Monday, September 3, 2012
It was a whirlwind summer around here. I had grand plans of finishing lots of quilts, organizing and cleaning up "life". All in the hopes that I would start this new chapter, the one in which our heroine goes to grad school, fresh. Then I remember, it's not fiction I am writing, it's reality and in reality "life" happens, people have strokes, stores close and open and projects stay on hold. It's these moments that I am humbled. I've made it through so far. I survive. Breath in and out...
Yesterday marked a milestone for me, Trey and I cleaned the entire house, including the dining room. I know, big deal...well YES, it kinda is a big deal. My dining room table is where I collect life's clutter, where I type this blog, where I cut out fabric, where I eat, where I sit and talk with family. And frankly, it's ALWAYS a mess. So today, it's clean. I know it won't stay that way, but for the moment it feels so good to see the color of the table, not noticing bills and piles around me. I feel calm, for this moment. I can do it.
So I dedicate this post to catching up, or at least trying to. My clean dining room documented for myself as a reminder that I will make it in my own time. And for you, a picture of what is looming around the bend.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
It is widely known that when I make a quilt it often fulfills multiple roles: primarily a gift for someone, and then also it gets to go on display at work, and sometimes I use it a sample to sell a class or it was a test pattern etc. I get a lot of bang for my sewing buck, so to speak.
There was a day that I thought that I would be able to make all my friends having babies, a baby quilt. Ha! That was crazy. So when I found out my good friends were expecting their second baby and not finding out the gender until the babe was born, I had a plan. I wanted to teach a crosshatch quilt class anyway, so I set out to make a boy and girl version of this fun and cute quilt.
I made the boy version first, and it served as the sample for the class. I used some of my favorite shot cottons, a little Heather Bailey fabric I picked up a couple years ago and some Amy Butler fabric (actually, I purchased the AB fabric with intentions of making a quilt for said couple's first baby, but life got in the way of me ever making that quilt). It has the best snuggly flannel on the back that shows how to make paper airplanes and paper boats.
Then during the class I made the girl version. This quilt served as step out demonstrations when I was teaching. The class was two parts, and unfortunately, my mother in law had a stroke on the day of part two and I missed the class I was supposed to teach. But fear not, I did stay up the whole night before to make sure that I had completed the top for the class I was about the miss. The great thing is, this pattern is pretty simple and fast, so my students were able to forge on ahead without me. The girl version also features a lot of my favorite fabric designers; there is more Amy Butler, Tula Pink and some Denyse Schmidt. The back is a fabulous Joel Dewberry print that worked out perfect for this quilt.
Another highlight of this endeavor was that nearly all the fabric came from my stash! I think I only purchased the solid pink for the girl quilt. Additionally, I just found out that another couple, also expecting their second baby, are having a little girl. I think I know where this quilt will be headed. I hope that the families enjoy these quilts as much as I enjoyed making them.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
The list of UFO's continues to be unchecked as, sparked by an impulsive urge, I continue to add projects like new pillowcases! I could not resist trying out some awesome new tools and thread with this quick project I whipped up in one night.
Bernina is constantly introducing new feet and gadgets. One of the latest is the spanish hemstitch tool #47. (I guess it's so new, it's not on their webpage yet- sorry) This is a not a foot, but an attachment that screws into the free arm of the machine and works in conjunction with foot #20, the open toe embroidery foot. There are 4 acrylic guides that snap into the attachment, 2 guides work with 9mm stitch width machines and 2 work with 5.5mm stitch width (so any machine including 9mm). The profile along the sides of the acrylic guide are high or low, so you can choose if you have delicate thin fabric or bulkier thick fabrics. I chose to use the high profile for the 9mm guide. This gave me lots of space between the cuff and body of my pillowcase. You need to choose a stitch that will secure the thread to both edges and does not do a lot of stitching in the middle because there in no fabric in the center. Take some time and do some samples to make sure the stitch you select will work. The stitch I selected was already 9mm in width and I altered the length a little. You will want to check from time to time to make sure the machine is feeding both sides evenly. My first pillowcase required a little trim to the cuff.
In addition to the cool new tool, I also tried out some awesome new thread. Aurifil makes a 12wt wool/ acrylic blend thread. I have been using the Aurifil 50wt. cotton for a while and it is dreamy, so smooth and light. It is no surprise that I love the 12wt wool too. I used a 90 topstitch needle and ran this through the needle and bobbin of my machine. I was amazed at how well the bernina managed to sew using this thread. I also shocked myself, as I would never recommend (until now) that anyone try to use something so thick in their needle. I had reserved this kind of thing to bobbin work, which is a whole different lesson. I love how this thread looks like crochet using the hemstitch tool. I was having so much fun and I wanted to keep playing with the thread, so I added a "cross stitch" border to the other edge of the cuff. For this part, I did put regular thread back on my bobbin to reduce bulk and help my machine out a little. It looks like hand work to me, and it took no time at all to achieve the look on my machine. Forgive me but I must add a sales pitch: the Bernina 580 ROCKS!! I am so loving my new machine.
It is always so fun to explore new tools and notions. It's especially great when you can walk away with a successful finished project in an evening. It doesn't always happen this way for me, but I am smitten with my little sewing diversion. Oh, and isn't that Anna Maria Horner fabric perfect for this? Gosh, I kind want all my bedding made from it. I picked it up locally at BonBon.
Monday, April 23, 2012
I am so lucky to be a pattern tester for Shea at Empty Bobbin. She just released a new batch of patterns and I tested 2, the Crosshatch quilt and the Home Sweet Home pillow. If you have never sewn using one of these patterns, you are in for a real treat. There is always excellent illustrations to accompany easy to follow, well written directions. Her photographer, Sarah Sorrell, does a fantastic job making these projects come to life in the beautiful photos. This quilt pattern was a blast! In fact, I can't wait to make a few more myself.
Part of what I do when I test a pattern is keep lots of notes as I work through it. There were several instances in this pattern where I made the note: would be great for a class. Then I starting jotting notes of tools and notions that are perfect companions for this project. When I talked with Shea about the pattern, I wasn't shocked to learn that she had many of the same ideas about how well it would work for a class. First, it is great pattern to learn some rotary cutting techniques. Also, the pattern calls for working with WOF (width of fabric) strips sewn together and the basic blocks are cut from them. The piecing is pretty simple and straight forward and there are good tips for managing bias edges. It will be easy enough for a new quilter and fun for a seasoned quilter too.
So, of course, I am going to teach this quilt as a class at the Bernina Store in Overland Park. Here's the scoop:
2 Sessions, Thursday, June 7 and June 14, 10am-1pm. Class 1 will cover rotary cutting and basic strip piecing and we will finish the quilt top in Class 2. Fee for the class is $75. Call the store if you are interested. 913-341-6400
For my version of the quilt, I used all shot cottons from Kaffe Fasset. I've said it before, but shot cotton is to me what butter is to Paula Deen. I use it in everything. This particular palette will work perfect in my living room. I can't wait for this quilt to come home and live with me. Angela Walters did an awesome job on the quilting, of course!
Since most of my readers are my KC friends, I thought I would not only give away a copy of this pattern but also a FREE CLASS! Just leave a comment about what kind of sewing class you would love to take in the future or maybe a great class you have already taken before. I will randomly select a winner for the pattern (anyone can win from KC or not) and then I will select my favorite class idea as the winner for the FREE class (will be helpful if you are from or will be in KC on June 7 and 14). I will select winners on May 5.
Monday, March 26, 2012
I love having a fireplace, mostly because I have a mantel to redo with every season. It is so fun to trade out and rearrange new pieces to have a fresh new take on the space. Currently, my mantel sports a pastel rendering of a lady I don't know. I call her Merriam and I love the colors in this piece. There is also a big "animal" theme in this room, including a little wooden bird in a box and some duckhead bookends. Tulips from the yard in a beautiful turquoise fiesta pitcher and a turquoise vintage clock tie in my door color.
The children are vintage prints I purchased at a cute little shop in Ft. Leavenworth. They were popular from their era, but I know little about them. I think they are great.
I recently acquired this fabulous train painting by an artist friend, Andrew Elman. I feel so lucky to have it and it works so perfect with the colors in this room. The couch was the first piece of furniture that I found after I we bought this house. It came from craigslist and is in excellent condition, however the foam in the cushions is original and someday I will have it replaced. The little turquoise lamp came from my days at Atomic Age and is a piece that can be spotted in the movie Raising Arizona.
This chair was purchased at good juju before I even knew where we were going to live. I just knew I loved it and had to have it. Other than one spot of discoloration (not horrible) it is in perfect shape. It reclines and has an ottoman which make is so comfortable. The dog is my favorite photo prop.
The chartreuse table is a piece that I made in furniture design studio at kstate. It has been in my living room ever since. I made it by bending plywood using a vacuum forming method, then I made a wood dye to finish it. The legs are bent aluminum held in place with metal pins. The lamp also came from good juju and needed to be rewired.
The horse tapestry came from the thrift store on Wilmington Island, GA. When I purchased it, my intent was to stretch canvas over the frame or paint over it. I don't know why I didn't realized how fabulous it was at first. How tragic it would have been to paint over it! I still need to actually "hang" it on the wall, but for now (and maybe forever) it sits atop everyone's favorite IKEA bookcase. The little red toy sewing machine was my mothers when she was young. My grandpa gave it to me and I think everything about it is perfect. Thanks for touring my living room and who knows, maybe I will share more of my home soon.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Sometime last Spring/Summer our Bernina store hosted a class with Jacquie Gering on improv quilting. I wasn't able to take the class because I was actually working in the store, but I could not help myself from sneaking pieces of her stash away and sewing them up in between calls and customers. I made some quick progress, speed sewing is a skill of mine, and actually ended up with a decent size quilt top at the end of the day. I went home and added a couple long strips: the solid brown and the geogrand, to make a nice "baby" size quilt. I even started to quilt it the next day. I was going to be done in time to show it at the next guild meeting. The meeting day rapidly approached and I was not finished. Iwent ahead and showed the "work in progress".
Then it sat and waited...for the better part of a year. It is a sad tale that happens often in my house. I decided this past weekend that I should finish it, plus I have a new Bernina 580 that needed a quilting test run. It was awesome! I thought that my first Bernina was my one true love, but it's not true. You can fall in love with a Bernina more than once!
I have been looking at lots of quilt books and trying to master some free motion techniques. I am still green, but I can do pretty nice looking pebbles and some okay swirls. I added lots of straight line quilting using the walking foot and I even brought out the leather roller foot #55 and did some organic line quilting with it. I did my best to take clues from the quilt itself. I enjoyed continuing a line from one piece of fabric into the next piece and adding x's and wavy lines to others. It is improv from the piecing to the quilting and a true sampler of style.
A fun coincidence, on Wednesday Bernina's facebook page linked to a post on Jacquie's blog about how to organize your stash. Jacquie's stash really is the best stash. Every piece I pulled, she would say, "Oh that's my favorite fabric". I have to agree, they were all pretty fabulous and I am pretty smitten with the final quilt. The animals agree.
Monday, February 6, 2012
The end of the year is particularly busy and hectic for my husband and I. He does inventory and I work a retail job, need I say more? So we decided that we needed to take the time and get out of town, even if it was just an overnight trip. We brainstormed various places that are within driving distance and hatched a plan. When he mentioned a new museum in Arkansas (a state I have only driven through), we had our answer.
We visited Crystal Bridges, a fantastic American Art Museum, in Bentonville, Arkansas and it was worth the trip. The architecture takes clues from the landscape and is literal and metaphoric bridges to the geography around it. Interaction with the building is as much of the experience as viewing the art inside it. There are several trails around the perimeter of the museum and they are easy to walk. We were lucky that the weather was cooperative, a little chilly, but not raining or snowing. The architect, Moshe Safdie, constructed the building in the manner of a suspension bridge with ponds, created from the area's Crystal Springs, surrounding the building. They were having some sort of issue with the ponds when we were there and they were drained. I can imagine it is quite beautiful when the ponds are full.
The collection of American Art is impressive and manageable for a single visit. My favorite pieces included: Jasper Johns' "Alphabets" and Leon Polk Smith's, "Center Column Blue and White" and "New Moon For August". I am totally in awe of Smith's work. I spent several hours looking at his work and think I have found my new muse. I already have plans to create my own Center Column piece in quilt format.
Other noteworthy work includes: Nick Cave's sound suits and Norman Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter.
The entire experience merged my love of architecture, interiors, textiles and sewing. From Devorah Sperber's "After The Last Supper", constructed from 20,736 spools of thread hanging on ball chains to Alison Elizabeth Taylor's "Room" made of wood inlay including over 250 species of wood! I was also intrigued by the shading mechanism used on the dining bridge. These fabric screens emerge from the floor to cover the southern exposed glass walls.