Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The sewing room is finally clean!

My mom has always been very organized.. She wasn't a crazy neat freak or anything like that (we did live in the country with goats and sheep) but everything in our house had its own place.  We had plastic bins before they were cool, and Mom always found containers to help us keep things somewhat under control.

Fast forward 20 years and now I find myself needing more of this. Needing more space, more organization, more places for all our stuff to reside.  When my mom was visiting last week, I enlisted her help (and my step dad's strength).  We went through our storage room and took a huge car load of stuff we don't need or use to Goodwill and the city recycling facility. We also made homes for lots of loose items with those handy plastic bins.  And, best of all, we cleaned my sewing room

I got rid of at least 10 yards of fabric that I knew I would never use, plus we sorted the scrap pile into bins of warm, cool, and neutral colors. (hello, quilting!)  We sorted the larger chunks and the 1+ yard cuts, so now when I go to make something I don't have to waste time looking for certain pieces of fabric. I'm also totally motivated to keep it looking this nice, and having a place for everything is key to that for me.

I cleared all the miscellaneous junk tools off my sewing table and just have the necessities on there now: machines, cutting mat, rulers, scissors, pens/markers, and pins. Oh, and the tissue box? That is my trash can for fabric scraps and cut threads...it works great! Everything else is in a box next to the table but not cluttering the surface. I have a 3-drawer plastic dresser thing under the table as well, and that is where most of the medium size (like fat quarters) pieces of fabrics are. I usually keep the long ruler on top of the dresser when I'm not using it.

The rest of my sewing room includes a chair for sitting on draping works in progress, iron & ironing board, and a corner full of suitcases, empty boxes my hubby we are saving, and the Christmas decoration boxes. It's a great set-up, and I am so thankful for it! I'm also glad it's finally clean. After looking at all these pictures again I feel the need to go back up there and do some more sewing!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Meeting my goals and plenty of sewing

Amy's Creative Side

There is something truly satisfying about setting and meeting specific goals.  I do really well with writing out a goal, setting it somewhere visible, and then doing what I need to in order to finish it.  This week my goal was to either finish the Advent Calendar or my holiday decorations for the Holiday Traditions Exchange.

The Advent Calendar is as close to finished as possible. I finished my part anyways. I am still waiting on the ornaments to arrive. so you get teaser pictures until then!

I also finished one of two mug rugs for the exchange.  This was my first time making one apparently they are pretty "last year" in the quilting world, but they are so "right now" in my world! It's like making a mini quilt and super fun to put together!

Last week a good friend called to ask if I would make a placemat and napkin set for her mom's Christmas gift. I am not one to turn away table linens, especially not when I am give full creative license to choose any fabrics I want! So I chose these fabrics from Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow collection, and I'll say I was near-drooling the entire time. These are beautiful, and I think the small floral print needs to become the back of one of my many quilts I plan to make.

I also cleaned my sewing room yes, pretty pictures to come and started a gift for Brandon's granny.  My goal for next week is to finish her gift and make a bag for my mom for her birthday.  After that it will be time for another quilt!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feast your eyes on these quilts

You all are going to have to bear with my while this quilting bug hits full force. We all know that I get fairly obsessed with projects, and this is the latest. You have got to see some of the quilts I have been finding on Flickr lately. I can't spend all day making them, but I can spend a little time looking at them!

You can see more on my favorites page.


Monday, November 22, 2010

{Modern} Relief: Supporting the fight against hunger

Now that Della's quilt is finished, I have a few ideas for several more quilts. The thing is, we don't need a whole bunch of baby quilts (or bigger ones) laying around our house. One thing I have considered is donating one or two to a charity auction at some point (after I get a little more practice!). I am clearly not the only one with this idea.

Fat Quarterly (a quarterly quilting ezine) has teamed up with 17 top-notch quilters to run a raffle called {Modern} Relief. Basically, each quilter has donated one or two quilts for this raffle, and we have the option to buy raffle tickets. All of the proceeds go to support World Vision, a leader in the global fight against hunger. (The quilts are gorgeous and worth a trip over to Fat Quarterly to check them out!)

If you want to add your support and have a chance at winning one of these gorgeous quilts, check out the post on Fat Quarterly for more details.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Della's *finished* quilt

After all that drama on my end, yes, I know, Della's quilt is finished!!  After finishing I can definitely say I have the quilting bug.  I loved making this quilt and already have plans for two more (plus finishing the original).

I stuck with a simple pattern--Elizabeth Hartman's Charm Squares Baby Quilt, and it truly was easy.  The pattern is very basic, so I would recommend checking out her blog, Oh, Fransson, for details on how to create a quilt sandwich and the binding. Or, better yet, get a copy of her new book, A Practical Guide to Patchwork.

I am kind of over sewing books because I don't really use the ones I have, but I can tell you that this one is one you will actually use--especially if you are new to quilting {and if you're not, the patterns are still worth it!}. Even with all of the free tutorials out there in blog land, I found some of the information to be really beneficial and I carried it all over the house as I was finishing the quilt.

The thing I was the most concerned about was hand sewing the binding. I typically think of hand sewing as horribly tedious, but I actually really enjoyed finishing the binding.  It's funny to look at it and see where I began and where I ended (and what a difference there is between stitches at the beginning and end).

I used a simple straight line stitch for the actual quilting. The stitches are approximately 1/4" from either side of the seams. I liked doing this because it was one less new thing to be trying to do with the quilt. Unfortunately my cheap-o plastic walking foot broke on the second to last line so I will be needing a new one at some point soon.

Oh, and that absolutely gorgeous fabric? Yes, that is from Heather Bailey's Freshcut collection that is sadly becoming increasingly difficult to find.  The sashing is a Kona white and the binding is made from one of Heather Bailey's Bijoux prints.

To you sewist readers who have not made a quilt for whatever reason, I say, "Go for it!" Get some help from a friend, a book, or a class and enjoy it.  One piece of advice Elizabeth gives in her book is to not give yourself a deadline for your first quilt (you know, like that baby shower coming up in two weeks...), and I totally agree.  I usually have pretty tight deadlines with my projects, but this is one that I really needed to be able to work at my own pace with.  Pick a simple pattern and have fun with it!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Shop Feature: Above All Fabric

I am asked fairly often where I find the fabrics I buy, and the short answer is "everywhere".  The long answer is that because there are so many options to choose from when it comes to fabric, I have a list I have of about 10 different online and local shops that each carry their own variety of fabrics. I browse a few of those each time I have a new project until I find the one that has just the right combination for whatever it is I am working on.

Above All Fabric is one of the shops I have consistently returned to over the last two+ years of sewing. Melanie carries a good variety of quilting cottons, corduroy, knits, velveteen, and many other fabrics.  She also offers great customer service, an easy to navigate online shop, a highly informative blog, and now she has added a wish list feature in the shop!

Here is a little look at my wish list!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Holiday Traditions Exchange

This one is short and sweet. I feel like I always find out about exchanges (particularly sewing exchanges) after the sign ups close. I don't want that to be you, Friends, so I'm letting you in on this one promise me you'll send me a quick email or tweet next time you hear about one?!

As of writing this blog, sign ups are still open for the Holiday Traditions Exchange at Sweet Bug Farm. Hurry though because this one is popular and sign ups close Saturday (or once 200 have signed up).


Monday, November 15, 2010

My weekend in pictures

It's funny to me that I have an iPhone, but I still consider it to be semi-archaic. I mean, two versions have come out since I got mine, and have you seen the camera quality on the iPhone 4? I know other phones have even higher quality cameras, but compared to my dinosaur, it's brilliant. (I still like mine and plan to hang on to it as long as possible.)

I still use my camera often, and here's a little peek at what our weekend held. 
 Enjoying the last few days of Fall's warmth before the cold sets in.

 A surprise gift from in my mail box from a friend.

Funny Story: My hubby called Friday while I was at work and said (in a very confused tone), "I think Wes bought you a book." 
Me: "What? Why? Wait. Which book?" 
Hubby: "I don't know--some quilting book." 
Me: "BETH!! It was Beth. She bought me the book!" 
Thank you, Beth! (Her hubby's name was on the Amazon return address.)

"Dr. Marvin, look, I'm quilting!" 
I sent an email to my mom and sisters with the above quote. Have you seen "What About Bob?" If not, that will make no sense--sorry.
 Quilting Della's gift.

 Starting the binding process

 Nearly-finished binding. I just have to hand-sew it to the back. 
(This is the part of quilting that has always scared me. I don't hand-sew anything, but I need to put on my big-girl pants and just do it.)

Making a Roman Shade with Beth for her kitchen window

Not included in pictures:
Lots of time with the hubby and baby;
Lunch with friends Sunday;
Reminder to be aware and weary of my grumbling;
Catching up on much-needed house cleaning;
The grief and praise that combine in the death of a very wonderful family friend who is now celebrating with her Savior a life well-lived and battle well-fought.

It is here, caught in the middle of the mundane and the extraordinary, that I live in gratitude for all the good gifts I am given.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Work in Progress: Della's quilt

Well I made up my mind regarding Della's quilt. The ginormous baby-troll-sized quilt which I love is going to remain unfinished for now. I do plan to keep the fabrics and finish it, but realistically it will not happen until after I finish my Christmas presents.

For now, I am making Elizabeth Hartman's (Oh, Fransson) Charm Squares baby quilt with fabrics from my all time favorite fabric collection: Heather Bailey's Freshcut.  I have all the strips together and plan to sew the sashing and possibly cut the binding tonight. My goal is to finish this one this weekend.

I have really been intimidated by quilting since I began to sew, but Elizabeth does such a great job on her blog and in her patterns of breaking down all the steps to make it seem like someone could actually finish the quilt. I have only been working on this one hour at a time, but it's such a simple pattern that one hour allows for a lot to be accomplished.

Elizabeth just released a book which is on my wish list, and I'm having a hard time not just buying it for myself.  I'm really trying to get by with less though, and the holiday gift giving season is just around the corner. Oh, self control is so difficult in such cases!

As I begin to finally enjoy taking a break from the shop, I am realizing just how busy I was! I really needed an all out stop, and as you can tell from some previous posts it is giving me a chance to reflect and breath in the life around me. I hope you don't mind me sharing that with you as it is all part of the same journey I have been on and continue to walk.  Thanks to those of you who have been interacting and leaving such wonderful comments.  I think all bloggers say this, and it's true: I love your comments!  I also love to respond, and if you leave your email address, I will do my best to do so.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Giving Thanks for Abundance and Desiring Simplicity

This week has been a bit of a stunner.

A very wonderful, life-long family friend is in the full throes of losing a 5 year battle with metastatic breast cancer. It is in one sense devastating to watch from 2,000 miles away as the family loses their mother and yet encouraging to see community gather around them and lift them up to help bear their burdens. As I pray for this family--for the mom who at one point changed my diapers--I pray for peace, comfort, and the outpouring of God's love through the church family that surrounds them.

I am reminded that my job isn't just that. The hours I spend on the computer, filing papers, writing updates, or working on a manual, it all matters. At times the drug development world seems to be barricaded with infinitely thick cement walls, but I pray that doors will appear in those walls because these therapies will make a difference.

I am still in amazement after watching the True Religion video on Bri's website. There is an orphanage down the street from my house that I drive past multiple times each week. And I forget it's there. Yesterday I talked with a mom who told me that when she adopted her son from Russia, he had spent the first 8 months of his life in his crib. My daughter spent those months in loving arms. It brings tears and a broken heart and a pleading, what can I do?

I saw that video the day before my trip with a couple friends to Cincinnati. We drove over an hour to go to Trader Joe's--a grocery store.  I can't say that my heart wasn't being pulled by the fact that I am among the privileged who can do something like that while there are millions without any access to even the simplest of foods.

During this time of Thanksgiving, time to focus on all we have, my heart is tugging, pulling, crying out for less. As I cleaned my frig last night, I realized that I need less on my grocery list. As I work on Della's quilt, I realize I need less fabric. As I struggle to read my Bible, pray, and meditate, I know I need less distractions.

What I need more of is family. Heavenly Father. Time to sit and play with my baby. Reading. Time to sip a cup of tea. My friends. even Silence and Solitude.

This week I give thanks in my state of confliction.  I give thanks for both abundance and simplicity. For peace and restlessness. 

holy experience

11. A long car ride with good friends
12. Working on a friend's sewing project without the nagging that I should be doing something else
13. The upcoming Advent Season
14. Accessibility to good foods full of health, nutrition, and even flavor
15. Community--the Family of God in action loving one another
16. The shrieks and squeals of a baby learning to talk
17. Laundry--folded and its rightful place
18. A husband who reminds me of the burdens I do not need to bear
19. And those I do
20. Prayer. Meditation. Guidance. All found in the still moments my soul yearns for.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Sew and Tell Friday: Peasant Dresses and Tops

Thank you for your kind comments on my last post. It did kind of feel like a break up, but I feel more relief than anything.

Moving on. in good break up fashion!

Those little girl clothes I mentioned? Yep. They're adorable. I was really busy for several weeks with these, and now you get to see them!

Della got a new dress and a new shirt. The dress is made from Sandy Gervais' Frolic line of fabric, and the dress is a Michael Miller print I picked up at Hancock Fabrics.

Another of the shirts, this time made with more of Sandy Gervais' Frolic fabric and one from the Hunky Dory by Chez Moi line. I think this is a really fun combo.

Finally, this one is made with several of the Bliss Fabrics. side note: This fabric is gorgeous. I liked it when I saw the pictures, but once I got my hands on it and started using it, I really loved it. It is the perfect weight for quilting cotton, and the print is really deceptively detailed. I'm glad I bought extra!

All of the items were loosely were based off this pattern, but I made quite a few modifications along the way (including sizing, how & where to place the elastic, using a serger, etc.) I'll try to get a review out soon.


p.s. This is how things usually go when trying to do a photo shoot with the babe.

EDITED TO ADD: This post is linked up with Amy Lou Who's Sew & Tell party. I thought it wasn't happening this week, which is why I didn't do this to start off!