Adventures in Hand Sewing – Tula Nova

So, here I am once again. That place I swore I’d never go, doing that thing I swore I’d never do, becoming one of those people I swore I’d never be. I’ll be the first to admit that I get it now. Hand sewing is awesome. English Paper Piecing is now my favorite way to calm my mind, and boy, does having mental illness make that necessary.

I now have my Smitten quilt top done and ready for *gasp* hand quilting. But, if any of you know me personally or via my Instagram, you know I’m a die hard Tula Pink fan. And if you yourself are a fan of hers, then you know that all the happenings with Free Spirit Fabrics causes us all a bit of stress. Especially anyone who had pre-ordered All Stars and De La Luna. What a relief to hear that it’s all been straightened out, and our favorite non-beige artist will continue to make her gorgeous, rich, vibrant, and whimsical fabric lines. Yeah. I just said whimsical. That’s what this stuff does to me.

Already knowing it’s well worth my while to order the Paper Pieces kit for the Nova quilt, I did so and ordered the templates as well. My sewing time is so precious I refuse to waste time and risk huge errors by not using them. Plus, they’re hot pink, so what’s not to love.

Now, not every print is my favorite, some I’m not even fond of, but they all work so well together. To figure out how the heck I was going to set this quilt up, color and print wise, I stalked the #tulanova and #tulanovaquilt hashtags on Instagram.

The templates and paper pieces kit work beautifully and it’s a pleasure to cut, baste, and piece this using the gorgeous fabrics.

Here’s where I’m at so far.


Smitten Top Finished

Feel free to shield your eyes, the following pictures may cause them stress. Less than a year after I decided to tackle my first English Paper Piecing top, it’s finished. I still am a bit surprised at having done it at all, because I swore I was strictly a machine sewing girl. Turns out, there’s a lot of down time in day to day life that I just didn’t want to let go to waste. Especially if I could be making something.

So, in school pick-up lines, drives with the family, and evenings watching tv with the kids, I was able to get more accomplished than I thought I would.

Now, I didn’t have a plan when I started this Smitten. I just knew I had lots of fabric I ogled over, and knew I couldn’t get to use in a complete project on their own. So, it seemed far more possible to make use of them in each hexie for this top. Hence, the assault on the eyes, and why it so desperately needed grounding with a large, plain, black border.

I may even attempt to hand quilt it. Some day.

Smitten Quilt – an Update

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Back in May of 2017, I took my first steps into hand sewing. I had sworn I was a machine quilter only, but seeing posts on Instagram of all the gorgeous fussy cutting in various quilts; La Pas, Smitten, Ice Cream Soda etc.  Although, in my defence, I watched countless videos of how to actually machine sew paper piecing so as to avoid the actual hand sewing, but it always ended up seeming like just as much work. I couldn’t hold off any longer. After all, we were heading into camping season, and it was great to do while the kids ran wild (within eyeshot). Not to mention, there was still almost 6 weeks left of waiting in school pick up lines).

It’s been…a learning experience. That’s for sure. I started hoping to use paper pieces that I cut out myself, only as it turns out, printer paper is not the best for EPP (English paper piecing). So, hubby encouraged me to order the actual (sturdier) pieces from . They’re a lot better. Like, a lot.

So, in the car, watching movies with the kids, road trips, sitting on the pool deck during kids swimming lessons, and a lot of times, just to calm my mind, were spent working on the blocks.

Admittedly, this one is essentially an assault on the eyes. I was a little overexcited to jump in and use all of my favorite bits of fabric from scraps, new find, gifts etc. and well…it’s loud. Very loud. There is no rhyme or reason to it, but the kids have loved helping to pick  out prints to go in it, and arranging them endlessly around. It’s also proven to be quite an I-Spy quilt.

I’m finally at the stage of sewing the rows together, then I just have to do the large triangles on the edges, and it’s done. Well, pieced. I’m toying with the idea of hand quilting it (Mom, pull your chin up, I’m serious). Go big or go home, right?




Happy Christmas Quilt via Maker Valley/ Stately Type

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So, the quilt world is full of awesome people who not only share their love of the art, but occasionally surprise others by buying you a pattern they think you would love. Someone recently surprised me with this Happy Christmas pattern from Maker Valley/Stately Type. As soon as I opened the file, my 12 year old and I both said “The edges look like candy canes!” which, in our house, are Christmas J’s because my husband’s  name starts with J and he likes to think the candy canes are all about him. Love that guy.

Anyway, we started to pull some Christmas fabric and prepare to make this beauty. I love how simple it is, and the kids had a ball placing the squares out all over the floor of the sewing room. It was like a giant quilty puzzle.

The best part was that it came as a  PDF download. Time is so scarce this time of year, and I was thrilled to be able to share a pattern that you don’t need to have shipped. Here’s where you can find it, as well as some really cute quilting t shirts to sport.

Happy Christmas Quilt Pattern – Downloadable PDF

And  as always, here are some pics of how mine came together. Still have to baste and actually quilt it, but so far, this one is a victory because it’s pieced before Easter. 😛



Holiday Patchwork Forrest

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Tis the season or gifting. I’ve been approached several times now to make quilts to sell, but I think I’m like the majority of us. We’d prefer to make quilts to give to those we love. Since we’re coming up on Christmas, time becomes more scarce, but projects to finish and gift don’t. So, here’s a quick tutorial I found via Instagram. The blocks come together quickly, and it’s great for beginner’s or even kids because the more wonky your cutting is, the better it looks.

I used a bundle of Cotton & Steel I had pre-ordered at the beginning of the year, and added a few Christmas fat quarters I had around to make it go further. I had enough to complete this top, and 39 blocks left over that my 6 year old has claimed to put into a lap quilt.

Here is the link to the tutorial and all the cutting instructions. In my scrolling, I came across the completely red and white version and it was gorgeous. A Canada 150 Christmas quilt would a pretty great thing to make.


Cloud Song Quilt

Michael  Miller fabrics put out a bright, cheerful line a while back called Showery. How perfect would this be for a rainy day cuddle quilt? And I had just the pattern, Cloud Song from Little Bits Quilting Bee book by Kathreen Ricketson.

My local guild was having a sew day at an absolutely beautiful wedding/small concert venue called the Music Barn. This place is rustic gorgeousness at it’s best. And a full day to sew while hubby offered to watch all the kids? Sold.

I probably should have stuck with the original pattern, as I had fabrics on hand that I wanted to use up for the lower scale backgrounds, and they ended up being far too high in value when pieced next to the coloured square blocks. So, I ended up spending some quality time with my trusty seam ripper and put in small white borders to break things up a bit. I’m pleased with how it turned out, and it was a good chance for me to practise applique, which I still struggle with.

What matters is the kids LOVE how it turned out, and choose some snuggly flannel for the back.

Here are some pics of the process.


English Paper Piecing

English Paper Piecing, EPP to most. Hand sewing. Basically, everything that has scared and intimidated me since I began quilting. I used to think, “Oh, I could never! Who would have the patience for that kind of nonsense?” Well, as it turns out, I do.

I have always loved the look of hexies, and can remember a Smitten quilt hanging in one of my favorite shops in Calgary. I loved the details, the itsy bitsy stitches, and how beautifully it came together. It was the last thing on my list of “I should try…”. Until it wasn’t. I picked up the pattern and clear plastic templates shortly before leaving Calgary, because where the heck would I find those in the Maritimes? Good call, because I still haven’t found any here.

So, for over a year, they sit on a shelf in the sewing room, until an Instagram post of someone’s Smitten quilt catches my eye and a little voice in my head yells, “Go for it!”. So, I go for it. Hubby and I were taking the kids camping, so I wouldn’t be able to take a machine anyway. What perfect timing. He takes credit mercilessly. 🙂

It turns out, hand sewing, and EPP in particular, are incredibly relaxing and calming for the mind. Which, when you suffer from PPD and PTSD like I do, is a Godsend.

It’s perfectly blissful work, and I’m loving getting to cut up some of my favorites in my stash. I have every reason to believe that this will be an absolutely hideous quilt to the eye, as the mix of patterns, prints, and colours are going to be an assault on the senses. But I’m not letting that get to me. I started in May, and figure I’m about 85% of the way with my blocks. And since I’m putting so much time into this quilt, I may as well go big or go home and am planning to quilt it by hand as well. Yes, I know. Right? I swore I would never. Could never. But I’m going to. And I’m going to use the most obnoxious boldly coloured threads I can find.

Here are some pics of my progress so far. Your retinas have been warned. 🙂

You Say Cocoa, I Say Coffee

Lori Holt is a well-known gal in the quilting world, and for good reason. Her books offer a plethora of cute blocks, easy to follow patterns, and endless combinations. The love of my life is into tractors, so her tractor and vintagy style are what drew me to her work initially.

I am working on completing a Summer block challenge quilt from one of my most favorite old haunts, Out of Hand in Calgary. They packaged up block sets to complete Lori’s Vintage Farmgirl quilt. I haven’t yet finished it, but I know once it’s done, it will be a favorite.

One of my reasons for not finished it, is that I’m so easily side tracked. This time, I was caught by Lori’s Cocoa Cups block in her Quilty Fun book

As a mom to four, I’m often found with a mug of coffee in my hand, and this block, combined with a fat quarter bundle from Riley Blake fabrics, were the perfect coffee cup quilt partners.


Wonderful Vintage

By now you’ve surely seen the line “Wonderland” by Cotton & Steel, if you haven’t, take a look.

I wasn’t initially drawn to it, but it was getting a LOT of traction on Instagram. While pretty enough, it wasn’t on my must have list until my Sew Sampler box arrived in April. In it, among many other goodies, was a fat 8th bundle. Well, I get it now. This line is striking in person. It feels amazing, the prints are vibrant and whimsical, and did I mention the fabric itself feels like a dream? 

I ordered at fat quarter bundle as the kids were already argueing over who would get the Alice in Wonderland quilt. 

I knew whatever pattern I used it in, that I wanted the beautiful prints to be showcased. A usual first stop is my Simply Retro book by Camille Rosekelly. In it, I decided on her Vintage pattern.

I had another FQB of vintage florals and an upcoming quilting retreat, so I cut and prepared both bundles. Hey, if you’re going to do one, you may as well do two, right?

They came together nicely and showcased the fabrics just as I had hoped.

Not to mention, my first ever retreat and full weekend ever away from all the kids was put to good use. I missed the kids so much though, that it confirmed I’ll never be one of those moms who pawns her babies off at every chance. Never. I’ll take a few hours of sewing a week and days upon days (though at times nerve rattling) with my kids anytime over shipping them off. I missed them far too much.

Although, maybe one retreat weekend a year would be nice. 

Churn Dash Quilt 

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The churn dash block is a classic, and after having completed my first quilt using it, I can see why.

This block comes together quickly and are pretty to look at. I like how it could be done with varied fabrics, and can end up being not so girly, as the many flowered blocks available are. Hey, I’ve got four girls, so I’m overrun with florals and pink and everything girly. While I love those too, this was a nice change. 

For this quilt, I used a Tula Pink Throwback fat quarter bundle.

The kids love ‘hunting’ to find the animals Tulaoften hides in her prints. 

I used my Bernina BSR and just quilted a repeating wavy line. I drew the first one I in *gadp* pencil and then just shadowed the rest. 

I backed in in fuzzy flannel, the preferred backing my sweet girls are ever so vocal about requesting. With more snuggles guaranteed, I happily obliged. 💕