• Quilty,  Sewing

    QUILTID-19: Quilting in Quarantine

    jewel toned quilt squares - quiltid-19

    Disclaimer: “quarantine” is technically not the right word because I am not sick, thankfully. But sewing a quarantine quilt sounds so poetic, doesn’t it? Megan of Designing an MBA wrote a really fantastic blog post a few weeks ago about making “art babies” during self-isolation. Yes, it’s a weird way of putting it, but her post really resonated with me as permission to start a BIG project. Especially with the very likely possibility of staying home for multiple weeks, I knew a big project would keep me motivated, healthy, and clear-headed.

    So as soon as the stay-at-home order began, I began pulling fabrics for the quilt that’s been rattling around in my brain for quite some time now.

    quiltid-19: jewel toned fabrics and japanese fabric prints

    I have many fabrics that I just love, especially my happy/cutesy Japanese prints, and sometimes I worry I’ll never get the chance to use them all. I’ve long considered a quilt to show off my favorite prints, and I realized there will be no better time: this is my art baby, QUILTID-19.

    I’ve been saving aspirational quilts to my quilty Pinterest board for years, but these are the three that inspired me most for this project:

    1. Patchwork by Alison Glass
    2. Quilt Kit from Cali Quilt Co.
    3. Flowers for Hazel by Film in the Fridge

    I made stacks and stacks of fabric, combing through all of my cottons for everything bright. I’m aiming for super saturated jewel tones. I ended up excluding the blacks and grays of my initial pull, as well as green, sticking to five main color groups: hot pink, red-orange, yellow, turquoise, and cobalt.

    quiltid-19: jewel toned fabrics and japanese fabric prints

    I did so much ironing, and then I cut squares for hours. Quilting is tedious but it’s also fun because so many of the steps are mostly mindless. And I’m using fabrics I really, really love, so it feels great to get to work with them.

    quiltid-19: jewel toned fabrics and japanese fabric prints

    The most consistent theme of my quilty Pinterest board is TRIANGLES. I am strongly drawn to triangle quilts and have always wanted to make my own. I’m still somewhat intimidated by the thought of lining up the points on equilateral triangle quilts, and I didn’t want to have to worry about cutting out something other than squares, so this time it’s half-square triangles (HSTs for those in-the-know).

    quiltid-19: jewel toned fabrics and japanese fabric prints

    Before I could start sewing blocks, I had to make one more big decision: random, like inspiration image #3 above, or rainbow gradient like the Alison Glass quilt (#1)? I was strongly leaning towards random – it seemed easier and more fun – but I laid out some sample squares to check my gut. And I’m so glad I did. The picture above shows the drastic difference in impact between the rainbow-sorted blocks on the left, and the random blocks on the right. Rainbow wins, hands down.

    Finally, with most of the planning out of the way: the sewing can begin.

    If you’re working on an “art baby”, I’d love to hear about it! And of course, if you’re making your own QUILTID-19… please share!

    Click here to see all the posts about my Quarantine Quilt, QUILTID-19.

  • Interior Design,  Sewing

    Sewing in Self-Isolation

    llama pillow - ellen baker for kokka stencil llama fabric

    Even before all this practice, I’ve always been fantastic at self-isolation. There are very few things I love more than hiding inside with a pile of projects and sewing away, with occasional breaks for yoga, walks, or snacks.

    sewing room during self-isolation

    So it should come as no surprise that this is what my sewing room table looked like a mere 48 hours into enforced isolation. I cut out a quilt! I made cushions for my mid-century lounge chair! And I made a very happy new couch pillow.

    sewing room during self-isolation

    The front is a fabric I snagged as soon as it was released, llamas as part of the Stencil collection by Ellen Baker for Kokka. I never buy fabric online, so this was a rare exception!

    As usual, it was hard to cut into one of my favorite fabrics… but, as always, I’m so glad I did because now I get to look at the pillow every day, instead of the fabric sitting buried in a bin.

    alpaca pillow - ellen baker for kokka stencil llama fabric

    I made my own piping using store-bought bias tape and some tiny cording that’s meant for Roman shades. I feel like piping elevates a simple project like this pillow so much, and it’s really not that hard with the right tools. I finally caved and bought this set of piping feet… it makes all the difference in the world.

    The back fabric is a remnant I brought back from Japan on my recent (pre-pandemic) trip. I’m really happy with the way the colors coordinate with the llamas without being overly matchy.

    alpaca pillow - ellen baker for kokka stencil llama fabric

    I can never hide a happy colored zipper, so I left this one exposed rather than using a lapped installation as a couch pillow “should”. No-rules sewing! I’m such a rebel.

    Especially when I’m spending so much time at home, it’s fun to change things up. I’ve been wanting to make new couch pillows for ages, and this one adds such a nice dose of brightness to my white couch! Are there any overlooked home projects that you’re diving into with this extra at-home time?

    Fabric Design: Block Printing course by Jen Hewett for Bluprint

    I often sew in silence, but lately I’ve been listening to audiobooks from the library, or watching through classes from the Bluprint Creative Care Package. Bluprint is offering unlimited free classes through April 9 to help with social distancing. It’s free to sign up, you don’t even need to give a credit card! Jen Hewett has a new block printing course for Bluprint and even though I’ve taken her class in person, I’m planning to listen through it to soak up even more the second time around.

    Improve your paintings: luminous watercolor mixing course

    Full disclosure, I am a Bluprint affiliate, but I’m also taking advantage of this special they have right now and I’m excited for the opportunity to learn some new tricks.

  • Travel

    Gratitude During Uncertainty: Thankful for Travel

    chiang mai flower and garden festival 2020

    Before I start, here’s my disclaimer: I know that our global pandemic is an enormous problem. There’s the primary pain of loss of human life due to the illness, and thousands of secondary pains to medical workers, small business owners, local restaurants, wage workers, and so many more. I’m not celebrating by any means, and I ache for the many people who are suffering. But I can’t change our current reality, so I’m practicing gratitude for what I do have.

    During the past week of isolating at home, I’ve been savoring the memories of all the faraway places I’ve been able to visit. The privilege to travel is one we don’t have right now, but that helps to remind me what an enormous blessing it is, and I’m so glad I’ve explored so much of the world when I’ve been able.

    Planes are magical. I read a lot of historical fiction, and whenever I read about immigrants at the turn of the 20th century, leaving their families and homelands forever as they board a ship for a months-long voyage, I think of how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to travel as rapidly as we do. It’s something we take for granted, even complain about. My journey to India took around 30 hours each way, and yes – it was brutal! But the privilege to travel around the world and return within the same month is unheard of in most of human history!

    flying over the arctic circle: a white wonderland

    This is a picture of one of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever seen. I was on a plane from Newark to Tokyo, somewhere about 10 hours in, and cracked open my window shade only to be blinded by the white landscape below. We were flying over Siberia, and I stared for nearly an hour as endless mountains of snow and frozen rivers passed below us. It was clear that this vast landscape was uninhabited, perhaps barely explored, and most likely ever changing with the winds and snow. I still can’t fathom the scale of it all. It was so barren, so frigid, and so beautiful.

    This week, I’ve been cooking some of my favorite foods from my favorite places. Nothing transports me back to Thailand like a hot bowl of Khao Soi, started with a packet of curry paste that I carried back from Chiang Mai. I even made my own sweetened condensed milk to add to my Thai iced tea (yes, that one’s the real deal). The spices, the flavors, exude vivid memories of my day of learning to weave, or my delight at wandering the Jim Thompson house, and I can’t help but be filled with gratitude for the chance to have had those experiences.

    sunny day in tokyo - japan wearing face masks before it was cool

    I may be stuck at home, but with a cupboard full of spices and a phone full of photos, home doesn’t feel so small. I have the power to make home whatever – or wherever – I want it to be, and for that I’m grateful.