Tag Archives: sewing

Craftsy on Steroids – Binge or Bust

In the beginning of October, Craftsy ran a $10/all you can watch for the month of October promotion.  I didn’t get an email about it, and I didn’t see an ad for it, but someone posted about it in the Crafty Gemini Facebook group, and I ran, tripping to jump on that Craftsy train.  I’m thinking that it wasn’t very highly publicized because it’s some kind of a test or experiment for a subscription model business plan a la Netflix.  And, I would be all over that deal if it was every month.  Because Brave Girls – the ultimate Netflix of art/craft videos – no way, Craftsy – hell yeah!

So, I strapped in for the month of October, got out my knitting needles – because if you’re going to watch crafting, you might was well do crafting – came up with a game plan, and went to watching.  My plan, oddly, was essentially to watch all of the classes I wouldn’t actually pay for.  You’d think I’d start with my wish list – but, my wish list are classes that I’d pretty much agree to pay for as stand alones.  So rather than start there, I went for things I was interested in, but wouldn’t have thought to take. So, I started with knitting.

Never pay for a knitting class?  But you’re a knitter, you say, puzzled.  But, the things is, as far as techniques go, if I need to learn something to start or finish a project, I’m an experienced enough knitter that I can watch a youtube video, and pretty much figure it out.  I certainly don’t need to take any of the beginner knitter classes, or project classes like my first hat or socks or sweaters.  So, I narrowed it down to classes that couldn’t be learned on youtube, design classes.  For a run down of the knitting classes I took, and what I thought of them, pop back in on Wednesday when I chit chat about knitting.

Today, I’m going to focus on the class I took when I had exhausted my knitting options.  After knitting, I moved on to sewing.  I didn’t start with sewing for two reasons – one, I’m not sure what happens to these classes at the end of the month, and two,  when I take sewing or quilting classes, I pretty much do the projects with the instructor and that’s not so good for binge watching.  Here’s what I mean about the uncertainty of these classes – Craftsy classes are normal lifetime access.  The $10 deal was all you can watch in October.  In theory, I could have started the first lesson of every single class on the site, and added them to my library.  And, that surely couldn’t have been what they meant with the $10 deal (of course, if i had read the deal all the way through before I clicked on the Buy button, I’d know the answer to this question – I was just too excited!).  I’m assuming that whatever I “bought” in October is going to expire at the end of the month.  So, for that reason, I’m watching the entire class (unless it’s simply not what I thought it was going to be) all the way through before I start another class.  So, watching a project class all the way through to the end, then watching another one, etc., I may not be able to go back and watch them when I’m actually sewing the project.

So, again, the first class I clicked on was a class that I wasn’t sure I’d actually end up making a project, something I had an interest in because it’s interesting, and something I probably wouldn’t have even thought to buy – Thread Art with Lola Jenkins.

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Can  I just say this – SO  MUCH   FUN!  First, Lola is a character, and she’s really very encouraging with her repeated emphasis on there being no mistakes.  She starts off the class with a brief introduction of herself, in which she shares that after suffering through some of her own health problems, she then lost her husband.  To cope, she bought a sewing machine, and taught herself how to make her own brand of thread art.  See, here’s the way I like how art and healing can be incorporated in an online medium – her art saved her – she shared that with us, and then taught us her techniques.  That’s it.  No faux unlicensed therapy, no you are enough, no martyrdom – just get to work, and maybe you’ll feel better like me.  Or maybe you’ll just make something you love.

Once the life advice was dispensed, Lola moved on to teaching her seven step process to creating thread art pieces.  She made it look so easy, that at the end of the class, I stopped watching Craftsy, and started actually crafting.  In the class, Lola works through The Girl with the Pearl Earring.  Someone in the forum posted a Modigliani, and asked what Lola thought, and she said, perfect.  So, since I’m more inspired by Modigliani, I went with that –

Unfortunately, I don’t have any light, semi-solids in my stash.  I either have solids, or patterns, not so much with the batiks or the motled solids.  But, I did find this fat quarter in one of my mystery boxes, and while yellow isn’t my favorite color, I think it’s ok for this project.  There are some mistakes – oh well, it makes it less Modigliani, and a little more me. That’s ok. After stitching out the girl in the hat, it was time to fill in the background.

For the border, I went with one of three background fillers that are discussed in the class, the Lola’s wiggle – basically, hatching with wiggles. Perfect for those of us who don’t sew so straight.

Then, for the background, I went with my own version of pebbles – meaning, I did my best, but it’s a little messy. But, I still think it looks ok.  Tonight, during the Eagles/Giants game, I’ll move on to the next step – adding colored pencil.

Anyone looking to take this class to learn free motion quilting, you’ll get the flavor of it, but it’s not a full blown class on free motion stitching – she really doesn’t talk about how to set up your machine for free motion work, or how to move your fabric, or how to keep your stitches even, and that’s ok.  She’s self-taught, and free motion is one of those things you really learn by practicing.  I did binge watch one of Leah Day’s free motion classes – and of course, she’s an excellent source for free motion technique.  So, I’m not sure how I would have done with this stitching had I not watched Leah’s class first, but I still think that Lola makes everything look so easy, that anyone could get started.  And, as you can see from the number of projects posted on the class platform, a lot of people were inspired to try what was  probably a new medium for them.

So, I highly recommend this class !  Even if my project doesn’t work out so good in the end, I enjoyed watching Lola create, and I had fun making my own thread art – at least up to this point.  We’ll see how coloring and football goes tonight!

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Jess Brown Dolly

Finally, the weather broke – literally, the clouds finally cracked, rain poured down, and my craftroom is now, once again, a pleasant place to be.  And,  while my Jess Brown doll might be sitting around in her skivvies, I was comfortable in my t-shirt and shorts.

How cute are her little pantaloons??  So cute.  The clothes in the book are super simple to make, and were probably the least time consuming process of making little dolly.

This is the drawstring dress that’s on the cover of the book.  In keeping with the themes of the book, I did plunder my tiny stash of vintage fabrics for this embroidered piece.  While I love it, Joe thought she looked kind of nun-ish, with the smock like shape of the dress, and the high neck.  I love the simple look of the dress, but I think my niece might agree with Joe at least as far as the fabric goes – I don’t think she’d appreciate the vintage fabric – I think she’d just think it was old.  So, I think I’m keeping this doll experiment, and that’s ok.

And now for a look at the hair.  During the week, I said a heartfelt goodbye to all of my moth riddled sweaters.  I had them stacked in a pile, while I came to terms with the fact that they were too destroyed to be fixed.   That process took a few years.  But, finally, I felt ready.   Even though they were filled with holes, it was with a heavy heart that I threw them into the washing machine to be felted beyond recognition.  So, this head of hair was born from my favorite GAP sweater.  The handmade sweaters that I felted turned out much to thick for hair, but will find their ways into other projects.

As you can see, I had no idea what I was doing. The instructions in the book tell you to cut strips and sew them to the head. Not that helpful really. So, I started with the ribbing, and sewed that on, like they were bangs, I guess. Then, I sewed on a strip across the back of the head. Then, I got the idea to cut shorter strips, and roll them up at the bottom, like curling hair, I guess. I think it would have looked better had I not sewn that strip down the middle – but that I had sewed the vertical strips to the front bang strip. I don’t know. It’s just hair, no biggie.  And it is super soft.

And here she is, finished! Well, for the most part. I think I may use a ribbon around the neckline of the dress instead of the embroidery floss that the pattern talked about. But, for the most part, done. And, I do think she’s very sweet.

So, final thoughts.  As far as the pattern goes, it’s simple, but . . .  I think the pattern was designed for the sewer who is afraid of sewing curves.  Pretty much you sew a straight line, pivot, sew.  The only true curves are around the head, hand, and the foot – sort of – the leg is folded in half, and sewn.  I think if I were to make it again, I’d definitely do the base of the doll differently – so that it doesn’t come out like a triangle with pencils sticking out of her.    And, to avoid the pencil like leg, I think I’d make them longer, with a knee bend.  And, if you sew the arms on after – whether you attach them with buttons or just sew them on (like Tilda), you don’t need the stuffing hole in the back.   We’ll see.

And, in keeping with the notion that every child deserves a “comfort” doll as Jess Brown calls them, I chatted with my niece last night about making rag dolls as part of her bat mitzvah mitzvah project.  Right now she volunteers with my nephew’s autism meet up group, The Friendship Circle.  I thought maybe I’d make a bunch of doll parts, and Danielle would help me stuff them and dress them, and then we’d give them to the kids at Hanukkah.  Danielle thought that was a great idea, but we’ll see if there’s any follow through there.  If there isn’t, it’s no biggie – she does enough work as it is with the kids.  I would like to make some dolls to donate though.  While I don’t have any problems with the pricing of Jess Brown dolls – they’re handmade, with the best material, and have a definite high end vibe to them – I disagree that they are in fact affordable.  They are affordable to a certain market, sure, but not the market I’m privvy to.  Maybe if my plot with Danielle doesn’t work out, I’ll think about donating them to a pediatric ward of a hospital or something.  Our office does a toy drive every year, but doesn’t accept handmade toys.  I”m thinking if I leave off removable parts like buttons or plastic eyes, they should be ok.  I don’t know – still plotting.

The great ragdoll experiment continues!

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My Low End High End Ragdoll – Making a Jess Brown Doll

As I mentioned, I decided that before I start winging it with my own patterns, I thought I’d make some tried and true patterns to get the hang of construction and popular aesthetic.  So, over the weekend, I downloaded Jess Brown’s Making of a Ragdoll.

Before I downloaded the book, I did check out a hard copy at Barnes & Noble.  It really is a beautiful hardback book.  The photos are lovely, and give the book a vintage, natural feel.  Much is lost in the digital copy, and if you’re at all interested in this book, I would recommend spending the extra $15 and get a paper copy.  Jess Brown intends her dolls to be “comfort dolls,” and much of the curl up with the book comfort is lost with the digital version.  Also, piecing together the patterns from the downloaded digital version was a total pain in the butt.  The digital version directs you to an online PDF.  The PDF contains instructions for printing, and which options to choose in your print menu for tile printing.  Then, the pattern prints like puzzle pieces, that have to be cut, and pieced together with small x’s as guides.  Cutting and piecing the doll pattern as well as the clothes and the accessories took well over an hour. Oy!


Before cutting, piecing and taping, I did read Jess Brown’s narrative about the birth of the dolls and her love for all natural materials like corn fiber stuffing, bamboo embroidery thread, and non-plastic buttons.  I envied her that her job requires her to haunt flea markets for vintage fabrics and other textiles (as opposed to my job which requires weekly prison trips).  While the story of the dolls served as a nice introduction to the why of the organic materials, I had actually already heard the story told by Jess Brown on the While She Naps podcast, and the podast interview is really so much more interesting than the book.  For instance, in the book, she talks about how the first doll she made for her daughter was sewn from cashmere sweaters that had been destroyed in the wash.  In the actual telling of the story in chit chat way, without the formality of a book, it’s her husband who decided to do the wash that day, and destroyed the sweaters – this teeny tiny detail makes for a better story.  And, in the podcast, she goes into the effects of having Martha Stewart feature her dolls, working on a fashion week installation with life size ragdolls, and how she runs her business, including producing the dolls, pricing the dolls, and her thoughts on actually writing the book.

In this doll quest of mine, I’ve perused Etsy, looking at all sorts of dolls – art dolls, clay dolls, rag dolls, Tilda dolls, etc., and it’s was no surprise that there are a lot of Jess Brown knock-offs out there.  So, it was understandable when she talked in the podcast about how ambivalent she was about writing a book after being approached by Chronicle.  Why should she write a book, reveal her secret sauce to her pattern, and hand the keys to the kingdom over to these copycats when this is how she makes a living?  And, I’m really glad that I listened to this analysis of coming to the decision to write the book, and coming to a compromise of creating a new doll for the book that’s not THE doll.

Yes, the pattern in the book is not THE Jess Brown doll, but a Jess Brown doll.  The doll has all of the elements that make a lovely comfort doll – the simple body, instructions for her signature star eyes and felt heart shaped mouth, and cute patterns for a sun dress, a long sleeve dress, a coat, a hat, a duffle bag, and pantaloons.  But, if you were hoping for instructions on how to make her 22′ inch doll, with arms that are attached with buttons, this is not that pattern.  And, after listening to the podcast, I was totally ok with that.  It’s still a Jess Brown doll.

The pattern itself is pretty easy to sew.  I decided to transfer the 1/4′ seam lines to the backside of my fabric.  To do this, as you can see above, I used chaco paper, which is basically carbon paper.  The photo above shows the back of the doll.  I won’t go exactly into how this works – you’ll have to buy the book, but after sewing the two halves of the back together you have a more rounded head, and an opening for stuffing up the back.   This, apparently, is another departure from THE doll.  From what I can tell from online photos, THE doll has a pretty basic body – and if there’s any shaping of the head, I can’t tell.

Anyway, this chaco paper transfer was particularly helpful on the front of the doll, which does require you to transfer pivot points at the under arm pits of the doll.  If I had one qualm with the pattern it’s definitely these arms.  While the button shoulder arms may be one of the signature features of THE doll, it’s not original, not like the star eyes or the felt heart mouth.  I think she was giving away more secrets describing the eyes, than having separate arms.  But, in any event, having the arms attached to the body leads to a little kink where it joins the body.  Eh, so she has a wrinkle.  But, if you want to create a really simple, accessible pattern, I think it’s much much more simple to sew the arms separately and attach them to the body then sew around this really narrow area, and turn it seemlessly.

And, just in case you’re looking to make a doll like this, or any doll with skinny arms, here’s a good way to flip them rightside out.

1. First, stick a straw in the limb:

2. Then, turn it upside down, and stick a chopstick, or as I’ve used here, the stick that comes with polyfiberfil, into the tip of the outside of the limb, shoving the stick into the straw.

3. Then slowly, you don’t want to poke a hole in the end of your limb, roll the fabric down over your chopstick/stick and voila!

Limbs succesfully turned! Ownward. The next step in the book is to stuff and sew up the body, and do the face after it’s stuffed.  She gives you instructions to do the signature star, pulling the thread out through the back of the head, I guess to be covered with hair.

I opted not to do the star eye.  Confession time – I think the star eye is creepy.  So, what kind of an eye then?  I thought about buttons, but if this doll turns out ok, it’ll eventually be gifted to a 2 year old – buttons not so good.  While thinking about it, I happened to listen to another While She Naps podcast with Christina Platt of Bamboletta, and she talked about the theory behind Waldorf style dolls.  Apparently, the idea is that a doll should be fairly expressionless because this allows for the child to fully access their imagination when playing with the doll – they can imagine the doll to be happy or sad, and they’re not limited by a constantly smiling, happy faced doll.  So, while I didn’t love the star eye, I did want a neutral face, but a pleasant face.  So, after looking at a lot of doll eyes, I used this one, which I embroidered in a hoop before sewing the doll together:

I did go for the heartshaped mouth, because I think it’s sweet. THE Jess Brown doll’s heartshaped mouth is not red, it’s more of a dull yellow.

Anyway, so here she is so far.

Ready for stuffing!  The instructions in the book have you just sew across the front of the doll while attaching the legs, leaving a raw edge.  Since I’m not using any kind of special organic fabric, but kind of crappy but soft cotton from Michael’s, I think I’m going to turn a hem under.

The two year old I mentioned is one of my niece’s on Joe’s side, and she’s just learning to walk.  THE doll, the 22″‘er, came into being because Jess Brown’s daughter was learning to walk at the time she was creating the doll – so she measured from her arm to her feet, so that the doll would be a walking companion.  I like that idea.  So, if this all works out, I think I may make another one that’s more like Tilda – make the body bigger, get rid of the seam in the back, sew the arms separately, make them longer, attach them with a button, make longer longs, with maybe jointed knees.  We’ll see.

First, I have to figure out how to attach hair – because that’s not explained so well in the book.  Stingy on the secret sauce there. Eh, who can blame her?  Not me.

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Frida Fail


Ok, so I know that the real Frida Kahlo did have a bit of a shadow, perhaps a bit of mustache, however, on my little Frida, it looks more like an ingrown hair problem.  As I predicted, the muslin I used was too thin for this project, and you can see the backside stitching pretty clearly through the front of the fabric.  I really think that had I doubled the fabric, used a canvas rather than a muslin, or perhaps used some cotton batting, this wouldn’t have happened.

So, as you can see, her hair is lying next to her, and I’ve let her sit overnight, to mull over whether she deserves hair, or whether she will be operated on, to remove her stuffing as a donation to the next Frida.

This poor little Frida probably has a small window of reprieve because of current weather conditions.  No operations will take place in this humidity.  My craftroom is so hot that I nearly sat in my underwear last night finishing her up.  Which leads me to my Third Lesson Learned with this doll, it’s only fun . . . when it’s fun.  I was really miserable sweating over my sewing machine last night.  I wasn’t rushing or anything to get her done, but I was suffering.  And, there’s no suffering in doll making.  The heat should break this weekend, so by then I’ll probably have a new plan.

Which may not involve clay – since it’s probably baking in it’s packaging in the oven that is my craftroom.

And, in other news, Brave Girls University did open it’s doors yesterday, and it’s packed packed packed with classrooms.  Of course, being it’s first day of launch, there are things that look a little wonky, broken links, and 404 misdirect pages where there should be classrooms, but these are all kinks that I have no doubt that will be worked out.  I was particularly impressed that, following the site crashing within minutes of opening, they had another, bigger server, waiting in the wings ready to go fifteen minutes later.   There is some content that hasn’t been uploaded yet, but there’s plenty to get you started.  Of course, with my limited craft budget, I started assessing the value immediately – and this is personal value – to me – my personal assessment of whether or not I want to spend $25/month on this particular subscription service.

My initial thoughts – the “university” is organized into four categories of classes (with some overlapping) – Melody Ross classes (the Dean of the University), Soul Work, Art and DIY.  I have little to no interest in Melody Ross’s classes, and very little interest in most of the Soul Work, which is why I was never interested in the original Brave Girls Club, that lacked the Art Class/DIY category independent of the “soul” work.    I do not believe in online therapy from untrained, unlicensed practitioners.  No judgment here – you like these kinds of classes, great! It’s just not something I’m interested in.  And, who knows, maybe I’ll try to have more of an open mind about it, and stick my toes in something to see what’s going on, but I don’t think so – there’s too much in the Art and DIY categories to keep me busy.

So, are the Art and DIY classes enough to justify my $25?  I think so.  But, I think I need to approach these videos like real classes as opposed to binge watching a la Netflix.  I easily could binge-watch my way through all of the content in a month.  But, what’s the point of that?

Well, you say, you did just that during your month at CraftDaily, right?  Yes, correct – but those classes sucked.  There, I said it.  They were dated, poorly filmed, lacked accompanying PDFs and patterns, and much could be found for free in affiliate sites.

I think there is a real quality to the content at BGU.   For instance, the class I was pulled into first was Katie Kendrick’s Layered Impressions (which by the way, is not in the Art Category, but  in the Soul Work group, so I guess I’m dipping my toes).

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Katie’s class was originally a four week workshop, that I think cost $100.  While I owned Katie’s book, Layered Impressions, and I’m a big fan of her work, that was over my general bright line price test for taking an online class.  Now, you can buy the DVD of the class for $100 through her website, or you can pay $25/month on Brave Girls and work through it there.  The difference between the original live class, and this class, I’m guessing since I didn’t take the original, is that there is no method of sharing on Brave Girls – no class forums, no private Facebook groups, no online photo gallery of student work, no teacher interaction other than access to teacher’s email for questions.  Without this compenent – the interaction with teachers and other classmates – it makes it hard to work through the material like a class.  Pacing is harder, doing the work without imput is not as fun, and making friends with other online art junkies is not happening.  So, can I commit to doing the work in a solitary fashion?  Watch the videos, do the exercises, and not move on until I’ve gotten the point of the lesson?

Well, I did try last night.  I watched the intro video, and the first exercise (using your nondominant hand to loosely create faces on telephone book pages – who has a telephone book????? – and then coloring in the face), and stopped.  Did not go on to the next lesson, did not charge ahead.  I didn’t do the exercise, because I was mid-Frida, but I’m going to try to do it before I move on.

And, if I stick to the plan, and treat class like class, and not like a movie, I should be good, and the content on the site should work for my $25/month.   Even if I just watch the Katie Kendrick class for the month of September, I’ll still be saving $75 off the cost of the original class.   But, I can see the non-interactive nature of the platform making it hard treat the site as “university” rather than a video repository.  Without this sharing component, I feel like I’m missing something on the site – did I miss a tab that I should have clicked on?  I’ve always gotten so much out of seeing other people’s work, and it’s such a big part of the learning experience.  There is a Facebook page – but it’s a business page, not a sharing group kind of page.  But we’ll see.

The bottomline – based on my initial thoughts and less than 24 hrs of tooling around the site – is that this site is a huge accomplishment for it’s founders.  I can’t imagine how hard it was to convince 80+ teachers to contribute their stand-alone content to this site.  I have no idea what their business plan is, and how everyone is getting compensated, but as far as the trickle down to the subscriber – it’s an awesome value, $25 a month is a steal if you’re treating the class like class and not like bingewatching the Walking Dead.  The only thing, as I mentioned, that I’m slightly disappointed about, is the lack of the ability to interact with other students taking the same class.

So, we’ll see how it goes.  And, I can definitely work on the Katie Kendrick exercise in an air conditioned corner of my house – no need to bake my faces in the craftroom.

Now, to rustle up a phone book!

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Country Mouse v. City Mouse

So, in my last post, I pointed out the obvious – I had once again failed to complete a 30 day project. I failed at 30 days of Faces, 30 days of index cards, 30 days of lists, 30 days of whatever. I did succeed at 30 days of not blogging. Frankly, 2 weeks into the listing thing, and I just thought it was stupid. The truth is, I’d rather be doing the things on my list rather than making the list. And so, for the past month of failing at blogging, I’ve been crafting up a storm – sewing, quilting, knitting, keeping up with Project Life – all of these things are a success – so I’m not too upset I failed at listing the projects before I started the projects.

Most of my projects start with a google search – I’m interested in x, I follow a link, then follow another link, and then all of a sudden, I end up interested in Y – a place I never expected to be in the first place. For instance, I was interested in making an Amy Butler Weekender Bag. I read many a blog that convinced me that the Weekender is not only above my pay grade skill wise, but above my pay grade pay wise – that darn thing is super expensive to make. So, I started looking for simpler, cheaper alternatives. That lead me to Sew Sweetness, and her Purse Palooza. But not only does Sew Sweetness host the Purse Palooza, she hosts the City Sampler Sew-Along. What is this? I thought, and started clicking through those links. I ended up buying the Tula Pink City Sampler  book, and I’ve got it in my queue of things to start. And, while I was looking at blogs who were doing the City Sampler QAL, low and behold, these same blogs had quilted along to the Farmer’s Wife Quilt-a-long.

I then started looking at Farmer’s Wife Quilts, the Flickr group, and eventually the Yahoo group. I bought the Farmer’s Wife Quilt Book a few years ago when I was taking my quilting class at the now defunct Spool, and I was thinking about jumping on the Farmer’s Wife QAL bandwagon.  I was fascinated by all of the little blocks, and how they came together like a puzzle. But, then I read the book – and I was just appalled. In 1922, Farmer’s Wife Magazine asked their readers if they had a daughter, would they want their daughter to marry a farmer. The answers inspired blocks, the blocks make up the quilt. Ok, I know it’s 1922, but the answers were so myopic, and the limited nature of the dreams they had for their daughters was disheartening. By 1920, I had hoped that the famer’s wife wouldn’t still want to keep her down on the farm, not after she’d seen Paris – but the truth is, that’s just a song, and they hadn’t seen Paris, and the only world was the farm, and the people they knew – which to me was so exclusionary – certainly not welcoming or openminded to people of color or, like me, who was reading the book, of a different religion. So, the text of the book turned me off, and also, this is probably just me, but some of the blocks look like swatikas. Now, I know that the symbol itself has ancient origins, and was traditionally viewed as a symbol of good luck. I’m not faulting anyone, or judging anyone for it being in a quilt, or a fair isle design, or anything – it’s been a crafting motif forever.  But to me, I just don’t want to look at it. And, if a block resembles one, I don’t want it in my quilt. And the blocks in this book, they’re not swastikas, they just resemble them, and that’s the first thing I see when I look at them.  That’s just me – not anyone else who’s made this quilt – just the way this symbol imprints on my brain, and that’s it.  No judgments – just not for me.

So, why am I back to the Farmer’s Wife? Again, it’s the blocks . . . and, as I followed links, and looked at blocks – it’s the paper piecing, or foundation piecing – when you sew your fabric onto the back of a pattern (the paper, the foundation), and eventually remove the paper to reveal a perfectly pieced block, with perfect points and seams. Voila!  It’s awesome.  It may just be my most favorite quilting technique I’ve learned in my internetting journey.  And the best thing – no cutting!  You can just use your scraps – as long as the scrap is big enough to cover the block in the template, plus a quarter inch seam.

So, do I want to make an entire Farmer’s Wife Quilt? Maybe, I don’t know. I love the blocks, but I still have a hard time reconciling the theme. On the other hand, I do feel kinder towards the Farmer’s Wife than when I bought the book several years ago. It was 1922 after all, and it is a slice of Americana history. And, I feel there’s balance – because I definitely want to make a City Sampler, and it’s nice to work from both ends – traditional v. modern, farm v. city. I like that dichotomy.

Boy, I really am over thinking all of this, aren’t I?

Again, maybe – if quilts are about storytelling, my story is not down on the farm. But, recognizing that, I guess, is part of the story. And, I am grateful for the food that’s on my table every night, and certainly, in this economy, the farmer’s plight couldn’t be more relevant.

Enough babbling – let’s look at what I’ve done – because if nothing else, the Farmer’s Wife Quilt is excellent practice – and I don’t have enough fabric, even scraps, to make it at this point.

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What’s that owl doing in there! I’ll get to that in a sec.

The three traditional blocks are from the Farmer’s Wife – the Attic Window (Block 1), Autumn Tints (Block 2), and the Bat’s Wing (Block 5). You may ask what happened to Blocks 3 and 4. 3 is Joannie’s basket, and requires some applique – one technique at a time – I’ll pick that up later if I end up doing a whole quilt.  Block 4 was one of the windmilly ones that looks like a swastika, so I skipped it. And block 4 is totally NOT a swastika – again, it just reminds me of one – it’s just a basketweave. Block 4 is probably one of the ones I could get over, and throw it in – but since I was just practicing I moved on to 5, I liked it better anyway.

Now, what about that owl.  Well, of course I went looking for paper piecing tutorials.  And, the best one I found was on Bubblestitch Quilting’s blog , although the tutorial is by Connecting Threads.  Anyway, while on her site, I found my way to her craftsy patterns, fell in love with the Owl, and with three Farmer’s Wife blocks under my belt, I felt confident enough to go for it (even though my Autumn Tints block is a wreck – that’s certainly nothing more than a practice piece):

 

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How cute is this owl! Now, you can see from my photo, I screwed up a little – I didn’t realize the pattern already had a quarter inch seam allowance built into it, and when I cut my head out, I added one – oopsy – but I don’t realy care – I’ll make another one. I don’t think I’m going to do a whole quilt or wall hanging with them – I think I’m just going to add a 2.5 inch strips around the block, and stick it in an embroidery hoop to hang on the wall.

And what about my City Sampler? I have the fabric – Denysce Schmidt’s Florence, with a stack of solids, put together by Pink Chalk Fabrics.

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But, as much as I’d like to start working on it – I started a quilt for my niece for Hanukkah – and since Hanukkah is just about a month away, it’s the priority sew at the moment.  I had a really hard time picking fabric because I wanted something easy peasy, so I wanted a precut – because cutting is the biggest struggle for me.  She requested hot pink, lavender, and zebra print.  Sheesh.  So, I found Summersville Spring (I linked to Red Pepper Quilts instead of a store because she has the fabrics all laid out) which has a print that sort of resembles an animal print at least and has the requisite colors.  I’m making Jenny Doan’s Alternate Square layer cake quilt (from her Craftsy class, Quilting Quickly 1) – one layer cake is cut into four patches, the other, half square triangles, and then the blocks alternate – the diagrams are on the back of the Moda fabric label when you get your layer cake.

 

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But, once that’s done, and I can’t imagine its going to take too long – I’ll be off to the City. Or maybe the Farm. Or maybe a different farm, Jane’s Farm – I found the Dear Jane quilt on my linky travels, too.

But that would just be too crazy.

Right.

Anyway, I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced, which I also found in my linky travels. 

 WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

 

And if you’ve stopped by from WIP Wednesday, thanks so much for popping in!