dresden plate

A former co-worker of mine introduced me to English Paper Piecing (EPP). With each sewing project she finished, she cut out small squares of left over fabric, basted them over paper hexagons, and stitched them all together into one of the most beautiful textiles I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it was and is amazing and has continued to stick in my mind over the years.

I tried my own hand at EPP hexagons in August of 2019. Andy and I decided that we needed a Halloween quilt, and after settling on a pattern we marched down to our local fabric store and picked out our themed fabric. Of course I haven’t finished that quilt yet (getting close though I think!), but when the chance to explore EPP further during the March Aurifil challenge arose, I took it! WIPs be damned!

At first I flirted with the possibility of more hexagons, but while searching through all the different options on www.paperpieces.com (who so generously gifted myself and the rest of us Artisans our paper pieces) I was reminded of all the beautiful dresden plate quilts I’ve seen over the years. Never wanting to miss an opportunity to try something new, I snatched a pack of the 12″ 16 Petal Dresden pieces (which makes 6 blocks) and set off on my adventure.

This go ’round I went small. Instead of making some quilt blocks with my dresden plates, I decided to make a placemat/something cute to set on the table under a dish.

The thread I used was Aurifil Cotton 80wt in a creamy off-white. What I appreciate most about 80wt is twofold: how easy it is to break with my hands (sharp things near me make me nervous) and how invisible it is (so easy to make lil secret stitches). But on the less practical side, I really like the cute wooden spool : )

While this was my first time basting a curved edge, and I was definitely nervous, it action turned out decent! With each piece my technique improved, which has me feeling very confident in moving forward with a larger dresden plate project.

Also, I just wanna name how few dresden plate piecing resources there are out there! All I wanted was a photo tutorial or youtube video about how to baste these things but had no luck finding anything. Maybe I should just fumble through my own process publicly and share it so other folks like myself can explore this wonderful EPP shape…

Full disclosure, I haven’t finished my project yet. But that’s okay! I’m enjoying the process, so why rush the product? That said, I hope to finish soon because I’m looking forward to a pot of soup sitting on top of this thing, or maybe even a loaf of crusty bread.


small things, small spaces

Last March Andy asked if we could drive over to her office and pick up a spare work computer “just in case” her workplace needed to migrate their operations to work-from-home mode due to Covid-19. Well that same day we drove down-town and shoved that large dual monitor setup into our tiny little car. Good thing too because that was the last time she set foot in her building!

Andy’s migration to working from home resulted in some shifting around of our living room; where the sewing machines once were, now a computer is. But lucky for me, we were able to squeeze in a temporary (which at this point feels pretty permanent, lol) sewing/craft station so that I can still keep my hands busy without having to setup and tear down my equipment each time I get the itch to make something.

(image description: a view of the craft desk! A vintage green metal table sits in front of a wooden bookshelf. There is a sewing machine and a serger on top [as well as some fabric, patterns, and a thread cone holder]. To the right is a cream colored metal cart full of WIPs. Below is a small vintage bench and boxes of fabric scraps + an iron and pressing board.)

The trickiest part of this new setup has been keeping things tidy…see I’m a bit of a collector and also very forgetful so there’s always a bunch of small things stacked on and around my workspace both because I have a lot of things and also so I don’t forget I have a thing already. Not to mention this small space sits in the middle of our living room and is always within view. Any and all messes are VISIBLE from several angles. Which leads me to my project for this months Aurifil challenge!

This month, I made a small fabric basket to help keep the clutter at bay. The pattern I referenced was published in No. 4 of Making Magazine. It will come as no surprise to anyone that I also used scrap fabric; some brown/greyish chambray for the outside and pale yellow quilting cotton for the interior lining.

(image description: a brown/grey tube shaped fabric basket sits on top of a green metal table. A peek of the pale yellow lining can be seen as well some of the contents inside the basket – a cone of thread and a rotary cutter.)

Not gunna lie, I keep forgetting to place a thread order for my monthly challenge projects so have been heavily relying on the cone of light grey 50wt the folks at Aurifil sent me back in June to get most of my projects done. Lucky for me 50wt is amazing and has risen to all challenges and tasks I set before it.

(image description: a top view of the same basket. More clearly visible are the interior contents like some straight pins, clips, rotary cutter and cone of thread.)

This little cutie basket does a fantastic job of corraling some of the random bits and bobs that are often strewn across the table or the bookshelves behind while also being relatively incognito. It was important to me when making this basket that it blend relatively seamlessly into the background of our living space; having something super obvious or bright wouldn’t compliment a space that already is kind of out of place given the other surroundings. I would say I accomplished this pretty well! If you look back up to the first photo in this post, the basket is barely visible on the shelf, nestled behind/between the sewing machine and serger.

Would I make another one? Yes. It was a cute and fast project that allowed me to use up some stash and play with a thread I already love. But I won’t be making others unless it’s really needed to keep things looking put together; I’m hoping that maybe someday this “temporary” sewing station can get taken down and return to it’s former location making the need for creative organization strategies obsolete. Someday ๐Ÿ˜Š

(image description: me holding the basket, it rests on my open palm. In the background there is a small white quilt made by a friend.)

house slippers

This month’s Aurifil adventure was to hand quilt something. I don’t have the juice to do much lately, so went small and made some slippers.

(image description: two green slippers. They are dark green with a lighter chartreuse green quilting thread. The quilting is in straight lines, and the stitches are kind of big. A hand holds the slippers.)

The pattern is from Sew DIY, and not gunna lie I finished them at 11pm a few nights ago and was so tired or burned out (honestly I don’t know what was going on) that I cry laughed at how ugly I thought they were. It felt like I was wearing prickly pear shoes ๐Ÿคฃ

The next morning, after a good night’s rest, their cuteness became visible. And thank glob because I really wanted these slippers! On the weeks I work from home, I set up office in our bedroom which has uninsulated wood floors and sits above our basement so my feet always get freezing. After a trial run, these slippers do the job of keeping my toes warm while I pace the room talking to folks on the phone, just as I’d hoped.

(image description: the slippers in action. The fabric is a darkish green and the quilting thread is a lighter chartreuse like green. The quilting lines don’t match up quite right on the tops. Also shown are handknit grey Kia socks – pattern by Dawn Landix.)

As usual, this is another project made from scraps; namely some extra batting and quilting cotton from eons ago. The interior foot lining is the only bit that isn’t green; it’s a cute lil gardening tools print that my dear friend Stephanie gave me.

I sewed everything together with Aurifil 50wt, which is my new jam, but went off my normal 50wt ant trail by quilting with Aurifil 28wt. I’m not sure what the color is named, but it’s kind of like a more green-y chartreuse? It’s a great color I think.

(image description: me standing in front of our bedroom mirror with green slippers on and blue mug in hand.)

I’ll make another pair, and I think I’ll hand quilt those too. Next go round I’ll make the opening a little bigger and friendlier to my sturdy ankles.

And that’s that!

sandhill sling turned tiny backpack

This month’s Aurifil Artisan challenge was to make a bag. At first I had my heart set on another Making Backpack, but then Noodlehead released the Sandhill Sling and immediately I changed my mind and knew that was what I would be making.

While the sling style was super nostalgic for me (my middle school book bag and my high school field hockey bag were slings), it’s not really my style anymore so from the get go I was planning to modify it into a tiny backpack. Other than that, I followed the pattern as written.

(image description: The Sandhill Sling turned tiny backpack is laying on a vintage crochet blanket with its contents sort of spilling out. There is a brass mushroom pin in the top right corner of the bag, and my feet in the bottom of the photo frame.)

As with most of my projects, I started with diving into my stash and scraps and found some white canvas of unknown origin. Since this tiny backpack was destined to be my new day-to-day back white wasn’t gunna work – it would get filthy in no time and I’m not a fan of grey either. So I pulled out our biggest stock pot, poured in some water and Turmeric and dyed the canvas with great success! The color ended up being a super fun baby duck yellow that is much better than just plain old white, at least I think so.

(image description: Andy (very graciously) wearing the backpack from a quarters and full back view.)

Again I dove into the stash for the remaining supplies and found some old, stiff, placemat interfacing, and some last remnants of the lining fabric from an orange coat I made myself for my b-day a few years back. What I didn’t have on hand was webbing, sturdy zippers, and the strap sliders – so we made a last minute trip to get those things (I’m so fortunate to have a partner who is always down to go on random crafty adventures!)

It took a total of two days to sew everything. The first day I cut out and interfaced all the parts and got the supplies I didn’t have kicking around. The second day I sewed it all together. I imagine it could have been a single day project, but I’m having an eczema breakout on my fingerpads that made them feel really sore after handling all that stiff canvas.

(image description: The backpack sits on a wood floor. The straps are kind of splayed out to the sides.)

While this isn’t my first time making a Noodlehead backpack design, it is the first time I’ve made one with straps. Luckily I found a great tutorial on a now defunct Colette site that had all the infos I needed to make the straps I wanted. I would say that the straps were the trickiest part – both the making and placement of them. At first I had foolishly sewn them to the bottom but when I threw the bag on it was very uncomfy so I ripped it out and attached them to the side seams just above the curve.

For thread I used Aurifil 50wt which is a real workhorse. And when I say I used 50wt, I used it. And I used it for the whole thing. For the straps, the bag body, the lining, all of it; and I’m not joking when I say this stuff is a workhorse. It was able to jump through all the hoops I placed in front of it and then some. I picked 50wt thread over all the other Aurifil options because it hit the sweet spot of being STRONG, not too visible for top stitching, and not too bulky for sewing the guts. While I did break one needle during the process, I’m happy to report that my thread didn’t break at all ๐Ÿ™‚

(image description: The guts! The lining is left over from my orange b-day coat made a few years back. The print of the lining is little floral looking shapes in blue, green, and mustard. The print is obscured quite a bit by a knitting project and some books inside. Also shown is my very pale hand.)

Once again, a successful and fun project that’s already in heavy rotation. Now off to make one for Andy before she steals this one from me, lol.

spring goose

This quilt, that I’ve been calling “Spring Goose,” has a fun story.

I started reading blogs and nurturing an RSS/Feed reader at the tender age of 15. I came of age on the internet, and haven’t seemed to have been able to move past the blog love of the early aughts. To this day, I am still very much an avid blog follower. One of the blogs I follow is called “Stitched In Color.” It’s a cute thing, penned by a quilter named Rachel. Well a few weeks ago she put a call out for a solids sewing challenge based around four colorway’s inspired by the season. So I entered, cause apparently that’s what I do now, and my comment got selected. A few days later a package containing 10 fat quarters was in my mailbox.

image description: A stack of fat quarters sitting on top of a vintage table (a wood breadbox is in the background). The colors in the stack of fat quarters are white, shades of peach and pink, greens, orange, yellows, and a minty blue/green.

Well those fat quarters got chopped up and sewn back together to make the Spring Goose quilt. The individual geese’s are 2″x4″ and the total finished size of the quilt is about 50″x41″. Andy, my partner, helped me pick out the Spring colorway and helped me cut and press which was super helpful. Andy doesn’t like to sew, but enjoys being my “sous-chef” while I do the sewing part which is fun because it means spending time together being creative.

image description: A flying geese quilt laying out on a bed. Each column of geese is made up of: fuchsia/light pink, mint green/dark green, light yellow/medium yellow, orange/peach, white/mint green, green/medium yellow, orange/fuchsia, white/light yellow, pink/peach, and dark green/green.

At first, the intention was to keep this quilt for our home. But when we saw the colors in person we realized that they would make a perfect quilt for our 1year old nibling who lives far away from us. I just broke the surprise to my sister; it was fun being sneaky but I just couldn’t hold on to the secret any longer.

image description: Me holding the quilt, the binding of the quilt is a pale pale pink. Our very old rubber tree is poking its head into the frame.
image description: The quilt folded in half and resting on top of a wooden door.

All in all, it turned out well. As with most of the projects I start, it was an experiment and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but it ended up being a fun and beautiful and wholly usable quilt. I know our nibling will also love it, they’re a plucky bird just like the geese in this quilt. 

image description: The quilt once again laying out on a bed, but the back is folded over a bit to reveal a mix of white and yellow backing fabrics. The quilting, which is in solid vertical columns, is also more apparent.

Other project details of note:

  • 10 fat quarters of solid fabrics for the top
  • About 2 yards of solid backing fabrics
  • Cotton quilt batting
  • Aurifil 50wt thread in a silvery color for the guts
  • Aurifil 28wt thread in peach for the topstitching/quilting and 50wt in off white for the bobbing/quilting

a quilted vest

Two summers ago, I think, I started making a patchwork jacket. At the time I was super obsessed with a hand quilted jacket made by my friend Jess (for the record, I’m still in love with it) and needed/wanted something similar for myself.

Well, after much shoving the parts away into dark corners and basket bottoms, it’s finally done! My intention was to make it a jacket, but I had never done any kind of piecing before and got better with it as I went so the quality of the sleeves just wouldn’t have worked with the much poorer quality of the body so now it’s a vest (which is probably better because I love vests and always have a need for more).

(image description: The upper back portion of a patchwork vest. The rectangles of fabric pieced together are all different colors (like green, red, pink, orange, and white) and a range of floral prints, solids, and plaids. The vest hangs on a wooden hanger, that itself is hanging from a glass doorknob.)

Each bit of fabric in this thing has a story; all are scraps, some I’ve held on to since I was a teenager, some belonged to my late maternal and paternal grandmothers, some were gifts, some came from Andy’s stash and melded with mine when we moved in together. Even the thread, binding, and batting have a tale to tell. Altogether the parts and pieces paint quite a lovely scene.

(image description: The vest again, this time a photo of the full front. You can see the inside fabric, which is a tomato red print.)
(image description: The back of the vest. The quilting is just straight lines, when I touch it it reminds me of an earthworm.)

Unfortunately the quilting has made it very stiff, feels a bit like cardboard robot costume, but I’m hoping that wearing and washing will soften it with time. Either which way, I’m happy to have it finished ๐Ÿ™‚

(image description: Me wearing the vest, mid laugh. Thanks to my lovely partner for this foto.)

big dyke energy

A few months back, I applied to be an Aurifil Artisan (thanks to @sewqueer who posted a story about it on Instagram). I wholly and fully expected to not be selected, but I thought what the hell might as well and applied anyways.

Well I got selected (!). Generally speaking, I’m excited; this is the first time I’ve ever done something like this and it feels good to be noticed. But also, I’m a little nervous. Expectations are weird and I do feel intimidated by not only the talented people I find myself in the midst of but also just putting myself out there to a new community of makers. Anyways I digress, part of the deal of being an Aurifil Artisan is that Aurifil gifts us thread for different challenges over the course of a year and we then make something neat with it. This month’s challenge was about embroidery or cross-stitch so naturally I had to make something with one of the patterns from Junebug and Darlin’.

(image description: Some Aida cloth in a wooden hoop, all set up for cross-stitchin’. There is a needle minder shaped like an orange gummy bear and five spools of thread also shown.)

Enter “Big Dyke Energy.” I’ve wanted to stitch this motif up ever since I saw it. I also thought it would be a most excellent way to come out to a bunch of new people ๐Ÿ˜‰

(image description: An in process view of the cross-stitch; the words “big dyke energy” are complete and some flowers below it are almost also complete. In the frame are also a spool of green thread and a pair of blue thread snips.)
(image description: A finished view of the project. The words “big dyke energy” are above a cute floral motif. My hand is holding the hoop.)

I used Aurifil Cotton Floss for this project in the colors Rusty Orange, Peach, Mustard, Very Dark Olive, and of course Very Dark Bark (shout out to my partner for helping with the selections). A couple of things about this thread that I wanted to share:

  1. The spool is wood and it is CUTE. I felt like I was living my teenage twee dream carting my project around the house.
  2. The hand of this floss is really nice and didn’t hurt my hands. You’re probably thinking, “okay that’s random” but for reals, my hands get sore when I use non-natural or otherwise treated thread/yarn. So far as I can tell, this stuff is not mercerized which I think is why it felt good to use? Or maybe it’s just a byproduct of the growing region. Either way, the hand is really nice.
  3. So many colors! So many shades of brown that I had to choose between! A happy quandary to find myself in.

All in all, this was a super fun project and has me feeling inspired to dabble in cross-stitch more often. Not sure what will be next, maybe “Take Time to Heal” maybe “Stay Tender” or maybe something with our wi-fi password…

(image description: The finished and framed piece hangs on a wall above some family photos and below a paint by number painting of a rose. There are small ceramic animal figurines mixed in among the family photos.)