Plus for a Finish

Finished Modern Plus Quilt
Mission three into the James Hunt Library was a success. Laden down with newly finished quilt and iron, I confidently climbed to the fifth floor. Brent was such a gentleman to let me disrupt our weekend for a library photo shoot. He even engineered an invisible tape method to hang the heavy quilt. What a guy.

We snapped over seventy photos that gorgeous Sunday morning, and I had to FaceTime my mom just now to decide between them all. Here are our four favorites. The quilt was designed for my living room wall and hangs comfortably above the couch. It fills the room with a balance of softness and presence, and if it wasn't for the complete lack of natural light in here, I would show you just how classy and homey it feels.

The quilt is also brimming with imperfections. Wobbly seams, batting peeking out at the edges, binding stitches that went through, and plusses that don't align. That's what shows it's handmade. Some of my favorite vintage quilts have worn-through holes and faded patches, missed corners and uneven quilting. The imperfections bring it above factory-grade quilts; they make it perfect. I've been thinking of starting a linkup for Perfect Imperfections, the happy accidents, the frustrating mistakes. What do you think? Would enjoy linking up to that?

finished quilt on table

modern plus quilt with citron pop

modern plus quilt with citron pop, lovely and enough

modern plus quilt with fun citron pop in binding, lovely and enough

Mission one and the early stages of this quilt can be found here, pre-binding. And I'm so excited to link up to Finish-it-up-Friday over at CrazyMomQuilts and Show Off Saturday at SewCanShe. (Links forthcoming when those days arrive.)

Chai and Binding

Our screened-in porch is one of my happy places, calm and breezy with the voices of the woods. This morning I get to finish hand-stitching a binding out here with a mug of chai latte. Have you ever bought chai concentrate? It's practically the cost of one chai latte and makes almost ten cups! Bliss in a carton.


Yesterday I finished my Lone Star to the tune of Gossip Girl. I may or may not have finished six episodes of season two as well. Watching the series for the second time lends new hilarious insights. Serena asks to meet with GossipGirl in the season finale and he (or she...) actually shows up but you don't realize it...ha! I digress.


Sunday I had a slow and steady afternoon of quilting a baby quilt on which my mum and I collaborated. I'm excited to show y'all once the binding is attached. All in all a great week so far. I do seem to be accidentally sewing several quilts in the same color scheme, but oh well. The heart picks fabrics as it may.




Learning and Lulls

Gosh, sometimes things just don't go quite as you planned, y'know? I've been struggling a bit with selecting the perfect palette for my summer collection and on the fabric designing front as well. This lull in bubbly creative energy has lead me to do other previously undesirable tasks, such as filing for Michigan business status and whipping up some knitting I'd been putting off for months. Despite this dip, I finished two tops today and quilted one. I already know what I will change if I make similar quilts, but hey, progress is progress, right? And mistakes mean you're learning.

I think I need to tell myself that again. Mistakes mean you're learning.





Linked up to my WIP Wednesday support group over at Freshly Pieced.

Variations on Variations on a Bouquet of Tulips

Neck deep in grow-your-handmade-business books with numbers and notebooks and workbooks spread across the work table in front of me, I decided to adjourn for some sewing. With two quilts left to send out from the ones I sold at my show, I whipped up Buckwheat 2.0 also known as Variations on Variations on a Bouquet of Tulips. It's slated to be sent out to my dear friend Susie in PA tomorrow morning, and it is nearly identical to its brother Variations on a Bouquet of Tulips. Based off of the Farmer's Wife Quilt block Buckwheat, I modified my original color choices with some light grey Michael Miller solids on the top and bottom. I like it. And I spent the afternoon catching up on the last episodes of Elementary while quilting and binding it. Lovely.






The Screen Printing Process

It was an exciting week last week. In between finishing up classes, planning for graduation, doing my best to get wrinkles out of my gown sans iron, and turning in final projects, I drove into the city with Brent to get my screens. My very own screens. Three white 160s and one bright yellow 225. Clean and without tear or caked on emulsion. Mine.

On Thursday, I stole a couple of hours in the middle of packing to coat and shoot them and since I've never shared this particular part of the process before, I took pictures! It's really quite simple. First, you coat each screen with a thin layer of emulsion front and back. This emulsion is light-sensitive, so you have to hide the screens in that black curtained rack until you're ready to shoot them.


"Shooting" or exposing the screen refers to exposing it on the light table, kind of like shooting a photo. Since I've never done film photography before, I can't draw the beautiful analogy here; I can only explain screen printing, but I know both processes have things in common. For screen printing, the emulsion hardens when it is exposed to light, so I paint my designs in opaque paint onto clear acetate and lay it on the screen. Wherever there is paint, the emulsion stays soft, and I can wash it out later.


The table vacuums the screen to the glass eliminating any wrinkles in the acetate and ensuring that light doesn't creep around the edge of the painted patterns. A bright bright light turns on for around seven minutes, I read my book, and then it's time to blow out the screen.


This is the spray booth where I "blow out" the screens. When the emulsion comes in contact with water, it ceases reacting with light, so the soft parts remain soft. Then, with a pressurized hose, I can blow out the parts of the pattern that I want ink to go through, in this case, leaves!


After I've removed all of the emulsion in the pattern, I set the screen to dry and fully expose in the window well. The emulsion, which begins a shade of green, turns a greyish blue when it is fully exposed and then it can no longer be easily washed out from the screen.


I prepared my three 160 thread-count screens with my hydrangea patterns for the summer and exposed flamingos onto the 225. (You can see previous incarnations of the flamingos here, here, and here.) Then, with my new screens, I printed onto two quilt tops. One is a reprinting of this quilt. And one is a completely new exploration. I experimented with printing only three of the hydrangeas and overlaying them across the quilt, while also taping out several triangles to leave them blank, as if they were pieced in after the printing. 


Watching Taylor and Zac fall in love in the quaint southern flick The Lucky One for the second time this week, I printed the afternoon and evening away, taping and re-taping the screens to achieve just the bloom patterns I wanted. Such a great day. I could do this for the rest of my life.


If you have any questions about the process, I am happy to field them. I tried to keep the explanation pretty simple, but I truly do understand it in more depth, so hit me up even if you're just curious.

Graduating Hecticity

Life has been hectic these last weeks with banquets and grad school visits and final presentations, but to avoid complete lack of presence on my blog, I wanted to give a quick update. In case you're wondering, I think about the fact that I haven't blogged everyday, and there's a little counter in my head telling me how many days it's been. Ten. Twelve. Fourteen.....


This weekend I hosted a dinner for a bunch of my friends, and it was really fun to set up the mantle with mismatched drinking glasses and fresh flowers. Next to the quilt my mom made for our house last fall, it felt very springy and celebratory. It was also fun to see my various quilts scattered across the living room and snuggled under as the evening wore on and one or two guests got cold. Mm quilting and hospitality and fun dishes.

This week I am determined to get to some last printing before I move away from the graphic design studio forever, so hopefully I will have more non-instagram photos for you then!

You can check out her other work here.
And you can follow me for more play-by-play updates on Instgram here.

She Can Laugh At the Days to Come

Transience and permanence. This collection anchors itself in the juxtaposition of beginnings and endings, expressing confidence in the face of uncertainty and joyful contentment in the present. As my sister began her college career and I finished mine, we seized the opportunity to spend a summer together studying textile design and photography in Florence. While there, I crafted a small line of fabrics inspired by her graduation party—hydrangeas, bunting, and striped paper straws. As I reminisced on our time together and began to sew summer fabrics into autumn projects, this show was born. It contrasts the deep constancy of family against the transience of growing up through a medium that has long accompanied those disparate pieces of life: quilts. From births to weddings to graduations, quilts commemorate transitions in life. Drawing on the tradition of the simple one-block quilts of the Amish, I utilized large flat planes and solids, bringing it to the modern quilting scene with fresh colors and straight-line stitching. Each quilt contains a printed snapshot of our summer together—laughing and exploring—as well as a look into the past and future through the meanings of the traditional quilt blocks.

The show title is taken from Proverbs 31, which describes a woman who is successful in her business endeavors as well as at home but grounds her strength and carefree nature in Christ. She can laugh, enjoying the present without fear of the future, just as I hope we can embrace the now and hold what might come with excited and open palms. I invite you to enter into these moments, feeling the tactile changes in direction our lives take as well as the unity of family and faith that undergirds each quilt and story.














Remnants of Summer

With little pieces of hydrangea fabric from the summer as well as an overprint of hydrangea design, this block brings me back to walking the hot streets of Florence with my sister at my side. Freckles and sandals and sketchbooks in backpacks. However, rather than settling into nostalgia, I like to remember the many things that have grown from that month: a deeper relationship with my sister, a year of studying fabric design, a beautiful quilt from the fabrics we purchased at the markets, this show. Dwelling on the past is not productive. Appreciating, instead, the unfolding of moments into long-lasting treasures keeps us thankful and grounded in the present and future.

Variations on a Bouquet of Tulips

Life doesn’t always happen as you expect, but often then it is better. My sophomore year, I was surprised with a bouquet of tulips after one of my dance performances from a friend who then asked me to dinner. I was flattered and excited, but the relationship didn’t take off and ended up rather awkward. This year, though, I was surprised again with a beautiful bouquet from two of my chemistry major friends. We all chatted and laughed and had breakfast together the next Friday as we had all semester. Great friends, good conversation, and lots of fun. Sometimes the best moments are subtle variations on what you would’ve picked for yourself.

Lovely & Enough

The title of my blog and this quilt encompasses a lifestyle to which I aspire. My life is so full of blessings: a loving family, a great group of friends, a burgeoning church, and my knitting and quilting. I want to live happily and contentedly in this and remember that my life is lovely and enough. Quilting through physical chemistry tests, documentary photography classes, friend drama, and stressful dance performances, I choose to work with my hands and lead a life that reflects the great wonder of life rather than the minutiae. This lone star block, with its classic pattern and single star represent the beauty in simplicity and the joy that can bring.





New Growth

Sold






Coming & Going

Windmill Wings

I've grown up hearing the phrase, "If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much." This, of course, isn't true, but I feel very connected to my Dutch roots and home church. Originally titled End of Day as a block in the Farmer's Wife Quilt, I am renaming this block Windmill Wings as an homage to my heritage and the Benjamin Moore color I painted my room as a little girl. It speaks of a solid foundation in my life—my Dutch church family and home—from which I can now springboard into a wider body of fellow scientists, artists, and Christians. The end of each day and phase of life is then not a conclusion but the groundwork for winging into the next adventures of life.


Little Pieces

This is our purpose: to love one another as He loved us. Being afraid of the unexpected turns life throws crushes faith and spontaneity. Rather than worrying, we can instead focus on the beauty of each moment so that any little pieces we leave in our past among close or lost friends, realized or broken dreams are beautiful and untainted with regret.

Sold



Ties

Initially titled Ribbons in the Farmer’s Wife Quilt, I shifted the title to Ties to reflect family relationships. Our ties to family can at times feel like shackles and other times like an anchor amidst the storms of life. No matter the effort taken to cut them or the misguided attempts to bolster, these ties remain invisible and unbreakable.





Evening Star

Sold





Fresh Starts

This is it. The show I've dreamed about since deciding to be an artist as well as a chemist. It brings such a lightness to my life to have both sides. Never during the senior show process did I wish I had just stuck to chemistry. (Well, perhaps once, but it was probably 3:30 in the morning or 3:30 the next afternoon as I feel asleep in my third class that day, or more likely 3:30 the following morning when my walking foot broke.) Finishing the show at last is an enormous sense of accomplishment, and it brings me such joy to sit in the gallery in the peace and quiet. Even better is having people come to me after visiting the gallery with stories of how it touched them. College is full of transitions in locale and in family, and I am so thankful to God for the ways He can speak to each individual person's situation through the things He put on my heart for the show.

A special thank you to Mary and Andie, my Mom, my Dad, my sister Taylor, my Grandma and Grandpa Bolt, my Aunt Lisa, and everyone else who was able to make it out for the reception on Friday. Celebrating with you was a wonderful culmination of my time at Wheaton. And to all who were unable to make it due to distance and previous commitments, extensive documenting of the show can be found over on Flickr.

PS Somehow I missed taking pictures of my favorite quilt, Remnants of Summer, and since it was the one finished at three in the morning the day it was due, it has never been posted on the blog either. I will make sure pictures are posted this week, so stop back by to see them.

You're Invited

With just a couple days until showtime, I am sending out invitations to my show and reception. It's fun to pop them into the mail and exceptionally exciting to get picture texts and snapchats upon their arrival. And just so you all know: you're invited too!



Dark Star

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Since beginning this practice at the end of my sophomore year of college, I've found it to be so necessary and rejuvenating. For six days, I work, and on the seventh I rest [or in my case, sew]. One interesting side effect, however, of working on my quilt-based senior show is that, although I still sew on Sundays, it's not the same kind of rest.


In light of that, I took the whole weekend off of sewing and drove up to northern Wisconsin with some of my friends to chill at HoneyRock Camp. With just a small amount of elbow grease washing dishes after meals, we had full run of the camp. Now, after an hour and a half of tubing, over six miles of cross-country skiing, and a late night snow shoe across the lake, I feel ready to tackle the week. Exhausted, limber, and invigorated, I can look back at last week's sewing and look forward at the coming week's 'without fear of the days to come' (Proverbs 31:25).



This past Thursday I cut, pieced, and pressed an entire Dark Star block. It was patterned after Maura Ambrose's Dark Star quilt. I have long been inspired by her and even forayed into natural fabric dyes for several months while exploring where my senior show might go. This hand-dyed quilt that I pieced last winter was also inspired by her. I didn't intend for the dark star colors to be quite so similar, but I guess that's what happens when I'm working in coral and navy and the original was black and red. By the suggestion of my senior show advisor, I added a little pop of mint. It's tough to see here, but one of the white arrows is actually a lovely seafoam. It adds some fun to the traditional and somber quilt, and I'm excited to see the mint pop up elsewhere in the show.


Linking up to Work-In-Progress Wednesday again over at FreshlyPieced. Head over for some other inspiring projects in the works.

Double Feature

Yesterday was a double feature day. Two movies. Two quilt blocks. Josh Duhamel and his precious children swept in to steal my and Julianne Hough's heart in Safe Haven, while I rotary cut the morning away. Then a matured Zac Efron gave a touching performance in The Lucky One, reminding me of my love for piano music and old homes, as I pieced late into the afternoon. I'm really hitting my groove with the navy and coral, and I decided to redo some of my favorite simple Farmer's Wife Quilt blocks in the new colors. Best choice. I love them. Ribbons is one of my new favorites of all of the senior show blocks. (My favorite is still the cut-glass block.)

School starts today, so it will be interesting to see where I can squeeze in my quilting and begin over-printing the blocks. However, I'm really enthusiastic about the next three Farmer's Wife Quilt blocks that I have picked to remake in coral and navy, and I can't wait! Maybe tomorrow morning...






If you haven't seen the other senior show blocks, you can check them out here (Corn and Beans), here (Flying Geese and Cut-Glass), here (Locked Star), and here (Lone Star).

Lone Star

I read a thoughtful article in Darling magazine about taking a step back from social media and our phones, so I decided to go cellphone free for a day. It was lovely, much more peaceful and relaxing than the five days before it. I truly enjoyed the quiet time quilting without shallow distractions. It was better for my heart, not to mention my creativity. Every day can't be a cellphone-free day, but every day can be less cellphone conscious, and that is one of my New Year's resolutions. Be present where you are.

As for quilting, it was also a day of revelations. Not only did I realize how miraculous and wonderful strip piecing is, but I lost my fear of Lone Star quilts and fell in love with starch. Yeah, that sounded weird, but let's hear it again. I fell in love with starch. All my half-square triangles and bias seams have led to many stretches, warps, easing ins, and missed corners. Then starch swooped in (sprayed in?) and saved the day! The corners line up and there's so much less puckering and pulling. Great day if you ask me. Not to mention, I finished a whole block from pencil to pictures in one day! 





Family Time

Home again home again! Jiggity jig!

I am home with the family. We are contentedly sitting in the living room after a day of Christmas shopping at the mall and considering going out to get our Christmas tree. Dad and Taylor were a very willing quilt rack this afternoon, so I have some lovely full pictures of the Giant Starburst Quilt Top. I can't quite decide how to quilt it, but I am going to add a thick white border. If you have any nifty ideas for quilting other than basic straight-line white quilting, I am all ears.






Giant Starburst Colors

I picked the fabric! After eating lunch with my favorite little sister (and my only one), we swung by Pink Castle to check out their solids. She supported me through my indecision when faced with a big intimidating wall of Modas and Michael Millers and Monalunas and stalwartly held heaping piles of bolts. She even stuck it out when I accidentally conked her in the nose with a particularly heavy bolt. What did I say, she's my favorite :) We picked out a set of eight golds and mints and greens, but when I got home I started pulling out a couple at a time and putting them together. Simpler seemed better, so I picked a modern four. Two darks and two lights. The darks will be the flying geese blocks on the sides and the lights will be the arrows in the corners of the giant starburst. Then the background will be Michael Miller off-white.

The next day I hung out with my mom in the studio cutting out squares while she planned out the exact construction of the plus quilt she's making me. I'm so excited for the quilt it's insane. It will be made from the most luxurious citron cotton that I picked up for £18/meter at Bacci Tessuti in Florence this past summer with a single plus of my citron hortensia fabric that I also printed in Florence this summer. I cannot wait for it to be done. We finished the afternoon laying out the most adorable twin-size quilt of green, red, aqua, and grey plusses on a grey background. It was spontaneous and fun, made out of leftover pre-cut squares from a quilt my grandma made. I am very jealous of the family that will receive it at the Safe House down the road. I guess this just means I may have to make one for myself, so I should probably get to work piecing this giant starburst first!



Up to My Neck

Mid-November hits and the books and leaves pile up to my neck. Every year it catches me a tad off guard. I grow antsy for Thanksgiving Break. My sewing takes a backseat to reading books and writing papers. Coffeeshops become my homes away from home. On the phone today with my mom, she pointed out that my November posts from last year sound very similar to this. In fact this one could have been written this past weekend, and I think I'd like to steal that prayer and repurpose it for this week.

"Lord, open and soften my heart today. You have been so generous toward me. May I give out of all I have and even out of what I think I don't have. Take my time. Take my money. Take my power. Take my powerlessness. Take my weariness. Take my fears. Take my tongue. Take my questions. All that I have and all that I don't have are in your hands. Amen."




Nevertheless, I did sneak in a teensy bit of sewing on Sunday afternoon and tried out machine binding for the first time. Success!

{Check out the beginnings of this project here and here}

Leaves, Tea, and Wool Socks

Y'know when sometimes you finish your morning plans and then you hit your afternoon plans and by the time you get to your evening plans, you just want to crawl into your PJs and not have to smile and socialize anymore? That was yesterday. After a beautiful morning full of laughter and washing windows with my friend Amanda during our community workday and then a gorgeous afternoon of raking leaves for a gentleman preparing to sell his mother's house, I was exhausted. If you know me, passing up playing board games with my friends does not happen very often, but last night, it happened. I peeled off my layers and snuggled into sweats to spend a quiet evening with myself. After writing out my mom's favorite passion cake recipe for my friends who requested it last week, I pulled out the starburst mini to finish up the quilting. Three episodes of TV, a bowl of cereal, and the end of a Michigan football game later, I crawled into bed with a nicely trimmed mini quilt staring back at me from my desk. Mm the cozy feeling of quiet success.

Today, with my quilting mostly done for the weekend, I am working on grad school applications. As recompense for spending my Sunday on school work, I am enjoying a warm cup of chai tea next to a crackling fire. The sun is shining outside, and I put on my favorite wool socks with leggings and a soft sweater. Caribou Coffee is humming with the relaxed traditions of post-church coffee. And I am content. Right now, this is exactly where I'm supposed to be.




Mini Starburst

Fall colors are here! Bright citrons, burning reds, and crisp golds. The streets are overflowing with lively, crunchy color, and it is a joy to sit at my desk and enjoy the view of our neighbors. Their lot is a jungle, packed with trees, shrubs, and burgeoning plants, making for a gorgeous conflagration of color. In light of the inspiring bursts of colors outside and an impending quilt-a-long, I made up a mini Starburst Quilt with some of my freshly printed bunting fabric. Yep! Two of those coral corners came straight from my printing table to the rotary cutter. So fun and rewarding. This week's task (outside of getting screens shot for the new fabric design and beginning test prints) is to quilt and bind it before the real-size quilt-a-long begins November 18th. I am so excited; I can hardly wait!



Farmer's Wife Quilting Again

In spare moments between fabric designing and screen-printing, I managed to crank out two Farmer's Wife Quilt blocks. It's such a rewarding little piece of accomplishment midweek. Now there are just 83 to go! As I consider the future and graduate school, I'm starting to lament the idea of a PhD in chemistry. I just want to be a wife and quilt and have my own fabric printing business that supports itself. Maybe I need to find a farmer... In light of my current situation, I present you with reasons three, four, five, and six that E.S. from Milwaukee County, WI gave for why her daughter should marry a farmer.

"Three. Many rural families enjoy electric light, plumbing, automobiles, and all families may enjoy unobstructed sunlight, blossoming trees, stimulating breezes--perhaps also the daily newspaper.
Four. On the farm, my daughter and her family can have fresh air, fresh milk, eggs and butter without looking into the pocketbook.
Five. Daily exertion means bodily strength and varied responsibilities favor moral caliber.
Six. On the farm, you are quite independent of fads and fashions. Cotton stockings, sun-bonnets, bloomers and overalls are all right, and you feel happier."

Did you hear that? Fresh milk and eggs. Stimulating breezes. Blossoming trees. And you feel happier. Sounds like the life for me.

This Week's Blocks:
Honeycomb
&
Honey's Choice

Honeycomb


Honey's Choice



In retrospect, I may just want to be a wife because it means that my quilting business only has to break even and not provide enough profit to support me. Maybe I should work on my business plan instead. Curious where the reasons to be a farmer's wife came from? Check out the beginning of the farmer's wife quilt and the story behind it here.

Happy Triangles

On my last day of summer, following advice from my mom, I dove into a pile of adorable fabrics and simply cut and quilted what I felt like. It turned out to be a mini minimalist triangle quilt. I spent Friday morning sewing the way I wish I always sewed: contentedly and with reckless abandon. I set down the weight of senior show and fall exhibition and pillow covers and quilted to my hearts content. What a lovely finish to the summer.

Checking In

Blog update! I need a new posting strategy because I'm scheduled to be out of town every weekend for forever. Sundays don't seem to be such an ideal day to post anymore, as evidenced by my absence for a few weeks, but I still want to be present here! I will ponder.

Perhaps another reason I have been absent is because I haven't bound the last quilt yet...and it's been almost three weeks.....I will get there eventually, but I decided not to let it stop me from starting another quilt, so here it is: a Scattered Swoon. I can't decide what third fabric to use. I had a beige woodgrain pattern but didn't like it. Right now you can just see the batting. I'm considering a light grey stripe that I snagged at a store closing sale a couple of weeks ago. It would add some movement while remaining neutral. We shall see.

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer and enjoying the extra friend time and extra outside time like me!