April Photo a Day Challenge

This month I tried something new and joined in on the April Photo a Day challenge. You can read more about it on the Fat Mum Slim blog.

I'm not sure why. Maybe deep down I was searching for a way to get more involved on social media again. I've certainly been a little absent lately, with wedding planning taking over my life. But honestly, I just thought it might be fun. And it was, for the most part. I took more creative photos than usual and I felt more connected to my "followers" than I have in a long time. It felt like a true documentation of my life and who I am -- kind of like a visual journal.

However, I often forgot to post (usually over the weekend) and then tried to play catch-up and post three photos in one day or capture two prompts in a single photo. Towards the end of the month it morphed from something fun to something I had to do. I don't think that's really the point at all and more stress is not what I need right now (or ever). So I've decided not to participate in May. But I'm still going to try to take a photo a day, just unprompted and unguilted. :)

Here are all of my #fmsphotoaday shots if you haven't been following along on Instagram.


Hourglass Crib Quilt

The first day of May, huh? A lovely reminder of time whipping by and also of how horribly I failed with my farmer's wife goals for April. Not a single block sewn. However, I did make an entire quilt! So maybe I can be excused? Plus, I used one of the farmer's wife blocks to make it, so...

I made it for the newest addition to my family, my cousin's sweet baby girl. As you can see, again I jumped at the chance to sew with lots and lots of pink and red. The block pattern is called Big Dipper in the book, but I've also heard it called Bowtie or Hourglass. Take your pick.

More things I love about this quilt... 
I learned a nifty trick for constructing the hourglass blocks, which made it really quick to assemble. Two weeks, to be exact. I have also found that  I'm pretty partial to this type of straight-line quilting that forms a distinct check pattern on the back. And can we just admire the fun striped binding for a second? It's so fun and the perfect amount of contrast. I see a lot more striped binding in my future.

Now for the challenges. Or perhaps I should call them lessons. 

First, don't believe in magic. Haha! Let me explain. Although I learned a nifty trick for piecing the individual blocks together so that they formed beautiful centre points, I did not learn a nifty trick for sewing the blocks to each other. I assumed that if I consistently ironed all of the seam allowances towards the printed side, all of the seams would nicely nest together, like magic. Yeah, there's no such thing as magic in quilting, only math and detailed diagrams. Some of the joints didn't lie as flat as I would've liked, as a result.

Another very valuable quilting lesson learned was to never sew in strips. Sew in blocks. Meaning, sew the one block of 4, then join it with 3 other blocks to form a giant block of 4, and keep building. It's a little more time consuming, but much easier to keep all your seams matching up accurately. I sewed them in long strips and it was a little nightmarish in spots (evidence below). 

You know the expression "don't make mountains out of molehills"? That does not apply to quilting. A seemingly small mistake will come back to haunt you, sometimes multiple times. Fix it in the beginning and you'll save yourself a lot of frustration (sometimes, tears) later.

And remember that fun striped binding? Not so fun when you realize how difficult it is to match up those stripes on the bias. I got there in the end. Just something to keep in mind when measuring your strips.

Last but not least, I learned that quilting is a long game with a wide learning curve. My confidence was really high after taking that quilting course last Fall and I was expecting something closer to perfection than I was getting. Which is just silly. There are so many skills to master in quilting, it could take me a lifetime to achieve perfection, and maybe not even then.

Keep calm and sew on. I have another quilt in the works for May. I planned it all out last night and will begin cutting tomorrow. This one has to stay a secret, but stay connected to Instagram and you'll likely get some some sneak peaks. :)


FWQ Progress: March

Oh my goodness, where did March go? I know. Wedding planning. With only three months to go now, all the little details are sneaking up on us. But the good news is we got everything done, so we're still on schedule and I completed my four farmer's wife quilt blocks for the month. I may or may not have made them all in the last week, but that doesn't matter. My goal was one a week, and I did it!

#32 Farmer's Daughter
This was the Needlwork quilt-along pick for March. Isn't it pretty?
Now think about the fact that my finished blocks measure 6-1/2" square. Do the math. Each of those little squares is a measely 1-1/4" finished!

#71 Puss in Corner
Or birds in a corner. Clearly I need more kitty fabric.

#4 Basketweave
So simple and easy, I love it.

#108 Windmill
I made this block three times! I think the templates are about 1/8" off for the rectangles. Anyone else run into this problem? I couldn't find anything about it on the forums. Meh.



It's official. As of today, Dear Edna has been in business for four years! Definitely reason to celebrate. So... nearly everything in the shop is 50% off for the entire day! Woo!


Sampler Quilt

It's finished! Yay!

It only took me 6 months. Haha! In my defence, this was very much a learning project, so a slower pace was necessary. And when I think of everything I learned, all the time and effort was definitely worth it. Like I said back in November, I did the majority of the piecing work during a 7-week class at Needlework and the quilting at home over the holidays.

I even took a stab at hand-quilting for the first time. Those detailed cross-panels were just calling out for something special, so I hand-stitched along each leafy vine. The end result is quite beautiful, but I'll admit that something so intricate was tough for a first attempt. And you can't really see the shape on the back. So just don't look at the back, OK?

I'm still not sure I love all the colours I chose either, it's a little busy for my taste, but I'm really proud of the quality and complexity of it. How will I ever decide whether to keep it for myself or give it away?


Shop Update: Limited Editions

When I first started the business, I was nervous for a long time about buying too much fabric at once. What if no one likes it as much as I do and then I'm stuck with yards of something that will never sell? I eventually learned to trust my taste and moved from buying a single yard to buying several bolts, often sight unseen. Gasp! However, I still have many of those small cuts of fabric on my shelf and I've made it a goal to start using them more in some limited edition one-off designs. I've always found it difficult to justify the effort of listing an item online that I only have one of, but I also hate the idea of such special pieces laying folded up on a shelf for months. So I decided to suck it up and spent a day last week learning how to use the self-timer on my camera (not an easy task, by the way) and shot all the one-of-a-kind aprons I have: three half and a reversible. They are now all available in the shop and are included in my 30% off sale!


Saying Goodbye

A Dear Edna classic, this black and white tote is what started it all. It was my very first listing, my first sale, heck it's even my branding! This little bag is what put me on the Etsy radar and taught me how to grow a business — forcing me to move beyond stencilling paper doilies at my dining room table to building a proper workroom and learning to screenprint. It's been made in too many colours to count and inspired custom products from yoga bags to throw pillows. In tears of happiness and frustration, we've been through a lot together.

That's why it's very difficult for me to say goodbye. After four years, the time has come to put this design to bed. I have a few pre-printed totes hanging around that are now up for sale in my Etsy shop. I also have several navy totes left that can still be customized with the monogram of your choice. But after those sell, that will be it. Discontinued.

I really enjoyed screenprinting, but I feel like what I want to do with it is limited by my space. So I'm packing up my paint with the hopes that I can unpack it again in the not-too-distant future. You know, when we move to a beautiful new house with a huge sunlit studio in the backyard. Heh. Until then, indulge my sentimentality for a moment with a few photos, reminiscing on the end of a beginning.


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