English Paper Piecing

Finish-along with &Stitches

If you are an &Stitches reader (and I hope you are!), you’ll know that we’re starting 2014 off with a finish-along. A good way to start a new year, I think – tidying up the project basket and getting things done!

My finish-along goal might be a little different than others, because I don’t have one project to focus on, I have a pile:

Embroidery to Finish-along with &Stitches!

This pile is my official entry to the &Stitches Finish-along, because it’s all embroidery. It might seem a bit excessive, but this whole post (embroidery and otherwise) is full of projects that are nearly all at least 80% finished — and I don’t honestly expect that I’ll finish them all. So pictured above:

  • French Knot sampler, with only one partial section left to complete.
  • Orangework Sampler, not quite half done, but this is a fairly small and quick project.
  • Eels lyrics embroidery! Oh, how I love this project so, and am so sad that it got so deeply buried at the bottom of the basket. There’s not much left to do really, but I was stumped by the best way to stitch those teeeeensy flowers and it was put on pause.
  • The cross-stitch pictured is from a kit bought at the Bronte House about 12 years ago. It’s a reproduction of a sampler Charlotte Bronte stitched as a little girl. She must’ve had amazing eyesight, because this has lingered for so long simply because it is so tiny I can barely see it. But there’s only one line left to stitch!
  • And lastly, those blue-gray blobby flowers? Those are updated from a pattern book from 1915 and are something I started a very, very long time ago. I honestly doubt I’ll get to this one in time, but I can give it a sporting try, right? Those flowers are all done in satin stitch, and there’s leaves too, and it’s a slow project – but I do enjoy it a lot.

Although not officially tied to the &Stitches finish-along because it’s not embroidery, I’d also love to see this pile finished:

Knitting Projects to Finish-along

Again, all projects nearly done, it’s just silly that they’re still lingering. The magenta is my Henslowe shawl, which only needs blocking. The white is a secret thing that may possibly become a pattern – with very little knitting left to do. The camel alpaca project is a new shawl for my now-home-from-the-hospital mother. To be fair, this has only been on the needles for about a week, but I’m already on the edging and I don’t want it to linger, so I’ve included it. And the mustard colored project is a sock for my brother (the second of the pair) which is perfect for train travel and my upcoming visit to Amsterdam.

EPP project to finish-along

And lastly, this set of English Paper Pieced pillow covers, a gift for my mother now over a year late. Yikes. EPP is slow going, which is why I like it, but it is admittedly very unlikely to be finished quickly. However, one top is already finished and the other is about halfway, so it’s worth mentioning it here and hoping for the best.

These are, sadly, not all of my UFOs, but they are the UFOs that I: a.) definitely want to finish. There are one or two I’m not convinced about continuing, so they aren’t taking part in the finish-along, and b.) are far enough along that quick completion isn’t a pipe dream. Long-term UFOs like my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt don’t count, those are meant to be ongoing. I tend to only get frustrated by projects that linger unnecessarily, and that brings me to my one and only crafty resolution for 2014:

Less projects, more often.

Because I start too many projects at once, they all take for-ev-ar to finish, which means I’m totally sick of the sight of them by the time I get near the end, which means I let them pile up to this point I’m at now but I really don’t want to work on them anymore! This year, I want to have fewer WIPs going at once, so that I finish them and move on to new things faster. Shortening the cycle, as it were.

And the best place to start? Clearing out the basket. Let’s go!

FO: Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt

Such a wonderful, comforting project, sadly finished. I mean, I’m happy to be able to hang it somewhere and move on to something new, but this was one of those rare projects that don’t come around that often.

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt

I loved everything about this little quilt, from picking out the fabrics on a lovely day out with a friend, for no reason other than their charm, to picking the traditional Snow Crystals block for them, through the paper piecing phase and the quilting. Every bit was a joy.

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt

I sewed this entire thing by hand — well, nearly anyway. I sewed the binding onto the front by machine – I’d probably have done it by hand for the sake of completism, but I just did it automatically. I notice now that my corners are over the place; I suppose I could block it and see if that helps? I’m not sure exactly what’s up with that whole quilt-blocking thing. And my only real complaint is that I used a red Pilot Frixion pen to mark the quilting lines and no matter how hard I ironed, it’s still a teensy bit visible. Not enough to get upset about, but I won’t use a red one again. I don’t think I have the same problem with black or blue.

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt

This project meant a lot to me, so it couldn’t be named for just any old song (I always name things for songs, that’s just how I roll). I chose Elvis Perkins’ “Send My Fond Regards to Lonelyville”, which is just so, so beautiful. Perkins is a very special artist, totally, massively underrated, and never ever fails to make my heart swell. He’s an amazing songwriter, has one of the most captivating voices I’ve ever heard, and he makes the kind of music that makes me feel like it’s hard to breathe. In a good way. So, so beautiful.

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt

Anyway, so there we have it: a tiny quilt that helped keep me comforted through a rough time, named for one of the prettiest things I know, ready to live on my wall and just be quietly lovely.

(Click over to Flickr to see more photos.)

GFG Progress

It’s been a while since I shared my Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt progress, and since English Paper Piecing is the perfect traveling / waiting room craft, I’ve spent a lot of time with it over the last few weeks. Seems a good time for a progress report!

GFG update

At the last flower count, I had ten finished. Now there’s 21! Whee! And two more in progress:

GFG update

And a little while back, I cut 285 hexagons from fabric in preparation, which is another 15 flowers-worth:

GFG update

That’s basically how I’ve been working this quilt. I start by laying out my whole collection of 1930s fabrics and pairing prints for flowers. I was really excited about it this time, because I had some new fabrics to add into the mix: a couple I picked up in Amsterdam, a lovely gift from a friend (thank you, Karen!) and some pieces donated by a kind stranger in answer to my plea for scraps (thank you, Rebecca!)! Then I cut hexagons from the fabric over an evening or two, for as many combos as I can come up with. Then make the paper-pieced hexagons and bundle them into little stacks with rubber bands (as you can see above), then start sewing them together. Lather, rinse, repeat. By the time I finish this whole stack of cut hexies, I’ll have 36 flowers sewn.

GFG update

I also finally laid them out on my bed today, to get at least a vague idea of how many flowers I need to make. It’s only a basic estimate, and doesn’t really count the amount that I’ll want to hang over the sides of my bed, but as a start, it looks like I’ll need to make 70 flowers. In theory, it’ll actually be more than that, but that’s a good number to aim for. This is actually not nearly as bad as I’d expected! Once I finish all those cut hexagons, I’ll be about halfway finished – with the flowers, at least. That’s, like, 5 years ahead of my estimate. Sweet!

But. (There’s always one in every project, isn’t there?) My flower estimate is based on one round of white hexgons as the garden path. Like this one. But if you look at my GFG Pinterest Board, you can see that’s not the only option for the path, and I’m suddenly not sure what I like best! Double-white path? Diamonds between whites? Aaak, too many choices! At least I know I can keep making flowers for a while before I have to decide. What do you guys think?

Snow Crystals Progress

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt WIP

This week I’m working on adding borders to my Snow Crystals mini-quilt – I tested out those zig-zags in all different layouts and they worked best as a simple stripe around the block. Paper piecing those long strips and getting the stripes straight is a pain in my ass, I’m glad there’s only four of them to make!

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt WIP

And a wee square of polka dots in the corners, eep!

Snow Crystals EPP Mini-Quilt

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt WIP

A few weeks ago, I had one of those days. One of those days where you just can’t bear the routine another day. There’s a lot of family stuff going on that is very stressful, and I just kind of broke. I know most people don’t have the luxury but in that way I am lucky, and I even had a friend willing to play hooky with me. Instead of our regularly scheduled activities, we went for a visit to a not-terribly-local quilt shop. Just for fun. To look at the pretties. To do something with no real purpose.

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt WIP

We drove out there and spent an extraordinarily long time in the shop, admiring fabrics, talking projects, and making pretty fabric combinations for no reason. Of course we bought things. Lovely things. I managed to stay relatively restrained, but picked out three gorgeous fabrics that are very much unlike me. Sort of. They look almost like me, but softer, quieter, gentler.

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt WIP

I took these fabrics home determined not to just stick them in the stash. These were meant for a small project, immediately, and one that felt the same way as Hooky Day (I was even calling them my Hooky Day Fabrics) – no pressure, no purpose, just for the sake of doing it. I didn’t want to add to the pile because it was beautiful as it was, so I set out to find something for just three fabrics (plus white). After a little browsing, I came across a block called ‘Snow Crystals’ in a book about antique American quilts. I was already smitten with this version on Pinterest so I knew immediately it was the block for me.

Snow Crystals Mini-Quilt WIP

It was also my birthday that week, and what better way to celebrate than to just relax quietly with a project that has no deadline and no pressure? I don’t even know what I’m going to do with it. I decided to paper piece it (you’ll see the block as I drew it out at the very top, please excuse the Instagram photo, I didn’t think to take another before I cut it up!) and that’s all there really is to share. The last rectangles will go in next, then a border (as shown in my sketch) with the tiny pink zigzag fabric and possibly roses or dots in the corners. We’ll see when I get there, I haven’t thought too much about it yet. I’ve just been working at it when I’m able, not at all worried about when it will be finished. And it’s been lovely. Exactly what I’ve needed.

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