Tuesday, July 31, 2012

At the end of the hallway-- July

What's in your hallway for July?

After 6 months of doing Slash the Stash, I've decided to mix things up a bit.  I'm still trying to sew the majority of my projects from my stash, but I wanted to open things up a bit for all of those who aren't trying to work from the stash this year like I am.  This new link-up is simple--no button, no big requirements.  Just link up your favorite finished project for the month that you are so excited to share.  For those who are wondering what this is all about, check out the beginning of this post for the"hallway" story about my friend's mother. 

At the end of my hallway this month is my finished Flea Market Fancy quilt!  I really wanted to sew something simple with this line.  The prints are just too pretty to cut up into tiny pieces.  I stuck with large HSTs.  These blocks are about 7.5" finished.  I chose to use up some 100% linen I had on hand.  This stuff washes up so nice and soft, but it's a beast to work with.  I starched it three times before cutting the blocks, but after working with it for a while the starch starts to wear off a bit.  As it softens it gets harder to work with again.  I knew what I was getting into because I used the same fabric on my Innocent Crush diamond quilt.  I admit I'm glad I used it. It was nice to continue using fabrics from my stash rather than running out to buy something different, but I don't know that I'll be using it again on a quilt.

I also ventured out and tried some new quilting on this one.  Several months ago when I was back home for my Grandma's funeral, my mom introduced me to one of my dad's cousins who is a long-arm quilter.  Dawn, who calls herself the Pajama Quilter, has actually produced a couple DVD tutorials on quilting.  She offered to send me copies of her videos and workbooks.  I really debated.  Her vidoes are more for long-arm quilters, and I didn't want her to send me anything I wasn't sure I'd use.  Finally, I decided to give it a try, and she shipped me her DVDs.  She has some really fun pattern ideas and teaches them on a white board in each clip. I was watching the Retreaded video one afternoon while my twins actually napped.  Miss C was entertaining herself with a craft project.  When she saw what I was watching, she quickly sat down next to me to watch the quilting videos and even asked me to pause it when she had to go to the bathroom.  I made copies from the workbook for her to color while we watched each clip.  She loved it and was so excited to "learn" to quilt.

I chose one of Dawn's patterns (sort of a swirly flower) that I felt fit the fabric and started sketching.  It really did help to practice drawing the design over and over.  Then I practiced on my test fabric.  Finally I jumped in and started on my actual quilt.  The biggest challenge I didn't plan on with trying a new quilting pattern was the fact that my thread perfectly matches the linen.  I literally couldn’t see where I had stitched and frequently found myself stitching over my pattern.  Also, the texture of the linen hid my stitching making it even more difficult to see.  I was sad my pattern didn’t show up much, but at the same time it was a great project to test a new pattern on.  It was just fun to try something new and finally get out of my rut a bit.  Thanks so much to Dawn for letting me try out her DVD's and techniques

I’ll be sharing the quilt back later this month when I participate in Ali’s Festival of Hexagons (which should give you a good clue what might be on the back)!  
Now it’s your turn to share.  Link up your favorite project for the month.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A crazy weekend with a little fabric fun

Sometimes I feel as though it takes an entire Monday to recover from the weekend.  Yesterday was a particular rough day with the kiddos which resulted in a two frustrated, frazzled parents and three mini-destroyers who were sent to bed by 7:00 p.m.  The day also required that I clean the living room carpet Sunday evening.  It was just one of those days. 

There were a couple fun points over the past couple days despite a few disasters. 

Saturday afternoon I had an impromptu frozen yogurt date with a couple quilt guild friends.  Amanda (AKA A Crafty Fox), one of our local "dealers" was delivering some goods so she, Sukie and I met up for yogurt for the exchange.  This is what I came home with:

It's an adorable little fat 1/8's bundle of Madrona Road by Violet Craft.   Sukie went home with a much bigger bundle of the same.  You see, Amanda has a cute little Etsy shop called Westwood Acres.  You can find A Crafty Fox on Facebook as well.  She specializes in precuts and bundles.  She and her husband hand-cut charm packs, 2.5" fabric rolls, and bundles from fat 1/8's to full yards. She usually ships same day, unless you get together for yogurt in which case she hand delivers your fun package!

I adore this line.  The colors are great and the prints are so fun.  I wasn't planning on getting it, but surprisingly it's now on my shelf.  I've never bought a fat 1/8's bundle before, but after pulling these out, I am really liking the idea of the smaller cuts.  It's just enough to make a fun quilt without having loads leftover.  I might do something really simple with it like a charm quilt.  My other thought is using Sarah's pattern for her Stained QAL over at Narcoleptic in a Cupboard
The other fun stack I received came this morning courtesy of Michael Oakshott.  This is a cute little fat 1/8's pack of Ruby Reds from Oakshott Cottons.  I am really excited about this stack.  I've been drooling over the Oakshott Cottons since I started seeing them over at Lily's Quilts.  I was thrilled when Michael offered to send me a small bundle.  I have plans for this little stack.  I've already opened it and will cut into it very soon.  This stack contains 12 fat 1/8s, and I plan to use every single scrap for the project I've planned. 

Hope you all had a great weekend and weren't stuck cleaning carpets like me.  Tomorrow will start my first "hallway" link-up party. I'm excited to see your favorite July projects.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday: 7.18.12

It's been a good sewing week around here, unfortunately my WIPs I'm most excited about this week won't be posted for a bit.  I've started a couple small sample projects to share in my Sewing Summit class I'm teaching with Faith from Fresh Lemons.  I'll share those here after everything is over in October.

As a result of these new projects, my Heather Ross quilt has been boxed for now.  I needed the design wall space.  I'm a little sad about that one.  Can't wait until I have time to pull it out again.

We had our guild Sew Saturday this past weekend.  I was able to finish up my slew of market totes.  They all have different handle lengths depending on what I had on hand.

My favorites are the orange and brown one as well as the London one (which is lined with that super fun London Tube map fabric).  This was a great stash buster and the perfect projects for gifts.
1. IMG_9241, 2. IMG_9239, 3. IMG_9240, 4. IMG_9238, 5. IMG_9237, 6. IMG_9236, 7. IMG_9235, 8. IMG_9242
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On quilt bees and other things.

Thanks to all of you for your comments on my previous post about blogging. In reading so many of your comments it became apparent I'm not the only one still struggling with balance when it comes to this whole blogging thing.

After reading the comments, I've also decided to add a new feature to my blog (which will likely replace Slash the Stash).  At the end of each month, I plan to do a link-up post for your "Hallway" projects.  I thought it would be fun to give everyone the chance to link up a favorite project for the month so we can each see what's hanging at the "end of your hallway".  I'm currently thinking through how I will host this.  Details coming.

My friend Colleen, The Busy Bean, is hosting Zipper Week on her blog.  She has put together several tutorials to help you out with all your zipper challenges.  She is officially the zipper pro of our quilt guild.

I've had several questions on various stars for my bee quilt.  Here's a mosaic of those blocks currently finished.  Links to the original Flickr photos are in the caption.  I'll create a new mosaic in the future when more stars are finished and posted.
1. Stash Trad Bee Star for Kati, 2. Stash Trad for July by Poppyprint, 3. Another Star Block for Kati - Stash Trad Bee Block for July, 4. Second star for Kati, 5. Mariner's Star for Kati, 6. Bordered Star, 7. kati's star, 8. ET phone home - template now available, 9. IMG_8784, 10. IMG_8783

I finished and delivered my July block for Wendy in our local bee.  She asked for a 16.5" mosaic block. This will be my last block for this bee as our schedule wraps up this month.

I've received a few questions on quilting bees that I was unable to respond to for lack of return email addresses.  Several people have wondered how they might join a bee.  There are some great resources on the Quilting Bee Blocks blog.  Also check out Quilting Bee Blocks Flickr group for info.  Finally my number one suggestion if you want to join a bee--start your own!  Gather some of your quilting/blogging/flickr friends and start your own quilting bee.  Each of the bees I participate in began this way.  Someone in our group just started emailing friends to join them in a bee.  My experience in each group has been great.  I love the ladies in each group, and it is a fun way to get to know them a bit better.

Monday, July 9, 2012

On Blogging: Welcome to the "end of my hallway"

Plum and June

This post is in conjunction with the "Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop" over at Plum and June.  Beth contacted me a couple months ago to participate in her Advice for New Bloggers series.  Please check out her blog and some of the great advice people have posted recently.  Thanks so much to Beth for asking me to participate! 

A couple of years ago I was out to dinner with two childhood friends.  We were neighbors growing up and have known each other as long as we can remember.  While chatting, one friend shared a story about her mother. Like my mom, this woman sewed many of her children's clothes when they were young.  Instead of allowing the project to be used or worn immediately, she would hang it at the end of the hallway for a few days to admire and enjoy her work before it became just another thing in the drawer.  I can just picture this young mother at the time taking a few moments to appreciate the work that she put into something.   

This simple story resonated with me.  I was just beginning to blog and share my projects.  I loved the idea of my blog becoming the "end of my hallway".  It is a way to share my projects with others who appreciate the work I put into each project and can celebrate a success with me or understand a failure.  I didn't start blogging to make money, become a super blogger or anything of the like.  I simply started blogging because I love the projects I've been able to create and wanted to share them.

I am constantly reassessing my purpose for blogging and asking myself why in the world I spend so much time on this.  I truly enjoy the connections, both local and online, that I have gained through blogging.  This has been a great blessing to me in my little world as a SAHM.  I try to stick with the original intent of my blog.  I find whenever I veer too far from this, I don't enjoy blogging.  Adding too many obligations, giveaways, or sponsors takes away the fun for me.  I know of many bloggers who enjoy these aspects of blogging and even thrive on this.

I've watched many bloggers go through a similar journey to mine in trying new things and finding what works and what doesn't work for them.  For me, I've found one of the biggest challenges in blogging is keeping my mind off the popularity contest (for lack of better words) that seems to exist in the blogging world.  It can be hard when so many other bloggers have more followers, sponsors, giveaways, etc.  They might have more projects that receive fabulous praise.  They constantly receive bundles of fabric and other products from companies or shops.  They seem to always be designing and selling some new quilt pattern. Unfortunately, this aspect seems to make blogging competitive (even if just in my head), taking away the fun for me as well.  I have had the occasional opportunity to have some of these blogging perks, but they aren't common for me.

When I get discourage about this, I have to remind myself why I even started blogging in the first place.  I just wanted to share what's hanging at the end of my hallway as well as an occasional story about my frantic life with three small kiddos.  When it comes to blogging, I've learned I can't do it all even though I've tried.  I've slowed down in what I try to accomplish and publish on my blog. Perhaps down the road when my kids are in school, I'll have more time to devote to this space--better pictures, more projects, sponsors, etc.  For now I'm pretty content. 

Finally--my advice to new bloggers:  Find a purpose and stick with it.  Decide what drives your desire to blog.  Don't compare yourself to every other blogger and feel you have to measure up in every way.  If you want to make money blogging--focus on networking with sponsors and build your content.  If you hope to build a successful online shop of homemade items, focus your efforts there.  If you simply want to share your projects, just share your projects.  Don't try to do everything. It won't make you happy. I promise. I tried.

I was browsing through photos of previous projects this weekend and was once again reminded why I blog.  It just makes me happy to look at pictures of some of my favorite quilts I've made. Thanks for celebrating with me the projects that "hang at the end of my hallway". Have a great Monday!
1. World of Goo Quilt Front, 2. Finished_Subway_1, 3. Imperfection_1, 4. Strings Quilt Back, 5. A Day at the Aquarium Front, 6. IMG_3675, 7. Hexagon Quilt Back, 8. Pixelated Color Wheel Quilt, 9. Color Quilt

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cooling Down

A week ago I noticed our AC unit was not working.  Of course this happened on a Saturday before a very hot holiday week.  We did get two different repairmen to come check it out on Saturday just to tell us that it was indeed dead, but a new unit was still days away.  With temps reaching 95 in our house, three very grumpy kids who weren't sleeping well and smoke from local forest fires that made it impossible to use window fans, I decided to get out of town.  I left the hubs to deal with the heat and the challenge of arranging for a new unit and took the kids first to my mom's cabin in the mountains then to her house a couple days later.

Even Pixel tagged along.  She was having a really hard time with the heat as well, poor little dog.

S'mores were a big hit.

Swinging with Grandma.


Love these little kiddos!!
Of course I had to bring my sewing machine.  After putting kids to bed, I sewed to my heart's content. On Wednesday I'll share what I accomplished.

 After a few days at the cabin we headed back down to Grandma's house for the 4th.

Notice how Little Dude is feeding his car lemonade.  They loved their little table.

The weather cooled way down on Thursday, and we heard that they would definitely install a new unit on Friday.  So, I packed the kids back up and headed home.   After four days of playing with cousins and staying up way too late, they were beat.

Friday afternoon with the AC on, things finally started to cool down.

I'm way behind on responding to emails and other projects and am slowly starting to catch up.  Today is a laundry day.  Maybe I'll feel back on top of things by sometime next week .  Hope you all had a wonderful week!