Archive for February, 2015

I have completed my first two months of my daily journal practice! In my first post sharing my intention for 2015, I was unsure of how much I wanted to share here. I’ve decided I want to try sharing a few photos every couple months, showcasing themes or ideas that particularly shine for me. Let me disclose there were days with just words or scribbles, but these are just as important as the entries I want to show today. I found that with no judgement, as long as I came back each day, entries became easier and easier, ideas flowed from one day to the next. Sometimes, it was the days when I had no idea what I was going to journal that were the most creative of all.

IMG_9172I have recently been infatuated with the flying geese pattern, as some of my recent projects show. Flying geese became a major theme of my first two months. I enjoyed the zentangle like quality of drawing triangles and playing with color combinations. These are very peaceful and meditative to draw.


Occasionally, I’d also get an idea for more of an art quilt idea. On these days I’d use words and rough sketches to put down what I was imagining in my head. In the past, I’d have these ideas, and since I wasn’t journaling, they would just drift away into my subconscious. Now, that I’ve captured them down in a rough form, they feel more real and tangible. It is like my brain doesn’t need to work to keep the idea, I’ve released it into the world, and it is there waiting for me should I want to make it into a quilt. I can foresee that this journal will become a place of inspiration, to look back through past entries, and pull out an idea to make into a quilt. I get the sense I can hold a lot more quilt ideas in my head, now that I am letting them go instead of keeping them in.

PicMonkey Collage

When Play Crafts announced their 2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge using Marsala, I enjoyed spending several days sketching possible quilts to make using marsala. This was also the first time a design I sketched got me excited enough to where I took time to calculate size and dimensions and how I would turn it into a quilt. The process resurrected a lot of high school geometry I haven’t used in years. Maybe you will see it as a quilt in the future!

IMG_9156Most recently, I wanted to make a baby quilt for a friend, and spent one of my daily entries sketching out what the quilt might look like, as I had fabrics already purchased.  I am fairly humming with excitement at making my first design into a quilt that is all my own!

IMG_9162Recently, one of the quilt blogs I follow, Quilting Jetgirl, posted her notes on lectures attended at QuiltCon. In one, she quotes the lecturer as saying, “Alissa’s advice to those of us considering how we can find our voice was not to analyze what else is out there or how we’re different, it’s simply to do what we do, again and again, and eventually our unique voice will emerge.” This spoke to me in reflection of my daily journal practice. My intent to start on this new experiment was that I’ve traditionally followed patterns and copied other ideas, and wanted to find my own voice. Her advice echos my experience in these first two months, that day by day, going to my journal and doing what I want again and again, eventually my voice will emerge. We’ll see!


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This year I totally splurged and subscribed to the Alabama Channin Swatch of the Month club. From the moment I first found an Alabama Chanin book at the book store, I’ve been intrigued by their patterns and stitching, and am excited to stitch along this year. They focus on hand stitching, which I love to do!


When ordering, I could pick from five different colorways: Reds, Blues, Neutrals, White/Natural, and Navy/Black. My first inclination was to choose blue (of course!), but I’ve been sewing on my Ocean Waves quilt for the last few years, and I’m kind of over blue. So I thought red would be a fun way to mix things up. It is probably my least favorite color, and I thought it would be good to spend some time with it. Plus, they match the most gorgeous ruby and maroon colors with the more traditional red. After receiving my first swatch of the month, thread, and beads, I’m so glad I chose red!


As you might have picked up on following my posts, I love hand sewing. I think this monthly swatch club will be a great way to practice and expand my skills. I don’t typically use beads or do much embellishment besides the simple quilting stitches, so I hope to broaden my appreciation for and ability to use beads. I’m going to try to use beads in every swatch.


The typical Alabama Chanin style is to take cotton jersey, and stencil one layer with a pattern, and overlay it over another piece of cotton jersey. The two layers are then stitched together with a heavy duty thread called button thread. Then fabric is cut away to reveal the fabric beneath. This allows for complex patterns to emerge between the colors, the layers, the stitching, and the embellishment. The possibilities are endless!


I chose to do reverse applique, sewing around the stencil with a simple running stitch, then cutting out the circle revealing the color beneath. I then chose to use beads to create another circle around the circle.


As a quilter I typically use quilting cotton, regular thread and a small needle. It was such a pleasure in sewing my first swatch to feel the different materials: the stretchy softness of the cotton jersey, the thick sturdiness of the button thread, and the shiny sparkle of the glass beads.


Last year, when I was on the fence about whether to purchase the 2014 swatch club, I chatted a bit with my crafter friend Vickie, who has sewn a few clothing items from Alabama Chanin. She brought up a great point that it is good to prioritize where you want to go, and to spend money on projects that help you go in that direction. Additionally, we have so few opportunities when we live so rural, that these types of online or mail learning options are good to take advantage of. These ideas have been mulling around in my head for the last year, so when the swatch club continued in 2015, I knew it was a direction I wanted to go!


I can’t wait to get started on February’s swatch! What to make with the blocks at the end of the year? Alabama Chanin suggests putting them in a binder to create a kind of reference library, or sew them together to make a small lap quilt. Already, I’d like to try my hand at making a shirt or skirt!


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In the new year, I had a few days off and realized I was low on fabric color options, So I  decided to start the new year with a dye session. I pulled out my entire stash of dyed fabrics to see what I have, and what colors I wanted to dye.

IMG_9056I had plenty of red, purple, green and yellow. Low on blue and brown. I read once in a quilting book, that a quilter’s stash will often tell you what kind of colors they don’t like to use. In that case, I love to quilt with blue and brown!


So my first dye batch was a run of 7 colors, mixed in three values, to make neutrals. I was hoping for more browns, but the mix actually came out more diverse. As I was mixing and dyeing I was bummed because it wasn’t what I had hoped for, but after drying and ironing, I love the spread!

IMG_9099When I see them all jumbled together, I think of a cottage garden, with roses and hollyhocks and herbs. What do you see in these colors?

PicMonkey Collage

As I’ve said before, I am strongly drawn to neutrals, and already this bunch has me imagining and thinking about many different projects to use them in!

IMG_9110I also dyed a nine-step colorway from blue to green.

PicMonkey Collage2

My first project with the new fabrics was to make a new set of coasters. I chose one of my ice-dyed fabrics as the backing, and picked six individual colors for the front of the coasters.

IMG_9132I wanted to try making a round coaster, so found a lid in the kitchen that was roughly the size I wanted. I cut a circle from the backing, from the front, and from batting.

IMG_9134I sewed all three layers together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 2″ gap to turn inside out. I then ironed flat, and stitched around the edge to close all three layers together. And then this is where it got fun!

IMG_9143At our last meeting, we starting talking about zentangles and quilting, and I hadn’t used my darning foot on my new sewing machine much, so I decided I wanted to play around with free motion quilting! I sketched a few designs first, seeing how they would look in a circle, which also helps me practice the non-stop movement with the pen first before stitching.

IMG_9137Because the coasters are relatively small, the pattern caused the thread to be quite dense in some areas, which really created a new color and pattern of its own.

IMG_9140One of the best pieces of advise I read that helped me become more confident with free motion quilting, is from Leah Day, who teaches and uses travel stitching a lot. It opens up the doors to so many possibilities!

IMG_9141I think these little projects are a great way for me to find designs I love, to then use on bigger quilts. I could make coasters all the time!

IMG_9142Which stitching pattern is your favorite?


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