Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Boy's Nonsense Quilt

I recently joined the Grace Circle of do. Good Stitches and February is my month to lead the quilt. For those of you who are not familiar with do. Good Stitches, it's a quilting bee, consisting of many circles of sewers and quilters who work together to make quilts for various charities. All of this was started and is organized by Rachel of Stitched in Color. I'm so happy that I finally took the plunge this year and that there was an opening in the Grace Circle. Quilts made by our circle are received by foster children via My Very Own Blanket. I've LOVED getting to know these talented ladies of the Grace Circle over the past month and I'm so excited to be leading this month's quilt.

So, anyway, what are we sewing? Well, first I decided to do something girl-y, and then I decided it needed to include red and purple - not two colors I would normally pair. So, in contemplating how to pull these two colors together, I recalled this yardage of Storybook Lane fabric that had been lingering on my shelf and decided it would make a great backing. This adorable print pairs deep rich purple, red, and brown with bright lime-y yellow (citron), aqua, light blue and orange. We'll be combining these colors to make Boy's Nonsense quilt blocks a la this quilt and tutorial by Leila from Where the Orchids Grow.

Storybook Lane Palette

To start, I pulled and organized a bunch of scraps and fabrics so my circle members could see exactly what colors I'm hoping to incorporate.  Leila presents two different blocks (shown here) with varying placement of "value" in her tutorial.  I made two of each, selecting the purple, red, and brown for the high value pieces.  I used Kona white for the smaller triangles to tie the blocks together.

Fabric Pull

Boy's Nonsense Block

Since Leila's tutorial presents cutting instructions for an entire quilt top, I thought I'd break it down for each block for my circle members. Here are the pieces you'll need to cut, with Block A being the block with the high value rectangles (top right and bottom left above) and Block B being the block with the high value square in the middle (top left, bottom right). I'm asking my circle members to make one of each.

Block A:
- cut (2) 3" square white and cut on diagonal to make 4 triangles
- cut (4) high value pieces at 2.5" x 5.5"
- cut (1) medium value piece at 5.5" square (center)
- cut (2) low value pieces at 4.5" square and cut on diagonal to make 4 triangles

Block B:
- cut (2) 3" square white and cut on diagonal to make 4 triangles
- cut (4) low value pieces at 2.5" x 5.5"
- cut (1) high value piece at 5.5" square (center)
- cut (2) medium value pieces at 4.5" square and cut on diagonal to make 4 triangles

The piecing instructions can be found here.  A couple of tips regarding piecing:

:: When sewing the larger triangles to the rectangles, I found it helpful to press both pieces in half and align them at the pressed line.
:: After trimming, my blocks measured 10 1/4" square.

Boy's Nonsense Block for Grace Circle

I hope my Grace Circle friends enjoy putting these together as much as I did! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Just a Couple of Hats

Somewhere in the middle of the polar vortex a couple of weeks ago, I realized that Maggie's winter hat was way too small.  Great timing, eh?  Oh, just the coldest day in years, and your hat doesn't cover your ears - no biggie. ;-)  I promised her I'd get her a new hat as soon as possible.  In the mood for a quick knitting fix, she and I set off a few days later to pick out yarn.  Oddly enough, while in the knitting store, it was seventy some degrees and there was a tornado in the area.  It was a bit scary, but thankfully nothing touched down anywhere near us.  Gotta love crazy NC weather!

Ok, sidenote: I really, really love my local yarn store!!  Yarn Tree Studio is literally a hop, skip, and a jump from my house.  It is a fabulous environment and always filled with people socializing and knitting.  I'm not the most consistent knitter, but when I do knit I'm pretty loyal to this store.  I buy almost of all of my yarn there simply because the staff are so great, supportive, and just inspiring!  I wish I could spend more time there.

So, anyway, on this particularly windy day, Maggie and I were guided to this beautiful Malabrigo Mecha yarn.  It's a chunky superwash yarn and so soft and squishy.  Of course, Maggie picked out purple...she is often dressed head to toe in purple these days.  I cast on one of The Purl Bee's Hats for Everyone later that night.  Pretty quickly I realized that my gauge was way off, and the hat would be too small for Maggie.  So, I finished it up for Lyla and made Maggie another one.  It was a great, easy, quick knit and I was thrilled that I had just enough yarn to eek out the two hats.  I made the pompoms with some other yarn in my stash.  I already have a little boy asking for one, although decidedly not in purple.        

Monday, January 13, 2014

Building a Quilt Palette

How do you build your quilt palettes?  Do you stick with a fabric collection, pick a color scheme and pull fabrics, use an image for inspiration?  There are so many ways to go about it!  I feel like my typical approach to quilt design has always been focused on the fabric itself...meaning I find a piece of fabric or a collection I like and I use that to "pull" coordinating pieces. 

This year, I want to challenge myself to build quilt palettes in other ways.  I'd like to dig a little deeper into color and value and try to pull from my existing fabrics and scraps.  I'd like to bust out some colored pencils and graph paper and start sketching. 

So, it's no secret that children's books can be a great source of inspiration.  Beautiful characters and creatures, packed with color and whimsy.  This book caught my eye the first time I opened it up to read it to Lyla.  It is all about an owl on a nighttime adventure, bumping into all kinds of woodland friends.  The illustrations are brilliant, with deep blacks, grays and dramatically bright whites, oranges and greens.  I pulled this pile of fabrics over the weekend to compliment this page, and other than lacking maybe 1 or 2 true black pieces (which apparently I don't buy enough of), I think it's perfect.  Along with thinking about color and value, I find I also think a lot about the tone or theme that I want my fabric palette to evoke.  Here, I chose prints that I felt mimicked the woodland feel of this image, such as several prints from Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander, some sketchy florals from Juliana Horner and Denyse Schmidt, and a couple of great woodland prints (this one and this one are quickly disappearing from my fabric stash).  

I think this pile of fabric would be very happy cut up into a scrappy bear paw quilt.  Doesn't that seem fitting?  There seems to be an informal quilt-along starting on instagram and if I can get some other things crossed off my list, I might have to join the fun.  I'll be back soon to share some other projects I'm working on!  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Happy New Year, friends!  Did you celebrate, blow some horns, have some bubbly??  My favorite thing to do on New Year's Eve is to stay in, make a yummy dinner, cosy up with some wine and watch the ridiculous NYE programs on TV.  This year we tried to keep the kiddos up, and they almost made it, but they faded.   So, we put them to bed early, and followed soon after.

Today we had a campfire in the backyard with popcorn, hot cocoa and marshmallows.  I helped Maggie and Joe write their own New Year resolutions and I attempted to write my own, but didn't get too far.  I know I love a fresh start, and each year I set new goals for myself in many aspects of my life.  Sometimes, pinning them down in a list is the hard part. 

New Year Popcorn

New Year Campfire

Cocoa and Marshmallows

Last year, with a baby still taking up so much of my personal time - wonderfully so - I chose to just let things fly, to see what the year would bring me and what I might accomplish.  I became quite a homebody, which supported some aspects of my life (sewing, cooking), but left me feeling a bit disconnected from friends, the outdoors, family, etc.  Home can be so comforting and easy, which was what I needed last year, amidst the chaos that was raising a baby with two older kids going in opposite directions.  But, I was definitely missing some things that I needed.   

Looking ahead to this year I know that my biggest personal goals involve re-connecting with those things in my life that I'm missing...mainly being outside - exercising or working in the yard, and spending more quality time with family and friends.     

Last year was an unexpectedly exciting "sewing year" for me.  I recall wanting to be more intentional with my sewing and finish projects before starting new things.  I'd say I did just that.  When I put together a special quilt for my new nephew, I had no idea that it would appeal to so many others and that I'd end up writing a tutorial and making/selling 4 more.  I will admit, I put off some creative sewing this year to make several custom Arrow Tail quilts, but what a great experience it was to connect with others.          

Curves Work

As I looked forward to this year, I'm excited for a clean sewing slate, for lots of ideas floating around in my head and for many reasons to sew (oh, I've got lots of 'em this year!).  I feel like my journey and growth as a self-taught quilter has not really taken a direct path, so this year I want to focus on learning and improving basic techniques.  I'm also looking forward to connecting with other sewers.  I'm headed to Sew South in March (yay!) and recently joined the GRACE Circle of do. Good Stitches {a charity bee}.

Solstice Star for GRACE circle

I've also caught the knitting bug, again.  My interest in knitting comes and goes, but the recent release of this book has me totally re-energized.  The patterns are all so appealing and practical.  I asked Mark for the book and yarn to make the Antrorse sweater for Christmas.  And, I'm off to a good start on it.   I feel like I'll be doing a lot more knitting in 2014.   


So, that's my "list" if you, re-learn, sew lots and knit lots too.  I feel like I will be building my own list as I go this year.  I hope it's a great one and I hope yours it too!  Thanks so much for stopping by to visit my blog, reading my (sometimes rather lengthy - ahem) blog posts, and for taking the time to comment.  I hope to get to know you better in 2014.  Cheers!