Sunday, June 6, 2021

Nature's Calling fabric commemorates 2020 toilet paper shortage

Do you remember the TP [toilet paper] shortage/hoarding of 2020? Have you seen the Nature's Calling fabric collection from Northcott Fabrics? If you want some of these fabrics, you better get off the pot and go to your local quilt shop now! ... lest you get caught with your pants down.

Pillowcases using the toilet paper print from the Nature's Calling collection from Northcott.

Nature's Calling fabric collection

The Nature's Calling fabric collection is making people laugh... or smile, anyway. Last year, when I was previewing the collection with my clients, I heard aaaaalll the stories... as shop owners and their associates reminisced their memories and experiences with outhouses.

Prints from the "Nature's Calling" collection.
The full collection is comprised of 8 different prints (some not shown above).

There were stories and comments such as:

  • "My grandparents had one of these."
  • "I remember when we/they got indoor plumbing."
  • having to "go" in the middle of the night... or when it was cold outside.
  • if the wind was blowing the wrong direction.
  • the 2-holer!
  • After a time, outhouses had to be relocated because the hole was "full." People could tell the previous locations of these structures by the flowering bushes planted in their place.
  • And there's the ever-popular book, "40 Yards Away" by Willie MakeIt and Betty Wont.

Making my toilet paper pillowcases

I decided to "commemorate the occasion" by making pillowcases for L. These are the extra long, king-size pillowcases. I use the burrito pillowcase construction method and with this toilet paper print being non-directional, it's a fabric-efficient project and an easy sew.

Toilet paper pillowcases using a print from Nature's Calling fabric collection.

The pillowcase cuff dilemma

While at my LQS [local quilt shop], making the choice of fabric for the body of the pillowcases was simple—like poop through a goose—the toilet paper print! But the cuff fabric? Hmmmm...

I didn't go full-tilt with the outhouse theme, so opted for a Canvas blender [Northcott Fabrics]. Canvas has a beautiful color range, a subtle pattern, and is a gender-neutral design. But what color would be appropriate for toilet paper pillowcases??

  • brown? (eeewww!)
  • yellow? (ugh, not)
  • red? (gosh, no!)
  • green? (uuuuhhh...)
  • how 'bout blue?
I went with Canvas indigo. (Please don't tell me any TP/blue connotations I hadn't thought of.)

Selvedges from Nature's Calling and Canvas indigo.

Commemorating the 2020 TP shortage

So, if you're looking for a easy project, one that is useful and functional, a humorous gift, or something to make you smile, run to your local quilt shop and scoop up (or stock up!) on fabrics from Nature's Calling. There are 8 different prints in the collection, coordinating blenders, and patterns for additional projects, too. Visit your local quilt or fabric shop. 

After the year we've been through, we all need a little levity in our lives! 

Here are lists of shops that purchased the collection in my sales territory:

Alabama         Kentucky        Tennessee        West Virginia

Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day 2021

Remembering and honoring the fallen who served our country. Our freedom does not come for free.

Red, white and blue hexagons.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

A needle book for EPP

When I rediscovered English paper piecing [EPP] during the 2020 pandemic lockdown, I began following several EPPers and EPP stitch-alongs on Instagram. I picked up several handy tips and was amazed by the clever piecing these EPP experts shared on line. I was also in awe of the beautiful, handmade needle books they showed. A needle book was destined for my EPP future!

The pieces of my new needle book are waiting to be assembled.

Needle book progress

This weekend I decided to work on my Needle Book and I've made great progress: 

  • a zipper is installed,
  • four pockets are appliqu├ęd,
  • several wool felt squares are hand stitched into place.

A few kinks still need to be worked out: 

  • how to assemble the signatures (saddle stitching or coptic binding??),
  • how to attach the book cover to the signatures, 
  • and I need to devise some kind of closure for the book.

I know I'll get a lot of use out of this needle book, so I hope this will be a Make Nine finish very soon!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Slow Stitching Mindfulness

"Hand stitching is for people who like to be busy,
but busy in a calm and relaxing way."

I saw this quote on social media recently. Those of us who enjoy handwork can identify! With that, I thought I'd inventory and share my current hand stitching WIPs [work in progress].
Seed stitches with perle cotton on a garment-to-be.

Mix-It top
I'm using the rice stitch or seed stitch to add color and pattern to a new Mix-It top [The Sewing Workshop patterns]. The base fabric is from the Denim Studio by Art Gallery Fabrics. It is a nice weight for hand stitching and needles well. I do use an embroidery hoop for this work.

Hand seed stitches on a cotton from the Denim Studio by Art Gallery Fabrics.

Big Stitch quilting
The Sandy Creek print from M&S Textiles Australia is perfect for adding colorful accents of 8wt Eleganza perle cotton [WonderFil Specialty Threads]. I've combined free-motion quilting by machine with big stitch hand quilting.

Big stitch quilting.

By echoing the lines of this Sandhill print [M&S Textiles Australia], no marking is required! Gotta love the organic patterns in this fabric collection!

Big stitch quilting.

Hand embroidery
Just a little more embroidery to do on this Bee Kind canvas tote bag panel [Northcott Fabrics]. I also have the September Morning panel waiting in the queue. You'll love stitching through this canvas substrate.

Hand embroidery on a canvas tote panel.

Visible Mending

This is a visible mending upcycling project—the proverbial Boyfriend Shirt

8 wt. perle cotton for stitched embellishments and visible mending.

Paper piecing
I'm still enjoying my 100 Day Project of focus cutting three-quarter inch hexagons. 

English paper piecing.

Threads for hand stitching projects
The threads I've used for these hand stitching projects include:

8wt perle cotton by WonderFil Specialty Threads.

If you haven't tried Valdani Wool Thread (100% virgin Merino wool) for embroidery, I suggest you give it a needle. These threads were recommended by my friend, Vicki McCarty at Calico Patch Designs. This thread has a lovely loft and springy-ness that comes with being a wool fiber. The stitches sit higher from the canvas, giving the work more dimension. The variegated colors are especially appealing.

6 strand embroidery floss and Valdani Wool Thread for hand embroidery.

The weather is beautiful here today. I just have to decide which mindful stitching project to take outdoors with me.

Combining free-motion machine quilting with big stitch quilting.

Enjoy a little bit of nature—whether outdoors or on your stitching projects.

Garden blooms.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Completing The 100 Day Project: my thoughts and observations

Back in January, I committed to participating in The 100 Day Project. It started January 31, 2021. The 100th day was May 10. Here are the results of showing up every day for 100 days

243 three-quarter inch, selective-cut, English paper pieced hexagons.

243 hexagons for The 100 Day Project 2021.

My thoughts about The 100 Day Project

It takes commitment to "show up every day" for 100 days! This was precisely the point of Michael Beirut's assignment to his graphic design grad students. Through this project, I discovered I had just enough stubborn tenacity and focus to see it through. Here are my thoughts...
  • The 100 Day Project does take commitment, but it is rewarding.
  • It is about the process, not necessarily about the results. You often have to make bad art before the good stuff surfaces. It's about the practice of making.
  • I began to look at fabric in a different way. Searching for small motifs to selectively cut, or larger motifs that could be partially cut or subcut for an interesting pattern.
Selective cutting partial motifs.

  • I learned to notice the color value of fabrics, especially when laying out the hexies all together.
  • I liked the frugality and recycling aspect of using small fabric pieces, swatches and especially trimmings from other projects. 
  • At first, I thought I'd do much more glue basting on these EPP hexagons. I found myself enjoying the thread basting and did handwork for most of these, especially the last 25-30 days.
  • It's OK to switch gears! I also thought I'd do just one hexie a day and have 100 at the end of the project. That was a self-imposed rule up front which I abandoned early on. Glad I did.
  • It got to be fun finding corresponding backgrounds on which to photograph the hexagons.
Finding fun backgrounds for the hexagons.

More interesting backgrounds for the hexagons.

  • I found myself trying to come up with interesting layouts for photographing the hexagons.
Various layouts for the hexagons.

  • Occasionally, the commentary accompanying the daily IG posts reflected on real life.
Some days you need a crystal ball and some days you wish it was a caldron.

  • Admittedly, there were days when it was challenging to find the energy to stitch at least one little hexagon. So, I'm glad I chose a do-able project and one that was also portable
  • It is often said, if you work on something for short periods of time on a regular basis, a lot can be accomplished. Every little hexagon made a contribution to the whole.
In the end, I was rewarded with 243 of these fun little fabric gems, daily photo documentation, and milestone blog posts of the project. 

A possible option for using the hexagons.

Now that the 100 days have concluded, I don't know how (or if) I will put these hexagons into a final project—or multiple projects. But I consider this project a success—and even a "finish"—because The 100 Day Project is all about the process.

I showed up!

Milestone progress photos of my 100 Days of Hexies can be found in these blog posts: 7 days33 days50 days, 75 days, 90 days.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

At 90% of The 100 Day Project

It felt a bit "draggy" around the 70-80% mark... and I was pushing myself to stick with it... but now, at over 90%, I can't believe it's nearing the 100 Day finish line.

221 three-quarter inch hexies at day 90 of the 100 Day Project 2021.

At the 90% mark, this is 221 three-quarter inch hexagons for one of my 100 Day Projects

Past mileposts are: at 75%.

Day 75 of the 100 Day Project 2021.

At 50%
Day 50 of the 100 Day Project 2021.

At 33%
Day 33 of the 100 Day Project 2021.

After the first week.

The first week of the 100 Day Project 2021.

And, the 2021 Stitching Success Tracker has moved into the month of May.

Starting May 2021 of the Stitching Success Tracker calendar.

The background fabric is a canvas panel called "September Morning" from Northcott Fabrics. I'm contemplating a slow stitching zipper bag or possibly a combo of hand and machine stitching. Mood and inspiration will dictate.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The 100 Day Hexie Project at 75%

These are the fruits from Day 75 of my 100 Day Project. These little gems are three-quarter inch hexagons. Each with an image that is selectively cut from the fabric.

193 hexies for the 100 Day Project.

A more organized view:

193 three-quarter inch English paper pieced hexagons.

The 100 Day Project for 2021 will conclude on May 10.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Berwick St. Tunic with Australian Aboriginal fabric, a Make Nine finish

My new Berwick St. Tunic by The Sewing Workshop.
Fabric from M&S Textiles Australia.
This is the Berwick St. Tunic in an Australian aboriginal fabric print—my fourth Make Nine finish for 2021.

This Make Nine finish checks the "New to Me" prompt as this is the first time making the Berwick St. Tunic pattern [by The Sewing Workshop]. I also learned a new construction detail: a concealed button placket.

The fabric is an Australian Aboriginal print called Gathering by the Creek (burgundy colorway) by Janet Long Nakamarra [for M&S Textiles Australia]. I loved this colorway the minute I saw it and knew it was destined to be a garment for me.

The warm Spring weather has turned around this week and the Berwick's long sleeves are a comfortable and welcome buffer against the cool temperature. 

Details about the Berwick St. Tunic
This long-sleeved tunic has a mandarin collar, concealed front button placket, pleated front peplum, side vents, and sleeve plackets with narrow,  buttoned cuffs. I have enjoyed working with The Sewing Workshop patterns—the style, the fit, the instructions are all good—and there are always interesting details or construction techniques included in the making of the garments. This one was no different.

The Berwick St. Tunic pattern. The fabric print is one of the Dreamtime designs by an Australian Aboriginal designer. Fabric from M&S Textiles Australia.

The new garment construction detail for me was the concealed front button placket. The pattern instructions were right on point and I sailed through. Hint: if you're not proficient with making button holes, this placket has it covered (literally!). 

In my case, I didn't have enough of the red colored buttons for the front and cuffs, so I used the off-color buttons under the placket and the red buttons at the top and cuffs—where the buttons would show. I opted not to put a button or button hole in the collar as I knew I would wear this garment open at the neck.

Different colored buttons used in the concealed front placket.

I also sewed the sleeves closed with a non-functioning button. The sleeve openings are sufficiently wide to get my hands through. 

Placket sleeves with a narrow cuff.

The irregular stripe of Gathering by the Creek print runs uninterrupted down the single-piece bodice back. No pattern matching was needed! (Gotta love a great stripe!)

The Berwick, back view.

The side vent allows for ample ease. And I have slightly lengthened the sleeves to suit my style... and long arms.

The Berwick's side vent.

Because of the front peplum, you do have to put the tunic on over your head.

The Berwick St. Tunic, front view.

For the next Berwick
Now that I have one make of the Berwick under my belt, the next time I use the pattern I'd incorporate modifications: 
  • give it a full front opening and omit the peplum,
  • shorten to make it shirt length,
  • eliminate the cuff plackets and just use the narrow cuffs,
  • remember the total number of buttons needed.

Me in my new Australian aboriginal Berwick

All in all, it was a successful project and another Make Nine 2021 finish! 

Make Nine 2021 worksheet: April update

Saturday, April 10, 2021

String pieced UFO is off the design wall

One of my Make Nine 2021 prompts is a UFO finish. This scrappy string quilt is a viable contender.

String pieced scrappy quilt top. 

There are leftover blocks from a quilt made in the 1990s adjacent to blocks made in 2021. I'm sure the fabrics span at least 3 decades. 

Although I can't put my hands on the book right now, the technique was from a book, "Easy Pieces: Creative Color Play with Two Simple Quilt Blocks," by Margaret J. Miller, a innovative quiltmaker ahead of her time. Additional blocks have joined this stack of blocks as this UFO [unfinished object] has surfaced and resurfaced over the years. 

Scrap Quilts: Color vs Value 
To me, scrap quilts are the best—innovative, serendipitous, and a brilliant use of seemingly unrelated bits working together for a magnificent outcome. Making them is a good exercise in the study of value. Value is the lightness or darkness of a hue. It's been said, "Color gets all the credit, but Value does all the work." Scrap quilts are living proof!

"Make Do" stash blocks
In 2017, my guild teammates and I presented a program on "making do"... illustrating ideas for using fabrics from the stash... using what you already have... or, "making do" as our foremothers did. From this program came a sampling of 5" string-pieced blocks.

Five-inch string pieced blocks using fabric scraps and leftovers.

Somewhere along the way, these two sets of blocks joined forces.

Center block units are 6" finished. The zig-zag border has 4.5" finished blocks.

At the end of March, I finished the top. Now I'm on the hunt for a backing. Then to baste (my least favorite step in the process).

Scrappy string quilt top.

An empty design wall?
The "top layer" of the design wall is empty. Peeling back the flannel top layer will unearth the layers beneath that are sporting other in-progress works.

Empty design wall? Only the top layer.

What long-time UFO will be revealed??? I'm sure I'll find something that I'd forgotten about... and it will again make its way to the needle and continue the journey to completion.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Happy Easter Bunnies with EPP

Happy Easter. Happy Spring. 

Three-quarter inch EPP hexies from the 100 Day Project.

These English paper pieced [EPP] bunny hexagons are for Day 64 of my 100 Day Project

And my 2021 Stitching Success Tracker is looking colorful for the first quarter of the year. 

Off to a great start! The first quarter 2021 of the Stitching Success Tracker.

The weather is getting more Spring-like and the days are growing longer. I'll be enjoying stitching handwork as well as a little more sunshine today.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Make Nine finish: a charity quilt in baby steps over 5 years

Sometimes a simple project takes years to complete. Life frequently steps in to disrupt the best of plans. 

Make Nine finish: charity quilt.

Baby step 1: This is a charity quilt whose blocks were started in 2016. Hey! Only 5 years ago. 

Make Nine finish. Completed charity quilt. Finished size 38.5" x 38.5".

Baby step 2: After discovering the pile of strip blocks and thinking "this quilt top needs to be finished," the alternate plain blocks were added in February of 2020. (Almost 4 years later.)

String quilt blocks for charity quilt.

Quilt top completed February 2020.

Baby steps 3 and 4: The quilting was done during a virtual guild workshop in the summer of last year. Then the scrappy binding was made and pinned to the quilted top in September.

Scrappy binding attached on the back to be machine stitched from the front.

Baby step 5: And, yesterday, March 27 of 2021... the binding got sewn down! (5 years in the making.)

Scrappy binding attached all by machine. 

Machine binding with 100 wt. thread
The binding was attached all by machine. This time, I tried a small zigzag stitch (stitching from the front of the quilt), with 100 wt. Invisafil soft poly thread in the bobbin. Invisafil is a thread from WonderFil Threads. Try it! It worked beautifully.

Can you see the bobbin thread? By choosing a thread color that matches the backing fabric... the stitching is practically invisible! 

Detail of binding from the back side. 100 wt. Invisafil thread in the bobbin. 

So, it might have taken 5 years to make this quilt, but it's finished! I'm checking off that project on my Make Nine 2021 list.

Documenting via digital camera
Thanks to my photo library that time stamps the photos I take. And a pat on the back to me and my iPad for documenting various stages of my work. Sometimes photos are taken for color and composition auditioning, sometimes it's for remembering a layout, or in this case, the on-going documentation of my work processes. 

It's good to take notes via camera!

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