Monday, August 31, 2020

Stitching Success Tracker indicates a productive August

As the month comes to a close, the August Stitching Success Tracker indicates another full month of stitching... machine piecing for the 100 Days 100 Blocks project, English paper piecing Glorious Hexagons, a Saturday spent free-motion quilting a charity quilt, and a Make Nine finish.

August 2020 Success Tracker

Fourteen EPP hexagons completed
Hand piecing EPP [English paper piecing] blocks has become addictive! I've found this to be an easy project to pick up for small increments of time... to baste fabric bits around a couple of paper templates is satisfying and productive. It's also proof that by spending a few minutes each day, a lot can be accomplished. Fourteen 6" hexagons were completed this month. 

Fourteen EPP hexagons completed in August.

Two recent favorites...

EPP 6" hexagon block with fussy cut bunnies.

EPP 6" hexagon.

And this is a free-motion quilted cuddle quilt to support my guild's community service project.

Free-motion quilted cuddle quilt.

After basting a few paper templates this evening, I will color in the August 31 space on my tracker.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Kantha stitched zipper bag, Make Nine finish

Checking this UFO off the list! 

One of my Make Nine 2020 goals was to complete a UFO [unfinished object]... I had many to choose from, to be sure. Since the soothing, repetitive nature of hand stitching has become a mental salvation from the news grind about Covid-19, this kantha stitching project was easily revived from the UFO pile. 

So this is my seventh Make Nine 2020 UFO finish—a kantha and decorative stitched zipper bag.

Kantha and hand stitching zipper bag.

Kantha stitching and hand embroidery
This piece was started sometime in 2018 with the hand embroidered Sunshine Girl. My fabric of choice for hand stitching is a yarn-dyed woven from Diamond Textiles. Over the span of 2+ years, the kantha stitching slowly filled the background areas, using up random, single strands of colored embroidery floss. The needle effortlessly glided through this yarn-dyed fabric to create lines of multi-colored dashes and texture.

Filling the background with kantha hand stitching.

When Little Miss Sunshine was finally completed, I wasn't sure what to do with her... a pillow? a small table topper? a wall hanging?

Better yet, something more functional... for every day use: a zippered project bag. 

Complementing hand stitching with decorative machine stitching
Now, the Little Miss Sunshine bag needed a second side. For this, I took quilt blocks from last year's 100 Days 100 Blocks project and patchwork bits made with Diamond Textile's yarn-dyes and pieced them together. This patchwork was thread embellished by machine with 12 wt Spagetti thread from WonderFil Threads and the built-in decorative stitches on my sewing machine. It was fun to experiment with the decorative stitch patterns!

Auditioning decorative stitches and thread colors.

The pieces were then ready for bag assembly...

Pieces ready for bag assembly.

Inside lining with pockets
Pockets were included in the lining (a floral print from the Charleston collection from Art Gallery Fabrics)—with a 3-step zigzag stitch to coincide with the outside.

Pockets with decorative stitching in the bag's lining.

Zipper installation
The instructions from Sam Hunter's Chunky Wee Zippy Pouch pattern and a zipper pouch tutorial from Noodlehead helped with the zipper installation. 

12 wt Spagetti thread [WonderFil Threadsfor decorative stitching.

The finished bag is approximately 12.5" x 13" and has a boxed bottom. 

Zipper bag: Kantha hand stitched side.

It's currently holding my English paper piecing hexagon project. 

Zipper bag: Machine pieced side with decorative machine stitching.

A completed UFO for a WIP [work in progress].

Check one more item off the (loooong) UFO list.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Holey Moley, "Small Things" are hexie-licious perfection!

Have you tried fussy cutting?

On a recent visit to Front Porch Quilt Shoppe (Ozark, AL), I purchased fabric from a Lewis & Irene collection called Small Things PetsHoley moley hexie-licious, Batman! These prints are fabulous for English Paper piecing [EPP] and fussy cutting!

Six-inch EPP hexagons and Small Things Pets fabric from Lewis & Irene.

Lewis & Irene Small Things fabric collections
Did you know that every year, Lewis & Irene releases two "Small Things" fabric collections

Yep, one in the Spring/Summer and another in Fall/Winter. My latest fabric acquisition are prints from the collection called Small Things Pets. I got a fat quarter of the dogs, cats and birds... but there are rabbits, guinea pigs and turtles, too!

Block 5 Caroline: fussy cuts from Small Things Pets [Lewis & Irene].

Patterns, paper pieces and helpful tools
My EPP blocks are 6" hexagons from The New Hexagon book by the queen of contemporary EPP, Katja Marek. Or look for her latest book, The New Hexagon 2

The paper pieces that comprise these 6-inch blocks are 1" hexagons and companion shapes from Paper Pieces. You'll also want to get the acrylic fussy cut finder templates for previewing images for your fussy cuts. Using precision-cut papers and acrylic templates makes the piecing more successful and the process more enjoyable for you! 

(Besides, do you really want to spend your time measuring and cutting geometric shapes from card stock... that may or may not fit together properly... or have fun with the fabric? I know my answer.)

Block 13 Judy: fussy cuts from Small Things Pets [Lewis & Irene]. 
Glow-the-dark stars fabric from Light Years [Lewis & Irene].

Create a story to go with the fabric images 
I finished this block yesterday... pulling fabrics from Lewis & Irene collections Whatever the Weather (squirrels and mushrooms), Light Years (shooting star) and blenders from Suede [P&B Textiles] and Canvas [Northcott]. Two squirrels play and chase each other amidst the mushrooms. A shooting star streaks across the sky. 

You could combine various images in your patchwork to tell a story. You could create a whole English paper pieced scene with these little cut-outs!

Squirrels chasing each other through the mushroom patch.

In addition to the Small Things collections, many other fabrics from Lewis & Irene lines have smaller scale images that are conducive for EPP and patchwork. 

The bird in the center of this block is from The Hedgerow.

Block 48 Jeannie from The New Hexagon book.

Wooly socks, mittens and snowmen are from Whatever the Weather.

Fussy cut images from Whatever the Weather fabric collection.

The bunnies from The Water Meadow await the next EPP block.

Fussy cut hexagons.

Small Things Crafts
coming soon!

Now that you know the possibilities for small things, be on the lookout for the next Small Things collection—Small Things Crafts—coming to quilt shops this September. There are images for quilters, sewers, knitters, painters and all kinds of crafters and makers.

So, don't stress the "small things"... make holes and use them in your next fussy cutting project!

Fussy cut images from The Water Meadow fabric.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Batch piecing the 100 Days 100 Blocks

With the posting of Block #40 today, I had to schedule block-making time for the 100 Days 100 Blocks sew-along 2020.

In progress blocks for #100days100blocks sew-along.
Prints and solids from Paintbrush Studio Fabrics.

Cruising at a steady pace, I pieced six blocks yesterday, but I'd like to get further ahead. It's more productive to sew the blocks in batches. Cut-cut-cut then sew-sew-sew.

Blocks 41 - 53 prepped for piecing.

I was making headway until I came to Block #48... which took the wind out of my sails. 

48 is going to be a booger! This darn 6" block has 18 HSTs (half square triangles) that finish at 1". Geesh... talk about a patchwork nightmare.

Block #48 layout diagram.

The search for half-square triangles

Scrounging the scraps from this project, I found a few HSTs that could be trimmed to size. I found a few triangle-shaped fabric pieces that could be made into new HST units. Then I did the 8-out method and cranked out a few more. 

Using various methods for making HSTs.

The Bloc-Loc tool is great for squaring up HSTs... but 18 little HST units is still a lot to trim!

Squaring up HSTs with the Bloc-Loc tool.

The cutting prep for Block #48 is now ready for piecing. This will take quite the determination and precision to make the block come out the correct size.

Block #48 prep.

Looking ahead... Block #54 needs twelve 1.5" HSTs. 

*Oh, joy.*
(I guess our piecework skills are being tested with this project.)

Sunday, August 2, 2020

31 days of stitching... 6" blocks by hand and machine

For 2020, I've been tracking daily stitching activities with this fabulous project management calendar for makers. I'm happy to report that July had a full month of stitching! 

Project management Success Tracker for Makers and Creatives.

What's been the projects in July?
Curiously enough, the month of July was filled with making 6-inch blocks—some by machine and others by hand.
  • 100 Days 100 Blocks Challenge—This sew-along started July 1. I've kept up with the daily postings and have pieced 40 six-inch patchwork blocks to date.
  • English paper piecing [EPP] hexagons—this is a UFO from 2016 called Glorious Hexagons that re-emerged during the pandemic lock down this Spring. It now includes block patterns from both of Katja Marek's The New Hexagon books... and a few I've designed myself with leftover EPP bits.

40 blocks from #100days100blocks project and 12 EPP Glorious Hexagons.

I was surprised to discover 12 EPP hexagons were completed this past month. It just proves that if you do a little stitching each day—even 5 or 10 minutes—it adds up! This project is also very portable. I have paper templates, fabric bits, pins, needles and threads parcelled into sandwich size baggies that can be taken outside, or thrown into a purse or suitcase.

July's success on 6" English paper pieced hexagons.

My hexie collection has amassed to over 100 hexagons so far! I embrace the accomplishment of each small composition and find it very satisfying to give purpose to an accumulation of fabric swatches. 

The need for blenders
I enjoy the challenge of pulling together prints from various fabric collections for each block, but occasionally I realize a "calm coordinate" is needed to complement them or unify the palette. A quick trip to a local quilt shop [YLQS], Chattanooga Sewing Machines, filled this blender gap with a few Canvas and Shimmer Radiance fat quarters. 

Blenders and prints for 100 Days and EPP Glorious Hexagons projects.

Yeah, I picked up two other prints because they were from Paintbrush Studio (Over the Rainbow—for my 100 Days blocks) and Lewis & Irene (the bunnies—that I thought would be fun for EPP fussy cutting). Diversity is good, right?

In the hunt for something in my studio, I also uncovered some fat quarter Suede blenders [P&B Textiles] from a previous project. Aha! Another welcome addition to my EPP blender stash.

Suede blenders from P&B Textiles

So now I'm stocked up and ready for a stitching-filled August! What's been satisfying your stitch cravings?

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