Category Archives: About Me

Temptation Procrastination

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There’s something that seems to be common among most creative people/makers that I know. None of us can resist the siren’s call of new fabric and new quilt patterns and quilt-alongs. It causes us to throw aside everything we had planned on making to start something wonderfully new. I call that temptation procrastination.

Temptation procrastination is the reason I have 15 completed quilt tops, 2 quilted quilts awaiting binding, and 3 basted and partly quilted quilts languishing in baskets in my sewing room. Let’s not even get into my WIPs that are just cut fabric and various quilt blocks. I can’t count that high.

Is there are cure for this ailment? I think throwing some money at my problem and sending a few quilt tops off to longarmers is a good start.  Then I’ll need a few good shows on the DVR to hack away at that binding and some audio books to keep me company during basting and quilting the rest of that sad, neglected pile. I may not leave my house for the remainder of the year…

Tell me, are you a one-at-time kind of quilter? What are your secrets? I must know.

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.

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!

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!

Our New Normal

10735601_198767150309570_1461045788_nSweet Diana is 7 weeks old now and we are all slowly settling in to a new routine. I’m even finding time to sew in between catching up with work and keeping up with the never-ending housework. (seriously, will it ever end?)

10787865_874339549251585_1988092098_nI find that I can fit a lot of TO DOs into my day but completing tasks is not so simple. Starting projects is easy and tempting…

10731619_322124651302963_312864909_nSome days all I want to do is sew and sew but in the absence of that, I give myself the gift of at least 15 minutes a day with my sewing machine.

10755786_1559162237653809_473843075_nSome days that means I only have time to clean out the lint and oil it,,,

10748072_454857501323519_276497927_nBut I have finished a few small projects ({Take Flight Art Smock} and {Sweet + Spooky Halloween Mini Quilt}) and made progress on several that have been sitting untouched since my last quilt retreat (in June or July?).

10724943_711571812258519_1448043671_nI do get to stare at this beautiful face every day, which makes up for all the sewing I’m missing.

DSC_8882-4-webIt’s a pretty fair trade.

Our Baby Girl

2014 is not going to be one of those years where I finish twenty or so quilts. Instead, Ill settle for just a few and our wonderful new baby girl.

photoHer name is Diana Caroline and she’s so smiley and sweet.  She is happy and demanding like a newborn should be and things are slowly, very slowly, getting back to a (new) normal around here.

Baby-DianaIt’s funny how I always want to sew the most when I have the least amount of time to do so. I’ve been spending lots of nursing hours with a sketchbook or iPhone in hand, making notes, to do lists, and calculating fabric yardage. Hopefully those things will make the transition from paper to fabric before too long.

New Patterns

I’ve taken a long break from pattern writing. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s more accurate to say that I’ve taken a long break from pattern finishing.  But now that I’ve reached the countdown phase of this pregnancy, I’m feeling anxious to get some sewing and such done! There are fewer than 8 weeks before we meet this little girl.

Of course, one of the patterns I’m working on is baby-related.  I’ll post again once I’ve got it finished and linked up on the shop. The others I’ve got in the works are quilts and a patchwork nap mat. I hope to get three released before baby with several more to come around Quilt Market. But whether I get them done or not, it’s fun to be sewing and writing again! I’ve missed it.

A Few of My Favorite Things

The coolest thing happened yesterday that brought several of my favorite things together: my dog Moose, midcentury modern design, and crewel. Sounds like a weird combination, huh? Let me explain.

I posted this photo of Moose to my Instagram account, hashtagging it with all sorts of things, including midcentury modern.

He’s resting his chin on one of my newly reupholstered midcentury modern walnut chairs (that particular one was free. Yes, FREE. I got it at a publisher’s warehouse off Industrial Blvd here in Dallas when they were moving to a new location. They also sold me a Jens Risom desk for $75.)

That photo was “liked” by Vladimir Kagan designs on Instagram. He is a well-known MCM furniture designer with some really beautiful pieces (and he also has a charming blog). I Googled him and read on his Wikipedia page that he was married to the late Erica Wilson, the goddess of the 1960s/1970s crewel revival. I’ve been obsessed with her kits and books for years.

I got such a kick out of the idea of these two creative people together and what a neat couple they must have been. I found a blog post with a tour of their home and he said that his favorite piece was the embroidered rocking chair that combines both of their work:

Image via sarahsarna.com

Now if only I could get a picture of Moose in that chair…