board for her project. I decided the stars were stepping too far away from her style. Working your style into someone else’s isn’t easy – it’s a balance, taking care not to simply mimic their style, instead finding a way to blend the two seamlessly.

Bee Adventurous Round 1

It took me a few days of sweat and tears, but I decided to replace the stars with five circles, English Paper Pieced in quarters, in color blocks. The color and shot cottons I used would tie into Rebecca’s work without competing with it. I had also previously felt that in order to be truly representative of me, there really should be some hand-stitching involved in my contribution, so landing on an EPP solution put out a couple of fires with one cup of water. As soon as I imagined the circles in place, I knew it was the right choice and I got stitching.

Bee Adventurous Round 1

I’m really happy with what I made for Rebecca, and I hope she is too! It’s a little bit me, a little bit her. And it made me step outside the box and see my sewing a little differently which, for me, was the whole point of this bee!

Bee Adventurous Round 1

(Rebecca’s work up top, mine below it. This photo was kindly provided by the bee member now in possession of this project, Ruth (@birchandbirdsong on IG), because my turn with it was plagued by dark and rainy days. Other than this photo, pardon the unpolished WIP-nature of the shots in this post. This is what it really looks like as I work. :) )

Next up, Clare’s project, which you can see the start of on her blog. It’s been added to by Rebecca since then, and I’m totally unsure about this one. We’re already a month into this round and I only really have an inkling of an idea of how to proceed! So yeah, wish me luck, eh?

Inch by Inch Stitchalong

So, a little while ago, we at the embroidery blog &Stitches made the decision to put an end to the blog (though the archives are still there for browsing!). I’m so happy I got to make those friends, they’re an amazing group of stitchy peeps. And although ending the site is sad, it’s great that we’re all a little too busy now to keep up with everything, you know?

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But. We had this fun stitch-along idea and we didn’t want to abandon it, so as a group of stitchy-minded pals, we’ve adapted it to a blog hop format. The idea is to creatively stitch just one square inch, inspired by prompts that we’re sharing every couple of weeks. Check out the schedule (and download a template) here, and join in for as much or as little as you like!

Carina shared the first prompt, which you can see me working above, so head backwards to her blog and catch that one there. For my turn, I want you to:

Stitch five lines.

That’s it. Just five lines. Could be parallel, could be intersecting. Could make a shape, could be in five different colors or stitches, could leave negative space in the square or fill it all up. Go wild and use your imagination! Here’s my five lines:

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Backstitch and stem stitch, and I seem to be going for a bit of an 80s-neon vibe with my sampler. Very Debbie Gibson, “Electric Youth”. My thread palette is this one from Sublime Stitching, which was shared with me by Carina, a million years ago, and has just been waiting for the right project. Such sugary goodness in those colors!

If you’re stitching along, use the tag #andstitchesalong on Twitter and IG to share your project, and get your next prompt from Nicole on April 4th!

Make Modern – When The Stars Go Blue Wall Hanging

So, this crazy thing happened last week, dudes. A new issue of the digital quilting magazine Make Modern came out … and MY PROJECT IS ON THE COVER. #holycrap!

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Make Modern is a really fun magazine, always full of lovely, bright, modern projects. In this project for Issue 10, I combined fairly simple EPP with a touch of basic embroidery to create a project that really wows. My wall hanging is called “When The Stars Go Blue” (after this beautiful Ryan Adams’ song) and is inspired by the moment when the sky is neither day nor night, and you can just see the stars emerging. That’s my favorite time of day, it makes me feel so deeply happy and sad at the same time.

I hope you’ll go check out the issue – and my project, if you’re interested in hand-stitching! Thanks so much to Make Modern for choosing my project for the cover – it’s ridiculously exciting to see it there!

Hand-Piecing Help

Photo by Lucy of Charm About You

photo by Lucy of Charm About You

Last week, I begged for help with some hand-piecing woes – as much as I love the hand-pieced stars that I was making, I was disappointed in how difficult I found it to actually, you know, piece them.

My good friend Rebecca pointed me towards a tutorial that might help: Lucy from the blog Charm About You recently posted some tips for successful hand-piecing, and her work is truly beautiful.

Photo by Lucy of Charm About You

photo by Lucy of Charm About You

Rebecca was right, Lucy’s tutorial is invaluable! By the time you read this post, I’ll have had a chance to try them out with actual sewing, but I can already tell that this is a game-changer for me: just the way she explains how to deal with seams (or not deal with them, as it were), seems so obvious, but really wasn’t to this hand-piecing newbie. I’m so excited to get back to my stars – thank you so much, Lucy!

If you’re interested in giving hand-piecing a try, definitely check out Lucy’s post, “Hand-Piecing A Quilt” as well as her more recent post, “Homemade Amusements – Dolly”, where she gives a detailed explanation of how to put together a more complex block by hand.

I’ve also been recommended this book, “Quiltmaking by Hand: Simple Stitches, Exquisite Quilts” by Jinny Beyer. I’ve had the chance to sample the book just a bit and it looks like an amazingly detailed encyclopedic resource for making quilts by hand. I’m going to see how the tips in this book work out for my stars and possibly add it to my library!

Star-A-Day

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The other day, I shared my new Diamond Hex Quilt obsession – a long-term EPP project that I expect I’ll be working for a good portion of my life. But actually, that is not the only loooooong-term / slow craft project I’ve started lately.

A few weeks ago, I went on a little mini-holiday with some friends and finally started the Star-A-Day pattern by Somerset Designs that I bought last summer. My friends and I chatted with these guys a bit at the Festival of Quilts and they were just the super-nicest ever. And they do some truly beautiful, really special work. I saw a lot of really beautiful things at the festival last year, but their Star-A-Day quilt, even though it is the simplest of their many wonderful designs, was the thing that most captured my imagination.

I love the simplicity of these teeny stars, and the extreme scrappiness of their tiny pieces and, just like my EPP, the notion of gradually adding to the project one wee star at a time. The pattern includes acrylic templates and the design is meant to be completely hand-pieced – one star every day for one entire year will make the right amount for a quilt!

The hand-piecing aspect was what appealed to me most – you know I love stitching by hand so much more than by machine – but I have to admit, I had a hard time with these stars and haven’t made any more since. The extreme tininess made hand-piecing very start-and-stoppy, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to deal with all the seams. I really want to sit down and try to improve my method for this project, because I do love those stars very much and I know I’ll just keep avoiding it if it’s an aggravating process! But aren’t they they cutest???

If anyone has any amazing hand-piecing tips to share, I’d be crazy grateful! :)

(You can find the Star-A-Day pattern with acrylic template set here.)

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