Saturday, February 6, 2016

Northern Flicker. A Quilt and a Bird.

The Northern Flicker. 
(Colaptes auratus)

photo by Kent Keller (

"Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers with a gentle expression and handsome black-scalloped plumage. On walks, don’t be surprised if you scare one up from the ground. It’s not where you’d expect to find a woodpecker, but flickers eat mainly ants and beetles, digging for them with their unusual, slightly curved bill. When they fly you’ll see a flash of color in the wings – yellow if you’re in the East, red if you’re in the West – and a bright white flash on the rump." - The Sibley Guide to Birds

Hiking in the mountains of Santa Fe, my husband and I heard the noise of flickers knocking on the trees. Two male flickers were fighting about something just above the trees. They are beautiful birds all spots and stripes with bright flashes of red.

Flickers are Derek's favorite bird. They are one of my favorites too. When Derek and I were dating we were both living in (separate) off campus houses with friends while we were undergraduates at the University of Denver. The houses were only a few blocks from each other and I remember many walks between those houses in the residential neighborhood around DU. In the early morning and in the early evening the flickers would come out to hunt.

Walking in the New Mexico mountains with Derek ten years later, the flickers were still fighting, hunting, and scavenging. Derek and I are still walking.

Sometimes you see something and you know it needs to become a quilt. I knew my flicker quilt was not going to be a literal bird quilt. I wanted to try to capture the colors and movement in the birds feathers. I just started cutting fabric and sewing it again. Triangles and circles, to make stripes and dots. I wanted the quilting to be irregular and organic. 

I gave this quilt to Derek and he promptly wrapped it around himself. Later I found it in his office. I think he likes it. Flickers are his favorite bird.

Quilt Stats: 
Name: Flicker
Size: Approximately 65" x 70"
Pattern: Improv, with lots of straight lines, but no pattern.
Fabric: So many scraps....
Quilting: Organic lines with the walking foot using Aurifil thread
Finished: January 2015

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Why I quilt and #quiltconreject

Why do we quilt?

Why cut up fabric and sew it back together? Why do we do elaborate things with fabric when we could just sew together simple squares and the final product would be just as warm?

Quilting is a meditation for me, a meditation about creation. It is something I devote time and energy to because the craft makes me feel good.

I was reading Uppercase Magazine (January 2015, Issue 24), editor Janine Vangool interviewed Denyse Schmidt. In this interview Schmidt discussed why she started quilting, "The tangible record of time and effort I held in my lap, versus the ephemeral nature of what I produced day to day was a revelation."

That is it.

Sometimes a quilt is not designed or pieced, it is built block by block. I feel a little like a mason building a brick wall. It is not improv, per se, I used rulers and traditional blocks with precise point. It was a journey, I did not know what the finished project would look like until the end.

I chose traditional blocks to reference our heritage as quilters. I am so proud of my quilting fore bearers and I like to think they stitched up beautiful designs both for the practical and aesthetic reasons. Just like me, beauty was created for beauties sake. The quilting is done by both machine and hand. It felt important to make this personal quilt even more personal by adding handwork.

It also felt important to take my time. Quick quilts and easy patterns have their place (I personally love them!). A quilt that takes time is special, it means something when you stop and contemplate your work. We don't have to do this. If I needed a blanket, I could sew some squares together (something I have done and loved), but devoting oneself to a project gives it more meaning. It is almost like I stitched part of myself into this quilt.

I put my name on the front of this quilt. It felt so permanent and personal. It is also a statement on the art and craft of quilting. Quilting is an art that generations of women have perfected and loved, it is also an art that has often been ignored and under valued (I am sorry men, not trying to leave you out, but quilting has been long considered women's work and has been undervalued in the way that tasks considered "feminine" often are). Stories of finding intricately pieced antique quilts with no name or date are so common. On a quilt that is all about the maker and the process of making should include placing the person on the front with the design.

This quilt was rejected from Quilt Con 2016.

I am not going to lie and tell you I was not disappointed. I poured my heart and soul into the construction of this quilt. It was a passion project that took me weeks and months to complete. I do not, however, make my quilts for showing. I made this quilt because I had something to say, I needed to make this quilt.

I know that many fantastic quilts were accepted and rejected from the show at Quilt Con and I try not to derive self worth from a jury decision. Sure, it still stings. I am writing this here in case you were rejected from a show. I think it is okay to admit to being bummed. We want to be cheerful cheerleaders for our buddies who are showing quilts and the craft that we love! You didn't submit a quilt unless you loved it and believed in it. It is hard to hear a "no".

The good news is, this quilt lives in my house and I still love it. I am happy with my concept and design and I would not change a thing.

Quilt Stats:
Name: Why I Quilt 
Size: 65" x 70"
Pattern: my own, many traditional blocks included...
Fabric: Many stash fabrics, mostly from the scrap bins (as an aside, how do these bins never look smaller!)
Quilting: Straight lines by machine with Aurifil and hand quilting using Finca thread and some Aurifil Floss. 
Finished: August 2015

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reunited and Happy 2016.

Dear Blog,
I am writing this letter because I miss you. I miss posting my finishes. I miss checking in with my works in progress. I miss being connected. I am writing this letter because I didn't know how to come back after being gone for so long. I didn't know how to catch up with the months that we missed. There have been ups and downs. Incredible things have happened and then, I didn't blog. I am so sorry. I am writing this letter because I want to come back to you.

Let me start with a bulleted list of the THINGS that have happened in since I have been gone. I do my best work in lists.

1. I turned 30. This is a big milestone. I am out of my twenties. Time to adult like a pro (higher level amateur?).

2. We bought a house. It is nearly a hundred years old and was under renovation when we bought it. That all means that less than two weeks after my 30th birthday Derek and I moved out of our rental and into a storage unit/friend's house. The friend's house was nice, but the experience was simultaneously the worst and scariest thing I have ever done. The house is pretty much done now (if a hundred year old house is ever really done). It is now glorious and feels like one of the best decisions we have ever made since we decided to get commit ourselves to each other (5 years ago this year!).

3. My job got so stressful. It also got more rewarding. Probably related.

4. I have the best sewing room in the world now. Sorry other sewing rooms out there. Mine is the bomb (also sorry it is not pictured, might need to be the subject of another post and some camera time).

5. I finished some of my favorite quilts ever and then, just like that, I lost all my creativity. I think the energy went straight into the house and the job. It took several months and some real work to find my creative fire again. I only have photos of six finished quilts from 2016 (mostly terrible photos), but I think upon my current count I have actually finished at least ten. That is certainly less than last year, but pretty decent for a year where we moved and I have had been more busy at work than ever before. The real shame is that I have only blogged about three of these! I am so sorry blog.

I am going to stop my list there. I feel like a I need a fresh start. I might try to blog about some of the missing finishes, but I know you will understand if I let them go and free myself from that burden. It is a new year, we are finally living in our new house, and it is time to come back together.

Reunited and it feels so good.

Love and kisses,

PS - No resolutions or words right now. I am just so happy to be here and I just want to enjoy this year and see where this trip around the sun takes me. I know you understand.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It is August.

I know I should just hop back into blogging like I was never gone, like it is totally normal. No biggie, here I am.

I feel I need to say something.

We are still buying the house I mentioned shopping for a couple of posts ago. It is a long process because it is under construction. I don't want to talk about it too much because it just feels unreal. We are completely thrilled with the house and honestly can't believe we get to live there when it is done.

It is a journey, a journey full of sawdust and paint, inspections, rapid progress and then disappointing news. We are expecting to be living there in a couple of weeks (pinch me) and once we are there I will give you all a tour. My sewing room is going to be particularly epic.

At the end of July we had to be out of our rental of five years. Now we (my husband, our Max cat, and my two sewing machines) have moved into a coworker's house (whilst she is out of town) until our house is done. We are doing alright, but I feel like today was the first day I have sat down in weeks.

Wait, Sarah, WAIT a second, did you say TWO sewing machines? Yes, my friends I did.

This July my dearest Juju (Jukie TL 2010q) and I welcomed our newest team member, a (new to us) Bernina 165 Activa.  Her name is Bebe (get it?!) This machine is just exactly the opposite of Juju in pretty much every way except that both of these machines are heavy duty, all metal workers that sew beautiful stitches. Bebe does all the fancy zig zags and buttonholes (heck, she even has an embroidery module I have not touched, see above for why). She is smaller, quieter (not much lighter) and will probably become my go-to travel machine. I still love Juju and would recommend her to most serious quilters in a heartbeat, but I think most sewers need to have a Bebe for those other projects.

I snagged Bebe in a pretty killer deal (I felt good about it) from a fellow Triangle MQG member on our listserv. She is not brand new, but she sews beautifully and, honestly, I can't stomach new Bernina prices. I know they are great machines, I would recommend them in a heartbeat to anyone, but house buying me could not be in the market for one of those new machines. Bebe is an amazing team member though and we are happy to have her!

So friends, this is me. Right now, in a new town, living out of a suitcase. The bacon clan is holding it together and waiting for our dream home to be ready for us. I am trying to find my love of sewing after weeks of exhausting packing. Also, an edited selection of my sewing projects are living in boxes in our temporary living room. I already miss my stash.

It is not bad. Transitions are part of life and adulting is hard stuff.

Love you all, no promises on when I will be back, but I am here and I will come back.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dear Baby, You are Loved.

Dear Gwendolyn,

I had a hard time starting this letter; there are just so many things I want to say to you. I know you are just a little one and it will be years before you can understand these words that I type.

Let me start with the easiest thing, you are so special little one, so loved, and so precious.

Your parents are pretty great. I mean, you are a pretty lucky little one. I know they will be there for you forever. I know this because I know them. I have known your mom many years before the beginning of your time. She is the best. I have known your dad for some smaller number of years before your time, but he has proven to be a pretty awesome guy too.

I know your parents probably have many hopes and dreams for you little one, but let me add a few. I hope that you have a happy childhood, full of tire swings, time machines, daydreams, and fairy tales. I hope you experience sledding down hills at top speeds, climbing mountains, waking up to clear bird calls in sun filled tents, and hearing echoes. I hope there are flowers, mud, and bugs. Eating warm wild strawberries, dandelion necklaces, mosquito bites, bicycles, macaroni and cheese.  Mud puddles and rainbows, tree houses, story telling, legos, and cold mountain lakes.

I dream that you will grow up confident and happy. I dream that you will have convictions and beliefs and that you will keep them and change them as you find you need to. I dream that you will be a girl who knows she is strong and woman who knows she is stronger. I dream that the world you live in accepts you for who you are and treats you as an equal.

Most of all, little one, I dream and hope you turn out a lot like another little girl and woman I admire a great deal, your mom.

Sending warm love and kind regards. May the force be with you.


PS - I am sorry if this is a little cheesy, but real like can be like that.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: A combination of paper pieced pattern set at random. Strawberry by Sew-ichgo, paper crane by Kitten’s Mittens, mushroom and gnomes by Artisania, and paper airplaine by Quiet Play.
Fabric: Assorted stash fabrics, Heather Ross, Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander, Joel Dewberry, Bonnie and Camille, among others…
Quilting: Shell pattern with white Aurifil
Size: approximately 40” x 40”

Finished: March 2015

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bacon Punk

I had trouble putting words on this screen to talk about this quilt. 

It is everything I love about a quilt. It is everything I love about quilting. 

Recently, I have been trying to shift my quilting focus towards trying all the hard things. I want to look at patterns and designs and feel empowered instead of scared. I want sewing and quilting to feel like a journey. Personally, I believe that perfecting my craft is part of the fun and that you have to know the rules in order to break them. I am proud to consider myself a quilter within the tradition and I embrace my quilty forebears. Someday, we can sit down with a cup of coffee and I will share my opinion on all the divisions quilting (modern, traditional, art, oh my). For now I will just say, we are all quilters.

When I first saw Jen Kingwell's Steam Punk quilt, I loved it. But then, the little voice inside my head told me that I could not make that. It was too hard. Templates. Curves. Appliqué. 

On a whim, I went for it. I ordered the pattern, I ordered some acrylic templates. I opened my scrap bins. I combed through my stash.

Each block was an adventure. I didn't have a plan. I just started making blocks. There was some intense fussy cutting and a large number of cats (honestly because I have a lot of cat fabric in my stash, no particular design plan). 

Because rainbows. 

Then, all of a sudden, I had all of the blocks. 

Over a couple of work trips, I hand appliquéd. It seemed to go fast.

Scraps on the back. I guess we could call this improv?

It is not perfect, I could probably point out all the mistakes. It is mine and I am so proud of it.

Quilt Stats:
Name: Bacon Punk
Size: approximately 71" x 71"
Pattern: Steam Punk by Jen Kingwell
Quilting: Shell free motion quilting with Aurifil white thread
Finished: April 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sanibel Summer Candy with a Giveaway

Good Morning and Happy Monday my friends! I hope you had an excellent holiday weekend.

Today I have a special treat for you! It is my stop on the Sanibel Blog Hop. This line of fabric by Gina Martin (a Moda designer) is super summery and it makes me want to go to the beach. It has sunglasses, adirondack chairs, bright flowers and gorgeous summer colors.

I had such tough time deciding on what to make with my stack of fabric. Then my bestie Lee of May Chappell sent me a bunch of her patterns and I fell in love with her Eye Candy Pattern. It was perfect to show off the beautiful focal prints and blenders from Sanibel. I think you will agree.

I fussy cut those summer flowers and lined up some of my favorite chair prints. I love those basket weave prints, they remind me of lawn chairs my parents had growing up. This line is nostalgia made bright and modern. It is perfect for beaches, picnics, and cuddling by the bonfire.

The Eye Candy pattern is also pretty much amazing. To get real life all on here for a second. I have been super busy with work and my husband and I are house shopping and he is busy with work and I have been traveling a ton (a run on sentence for my run on life). Shocking no one, I got super sick the weekend I was supposed to work on this project. I am telling you all this because I ran low on time and I made this throw quilt top in two sittings. One night after work, I cut the whole thing. Then I sewed up the whole top in 3 hours on a Sunday! Stay tuned for a complete quilt top to come very soon. I need to finish it in time for summer concert season. This will be the perfect picnic blanket. 

I wanted to give you some tips for sewing up this pattern. The pattern itself is great and doesn't need too many tips, but I have a couple of general pointers.

- This pattern is really ideal for chain piecing. I recommend cutting all of the pieces in one sitting and labeling each of your cut types.

- There are three types of blocks you make for this quilt: flying geese, hourglass blocks, and your center "candy" squares. I recommend making all of each type of piece in batches.

- Once you have made all of your blocks you can decide how you want to place your "candy" blocks.

- I had fun with my center fussy cuts. This pattern is great for showing off those focal prints you fall in love with. I think it is great for showing off a fabric line or specific color story you love too.

- Try a fun background. I decided to go bold with Moda Bella Summerhouse Lime, but you could try anything. I tried to think outside my comfort zone with this one.

I saved the best for last, I am giving away a Sanibel Jelly Roll and a PDF copy of the Eye Candy pattern right here right now! All you have to do is comment on this post and tell me where you go for your favorite vacation. This summer I don't think we will get a long vacation (buying a house and all), so I need to live vicariously through you. I will choose the winner via random number generator on Sunday, April 12th. International winners are okay! Make sure you are not a no-reply blogger.

That is not all, nope! I am doing a bonus giveaway. I am giving away this bundle of 10, 1/3 yard cuts of Sanibel and another PDF copy of Eye Candy on Instagram. Incidentally, this is exactly what you need to make your very own Eye Candy quilt (minus background). Click on over to my instagram (@stitchingandbacon), follow me, and comment on the contest photo for another chance to win a bundle and pattern! For this giveaway I can only do U.S. winners, I am so sorry friends. 

There are two chances to win two prizes! Once on this blog and once on instagram. 

The winner of the blog post was comment number 3! Cassandra, who is headed off to Myrtle Beach this summer! I have already emailed Cassandra. Thanks for playing my friends!

Be sure to check out the other blog hop participants this week for more precut giveaways and fun project ideas.

Monday - April 6th
Stitching and Bacon - That's me!

Tuesday - April 7th

Wednesday - April 8th

Thursday - April 9th

Friday - April 10th
Gina Martin at Pattern and Hue