blog hop

(Xmas) Apple-a-Day Blog Hop!


Welcome to another EPP challenge – today I join the Apple-a-Day Blog Hop hosted by the magnificent Diane Gilleland (aka Craftypod), EPP-er extraordinaire and author of All Points Patchwork. I previously joined the Fussy-Cut Hexies Blog Hop for this book, so go check that out for my fussy-cut project and my thoughts about the book itself (spoiler: it’s awesome).

All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland

I joined two of Diane’s blog hop challenges because I couldn’t decide, and I love these assignments that force you to take the time to try something new. I’d never done any fussy-cutting before, and I’d never done any EPP curves before last week either – truth is, the whole idea of it scared (and confused) me just a little.

Apple-a-Day Blog Hop - All Points Patchwork

Because it’s Christmas in July here, in my little blog universe, of course I decided to make my apple cores Christmassy. I decided I liked the scrappy-apple-core look best, so I gathered the scraps from cutting my Merry Medallion fabric and got to work.

Apple-a-Day Blog Hop - All Points Patchwork

Now, I seriously could never understand how curved EPP works. It makes, like, no kind of sense if you try to think about it in the same way as EPP-ing hexagons. To learn how to do this, I relied entirely on All Points Patchwork and it seriously did not fail.

Apple-a-Day Blog Hop - All Points Patchwork

Here’s the thing that’s amazing about Diane’s book – she explains every tiny step in such clear detail, it’s, well, totally impossible to screw it up! I honestly can’t even share a fun anecdote about how I made a bunch of messy apple cores before I figured out some perfect trick, or tell you about how I threw one across the room in frustration — the truth is, I followed Diane’s instructions and the very first one was perfect!

Apple-a-Day Blog Hop - All Points Patchwork

Because I was intimidated by EPP-ing curves when I started this project, I used 4″ apple cores (for UK peeps, I bought them here, at the always-wonderful Sew and Quilt), but some crazed person who looks a lot like me had previously purchased some teeny 2″ apple cores. For about 14 minutes, I considered using those for the challenge before I came to my senses. But during those 14 minutes, I did try basting one and it wasn’t too shabby for something so small:

Apple-a-Day Blog Hop - All Points Patchwork

So yeah, of course now I want to play with those. Oooooh, and some clamshells! What other curves can we try?? I really enjoyed stitched these apple cores – I thought it would be hard but, honestly, it was just as relaxing and pleasing as stitching hexies!

Apple-a-Day Blog Hop - All Points Patchwork

And here’s your chance to try some for yourself! Diane has arranged another awesome giveaway this week – enter below to win a pack of Paper Pieces apple core templates and a pair of Clover Patchwork Scissors, woohoo! (Open to all, everywheres, entries end at midnight on Sunday, July 12th.)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much to Diane for hosting these great challenges – visit her blog right now for an apple core tutorial and check out the other awesome projects made for this blog hop below. And seriously, get yourself a copy of All Points Patchwork. I promise you won’t be sorry!

Fussy-Cut Hexie Challenge Blog Hop: Tiny-Scale Fussy Cutting!

Fussy-cut Hexie Challenge Blog Hop

Today I am absurdly excited to be the first stop on The Fussy-Cut Hexie Challenge Blog Hop! This blog hop is to celebrate the fantabulous new book by my awesome friend Diane Gilleland (of Craftypod fame): All Points Patchwork.

All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland

I cannot tell you how much I love this book, but I’ll try: I FREAKING LOVE THIS BOOK. Seriously, dudes, it rules. I love English Paper Piecing, and hand-piecing in general, and you know I don’t often go for quick or easy projects. Quick and easy is for suckers. I absolutely love that Diane wrote a technique-oriented book, with a focus on learning a very specific technique very, very well – with full attention paid to every tiny aspect of EPP, from cutting fabric to the possibilities of each shape. There’s projects included, and they’re lovely, but the real prize here is all the other content – let me tell you, friends, if you have an even slight interest in English Paper Piecing or hand-stitching, you NEED this book. Go get it now now now.

So, for this blog hop, our challenge was simple: fussy-cut some hexagons. In case you’re not familiar with the term, fussy-cutting means that you choose the exact part of a print you use, rather than using all of a piece of fabric. I’ve never done any fussy-cutting before, so this seemed like the perfect challenge for me!

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

Erm. Except that when I got down to it, I didn’t have anything terribly fussy-cut-friendly in my stash. Fussy-cutting is typically done with large-scale prints – florals or cute illustrations – and my stash is currently mostly small-scale geometrics and blenders. So how to combine my hostile stash with this technique??

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

Why, cut up the teensy geometric elements, of course! I used 1/2″ hexies and went for fabrics that allowed the geometrics to be easily separated from the whole.

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

Little stand-alone elements, such as the X’s in Cotton + Steel’s XOXO print work beautifully (Cotton + Steel in general has a lot of prints that work well for tiny fussy-cutting!), as well as stripes, zigzags, etc. There was a lot of trial-and-error, making hexies I didn’t use in the end, but even then, using tiny elements that repeat often on a print created much less wastage than fussy-cutting often does.

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

My little wee quilt turned out to be 5″ x 19″ – just a sliver of a normal mini-quilt! And as I was sewing it together, the line ‘summer autumn winter spring’ (from one of my very favorite poems – “anyone lived in a pretty how town”, by ee cummings), popped into my head. It always charmed me the way that cummings lists the seasons in different orders in that poem, the years just going ’round and ’round, and that one gets stuck in my head sometimes. Looking at my tiny quilt, I realized these four hexie-flowers are a bit like the four seasons – and so my little quilt has a name.

Tiny-scale fussy cutting!

I’ve absolutely loved taking part in this challenge and finding a fun, new way to try this technique! Be sure to stop by the other fussy-cutting blog-hoppers throughout this week and see what amazingness they’ve created for this challenge!

But wait, don’t go yet! To celebrate the release of All Points Patchwork and this blog hop and everything good in the world, there’s a giveaway to enter: a set of Clover’s Black Gold hand-sewing needles and a Quilt Needle Threader!

Clover Giveaway!

NICE. International entries welcome, and entries will close at midnight on Sunday, June 7th, so hurry up and enter via Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mid-week Break

  • I can’t believe I forgot to point you towards Cate Anevski’s Blog Hop post! Such a dummy. I invited Cate after my post here, and she answered the same questions on her blog over here.
  • Part Two of our Summer Nights Stitch-along is online at Sew Mama Sew now!
  • A bunch of awesome peeps have posted about the Foldio lately and I totally have toy envy! What an awesome tool – UK shops: pretty please stock this asap, ok?! Thanks.
  • My lovely friend Cheryl (aka elephantjuice on IG and Twitter) shared this link about The Worst Star Wars Exhibition Ever. And it really is. But oh god, how I want to go to it. Seriously, so much.
  • I’m taking deep breaths and keeping calm, getting ready to make a Sew Together Bag by Sew Demented for the upcoming Fat Quarterly Retreat (not that it’s only a week away and I’m totally running out of time or anything) – I’ll show you my progress soon, but in the meantime, there’s some beautiful versions below and some excellent tips at From The Blue Chair. Wish me luck!

Mid-Week Break - July 10, 2014

1. Kantschool, 2. Wantage Lacemakers 2013, 3. STLMQG Rip Challenge, 4. Double goosed pincushion, 5. Watching you, 6. Grandmother Flower Garden, 7. Two down one to go!! #tinygeese, 8. a new micro mini sweater, 9. Sew Together Bag Inside, 10. ‘Michael the Magnificent’, 11. Play Around the World Quilt, 12. Beejeebers July block, 13. More random stitches on my art journal #embroidery project!, 14. cherry, 15. Sew Together Bag #5 – sunshine edition, 16. envolĂ©e_det

Blog Hopping!

I interrupt this irregularly scheduled blog silence (while I work on my new blog design – I’ve not gone anywhere, promise, and I’m almost done!) to take part in a blog hop, as invited by my dear friend Carina. So a wave and a howdy to any newcomers who hopped here from Carina’s blog – and today I’ll answer a few questions about what I do, as all the hopped blogs have done before me, and send you hopping along to someone new at the end of my post. So let’s go:

What am I working on?

ALL THE THINGS. Seriously, I am trying very hard (and succeeding, somewhat) to stick to a small number of projects to focus on at a time. But even so, there’s still any number of embroideries, knitting projects and little bits of sewing floating around in various stages of completion!

Vasilisa Crewel Embroidery In Progress

But besides planning and starting new embroidery patterns for the shop, which is always happening, and a project or two that’s just for relaxation, there is usually one big thing I’m focused on at any given time. Right now, it’s our embroidered illustration of Vasilisa, which I’ve blogged about before.

Vasilisa embroidery in progress

I haven’t been able to get my greedy stitchy fingers on this as much as I’d like lately, but this is not a finish-in-a-week project. (I’m not generally that big a fan of finish-in-a-week projects anyway, to be honest, I like my embroidery to be a bit juicier!) I’ll be working on this embroidery, and then a second embroidery that will make this an illustrative set, for a looooong time. Sometimes I sit down and really move forward on it, sometimes it has to take a backseat to other work. I hope to show you all some new progress soon though!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ll answer this one on behalf of Little Dorrit & Co., because that’s what I think of when I think of ‘my work’. So far, the stuff I do on my own is mostly dabbling and trying and seeing what’s what – in fact, the whole point of my Year of Samplers project.

Pippi Longstocking Pattern

So from Little Dorrit & Co’s perspective, I think the main difference is that we think of ourselves as an illustrating team, who happen to use embroidery as our medium. Our design focus is on illustrating a story, making sure the best details are included.

Lizzie & Darcy

Our Lizzie & Mr. Darcy Pride and Prejudice-themed pattern is by far our most popular, and I honestly think it works so well because of the tiniest detail: Lizzie’s facial expression. Close enough to touch, but looking away from each other, these two are clearly the always-at-odds romantic leads from Jane Austen’s classic. But Lizzie’s worried expression really makes the whole thing, if I say so myself. It’s just so Elizabeth Bennett! The details make our designs successful as story illustrations, and we get such pleasure out of getting them right!

How does your writing/creating process work?

As Little Dorrit & Co., Mom and I have a very semi-structured work pattern. When it comes time to work on a new design, Mom and I both read our subject book, then meet for a brainstorming session. Together we will come up with a general design plan and determine what exact details from our source should be included. Then Mom will go away for a while, work some kind of wizarding art magic and come back with a beautiful design plan. (Although Vasilisa is not a pattern in development, we’ve still worked the same basic way. You can see a bit of Mom’s original Vasilisa drawing below, littered with our notes on thread colors and stitch placement.)

Today I'm watching Noir and working on our Vassilisa crewel embroidery. Cozy!

Then I will take her sketch and turn it into a pattern with Adobe Illustrator, until recently, but now Inkscape. I love dem tools. The design will be tweaked and stretched and prodded until it’s juuuuust right, then stitched up. I do most of the embroidery, because it’s the part I love and, I like to think, excel at – and the part I want to always continue to improve. The design may be adjusted slightly as I stitch, if something doesn’t work right, and I try to pick stitches that make good use of the design elements and keep the customer interested in what they’re working on. Basically, I want the finished pattern to make a fellow embroiderers’ stitchy fingers twitch!

Why do I write/create what I do?

This answer, as a general needleworker (not specific to embroidery patterns or any one project) is so simple: because I don’t like doing anything else half as much. Sometimes people comment that I’ve done so many projects over the years, or that I have tips for nearly every needlecraft, and I have to remind them that I barely do anything else. My friends all have other hobbies, things they love and split their crafting time with – I don’t have that. I stitch and sew and knit – or write about them, or plan for them – with every possible waking hour, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Always Stitching!

Ok, I do love movies, and hunting for the perfect vintage pin dish and learning about music from the 1930s – among loads of other other things that interest me. But if I do give those things some attention, I’m probably knitting at the same time. I think about thread (or yarn) and fabric, and what I can do with them, with at least 80% of my brain at all times. I don’t really know why anyone does what they do, except that perhaps everyone has something that just seems to make sense to them, above anything else. I see a ball of yarn, a skein of thread or a fat quarter and it’s almost as if my mind becomes clear and focused. I just get it, you know?

Eels Lyrics Embroidery - WIP

Not to say it’s some sort of natural skill! I made a lot of really crappy crap before I started making anything nice, and my unspoken goal of every day is to learn more about the needlecrafts I love. I work my ass off at it and over many years, it’s started to pay off. I’m only now starting to make things that are as good as I want them to be – but I doubt I’ll ever stop trying to make them better!

* * * * *

Thank you so much to the lovely Carina for her kind introduction to me last week, I hope you’ll go check out her blog if you’ve never been there before, she makes such wonderful, colorful and happy things!

So many people have already been included in this hop that I only have one person to carry on the blog torch from here: the ridiculously talented Cate Anevski, the creative brains behind Bee’s Knees Industries (which is just so fun to say, don’t you think?!). I took a slightly embarrassed leap asking Cate to blog hop with me, because we’d never officially met, but I think her illustration and embroidery designs are simply wonderful! I’ve been a silent fan of hers for a long while, so I’m very happy to pass you over to her!

Take it away, Cate!