hand sewing

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.)

Hand-Pieced Mini Swap FO

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It just occurred to me, right now, that I never showed you the finished mini-quilt I made for the Hand-Pieced Mini Swap. That was, like, a millionty years ago, but I still really wanted to show you how it turned out!

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I’m so, so, so happy with this mini – it’s the first time I really played with layout and EPP, seeing what shapes matched well with others. What I ended up with wasn’t the most adventurous EPP design or anything, but it suited my partner (it was the first one she responded excitedly to when I was sharing doodles on Instagram), and I got to play with fabric placement to really pull out repeating shapes. Getting going was a struggle, but I loved this project once I got down to sewing.

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It really inspired me to play with EPP a little more, and I bought a big stack of shapes at the Festival of Quilts this summer. Now all I need is the time to sit down with them and plan myself a new project!

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

Hand-Pieced Mini Swap

I haven't any hand-stitching to do since I finished my peels appliqué. This are fun. #handpiecedminiswap #teamemiroos

As if I don’t have enough to do, I recently joined the Hand-Pieced Mini-Quilt Swap on IG, organized by Jo from A Life in Lists. I haven’t taken part in a lot of swaps in my crafty time, and I think this has to be my last for a while so I can catch up on other stuff, but with a hand-stitching void in my life since my peels were finished, I just couldn’t resist!

This is a little bit out of my comfort zone – everything else I’m working on behind the scenes is heading in a much more minimalist, quiet sort of direction, but I didn’t think that was my partner’s style. After a TON of doodling, I finally landed on this EPP design, with a fabric arrangement that I hope combines my urge to pare down with her love of brighter designs.

Whatchu think about these fabrics, partner? #teamemiroos #handpiecedminiswap

Of course I can’t quite show you more yet, but you’ll see soon enough! And if you’re on IG, follow my sneaky progress peeks over there.

Project Flashback / Revisit: 1930s Hexies

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I can’t even remember the last time I posted about this forever-long, slow crafting project, but I’ve had my 1930s Grandmother’s Flower Garden on the brain lately. I even pulled them off the dusty shelf to stitch a few together over the last week, which I haven’t done in at least a year, I imagine.

I definitely lost interest in this project over time. The thing is, when I started these hexies, I had a completely different outlook on sewing, hand-sewing in particular, and quilting. For one thing, it was my only hand-work project at the time – my little bit on the side, if you will. There was no hurry about it because it didn’t compete with anything else.

But now? Now I have a million hand-stitching projects I want to get into. And basically a million other projects too. The hexies always got put aside from time to time, as other projects took priority, but I would always gravitate back to them as a quiet evening project.

My orange peels took over as my relaxing hand-stitching for many months, but now that they’re finished (more on the quilting of them, finally!, later this week), I have a hand-sewing vacuum. I’ve been considering other projects, and I’ve signed up for the Instagram Hand-Pieced Mini Swap, so I’ll have to get that started soon, but generally? My mind keeps drifting back to the 1930s hexies, feeling a little guilty that they’ve been so abandoned, and then I think … meh.

1930s GFG Revisted

I wondered for a few days why I’ve gone off them so spectacularly, when I loved them so much before, and I think I’ve realized that my quilting style and taste has changed somewhat since then. I wanted that to be a really traditional quilt, as if it came right out of the 1930s. I really thought it should be by-the-book traditional.

But now. I’ve noticed a lot of people using the term “Modern Traditional” lately (I mean, I’ve noticed lately – I doubt that’s a new term), and I feel that does really apply to my sense of patchwork style. Traditional and historical patchwork fascinates me, but I like to think about how those same patterns can be updated with modern fabrics and color combinations. So how is a straight-from-the-feedsack Grandmother’s Flower Garden going to fit into that?

As I was thinking this, I saw this quilt on Pinterest – pinned by my good friend, Christa. I’d always assumed that I’d set the hexagon flowers in paths of plain white, and I considered possibly adding diamond paths in green – but again, a very traditional, soft, 1930s green. But that blue! WOW. That’s clearly an antique / vintage quilt (tracing it down the Pinterest path reveals no specific information about it) but it’s so modern with that intense blue! Just looking at it immediately breathed new life into my hexies.

I have no idea what color I’ll use in the end – I’m sort of considering a deep gray right now, something quite dark like Kona Coal or Charcoal, or maybe even the nearly-black Pepper! The soft 30s colors would look so lovely against a dark color like those. More thoughts on this to come, I’m sure, but for now I’m just glad to have my hexies back on the brain.

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