Friday, January 30, 2015

Parterre Jardin / Quilt Finish

I started piecing this project at the end of 2011. To say that it has been my longest standing work-in-progress is definitely most accurate. I'm happy that now I can official check this one off as "done". :) 

Parterre Jardin

Going back into my blog archive, I was actually a little surprised to realize and remember that this is the second quilt top that I made. Yup, right after finishing my first quilt top in October 2011, I started on this. (We're reaching way back now!)

Parterre Jardin

It's also the very first quilt that I designed. I remember putting together a mockup in Photoshop and figuring out the block dimensions, while thinking "this is fun, I can actually design my own quilts!". That excitement still hits me whenever I start working on a new pattern. It never gets old.

Parterre Jardin

I began making this quilt as gift for my husband's aunt, who we really owe so much to. When we first moved to Seattle, she gave us a home. We lived with her for a number of months as we looked for work and a place to live in a brand new city, during the height of the recession. It was tough and there weren't a ton of opportunities around, but she never faltered in her support and belief that we'd figure it all out. And I guess in hindsight, we've done ok. :) 

Parterre Jardin

I started working on this quilt while we were living with her. I was sewing on top of moving boxes and just making due with the limited space that I had, but I knew that I really wanted this quilt to be special. That intent was my inspiration for sure, and yet it became a little paralyzing when it came time to quilt the top. I just didn't want to mess it up. 

Parterre Jardin

So I waited, and I considered, and I let the quilt sit unfinished for quite some time, until recently, when I decided that it didn't matter how it got finished, just that it did. So it became my finish-along goal to get this done by the end of January. I decided to straight-line quilt it fairly simply, and bind it in a subtle striped, coral-colored print (actually left over from my first quilt). And it was done. Once I quieted all the mental indecision, it was simple enough to just do the stitching and let the quilt come together.

Now that it's finished I feel relieved and excited to finally have the chance to share this with the person who really helped my husband and I to feel like Seattle could be home. I plan to embroider a quick quilt label and find a fun way to present the quilt (wrapped box or not?), but it feels amazing to have this project completed and ready to go into the wash.  

Parterre Jardin    

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: "Parterre" / Original design
Size: 60" x 60"
Fabrics: Prince Charming by Tula Pink, backing is organic flannel from Cloud-9
Batting: Pellon Legacy Wool
Quilted by: Me

Linking up with:

2015 FAL at On the Windy SideA Lovely Year of Finishes

Friday, January 23, 2015

Around the World Blog Hop

Hello and welcome! Last week I was invited by my friend Caroline at Sew Can She to join her on the Around the World Blog Hop. This past year I've had the privilege to work with Caroline as a contributor for her new book project (her second book, coming out in 2016).

We actually first "met" through her blog when she decided to feature one of my tutorials. Since that time, I've had the chance to get to know Caroline better and see firsthand how hard she works to support other sewists. She really uses her voice as an author and blogger to promote others and celebrate our online sewing community.

Whether through her weekly link-up,  her personal tips and tutorials, or through her latest collaborative book, "Just for You", her desire to cheer others on and offer encouragement shines through. Her website is also a treasure trove of great projects, and has tons of links to some of the best sewing tutorials on the web, so I highly recommend checking it out.

As part of the blog hop, I'm suppose to share a little about myself and show some of what I've been working on lately. From Caroline, I received a list of questions from the blog hop that I could choose to answer. They're excellent questions, many of which I haven't really talked about here, although I have thought a lot about them. So I decided to have a little Q&A today. Here goes!

Briar Rose 6-Point Star Quilt
An EPP quilt top I finished last year. I'm always working on at least one hand stitched project.

Q: Why do you write/create what you do?

I'm a pretty eclectic maker. I like to work on multiple projects at the same time, and right now I have sewing, quilting, knitting, and cross stitch projects all in the works. I suppose I'm pretty much an equal opportunity maker.

I've always been fascinated with the process of taking something like a piece of fabric or a skein of yarn and being able to transform that into something useful, into something beautiful. The thought that I can demystify the process of making a pair of socks or a blanket is one thing that really motivates me to create and explore new crafts. 

I've also been a very tactile person with a strong need to make things and be creative throughout my life. I studied art and design as a student and learned about those very formal realms of creative expression before realizing that what I love about making is wrapped up in the idea of creating things that are beautiful, personal, and useful. I guess I'm really more of an artisan than an artist when I consider my own creative process.

Honeycomb Pillow
Honeycomb Pillow from the QAL that I hosted in 2013 / EPP, hand quilting, machine quilting, and embroidery all together 

Q: What are you working on right now?

At the moment, I'm really working hard to try to finish up the quilting on my Parterre Jardin quilt. I'd like to get it done by the end of the month since I'm participating in a couple FALs this year, and that's the deadline I set. :) I'm also working on a cross stitch, a pair of knit socks, and sewing some bags for a tutorial/contributor project. I like switching gears. It keeps me on my toes.

Forest Cross Stitch Progress
One of my current WIPs. Pattern is by Jody Rice of Satsuma Street.

Q: How does your writing/creating process work?

I'm a very visual learner, so I always draw my ideas first. I really think about creating patterns like it's a process of teaching myself how to make the idea that I have. Having a sketchbook to work in has been important to me, and not being precious about what I put in there or how many pages I use is essential. No idea is a bad idea. I also use digital mock-ups made in Illustrator or Photoshop quite a bit, especially for professional work. 

When I'm writing patterns for others, I like to methodically break down each step of the making into the simplest factor and then decide "What really is the next step? What information do I need to see this clearly?". By being a little detached from my idea, I hope to stand in the shoes of someone who is coming to the pattern for the first time and needs me (the writer) to not only explain but also familiarize them with my idea.  

Bella Baby Quilt
Bella Baby Quilt / designed and made in 2013

Q: How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I'd have to say the way that my work differs from others is that it's made by me. Hand making can be such a personal art. Often you're making objects that are meant to be beautiful, comforting, inspiring, and/or useful, and you're doing it directly with your own two hands. Quilts are also often gifted and made specifically for loved ones. It doesn't get much more personal than that. 

But to actually attempt to answer this question, ;) I suppose my color sense and love for hand stitching are aspects of my work that flow in and out of my projects pretty consistently. I was once told by an online friend that they could easily tell my work from others, and that I have a very defined style. Maybe that's something that's easier to pick up on outside of yourself?

Hexi Rainbow (in progress)
A whole ton of EPP hexies I've been working on progressively from my scraps. These are pretty much my colors.

To keep the Around the World Blog Hop thread unbroken, I asked my friend Rachael of Imagine Gnats if she would like to post next. Rachael is someone who I've worked closely with for the past year as a contributor at her blog. She's also one of my longest standing friends in the online quilting community. She's someone who is constantly supporting me, answering my tough business questions, and always offering me much inspiration as a blogger, maker, and businesswoman. :) I pretty much think Rachael could do anything she set her mind to!

Rachael will be posting next week as part of the blog hop, so make sure to head over to her blog to check it out. Her site is also a great resource for free sewing tutorials and patterns, info about using new types of fabrics (like double gauze), and lots of inspiration for those who love to see clothing patterns made up in new and interesting ways, so I recommend taking some time to explore. :) 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January-March / Setting Goals

Parterre Jardin (Prince Charming) Quilt Top

Dead Simple Lace Socks

Forest Cross Stitch Progress

I'm setting my creative goals for the first quarter of the year. It can be tough to strike that right balance of being just ambitious enough and feeling like the list could swallow you, so I'm starting pretty conservatively with just a handful of projects. Here's my overall plan of attack: mix in one longstanding WIP (Parterre Jardin) with a few newer projects and hopefully go forth and conquer. :)

Lately, I've been working on quite a variety of crafts, switching back and forth from cross stitch to quilting to knitting. I'm hoping to finish one of each of these projects this quarter plus a couple other contributor projects for Imagine Gnats, which I'm still in the planning stages with.

Here's the official WIP/Finish-Along list:

1. Quilt and bind Parterre Jardin
2. Finish knitting my Dead Simple Lace Socks 
3. Finish my Forest cross stitch 
4. Sew up my February contributor project for Imagine Gnats
5. Sew up one additional project for Imagine Gnats

Update: I've had a number of people ask about the cross stitch pattern. It's by Jody Rice of Satsuma Street. You can follow the link to her Etsy shop. :)

Linking up with:

 2015 FAL at On the Windy Side   WIP Wednesday

Saturday, January 3, 2015

On Making Plans...

2015 hit me hard. I felt myself starting to get a tickle in my throat New Year's Eve, but mentally passed it off as allergies and tried to will it away. But by New Year's Day, I was full-blown sick with a handful of weird cold/flu-like symptoms that seemed kind of unrelated. Punching them into the online symptom checker had the computer as baffled as me (I either have cancer or some rare tropical disease, apparently). ;)

July Blocks / Love Circle do. Good Stitches
July / do. Good Stitches Love Circle Charity Bee
So I've been taking it easy for the past few days and resting up as much as I can stand. I mean...I have things to do! It's a new year and I am ready to get started, but having a little health setback can be a good teacher too. It's a reminder to me that even with the best laid intentions, sometimes plans change and there might be extra challenges along the way.

Star Bright Blocks for September / do. Good Stitches Love Circle Charity Bee
September / do. Good Stitches Love Circle Charity Bee
Looking back, 2014 was a weird year for me creatively. I had some really exciting opportunities come my way--like having the chance to join do. Good Stitches, work with Robert Kaufman last spring, and becoming a contributor for Imagine Gnats--but in my own personal work I slowed down a bit. I continued to design future projects and dream up new quilts, but found myself reluctant to take the next step towards bringing those ideas into reality. I had (and frankly, still have) a lot of mental blockages that I think have acted as barriers to getting stuff made.

October Blocks / Love Circle do. Good Stitches
October / do. Good Stitches Love Circle Charity Bee
Some of the barriers were about physical space, like needing a better organization system for my studio. Some were about giving myself the mental space to prepare to sew, like not feeling guilty about the amount of WIPs I have or dwelling on other work/life priorities that are ever-present.

November Blocks / October Blocks / Love Circle do. Good Stitches
November / do. Good Stitches Love Circle Charity Bee
I've decided that in order to help myself work on getting past these barriers, a little outside encouragement might be exactly what I need. I'm going to once again give the finish-along a try this year and set manageable sewing goals each month. My overall intention is to find a balance between having self-defined deadlines that I want to shoot for, with some flexibility to fail at times.

I'm thankful that I'll have the opportunity to join other sewists in encouraging each other through A Lovely Year of Finishes, once again hosted by my friends Shanna and Melissa, and the 2015 Finish Along, hosted by Adrianne at On the Windy Side. 

My one and only personal goal this month is to finish the quilting and binding on my "Parterre Jardin" quilt from way back in the paleolithic days of my quilting journey. It's time it was done and gifted, plus I feel ready to tackle it finally.

Parterre Jardin (Prince Charming) Quilt

In 2015, I also hope to share more here and on Instagram, plus in person as a member of the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild. After lots of encouragement from my friend Yeechi, I decided to join up. I'm looking forward to getting to meet and connect with lots more local quilty folks, and to hopefully keep a more consistent relationship with my sewing machine too. ;)

Here's to a happy and productive New Year!

Linking up with:
A Lovely Year of Finishes

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