Flattering Knit Top for Women

Today on the blog tour, I’m excited that my friend Dana from MADE is taking part and reviewing Stitch Savvy!  Dana was one of the very first internet friends I ever made, more than five years ago, and her style and color sense and exceedingly good taste have made her one of the real vanguard in the online sewing community.  I’m so proud and grateful to call her friend, and so excited that she had such lovely things to say about Stitch Savvy!  If you haven’t had a chance to see the projects inside the book yet, her post includes some lovely photos of the pages and highlights some of her favorites.

Once you’ve done that, check out the Knit Top from the Garments section!

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This is an alternate fabric for this top, one which didn’t fit into the Garments chapter.  The model (the very, very happy model, as folks have pointed out–the one with the awesome hair) was wearing this blue version:

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I chose the blue first–as anyone who shops for fabric with me will cheerfully tell you, if something comes in blue or green, I’m almost certain to get it in those colors.  I don’t think of blue as my favorite color–if you asked me, I’d tell you it was leaf green or Whipstitch yellow–but I sure do own and wear a lot of it.  So when I made this version of the top originally, I fully intended it to end up in my own closet.

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I love the V-neck, and the way the easy gathers accent the best parts of a woman’s figure, but downplays the parts that most of us would rather downplay.  Very loosely fitted at the waist, so it’s great for casual wear, but with the pretty neckline, it also looks great under a blazer or with a scarf.

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This fabric is a lovely silky jersey that feels amazing on, and the blue is actually teeny tiny circles that overlap one another.  I didn’t he the sleeves or the lower hem, because I like that vaguely bohemian look that comes with letting the jersey roll at the edges the way it does.

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This other version is a French import print that I think is really edgy and fun.  It has a little more body than the blue jersey does, which makes the gathers pop even more.

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I love that this pattern has an easy raglan sleeve that is both easy to sew and easy to wear–no easing in the sleevecap to get a good fit, but a smooth edge where the seams join.

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And I love the clean line of the neckline, but that it also meets the soft gathers at the bustline.  It makes for a flirty feminine top that doesn’t push the line into girly.  It’s a comfortable, flattering knit top for a grown-up.

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I’m actually not at all surprised that this has been one of the most popular projects in the book so far.  I know it was one of the very first that I had in my head when I was writing the book, and that I knew for sure belonged there.  So I’m really excited to see that everyone else seems to feel the same way!

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Speaking of which, if you’re loving this knit top and wanting to make it but not sure you have the skills and experience, there’s still space in my Sewing Knits e-course that starts in just a couple of weeks!  This is a five-week class that’s really fun–and covers everything from where to get knit fabric and how to find the best stuff online all the way to how to sew a really lovely seam with just your sewing machine.  See more details and register on the Sewing Knits e-course page!

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Giant thanks again to Dana for her post in the Stitch Savvy blog tour today!  I would be startled and shocked, honestly, if you told me you weren’t already reading her blog–she is such a brilliant and funny and down-to-earth lady, and has had such a tremendous impact within the online community with her gorgeous photos and really clever projects and ideas.  There is so much about her blog to love, but check out for sure her Rollie Pollie pattern (I’ll be making one of these for our boy’s room when he moves up to his big boy bed) and her Diaper Cover tutorial (we have used this a ZILLION times), and of course the Shirt Dress, which might just be the tutorial that started it all.  She’ll be your new best (online) friend!

Keep checking in on all the Stitch Savvy blog tour posts, and come back right here next week for a giveaway of TWO of the samples from the book PLUS a freebie for everyone!

Paving Stones Quilt

Another exciting day on the Stitch Savvy blog tour! Today, Katy from Monkey Do (you might know her by her Twitter/Instagram handle I’m A Ginger Monkey) is sharing her fave projects from the new book. Hers might also be my favorite reaction on seeing the book for the first time–she said, “It’s beautiful! And HUGE!” Which made me laugh, but also feel puffed up with pride that a book with my name on it could get that kind of reaction from someone who has for sure seen her share of sewing books. Whee!

And in my on-going series of sharing with you photos of alternate versions of the book’s projects that we couldn’t fit into the book because it was already so huge, today I’m sharing another look at the Paving Stones Quilt!

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When I wrote the quilting section of Stitch Savvy–which has five projects of increasing challenge, all patchwork and quilted–I originally had a full-size quilt as the Level 5 project.  Obviously.  Because it’s a FULL quilt, right?  But then I realized that maybe it was kinda dumb to ask readers to make four other patchwork-and-quilted projects and keep referring them to the quilting instructions for THIS project but make them wait to actually MAKE this project. Duh.  So I made this the Level 1 project–the first quilted project in the quilting section is a complete quilt!  Woot!

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The version showcased in the book is in a really cool citron-and-grey version, which I hope will weather the test of time and be just as cool-looking ten years from now.  This version, though, was always and forever made to be used in my den at our new house, which we had only just bought when I was finishing up designing this quilt.

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The quilt is made with 12″ blocks, four pieces of fabric per block, and then each of the blocks can be rotated to create a seemingly-random pattern of rectangles and squares.  Then, to make it even funner, I used only four fabrics in this version, two of them very close in color, and allowed like fabrics to touch each other without editing–resulting in a bunch of shapes I couldn’t have put together easily any other way.  I think it makes for a very clean and modern look here in this all-Kona-solids version.

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The quilting is done with a walking foot in straight lines, all spaced about 1.25″ apart.  I love that really tight, straight, parallel, Japanese-inspired quilting, don’t you?

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This has become one of our very favorite quilts to snuggle under while watching TV or looking out rainy windows from the playroom.  Or, if you’re a four-year-old boy, to wipe your ketchup-stained chubby cheeks upon, thereby leaving stains on your mother’s brand-new quilt.  Which is fine by me, actually, although I won’t be telling him that: quilts are meant to be lived with and loved, and a stain here or there just reminds me that my family love to be at home and together.  (Although I might be reading too much into a ketchup stain.)

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Speaking of quilting, spend some quality time catching up with Katy’s blog, I’m A Ginger Monkey, while you’re there reading her blog tour post.  She’s one of the ladies to blame for suckering me into the #scrappytripalong, and does some of the most amazing things with scrap fabric that any human has ever seen.  I really love her eye and her sense of style–and, quite frankly, her sheer audacity when it comes to combining colors and fabrics.  Her sewing is downright inspired, and I’m delighted she’s part of the Stitch Savvy blog tour!

Stick around for more Stitch Savvy blog tour and to win one of TWO samples from the book next week!

Fuzzy Lovie Blanket

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Could you absolutely DIE from how cute these bunnies are??  These were made by Carrie of This Mama Makes Stuff as part of her post during the Stitch Savvy blog tour.  And they’re amazing.  LOVE.

The Lovie Blanket was designed to be part dolly and part blankie–as the mom of three kids who love their special blankies, I came by the inspiration for this very honestly (my oldest never had a blankie, but even she thinks this project is pretty cute).  It’s a shaped and stuffed animal head with lined ears attached, and then the whole thing is sewn, not to an animal body, but to a soft and cuddly blanket for loving on.  It has a compact size that I love, which makes it great for napping or traveling.

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The original was in a white faux-fur with silky-lined ears.  Carrie’s version is A-DOR-A-BLE with the textured fur and these vintage cotton prints for the ears and the blankie lining.  I can hardly stand how great they turned out, and how much they look like a treasured toy from a simpler time, as if you’d walked into your parents’ or grandparents’ houses years ago and found their favorite toy, just new and fresh.  So sweet!

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If you’re not currently reading Carrie’s blog, This Mama Makes Stuff, you’re missing out.  She makes the prettiest things, and is a true trained patternmaker and seamstress, with a really lovely bent toward the vintage that makes all her sewing turn out like something from a magazine 50 years ago.  Plus, she runs and manufactures running skirts, and is the best Sewing Summit roommate I could have hoped to have.  Check out especially her Rock & Roll Baby Gown tutorial–put the lovie together with that puppy and you’ve got the coolest baby shower gift in town.

See you here tomorrow for another stop on the Stitch Savvy blog tour–and next week, the big giveaway of two of the samples!

Reversible Quilted Satchel

Another day for the Stitch Savvy blog tour!  I’m seriously delighted today that Faith from Fresh Lemons is sharing her favorite projects from the book–she writes some of the best quilt block tutorials on the web, and I have made the most lovely star quilt using her guidance.  So to have her flipping through the pages of my book makes me really excited and happy.

At the same time, I’m sharing photos of another version of the Reversible Quilted Satchel from the book, one that didn’t get photographed for the pages but that I love just as much!

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I love this bag, way more than any human should.  It’s reversible, so I got to use two fabrics I really love, and it has quilted panels on both sides, which gives the flap lots of shape and body.  The two sides of the flap are quilted separately, too, so I got to play around with thread colors and my quilting stitches as I was making it.

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This version was a great chance to use an awesome Japanese cotton/linen blend that I’d been hoarding–I did my graduate thesis on archaeological analyses of acorn use in prehistory (true story), so I have a long-standing and on-going affinity for acorns and squirrels.  When I first saw this fabric, I yearned for it but didn’t have any idea what to do with it–so I did what a lot of us do, and bought a single yard that I stored away and only looked at once in a while, stroking it lovingly.  This bag takes a half yard-ish of fabric, so it was perfect!

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The interior is a solid natural linen.  The side panel is reinforced with Peltex, so it’s good and stiff and really holds its shape well.  Plus: prefect size!  Love.  The version in the book is another example of a linen/cotton blend that I’d been hoarding and finally put to good us, too, you know:

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If you’re looking for some ideas of ways to perk this bag up (because, really, isn’t it the perfect blank canvas for patchwork and fancy quilting and applique and all manner of embellishment?), you could do a whole lot worse than to take a tour of Faith’s blog while you’re over at Fresh Lemons for today’s blog tour post.  She has piles and piles of tutorials and does some of the best patchwork and quilting series I’ve seen on a blog.

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Stick around the rest of this week for more of the Stitch Savvy blog tour, and don’t forget: when we get back round to me, I’m giving away TWO samples from the book plus a fun freebie for everyone!

How About Orange

As an unscheduled stop on the blog tour, hop over to How About Orange and see Jessica Jones’ impression of Stitch Savvy!  The clutch on the cover features one of Jessica’s Outside Oslo fabrics, and people have not been able to push each other out of the way fast enough to tell me how awesome it is.  Which is true: completely awesome.  And while I will give away two samples from the book, this clutch will not be one of them, so just stop hoping, OK?

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Giant thanks to Jessica for writing, unasked, a lovely and generous review of the book!  Her fabric appears on multiple handbags throughout its pages, and I am so pleased she made something so gorgeous to inspire me as I sewed.

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The Stitch Savvy blog tour picks up on Monday!

Quilted Sewing Machine Cover

Day 3 of the Stitch Savvy blog tour!  Today, Anna from Noodlehead is showing off the clutch she made using the instructions in the book–and I’m so excited to read her post and see that the book led her to want to make a project she might not have tried otherwise!  Can’t wait to see her Photo Transfer Wall Art–if you read Anna’s blog at all, you know that she has such incredible taste, and everything she makes comes out so clean and modern and chic.

Plus, today I’m sharing with you the original Quilted Sewing Machine Cover I made when working on the book, before making the lovely yellow one with Lizzy House fabrics that’s featured in the Quilting chapter.

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I wanted a cover for my own machine, plain and simple.  I designed this project from a purely selfish place, I admit it.  And I love it–I even made a matching one for my serger!  I sent this one off to the publisher about a year ago for photos–they chose only the yellow one to feature, so my sewing machine at home was mostly uncovered all that time.  I’m really relieved to have it back!

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It does show up in the quilting chapter, so it’s built with a backing and a layer of batting, and quilted before the edges are bound in bias tape.  Oh, and did I mention it’s reversible?  Totally.  Y’all know how I love a good reversible project.  And bias tape.  This project is basically my mother ship.

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I wanted to not only use this cover to illustrate how to bind a seam with bias tape (which is also how the Wherever Jacket’s seams are bound on the interior, since it isn’t lined), but also as a lesson in free-motion quilting.  There are straight lines of quilting done on the diagonal, FMQ in a meandering pattern, and even some pebbles:

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Plus, what a great project to use to demonstrate how to make quarter-square and half-square triangles!  The quilting section has five projects in it, and if you’ve never made a quilt before or if you’ve made quilts but want to push yourself a bit, I’m hoping there’s a project there that meets you where your skills are right now.

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And now I get to enjoy my matching sewing machine and serger covers, home at last, where they belong!

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Read Anna’s sweet post about the book today, and then stick around and check out her blog, which is seriously filled with great ideas.  She seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of what cool ideas are floating around the web, and digests them down into lovely images and great projects.  Her gathered clutch and open wide zippy pouch tutorials always turn out SUPER cute, and come spring, my children are all getting one of her bike buckets.

See you Monday for the next stop on the Stitch Savvy blog tour–and don’t forget, I’ve got prizes and surprises coming up next week!

Envelope Pillow with Ribbon

Day Two of the Stitch Savvy blog tour!  I asked the lovely ladies who are taking part of the tour to follow one “path” through the book and share it with you, and today Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Fabrics and Pink Chalk Studio is doing just that.  Stitch Savvy is meant to be an intermediate sewing book–not the super beginning skills, but not a niche book focused on very advanced or esoteric or obscure sewing, either.  I designed the book with five “tracks” based on the idea that most of us gravitate toward one type of sewing (in this case, the five are home decor, sewing for kids, handbags, garments, and quilting).  On top of that, to encourage us to try sewing projects we might not otherwise be drawn to attempt, each project leads you to “next steps,” other projects in the book that share skills or techniques with the one you’ve just done.  So you can follow a track (do all the quilting projects) or do all the Level 1 projects (one in each of the five tracks) or you can skip between tracks and follow a path through the projects based on recommendations at the end of each one.

Kathy is sharing her path today, and I’m super excited not just to see how the book led her through a series of projects, but also to see how excited she was as each new project was “revealed”!  How totally fun for me to observe someone going through this book that I’ve been nesting with for so long.

I’m sharing with you another version of a book project that didn’t make it into the pages of the book: the Ribboned Envelope Pillow.

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This is the Level 1 project from the Home Dec section, the very first project in the book.  It’s another approach to sewing a pillow, something to add to your toolbox on top of the pillow in Stitch by Stitch.  On top of that, I like that this project asks you to think about what you can do to a pillow front before you assemble the pillow itself–once you recognize that you can embellish or quilt or stencil or bedazzle the front of any pillow, your whole house opens up!

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It’s also a chance to work with pleats, which show up in a number of projects throughout the book.  I like gathers, but I LOVE pleats, and tend to use them where patterns call for gathers.  Something about the crisp structure of them really speaks to me.

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This one sits in the playroom at our house, which I very recently stripped down and re-organized, spurred on by my success with the closets.  I emptied all the cases and shelves of every toy and re-arranged and displayed them, so now sitting in this chair looking out the sunroom windows is a joy!  And I’ve got a lovely pillow to rest against.

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Take the time to tour Kathy’s excellent blog while you’re peeking in on her Stitch Savvy post.  I had the great pleasure of visiting with her at Quilt Market in Houston this past October, and she is smart and thoughtful and very witty–plus she has exceptionally good taste in fabric and patterns, and genuinely loves not just sewing, but interacting with others who love it, too, and building a community.  Plus she’s got real vision about how the interwebs can work for those of us who sew, and offers downloadble patterns right from her site, along with a fantastic selection of tools and notions that you don’t often see from online vendors.  If you’re not already subscribed to Pink Chalk Studio, Kathy’s blog, or getting the Pink Chalk newsletter, I can’t encourage you enough to do so, like, today.  You’ll thank me later.

See the rest of the Stitch Savvy blog tour in the next ten days, and on the final day, check back here for a giveaway and a surprise!

Wherever Jacket

Today’s the first official day of the Stitch Savvy blog tour!  I am delighted to let me friends take over most of the reveals and inside peeks on the book, and while they do, I’m going to take the chance to share with you some of the garments that didn’t make the pages!

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As I was working on the patterns and designs for Stitch Savvy, I had such fun–I mean, really almost unnatural amounts of fun–picking out and investing in the fabrics I used to bring these projects to light.  When I wrote Stitch by Stitch, I used fabrics that I had on hand or that were very popular at the time, and didn’t really give much thought to how they would photograph or even (I know, it’s shameful) to how they would show off a particular project.  The ones that I chose because I just loved the fabric and wanted to use it–like Bari J’s fabric on the pillow that’s featured on the back cover of Stitch by Stitch–were the ones that got the biggest reaction and most compliments, and I learned something from that: choose the things that YOU love best, and they’ll show off the prettiest and brightest, because that’s where you will have put your heart and time and energy, as well.

So with Stitch Savvy, I worked hard to choose fabrics that I loooooved, for the reasons above and also because I learned after the first book that all these samples COME HOME, so if I made one in fabrics I wouldn’t ordinarily choose, thinking that someone else would like it and I should play to their tastes, I was just going to end up getting it back later–and not knowing what to do with it.  These fabrics are ones I wanted to have and to wear and to use over and over.

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That also meant I had a hard time editing the fabrics down, because I did love all of them so much.  Which means that when it came time to photograph the projects for the book, I had two or three (and sometimes four) photo-worthy samples for each project.  It was a LOT of sewing.  Not all of them could be featured in the book’s pages, but I can show them off now!

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Today on the blog tour, Amber of One Shabby Chick, one of the most talented and warm and aesthetically-minded bloggers I know, is sharing her impressions of Stitch Savvy.  And I’m sharing with you the Wherever Jacket, one of the five women’s garment patterns featured in the book.  I wanted a great unlined jacket that could be dressed up or down and could be made in a variety of fabrics to suit every season–there are two in the book, and then this third to share with you today!

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Check out Amber’s blog and see her amazing sewing while you’re there reading about Stitch Savvy–she’s tremendously gifted at the machine and has the best eye for putting fabrics together and making what could be a simple project–like a camera strap or a zippered pouch–become something lovely to treasure through her stitching.  See the rest of the stops on the blog tour in the coming two weeks, and I hope you love every glimpse these talented bloggers give you!

Stitch Savvy Blog Tour

Hooray!  My second book, Stitch Savvy, is out in the world and available.  It was two years in the making, and quite honestly, a ton of work–but I think it’s just beautiful, and couldn’t be more grateful to my publishing and editorial team at F+W for making it such a joy to hold!

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I’ve asked some of my very favorite people to help me introduce the book to you over the next two weeks, and I am so flattered and pleased that they’ve agreed–so over the coming days, I’ll be showing photos of some of the projects from the book, and then leading you over to their sites to see more from the inside, hear their impressions, and get excited about taking your sewing to the next level!

Stitch Savvy is written as a kind of sequel to Stitch by Stitch, and is geared to the advanced-beginner-to-intermediate sewing level.  I wrote Stitch by Stitch because I really wanted a go-to book for folks who were very first learning to sew, something that started at the very beginning and worked in a logical sequence from there.  I love the book, and have been overwhelmed by how many people have really enjoyed using it, and even how many shops have designed beginning sewing classes using the projects I designed!  Stitch Savvy will hopefully pick up where Stitch by Stitch left off, and is designed to allow each reader to choose their own sequence of projects as they work through the book.  I’ll let the folks on the blog tour tell you more about that, but I’m really excited about the format of the book and the projects in it–I hope you love them!

For a sneak peek of the insides of the book and a little more about it while you wait for the blog tour to get rolling, check out this lovely mention on Sew, Mama, Sew from the holiday season.

Stitch Savvy blog tour

Wednesday, January 8:  One Shabby Chick

Thursday, January 9:  Pink Chalk Studio

Friday, January 10:  Noodlehead

Monday, January 13:  Fresh Lemons

Tuesday, January 14:  This Mama Makes Stuff

Wednesday, January 15:  I’m a Ginger Monkey

Thursday, January 16:  MADE

Friday, January 17:  Stitched in Color

Monday, January 20:  The Long Thread

Tuesday, January 21:  Creative Thursday

Wednesday, January 22:  right here on Whipstitch, where I’ll be giving away a copy of the book PLUS two samples from it!

#scrappytripalong

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Good heavens.  That Instagram.  It’s a breeding ground for quilt viruses.  And this one was a treasure to suffer through.  Thanks to Katy, Rita and Brenda, the #scrappytripalong sprang up between Christmas and New Year’s, and within three days of watching everyone’s photos roll past, I was sunk.  I’m may be a sucker, but I’m a sucker with a hot little quilt, y’all!

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Rather than go in true scrappy fashion and throw fabrics in willy-nilly (because my particular constitution makes it near impossible for me to shut down my brain long enough to truly avoid editing my selections), I started with a fat quarter bundle of Honey Child and then added in bits and pieces from my scrap bag and my stash in colors that went with those bright and happy hues.  Then, for good measure, I threw in a strip of Kona white every third fabric–I almost always choose a solid OTHER than white, but in this case, I thought it would look a bit like Granny squares in a good way, and figured, What’s the worst that can happen?

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The hash tag folk on IG were all using the Scrappy Trips Around the World tutorial, which is strip-pieced.  It makes these blocks insanely addictive an quick to stitch up–to the degree that I meant to stop at 30 blocks and do a quilt that measured 60″ x 72″, but FORGOT TO STOP PIECING and ended up with 36 blocks.  At 72″ square, this is the largest quilt top I’ve made in a long while–I don’t think I’ve gone over 60″ x 60″ since I made the Chain Reaction quilt for our son.  And that was years ago!  Here are all the blocks laid out on the living room floor, just before I stitched the final one and plopped it in place.  I love the bright cheerfulness of these colors–really looks like me!

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When all the blocks go together, you can do any number of settings–I like the basic many trips setting, since I think it looks like those God’s Eye things we all made out of yarn at summer camp.  Remember those?  Can’t you totally see that in the center of each diamond here?

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I did throw in some darker fabrics here and there, and wonder if I should have avoided that.  They certainly stand out, but on the whole, don’t bother me–I just wonder if I would have liked the overall effect more with a more consistent value.  Which is why I’ll be doing another in ALL YELLOW.  Whipstitch rides again!

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I confess that I used not a single pin anywhere in the making of this quilt top.  Some of the seams don’t line up perfectly, but I don’t think any are off by more than 1/8″, if that much.  The tutorial tells you to iron all your seams to the side, facing one another, which I did.  I know a lot of my Instagram friends chose to press their seam allowances open, but with 1/4″ seams that always burns my fingers, and I love working with locking seams when it comes to putting a block together.  Pressing to the side following the tutorial instructions worked really well for me, and the majority of these seams line right up, even without pins.

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Before I can quilt it, I’ve got my two postage stamp quilts to finish.  I’ve GOT to get on those, since we’re making the big out-of-the-crib-into-the-toddler-bed switch in the next six weeks (eek! no more baby in the crib!!), and I’d like to have matching quilts for the girls when we do that.  But once those are finished, and my thread order arrives, I am so on quilting this–hopefully by Valentine’s Day or so?  At which point I can make the yellow one.  Oooh, I think I’ll call that one the Yellow Wonder.  Just planning ahead.

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