Thursday, April 16, 2020

Quaranstitching: West of the Atlantic (With a Mask Tutorial!)

Last week, Kara shared what she's been working on east of the Atlantic during our Stay at Home time, both stitching and otherwise. Today, it is my turn to share the "quaranstitching" projects under my needles. At this point, I have several things going at once, so depending on how energetic I'm feeling, I can choose to be creative, or just stitch without much thought—enjoying the sheer process of the needle, thread, and fabric coming together.

My first project (after I did some organizing in my sewing studio) was to work on another block from our Woodland Reverie quilt. Before leaving for the Academy, I had stitched the blue frames and the stems; I was just beginning the process of fussy cutting the leaves while I was in Williamsburg. Color selection is always the most enjoyable—albeit occasionally daunting—part of the process. This block experienced many possible iterations before I settled on this palette. The whole personality of a block can change with different color choices, which makes this project so much fun, especially with the light and dark backgrounds.

My final block, with a limited number of colors

Kara's more colorful version: I love the way each flower has a subtle reference to the colors of another bloom, pulling out the orange and purples.

Next on my list of stitching to-dos was to prepare my Baltimore Fraktur quilt top for hand quilting. The center block of this wall hanging is one of our classes at Baltimore on the Prairie in September. Wool is a challenge to quilt, so I planned to use big stitches with pearl cotton. 


I used a wool batt and pin-basted the layers together. In the center, I used a neutral thread (Valdani pearl #12) and quilted around the appliquéd elements. For the pinwheel blocks, I am using a Painters Threads hand-dyed pearl #12 to echo the seam lines. I wasn't sure if I would like it, so it was a chance to take, but it I am enjoying the process. As I make more progress, I think I even like the result. A good thing, as I'm not sure with the thicker thread that I could turn back now!


Mask-making had been on my mind, as our local hospital requested that the local chapter of the Embroiderers' Guild of America make cotton masks for donation. They gave us a specific pattern to follow, which looked pretty simple to make. Click here for the pattern I used. I found a couple packages of elastic, so I spent a day going through my batik stash (a finely woven cotton) and making a bunch of masks. By the end of the day, my family members had claimed most of the ones I made, with special requests for the grandchildren, as well. A few Star Wars masks may have made the pile...

Not bad for a day's work!

 If you haven't found a pattern yet, here is a quick visual of my process:

Cut two pieces at 6"x9".

Sew around the edge, inserting elastic (per instructions),
leaving an opening for turning.

Turn and press. 

Make three pleats; pin.

Lock stitch, needle down. I started on a side and stitched 1/4-inch from the edge.

Stitch around the piece. On the top and bottom, I stitched about 1/8-inch from the edge to be sure I caught and closed the opening for turning the mask.

Stitch a second time around, reinforcing the 1/4" on the sides to be sure elastic is secure, . . .

. . . and continuing at 1/4-inch on the top and bottom.

Lock stitch and trim. 

Use different fabrics so there is an inside and outside, a revelation I had after I made the first 20 masks. These can be laundered, preferably in hot water. 

When I was in Williamsburg, I passed off my fairy tale redwork quilt top to longarm quilter Beth Filko. She worked some amazing magic on it! I received it this week and have already put on the hanging sleeve and binding. It is just waiting for me to hand stitch it down, and then you will see the big reveal. Can't wait!


And when I feel creatively energetic, I tackle this new wool appliqué project, which mixes a variety of fun textures. Inspiration? An old cupboard from Alsace! One advantage to our tiny company of two being separated by an ocean is the abundance of influences for our designs. 

I can honestly say that we have cooked more meals and washed more dishes this past month than we have in years. My husband typically is the cook in our household, but I have even had to step in and give him a break. We do miss being served our food, but I'm not going to lie: we have had few pizzas as good as this one my hubby made on the grill. When he gets creative in the kitchen, it is not a bad thing!

And it is springtime, so there's the garden!

What about you? What are you spending your quaranstitching time doing? New projects? Finishing old ones? Or project hopping, like I am? Please share in the comments on the blog!

Postscript: I may have just received an order of 600 yards of elastic cording which I am hoping will work for more masks. My son tells me his friends are coveting his Star Wars mask, so I suppose there will be a few more of those under my needle. I have thus far made 30 masks, which have all been claimed by family members and neighbors. I think I'll be making masks for a couple of days, so some can be passed on to the hospital. What a great way to help others and bust a bit of my stash.


  1. Looks like your lovely pictures have been blocked by Google. Another stitching site I subscribe to has had this happen when posting pictures of masks. I guess they think we're going to rob a bank wearing these masks!