When I went searching for teacher gift ideas this spring, I didn't have to look very far - many roads (err, pins - hurray Pinterest!) lead back to the Open Wide Zippered Pouch by the talented Anna at Noodlehead. And it's no wonder that it's such a popular tutorial; it's really easy and quick, there are three sizes to choose from, and you can have fun with your fabric choices. (Speaking of popular, just yesterday Adrianne at On the Windy Side posted a version she made.)
Before assembling, the two things I did to customize the bags were to fuse some Pellon fleece onto the outside fabric panels and quilt them with contrasting thread, as well as to applique a little label on each inside panel with a message to the teachers from my kids. (Oh, and check out my brand new sew-in labels - excited to use them! : )
When it was time to add the zippers, I rooted through my drawer and found that lo and behold, I owned a zipper foot! So ta dah - these five little bags represent my first five zippers sewn all by myself on my machine. (Previously I've avoided zippered projects like the plague, or if absolutely unavoidable, begged my mom to take over this step : P) Zipper phobia CONQUERED!!
Have you handmade teacher gifts this spring? Do you have a go to pattern or like to try something new each time? If you have a great tutorial, link it in your comment!
I've been telling my husband lately that I think I'm going senile. I've been worrying I might have early onset dementia or that I've missed the symptoms of a mini-stroke. I forget words, dates, and what was it that I went downstairs to get?? Like many moms will attest, my memory has not been the same since I had kids, but lately it's felt like my forgetfulness has been on overdrive (well, that and my hypochondria!). I was *this close* to begging my doctor for a brain scan when I had an epiphany: it's not that I'm any more busy than I used to be, it's that my days are much, much more random.
During my adult life before kids, I was almost always working full time while attending school on the side or working two jobs. I had a lot on my plate, but it was all neatly boxed into a repetitive weekly schedule that rarely changed, and I had exacting to do lists broken out for each day, week and month. No one stopped me five minutes into a task to ask for a snack or to tattle on her sister; no one spilled milk on the living room rug the moment I got settled in to work or screamed at the top of their lungs for ten minutes while I attempted to have a phone conversation. If I needed to go to the bathroom, I did - alone. Plus I wasn't forced to keep track as I am now of who else went to the bathroom and when and how soon I need to prompt them again - one of those mom tasks that requires just a teeny bit of RAM constantly running in the background, which means you're never 100% engaged on the task at hand. And I juggle all the schedules now for four instead of one, plus a whole inlaw family's worth of celebration dates, an entire dictionary's worth of vocabulary and never-ending changes on the horizon for my husband's career. Oh, yeah, and I'm trying to get a business off the ground! My life has gotten a lot more full and a lot more random, and we're still trying to add another little one to this delightful and maddening juggling act : )
I'm starting to accept that I'm never again going to be able to recall solely from memory the exact date and time I scheduled that eye appointment next week, and that's okay. I've always been a calendar user, but I'm bumping the status of my three-months-at-a-glance up to new BFF, and renewing my love affair with Excel. I'm embracing this forgetfulness by doubling down on to do lists and color coded schedules and meal plans, and hoping *fingers crossed* that by the time my kids leave for college, I just might have recovered enough brain storage to be able to remember what it was I went downstairs for in the first place!
So if you were nice enough to read my little rant on forgetfulness, then first thank you, and second, look what else I forgot I had: today's stash share that I stumbled upon yesterday while tidying up my sewing room! I was looking for one little mini-charm pack to tuck into a mailing, and lo - an entire box of fabrics! I was simultaneously delighted and worried I should go double check that I'd turned off the stove ; )
Every time I tell myself I'm going to pare back a bit it seems something fun comes along that I just can't resist - like the Supernova Friendship Block Swap being hosted by Sandra of One Million Stitches and Stephanie of Late Night Quilter. The idea of pairing up with someone I didn't yet know and using the swap as a chance to collaborate and build a friendship (and make a quilt while we're at it ; ) seemed too fun to pass up!
I'm partnering up with Emily who blogs at The Raven's Craft, and can be found on IG. We've decided on a palette based on photos like these above, with yellows, pinks, and oranges against a Kona Charcoal background. I'm so excited to see how it turns out!
And now for my May Library Project update... these Wee Wander quilts have been quilted for weeks, but sadly set to the side awaiting binding while life has gotten in the way. I'm going to go ahead and link up and say that I really hope they'll be done very very soon. They're based on the Improvised Herringbone pattern found in Amy Ellis' Modern Basics II: 14 Easy Patchwork Quilt Patterns, and I have high hopes for showing them off finished with their coordinating shams and throw pillows - fingers crossed that I can find a day this week to trim and bind them and be done once and for all! (A little side note, after making three projects with this fabric, I am officially Wee Wandered out, so I'll offer up my scrap pile to readers when I get the finished post up : )
Linking up with The Library Project QAL, Fabric Frenzy Friday, and Sewjo Saturday.
This month my Stash Bee hive queen is Sheila from Mindful Quilter. She requested simple black and white blocks that would showcase our fabric choices, and I hope she thinks I managed the task - I love these pairings : ) Isn't it interesting how much you can vary something as simple as black and white? I like how my two blocks have such a different feel and intensity from one another. And now they're off across the pond - I hope Sheila loves them! Linking up with Let's Bee Social.
I'm in a very cheery mood today - even only getting four hours of sleep last night thanks to a little deer tick freak out and waking up to my husband overflowing the dishwasher with suds a la Bobby Brady hasn't dampened my good vibe! I think it's the well-on-our-way to summer weather combined with my crazy schedule the past few weeks leveling out finally, and the fact that the DH left this morning for a few months of TDY (temporary duty for those of you who aren't fluent in milspeak ; ) Some of you probably think that sounds terrible to say I'm glad he's off, but I find that I love having him home, I can manage having him away, but I hate the week leading up to the transition. The anticipation of the shift and all the extra last minute tasks always seem to unbalance everything, so having it behind me means life can settle back into a steady routine peppered with a few care packages to send (and honestly, a LOT less laundry to do!) until he gets back.
Ok, so many of you have asked me if there was a way to follow Berry Barn Designs via email, and I am pleased to announce that now there is! Just over to the right under my mini-bio, you should see "Subscribe via Email" with a little box where you can sign up for updates. If you join my email list, you will receive a weekly email with links to any new content I've posted.
I also went ahead and made the jump from my old [ancient] cell phone to a new smartphone as a little Mother's Day gift to myself because I was tired of missing out on all the quilting/sewing goodness happening on IG. If you're on Instagram and want to follow along, you can find me @berrybarndesigns. Slowly starting to get the hang of posting there, but already so glad I joined - just in time to see all the Spring Quilt Market amazingness the last few days!
And since Sunday Stash is really about new sewing supplies and not just me finally emerging from the dark ages, here's a little new-to-my-studio peek:
The yellows and reds are my April and May Stash Stack Club arrivals from Pink Castle Fabrics - neither of them are well represented in my stash, so both will be very useful.
And this is from the Doodles Collection at Jo-Ann's (should I be embarrassed that when I just looked it up, I see it's from the "juvenile fabric" selection?). I saw it while loading up on Kona last week and loved the print and the weight. I want a sleeveless or cap sleeve dress from it - something structured, maybe a sheath, maybe more 1950s fitted-bodice-full-skirt? I don't know what I'll make with it yet, but I just really love navy and the fun bold print. Last summer's Miette Skirt was such a great color infusion and my first real foray into any kind of dressmaking, so I want to follow it up but with something simple. But now I need a pattern - any suggestions??
Linking up with Molli Sparkles' Sunday Stash.
I finally took the plunge... after years of fighting off a smartphone, I finally caved this week. I'd been holding out on cost and also because I hate phone-as-extra-appendage syndrome, but then I realized I was paying just as much for my old no access basic phone plan and I kept hearing how wonderful IG was from other blogging friends, so I made the switch. In the past two days I have 1) joined IG - come follow me! and 2) gotten horribly off course blindly following my new gps, which added an hour to my drive home from a longarm lesson yesterday : P Nothing like turning a two hour drive into a three hour drive!! (And on a side note, it's pronounced BAW-ston, not BOO-ston random Google Maps voice - I get how you might mix up the small towns, but now I wonder if they have Chee-cago and Ate-lane-ta in there, too?)
My last post mentioned the sewist's block that had me stumped for six months, but I finally figured out what to make with my brown bag challenge fabrics. I found this Green Tea design by Timeless Treasures in an old Quilts & More issue, and it worked nicely with the tones I had to create from. Of course, luck would have it that the brown bag I had was from a fantastic and prolific professional longarmer in our guild, so I was scared to death to gift this very first, very green project quilted on my new machine to her, but in the end, I think my rookie endeavor turned out okay (and she was very gracious even if she didn't agree with my self-assessment ; )
The challenge reveal at our annual tea party earlier this week was one of the most fun evenings I've had in a long time. For all my indecisiveness about what to create and worrying that my quilting wouldn't be good enough, I'm ultimately very glad I participated. Working wayyy outside my box was a great challenge and seeing the amazing and widely varied gifts others created with the cloth they had was awesome, but the best part was that half the room didn't even recognize their fabrics!
The women who organized the swap held up each finished gift, asking who thought it was theirs, and there was so much laughter and surprise from recipients who either didn't remember what they'd tossed in their bag last fall, or just couldn't believe the transformation of prints and colors now that they were finished into totes or quilts or home decor pieces. One woman received a bag with her initials embroidered on it - the maker said she'd been paired with her the year before as well, remembered she hadn't recognized her fabrics then, and thought she'd add the monogram to make it clear. When the woman didn't recognize the connection even with a monogram, she joked that next year whoever gets her bag should spell her entire name on the project to ring a bell for her! Much laughter ensued - it was really a fun and funny evening with friends.
I'll close with my gift from the evening. These are the fabrics I put in last fall...
And here's what I received from my friend Jane - a cute mini quilt/table topper, a hot pad, and a pot holder - love them! A nice splash of color to cheer up my kitchen : )
We just wrapped up the craziest month and a half that I think we've ever had at our house with company five weekends in a row, my husband studying for finals, spring cleaning, sewing deadlines, school vacation, four birthday parties, a holiday... my little hiatus here was me having to put down one ball until the craziness settled a bit : P Still, I can't believe it's been two whole weeks since my last post - time to shoo away the crickets and get back to work!
Last week I finished my March blocks for Stash Bee - a neat "Focal Star" block for Afton of Quilting Mod. I finished them at the eleventh hour, but I love how they turned out despite the time constraint. She gave us some great color guidance and suggested a whole bunch of fabrics I love, so it was fun to pull from a palette I enjoy and have lots of in my stash. I can't wait to see her finished quilt!
This week I'm working on a yoga wall hanging requested by a friend, as well as a "Brown Bag" swap project for my guild's upcoming spring tea. It's always a bit harder to create with someone else's vision in mind, though I usually enjoy the challenge, but this swap project has me completely baffled and battling some serious sewist's block. We all put five fat quarters in a brown bag and swapped them secretly back in October. I was stumped six months ago when I opened the bag I received, and here I am a week from the due date still stumped! We can make anything at all using the five fabrics the other person chose. And we can add to the fabrics, but they're so far out of my usual, that it was a struggle to even pull coordinates from my stash, let alone figure out what to make with them. I've been taking them out every few weeks hoping for an idea to come to me, and... nothing.
What do you do when you have to work with a palette or prints that are really out of your norm? Do you keep searching for the perfect fit or just pick a pattern you like regardless of the feel and see what happens? If anyone has some amazing idea from looking at these colors, I am most definitely open to last minute suggestions!
Linking up with Let's Bee Social.