Planning my Moonstone Quilt

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Howdy, friends! I’m here today with a short post about planning my Moonstone Quilt. There is a high likelihood that all of this may only make sense in my own head, but planning this was a HUGE struggle for me, so I wanted to share my thought process in case it does happen to help anyone!

First, if you haven’t seen the Moonstone pattern by Giucy Giuce and Karen The DIY Addict, you must check it out! (You can find it here.) Moonstone is an English Paper Piecing pattern (aka hand sewing!) and it comes in a fantastic kit complete with all the pieces you need to make a quilt, or several small projects, along with acrylic templates for cutting your pieces. The kit and pattern are really well done and I think the design is just so striking! It was just recently released, but there are already a handful of really inspiring photos on social media under #moonstonequilt.

AAANNDDDD… there just so happens to be an AMAZING giveaway going on right now where TWO lucky winners will be flown to San Fransisco to hang out with Giuseppe and Karen for the launch of the Moonstone Sew Along! You can find all the details here.

Ok… onto my quilt!

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For my Moonstone quilt, all I knew was that I wanted to use the new line, Neptune and the Mermaid by Margot Elena (Tokyo Milk) for Free Spirit Fabrics. It’s absolutely dreamy and seems like it was just made for fussy cutting. That’s as far as my plan went. I couldn’t even decide what configuration of the pattern I wanted to use.

So I stared, and stared, and stared some more. I only chose a few of my favorite prints from the line, but was really struggling because there is a lot of variation in color in what I chose. As a whole, the line ties together, but when you just pick and choose some prints, not quite as much.

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I started to pull some blenders in every color used in all the prints I had and decided that a Free Spirit Fabric designer mash up would be the way to go. I pulled what I could from my Tula Pink and Anna Maria Horner stash, and order a few more things by those two ladies, as well as Amy Butler and Heather Bailey.

I hadn’t really planned to use this many colors in the quilt, but once I saw them all together, how could I not? I had to figure out a plan. I organized all the blenders by color and took some photos. I spent a good amount of time looking at the photo of all my focals and then at the photo below of all the blenders. I stewed about it for awhile, as I usually do with projects. I kept hoping something would come to me.

And then I stewed some more. I mean, I stewed A LOT. I thought about while I walked the dogs, while I did dishes, I’m pretty sure I even dreamed about it.

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Something that many of you likely already know about me is that I am a planner. Hard core. I so desperately wanted to start cutting and sewing, but knew that I had to figure out where it was going first.

So I thought about the focals and how I would fussy cut them. I took photos of all the parts I planned to use and thought about the main colors in each of those parts, then I made a list. This helped me figure out how many variations I had to work with in my design and how I may be able to organize them.

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I kept going back to the idea of a color fade. Perhaps diagonally across the quilt or something, but I couldn’t make that work. I ended up order some of the dark blue color way of the Neptune line because I felt like I was going to need it to balance everything out.

It was time to make some decisions. First, I had to pick a pattern configuration and then I just had to start playing.

I use Adobe Illustrator for most of my drawing and layout. I understand many people do not have this program, so these next steps may not be helpful for everyone, but it is a great program that anyone can use with a little patience and a few YouTube tutorials!

I really loved the Gems configuration of Moonstone because I love the four pointed stars it makes, but I wanted my fussy cut focals to run horizontally and diagonally because they are primarily people and fish, so I rotated the gems configuration 45° to what you see below. I drew up the pattern in Illustrator so that I could begin placing my fabrics and colors.

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I input JPG swatches of the focal fabrics and turn them into pattern swatches so that I can place them into shapes. It’s not perfect, but it definitely does the job!

Once I had the pattern drawn up, I stared at the blank canvas for a bit until I decided which shapes I wanted to focus on. I settled on the large four-pointed stars that you can see around the outer edges and their center octagons. Everything would radiate from these. I started playing with those elements only and trying different repetitive color arrangements.

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I was going a little crazy with all the possibilities so finally just chose my favorite and started filling in the spaces between. I still really wanted to achieve some sort of color gradation and began trying to do that between the stars. It took some time, but I finally felt like it was moving in the right direction!

Once I reached the point shown above, I felt confident enough about the direction that I could start sewing.

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A good part of what I’ve already laid out will repeat around, but I do still have a bit more to work out. All in good time…

In the meantime, I can sew! I finished my first piece yesterday and have my second prepped. My plan is to work out from the middle of the quilt so that I can stop or keep going at any point. My current design plan is about 65″ square.

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There’s no question that this quilt will take me quite awhile to finish, but I know I’ll enjoy the process, and that’s what matters!

I may be underdressed, but at least I’m not late.

Earlier this year, Art Gallery Fabrics asked if I wanted to play with any of their new collections, and when I first saw Lower the Volume, I immediately knew I had to make a quilt. I have been wanting to make a low volume quilt for some time and this was the perfect opportunity to finally do it. Shortly there after, Mister Domestic asked me to be a part of his sewing party showcasing the new AGF Capsules and Fusions lines, to which I replied, “of course!”, seeing as I already had this plan in the works, and who doesn’t want to party?! But then I went into panic mode…

I knew there was no way I could finish this quilt “on time”. My thought was that I should make something else so I would have a beautiful finished product to show off when it was my day on the tour. This is what I typically do and how I always think. The problem with this is that I never let myself do the “big projects” that I really WANT to do, because I never have enough time to complete them.

I am a slow sewer, and I mean SLOW. This is partly because I just physically move slow and meticulously when I create, partly because I’m always working on about 13 things at once, and partly because I just don’t have a lot of time to sew, especially when spring hits and it’s time to tend to the land, or when my husband gets extra busy at work because sh*t is hitting the fan somewhere in the world.

So, there you have my little chunk of a quilt top in progress. I have no idea when I will finish it (though I’m super excited to because I am LOVING it!), because I’m not even done typing this blog post and already stressing about the new deadlines I have ahead of me next week.

Showing off this unfinished top for my day on the blog tour is painful and embarrassing for me. I’ve been feeling disappointed in myself all week and I know that’s just ridiculous, right?! We are always striving for a picture of perfection, even though every one of us knows that is never what life is actually like behind the scenes of social media. But, despite these feelings, I’m really glad that I chose to continue with this selfish sewing project, to let myself make something that I really wanted to, and to try and be more comfortable with being “less than perfect”. I do hope you like what you see thus far, though, and help cheer me onto the finish line!

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ABOUT THE FABRIC & PATTERN

Lower the Volume is one of four new Art Gallery Fabrics Capsules collections, and I think its awesomeness speaks for itself! We all use low volumes in nearly every project we make, but what I love about this line is how it’s interesting and lively enough to stand all on its own. I originally planned to use the line exclusively in the quilt, but decided that a small pop of color would be a really nice accent.

I chose the fantastic plaid shown above from the new Mad Plaid capsule collection for the backing (because it matches my living room perfectly!) and pulled the accent colors from there, which are Art Gallery Pure Elements and Solid Smooth denims (my favorites!). Aside from a single row of blue and yellow hexies, the rest of the quilt will be all low volume.

The pattern I’m using is Sari’s and my Sariella Deco Hex pattern that we created for the April Stash Builder Anniversary box. If you saw the mini we originally made, you’ll see I’ve rotated the pattern 90° counter-clockwise here for use in the quilt. I also enlarged the pattern a bit. If you missed the pattern in the Stash Builder box, it will be available from Sariella later this year, so stay tuned! I will also share more about my process in making this quilt when I finish it.

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STOP by the party!

Today wraps up week one of Mister Domestic’s Sewing Party, but be sure to check out the other posts from this week (shown above, links below), and also the Fusions portions of the tour beginning next week. I’ve already seen a few of the projects and they are legen… wait for it… DARY!

Capsules (April 17 – 21):
Monday: Cristy Stuhldreher (@loveyousew_) http://www.iloveyousew.com/
Tuesday: Kitty Wilkin (@nightquilter) https://nightquilter.com/
Wednesday: Sharon McConnell (@colorgirlquilts) http://colorgirlquilts.com/
Thursday: Stephanie Palmer (@latenightquilter) http://latenightquilter.com/
Friday: Nicole Young (@lillyellasworld) That’s me!

Fusions (April 24th – 28th)
Monday: Nicole Daksiewicz (@modernhandcraft) http://modernhandcraft.com/
Tuesday: Tara Curtis (@t_jaye, @WEFTYneedle) http://www.tjaye.com/
Wednesday: Melissa LeRay (@ohhowsweetco) http://www.ohhowsweet.com/
Thursday: Sarah Thomas (@sariditty) http://www.sariditty.com/
Friday: Jennifer Rossotti (@jennrossotti) http://gingerpeachstudio.com/

Have a fabulous weekend, friends!
~nicole

p.s. bonus points if you can guess what show I’ve been binge watching this week!

Blithe Fabrics Blog Tour

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I first got to play with Katarina Roccella’s newest line, Blithe,  when I made my Bias Weave pillow for the Lookbook last fall. It was love at first sight before I even had the fabric, but you just cannot help but fall head over heels in love once you start piecing it together. Something about the palette and the way it plays with the Art Gallery Fabrics denims just melts your soul. I had a few bits and pieces left from my first project and knew exactly what to make for my stop on the Blog Tour.

I see cathedral windows as a quilty bucket list item, you know? I’ve always loved them (even before I was quilting), and recently watched a friend make a Christmas pillow and it really sparked my fire. It was time. I spent hours looking at and trying various methods and tutorials and decided that the Faux Cathedral Window tutorial by Diary of a Quilt Maven was the way to go for me. The method is pretty much the same as the Missouri Star easy cathedral windows tutorial as well, in case you prefer it in video form.

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What I liked most about this method was two things – first, it used small pieces of fabric, and that was all I had, and second, it felt very precise to me. Being a perfectionist, this is key. It’s also super easy to adjust the size of your windows to anything you wish and to create any shape piece you wish. I won’t walk you through the steps, because that is what the tutorial is for, but below are a few progress photos that may help demonstrate how I translated the tutorial into my finished pillow. Please excuse the bad lighting, it’s been a “work all night” kind of month! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or send me an email anytime.

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The solid fabric I used along with Blithe on my pillow is solid smooth Art Gallery Fabrics denim in Cool Foliage. It is absolutely perfect with this line and always a dream to work with. I made my window foundation pieces 3″ to start, versus 2.5″ as in the original tutorial, and I pieced 8 units across and four units down to create the window panel. I chose to use the text print inside the petals and the denim for the petal edges, but I also really love the look when these two elements are the same fabric.

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After the full window panel was complete, I pieced on the top and bottom strips that included a 1″ strip of the text print to help carry the design over, and then a 3″ strip of denim. I kept the back simple to showcase the beautiful owl print, but I think it would be really lovely to make a second window panel so the effect wraps all the way around the pillow. The finished pillow measures 20″ wide by about 18″ tall.

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The end result was exactly as I envisioned and there was nothing I did not like about the method I used to make it. l definitely be using it again and may actually have a cathedral window obsession after this experience. I already have two more projects planned!

Now that I have these two gorgeous pillows, I guess it’s time to make a bed quilt! It won’t be cathedral windows. I love them, but not that much 🙂

Be sure to check out all the other *amazing* projects in the blog tour by visiting Katarina’s Instagram feed and through the hashtag #blithefabricsblogtour!

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Oh, What Fun Blog Hop: Gift Giving Vessels

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Howdy, friends, I’m back! And I hope you’re ready to get crafty…

As I mentioned in my previous post, my (belated) stop on the Hawthorne Threads Oh, What Fun Blog Hop is all about easy-to-sew (and easy to customize!) projects that are perfect for holding holiday gifts. Ditch that wrapping paper! I’ll be talking about how modify my free Sturdy Fabric Basket pattern to create ANY SIZE finished piece and sharing an adorable fabric sack pattern that I think you’ll love.

This new in-house fabric line by Hawthorne Threads could not possibly be any cuter. I’m pretty sure I squealed a little when I first saw it. Some of the prints are perfectly holiday, but what I really love is that some of them are more neutral – winter themed, or just geometric – and can be used for a a variety of occasions, which I’ll talk about more later. So, let’s get to it!

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These Sturdy Fabric Baskets are one of my favorite things to make. They’re quick and easy, and useful for so many things (plus, totally adorable!). I initially created the pattern a couple years ago to make baskets for holding fat quarters, scraps, trims, and notions in my sewing room, and then made one for holding remotes in the living room, another for hair accessories in the bathroom, and one for next to the door to catch my husbands wallet, sunglasses and all the miscellaneous junk that lives in his pockets!

You can showcase a fun focal print or create any patchwork design you like (there are patchwork directions in the pattern). The original pattern size (shown above and below) finishes at 8″ wide by 5″ high and 5″ deep, and is perfect for mixed gift baskets of items such as bath & body products or edible treats, just to name a couple ideas. I love these baskets so much, I want to gift them to myself! I can do that, right? I mean, I DID make them.

Another great feature of this basket size is that it’s perfect for holding Christmas cards, so your recipient can repurpose it after it’s emptied. You can also give a bag of potpourri along with it and it can be used a cute holiday decoration!

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I used my favorite prints from Oh, What Fun on these two. The row of faces is cut from the border panel print and was the perfect size, and then I used the center of that panel (the cute confetti) to make the lining of the other basket. The ornament print is called Baubles and I also used it to make some cute gift tags which you’ll see later in the post. I added tiny pom pom trim to the basket shown above and I love the look! I tucked it under the lining foldover and glued it in place – super easy!

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In the pattern file, I talk about using old belts or scraps of leather for the basket handles (which are optional.) I used scraps on both of these baskets. The gold was cut from a pouch I found at the thrift shop and the black is from a leather scrap pack I found at Hobby Lobby. I used embroidery floss to stitch them in place.

Thinner, lighter weight materials work best for the handles so they can bend easily. If your leather is too thick or sturdy, it can bow the sides of the basket out. You can also use ribbon, bias tape, or fabric in place of the leather.

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CUSTOMIZING YOUR BASKET

I receive emails quite often asking if I can resize the basket pattern cutting directions to create a specific sized piece that someone wants to make, so updating the pattern on how you can do this yourself has been on my to-do list for awhile, and this seemed like the perfect time! With a little math (don’t worry, it wont hurt too bad!), you can create any size basket you wish.

I’ve updated the original Study Fabric Basket PDF pattern file to include these directions and you can download it here.

Now I’ll show you a couple different sized baskets I created to get your creative juices flowing!

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I wanted to make a piece that was sized for kitchen utensils and accessories, because that is another favorite set of mine to gift (perfect for housewarmings and showers, too!). This basket measures 4″ wide by 4″ deep and 6″ tall and I filled it with a dish towel, pot holder, whisk, spoon, spatula, measuring spoons and cookie cutters.

I used my favorite Baubles print in the Glacier Blue colorway and the lining is from Hawthorne’s Stardust basics line, which comes in 54 colors and coordinates so nicely with Oh, What Fun because it looks like snow!

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And let’s not forget the guys or hard-to-shop-for friends and family on our lists! This basket measures 4″ wide by 4″ deep and 3″ high and holds four shot glasses with stir sticks and two mini bottles of liquor. It would also make a fun and inexpensive secret santa gift. Plus, this small basket is a nice size for later holding keys, jewelry, sewing notions or many other things. It also fits a pillar candle or mug.

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The handles on both of these baskets were also cut from old thrift shop pouches. Both are vinyl, so they had white backings. I left the white showing on the yellow handles and for the blue handles on the short basket, I glued a piece of the dark blue stardust to the backside before trimming them down. It worked out so well! I also did this to the gold handles on the treats basket shown at the beginning of the post.

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BUTTON LUNCH BAGS & GIFT TAGS

I have one more fun pattern to share, because it’s just perfect for gifting homemade treats (or a million other things) and then your recipient also has an adorable and useful little sack! I’ve had this Button Lunch Bag pattern from Purl Soho bookmarked forever and made a few modifications to dress them up and make them quilting cotton friendly.

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The pattern calls for a sturdy cotton (such as a canvas), uses one solid fabric, and has a rolled hem, so I made a few easy changes to make them work with my materials and the look I was going for.

I wanted my bags to have a bottom accent fabric, so I pieced together the full panel before assembling the bag and then added some cute trim along the seam line. Also, since a rolled top hem wouldn’t look as nice with a printed quilting cotton, I instead used binding around the top of the bag. I added it last after assembling the bags. I used Pellon Shapeflex (SF101) to give the bags some extra bulk and I love the feel of them. I added the interfacing after piecing my full panel, before assembling the bag.

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The original pattern uses binding to hide the inner seams, but I just used a wide, tight zig zag stitch which was quick and easy, but gives the seams a clean look and prevents fraying. Alternatively, if using binding around the top, you could make a full lining for the bag. Simply make a second bag, but with right sides in instead of out, slide it inside your assembled outer bag, and then stitch the top binding down through both, holding them together.

For these bags, I used two of the prints from Oh, What Fun that are not holiday specific. They are definitely festive enough for holiday gifting (especially with some metallic trim!), but keep the bags neutral enough to be reused all year long.

I used the Baubles print that I love so much to make the little tag on the cookies. I fussy cut the ornament circles from the print and used embroidery floss to hand stitch them onto felt cut with pinking shears. I then stitched down a small, folded piece of felt onto the top to make the hanger. You can use a light print or solid cotton on the reverse side to write or stamp a name.

I had so much fun with these, I couldn’t stop! They’re going on all my gifts this year, and I think I’ll hang a few from my tree, too!

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I truly hope you have found this post useful and inspiring! All of these projects are easy and satisfying because they sew up quick and look totally adorable when done. This year I challenge you to ditch the wrapping paper and make some “gift wrap” instead!

As always, if you have any questions about the pattern along the way, you can contact me here anytime. Please be specific, so I can best assist you.

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TIME FOR GIVEAWAY! (GIVEAWAY CLOSED – THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED!)

Who loves this Oh, What Fun fabric as much as I do? Would you like to win THREE YARDS for yourself?! To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling me what you would make with it and I will pick a winner at random on Friday! (Giveaway closed – congrats to @kgmcfall and thank you to all who entered!)

Now before you go, be sure to check out the other stops on the Blog Hop and see all the fabulous makes!

Monday 11/14 – Sew Sophie Lynn
Tuesday 11/15 – Hawthorne Threads
Wednesday 11/16 – Olivia Jane Handcrafted
Thursday 11/17 – Holly Gets Quilty
Monday 11/21 – Violette Field Threads

Happy Stitching!
~ nicole

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Flex Frame Pouch & Write On Patterns

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A couple weeks ago I shared my Flex Frame Pouch pattern on fabric.com during their Passport to Summer series for a back to school project. Some of you may recognize this from Make Modern Magazine and the Swapaholics Retreat, and now you can download the free pattern, too. Flex frames are an awesome alternative to zippers and are super easy to use! You can find the 3.5″ frames used in my pattern on fabric.com, and you can also order bulk frames (10 or 50) in 3.5″ and 4.5″ (which I love) from ahkwokbuckles.com.

>> Click here to download the Flex Frame Pouch & Write On PDF Patterns <<

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The pattern includes directions for making the tall pouch, which is perfect for glasses, pencils, or a rotary cutter, as well as the small coin pouch, both shown above.

Also included is the Write On pencils paper piecing pattern to create the options shown below. It can be used with the bottom accent or made into the full pouch. The pencils can also be used for a variety of other projects, too. It’s easy to resize the pattern or add more pencils or other elements to the pattern.

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In the pattern I talk a bit about how to customize the pouch to any size you wish, and wanted to share a few more variations here today, including how to make a perfect gift set for anyone of any age!

The set below shows the two sizes included in the pattern, plus a third size which is perfect for carrying cards and cash. To create this third size, cut the pieces for the top of the tall pouch as indicated in the pattern (6.5″), but do not include the bottom. Then just cut the lining pieces to the same height and assemble.

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Consider personalizing the pouches with fun notions, such as stamped leather tags or decorative accents. Hmmm, I wonder who these are for?! I found the metal plate accent in the paper crafting section of Hobby Lobby. It is Tim Holtz brand.

Also, adding a short chain and key ring makes any pouch the perfect grab and go wallet.

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I tried a few options and positions and decided that I preferred sewing the chain to the inside of the pouch right below the frame sleeves, as shown below. This way the chain and ring can be kept inside or pulled out through the top and the frame closing gives it some added security.

You can find a variety of chains and rings in the jewelry section of any craft store.

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This is a fun pattern that can be customized in so many ways, with any of your favorite materials or patterns. Try a quilt block design you like, another paper piecing pattern, or even some selvedges. If you would like to use the 4.5″ frames (or any other size you may find), simply add the additional width to the cut sizes of your pieces. For example, if using a 4.5″ frame, vs the 3.5″ used in my pattern, simple add 1″ width to all your pieces.

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I’ll be sharing more sizes, shapes, and ways to play with this pattern over the next months, too, so stay tuned! Please tag your pictures with #FlexFramePouch and #WriteOnPattern so I can see all your awesome creations!

Enjoy! ~ nicole

Paperie Blog Tour + New Love Story Pattern

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It’s funny how things work out. The way life’s puzzle pieces always end up fitting together. I first designed the Love Story Pattern for my class at the Swapaholics Retreat last September. Amy Sinibaldi was also teaching and her debut fabric line, Paperie, had not yet been announced when I was prepping for the retreat.

Flash forward a few months to 2016. I’m amping up my pattern in preparation for release and Amy invites me to join her Paperie Blog Tour. I think you’ll see that her fabric and this pattern go together like sprinkles and donuts. And not that pink hearts are ONLY for Valentine’s day, but what perfect timing, wouldn’t you say?

Undercover Maker Mat featuring Paperie Fabrics | lillyella stitchery

As usual, I had trouble wrangling in all my ideas. I did know for certain that first I wanted to make my Undercover Maker Mat (download the free pattern here) using the 5″ Love Story block in place of the butterfly charm block used on the original. This mat is such a fun and useful project that sews up quick and lets you showcase your favorite fabrics.

I decided to make the secondary pockets on this one in solid prints, rather than the selvedges, so I could really show off the line.

Undercover Maker Mat featuring Paperie Fabrics | lillyella stitchery

I was torn between using the texty print or the hearts for the main body of the mat, but now that it’s all finished, I don’t know how it was even a question. The text is just perfect and the strip of hearts pieced in just plain makes me happy!

Undercover Maker Mat featuring Paperie Fabrics | lillyella stitchery

I then carried the heart print over to the removable thread catcher by piecing a strip into the front and using it on the lining. I think it really just balances it all out perfectly.

I used a delicate pink chevron trim on the pocket panel and added a bit of crochet lace on the secondary pocket – in true Amy style!

Undercover Maker Mat featuring Paperie Fabrics | lillyella stitchery

Thanks to the expert advice my official quilter, Sari, I went with a large chevron pattern for the quilting on the mat body. It echos the seams of the heart block perfectly (thank you very much) and also ties in the trim. I used a pale pink Aurifil thread that gives it just the tiniest hint of color and I couldn’t love it more!

Undercover Maker Mat featuring Paperie Fabrics | lillyella stitchery

I kept trying to find a way to use this pretty aqua trim on the pocket panel, but it just felt overpowering. It did, however, work out perfectly for the side ties!

So, what do you think? Is this mat your style? I’ll be giving it away on Instagram next week (and a bundle of fabric!), so stay tuned for that!

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Love Story + Cross my Heart Pattern | lillyella stitchery

Another idea that I just knew I had to run with was designing an X block that coordinated with Love Story. Like Xs and Os, but with a cute heart instead! I’m calling it Cross my Heart and you can download it for free here.

I thought it would be an adorable mini quilt with 4 blocks in a large square, or as a set of pillows (or a two sided pillow!) or a table runner, which is what I decided to make for my sample project.

Love Story Pattern | lillyella stitchery

My Love Story pattern includes two block designs – Poetry (the pink block) and Prose (the navy and white block). I wanted to showcase them both, along with the X, so I thought a little asymmetry would be fun! I used the 10″ blocks here, and the X pattern also includes a 5″ block (how about a set of heart and X coasters?!).

Love Story Pattern | lillyella stitchery

I love how striking the bold pops of pink and navy in this line are mixed with all the beautiful, soft low volumes. By random chance, I had a piece of my favorite chambray denim on my cutting table when I was feverishly trying to decide what to bind my runner with. It was a match made in heaven! The denim pairs so amazingly with this line, it started my mind racing with quilt ideas using Paperie and the new Art Gallery denim line that is coming out soon. SO EXCITED!

Love Story Pattern | lillyella stitchery

Love Story Pattern | lillyella stitchery

I’ll be sharing some design ideas and other fun Love Story projects (including a lap quilt pattern) here and on my Instagram feed over the next couple weeks. You can also check the hashtags #lovestorypattern and #crossmyheartpattern for more inspiration. As always, I can’t wait to see what you all create!

Love Story + Cross My Heart Patterns | lillyella stitchery

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the Paperie Blog Tour for all sorts of swoon worthy projects! You can find links and photos in Amy’s instagram feed and on her blog.

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Love Story Pattern | lillyella stitchery

Now I am in desperate need of a nap! So I will leave you with some more eye candy inspiration! Above is the original Love Story block as it was designed to fit my flex frame pouch project for the retreat.

For the pattern release, I squared off the block and made a coordinating reverse design where the heart is solid and the background is faceted instead. I love the possibilities this opens up for color play and layout ideas!

Love Story Pattern | lillyella stitchery

Here are just a few blocks that my amazing testers sewed up. I’ll be sharing their finished projects soon! You can pick up a copy of the pattern on sale for $6.50 now thru Valentine’s Day in my Payhip, Etsy or Craftsy shops.

happy stitching! ~nicole

Yarn Wrapped Wreaths

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These wreaths are one of my favorite things to make! They are quick, easy and inexpensive, and can be customized in an endless numbers of ways to create a perfect gift for any age and any occasion.

This is technically a Christmas wreath for my mom (her tree is decorated in the same style with all nature themed ornaments and natural elements), but I love that it’s more of a winter wreath that can be displayed and enjoyed for longer.

yarn wrapped wreath | lillyella stitchery

The primary materials that I use are yarn and felt, but you can also use ribbon or fabric for wrapping or for the decorations. Get creative when it comes to the extras – check out the floral section of your craft store for little berries, twigs and greenery. Look in the wood aisle for things like the snowflakes shown above and the miniatures aisle is also great for finding little critters or themed extras. Also hunt outside for moss, pinecones, acorns, twigs and bark.

This is one of the simpler wreaths I have made. You can really go crazy with flowers and they look amazing, but I wanted the deer to take center stage on this one!

I typically use hard foam wreath shapes (found in the floral section of your craft store), but for this wreath I wanted something larger to balance the stag, so I used a straw wreath. I also found this is the floral section and it was wrapped in plastic, which I left on.

yarn wrapped wreath | lillyella stitchery

The first step is to simply start wrapping your yarn around the wreath. You can glue the end to begin or just wrap over it to secure. I typically smooth a good amount of glue over the area where my ends meet after I’m done wrapping. Since it’s on the back, it’s ok if you can tell where the glue is.

There are tons of excellent tutorials out there for making felt flowers. I’ve tried many different styles and typically stick with about four or five designs that I love most and are easy to make. The coiled roses are my favorite because they are really simple, don’t require any sewing, and look adorable.

Here are just a few links to get your started:
http://www.thecraftedsparrow.com/2012/04/felt-flowers-tutorials-5-to-choose-from.html
http://www.howjoyful.com/2011/06/felt-rose-tutorial-and-pattern/
http://www.intimateweddings.com/blog/diy-favor-bags-peony-pockets-part-two/
http://www.notmartha.org/tomake/to-make-diy-mothers-day-corsage-felt-dahlia-flower-brooch/

yarn wrapped wreath | lillyella stitchery

When it comes to attaching all my doodads, I use Elmer’s Glue and occasionally some E6000, but most craft and fabric glues will work fine for the bulk of materials used.

I like to use a piece of ribbon or lace for hanging, which I usually just tie on and make a bow. For this one, I cut some wide burlap that was covered with lace and sewed the bow together because it was too stiff to tie. I looped a clear plastic ring underneath for hanging.

Trust me when I say that once you start making these, you might not be able to stop!

yarn wrapped wreaths | lillyella stitchery

Here are some supplies I’ve gathered to make a couple retro-inspired Christmas wreaths for myself. These are the foam wreaths I usually use. Both of the ‘yarns’ I’m using to wrap them were found in the yarn section of JoAnns, but are not your typical yarn. I actually have no idea what the green one would be used for. I found it on an endcap in this bulk bag and it’s the strangest stuff, but I think it’s going to be adorable!

Some other embellishments to think about include ornaments, beads, buttons, millnery birds and flowers, feathers, assorted trims & ribbons for accents, wood letter shapes to personalize with an initial or word or a small garland of bunting.

I hope I’ve added another project to your list! And wish me luck on finishing mine before next Christmas…

Undercover Maker Mat Pattern

Undercover Maker Mat free pattern | lillyella stitchery

This dual purpose sewing space organizer has double pockets and a removable thread catcher to keep all your notions at hand and your workspace tidy. It goes from under to {machine} cover when not in use with side ties to keep it in place.

Click here  to download the PDF pattern.

If you have any questions about the pattern, feel free to contact me anytime. Tag your photos with #undercovermakermat so everyone can be inspired!

Undercover Maker Mat free pattern | lillyella stitchery

Festive Flutter Tree Mini Quilt Pattern

This festive mini quilt measures 22” x 26” and features my Butterfly Charm Block patterns with a little Gidget tree topper. It’s perfect for hanging on a door or anywhere you don’t have room for a real tree!

Click here or the image below to download the PDF pattern.

If you have any questions about the pattern, feel free to contact me anytime. Tag your photos with #festivefluttertree and #butterflycharmblocks so everyone can be inspired!

Festive Flutter Tree Pattern | lillyella stitchery

Take Wing Tips: Fabric, Fussy Cutting & More

blog - opener

Yesterday I covered a few tips and tricks for preparing your pattern pieces and today we’re going to get into the hardest part of this pattern — designing your layout and selecting your fabrics. There are a lot of pieces and so many possibilities!

I’ll be covering a few ways to go about choosing and auditioning your fabrics, how to get good symmetry between wings and then I’ll close with tons of examples and inspiration from others who have sewn up the pattern.

I have thus far approached my planning in four different ways – by color scheme, by fabric line, by fabric designer and by using a focal fabric as inspiration.

I always find myself gravitating towards color gradients when creating a new butterfly, probably because that is how I originally envisioned and designed the pattern, but I’ve been working on breaking out of that box and experimenting with different layouts. I usually do this on the computer (because I can!) but I also love to sit with a box of colored pencils, especially when I’m on the road or killing time waiting for appointments and such.

blog - mock up 2

I’ve been working on mimicking some real life butterflies such as the monarch and swallowtail (shown left above) and I totally love them! These examples can give you some ideas for colors and different ways you can accent areas of the pattern. Once you have a rough idea in mind, you can start selecting fabrics.

I tend to lean most towards planning with a color scheme because it gives you infinite flexibility, but it also requires a lot of fabric. I don’t have a very large stash of fabric that isn’t reserved for a specific project. I also don’t have a lot of basics, blenders or solids, because what I love about fabrics are the patterns! This makes creating a gradient with 13 different fabrics pretty tough, but still totally doable!

Most of the butterfly requires small pieces of fabric, so it’s easy to pull from scraps or charm pack leftovers. You can also look at fat eighth bundles or layer cakes for a project like this. The cotton + steel basics line is fantastic and I also love the moda grunge basics to add some good blenders into your project.

That being said, I decided to try creating some butterflies using a single fabric line and see how it worked. I’ve started this with two lines so far – Doe by Carolyn Friedlander and Fresh Cut by Basic Gray.

blog - doe wing

The Doe line is smaller and I actually only used about half of it, but I love the way it’s coming out. You can see my initial computerized color mock ups on the right in the previous photo and how I implemented it (minus the orange accents) in the photo directly above. I decided to use the mockup shown in the upper left corner.

blog - wing pieces

For this layout, I still tried to achieve some gradation in color, but I didn’t have as many fabrics to work with so I decided to carry some fabrics across two or three sections in the bottom wing. Looking at the photo above, you will see the Doe wing on the left has less pieces than the wing on the right. This method is great to keep in mind if you’re working with less fabrics (or want the sewing to go quicker!)

blog - fresh cut mock up

The Fresh Cut line (shown above) is much larger so I have plenty of fabrics to work with. For this layout, I used a mini charm pack to play around with options (seriously, I LOVE mini charm packs!), taking photos of each and comparing them later. In my photos above I’m laying out the top wing and bottom wing, with the background in the middle.

So, while you will have less flexibility when working within one single fabric line, it’s entirely possible! A FE bundle or layer cake would be more than enough fabric to complete the butterfly, with the exception of the background where you need about a half yard.

blog-mock ups 1

The image above shows a couple mockups I was working on based on color scheme. The one on the left is a great example of all the ways you can change the look of the butterfly with your fabric placement. The ones on the right are similar to my original just using a different color palette. You will see this one implemented further down in the post.

When Im pulling fabric for a layout based on color scheme,  I start by grabbing all the fabrics I have in those color families. I then begin organize them in a row, taking out ones I don’t like, seeing if I have enough pieces and where I need to fill in or rearrange.

blog - purple layout 1

I personally try to avoid using a lot of fabrics with bold prints or strong contrast, which is just a personal preference. However, when I see all the butterflies other people are creating (check the #takewingpattern hastag on IG or the images at the end of this post), I always love them when they are complete, even if I would have never chosen the fabrics myself.

I like to find a few multicolored, patterned fabrics to use as transitions between colors and use more solids, low volume or blenders in between.

blog - wing layout

I lay pieces out in an overlapping row and find it helpful to cover the edges with my background fabric in the approximate shape of the wing and take photos to look back at later with fresh eyes.

Snapping pics of your options is also a helpful tool in looking at your overall final layout. Seeing the whole thing in a mock up really makes a big difference versus looking at half. A really helpful tool for doing this easily is a photo app for your phone. I use pic jointer, because it was free and it’s on my phone! There are several out there, and I’m sure there are more sophisticated ones, but that one works great for me. I lay out one wing or half my butterfly and then use a two-up or four-up frame to drop in the pics, mirroring half, and seeing my entire layout (shown a few photos down).

You can also use this method to easily compare multiple options as shown below. Here I’m deciding which focal fabric to use in my top wing and which direction to run the maroon to pink color gradient. Which is your favorite?

blog - amh four up

The large triangle of the top wing lends itself perfectly to a great fussy cut focal image (and I’ll talk about cutting these next). As you can see above, I have trouble deciding! This is often where my inspiration comes from. Look at fabrics you love with great focals as a starting point for your color scheme or fabric layout.

I’m currently planning a bed size Take Wing quilt using all of Tula Pink’s lines and I plan to use her fantastic focals inside this large area — the parisville cameos, birds & bees squirrels, etc. I can’t wait!

When I’m laying out fabrics, I keep them uncut until I’m fairly certain I like them, and then I cut my pieces roughly to the approximate shape of the pattern areas using the lines I traced onto the back of my pattern pieces (because remember if you use the front, your pieces will be backwards!). Some people prefer to use large pieces of fabric and cut off after they sew, but that’s another personal preference. I find layout and sewing easier and faster when I precut. It may be a tad more wasteful, though not much.

blog - amh mock up 2

Sometimes I end up changing my mind after cutting up my fabrics and laying them out (or even sewing them!), but I just cut a new piece and save the other for another time. You will see my initial fabric pieces for the wing shown above and then the final wing. After piecing it, I decided to change a few pieces out. This pattern is designed so that you are adding all of the background pieces last, which I find helpful for the indecisive! It’s not impossible to change out pieces of your wings and I also often wait until my wing pieces are sewn before deciding on a background.

When it comes to the butterfly body, I do sketch out the colors during my initial planning, but I often piece that section last and audition some options after I have the wings pieced. I find it amazing how different the overall design can look by changing this little section. Here you can see the same Doe wings with four different lower wing accents and body options (I went with the bottom right, what do you think?). I used the pic jointer app again to create these mock ups.

blog - doe four mock up

If you’re not using a piece of fabric or a fabric line as inspiration, another great way to find ideas is from social media, especially fabric designers and fabric shops selling bundles. Browse their IG feeds and email newsletters. The pic on the left below was from a fabric shop email newsletter I received (I really meant to remember who it was from and credit them, but I totally failed, so I apologize!) and the pic on the right is from Carolyn Friedlander’s IG feed.

blog - inspiration

These are helpful in getting ideas for both color schemes AND fabric selections. The fat quarter fun bundles from Stitch Supply Co always give me great ideas, too (shown below)! Mixed bundles like these are perfect for projects like this. You can buy just a few fat quarters, rather than entire bundles, and add in some extras from your own stash. The fabric destash on Instagram (#thegreatfabricdestash) is another great place to find mixed bundles and scrap packs. Fresh Squeezed Fabrics also sells some beautiful mixed bundles that would make fabulous butterfly starters!

blog - stitch supply

I’m not a big fan of using solids typically (no idea why, I just need at least a little texture!), but they do lend themselves beautifully to this project. Kona, RJR and Robert Kaufman all put together some pretty awesome solids bundles with really interesting color combinations. You can pick up charm packs, layer cakes, jelly rolls or FQ bundles at places like Fat Quarter Shop, Craftsy, Missouri Quilt Co and on Etsy. This Patchwork City Winter bundle is especially gorgeous!

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Now let’s talk about fussy cutting and wing symmetry!

If you are using any fabrics with strong pattern, contrast, or focal images, it’s challenging (but important!) to get good balance between the left and right wings. Here are two ways to make it easier!

First is to use template plastic. You can find this at many local quilt shops and large fabric stores and it usually comes in 18 x 12 sheets.

blog - plastic 1

Simply lay the plastic on top of your pattern piece, trace around an area and cut the plastic to size. You can then lay this template on top of your fabrics to audition options and you can also use it to trace the shape and cut out your pieces, just be sure to include an extra 1/4″ around your shape for your seam allowances.

log - plastic 2

Also remember that the two wings are mirror images of each other, so flip the template piece over when cutting the second wing! You may find it helpful to mark L and R or something similar on the two sides of the plastic so you don’t end up cutting two of the same.

A second option is to use paper. Print an extra copy of the pattern piece you’d like to use and cut out the specified area, leaving everything around in tact. You can then use this in the same manner as the template plastic. Lay it over your fabric, trace inside your lines, then cut your fabric piece 1/4″ larger than the shape.  Again, remember to flip it for the second wing!

blog - paper 1

These examples are shown using the large triangle area of the top wing, but this method can be applied to any section in the pattern.

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I could talk about fabric for days, but ultimately, seeing examples helps more than anything, right? Here are photos that have been sent to me or that I found under the #takewingpattern hashtag on Instagram. I am just blown away by the creativity and variations! Which is your favorite?

blog - chickenjulie

This version, made by chickenjulie, was finished the morning after I released the pattern! I was totally blown away. She made it at 85% and used a FQ bundle of Hope Valley. I would have NEVER ever chosen so many bold patterns, but I fell head over heels in love with it from the moment I saw just the little body pieced.

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blog - jeepdog1

This version was made by jeepdog1 for her partner in a rainbow mini swap. Her partner loved batiks and wasn’t a fan of a traditional rainbow. She totally nailed it! The colors are so gorgeous. I saw a photo of this on the recipients wall and it was perfection.

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blog - susansantistevan

This version made by susansanstistevan was also for a rainbow swap. A more traditional rainbow, I love how bold the colors are with the subtle low volume prints. And do I even need to point out that quilting?!

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blog-hidehi000

I loved seeing this version made by hidehi000 – I had not seen any Bonnie & Camille or similar style fabrics used on the pattern yet and it was really exciting to see how amazing they worked! It gives the piece an entirely different feel. It’s so soft and gorgeous, I could imagine an entire room being designed around it!

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blog - vrrigney

This version was made by vrrigney for an animal themed swap. She had a partner who loves butterflies, and I’m guessing blue and green! I absolutely love the duotone palette and the pops of navy and bright green in her fabrics.

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blog - rxquilter

This version is being made by rxquilter and I’m having so much fun watching it come together! Her focal fabric in the top wing is just fabulous and I love how it ties in the hot pink and touch of purple. She is making it for a garden quilt exhibit and I’m dying to see the final photos!

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blog - sidneysews

This version is being made by sidneysews using Alison Glass fabrics, which I love for this! her mixed background fabrics are awesome and I LOVE the pop of silver metallic. I’m stalking her feed to see the finished product!

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blog-monpetitebiscuit

This version was made by monpetitebiscuit for an Anna Maria Horner swap. These little peeks are killing me! I personally am really drawn to AMH fabrics for this project (probably because she uses a lot of butterflies!) and her colors are so rich and gorgeous. I can’t wait for the full reveal!

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blog - mumzy27

And last, but certainly not least, this version is being made by mumzy27 for a cotton + steel themed swap. I love the rich jewel tone colors and her use of the rich mustards in the bottom wing. The balance is just perfect!

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So there you have it! Was this post helpful? Are you feeling inspired? I sure hope so!

Now get busy creating your Take Wing butterflies and be sure to share your photos with #takewingpattern because I have an awesome giveaway coming up for everyone posting progress or finished photos of their pieces. Up for grabs is a handmade fabric stuffed with over $200 of sewing tools, notions and fabric!

Stay tuned for more details coming soon!

(Take Wing Pattern available for direct download here)