Monday, January 28, 2013

Manic Monday

I cleaned up my sewing room over the weekend. I've never even seen some of that floor space since we moved in 8 months ago.

Even Stephen's side of the room got cleaned up! I cleared out a closet and we moved most of his big airsoft items in there. Airsoft is much like sewing in that it's a hobby where you end up amassing lots of stuff. Merging it all in one room means that it gets a little crazy sometimes.

When I was cleaning up I packed away my mom's sewing machine and finally got to turn on my new Viking Sapphire! I took that puppy through her paces and...ZOMG. Sewing machine love.

Things that I'm tickled about:

-That the presser foot goes down as soon as I step on the pedal

-That I can press the "Fix" button and the machine will knot the threads and pull the tails to the back
-It's so quiet!
-I can sew so fast, thank goodness. I'm an impatient person.
-The machine came with white thread already wound in the bobbin and set up and threaded so that you can sew immediately out of the box. Legit.

-So many other stitches [favesies = little campers]

Things that I'm wondering about or will take getting used to:

-What in the world are these supplies that came with my machine?!

-Am I ever going to need all these feet? I'm not sure what all of them do...

-Why that fancy-looking foot is a one-step sensor buttonhole foot instead of a regular presser foot that marks your next quilting line....imagine a hera marker attached to your presser foot...should I be taking this idea to the patent website?!

-There's no lever to lower the presser foot, but my hand does it automatically...

-I couldn't figure out for a bit how to get to the free-motion settings, because the manual doesn't explain that part great at all.


I wanted to just get in and sew before I started really playing around, so now I have a quilted pillow top!

And I was so jazzed about the awesomeness of this new machine that I cut out the pieces for a new top out of this Nani Iro polka dot print [how weird is that extra fabric from the cutouts?!]. I can't wait to sew it up tomorrow and then share my pattern modifications with you all :)

I've had some long days at work lately, but then moments like this come along that make it all worth it.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

So psyched!

You're looking at my present to myself for the last few months of non-stop work. It also happens to be a large chunk of the fabrics that I'll be working with for the Pantone 2013: Emerald Quilt Challenge. Take out the blue Pearl Bracelets [for sure] and add in some more black [maybe].

Got my pattern all drawn out and ready to go. PSYCHED.

The name of my quilt? Either "The Sound of Emerald" or "Emerald Noise" or "Frequency 17-5641"... any idea what my pattern is? :)

On an unrelated note: Does anyone know of someone who might be willing to set me up with a new blog header and tabs in exchange for some sewing/quilting item?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Musings

Recent fabric faves: Dear Stella Kallianthi apparel weight sateen and Monaluna Havana organic cotton

Have you ever thought about how much you may know or not know that you don't know?

Also, how trippy was that question?

For instance, today I found out from an editor that bodice facings are generally at least 3 inches wide at the shoulders. Now, I know what bodice facings are used for, and I thought I knew how to draft one for the dress that I designed.

But I had not even the slightest inkling that there was a right way to do it. I didn't even think that making it too narrow might make the neckline flap open when on a real live person.

Now, of course I know that there are plenty of things out there about sewing and about life which I don't know. But what do you do if you don't know that there's an accepted method? What if your method gets the job done? How do you possibly press on without the fear that something you're doing, and trying to make your best, is actually not what is supposed to be?

So today I am feeling fairly humiliated after sitting through a critique of my construction techniques on a project that was accepted for publication. I'm not an emotional type of person, and I value constructive criticism, so I definitely appreciated being told things like that, but it certainly does make me hesitant to submit any ideas until I know that my designs are conforming to the sewing norms. I obviously like to put my best foot forward, and am embarrassed to have sent in something that was done incorrectly, even if I wasn't aware that it was incorrect.

I guess your ideas can be new and revolutionary, but your methods still have to be conventional until you're known as an expert?


Wednesday, January 23, 2013


True story, folks.

It's out of control in there. And I took a picture of the good half of the room.

No fun for me until I can walk in there without cringing.

Until then, can you find the box of Frosted Mini Wheats, the Super Soaker, and the chef ornament from Germany?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Finally a quilt!

May I introduce to you...

X Marks the Spot!

This quilt was for my little sister for Christmas, but was just pieced and basted to give to her Christmas morning. So I guess technically this means it's my first finish of 2013?

I actually had planned to make the entire quilt out of the HST blocks, with some white sashing in between them. And I made hundreds upon hundreds of HSTs. But then I liked the minimalist approach better!

When it came to quilting I had thought I'd have to do some heavy straight-line quilting because I was using my mom's machine, which didn't have a darning foot. On a whim I decided to try the feet from my Singer, and lo and behold, they fit! 

So I busted out some free-motion swirls in the white space.

It took only halfway to forever to quilt, but it was actually really fun to do. But you want to hear a secret? I totally broke what's probably a big quilting rule...I used hand-quilting thread for part of the quilting. I ran out of white thread the night before Robyn was supposed to return to school, and went searching through my supplies for another spool. All I had was the hand-quilting thread, and I thought I'd have enough to finish. Spoiler alert: I didn't.

In case you're wondering, the hand-quilting thread was stiffer right after quilting [and I did have to change my machine's tension], but it softened up after washing.

I pieced together this light blue flannel from Joann from the back so that it would be extra snuggly - Robyn gets cold like me! Also, it was much cheaper this way. So even though I actually prefer a pieced back, this worked out better in this instance.

The binding is a print from Ty Pennington's Impressions line, and wasn't even one of my original binding choices. I just happened to pick it up when I was stumbling over the mess in my sewing room. Plus, I made enough to bind around the world once or twice, so I have enough for a whole other quilt after finishing this one! And thank goodness, because I hate making binding.

All the pictures above are before washing, so that I could catch the last of the light, but after washing...

Holy crinkles Batman! The texture is out of this world.

I added a label post-washing...


...and called it a day!

Finished size: 58 x 70"
Quilting: Free motion swirls, done by me on my home machine
Fabrics: Kona White, RK Metro Circles, Children at Play Dots, RK Metro Lattice, Moda Pez, Amy Butler Full Moon Dots, AMH Field Study, Lizzy House Castle Peeps, Jeanean Morrison Silent Cinema, Oval Elements, Joel Dewberry Herringbone, Fig Tree California Girl, Moda Crossweaves, some orange and blue Kona solids, etc
Binding: Ty Pennington Impressions

*Linked up at Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story!

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Sometimes you have a friend who just bought her very first house and throws a housewarming party.

And sometimes you wish that you could make her something fabulous.

But sometimes life gets in the way and you can't go too crazy, but still want to give handmade [ish].

So sometimes you sew some recent favorite fabrics onto some flour sack dish towels and wrap it up all nice.

And sometimes that works out just fine.

PS, sometimes you have to arrange a big service day on Monday for the holiday, and need something to think about as you head into another long I give you reason #247 that I love this guy:


PPS, you're welcome.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Day in the Life of...!

I always wonder how people do it. How in the world do you have 3 kids, have a full-time job, and churn out projects like it's going out of style? I'm tired just thinking about it.

Here's a typical day for me:

7:00 - wake up and cry to myself for about 5 minutes at the fact that I'm already tired ha
7:10 - quick shower and get ready for work
7:25 - 1st cup of coffee of the day/breakfast sometimes
7:40 - 8:30 - commute to work
8:30 - 9:30 - answer emails and put out any fires that happened overnight; more coffee and sometimes more breakfast!
10:00 - 11:00 - meeting with Department of Juvenile Justice, a community center, a person at City Hall, etc
11:30 - 12:30 - lunch if I'm lucky, or more meetings/reports/phone calls if I'm not

1:00 - 3:00 - write curriculum, arrange guest speakers, contact volunteers, schedule purchasing trips, talk with garden experts, grant writing, make the rounds to community centers for garden maintenance, etc
3:00 - leave for community center - a different one every day of the week! and 2 on Fridays!
3:30 - 5 - run The Garden program with volunteers, guest speakers, and elementary school kids
5:00 - 5:15 - clean up the tornado of children who try to garden
5:15 - 6 - commute home

6:30 - 7:30 - collapse on couch to snuggle with kitten; sometimes there's dinner that gets made, sometimes I eat a bowl of cereal, or give up my dinner to take a nap

8:00 - 12:00 - sew for magazines, for bees/swaps, for my Etsy shop, maintain blog [poorly lately, I admit], give a partial thought to doing laundry or cleaning
12:00 - 1:00 - unwind with some TV or some boyfriend and kitten time
1:00 - zomg blissful sleep

I'm exhausted you guys. I seriously am impressed by people who are clearly more efficient with their sewing time than I am. I've made a promise to myself that after I finish up my current magazine projects that I'm going to take time off from submitting projects, because I haven't sewn for myself in FOREVER. And I've had a fancy new sewing machine for a week now that I haven't even gotten to turn on yet. A travesty, to be sure.

Luckily, it's almost the weekend! Hollerrrr.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New favorite notion

Spoiler alert: That's not paper in the above photo. It's a Pellon tracing material that I've been using for pattern drafting. It feels like a medium-weight interfacing and you can wash it. It's held up muuuchh better than paper while I'm drafting and is still drape-able enough to hold it up to my mannequin. I might just have to trace my favorite patterns onto it for better storage and durability! Best part? I was able to get it on sale for only $1.50 per yard and it's 45" wide. Steal!

Spoiler alert #2: I've only been making and drafting clothing with my sewing time so far this year, so if you like dresses....hold onto your hats for a few months haha ;)

Friday, January 4, 2013


This little lady is mineeeee! I just bought a brand new Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 835 for under $700 on Ebay and I can't even wait until it gets delivered. Next Thursday seriously can't come soon enough.

I'll be dreaming of 10 inches of harp space until then ;)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Frustration Station

Conjunction Junction, what's your function? Anyone?

This is my sister's Christmas quilt. Laying on my king-size bed. It's enormous.

I had to return my mom's sewing machine for a few days and was unable to finish it in time for Christmas morning, so she opened a basted quilt.

Starting Christmas Day I got knocked out by the almost-flu and could barely stand for about 5 days.

Once I wasn't as weak as a baby chicken [are they weak? I don't actually know...] and I got the machine back I quilted like a madwoman, trying to finish it before she left for school again.

Alas, I ran out of white thread on the night before she left with just that space under and slightly to the right of the blue X remaining to quilt.

Believe you me, I've been parked at Frustration Station for most of the making of this quilt.

Positive note? My cat loves it.