Honey Pot Bee!

It’s October!  That means it’s my month as Queen Bee for the Honey Pot Bee!  Have you heard of it?  Molli Sparkles came up with the idea of having a laid back no pressure sew-along.  Each month has two Queen Bees who choose the block patterns for everyone to make.  They can be any block, any size, any technique.  Everyone keeps the quilt they make, so each person sews up whatever block tickles their fancy, with no deadlines to stress about.  You can read all about it over on Molli’s blog as well as finding the links for the two October blocks. (http://mollisparkles.com/2016/12/announcing-the-honey-pot-bee/)

Did you know that I love Halloween?  Really, it’s my favourite holiday.  What’s not to love?  Fun costumes, candy, parties galore!  The best part is the community.  Nearly everyone is out doing this crazy fun thing together. There isn’t another holiday like it.  If I’m being completely honest, the scary part of Halloween also appeals to me.  I love classic horror and nothing gives me a greater thrill than reading a ghost/vampire/ghoul/scary doll/wear wolf/raven book on a dark and stormy night.  So you can see why I wanted to choose the October block.

There are so many amazing Halloween blocks out there, and I love them all, but would everyone else?  There are over 1000 members in the Facebook group alone, and chances are, not everyone wants a giant ghost in the middle of their non-Halloween quilt.  So obviously I choose the Barn Bats block!  That’s right, bats.  What is so great about this tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman  (http://www.ohfransson.com/all-projects/barn-bats-block-or-mini-quilt) is it’s quilty potential.  With the right fabric choices, it doesn’t look like bats at all, just an interesting shape.  She even shows an example of this in the tutorial, so you can take a look and see what I mean.  The block can be made large or small by adding or leaving off rows or columns, and could be cut in half right up the middle, which could come in handy for some of the strange spaces that are going to crop up when it’s time to lay out your quilt.  See?  Perfect!

I made my block in Halloween colours (surprise!) and, if I do say so myself, it is amazing.  One of my favourite makes!  I used prints from Handcrafted and Handcrafted 2 by Allison glass for the group B fabrics, and the last of this black fabric with gold script that I had from my Nevermore quilt (that’s right, I made a quilt with Edgar Allen Poe fabric) for the group A fabric.  I had been saving/hoarding all of these scraps for the perfect project.

That’s my son, helping me get a picture during the first blizzard of the year. Isn’t he sweet?

This block has an unusual and fun construction method.  Once you cut out the strips for the wings and faces, all of your edges will be on the bias, so I recommend using a little starch before you cut out your fabrics.  It took me a little while to figure out how to line up the ruler to make the marks for attaching the wings, so I thought I would share what that looks like. When you mark the face, it will be a diagonal line, just like in the tutorial.

I used my new quilting ruler (amazing!) and shiny black metallic Sulky thread for some simple bat shaped quilting.

I love how it looks on the back.

  And the front.

Since this Halloween version is joining my many decorations, I bound it with this amazing orange batik from Handcrafted Patchwork.

I do hope you try the block.  It’s fun, I promise.



Stitching for Tula Pink

Well, I’m starting out blogging with a bang.  My very first post is about my first professional crafting gig and my first free-lance contract….with Tula Pink.  Okay, it was technically with Fons and Porter, but the job was stitching up embroidery pieces for a book, Coloring with Thread with Tula Pink. I nabbed this picture from Amazon.

Do you see it?  Do you see the cover?  That’s one of my pieces, the butterfly on the right.  Well, what do you think?  Not only is my piece IN the book, it’s on the COVER.

I am often asked how I got this job.  After all, I’m not really IN the business.  I don’t know Tula or anyone in the publishing world.  When I did this work, I had about 100 followers on Instagram and the only other people I knew doing embroidery were my sisters, and really, it was just something that we dabbled in.

I got this job by applying.  I saw a post about it while scrolling through my Instagram feed and sent my information to the publishing company.  They required two samples of my work, but I only had one, so I stitched up another over the weekend.  I thought about Tula’s style and came up with a list of what I thought the publisher wanted to see.  I am telling you this story as a prelude for another post that I plan to write about finding opportunity.  More on that another time.

The timeline for stitching this piece was rather short, but I always do my best work under pressure.  The requirement was interesting fills.  I admit the only fills I knew at the time were backstitch and satin stitch.  So I made some up.  I know I’m not the first person to do any of these stitches, after all, the history of embroidery goes back a long way.  I tried to think of ways to give the piece texture, to make it interesting, and I think I succeeded.  The specific couching technique used on the wings was based on a 800 year old  tapestry I saw in a museum.  I’m not entirely sure I remembered the stitch correctly.

This was the result.  My best work in all it’s magnificence.  A vibrant yet delicate butterfly.  I will happily work with Tula’s colour choices anytime.  She sent a gold fabric to stitch on, which, as you will learn, is my favourite colour of fabric, thread, and pretty much everything.  Buy the book!  Stitch up the butterfly and tag me in your photos.