Monday, March 29, 2010

Why does it always surprise me... notice how messy my sewing room gets when I am being creative and productive? I sew and cut and iron (that is, press) and before I know it there are piles of scraps everywhere! Not to mention the pins on the floor, pattern pieces on the table and chair, and notebooks and post-its scattered liberally around the room. Of course there are loose pieces of thread stuck everywhere, and spools of thread stacked high beside the machine with bobbins trailing ends out of the drawer just waiting to get snagged on anything and everything. I can't find either pair of scissors, had to get out the spare rotary cutter and I know I just had that pencil but just can't figure out where in the world it went. How does all that chaos just happen when all I am doing is working on new projects?

Then comes time to clean it all up again. To fold and put away the scrap fabric, hang up the rotary cutters and put the pencils in the drawer. I put the spools of thread back on the rack, wind up and organize the bobbins and vacuum the threads up (oh, my poor vacuum!). Everything goes back in it's place and once more order is restored and I am ready for the next round of inspiration and fun.

Of course, clean is definitely a relative term. Some people would hate the clutter in my room. But I like being able to see things that I am working on, it helps me to keep the process going as I think of the next steps. Of course, I really could reduce the amount of projects that I have underway at any given time, but what would be the fun in that!

Hope you are having so much fun creating that you forget to tidy up, too!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Elephants, and hippos, Oh My!
What a cute pattern this is, and fun to make, also. I downloaded it and made if from fabrics we have in stock at Threads That Bind (the local quilt shop I work at). I actually talked my boss into buying the border fabric because I selfishly loved it and wanted to make cute things out of it. I know, I'm bad that way! I loved making this top. The only problem I had was that it was a little tricky to enlarge the templates, but I figured it out. (Yes, I could have just gone to my copy shop and asked them to do it, but I like to do things myself, especially if it saves me enough money to buy a fat quarter or two!)
I love the Amy Butler fabric behind the giraffe - I was pleased to find the right color of green to go with the orange giraffe! And the fairy frost behind the hippo is really great as well. I like the combination of bright oranges and greens with the earthy browns and greys. Really makes a nice quilt for a special little person. I'm sending it to the shop unquilted, so I will have some time to think about how I am going to quilt this.

The pattern is by Marinda Stewart and it is called Giraffes, Elephants and Hippos - Oh My! There are many other wonderful free patterns on the Michael Miller Fabrics website also - lots of fun to check out! Lots of the fabric manufacturers have patterns now, it's a great way to see how to use many of the wonderful fabrics they are making. We really like them at the quilt shop, they make wonderful samples!

P.S. My machine is sounding much better after a good cleaning and oiling. I think I'm just a little paranoid about it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday at the Quilt Shop

Today I spent working at my local quilt shop. I checked in some new fabrics, worked on cutting kits and helped customers. I really love seeing the new fabrics that come in, but it's such a temptation. I always want to make something fun out of them, and right now have at least 4 shop samples on my table that I need to get finished! But I was really good today - I only brought home two fat quartes and a small remnant from the end of a bolt.

I already used the two fat quarters - I sandwiched and quilted them, and I cut the finished sandwich into pieces that I will use to make some checkbook covers, wallets and eyeglass cases for my etsy shop. I decided that I will allow myself to choose two fat quarters a week for this purpose. It's great practice for free-motion quilting.

Speaking of which, my machine seemed to be rattling tonight. I hope it was just the little door to the bobbin area not being closed right. Tomorrow I will give my machine a good oiling and cleaning and hope it sounds all right. I usually do all my own maintenace, which is why I choose machines that are fairly simple and don't have a lot of electronics. So far so good, but I have given this machine a lot of use, so I do realize that eventually I will probably need to have it looked at by a professional. I just hope it isn't soon!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Playing with Batiks

Actually, you might call it working with batiks because this was a custom order quilt, but I think when it comes to batiks, it's all play! My client chose a lovely assortment of beautiful batiks and other fabrics to make into a queen size quilt. I had the fun of cutting and sewing them together into a beautiful large quilt.
I figured I needed 56 blocks to make the quilt, but I ended up making about 63 blocks, which was a good thing because the quilt back ended up being too narrow. I used the extra blocks to make a strip to put down the center of the back, which looked really great!
My client wanted a narrow border on the quilt to frame it. I think it looks great with the border. This was a really lovely project and was fun to work on. I think the hardest part of this quilt was setting all the blocks together - sometimes scrappy is much more challenging than a planned color scheme! First you turn the blocks this way and that, then you trade two blocks, then you have to trade two more. But it's a lot of fun, too!

I quilted this one with a nice fluffy batting. It was a little tricky to control the loft and keep it from puckering, but I got the job done. It was good practice because I have a quilt for me that I want to use a lofty batting on, too. Now I won't be so nervous about it.
The batting I used for this quilt was Soft and Crafty extra high loft. Thanks for the comment, I need to remember to be specific because often I don't remember what batting I have used unless I make note of it!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A Juggling Act

I suppose many of us feel this way, but right now I feel like my life is a juggling act and I am coming perilously close to dropping some of my balls. Or maybe they are chainsaws and that is why I feel so anxious! I am finding it harder every day to balance taking care of my family, the house, working at the quilt shop, doing alterations, overseeing the local quilt guild and an online quilt group, and trying to fit in time to exercise and take care of myself. Notice that leaves me a big fat 0 for quilting or blogging about quilting. In fact sometimes I feel so paralyzed by all the things that I need to do that I find myself zoning out and doing nothing at all. Which doesn't help.

I suppose I need to sit down and make a priority list. But that's too depressing, and who wants to look at a long list of things they really should be doing and know can't get done in a day. This week I have put myself at the top of my unwritten list. I am going to go for a walk everyday. I am going to shave my legs and trim my nails. I am going to make an appointment to get my hair trimmed. And I am going to do some quilting. Some just for the fun of it, because I want to quilting. Even if it is only for an hour a day I need to work on a project that I an enthusiastic about and enjoy. Then I think I will have the energy to tackle the rest.

I remember when I first started on my quilting journey. I was a young mom with 3 little girls under 5 years of age and a fourth on the way. I always enjoyed sewing, but when I discovered the world of quilting it was love at first stitch. The reason I loved it? It was the one thing that I could do every day that would stay done! If I spent an hour stitching patches together, they were still sewn the next day - the patches I cut (with a template and scissors!) were still cut. And the colors and fabrics were so much fun to play with, it challenged my brain and my artistic abilities.

Quilting has always been soothing for me, the concentration involved takes you away from your worries, and the results are so pleasing. So onwards I go, tackling each day as it comes, and each project. Even though life is stressful now, it will pass, and my lovely quilts will help me remember these days with a smile just like my early quilts do.