Monday, January 31, 2011

Thank you and Fabric GIVEAWAY!

First of all, many thanks for all the kind comments on the "keeping it real" post. That is a lot of word-vomit to get through. For you and for me. lol.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Second, I have fabric to giveaway! Check out Tina Given's new Haven's Edge collection. Very swanky and chic - especially if you love purple. Which is one hot color these days.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Keeping it REALLY Real

I often have people ask me, "How do you get so much done?" including my mom and my new friend Vicki (waving to you Vicki!) a couple Saturdays ago when I was working at American Quilting.  So today I will try to answer that question somewhat - and while I can't promise world peace or total enlightenment, hopefully I can end some blogging-guilt-complexes in the process

First of all here is what my sewing space looked like a few days ago.  Pretty scary. (I still can't believe I'm publicly humiliating myself like this.) The towel on the stained, burned and ripped ironing board cover is for the iron that started leaking.  I have at least four different projects in process in this picture, not to mention the disorderly piles of fabric for a few more.  And then there's a piece of ric rac hanging from the blinds (?). Fortunately you can't really see how badly the carpet needed to be vacuumed.

(To my own credit, yesterday I did take about half an hour to get things looking a lot better.  I should probably take another picture to redeem myself a little.)

Blogs and magazines and beautiful sewing and pattern books create this impression that everything looks wonderful, the cutting mat is always cleared and ready for a new project, there are no pins on the floor and all fabric is neatly folded.  I'm sure for a lot of people, crafting is like that. I'm just not one of those people.

So I don't want to add to the misrepresentation that things around here are always perfect and I wile away my hours churning out quilts. Often I am moving junk out of the way before I take a picture for my blog and most of the time I have worked on something for weeks before it ever surfaces on the blog.
during the Hoops photo shoot
For me, my hobby is sandwiched in between the needs of four kids, a husband with plenty of demands on his time, house, church responsibilities, car pools etc. I'm not complaining about any of those things - I'm grateful for all of them. But it often means I sew at snatched, random moments and it's not very orderly.

All that said, here's how I do what I do:
  • My kids are at great ages right now - I don't have infants or teenagers, so that frees me up a little especially during some school days. My youngest is pretty easy going and he likes just hanging out with me so I can even get some done while he's around.  And he doesn't try to sit on my sewing machine peddle as often as he used to.
 
  • I'm a total homebody - I don't even like going shopping - it's a necessary evil to me. I could keep myself entertained for hours at home and never get bored.
  • I can handle mess.  I have friends whose homes I love to go to because they are always beautiful and spotless. Always. (Nothing wrong with that!) But they often admit to me that they wish they could accomplish what I do with my sewing hobby and acknowledge that it's hard for them to start a project and let the house slide a little, or to live with the mess that creativity sometimes brings.  So, I don't know whether it's a blessing or a curse, but I can handle my house in it's imperfect state while I do other things. Not forever, mind you, and total chaos can really kill any creativity. But I can look at the perler beads or scraps of cut snowflakes on the floor in the middle of the afternoon and not let them bug me, knowing I'll do a full clean-up that night. (However, this doesn't mean that I don't get embarrassed when someone comes to my house and I have to kick random shoes and toys out of the way so they can walk into a room.)
  • I have a place where I can leave out my creative mess, shut the door, walk away and return the next day to pick-up where I left off.  I know that not everyone has that option.  My space is in a room that is half storage room in my basement.  It's not totally convenient and in the summer my machine and one current project usually migrate to the kitchen so I can be where the action is, but having that place where I can leave a little of my mess undisturbed is helpful. I feel lucky because I know that's not always feasible for everyone.

  • I like having something to show for my time.  The dishes will always need to be redone, and beds will always need to be remade, and clothes constantly need to be washed.  So I like to invest even just a small portion of my time each day on something that will stay finished. It's healthy for my psyche.  I know that my kids are my most important creation and that the time invested in them is never a waste.  But it's nice to have some short term accomplishments as well. That, and fabric is always obedient. Well, most of the time.
  • Sewing is my happy juice. Just doing a little bit each day makes me feel good about life. I feel lucky to have found something that I really enjoy doing.
  • I rarely quilt my own quilts.  I'm really lucky right now to have a great situation where I have coworkers who will do it for me at a really great price. And they will do a much nicer job than I could do. And, the quilting part of making quilts seriously dilutes the happy juice for me. I dread that part.
  • I don't really watch TV.  Occasionally I'll watch a movie (BBC Classics anyone?) on a little DVD player next to my sewing machine while I work.  If I do watch something with my husband or family, I'm pretty much always working on a project - usually binding a quilt. I can't just sit still.  Occasionally, for my husband's sake, I'll sit and just hold his hand while we watch a movie.  It's a necessary sacrifice for me to make sometimes. :)
  • And in the spirit of really keeping it real, I'll add this thought too: the days that I give a little bit of time to God by reading my scriptures and saying a prayer in the morning, I ALWAYS get more done. When I don't do those little things, I feel like I'm running around in circles and accomplish nothing.  Take that for what it's worth to you, but I know it's true for me.

There are plenty of distractions out there that slow me down. Like getting into a good book - which is not necessarily a bad thing - (I need to get more books on tape). But don't get me started on the computer.  I've had to set boundaries for myself and I often feel guilty for being slow answering emails or not responding to all comments, because I am so grateful for every one. I try to answer any specific questions that are asked, but I've found that it takes so much time to individually thank each commenter that it seriously cuts into the time available for anything else. So please, know how grateful I am for the wonderful feedback you give me. It means so much to me - I only wish I had more time to devote to responding.

So now that you know WAY more than you ever really wanted to, let me add one more thing.  These are the things that work for ME. There are people in blog land that I admire so much, but I'm coming to accept the fact that I will never be them, I can only be me and I have to function in a manner that works best for my personality, family, and hereditary quirks. Same goes for everyone else.  So my only encouragement is to find a system that works for YOU and own it. :) And NO feeling guilty about not doing it the way someone else does it.

The End.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Return of the Hexagons

  Remember my hexagons from last summer?
It's okay if you don't. It's been a while. They were my new summer project and fetish for a time.  The perfect portable project for summer.
They even traveled with me across the US and back twice to New York (remember Hex and the City?) 
They have gone from this pretty pile. . .
. . .to finally being sewn together.  They were set aside for a bit while I finished other projects that had worked their way to the top of the 'to do' list like Halloween quilts, Christmas projects, etc.  But now that January is here, as well as the new season of Masterpiece Theater (my fav!) I was in need of a hand work project again.
There is still work to be done on the project, but it's fun to see the progress.  I will probably appliqué the whole thing to some backing fabric and add some hand quilting as well. I've got many Sunday evenings ahead to listen to British accents and sew away.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Come Sew With Me!

The Sewing Summit

People, have you heard about The Sewing Summit? It's a sewing AND blogging conference being held October 7-9 in Salt Lake City. I have been excited to go since I first caught wind of the idea a few months ago.

I went to my first blogging conference last spring and while it was very helpful and I met some really great people I felt kind of like a nerd compared to the people who blog about lipstick shades, J. Crew collections and Ina Garten's latest recipe. Not that I don't love those things myself, it's just my Junior High-age-sewing-inferiority-complex rearing its ugly head.

So a conference with lots of fun bloggers who also think sewing is the bomb?? I am so there.  Can you come too? It would be a blast if we could hang out.

But, just when I thought I could go and relax with my sewing machine and a pile of WIPS (works in progress), I've been asked to teach an Intro to Quilt Basics class. Yikes! But don't let that deter you because there will be other amazing teachers like Dana of Old Red Barn Co. and Amanda from msmcporkchopquilts and more yet to be announced. Stay tuned.

In other fun goings on, AnneMarie of GenXQuilters is hosting a Love Nest Quilt Contest.  Do you have a fabulous bed-sized modern quilt? You should enter it because there are some awesome prizes for the top 3 winners. (Kate Spain Layer Cake anyone? $25 fabric gift certificate?) Check out the details here.


Gen X Quilters

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Red and White Pennant Banner & Etsy De-stash

 So here's one of the projects I've been up to with my red & white stack.
 A few valentines-ish fabrics thrown in, but not so many that it can't be used at other times as well.
Aren't those birds awesome? Too bad they were the worst bleeder fabric I've ever had in a quilt. I originally used them for this Valentines quilt and the red bled all over the place. Grr. I don't use that line of fabric -Chanteclaire - now. Or at least not the reds.) I threw the last piece I had in this banner - I figured I'll probably never machine wash, so I can still show them off.
Just what the sad, empty fireplace needed following the removal of all the Christmas decorations.
I die-cut a bunch of extra triangles and they are for sale in the etsy shop
While I was in the shop, I decided to do a little de-stash. I have two one pre-cut, pre-stacked quilt kits for a sweet little pink and blue quilt. These are left over from a boutique a couple of years ago and I'm ready to give them a good home.
This kits have everything pre-cut and include the borders and binding fabrics exactly like the quilt pictured here. The quilt is even already laid-out with the squares pre-stacked in labeled rows and ready to pick-up and sew together quickly.
To see everything currently for sale, go to my Etsy Shop here.
Thanks so much!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Old School - More Vintage Fun

I had a couple of nice thrift store finds a few weeks ago. They seem to go well with the Vintage ABC quilt from last week.
I love to find vintage books - especially school books.  
This is one of the finds from my most recent trip: a spelling book from 1963.
My favorite part is the illustrations. This one was more of a proper text book with actual work in it, so there are fewer illustrations. But what there is is good stuff.
 Over time, I am starting to gather a small collection of them.  
This is from the 1951 classic "I Wonder Why." Such stimulating content: "Picture of Weather. See this picture of weather." But  I'm sure the charming illustrations captured the hearts and imaginations of many young students.

 Look. This one explains where babies come from!
And that's about as much detail as you get. :)
This one is my favorite. It must have been for really young students because it is full mostly of illustrations with very little text. And the illustrations are fabulous. 
The book has already been used as a cutter so I don't feel any obligation to keep it pristine.  I'd like to cut it up some more but I don't actually know what to do with the illustrations. Any great ideas? I'd love suggestions. (I'm so not creative in these areas.)  I want to live in that house with the red roof.
Oh no! Someone opened the chocolates, smashed the walnut shells on the table, left out the newspaper and their blue sweater!  Those pesky kids! What should she do?? (Are you glad no one expects you to wear a lovely dress, heels and pearls every day?  Or do you wish you could?)
Machines! 
And last, but certainly not least, check out this baby that I found. I LOVE IT!  I got it for $14.  It's not in mint condition (has anyone ever seen a school desk that was?) But it looks good. I gave it a good Lysol job when it got home. I'm now trying to decide whether to spray paint the metal or leave the 'aged patina.' I wonder what the Keno brothers would tell me to do. They'd probably say leave it.
My little guys love it too. Sweet!
(Which is good, because as much as I'd like to, I can't actually fit in it myself.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Admitting to having favorites

Yesterday my 4-yr-old asked me if we were going to put up our Martin Luther King Day decorations. Sadly, the answer was "No, we don't have any." I promised him we'd work on that for next year. (Any suggestions?) But it did put me in the mood to make some February decorations.  Here's the pile I'm starting with.

I've finally accepted the fact that I love Red. When someone asks my favorite color, I never say red. And yet I put it in most of my quilts, I have a red couch, I want to paint a wall in my family room red, my favorite flip-flops are red . . . I guess it must be true.  And I especially love red and white - always a classic combination. Never looks dated.  Avacado green or powder blue may come and go, but red always looks good.
I want to make some throw-pillows out of these fabrics. Both are Scandinavian.  Snoa Flinga from Ikea and red seersucker gingham from Denmark. Don't they look happy to be together?

Besides red, I'm really digging all things Scandinavian lately. Remember the Norway quilt? See?  Ever since Aunt Spicy mentioned this book, I've had my eye on Scandinavian Needlecraft.
Scandinavian Needlecraft: 35 Step-by-step Projects to Create the Scandinavian Home
This book looks gorgeous. I think I'm just going to beak down and get it. 
And then I saw this book, Scandinavian Stiches. And now I can't decide.  Anyone have these? Thoughts? Feelings? Recommendations? I'm in a quandary. Not that it's life or death of course. But enough to paralyze me from just ordering one already. I know, I'm a weirdo.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's a Party!

First of all go here to see the winner for the Say It on the Wall giveaway!

Now, down to some serious partying. Did you hear that QuiltStory is having a Block Party? Well they are. With some heavy-duty prizes.  I was invited to be a judge, but after seeing those prizes, I'm wishing I could enter myself!

Here's the basics: YOU (any and all of you) are invited to create blocks and submit them to Quiltstory's Block Party. There will be three categories in which you can enter your block: Modern, Traditional, and Creative.


Fresh Poppy Design
Go to QuiltStory for all of the details on submitting - Feb 7-9th so you've got some time to get those creative juices flowing.
Now here's the part you're dying to hear about: The PRIZES! Check out these sponsors and the goodies you could win.
First Place Prizes
3 yard bundle of Organic Circa 50 Birch fabrics and pattern
$60 value

$50 Gift Certificate

$50 Gift Certificate

Runners Up Prizes
$25 Gift Certificate

$25 Gift Certificate

$25 Gift Certificate
Elle Designs
Half Yard bundle of 9 Ivy Trellis by Riley Blake fabrics and pattern

$25 Gift Certificate

Blocks will be judged on skill and style by these judges Twin Fibers, SewSara, Flamingo Toes, Diary of a Quilter (me) and AmyLouWho.  Exciting stuff. :)

More questions?  No problem, go to QuiltStory or email them at myquilststory[at]gmail[dot]com

Have fun! Can't wait to see what you come up with! Now go forth and make quilt blocks!