Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Trying My Stockings On for Size

It's been such a long while since I last posted, and I've missed connecting with everyone.  For me, the last quarter of this year seems to have put me into overdrive.  My new job is very fulfilling but it has taken me away from my sewing machine way more than I ever anticipated.  You see, in mid-August, I accepted a position as an activity coordinator at a senior center and thought that this would allow me to carry on as usual--teaching sewing and making quilts, etc.  But boy did I underestimate the personal time my new job demands--particularly during the holidays--from Halloween all the way through the end of the year.  Yeah, I'm close to the finish line!  For those who know me, know that I take pride in completing projects that I start but for the first time in a very, very long time I have quite a few uncompleted projects sitting in my studio.  All my creative energy has been redirected to the senior center.  I have been doing a lot of prep-work for crafts, organizing parties and activities, and decorating for one event after another, involving putting in a lot of extra hours.  While all of it is a lot of fun, I am also seeing that I am accomplishing very little at home.  I am truly looking forward to the new year, as it will bring about a slower pace so that I can focus again on my own projects.  Since I last posted, all I have been doing in my studio is teaching so anything that has been made, has been made by my students.  After Christmas, however, I was determined to squeeze in a small project and finish it!  I made Christmas stockings for my husband and me.  I made modified (functional) versions of the quilted stocking from the book, Pretty in Patchwork Holidays . . . 2012 by John Q Adams, incorporating the color scheme in my living room and used the scraps I had on hand, so here they are:





So even though Christmas is over, I'm trying my stockings on for size. They look great and since my husband and I have decided that for now on we'll just exchange gifts that will go into our stockings, they're just the right size for us--slightly over sized, and we will no longer need to wrap our gifts.  Another step toward living simply but still a long road to get there.  Good night!



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Back from Fabric Fest

Wow!  What a great time my girlfriend, Sharon, and I had in Las Vegas!  We came back with lots of loot (sorry no winnings from gambling), met lots of people, made new friends, learned new techniques, and bought a lot of fabric!  We were not disappointed.

Here's the free stuff we got for attending.




Some of the items above are fabric, thread, a Make and Take kit, 2 magazines, 1 sewing book of projects, card stock for scrapbooking, buttons, scissors, binding clips, etc., etc.

Riley Blake put on an outstanding conference.  It was truly an honor to be taught and lectured by some of the most respected quilters, sewists, and crafters in the industry.  Jenny Doan from Missouri Star Quilt Company and known for her on-line tutorials, Eleanor Burns, and Nancy Zieman, who are known for their long-running TV shows and authors of numerous books were among those who lectured and taught.  It was a blast!

All the attendees were treated like royalty and people came from as far as Australia and as close as Las Vegas of course.  It was Riley Blake's first conference and it was so nice to meet the Riley Blake family and be their guests so to speak.  The detail and planning put into this conference was amazing.  The meals provided were like no other conference we've attended, offering a wide variety to meet everyone's dietary needs yet prepared exceptionally no matter what was served.  We even were served the wine of our choice at the night of the dinner and fashion show.  Oh, and the fashion show was a combination of garments and quilts all made from their new lines.  The fashions had a modern retro feel and the quilts shown were both modern and traditional--truly offering something for all tastes in fabric and design.

As for what I learned (but already knew), chevrons are in!  Chevrons can be displayed as big and bold or teeny-tiny.  Colors are vibrant yet soft.  Prints are fun and playful.  Solids are also vibrant yet soft.  Everything there was fresh and cheery.

On the technical side, I attended a workshop on lining garments and we made a little girl's reversible dress.

I also sat in on Nancy Zieman's sewing tips workshop and learned an invisible method for putting elastic in a waistband and easy tips for making a laptop case and a tote bag.

I also did "piecing" with Eleanor Burns in her "Hole in the Wall" workshop.  The pattern was, again, modern-retro with use of Riley Blake fabrics.

Additionally, I sat in on how to use social media to your advantage for blogs via Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and attended a workshop on finding your signature style.

There was also time for shopping and we shopped so much I felt the need to have my bag weighed before going to the airport.  Can you believe my bag weighed between 41-42 lbs. (including my clothes)?!  Okay, I had fun but I'm happy to report that I didn't go overboard.  Whew!!!!

Before I go, I do want to share a photo of the reversible dress I made, which was the only project I  completed while there.  The other projects will be finished sooner than later I hope.  Here it is:






Sorry about the angle of the dress in these photos.  Anyway, this is a size 4 dress but the kit we received makes up to size 10.  The pattern is from Cottage Momma - designer Lindsay Wilkes.  Her pattern comes with three views but she selected this simple design for the class.

I'm so happy I went but am happy to be home.  I have to go now.  Happy sewing! 




Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fabric Fest Here I Come!

Oh yeah!  I can't wait to hop the plane and cruise the clouds!  A friend and I are headed for an adventure, a sewist's dream--yes--Fabric Fest!  This is a first annual event where sewists, quilters, crafters, and bloggers will meet to learn and share and, of course, play with fabric.  There will be a good mix of traditional and modern presenters there, which means variety as well as fresh ideas.  What more could anyone who loves fabric ask for?  Well, I do have to admit, m-a-a-a-y-be finding time to play the slots or something of that nature is a must as well.  Even though gambling is adventurous, it really doesn't compete (for me) when it comes to sewing and crafting, and I'm sure my girlfriend will agree.  Right Sharon?

Anyway, on a more serious note, while attending Fabric Fest, attendees have been asked to donate to the Conkerr Cancer charity--a charity supporting families of children with cancer.  Each year their objective is make and donate a specified number of pillowcases to children with cancer, to help bring some comfort and happiness to them.  Participants at Fabric Fest can either bring a homemade pillowcase or make one while there.  My pillowcase is ready and packed.  Here it is just before putting it into the suitcase:



I went gender neutral with primary colors.  Although it was hard to resist making up a pillowcase from all the girlie fabric I have.  Hopefully a boy or girl will enjoy having this on his or her comfy pillow.

Also while at Fabric Fest, I will be taking a workshop on lining garments.  Sounds serious but I'm all about honing my skills and keeping up with techniques to teach.  On the lighter side of things, we'll be making and lining a little girls dress so for me that will be fun and delightful.

Okay - I'm headed west - will check in upon my return.

Chow!





Monday, August 12, 2013

What About A Casserole Carrier!?!?

Okay, so you've seen the t-shirt quilt, but what I didn't show you yesterday was the shower gift from ME.  Before I show you, I must tell you that I really, really enjoy giving gifts.  For me, it starts with coming up with an idea or theme; then it's shopping for or making the item or items so the gift becomes tangible; then it's about seeing the recipient's reaction when they open it.  I just get a real thrill from it all.  When you really think about it, some of the best highlights of life are surprises - so I guess it's all about the surprise and the quest to make it happen.

I'm also known for giving cookbooks as gifts, which, by the way, is no surprise to my friends and family anymore. LOL.  Well we have to be known for something?  So I started with my usual search on the Internet and found an awesome cookbook entitled, What Can I Bring?  by Anne Byrn, which I reserved for pick-up at my local bookseller.  This book was rated pretty highly and thought it would be perfect for a young couple that entertains and socializes quite a bit.  I also thought to encourage them to use the cookbook, they would need something to carry their dish(es) in, so I did a search on casserole carriers and found the blog TAYLORMADE at http://www.itstaylormade.com/2011/10/casserole-carrier.html, which ultimately took me to the tutorial:  2 Little Hooligans at http://www.2littlehooligans.com/2010/10/24/casserole-carrier-tutorial/.  I then made my casserole carrier incorporating features from both of theirs.  Here it is:




And of course I picked up a casserole dish to put inside.  So my themed gift for potluck became a real gift--not just something I had in mind.   By the way, the gift-ee loved it! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

T-Shirt Quilt Reveal

Today was my friend's daughter's bridal shower.  And if you are a hopeless romantic like me, you'll agree there's nothing like getting together with family and friends on a special occasion like this--second best only to weddings.  (Yes I'm sappy.)  I do have to admit that it has been a little while since I've last attended one--a bridal shower that is.  This one was especially significant to me, aside from being a part of honoring the bride-to-be, who I watched grow up with my own kids, I had contributed indirectly to her "big" gift that was going to be from her mother and father and I couldn't wait to see her reaction.  You may remember a few weeks ago, I mentioned I was making a quilt for a customer and that I would be showing it to you when it was done.  Well I was finished with it several days ago but decided not to post it until now because of the off chance my friend's (also customer) daughter, Danielle, might visit my blog and see it before she was to receive it, and that would have been a bummer.   Here is a picture of it immediately after I finished it.



Anyway, back to the shower . . .  the package with her quilt in it was to be opened last, so Danielle's mother and I were patient yet anxious to see her reaction.  Talk about waiting for "the reveal!"  Ahhh, the moment finally came, and, of course, there were tears of joy and Danielle was deeply touched.  She was so surprised to find out that her mother had saved all of her t-shirts since the age of four participating in various sports all the way through her college years, AND to also have them made into a quilt brought on the waterworks!   Being there and knowing that this will be a quilt she'll cherish for the rest of her life was really pretty cool.  I was so happy to be able to witness that moment.  I took pictures!









Mother and Daughter


Great job mom (Rhonda)!  Rhonda and Ben, you two are awesome parents!



Monday, July 15, 2013

Living Like A Vampire

It's been a good long while since I've posted.  And, yes, I'm up at 2:45 a.m. writing, and not necessarily because it's when I do my best writing.  My explanation is simply that I have been working nights around the corner from my home for the past three months, and I have been trying to adjust to sleeping during the day and being up all night, even on my days off.  While this would seem to be a perfect scenario on weekends for a person who likes to sew at night while it's quiet and no interruptions, the problem I am encountering is that I find myself having to recuperate after a full week of very physical work. So to avoid sewing mistakes, I have been avoiding sewing when extremely tired.  I believe I now know what it's like to be vampire.  You see, while the majority of the population is up and about during daylight hours, I'm sleeping (or trying to) in my dark bedroom--blinds closed--preparing myself for another eight hours of lifting and carrying heavy boxes and standing on my feet.  Additionally, to sustain an adequate energy level, I've taken to drinking low fat fruit smoothies (Oh, blood that is. LOL), taking vitamins, and eating as nutritiously as possible, which is a good thing.  However, I still have to play mental games with myself to continue with this crazy idea of mine.  At the time I decided to do this, I thought that this job would be perfect because I would be more physically active and would still be able to teach sewing without changing my students' schedules, and quilt for customers and myself.  In other words, I would be able to continue to do what I enjoy--among other reasons.  Well reality is that this is only slightly true.  I still teach sewing but have had to change schedules here and there, and I am currently making a quilt for a customer--yeah!  I do have to admit, however, that my energy level is not the same and I haven't been sewing for myself.  I also find that during the evening hours, it's all about squeezing in laundry, cooking dinner, and resting before going to work.  I am living like a vampire!  A vampire who sews, cooks and cleans, and works nights.  What was I thinking?  I have always had a great amount of respect for all the healthcare professionals and other working professionals that work through the night--those that ultimately make life easier for the rest of the population during the day--but my respect has been taken to a higher level. To the vampires who started their careers working nights and have been doing it all or most of their working careers--you truly have "eternal life" in my book.  I'm not so sure I will.  Oh well, the sun will be rising shortly, so it's time to start thinking about sleep.

I'll be posting the quilt I'm working on in a couple of weeks but hopefully I'll be back to chat sooner than that!  Good night, or day?!?!


Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Panda Gift

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a checklist of projects to do.  So far I've hemmed my daughter's sheers for her bedroom window (check) and have just finished my grandson's teacher's gift (check).  Even though the sheers needed to be altered, I didn't bother taking pictures because, really, it was a pretty mundane task and not worth photos.  However, the gift I made for my grandson to give to his teacher is quite different.  Before I share pictures with you, I'd like to first share the reasons for making it.

This was my grandson's kindergarten teacher's first year teaching at the school my grandson attends.  Upon entering her classroom, you will find many wonderful visuals and aides that promote learning of course.  The theme throughout her room is that of the Panda bear and the environment in which it lives--done in a happy child-like style.  One day, after volunteering to work along side her in her classroom, I inquired about her classroom theme because it was so delightful.  She told me that previously she had a cowboy theme at the school she had taught at the year prior but came across this one shortly after and liked the Panda theme better because they had adopted a daughter from China, which is also where Pandas are found exclusively.  Because the Panda bear has such special meaning to her, I thought it would be nice to give her a Panda bear to add to her classroom as a gift.  After checking with my daughter and grandson, I found just the right Panda bear to make her--one that is a little unique and would also identify as being from our family.  This bear is actually a quilted bolster pillow with what is called a broken dish block design on its body (for added interest) but, of course, his paws, ears, eyes and nose have the more traditional Panda (black and white) coloring.  The design is from Stash Happy Patchwork by Cynthia Shaffer.

Here he is at different angles:



Tyler, my grandson, will be giving this to her tomorrow--the last day of school.  I hope she and her new class will enjoy him next school year.  I can just visualize him sitting on top of one of her bookshelves watching over her class.  BUT should she decide to change her theme, she'll always have it to take home to keep and/or give to her daughter.

Okay, back to my to do list.


Have a great week!


Denise