GTSB: Making Progress

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I am nearly done with section 1 of my Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt! I’ve mostly worked on this quilt in the summers when visiting my parents at their lake house since it doesn’t require a sewing machine (and I don’t usually have room to pack one). Though, now that I have been working on it with my rotary cutter and sewing machine, I’m making a lot more progress.

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(These propeller blocks are actually from section 4, but another one that pieces up so much more quickly on the machine than by hand.) One thing about sewing by hand that I’ve noticed – my seams are not as tight as a machine-sewn block and they tend to come apart at the edges. I’ve had to do quite a bit of re-sewing on the very last 1/4″ of several seams once I squared up the blocks.

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Orange and pink are one of my favorite combinations! One thing I’m really enjoying about this quilt is using up little bits of precious out-of-print fabric (like that rust, orange, and pink dot by Heather Ross from a very old Munki Munki line).

More Heather Ross cuteness – those chickens are going to be sprinkled throughout this quilt.

So here’s a snapshot of my blocks so far:

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My plan is to finish that last block in section 1 and then move on to the machine-friendly blocks in the rest of the quilt.  That will take a big chunk out of what is left to make!

My Small World QAL – Fabrics + Plans

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Welcome to the My Small World Quilt-Along! I am in love with this pattern – like all of Jen Kingwell’s designs, it is unique and adorable. It combines a lot of traditional block designs and techniques, including a bit of embroidery. It’s meant as a wall quilt, finishing at around 33″ x 52″.  I’m going to make mine larger by expanding the background so it finishes around 88″ x 64″ – a better size for a twin bed or throw.

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A quilt like this just wants to be scrappy and I’m happy to oblige. I pulled 14 fat quarters from my stash as a starting point and I’ll add scraps to fill in as a I go. I noticed while reading through the pattern that there are a lot of 2 1/2″ and 4 1/2″ pieces, which are great for Moda candy (2 1/2″ squares) and charm squares (5″ square) so I’m working some of those in from my stash, as well. My only rule is no pink or purple (at least not as a main color in the print).

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I’ve also rounded up a selection of low volume prints from my scrap bin. I suspect I’ll end up having to purchase a few more once the main part of the quilt is complete. Low volumes are hard to come by and I’ve been using them up quite a bit in recent projects.

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My plan is to cut all the background bits first since those are rotary cut. I went through the pattern and made a tally of all the necessary pieces of each size. Then I’ll make my templates for the rest of the pieces and jump in with section one.

If you are joining us on this quilt-along journey, be sure to take a look at the erratum from QuiltMania for section 1. You can download that {here}.

And also pop by to visit my co-hosts! The hastag #mysmallworldQAL is already filling up with wonderful inspiration on Instagram.

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

My Small World QAL

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Next week we are officially starting the Quilt-Along (QAL) for Jen Kingwell’s fantastic My Small World pattern. You can find the pattern in Quilt Mania’s special 2015 spring edition. It’s in bookshops like Barnes and Noble or get the digital version online {here}. NOTE: Looks like that’s actually a paper copy. See Kerry’s detailed post about where to buy, including online shops in the US that carry it. One is Happiness is Quilting, one of my local quilt shops. It’s a great shop so I’d recommend buying from them. ;)MSWqal300

I’m co-hosting with some super talented people. We will be posting on our blogs and quite a bit on Instagram, as well, so links for both are shown below. Be sure to check out the IG hashtag – #mysmallworldqal.

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

I hope you can join us!

A Little Makeover

VMQ-hoop-chairs-03There’s just something so cute about tiny kid things. I found this pair of hoop chairs at HomeGoods last week and knew they had to be mine. I’ve been looking at vintage MCM chairs on Etsy and Ebay for weeks and these were a steal compared to the ones I was eying.

VMQ-hoop-chairs-02 They were originally lime green and teal. Very new looking and far too bright. One can of spray paint later, they are a perfect retro orange. I used Montana Gold, a brand you can buy in art stores or even at Michael’s. It’s probably two to three times the cost of regular spray paint at $12/can but it comes in a huge range of colors. I think it’s blendable so it would be fun to experiment with on canvas.

VMQ-hoop-chairs-04I used a bit of fabric that I already had – a Japanese linen blend (note the odd phrasing and misspelling, but it’s still cute!).  It’s a fabric I’ve always loved but never wanted to cut into so I’m really happy that I did. It’s silly to hold onto so much fabric for the “right” project.  VMQ-hoop-chairs-06These tiny chairs were supposed to go in the playroom but I may pair them with a tiny end table and make a spot for them in the living room where the kids will use them every day.VMQ-hoop-chairs-07Diana is certainly enjoying them already. Wish they were my size!

VMQ-hoop-chairs-05 It’s very satisfying to jump in with both feet and end up with something that looks exactly like what I had in mind. It was a fun and quick project, just the thing I needed this week.

City Aviation Quilt

VMQ-city-aviation-02Almost exactly 2 1/2 years from fabric stack to finished quilt. It spent a full year at the quilter, waiting on me to make a backing (tsk, tsk!). But now it is finally done and it’s my second finish of 2015 (the other one is a special/secret project that will be under wraps for a while).

VMQ-city-aviation-03I intended for this to be fall quilt but I think it’s going to hang around the living room pretty much all year long.

VMQ-city-aviation-01It’s good to check this one off the list.

Dimensions: 80″ x  80″

Fabrics:  Bella Solids (Berrylicious, Boysenberry, Clementine, Longhorn, Mustard, Saffron, Dark Denim, Eggplant, Grape, Moda U Brown, Almond), Hope Valley and Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt, Far Far Away 2 by Heather Ross, Dobby Voile and Innocent Crush by Anna Maria Horner and others

Pattern: City Aviation by Cherry House from the book City Quilts

Quilting Thread:  Superior threads

Quilting Design:  Computerized by Michelle Kitto of Urban Spools

Started: November 2012

Completed: April 2015

Settling In

VMQ-april-05We’ve been in the new house a month and things are mostly organized. Mostly. We still have a storage unit of stuff that we will have to come to terms with at some point. Will it be like Christmas morning, opening all these things I’ve forgotten about in 2 months time? I doubt it, but a girl can dream.

I’ve actually been doing quite a lot of sewing lately, too, which has been AWESOME. Sometimes I just stop and stare out those glass walls. It’s so dreamy.  I am also loving that the kids’ play area is in my sewing space. I can easily keep an eye and ear on what they are doing. The only downfall is sharing my snacks with sneaky little people.

VMQ-april-04Their play area has given my Pottery Barn shelf a new home as a display for vintage Fisher Price toys. I wasn’t really ready to part with it so this new use makes me smile. And Ben loves to rearrange the display.

VMQ-april-03I finished a big {secret sewing} project this weekend and it’s both exhausted and inspired me. As usual I have way more ideas than time, but it gave me a big push to start going through my Moda precut stash – which is quite extensive.

VMQ-april-02I spent a lot of time sorting and staring at fabric this weekend. I’ve pulled fabrics for a Christmas quilt, a Halloween quilt and an American Jane quilt, but the rest are still sorted by color, waiting for their day in the sun.

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Our New Old House

VMQ-new-old-house-01Last week we said goodbye to our home of nearly nine years.  It was definitely more of a happy goodbye than a sad one.  We’d been looking, literally, for years for a new home in our same neighborhood and in January we found the perfect place. In spite of the crazy, fast-moving and competitive real estate market in this part of Dallas, the stars aligned to make it our new old house.  Less than one month from listing our place to closing…

VMQ-new-old-house-07Our old house was a charming but relatively cookie-cutter 1954 ranch home. The new, built-in-1955 place is a mid-century modern design that we both fell in love with at first sight. There is plenty of room for our little family of four plus two naughty dogs to grow and play.

There is a lot of work to do to update it and make it our own, but it’s nothing we haven’t done before. The previous family lived in it for nearly 50 years. We found blueprints from a major remodel they did in 1968, reconfiguring some rooms and adding a sewing space for the woman of the house.

VMQ-new-old-house-08She made a set of pinch-pleat tweed drapes for the room that is now my sewing room. When I was taking them down, I noticed that on one panel the hem of the lining was still pinned. She never got around to finishing the hand-stitching, which is just like something I would do.  What unfinished projects will I have laying around in 50 years? I shudder to think…

VMQ-new-old-house-02I absolutely love my new sewing space. There are two walls of windows and an exposed brick wall plus a large nook around the corner for the kids’ play space. I’ll have to find new storage solutions for my fat quarters since I’m afraid to hang those heavy Pottery Barn organizers on the brick wall and there’s no other spot for them.

VMQ-new-old-house-03VMQ-new-old-house-04I do have an enormous closet for all of my other sewing paraphernalia, though. This house has endless amounts of storage which seems like such a luxury coming from a place that had only one storage closet.

VMQ-new-old-house-06There’s more storage space than I can even fill.

It will probably be a long while before I get this space how I want it to be and I hope you will follow along with me here.

Snow Day, Sew Day

VMQ-snow-day-01Today is a snow day. 27 degrees with light fluffy flakes falling until late afternoon. Of course, we have no milk…but there’s chocolate, coffee, and wine – something for everyone.  When I woke up this morning, I told my son that we’d do something fun, maybe play at the park because I thought the weather was going to be warm,  Then I looked outside…VMQ-snow-day-03Plans were revised and my little homebody said he didn’t want to go in the car anyway. My current plan is to spend as much time as possible in my sewing room. Snow day = sew day!

VMQ-snow-day-02In a perfect moment of serendipity, my “new” vintage pattern arrived this morning and the countdown to Easter has begun. I’ll start with the less ambitious bonnet and move onto a dress if there’s still time. VMQ-snow-day-04Our lives have been a bit chaotic lately. We have some big changes coming up and I’m just wading through it all one day at a time. Good changes, though We have lots of exciting things to look forward to, but many steps to take to get there first.VMQ-snow-day-05

Our baby girl just turned 5 months. She’s sitting up and chattering and laughing. She adores her big brother.  Her face lights up when she sees him and her baby blue eyes follow him everywhere. Their little games and giggles together are the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. VMQ-snow-day-06I am working on a new tutorial for the Moda Bake Shop, too. I’ll share here once it’s published. It is Valentine-related but better late than never is my motto.

Happy snow day/sew day to all of you!

What I’m Sewing

It feels like I never get to sew these days but when I look back at my Instagram photos, I’ve gotten quite a few things done. This first quilt that’s ready for binding has been sitting at the longarmer (Urban Spools) for a YEAR. Good thing she’s a friend! Her quilting is amazing and perfectly enhances the piecing. I just need a few Downton Abbeys on the DVR and I’ll have this thing bound in no time. That teaser photo makes it look rather Mardi Gras themed but it’s actually quite a bold color palette. (I started with this stack of Bella Solids.)

City-AviationI also finished a quilt top that’s been on several retreats with me and been the cause of at least two orders from Fat Quarter Shop (replenishing that peacock sashing).  I had a dozen more blocks to cut out and I just decided that it was good as is and sewed what I had together. It’s going in the closet with all the other finished tops where hopefully my quilting Fairy Godmother will finish it with a swish of her wand.Framed

This quilt top is made from American Jane’s latest line Fresh Air. I just love everything Sandy Klop designs. It’s so cheerful. I used the Layer Player pattern from the Moda Bake Shop and honestly whipped this one up in a couple of days. It’s that easy (even with baby and toddler at my feet!). Fresh-AirI also managed to sew the last two borders on my Marmalade Jubilee quilt, which some of you may recognize as the one I used in my Learn to Quilt series. It’s next on my list for basting and quilting so I can finally get to the embarrassingly overdue lesson on binding. MarmaladeThat’s what I’m sewing!

Hello, 2015

2015-01-02_1420164401 There’s just something about this time of year that is so hopeful. Maybe it’s the blank pages in my planner (and all of the temptingly beautiful planners in stores!). Maybe it’s the contrast with the excesses of Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas. (So many cookies! So much candy!) Whatever it is, I love this time of year. I love the feeling that we can start over with a clean slate. It even feels good to jump back into blogging and I hope to be around this space a lot more in 2015 than I was last year.

I’m starting out the year with some personal resolutions and some that may strike a chord with you.

2015-01-02_14201757931.  Spend 5 minutes cleaning up my workspace before bed. Every single day. I tend to create a huge explosion of fabric and notebooks and templates and notions when I sew.  My hope is to at least tidy away the surface of my cutting table and sewing table each night so things don’t pile up. Then instead of avoiding the room because of the mess, I’ll feel invited to come in and sew.

2015-01-01_14201490482. Don’t take shortcuts. I used to take a lot of sewing/quilting shortcuts, mostly out of ignorance of the proper way to do things. Many of those shortcuts have been cut out of my repertoire, but some remain. Not taking the time to pin is the main thing I’d like to stop doing this year. #justpinit

2015-01-02_1420242610One of my shortcuts that has come back to haunt me while working on some old WIPs is failure to cut sashing/block borders. I used to take one WOF strip and just sort of space out my blocks on it and trim it up at the end. (This method looks like a block bunting where the string is a WOF strip).  Doing this adds bulk to your blocks and creates waves and wonkiness. The results are so much better if you cut the strips to the necessary length and PIN.

3. Share the Love. There are often times when I see or read things online that I don’t like. But there are also times when I see things I really like and this year, I’m going to tell people! There is so much negativity online. It’s always been there, but I suppose since I now seem to straddle both sides of this industry (consumer and producer), I really notice it more. I see it in book reviews, on Instagram feeds, on Facebook walls, and all over blog comments. There are some real butt heads out there. It particularly irks me when people are giving things away for free and others leave rude comments. If someone used their time and talent to produce something (pattern, tutorial, lesson, photos, giveaway),  it is really beyond the pale to complain about said free thing. It’s not your taste? You find it too simple? Don’t partake! There are so many makers out there so instead of leaving that rude comment, just move on and find someone you like better to follow. I love this old-ish Bonnie Hunter post about all the whiners who complain about her free mystery quilt sew-alongs. Seriously, don’t be that person; be the nice person. I’m going to be.

2015-01-03_14203114224.  List everything. I used to have an amazing memory. I honestly thought people were full of bull when they said having kids or being pregnant gave them “baby brain.” I also thought it was pretty insulting to women (how are pregnant CEOs going to overcome said baby brain and do their jobs?!) I don’t like to blame it on the kids per se, but being a mom, working from home, running a small business, and maintaining a household requires a lot of hats. I have a hard time focusing and it’s often hard to decide which task to do. Lots of juggling and frankly, just getting it done rather than doing it well occurred in 2014. List making is my go-to for managing all of the disparate tasks that can easily overwhelm (and paralyze!) me. Every night after dinner, I list 5 tasks I need to accomplish the following day. These are specific tasks (answer emails, cut out blocks, write fabric requirements in XYZ pattern, grocery shopping) and often these tasks make up a bigger goal I have for the week.  It helps me to stay on track when I only have 15-45 minutes to spend on a task at one time.

5. Timers are my BFF. Timers tell our 3-year-old when it’s bedtime, naptime, etc. and it minimizes back talk. Timers also help me with my most-hated household tasks (pretty much all cleaning). If I spend 30-45 minutes per day cleaning, that’s enough to keep the house looking nice. I usually break that down into smaller segments: 15 minutes is enough time to clean a small bathroom and 30 minutes is enough time to Swiffer and dust our bedroom and make the bed – even put away some laundry. The house will never meet my Aunt Irma’s cleanliness standards, but it’s not disgusting and sometimes that is enough.

Happy New Year to you all!