Smitten Quilt – an Update

Find me on Instagram @charlamacphee

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 PaperPieces.com . 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?

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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. 🙂