Last week I was behind on blogging because my laptop bit the dust, but I'm happy to report my new one has arrived, and I can finally upload pictures and type with ease again! Now if only I could wrap my head around Windows 8... if you can recommend any wonderful tutorials or apps that would give me a leg up on this operating system, please share!
First off, congratulations to Michelle & Sarah the #2 and #9 commenters on my last giveaway post! They each won a $10 gift certificate to Westwood Acres Fabric
. Hopefully it was a nice surprise in their inbox during the big black-cyber holiday shopping weekend.
Next up: Perfection
. This is such an apropos topic for me. I'm a perfectionist. Often I wish I wasn't - I've been working for months to reign it in as I delve back into sewing and quilting after a long break that's left my skills rusty. It's an arduous battle : P I'm such a perfectionist that it stops me from attempting things I know I won't get right, and when things I do start go sideways, it gets me really frustrated and makes me want to give up. Once when I was in middle school, I tried sewing a really cute skirt from this green, tone on tone, swirly print that I was absolutely in love with. Everything was going swimmingly until I reached the part of the pattern that required a zipper. I hadn't sewn one before, so I asked my mom to do it for me. She suggested I give it a try first myself and left to run a quick errand. I tried. I failed. And then I cut the skirt in half and threw it in the scrap pile! Needless to say my mom was surprised and quite annoyed when she came home. Not exactly the return on her fabric investment that she'd had in mind when I started. If I had just waited a few minutes, it easily could've been pulled out and repositioned, but my perfectionism pushed my patience right out the window!
see how I got distracted and shortened those back and forth lines over the fish on a few passes? glad I noticed while I was still in the block and could drop down and fudge a fix!
Fast forward to now... one of my goals for the SWC series
was to try longarm quilting, which I did a few weeks ago. While I think the experience was amazing and overall I'm quite pleased with my very first attempt, there are a few mistakes in the quilting. Old me would've ripped them out or been devastated and given up on the project, but new me only freaked out for a minute or two, then decided it was really not a calamity and kept on going (the thought of paying $20 an hour to stop and rip stitches definitely emboldend the new me ; ) In the end, the small mistakes aren't very obvious due to the busy fabrics, they don't affect the integrity of the quilt in any way, and they're just a few lines in my story of learning and growth as I improve my longarming skills. Plus they add character to the quilt - after all, handmade is not fundamentally about mass produced engineered perfection, right? It's about thought, effort, and in this case, getting better as I go forward. (Plus, it's for my parents, and I'm quite sure they'd rather have a lovingly crafted not-quite-perfect quilt than have seen this slashed in half in the scrap basket!)This post is linking up with the Sewing with Certainty series hosted by Jess of Quilty Habit. Have you been following along? Lots of great contributors have been weighing in as we explore the craft and gain confidence! Join in!
Gah! Sorry I'm so behind on blogging this week. My laptop finally gave up the ghost after a year of mandatory plugging in to use and six months of needing an external keyboard. I feel like I really gave it the old college try before the screen up and quit! So right now I don't have a way to upload or edit pics from my camera, hence, nothing visual to share even though I'm chugging along on some projects. My "perfection" link up with Quilty Habit's SWC series
will also be a bit late as a result. But very very soon I will have a nice new machine on which to compose, so I am trying to be patient : )
In the meantime, I figured I'd tide everyone over with some great news: it finally snowed here this morning! Hahaha you might not agree, but that's delightful to me! Everyone I know who lives south of us seems to have had some before us this year. I'd share a pic of the winter wonderland that is my front yard, but, yeah, that broken laptop thing....
Anyway, in even BIGGER great news, my most favorite online fabric shop, Westwood Acres, has a brand spanking new website
! I've already placed an order, so I can attest that the new store is easy to get around and loaded with wonderful fabrics, as always. They carry many new lines, but I especially love them for their custom bundles with unique color schemes and because they offer sets of new collections paired with coordinating Kona solids. They also carry patterns and notions, have a great low shipping rate, and if you hop over there right this second and simply set up an account with them, you'll be entered to win a $50 GC they're drawing for some lucky winners tomorrow.
Now I'm headed off to finish packing for our turkey trip. (Why is it that packing kids becomes such an exponential undertaking?? I've been prepping most of the morning and there isn't even anything in the suitcases yet!) Feeling really blessed about our big family Thanksgiving plans and some snow on the ground to lift my spirit (plus some Westwood Acres goodness waiting in my mailbox when I return home : ) so I want to share the love! I have two $10 gift certificates to Westwood Acres up for grabs - enter below and I'll draw two winners this weekend to give you a little holiday shopping spree boost!
HERE'S HOW TO ENTER:
1. Leave me a comment and tell me what kind of weather cheers you up - do you love snow as much as I do?!! (one entry)
2. Follow Berry Barn Designs on Facebook
and leave me a separate comment letting me know that you do. (one optional entry)
3. Share the news! FB, pin, blog - anyway you'd like and leave me a separate comment. (one optional entry) The drawing is open through midnight on Friday, November 29th (EST). I'll select two winners at random and will notify them via email. Please make sure I can contact you if you win - leave an email address in your comment if you're a no reply commenter : )
Have fun and happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Earlier this year my older daughter learned to stick maple seeds on her nose. As happens with every child who learns this trick, much excitement and laughter ensued, and it's now one of those cherished mirrored-childhood memories of mine. Shortly after her discovery, I stumbled upon the Dear Stella Piper
line, fell in love with the Airplanes
print, and bought up a FQ set to create with. Then when I realized Mrs. Santa would be making new doll quilts, I just knew I had to use Piper for them! My dad is making a doll bunk bed (using this Ana White hack
as the inspiration), and I have a sophisticated/modern/fun aesthetic planned for the bedding. (In my mind I see my daughter running her hands over the fabric twenty years from now and remembering her discovery while thinking how nice it is that I captured the memory in an heirloom, but I might be getting a bit ahead of myself, seeing as I only just received the package with the extra fabric I need to flesh out my plans for the bedding!)
Piper from Dear Stella Design
So in a few weeks when the beds are built and painted, and the bedding is neatly tucked in, I'll share some completed pics, but in the meantime, I have to give a little shout out to Moona Fabrics
. The local store I'd bought the FQs from was out of yardage when my original plans ballooned, so I went Etsying to find the rest and came across this great fabric shop. Sue at Moona sent me an extra FQ with my purchase (serendipitously the one zigzag I didn't have yet!), and her great prices and pictures encouraged me to pick up a few extras while I was there, too. I *almost* skipped the Sonnet
, but tossed it in the cart at the last second - oh, my goodness! If you haven't seen it up close, you have no idea what you're missing! It's much more rich and vivid in person. The holiday fabric will eventually be made into throws for my couch, but this pink is getting squirreled away for some glorious far off pinnacle project : )
(clockwise from left) Pure from STOF of Denmark, A Merry Little Christmas by Zoe Pearn for Riley Blake Designs, Poetica Collection by Patricia Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics
I did it! I finished my first day of long arm quilting and am satisfied with my results. I obviously have a looooong way to go before I'll be rubbing elbows with Angela Walters, but it was a good first attempt and I look forward to renting some more time in the longarm studio soon... unless of course Santa has something really REALLY big planned for under the tree that I don't know about?? Hey, I can dream, right?! playing around in class...
Karen, the longarm quilting educator at Cotton Weeds Quilt Shop
, was a wonderful teacher. Hands on, encouraging, and ready to go every time I needed a bobbin change : ) I look forward to having some more projects to work on so I can head back and get my FMQ groove on!
Here are some quick pics of what I quilted. I'll follow up when the binding's on and the quilt is ready to go!
all set up and ready to go! it was good to start with such a busy quilt - really hid the mistakes well ; )
what I did on the center of the quilt - just alternated loop-de-loops and back-and-forth lines in each block... I was more brave in the border with words and swirly circles - I'll show you in the big reveal post soon!
Agghhh! Look who's breathing down my neck... err, I mean, "spurring me on to greatness!" I picked up this little guy as a fun pre-holiday-decorating decoration to tide over my anxious-to-deck-the-halls kiddos (yes, because I'm one of those people who simply *adores* *loves* *delights in* festooning the house with twinkling Christmas trimmings but fervently believes the process has to wait till after we put away the turkey!), but anyway, then I realized how much more helpful he might be sitting next to my sewing machine keeping me on task. I love his little "hello! yoo-hoo!" wave, gently reminding me lest I forget who's schedule I'm really on right now. Oh, so speaking of schedules...
Today's the day! I'm off to my "Great Beginnings" class - my very first long arm quilting experience - at Cotton Weeds Quilt Shop
. I've been looking forward to making the time for this for a while, and since I committed to it as a goal during the SWC series (more about that here
), I went ahead and booked the class and chose the quilt I'm making with S'More Love
to take along. I know it probably won't turn out exactly as I envision (topic for the SWC "perfection" post perhaps??) but it'll be a great intro and will get me a step closer to another finished holiday gift. And Mr. 40-Days-To-Go will like that!
Here's a teensy little sneakity-peak of what I'm hoping will be my first pattern released this winter! Cobblestone Quilters had an "Every Woman Has a Story" challenge for November's meeting, and while I didn't quite finish it in time to show a completed project to the group, I was at least spurred to get underway, and I'm very pleased with what I have so far! Better yet, my husband is pleased. He rarely voices much opinion either way about the projects I'm working on (steak is more his thing - he'd ooh and ahh over some rib eye, but he's not nearly as interested in fabric ; ) yet this he has complimented repeatedly.
So completely by chance I happened upon a link for Play Crafts' Palette Builder 2.0
just a few days ago, and then did some digging and came across this great interview
of the program's creator, Anne Sullivan, that was featured on There's a Thread
back in September. Immediately I thought "aha! this would be great for that color related post for the SWC series
" and behold: link up #1
is about choosing fabric, and I'm rolling with this as the starting point! The program is great because it's really easy and customizable. Simply upload a picture you love and it'll give you a list of coordinating Kona solids. Want to tweak the scheme? Just move one of the points on the screen to swap out a color. Here's an example of mine:
See? Easy peasy - choose a photo that speaks to you, upload, and *POOF* a handy Kona shopping list!
For me, most projects start with color - some vivid full color vision of a completed project that I imagine in my mind's eye and begin gathering fabrics to match, or some gorgeous saturated fabric I fall head over heels for and simply must build around. (Side note: I love color! I know all those low-volume projects are trending, and I do love some of the designs I see out there, but as someone who has spent her entire life rainbowtizing anything I can get my hands on - my fabric stash, my art supplies, my filing cabinet, my closet - I know that saturated color is definitely where it's at for me.)
oh the delight of rainbowtized fabrics! ... if only my shelves looked this tidy all the time : P
I don't have a hard time choosing fabric for a quilt once I know my color palette; I have a good eye for tone and can easily weed out what is just right and what is a hair too warm or cool or busy. (Also pretty adept at knowing when I simply *must* make one more trip to the fabric store for that just-exactly-so piece I'm in need of to tie it all together ; ) All that said, I definitely gravitate to certain color schemes more than others, so in an effort to mix it up a bit now and then, I enjoy playing with online color tools like Palette Builder, and I look forward to the weekly Stash Share
with Pile O'Fabric because it makes me think outside my usual box and is helping me mix and match fabrics from my stash that I otherwise wouldn't. (I've also experimented with Color Scheme Designer
before, like on this project
I chose a really basic, bold color scheme before I started pulling for my birds because I didn't want to be swayed by a cute print and end up with less saturation than I initially envisioned.
Another great way to mix it up is to swap scraps with other crafty people you know! A friend sent me a bunch of her scraps that were too small for her purposes, so I've ended up with pieces I would never have bought myself, but that play really well with what I have on hand.
see those silhouetted women in pink? that's an example of fabric I'd never think to pick out myself, but they look adorable in the scrappy rainbow squares I'm building - thanks, Crystal!
So as far as choosing fabric, since I have the color part down, I think what I need to improve is my knowledge about types of fabric and which is the right one to use when/what effect I can get from what. Someday I'd love to be brave enough to create an entire piece from atypical fabric; a woman in my quilt guild just unveiled her king size quilt made from decorator's fabric - all scraps she got for free from an upholsterer! Talk about a durable, budget friendly quilt! I'd also love to make a crazy quilt, but I'd be hard pressed to right now with my boring, all quilting-weight cotton stash. And I'd especially like to learn about knits so I can start sewing the kinds of clothing patterns that most appeal to me. I am about to undertake two new fabrics for a Santa project - polyester lining and felted wool for doll coats, so we'll see how those turn out as a first foray out of quilting cottons!
So how about you? How do you go about selecting fabrics? Do you fall in love with colors or a particular print and go from there, or do you let a preset color scheme dictate your direction? If you have a vantage point you'd like to share, comment below or consider linking up with the Sewing with Certainty series on Quilty Habit
Looking for some holiday inspiration? Sew Mama Sew
has kicked off their 7th Annual Handmade Holidays
event - go check out their daily posts and giveaways with fabulous gift ideas organized by theme! So far they've posted ideas for 'tweens, gadget lovers, cooks, and party clothes (I adore these cute laces for the hard-to-buy-for 12 year old
on your list, or alternately, as a great project they can tackle with you). And it's not just sewing - they have free printables, recipes, and crafts of all kinds! So... what are you making handmade for the holidays this year??
A teeny bit frazzled. We returned home late last night after babysitting my brother's children for a few days. Jumping from having two kids to five kids was fun, but completely nonstop! Everything ran smoothly, and we even managed to host a dinner party (see? we're suckers for hectic), but we're home thanking our lucky stars that we got that bonus hour of sleep last night. On the plus side, my husband and I are feeling very confident that when we eventually complete our adoption (you can check out our adoption profile here
), adding a third child to our family should be easier than expected time juggling-wise.
Now to dive back into my studio...
Today is the kick off of Sewing with Certainty
, a new series hosted by Jessica at Quilty Habit
. Here it is explained in her own words: "This series was born out of the doubts we sometimes hear when it comes to sewing and quilting.... I want to inspire experienced and new quilters to try things they shy away from, and, more importantly, inject even more positivity into the wonderful world of sewing."
And she goes on to say, "If there's anything I've learned as a beginning schoolteacher, it's this: reflecting on yourself and your strengths/weaknesses helps you a) improve and b) continue loving what you do."
I decided to link up because I know I have been holding off trying a few things I want to be doing in my work (and because like Jess, the former teacher in me also
adores reflection and improvement). I end up shying away from projects or techniques that I'm not familiar with yet instead of plowing ahead - in part because my sewing time is so limited that I don't want to waste it creating something that fails (or worse - endlessly seam ripping! agh!), and in part because I'm a perfectionist, so if I feel I won't get it absolutely right, I just save myself the frustration and skip it (which is, of course, terrible for a teacher to say - we're supposed to be all "try again! keep going! you'll figure it out!" but that's easier said solving free quadratic equations on scratch paper than sacrificing expensive prized stash yardage - am I right?!)
Fortunately for my busy schedule, I've decided that many of the things I have lined up already for the coming weeks - a lap quilt
and doll quilts, a small wall hanging set, and some beverage mats - will incorporate things I haven't tackled yet or need to improve upon (like long arm quilting, hand and machine embroidery, and a machine binding technique
that's different than my usual), so I'm going to post about those for the series. To get started, I'm forgoing my plan to quilt the lap quilt at home on my machine and have signed up for an intro longarm quilting class at a local shop. I've held off in the hopes that I might find a way to make a longarm machine appear in my studio (or at least in my mom's - she's a good sharer lol), but since that hasn't happened yet, I'll settle for renting time and the satisfaction of completing a quilt start to finish myself, only minus the swearing that has accompanied previous large quilts being jammed under the neck of my domestic machine. I'm also going to try and get creative with some free motion quilting on the doll quilts I'm making. Heretofore, I've stuck with stitch-in-the-ditch and straight lines, so it's time to put all the FMQ classes and tutorials I've watched into play once and for all. After all, if they don't come out perfect, my kids sure aren't going to notice and
I'll be setting that great "keep practicing and you'll get better" precedent that we parents/teachers are supposed to ; )
Will you be following along with Jess' series, too? What areas of your quilting or crafting do you want to improve?
I'm a big fan of Tilly and the Buttons
, and last week she featured the website Backstitch
- a British company specializing in fabric and patterns. (In honor of relaunching their website, they're currently hosting a contest to win 20% off all orders for a year, so that's a great incentive to go check them out!) While browsing, I found a neat apron pattern - I've been looking for one to make for myself, but I wanted something cute and unique, and The Cupcake Apron
by Jamie Christina fit the bill! My order just arrived yesterday (I certainly love getting Royal Mail packages just as much as plain old USPS ; ) and I can't wait to try them out after the holidays are over and I have some relaxed sewing time for myself and the kids. You can check out links to all these clothing patterns and others I'm crushing over on my "Pattern Appeal"
Here's my weekly contribution to Pile O' Fabric's Stash Share
(l-r) Metro Living by Robert Kaufman, unknown, Central Park by Kate Spain, Remembered by Carina Garner, Outfoxed by Lizzy House ... couldn't find any of these currently for sale to link - my stash finally is showing some age!
... with the mailman! If you know me, you know I loathe waiting in line at the Post Office, but there is one aspect of the service I love - when they deliver me packages like this one full of wonderfulness from Westwood Acres
! All these great new fabrics just arrived (check out that Scrumptious mini bias stripe
- perfect binding), plus a Thimble Blossoms
pattern to try, which should be a perfect use for the stack of Liberty Lifestyle I've had lingering in my stash. Can you tell I'm vicariously living out my dream of being at the International Quilt Market
in Houston this week? Having a few new goodies delivered while I peruse Fat Quarter Shop's busy feed from the market
sort of makes it feel like I was there (and went on a mini-spree ; ) heehee. So far I'm most looking forward to Tula Pink's Fox Fields
and Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander
- what new lines are you excited to work with soon?