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Piece Keeping

Piece Keeping

Amy Butler has a new book out titled Piece Keeping and she has invited me to be part of her blog tour to support the book. I was honored to be asked, and excited to get my hands on a copy of the book.  I first met Amy two+ years ago at Quilt Market when I walked up and introduced myself to her. She could not have been warmer or friendlier to this total stranger and I was instantly impressed with her grace and generosity.  Amy's Midwest Modern was the first line of Modern quilting fabric I became aware of, so to be talking with her in the flesh was a bit of a fangirl moment. As I have gotten to know her over the past two years (she came to Maine July '15 and taught a workshop with Heather Jones- another favorite of mine) my admiration for her talent, her creativity, her business, her friendship, but most of all her heart, have grown steadily.  In an ever growing industry, Amy has stood as a shining light, a fabulous role model, a tireless advocate for creativity, and just a lovely human being.

When Chronicle Books sent me a copy of the book and asked if I'd write a blog post there was no time between the question and my resounding yes! When the book arrived I will admit to a pause in my daily work to page slowly through it, ignoring emails and other business at hand.  The photographs, by Amy's husband and partner in creativity, David Butler, are colorful and inviting, and the directions are all well spelled out and diagrammed. But what totally drew me in, full disclosure, was the section in the back of the book where Amy talks about feeding the creative fires.

The projects in this book are all darling, and inspiring, and the photos will make you want to dive in.  Amy gives a long paragraph in the beginning of the book to each theme and technique used in the book. If you are more of an improvisational maker (as I am) this section will offer much spark for your creative engine. I have been daydreaming about the flying geese block for the past month or two, without yet putting fabric to task. But reading through this first chapter of Amy's books got me doing this.... 



These blocks are made from linen held in my stash from lord knows where, cut with scissors, and stitched by hand.  Yes, by hand. One hot Summer day, under the tent on our patio while trying to escape the heat. And it is this small project for which I am grateful to Amy Butler for writing this fabulous book. With her voice in my head, a rumbling of an idea about flying geese, and some materials at hand, I started a project that may take me months(?) to finish, but that totally turns me on. What a distinct pleasure to find that type of inspiration in a book.

Remember that final chapter I mentioned above?  Well, for me, that is my favorite part of the book. Amy calls it Creative Communion, and it is an issue all creative people struggle with. Especially those who make their creativity their business.  How do you stay engaged, excited, and productive with your muse? Amy offers up tips and resources for keeping that mojo flowing! She has ideas for crafty weekends with friends, places to find inspiration, both virtual and analog. And she encourages you to carve out creative 'me time' which is SO important. Those geese you see to the left were channeled during some me time I had to force myself to take. But oh the results!

The project that I selected from Piece Keeping is the Embellished Infinity Cowl, and below is the image from the book.  I am planning these geese on the left to be an Embellished cowl of my variation, but we will see what it eventually becomes...  I think this cowl is a beautiful project, ripe for personal touches from your own stash, and a lovely way to wear your creativity around your neck. The instructions are clear and detailed as you can see below, allowing the newer sewist the opportunity to follow a project to completion, and the more experienced to use it as a starting point. My finished cowl will look differently, but will be forever inspired by Amy.


I have been told I can share the full instructions for the project here with you, so you can try it and see what your cowl looks like!  The instructions are at the bottom of this post.

I am also giving away a prize package of a copy of the book, a stack of fat quarters of Amy's latest line from FreeSpirit, and some of her ribbons from Renaissance Ribbons. Much fuel for your creative fire! I will pick a winner at random from my comments on Thursday July 28th. Tell me about an aha! moment of your creativity.  Make sure to include your email so I can contact you.

You can check in on all the other creative folks on Amy's Blog Tour from the list below.

July 11 - Chronicle Books

July 12 - The Root Connection

July 13 - Suzy Quilts

July 14 - Rock Paper Scissors

July 15 - 100 Billion Stars

July 16 - Carrie Bloomston

July 17 - Late Night Quilter

July 18 - Crimson Tate

July 19 - A Gathering of Stitches

July 20 - Heather Jones Studio

July 21 - Make It In Design



Embellished Infinity Scarf From Amy's Butler's book Piece Keeping, 20 Stylish Projects That Celebrate Patchwork from Chronicle Books

Finished size: 11" (27.9 cm) wide x 72" (182.9 cm) circumference (37" [94 cm] flat)

Handwork mixes with fresh patchwork for this fanciful scarf.

Wrap yourself in handmade beauty!


All seams are 1/4" (0.6 cm) unless otherwise stated. The seam

allowance is included in all measurements and templates.

Press all seam allowances to one side as you sew.


Flying Geese


Paper Piecing
Hand Embroidery



Use Figure 1 as a guide for selecting the fabrics
From 44" (112 cm) wide light- to mid-weight fabric (unless otherwise noted)

1/4 yard (0.23 m) each of 9 coordinating prints and solids for Patchwork Stripes (Optional: Choose one floral print for hand embroidery)

1/4 yard (0.23 m) each of 2 coordinating prints or solids for the first stripe of Flying Geese Patchwork

1/4 yard (0.23 m) each of 2 coordinating prints or solids for the second stripe of Flying Geese Patchwork

21/8 yards (1.9 m) of 45" (114 cm) or 60" (152 cm) wide fabric for Scarf (Note: Choose a fabric that is reversible; the Patchwork Panels will only be on one side, but the scarf is not self-lined.)

1/4 yard (0.23 m) of coordinating print or solid for Scarf Binding

1/2 yard (0.46 m) of cotton muslin for Patchwork Backing


1 spool of coordinating all-purpose thread (Coats)

Up to 9 different colors of coordinating all-purpose thread for machine quilting on patchwork strips (Coats)

1 skein of embroidery floss to coordinate with the fabric for one Flying Geese triangle (Anchor by Coats)

2 or 3 skeins of embroidery floss to coordinate with fabric for the hand embroidery (Anchor by Coats)

7" (17.8 cm) embroidery hoop (Clover Embroidery Stitching Tool Hoop)

1 spool of transparent thread

4 beads (4 mm) for embellishment

28 to 30 coordinating seed beads for embellishment


4 sheets of foundation paper, 9" x 12" (22.9 x 30.5 cm) (Carol Doak’s)

Ruler that works with rotary cutter and has 1/4" (0.6 cm) markings (such as an Add-A-Quarter Ruler)

1 hand-embroidery needle (Prym-Dritz)

1 short hand-beading needle (Prym-Dritz)

Needle-nose pliers

1 hand-sewing needle

1/4" (0.6 cm) piecing foot for your sewing machine

1.     Cut Out the Template Piece

a.     From the pattern sheet included with this book, cut out: Flying Geese Template

2.     Cut Out the Fabric Pieces
Use your rotary cutter, mat, and ruler to cut the following fabrics:

a.     Flying Geese Stripe 1 (for both Patchwork Panels)

                                               i.     Fabric 1:

                                             ii.     Cut 4 squares for Triangles: 4" (10 cm) square

                                            iii.     Cut 8 squares for Background: 4" (10 cm) square

b.     Fabric 2:

                                               i.     Cut 4 squares for Triangles: 4" (10 cm) square

                                             ii.     Cut 8 squares for Background: 4" (10 cm) square

c.     Flying Geese Stripe 2 (for both Patchwork Panels)

                                               i.     Fabric 3:

                                             ii.     Cut 4 squares for Triangles: 4" (10 cm) square

                                            iii.     Cut 8 squares for Background: 4" (10 cm) square

d.     Fabric 4:

                                               i.     Cut 4 squares for Triangles: 4" (10 cm) square

                                             ii.     Cut 8 squares for Background: 4" (10 cm) square

e.     Patchwork Strip Fabrics

                                               i.     Cut 2 strips from each of the 9 Patchwork Strip fabrics:

                                             ii.     Fabric 1: 11/4" x 111/4" (3.2 x 28.6 cm)

                                            iii.     Fabric 2: 1" x 111/4" (2.5 x 28.6 cm)

                                            iv.     Fabric 3: 11/4" x 111/4" (3.2 x 28.6 cm)

                                              v.     Fabric 4: 7/8" x 111/4" (2.2 x 28.6 cm)

                                            vi.     Fabric 5: 17/8" x 111/4" (4.8 x 28.6 cm)

                                           vii.     Fabric 6: 21/8" x 111/4" (5.4 x 28.6 cm)

                                         viii.     Fabric 7: 13/8" x 111/4" (3.5 x 28.6 cm)

                                            ix.     Fabric 8: 11/2" x 111/4" (3.8 x 28.6 cm)

                                              x.     Fabric 9: 17/8" x 111/4" (4.8 x 28.6 cm)

f.      Scarf Fabric

                                               i.     Cut 1 piece: 74" x 111/4" (188 x 28.6 cm)

g.     Binding Fabric

                                               i.     Cut 4 strips: 2" (5 cm) x width of fabric* (wof)

h.     Muslin

                                               i.     Cut 2 pieces: 18" (45.7 cm) square

3.     Make Flying Geese Strips Using Paper Piecing
Note: Each Patchwork Panel has two Flying Geese Strips. The fabrics in the two strips are reversed on the two panels. (See Figure 2.)

a.     Trace the Flying Geese Template once onto each piece of foundation paper, making sure your lines are straight, as you will be following these lines when you are stitching. Transfer the numbers of each section onto the tracing.

b.     Start with Flying Geese Strip 1 on the first Patchwork Panel. Place one Flying Geese Triangles square under Section 1 with the wrong side against the wrong side of the paper. The fabric piece needs to extend 1/4" (0.6 cm) past all sides of Section 1. Then, take one Background square and match it with the triangle fabric right sides together. Pin these two layers together through the paper with the paper on top. Make sure all sides of the fabric pieces extend 1/4" (0.6 cm) past the section outlines. (See Figure 3.)

c.     Reduce the stitch length on your sewing machine to 1.5 (12 to 14 stitches/inch/2.5 cm). With the paper side up, stitch along the drawn line between Sections 1 and 2, stitching slightly past the beginning and extending through the seam allowance at the end of the line.

d.     Fold the paper back along this stitched line. Use your ruler, rotary cutter, and mat to trim the seam allowance* to 1/4" (0.6 cm). (See Figure 4.)

e.     Turn the paper over and press the fabric open with the seam allowances toward Section 2. The background fabric will now be under Section 2. The excess will be cut off later. (See Figure 5.)

f.      Repeat with another square of the background fabric for Section 3 on the other side. (See Figures 6 and 7.)

g.     Place the second Flying Geese Triangle fabric square right sides together against this first block you just made. Pin through the layers to hold. With the paper side facing up, stitch along the line at the bottom of Section 4.

h.     Fold the paper back along this stitched line. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4" (0.6 cm). Turn the paper over and press the fabric open with the seam allowance going toward Section 4.

i.      Repeat Steps 3b to 3f to sew the background fabrics for Sections 5 and 6 to both sides of the Flying Geese Section 4. Then complete the remaining two Flying Geese sections in this strip.

j.      Trim along the outside edges of the template and gently remove the paper.

k.     Repeat Steps 3b to 3j to complete Flying Geese Strip 1 for Patchwork Panel 2, alternating the fabrics for the Flying Geese Triangles and the Background. Then make two Flying Geese Strip 2 pieces, alternating the fabrics.

4.     Make the Patchwork Panels

a.     Divide the Patchwork and Flying Geese Strips into two groups for the Patchwork Panels.

b.     Start with the first panel and follow the layout in Figure 1 to lay the strips in order.

c.     Working from the left to the right, pin the long edges of the first two strips right sides together. Sew the strips together and press the seam allowances in one direction.

d.     Pin the next strip, right sides together, onto the previous strip and stitch. Continue pinning and sewing in the same manner to complete the panel.

e.     Repeat Steps 4b to 4d to make the second Patchwork Panel.

5.     Quilt and Embellish the Patchwork Panel

a.     Center the wrong side of the first Patchwork Panel on one muslin piece. The muslin will be larger than the panel. Smooth out any wrinkles and pin in place.

b.     For the sashiko stitching on the Flying Geese:

                                               i.     Place the panel and muslin in the quilting hoop, centering it on the first triangle, making sure there is at least 1" (2.5 cm) of fabric outside of the hoop at all times.

                                             ii.     Thread your hand-embroidery needle with two or three strands of embroidery floss. Tie a knot at one end.

                                            iii.     With your chalk pencil and ruler, mark the sashiko lines on the triangle following the image in Figure 8.

                                            iv.     Bring the needle up, from the wrong side to the right, at one of the marked stitches. Make a single straight stitch about 1/8" to 3/16" (0.3 to 0.4 cm) long, following the drawn lines. Space your stitches evenly and the rows of stitches 1/16" to 1/8" (0.1 to 0.3 cm) apart. Make a knot on the wrong side of the fabric with the last stitch.

                                              v.     Repeat to stitch the remaining three Flying Geese triangles in this Strip, moving the hoop as necessary.

c.     For the hand embroidery (use Figure 9 as a guide):

                                               i.     You will use a satin stitch* to fill in patterns on one of the print fabrics. I chose a floral print. Choose small elements of the print that you would like to highlight. Re-hoop the panel and muslin over the portion of the strip you wish to embroider, making sure there is at least 1" (2.5 cm) of fabric outside of the hoop at all times.

                                             ii.     Thread your hand-embroidery needle with three strands of embroidery floss. Tie a knot at one end.

                                            iii.     Start in the center of the pattern. Bring the needle up from the wrong side of the fabric on the outside edge of the pattern. Reinsert your needle into the fabric directly across from where you brought it up through the fabric, spanning the pattern. Pull the thread taut, but don’t make the fabric pucker.

                                            iv.     Bring the needle up next to the original stitch and make a second stitch parallel to the first with very little gap between the two. Continue sewing in this manner to cover the entire motif. Tie a knot on the back of fabric when you are finished.

                                              v.     Re-thread your needle and continue satin stitching any other areas of the patchwork strip you wish to fill in on both panels.

d.     For the beadwork (use Figure 9 as a guide):

                                               i.     Select design details on a floral print or other fabric to embellish with bead clusters. Note: The beadwork does not have to be done inside the embroidery hoop.

                                             ii.     Thread your beading needle with a double strand of transparent thread and tie a knot at the end. Tip: Kink the thread with a pair of needle-nose pliers where you want the knot to go. When you tie the knot at this kink, it will be less likely to shift. Use the pliers to help pull the knot tight.

                                            iii.     Stitch a large bead in the middle of a chosen design. Then, stitch six or seven small beads around central large bead.

                                            iv.     Repeat for a second bead cluster on the first panel. Repeat to make two bead clusters on the second panel.

e.     For the machine quilting (use Figure 10 as a guide):

                                               i.     Thread your machine with the appropriate thread for each Patchwork Panel and Flying Geese Strip as you work.

                                             ii.     Attach your 1/4" (0.6 cm) piecing foot and set your stitch length slightly longer than normal.

                                            iii.     Start with the Patchwork Strips by sewing lines 1/4" (0.6 cm) apart down each strip. Go back and stitch between each row of stitching so the rows end up being 1/8" (0.3 cm) apart and the panel has a flat feel. Note: For the strips with the hand embroidery, stitch in the areas that are not embroidered, working around the embroidered areas.

                                            iv.     Follow the stitching guide in Figure 10 for the Flying Geese Strips, keeping the stitches 1/8" (0.3 cm) apart on the background fabric and 1/4" (0.6 cm) apart inside the Flying Geese Triangles.

6.     Construct the Scarf

a.     Match the short ends of the Scarf fabric, wrong sides together, and stitch. Press the seam allowance open.

b.     Place the wrong side of the first Patchwork Panel onto the Scarf so that one short end completely covers the seam and seam allowance. Pin the Panel onto the Scarf.

c.     Place the second Patchwork Panel 28" (71.1 cm) to the right of the first Panel. Pin the Panel to the Scarf. Try on the Scarf, looping for two layers, and adjust the placement of both panels to your liking. Carefully remove the Scarf.

d.     With your chalk pencil, mark the placement of both Patchwork Panels and then unpin them from the Scarf. Press each short end under ¼" (0.6 cm) to the wrong side on both panels. Repin the panels to the Scarf where marked.

e.     Use a hand-sewing needle and thread to slipstitch* the Panels to the Scarf along all short ends on both Patchwork Panels, hiding your stitches.

7.     Sew the Binding* to the Scarf

a.     Sew the Binding strips together along the short ends and then trim to make two long strips that are 2" (5.1 cm) wide x 74" (188.0 cm) long.

b.     Follow the steps for French Straight Binding* in the Glossary and Techniques section (page 166) to finish the Scarf.

c.     Wash the scarf when you are finished to soften the fabrics.





Slow Fashion thoughts week one.....

Slow Fashion thoughts week one.....

Making with Cal Patch

Making with Cal Patch