Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Last Leads to the First

I made several dye baths yesterday. Not really an unusual event here, but these felt significant.
After I mixed up the dye baths, I turned to my daughter and said, " These are the last dye baths I'll ever mix up in this house." Then, after I set the dye baths, I turned to my daughter and said, " These are the last dye baths I'll ever set in this house."
This morning, as I boil out that fabric to make it ready to ship to happy sewers, guess what I'm thinking?
Yep. But, I don't think I'm thinking it because I'm sad, I think it comes more out of gratitude.
I doubt I would having voluntarily picked this particular part of my life's path, but it is my path and it has led to quite a few things that I'm very grateful for as well as an awareness of all that is already present and of which I am thankful.
So, I've loved living in my house, watching my children and business grow in this place, and learning about myself here, but I am so looking forward to being with my children, sewing, dyeing, creating, and enjoying the special people in my life ( especially one very special person) in my new home.
I took some pictures yesterday and in gathering them to present here I realized that though some are related what links them all is that they are captured moments. Happy moments. And, honestly, what more could a person ask for than to have their day include a series of happy moments.
I'd like to share them here with you, captioned, of course. If you're so inspired, share some of your happy moments with me, either through a link in the comments section, or by sending me an email, or on instagram.
Putting a second pattern on this fabric.
Readying fabric to go into the discharge bath before over dyeing.
Found this tabletop(?) years ago along the side of the road. Have finally resolved to restore it and make it into a table for my new place. Great pattern, huh?
Fabric, post-discharge, drying on the fence. Love the secondary pattern created by the light shining through and illuminating the pattern of the chain link.
Went to swim team practice and found these toy rings at the bottom of the pool. I look glamorous, don't I?
My puppy, Charlie-Tucker, says there's furniture just gets in the way of perfectly lovely floor space.
Sneak peek at the samples that came yesterday for my new collection for Moda!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Let's Play a Game?

OK, I bet few of you know that I used to homeschool my children. Yep, it's true. I have 3 girls, currently 21, 19, and 15, and all of them were homeschooled for large portions of their elementary, middle, and, in my eldest's case, high school. I often tell folks that I wrote her high school transcript, all 15 pages of it.
I've found that there are two types of homeschoolers. By the way I'm fond of sweeping generalizations such as there are two types of people in this world: folks who make broad generalizations and folks who don't. But, that being said, I stand by my claim that homeschoolers can generally be divided into two group, those that homeschool for a religious or political reason and what I like to call "The Crunchy Granola Crowd".
We were definitely part of the Crunchy Granola Crowd. Good thing too because, though I imagine the other group of homeschoolers is pretty crafty, you can only imagine how DIY the granola lovers are.
In culling through drawers and closets this week I've come across many handmade puzzles, games, collages, and what-nots that stand as evidence of my penchant to suggest when studying a particular subject, "Hey let's make something related to that."
Side Note: For those of you who think that that kind of exposure will yield artistic/crafty adults, I'm here to break you hearts. Only one of my girls is interested, albeit very interested, in that. Though they all know how to sew, knit, and make a hand bound book, only my youngest's eyes alight with excitement when I suggest we create something together. Though(addendum to side note) they all want me to make them a quilt for their beds and generally disdain the notion of store-bought bed coverings.
So, today, I thought I'd create a little game for you all to play. A matching game. Remember how fun those were?
I'm going to put up four images from yesterday which included some work and a lot of cleaning, sorting, and packing. I'll number these images 1 to 4.
Then I'll list 4 somewhat cryptic captions, a, b, c, and d. Your task, my bloggy friends, is to match the caption to the picture. If you're so inclined include your guesses in the comments section.
What do you get if you're right? As a former homeschooler I'm obligated to answer like this, " Knowledge is its own reward." :)
Ready? Have fun.




a. R.I.P. refrigerator nest.
b. I see a smiley face in there.
c. Twice in two weeks. Who knew they had so many?
d. Isn't pretty fabric a nice change from pictures of cleaning? (alright, that one's a giveaway)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top 18

So, because I'm busy discovering all that is new and exciting in box and packing tape technology, I don't exactly have loads of time to craft new stuff and even less time to photograph my non-existent new stuff. I am currently working on some dye projects, so might have some pretties to show y'all at the end of the week, but today...not so much.
Don't panic though, I'm committed to providing some visual inspiration and, to that end, have created a new Pinterest board focused on the things I most want to craft into my new home/life titled, Top 18.
Hmm...18, what a strange number? Why 18? Why not top 10 or top 20? Well, I bet some of you know why, but for those who don't, 18 is a very significant number in Judaism. Just like in English where it could be said that the letter A corresponds to the number 1 and B to the number 2, Hebrew also has number correspondences. In Hebrew the eighth and the tenth letters, Yud and Khet, can also be combined to make the word "life".
So, if you were getting married, and, by the way, Mazel Tov on that, I would might give you a cash gift of $18 or a multiple of that. It would be my way of celebrating your wedding and wishing you a long, happy life. That's assuming that you didn't want a toaster instead.
Nice, huh?
Making the board seemed like a great way to start celebrating my new space, so these are my top least for now.
I do actually have a 19th that I'm currently working on.
It's based on this quilt:
I made it almost 2 years ago to welcome a friend's baby into the world. Since then, I've published it as a free pattern on Sew, Mama, Sew. Now, I'm working on an expanded version for my bed.
Right now though, it's packed away...somewhere.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Girl from 5305 my lucky number.
As I've mentioned here probably, oh 5,305 times, I'm moving very, very soon. But, before you roll your eyes and exclaim, "is she going to talk about that again, " I have an interesting twist to my moving tale.
That picture is of the outside of my current house.
Being that this is the internet and everything I say can be accessed worldwide including nomadic huts in the Gobi desert, I'm not going to say anymore than my street number is 5305.
But, guess what? My new place, the place I'm moving to, the reason I have one of those storage pods in front of my house, and, thanks to my eldest's boyfriend, a "staging area" for all the boxes, etc. that will go out to the pod, is also...5 3 0 5. Yep. I'm making a perfectly parallel move a few blocks east.
Now, I'm a girl and oh so touchy feely, so there's no way I can not read something into that, though until I wrote that previous sentence, I hadn't thought about what making a "parallel" move might mean on a cosmic level.
Obviously when I first went to see the new house, as a prospective buyer, I thought it was cute that the addresses were the same. If the house had turned out to be wrong for me in terms of size, location, or just general layout, then that's where the cuteness would have ended.
But it didn't. I knew within the first few minutes of being in the house that it was "my house" and now the fact that it shared the same number as my current home only seemed to reinforce that. 
If you think about it, it is a pretty amazing coincidence, which, by the way, I don't believe in. Everything happens for a reason. It's not just a pinnable quote on Pinterest or something to "like" on Facebook. I think it's reality.
Considering all the instability and uncertainty that has defined my life for the past 2 years, the constancy of those numbers and the appearance of that constancy at a time when I'm moving away from what had been our family home is a message from the universe, " Everything's going to be OK."
And, to celebrate and acknowledge that, the numbers are coming with me.
When we moved into the current house 8 years ago, I purchased these ceramic numbers from a local artisan. I had seen them on someone else's house and tracked down their source so I could get my own set. I've always loved them and would periodically point them out to visitors.
Don't worry, I'll dash to the hardware store to buy some plain, black house numbers for the new owners. I wouldn't want their house to be anonymous, but, these ceramic numbers and I are fated to stay together.
They're my lucky numbers!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Plan vs. Reality

The Plan: Make several inspiring projects with a new-to-my-shop item, a stitch in color 1 lb. Fabric Bundles, to get folks excited about that item.
 Reality: I'm moving in less than 2 weeks.

The Plan: Package at least 50 of them up to take picture of mountain of bundles.
Reality: Though I can easily make 50 bundles with the ginormous box of scraps I have, I'm moving in less than 2 weeks. Must.Keep.Packing.
The Plan: To share with my customers remnants of what was and is a labor of love of which I'm very proud.
Reality: I think that's exactly what I'm offering. The scraps in these bundles were cut from the bolts that Moda initially sent me. Many measure 44" in length and some are a good 8"wide. I won't send any scrap that measures less than 2 1/2" in width and 10" in length. People, this is usable stuff and I will be making projects with at least one bundle to demo how far a pound of fabric can go.
Just not today or in the next few weeks.
Did I mention I'm moving in less than 2 weeks?

Added: All the bundles are gone, but don't despair, I'll have more ready for sale this Friday. For those who are curious, I priced the bundles at $10 plus shipping.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Recipe for a succesful quilt: Fabric, thread, batting...time

Years ago I gave my then sister-in-law a quilt as a wedding gift. Now, I liked and still like this woman, so I was happy to give her something special and hand crafted to celebrate the event. But, just between you and me, at the time, the quilt I gave her was not exactly my most favorite. I didn't hate it, but I wasn't in love with it either.
Fast forward several years and she and her husband move into a new place and finally have a place to hang the quilt. I come over one day, glance at the quilt, and realize/discover I really like that quilt after all. If I'm going to be completely honest, at that moment and just at that moment, I had a brief twinge of regret that I'd given it away so casually.
The other day I was excavating (and, yes, excavating is most accurate and descriptive verb) a closet and found this:
It's a fairly large, hand dyed and hand embroidered quilt I made years ago. All those striped fabrics pre-date my first collection for Moda by a good bit of time.
I not only machine quilted and hand embroidered the top to mimic the zig-zag of the pieced half-square triangles, but I hand stitched a blanket stitch along the entire perimeter so I could single crochet an edging.
Crazy, huh?
You want to know what's even crazier? I didn't like the quilt when it was done. Not at all. That's why I stuck it in a closet, so I wouldn't have to see it and think about it.
I had a completely different response to it when I discovered it the second time around.
Not only do I totally love it, but it's done exactly what a well done project should do: spawned other ideas.
Thank goodness there were no weddings or babies to celebrate when I initially finished this quilt. Otherwise I'd never have had the opportunity to appreciate it for what it is.
It's true, isn't it? You don't see things as they are; you see them as you are. When I finished the quilt I was tired of it, tired of working on it, tired of thinking about it. Now, I've had some distance and I can see it in a new light.

Friday, June 14, 2013

All Birds Eventually Leave the Nest

My eldest daughter took the LSAT on Monday. I practically cried about it. Not because I thought she would do poorly. Based on the price of the LSAT prep course she enrolled in and the seemingly endless hours she studied, she should do well. No, I got moist in the eyes because I realized that once she gets into Law School she'll move away.
I've been lucky. She attends The University of Texas at Austin. I live in Austin. We also share a host of common interests. We're in the same running group, on the same swim team, and often go to Yoga together. We're pretty, darn close and I so love it.
When she moves all that will change.
I've been packing up my house this past week for my own move, though it's only a few blocks east of my current place, and I realized that I'm not sentimental about stuff.
People are a whole different thing, especially people I love.
As evidence of how unsentimental I can be, check out what I've just added to my shop:
Yep, that quilt. Last seen here:
Sometimes folks are surprised that I sell the quilts I make, especially the ones that appear in magazines or books.
I'm not attached to them.
They served their function in my life. I got tremendous pleasure from designing, sewing, quilting, and writing about them. Now they need to go to a new home and bring someone else pleasure.
I get that that attitude could be related to how I feel about my girl moving. I get it. I'm just not inclined to be particularly casual about it.
I've played my role and now it's her time to make her own, separate way in this world. I'll miss her though. The quilt? Not so much.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Please welcome me to the 21st century

Yesterday I was pondering why I don't use Twitter more effectively. I have it on my computer, but I rarely tweet because tweeting seems like such a spur of the moment type of thing and I don't have my computer with me at all times, right? Actually, wrong. I have a smart phone, so I kinda, sorta do. Next, and I'm a little embarrassed to say this, I pondered aloud, " I wonder if there is a twitter app?" Yes, I really wondered that. And, after pinching myself so I could return to reality, I downloaded that app and, lo and behold, tweeting became a much more spontaneous activity.
Then I thought about adding pictures to my tweets. Again, I did all my musing out loud, which turned out to be to my benefit because my 15-year old daughter heard me and said, " Mom, why don't you use instagram to share your pictures as tweets and on flickr and even on pinterest. To quote Archimedes, "Eureka!"
In less than 24 hours, I've learned how to transfer my pictures from my camera roll on my phone to instagram and back to my computer to photoshop.
This is my newest Great Aunt Irma's Flower Garden Mini

Needless to say, I've also become a wee bit enamored of the gimmicky photo "tricks" instagram has to offer.
Here's a preview of one of the prints for my newest line. So excited about that!
Who doesn't love a good blur effect?
I even figured out how to download an emailed picture to my camera roll and then upload it to instagram for fun manipulating and sharing.
My friend, Nan, is currently sending me a daily shot of her tote in some of Europe's most beautiful spots. 
Yep, I'll be sharing them here and on twitter and on instagram.
Hey, if you want to follow me on some of the other sites where I publish my work and passions, guess what, I figured out how to add those badges to my blog as well. 
I've really grown over the past day or so. Can't wait to discover indoor plumbing!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Two Questions

Two questions:

1. How many licks does it take to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop? (I suspect I've asked this here before. It's one of my favorite quandaries, right up there with where do matching socks go when they disappear)

2. Why is it, despite seeing and being inspired by something, it doesn't instantly dawn on me how I can re-create it in my own life?

For example, consider this wonderful display:
A treasure trove of beautifully crafted potholders artfully arranged on a wall. I found this image on Pinterest, but it originated here.
The minute I saw it, I pinned it to my Collections Board.
The same is true for this one:
Also, found and pinned on Pinterest, but linked to this site.
Anyway, I also have a potholder collection, all hand me. Do you know where I display them? Nowhere. I've always kept them in a drawer. Sure, I use them, but I could just as easily use them if they hung from pegs in my kitchen. But, I never thought to show them off, even though I saw bunches of examples of just that and thought to myself, "Doesn't that look great."
It never even dawned on me until...I thought about moving and decorating my new space.
Then I realized, " Hey, I've got quite a few potholders myself and I should really use them both to keeping my fingers from getting burned as I remove that fluffy souffle from the oven and as a way to beautify my space. "
So, here are my potholders:
Now, mine are not crocheted; they're pieced, quilted, and bound. And, this is not even a real "display" as I've not moved in to my new house, but this gives you an idea of what it will or could look like. I say could not because I won't display them, but because there are so many possibilities.
For today's post I just pinned them to my design wall.
Makes me wonder what other obvious solutions both to design problems and, frankly, life problems, are just sitting under my nose, ignored until some random event comes along to give me that "aha" moment.
Why, I might even know how many licks it takes to get to the center of the Tootsie Roll and not realize it.

For those of you who are interested, a couple of these potholder patterns are for sale in my shop. Just in case you want to whip up a few and display your own collection.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Great Aunt Irma's Flower Garden Re-visited

Remember this mini quilt?
And this one?
They probably date back at least a couple of years and began because I inherited an unquilted Grandmother's Flower Garden top.
I appliqued and embroidered the centers and then improvisationally pieced the remaining bits in a modern log cabin of sorts. It was great fun. Partly I liked the idea of reclaiming the quilt top, which I did in numerous versions including this one:
This mini appeared in Kathreen Ricketson's first book, Whip Up Mini Quilts.
A part of me wonders whether her untimely, recent death has anything to do with why I have returned to the design.
The other part that I always enjoyed was mixing all the different fabrics. Sometimes, when my fabric stash feels overwhelming, I think that I should just limit myself to the fabrics I know for certain I'll use in a project in the next few months. But then, when I work on one of these, I realize that I need all that "stuff" because I never quite know what will work until I pull it out and audition it.
Whatever the reason may be and I'm as clueless as anyone because sometimes I feel like I move from one project to the next in an almost stream of consciousness-like way, I made this mini in the past couple of days.
Here too I had the opportunity to mix a pretty wide variety of fabrics, a few Kona solids, a couple of other designer prints, as well as some Japanese cottons. When these pieces come together, they feel effortless and that might be my most favorite thing of all about making them.
I quilted this one like the others in a simple pattern that for some reason makes me think of bed jackets. I find that association so strange because I don't think I've ever owned a bed jacket or had any desire to, but that's what comes to mind.
I'm pretty fond of the backing as well, a simple black and white check. I love the way it works with the indigo cotton of the binding.
All in all, I'm happy with this little quilt and I still have a few remaining blocks form the original quilt to make a more.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Superstar Baby Quilt

One of the perks of designing fabric is the opportunity to craft items with that fabric. Some of you may remember this quilt:
Now, this dates back to my first line, a stitch in color, but, in all honesty, I still love this quilt and see so many possibilities for re-interpreting it.
In fact, when I taught this pattern locally at Stitch Lab I was blown away by the way my students utilized other stripe combinations as well as prints and pattern to make this quilt. I can even see this pattern as more of a single, giant block with the possibility of making 4 or more blocks to create a large, bed-sized quilt.
Now, I'd like to offer you all the chance to make this quilt.
These paper patterns are fully, beautifully, and colorfully illustrated.
The instructions are easy to follow and, despite the fact that the quilt looks complicated, it actually is incredibly simple to put together.
I am offering these paper patterns for sale in my shop, though I do have a limited number and am not planning on resupplying. So, if you think you might be interested in making this design, head over there and check it out.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Nan's Tote

I hope you all had a great weekend and that included at least a bit of sewing.
Mine certainly did, as well as a super-fun camping trip, so I'm ready to go with today's post. As promised, I'm going to announce the winners of the pattern giveaway.
They are:

Bailey said...
I love the choice of colors


Antoinette said...
Pinterest really does have some fantastic inspiration! Buried among the 12,000 mason jar craft projects...

Congratulations, you two! Please email me at and I will reply with an email that includes the PDFs of the instructions and templates.

One of the things that I think about when I design a block is how I can use it in different objects. I mean, I love quilts as much as the next gal, but I like to make all sorts of stuff. Truth be told, I also like to design with the idea of enlarging the block and distorting the colors and components to create  different effects, but, that has nothing to do with today's post or the project I'm featuring, so pretend like I never said that.
Back to today's featured item:
As I mentioned in Friday's post, I planned to use the Pieces of 8 block to make a special gift for a special person. And I did.
My friend, Nan, is a person with a wonderful, creative spirit and an infectious enthusiasm. We've had a lot of amazing experiences together including being in Boston together on that fateful day back in April. Fate seems to have interceded on both our behalves and we came home safe and sound, but not without a sense of how lucky we are and a bond that only comes through having shared a powerful experience.
Anyway, Nan and her husband are off on another adventure soon and I wanted to give her something to carry a few of her memories/treasures in. 
I really like have a large, roomy tote, so this tote measures about 16" x 20". I hate, hate, hate however having to dig in that large tote for my keys or phone, so I also included a zippered pocket in the lining.
I also decided to bind the edges of the webbing I used for the handles because it gave me an opportunity to add a little bit of color in an unexpected place. It has the added benefit of keeping the edges of the webbing from fraying or being scratchy against a bare arm. It is summertime, you know.
Both the front and back are lightly quilted to give the tote strength and form.

For those of you who are curious, the outdoor pictures of Nan's tote were taken in her backyard. She and her husband have an amazing place that they renovated. They're also the builders, designers, and proprietors of a wonderful vacation space on their property called Art Alley Lofts. If you're visiting Austin and looking for an authentic and beautiful place to stay in the heart of South Congress, you can't find a better place.