I love taking classes from other quilters. I don’t care if it is my “style” they are teaching. I can always learn something new. I honestly think that I get so much more out of the experience of making, when I can make with other makers. In the flesh I feel so connected to something more than just playing with fabric. I also think just watching how other makers make, I always pick up something new.
So fabric designer, artist, quilter, dress maker, person extraordinaire Lizzy House came to our DC area to teach her workshop only Meadow Quilt. It was pretty popular in our area, actually. It quickly grew into 5 or 6 days of workshops as well as a DCMQG sponsored lecture one evening. My friend Pam of Del Ray Fabrics hosted two of the workshops at Fibre Space. Natalie of Finch had two days as well as some of the ladies from our guild had another workshop in Virginia. I can’t remember the name of the location.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the lecture. I really wanted to hear Lizzy’s lecture. I wanted to know more about her story and how she got where she is. I heard it was great though. Not that I’m surprised at all.
Our location was just as adorable as could be. The shop inside was very clean and organized, but still comfy. If only I was a knitter. I would likely visit more often.
I was half an hour late. It was crazy! I had given myself an extra half an hour to get there on time. But DC area traffic being what it is, it took me an hour longer than I expected. (Read two and a half hours for something that should have been one and a half.) As I was driving in, I was contemplating just turning around. For raising a family, we live in a nice rural area. But for getting together with other makers, it just seems so far. A comparison of driving in the LA area and the DC area is likely a good one. It was a nightmare. I’m glad I decided to press on.
By the time I got there, I was embarrassed for being late, and a bit flustered by the drive. Luckily for me, my friend Melinda Quirky Granola Girl had saved me a space. I missed introductions from everyone and particularly Lizzy.
Lizzy was sweet and very knowledgeable! She knows this quilt inside and out. She sat down and actually stitched up the block on a close sewing machine. She was so down to earth and fun.
She makes her clothes too! I don’t know about you, but that is absolutely bonus points in my book. I’m impressed with people that know more than just quilting.
She paused for lots of pictures of each step. Waiting for each person to fully understand each step.
Here she was squaring up my block.
She also previewed her new line. I am so in love with the peachy/orange colors.
When we were done with our sample blocks, she even signed our blocks if we asked her to.
I am so glad I was able to make it to her workshop. She doesn’t sell the pattern, you have to take the workshop to learn how to make it. She finishes up the Meadow Quilt Classes this year I believe.
If you still have openings for this workshop near you, I highly recommend it.
Have you heard? We are celebrating the 85th anniversary of Jaftex with a blog hop. I’m stop #3. Jaftex is the parent company of Henry Glass, Studioe Fabrics and Blank Quilting.
My friend Linda Lum DeBono asked me if I wanted to play along and of course I said YES!
They gathered 30 of us to play along. During the month of September you get to see lots of great inspiration and have the opportunity to win some lovely prizes. Stop by and check out the other lovlies this month.
This summer, I went to Utah to visit my grandmother who is turning 90 in October, as well as my baby sister who just had a baby.
I haven’t kept most of the things I’ve made. Once I’m done making anything, I’m ready for my next adventure. I’ve actually given many of the items I’ve made to my grandma. She is probably the person I love most on this Earth. She is who Disney would create if they were creating the perfect grandma. Of course, when I send her something I’ve made, it is my way of expressing love.
My grandma has created every kind of thing you could imagine. She is an incredible painter. She taught me how to sew and make quilts. When I was very young, I also took tole painting with her and my older sister. Grandma is quite the distinguished artist in her own right. I don’t think there is anything she hasn’t made and made well.
While I was visiting her, I looked to find some of the things I’ve made for her, just to visit them. One of the oldest things I’ve made was a cigar box purse with my now 13 year old son’s picture on it. I had taken the picture and then changed it in Photoshop to look like a drawing. It stares at you when you walk into her house! I also specifically wanted to see a yellow Hopscotch quilt I made her as well as a Hexi Window table runner.
I was surprised and delighted with the craftsmanship on the pieces I’d made. Some of them were superb. Some of them, not so much. Let’s talk about the yellow quilt I made. It was pieced extremely well. My points were pretty much spot on. But the quilting. Oh! The quilting! I hadn’t remembered the quilting being so crappy. I checked out a few other pieces I made and in them, was able to see my growth. I’m not even kidding. It was like a report card in a way. I could see the piecing was always pretty good. The quilting started out pretty bad and ended up being pretty good. I could see my own personal evolution and growth in the quilting. My husband wasn’t too pleased to hear me judging and critiquing my own work. But I was delighted to see right in my hands, my growth.
It came right at a time when I was working on another project. I made a table runner for an upcoming blog hop. I had something on my midarm machine already. I had to quilt it up on my domestic sewing machine. I realized how it is easier to quilt on my midarm machine than on my domestic. Oh my! It was nothing like my midarm. I had been spoiled by having my midarm and comparing the quilting from my domestic to my midarm was not pretty at all.
And then I remembered that I was doing the best I could. Every time I make something, it is the best I can at that moment. I can’t compare myself to myself from years ago. I was doing the best I could at the time. Each time I make anything, I get a little better. It takes hours of making to grow.
I realize also, that when I look at other people’s work, they are doing the best they can. Sometimes I get a little crush on the way they can make something look so effortless. I know that quilting is something that takes hours and hours to become better. The more free motion quilting I do, the more I understand how talented other longarmers are. It is hard. It takes practice. Lots of practice. I know that I’ve gotten better over time. And I also can appreciate other people’s work more now. I can’t compare myself to myself. I also can’t compare myself to someone else.
I love to look at Tia Curtis’ gorgeous quilting. I’ve followed her for years online. She has quilted for years on longarms. She has years more experience than I do. And I’m not saying this in a way that I feel like I’m not good. I’m able to appreciate her work and how many hours she has spent perfecting her craft. I am perfecting mine in my own way and in my own time. And I’m thankful for the crappy quilting on my yellow quilt. I remember at the time being proud of it. I’m still proud of it. I was doing the best I could at the time.
My quilt guild, the DC Modern Quilt Guild hosted a workshop and lecture with Denyse Schmidt a few weekends ago. There were only something like 20 spots open for the workshop. If you live under a rock and don’t know, Denyse is the queen of all things Improv. She is also a big reason Modern Quilting came to be. I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t want to be labeled with that though, but it is arguably the truth.
I am a girl that likes to make things with symmetry and repetition. I’m not really one to dive into wonky. I’ve decided I like order because #1 it is about the only place in my life I can guarantee order…when I make something. #2 When I worked, I worked with numbers and accounting. Everything followed a rule and the rules were followed. I think the number cruncher in me likes repetition and order. #3 When I make something, I want my time spent to be time worth spending.
I wanted to take the workshop to open up. I’m always open to learning something or trying something new. Denyse would give you some instructions and then you would go back to your space and make whatever she told you to make. Then you would put your finished piece on your wall next to you. As the day progressed, you started seeing little bits of magic happening on people’s walls.
After we were done for the day, she took the time to look at each person’s design wall and we all had a chat about what they made. Each person would talk a little about what they did and why. She would give suggestions and we all got to peek into each person’s mind a little and learn about their creative process. I really liked this part. I think you can always learn something from everyone. I like that Denyse looks at each creation with an artist’s eye. I’m going to say something and then I’m going to duck. I think sometimes Improv is an excuse for people to mash things together when they don’t really know what they are doing. Whew! I’ve wanted to say that for a long time. I love that Denyse had us start with an actual block, with an actual pattern. Then we each sat down and tried to deconstruct it or change it and see what the outcome was. Sometimes what was made worked. Sometimes it did not. But always it was about the process.
When I set to changing up my block, I decided to go all in. I started with gentle curves. It really shrunk the size of the block to the point where I need to add a strip of fabric to make it work now. Ok.
Then I had the idea to make a triangle in the triangle. Denyse said it reminded her of cat ears. After the cat ears, I did an entire triangle in the triangle. I guess it is like a log cabin in the way you start from the center and sew each piece on in a round.
The end result I really liked! I think my last blocks were the most different from everyone elses. BUT I really dig them. And that makes me happy. They are the far right rows mostly.
Something I really enjoyed about her teaching was when she told us to really enjoy the time you spend making. Be present in the process. Sometimes I think I’m just trying to get something accomplished that I may not get as much joy out of the process as I could. I really took that in and I believe I was really present while I was making these. I really enjoyed trying new things.
She had a drawing to win a bundle of her not yet released line New Bedford tied with the most adorable vintage button from her personal collection. Guess who won? ME! I know there were other friends of mine there that were bigger fans of Denyse. But I promise you these lovely fabrics are not lost on me. I do love her fabrics. I find that I buy the same ones over and over. Then a new line comes out and I have the same handful of patterns that I buy over and over again. I have quite the collection of her fabric in my stash. Just never an entire collection of hers. I have great plans for this bundle! My expression is one of embarrassment and awkwardness for asking her to pose with me for a picture. While I do admire her and think she is awesome, I felt a bit like a crazed fangirl. A happy fangirl though.
There was a lecture after the workshop. It was cool to learn more about where she came from and what her path has been like so far. After learning about her more, I have a different plan in store for this bundle than I had before. I can’t wait to get a few more “have to do” projects off my plate before I can dive into these fabrics. I am going to be absolutely present in the making, I can promise you that.
I admit it. I am so excited about all the cool swaps happening on IG (Instagram) right now. I want to join Every. Single. One.
My friend Emily at Mommysnaptime.blogspot.com has even made a hash tag to keep you posted about all the cool swaps happening on IG #sewingandswapping. I check it all the time.
Seriously! I want in on the Harry Potter Swap, Downton Abbey Swap, Nerds Craft it Better (perfect for me), Valentine’s Day Pincushion Swap…oh why list them. I want to be in all of them. I want to have a stitched image of Nathan Fillion on a pillowcase so I can lay my head on top of him every night. I want any and everything Downton Abbey.
There are people like Kari from http://www.karriofberries.com/ who have written entire series on how to have a successful swap and even how not to be black listed from swaps.
SWAP, swap, SWAP!
I love watching what everyone is making for their swaps. I love their inspiration boards and often hunt down the original source to check out what other things the people make. I get great new ideas for things I want to make in the future with all the eye candy involved. I get excited to see who is making what and wondering if it is for me.
I instantly start singing the song from Echosmith “Cool Kids”. I want to be a cool kid! I want people to think I am awesome and want to be partnered with me. I want people to be excited with something I’ve made and hope it is being made for them. I want to meet new people in the process.
I’m the happiest when my swap partner spells out exactly what they want. When they are so detailed, I know what color underwear they wear. Ok, maybe that is a little much. The more detailed they are, the happier I am.
It is just so exciting!
The reality for me is I become a little obsessed. I worry that what I’m making isn’t the perfect thing. I put it aside for a little while while I stew over it not being perfect or a perfect fit. In the end I fall in love with the item and even hate to give it away. Then when I receive my swap, I feel bad when they send too many awesome things. I feel like I’ve ripped off the partner I swapped to. I wonder if I’ve thanked my partner appropriately. Did you see how awesome my last received swap was? It is gorgeous! And yet, somehow I feel guilty about something, or I’m sad it is over, or something.
Oh, the rollercoaster! For me it is a rollercoaster. And at the end, it is like a drug and the drug has worn off. I have my gorgeous item. It is time to sign up for another round of swaps to keep that excitement going. Hoping along the way that other people will be excited about what I’m making. Worrying about whether or not my partner is going to love what I’ve made for them based on a usually vague “Oh make anything, I’ll love it no matter what.”
Wow! Apparently I have a lot of opinions about swaps. Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that it is ok not to join every single swap. Don’t get me wrong. Swaps are fun. They are a great way to get to know people. I still follow the first person I swapped with on IG. I’m glad we are friends now. I’m not saying swaps are a bad thing.
I love that swaps take me out of my comfort zone. I play with colors I wouldn’t have before. I play with designs I’ve not been drawn to. I push myself to make something as awesome as I can make it. That is exciting.
I wonder if I should be really thinking about exactly what I want, and making it for myself. Maybe that sounds selfish. Sometimes at the end of a swap, I’m left with another thing, lovely though it may be. I have lots of stuff. I wonder if I should make specific things for me that I need. I need some sort of organizer at my sewing table. I need more organization at my cutting board/pressing station. I really need better totes for going to sewing days with my quilt guild. I need a new purse of some sort. I need more organization for my hand sewing. There are things I need that I could easily make myself. I NEED some clothes. I have a few patterns from Kitschycoo that I’ve never taken the time to make. And then there are things that I want that I know I could make. I could make my own Nathan Fillion pillow. I could make it exactly the way I want it, with the softest fabric so I could rub my face on his face every night. I’m talking specifically about Nathan Fillion from Firefly. I gotta get some of that.
Why are my wants and needs put at the bottom of the pile? I don’t have an infinite amount of time where I can just sew for other people all day long. How do my wants and needs get pushed aside for wanting to impress someone else?
When I make something for a swap, I often spend more money on the supplies than I do when I make something for myself. Why not make something for myself with the most beautiful fabric ever?
Maybe I should make up my own widget for an anti swap? I should come up with a cute and catchy name for no swapping. Let’s call it the Happiness Swap. Or how about The reason I sew in the First Place Swap? Sew for Yourself Because you are Awesome! Sew for yourself because you have needs. Sew for yourself because you know exactly what it is that makes your heart pit a pat. I challenge you all to a self swap. Dig down into your own Pinterest boards and find something that makes your heart pit a pat. Find the most beautiful fabric ever, no matter the price. Source the best supplies, even if it is a $20 polka dot zipper from Japan. If it is what is going to elevate your piece to the highest level, why are you not worthy of it? Push yourself to make something out of your norm, that you’ve always wanted to try, but never took the time? Make something purely for your own pleasure, for your needs and even wants. Why is this considered selfish sewing? Why are we not good enough reasons to make something? I think it should be called “Happiness Sewing”. There is nothing selfish about taking care of yourself. It isn’t a luxury to take care of your self. Don’t we all sew because to at least some degree, we enjoy it? Why can’t we mix in sewing for ourselves with all the swaps for other people?
So there is my opinion. There is my challenge. Anti swap with yourself. Make sure you take time for Happiness Sewing or Self Care Sewing too.
I saw a saying on Pinterest that said “Do what you love.” I decided to make up my own that said “Sew what you love.”
I think this is still exciting! And no roller coaster! The process is still the same. Create an inspiration board. Share fabric pulls if you are not exactly sure of the pull completely, or just to share what you will be working with. Share the process of your make, from initial design to completion. In the end, you won’t have to be sad when you send something lovely away. YOU GET TO KEEP IT! In the end, you remember what it is it that you love about sewing. In the end you have still challenged yourself. In the end you have maybe still shared inspiration or eye candy with your friends. In the end, you are important too!
I need to fill you in on the last little bit of 2014. First we have to go back in time about 12 years. I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself in the process.
When my oldest son was born, I was unable to get him to nurse. It happened to be right at the time of my 10 year high school reunion. I visited with a friend and mentioned I was having a very stressful and difficult time getting him to nurse. I was frustrated and about to throw in the towel in utter defeat. My friend mentioned an online group of women that pumped their milk. She suggested I check that out and see if they could help me. So I did. And I pumped exclusively for 8 1/2 months for him. It turns out, it wasn’t his fault. It was mine. My body just wasn’t a good fit for nursing. It was a good fit for pumping. Although, I hated pumping.
Ok, so imagine you are a new mom struggling. You find an online group that offers hope and help. And you stay connected to these women over the next 12 years. That is what I’m talking about. At one point, most of us moms were no longer pumping and our kids were getting older. We formed an offshoot group and continued to share our lives and what we were going through at that point in our lives. We mostly knew each other just online since we were all over the US and even in some other countries. There have been several meet ups with people in similar areas. These women are my go-tos for everything motherhood. Something about an old online group that can connect you in a way that an in real life group cannot. It is easier to talk about everything real online, for some reason.
As a group we have had parents pass away. We have had divorces and we have had lots and lots of babies born over the span of 12 years. What we had not experienced yet, was one of us dying. Ugh! That is until this summer.
Our friend had a quick and fatal cancer take over. In what seemed like a month’s time, she was gone. Thinking back, it may have been two months from diagnosis to passing away. Whatever the exact timeline, it was fast.
Of course, when I first found out about her having cancer and being sick, I thought how crappy that was. I figured I could make a lap quilt to help her through her treatments, and it would be something she could keep for, you know, ever. But I had no idea that it would be so quick and she would be gone. And I kind of didn’t know how to deal with the sadness I was feeling. There was a week that I realized it was going to be it soon. The end. One of our mutual friends had actually been best friends with this lady since they were 13. And their daughters were now 13 and close friends too. So our mutual friend had posted about holding our friend’s hand for possibly the last time. Ugh. I still can’t think clearly about it now.
What does a quilter think of at any time? Making something. I’ll make something and everything will be better. I can’t make her coming back to us. I can, however, make something for her two girls as a reminder of her mom and how this group of ladies loved her. So I rallied the troops and together we had a plan. The mama’s that could, would send me some fabric that somehow represented something about them or their relationship with our friend. I would put all these fabrics together for the girls.
I got all kinds of patterned fabric for this. Which is great. But sort of not. As I am understanding my style, I struggle with scrappy. It is growing on me. But I have something in me that wants quilts to match and have a nice symmetric flow. All these fabrics together do not go and do not have any kind of flow. I figured I would make them into a neighborhood of houses. As a group, we are a community. And I wanted the girls to know they are also part of our neighborhood or community.
Each time I would get the fabric out to sew, I would get sad and had to put it away. It took me almost 6 months to finish these two quilts. With Christmas fast approaching, I was determined to finish them up and send them off in time for Christmas. It was silly that it took me so long. Coupled with the extreme sadness, I felt self imposed pressure to make them perfect. But this was colliding with my idea of what makes an aesthetically pleasing quilt. I didn’t want to let down the ladies in my group with a set of boring quilts. It is also strange because I never met our friend in real life. I didn’t want to seem like I thought we were best friends in the whole world, when in reality we were just online friends. And that just made me feel weird. In the end, I just pressed forward. It wasn’t about making the most beautiful quilts. It was about making as a way to heal my pain of loss. It was about honoring the girls’ mother, and our friendship with her.
I don’t know if it is still a thing or not, but in our online group, when you wanted to express a hug, you would put the person’s name in parenthesis. So I put the names of the girls in parenthesis to show that they were getting a big hug from our group. I self drafted the letters and pieced them as opposed to applique. I’m pleased with how they came out. (And it also made me respect paper piecing designers even more. That is a lotta quilt maths/figuring out.)
Anyway, that is the story about these quilts. They were the quilts that took me the longest to make. There were more tears involved in this than anything I’ve ever done before. And there was more trepidation in making them than anything I’ve probably made before.
Our guild had a meeting where they got together to sew blocks together and then into quilts for charity. Unfortunately, I missed that day because my family decided to get sick. Anyway, they made some lovely quilts for charity and I had contributed two blocks for the quilts.
I also gave a quilt for 100 Quilts for Kids. My good camera was in the shop, so I only have pictures from my point and shoot. This was a sample I made for a class I was teaching. It was pretty cool to have it hanging in the shop I was to teach at.
It was a cute little quilt that wasn’t quite sure if it was for a boy or girl. I think it could go either way. I was happy to have passed it onto Heather for the charity. I’m hoping it can warm some child somewhere.
So I am delighted with the response I got from my little giveaway. I realized that my comments aren’t numbered and so I resorted to the old stand by for choosing my winner. I printed them out, cut into strips, and picked from the bucket.
First, let me say that I adore my puppy. He is a gentle giant. Here he is with my niece.
He is creeping up on one year old now. He will turn one year right about the time I will turn 40! He is ginormous and floppy and I think of him as a combination of a Yeti and a Muppet. He is a Goldendoodle and just about the sweetest guy ever. The difference this time of owning a dog and the last time are two fold:
1. Bear is huge.
2. I have two adorable boys too.
Sometimes we forget that he is still a puppy because of his size. And sometimes my sweet adorable boys aren’t as helpful with things like putting their socks and papers out of Bear’s reach. Before with our Beagle mix, it was just my husband and me. By the time the kids came along, he was already a great part of the family. We were better at not leaving socks in reach and never left our homework on the coffee table.
We all love Bear. Bear is always on my mind, so when I put up my giveaway, he was an easy target for me to write about. I just didn’t want you thinking we have a delinquent addition to the family, or that we weren’t training him.
I’m tossing the idea around of putting up a pattern for the tote with a sew along. Would you be interested? If I did a full pattern, I would make it something you would have to buy for like $5.00 because putting a pattern together takes a lot of time. If you would rather just vague directions of how a tote like that is put together, I could do that in less time and it would just be a tutorial. What do you think?
So now without further adieu, the winner is Carly of Citric Sugar. I have emailed Carly.
I’ve been around for what seems like a zillion Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Days. I am always delighted and amazed that the things people are giving away. Sadly, I have yet to do a giveaway. To make up for my transgressions, I decided to host my first giveaway with a bang. At least I hope it is with a bang. I am going…to give…my delicious Oakshott Tote away! I am! You can be rubbing this lovely tote on your face.
You can read all about it in my last post. Basically I used linen and Oakshott to make this yumminess. Maybe you saw my tote on Sew Mama Sew because I participated in their Oakshott Tote Challenge.
Hurry and enter before I realize what I’ve done. I can always just make another, right?
It is different on both sides, remember?
You can have a total of three entries, but you must comment on this post to get these entries.
#1 Leave a comment about anything. Not sure what? Tell me about something you would love to see on my blog. Tell me a favorite way to fight Monday-itis. Tell me that owning a puppy won’t last forever and that puppies grow into dogs. Whatever you have on your mind.
Two extra entries are:
# 2 Follow me somehow (here, or Instagram) and let me know how. You could follow me everywhere, but it is just one additional entry. Just tell me all the ways you follow me.
#3 Share with your friends or readers about my giveaway. Leave a comment on how you shared about it for your third optional entry. It will be a random winner. But I do so enjoy dry humor. Make it fun for me too and share some sarcasm. (That won’t make it more likely for you to win. It is all about me here.)
I’ll leave this open to international friends! You can enter until May 16th at 5 PM PST.
Make sure you are not a no-reply blogger. I must be able to send an email to you easily. If I can’t, I’ll choose someone whose contact information is easy to get to.
Check out the other cool stuff you could win on Sew Mama Sew Supplies and Handmade Giveaway.