Category Archives: My Studio

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

I have an infatuation with small, cute storage containers and retro graphics so I could not resist this sewing tin:

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

(order one for yourself {here})

But in a studio space filled with jars, baskets, tins, and bins…I’m not sure what to use it for.

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

The instructions inside indicate that I should use it to store small treasures, keepsakes, and curiosities.

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

What would you put in it? It measures 7.25″ x 5.5″ x 3.5″ – not too big and not too small.

Featherweight

Pale Celery

Meet my new sewing machine. It’s a 1964-ish Singer Featherweight.

Pale Celery

I never wanted a Singer Featherweight until I saw the “white” ones. It’s hard to tell in photos but they actually have a greenish hue and Singer called the color “pale celery” which is pretty dang accurate. There is just something sort of mod and cool about these. I can imagine the woman who used to live in my 1954 house sewing on one of these.

I almost bought one on Ebay right before Christmas for around $500. I’m glad I didn’t because I found this one locally for $275. It has fewer presser feet and the case is not as pristine but it sews beautifully.

Pale Celery

The name Featherweight is a bit of a misnomer because for such a tiny thing it is pretty heavy. The threading took me some getting used to and this is probably one of the only machines ever made that needles have to be inserted sideways. I read it in the manual but my brain thought it couldn’t be right. I can’t tell you how many times I re-threaded it thinking that was the problem before I finally turned the needle.

I joined a Facebook group for vintage machine owners and it seems to be a bit of an obsession. I’m not sure that I want a whole collection of them.  Do you have a vintage machine? And are you now addicted to buying them?

Table Top Sewing

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably very much like me in that you’re obsessed with quilting (and fabric). We all want to sew as much as possible and actually finish projects. I have some big things going on in 2014 that will limit my personal sewing time to a degree, but I still want to make time for some just-for-fun projects.

My solution? Table Top Sewing. I changed things around a bit in my sewing space (tour to come soon) so I now have a lot more surface space. That means more room for stacks of fabric and papers and notions and other random junk, right? NO! I’ve set up five baskets on my table tops with sewing projects mostly ready to sew.

Table Top Sewing

Top Center: Mini quilts. Currently working on Camille Roskelley’s Mini Puddle Jumping quilt

Bottom Left:  Scrappy 4-patches. All scraps!

Bottom Right: Economy/Square in Square Blocks with my Munki Munki stash

Table Top Sewing

Left: APQ Quilt-along Tone It Down quilt (still need to finish cutting this one out)

Right: Scrappy Trip Around the World blocks. Lots of them.

How is this different from what I used to do? Most of my WIPs are in bins in a closet and out of sight is out of mind. I pulled several projects that lend themselves to being sewn in short stints (i.e. nothing with complicated instructions or fabric placement that needs a design wall, etc.). My thinking is that I can sew one or two blocks from a basket each time I go in my space (whether its to work or to sew) and I”ll slowly whittle down each project.

Since there are likely going to be large gaps of time in between when I work on these projects, I’ve made a check list to help me keep track of where I am. This is a good habit to start for any sewing project you’re working! I usually make a post-it or keep track on the pattern page – never quite as formal as the this:

VMQ-table-top-sewing-3

I am a super nerd for organization though….

RESOURCES: Mint berry basket {World Market}, Bird tray {IKEA}, Teal baskets {Target}, white bins {IKEA}

Quilt Photography

I love photography and I have a fairly nice camera. But having never taken a photography class (I have pinned a lot of good advice on Pinterest that I’m sure I’ll get to someday!), I’m always sorta winging it/fumbling around in the dark. I love the magic of a beautiful photo and improving my photography is a resolution I’ve committed to for 2014, but no matter how good you are at operating the equipment, you’ve got to admit that quilt photography is it’s own special challenge.

Lighting, angles, lenses….blah, blah, blah. I won’t even go there, but I will tell you the one thing that has made my life so much easier INSTANTLY! A photography backdrop stand.

My husband is not always the best quilt photography assistant (my parents are surprisingly good and quite entertaining) and it’s hard to take photos by yourself. Add to that the challenge of a yard that is mostly shaded by a huge live oak…but now I can move the stand to the perfectly lit location (in complete shadow adjacent to complete sunshine FYI).

Photo Backdrop Stand

The stand is lightweight, but definitely not flimsy. I can lift it straight up in the air with two hands while assembled with a quilt on it. And I’m very wimpy. I don’t recommend using one when it’s windy unless you like to see your quilt and stand go flying away like a giant kite.

I obviously still have some improvements to make (like, why didn’t I center the quilt over just a brick background?), but I’m super happy with the stand and it will make pattern photography much easier. It’s also pretty inexpensive – definitely cheaper than I expected when I went searching online. I bought {this one}. Just under $65 and free shipping with Amazon Prime. You will also need a set of clamps.

Jumping the Gun

In the Studio | Dec 2013

I’m trying to get ahead of my New Year’s resolution to organize by starting before this year is even over.  How is that for motivated? My sewing room had gotten so messy that I didn’t even want to be in there. What’s a quilter to do? One word: destash. That mountain of fabric below is all from my latest destash sale on Instagram. It looks like a lot (and it is, let’s be honest) but I still feel like I could have purged a bit more. I’ll save it for the next sale, I suppose.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

Now my studio is about 75% tidy…I still don’t have room for all of my fabric so some is in bins on my sewing table but that will probably always be the case.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

I can live with that. It reminds me to sew faster!

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{Those bins are from IKEA in case you’re wondering.}

I added a bit of decoration while I was cleaning up…hanging up some old things that were just taking up room in drawers.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

And these putting out these cute new tins…

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{available here}

I don’t have anything in them yet but I  could not resist the vintage look. They’re from a company called Now Designs that also makes a few other retro-styled items for the home, like these tea + coffee tins.

All of this cleaning up is very motivating and I have lots of new projects tumbling around in my brain. Fabulous fabric combinations are everywhere.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{Lush Uptown + Botanics = YES YES YES! Just ignore the Urban Cowgirl bundle on the lower left.}

In the Studio | Dec 2013

{April Showers + Color Me Happy = Made for Each Other}

Ice Storm 2013

We had an ice storm just after Thanksgiving and you’d think that would be the perfect opportunity to sew but I hardly did. Four days in the house was rough on all of us but especially my Christmas quilt. It was peed on twice so I had to wash it. In the middle of quilting. With the safety pins in it and everything.

In the Studio | Dec 2013

It came out just fine and I’m almost done quilting it but I’ve now marked the whole dang thing twice. Horrid dogs.

Around the Studio

{If you’re here for the Classic Modern Quilts blog tour, hop down to this post}

Studio Scenes

I’m sewing a little bit every day – mostly new projects and some little holiday things. It’s all very erratic and unfocused because I’ve quit using my planner and stopped making lists. Those two things are key for me to be productive.

Studio Scenes

But I’m okay with not “getting things done” right now. This time of year is made for just coasting along and enjoying the moments.

Studio Scenes

I’m sewing up pinwheel blocks and ordering fabric for an hourglass quilt top. A just-for-fun project.

Studio Scenes

I flip through these two books almost daily. And I think about buying this book just as often.

Studio Scenes

I’m leaving broken toys sitting about until I come across the right glue to fix them. It will just come to me, I know it. ;)

Bad Dogs

I’m even laughing at my naughty dogs.

Bad Dogs

What else can you do, though? I love them, good or bad. Moose’s punishment was wearing that moose costume. And Will is too tenderhearted to be punished. All I had to do was show him the basket he peed on and he hung his head in shame.

What do things look like around your studio? If anyone is sewing up holiday projects, link up in the comments. I’d love to see them!

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Breaking Up

Breaking up fabric bundles that is. It’s no secret that I love fabric (what quilter doesn’t?) and I also love bundles of fabric! Beautifully organized, folded, tied, rolled…however they can be prettily bundled together, I like it.

But I struggle with Moda fat quarter bundles. They’re so perfectly tied and I know the fabric is irreplaceable. It’s a lot of pressure to open that sucker up and use it! But I have to use one of them this year. It’s getting to be ridiculous in here.

20130802-DSC_2708

{PB&J by Basic Grey, Wonderland by MoMo, S’More Love by Eric and Julie Comstock, Dear Mr. Claus by Cosmo Cricket, Lush Uptown by Erin Michael, Recess by American Jane, Urban Cowgirl by Urban Chiks, Sweet by Urban Chiks}

I’m thinking I need to use one of the older ones first.  Which one would you pick? And what would you make? No holds barred. Let’s hear those fabric fantasies.

Organization = Chaos

2013-07-18_1374188511

My lovely long vacation at the lake is over. I’m officially back at home this week and it has already been a bit of a kick in the pants with something planned every day through the middle of next week. Teaching, designing, working, socializing, and speaking at the Dallas MQG meeting (tomorrow night at Half Price Books on NW Hwy. 7 pm)…But how awesome is it that I am doing all of those things and staying home with my little munchkin every day instead of working for the man? Pretty awesome.

My husband came home two weeks before Ben and me and I was impressed at how tidy the house was kept in our absence. He’s a better housewife than me. The two of us rapidly turned our spaces into utter chaos. Ben’s tools of chaos and destruction are books and toys and poky plastic things.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

My chaos is fabric and paper and patterns.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

The chaos comes not only from the obvious sources of working/designing/quilting that happens in my sewing room but from organization itself. I always seem to be stuck in some state of partial organization.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

There’s a plan and some stages of execution, but I lack the focus/energy/time for completion. Organization creates mess! Did you know that? Organization Creates Mess. It’s like a law of physics.

I added a long-desired second fat quarter storage shelf to my sewing room this week. It’s above the computer in a space previously occupied by arty quilty things. I needed the storage more than I needed the arty quilty things.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

It’s another Pottery Barn Cubby Organizer to match the one I bought a few years ago.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

They don’t make the cream version anymore so I begrudgingly went with black and now I like it better than the cream one. My plan was to hang them side by side so my rainbow of fat quarters would be continuous.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

The Hubs said he didn’t think that would look right. I think he was not actually all that concerned about the aesthetics but more with having to measure and hang two of them.

VMQ Studio | July 2013

Can’t blame him since I hung exactly zero of the shelving units in our entire house. But I just might outsmart him and get a second black one and then have him hang them black-white-black on the opposite wall. Better let him have a few months off DIY first though (he just built a super awesome loft bed for our son.)

VMQ Studio | July 2013

Plus I’ll need some more fabric to fill up a third one.  ;)

Meet: My Bernina 440 QE

My-Bernina-440-02

Hello! Welcome to my stop on the Meet My Sewing Machine blog hop. I’m glad you’re here!

I own a Bernina 440QE (quilter’s edition) that I purchased in 2011. It was my upgraded-upgrade machine (meaning it was my second good machine since I started quilting.) I tested Berninas when I bought my first nice machine (a Pfaff Creative Expression) in 2010 but decided they were too pricey. Then in 2010, I met a few women at the Dallas MQG who had Berninas and brought them to our Saturday Sews. That was fine. I was still happy with my Pfaff. And then our guild started meeting at the Bernina store and that was the end of it. That machine had to come home and live with me! At that point, I felt like I knew enough about quilting and sewing machines to deserve such a fancy Rolls Royce of a sewing machine.

There are two aspects of the Bernina that I ADORE. First, is the BSR – Bernina Stitch Regulator. I couldn’t free motion worth a swear word on my Brother, but was decent on my Pfaff. With the BSR, I can pretty much do any design I set my mind to and it looks pretty profesh. (You know, professional.)

Giant Scrappy Blocks | Detail

The second thing I love about my Bernina is what they call the Barbie case and all of those Swiss-made all-metal presser feet inside. Droooool.

My-Bernina-440-03

The foot I love most is #37, the 1/4″ foot. It sews a perfect scant 1/4″ seam. It was very smart of Bernina to make the foot numbers so prominent on each foot. None of my previous sewing machines were so user-friendly. There is one feature I would love to have – an automatic thread cutter.  The Berninas are also kinda noisy compared to many other sewing machines. Maybe that’s due to the all-metal feet and parts. Even so, I would recommend this machine to a friend. In fact, most of my friends have one. At retreat, we sit at the Bernina Table. It’s the cool kids table.

The Bernina is a majah (said like a Spice Girl, specifically Victoria Beckham) upgrade from my first beginner baby machine, a Brother something-or-other.  It was a $200 super basic machine that quickly fell apart when I started making a quilt every other week (no joke. I did that.)  I also own a Brother serger that is rarely used, and I do have  have a few other dream machines I’d like to own if I had the space.

Janome Horizon MC7700-QCP

These machines were in all of the workshops at QuiltCon so I spent an entire day sewing on one. And it was a dream. Super quiet, all of the bells and whistles. This would definitely be a delight to sew on every day.

Juki TL-2000Qi FS

I’ve never even tested this machine, but I’ve heard good things. It would be my quilting machine and I’d use my Bernina mostly for piecing.

Long-arm of Some Variety

I’ve gotten to play on a long-arm a couple of times, and I would LOVE to own one. That would necessitate a MUCH larger sewing room, but a girl can dream.

Speaking of sewing rooms, mine is jammed full of stuff very nice.  I have three windows so I get lots of natural light and hardwood floors that make it easy to sweep up sewing messes (charm pack dust, thread explosions, etc). I keep most of my fabric stashed away in the closet, but I like to display pre-cuts and neatly folded fat quarters because they just look so pretty.

Moda Pre-Cuts | My Studio
{Moda fat quarter bundles in aqua DVD holders from the Container Store}

studio: Aug 2012
{My cutting table from Martha Stewart’s collection for Home Decorators}
studio: Aug 2012
{Vintage shelf with pre-cuts. I store a lot of stuff in various glass jars like these and these.}

vintage chair - after
{My sewing chair – a vintage one that I painted and reupholstered}

fat quarter storage
{CD storage unit from Pottery Barn filled with fat quarters}

That’s my machine and my sewing space all in one. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to visit the others stops and sign up for the linky party.

SUNDAY, MARCH 17
Erin @ Sew at Home Mummy
Angela @ Heart of Charnwood
Shannon @ Crafty Turtle
Amy @ Stitchery Dickory Dock

MONDAY, MARCH 18
Ebony @ Love Bug Studios
Jaclyn @ Jaclyn Quilts
Amy @ Diary of a Quilter

TUESDAY, MARCH 19
Kara@ Me and Elna
Nerissa @ Nissa Made
Elizabeth @ Don’t Call Me Betsy

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20
Carly @ Citric Sugar
Celine @ Espritpatch
Patti @ A Yankee in Queen Liz’s Court

THURSDAY, MARCH 21
Stacey @ The Tilted Quilt
The Jolly Jabber Staff (Chelsey, Kimberly, Debbie)
Rachel @ Sew Happily Ever After!

FRIDAY, MARCH 22
Erika @ Sews it All (Bernina)
Lisa @ Vintage Modern Quilts (Bernina) {ME!}
Adrianne @ On the Windy Side (Bernina)

My Studio Right Now

Here is a peek at my studio right now. I did clean up a little for these photos but I decided that I didn’t want to pretend that my sewing space is pristine. Because with an active 9-month old in the house, it certainly isn’t. He loves getting into bins and boxes and drawers and pulling every single item out. So this is “real life” tidy. I’ve changed things up a lot since my last studio tour.

I have smaller sewing surface that provides a lot of book storage. I’m happy with it for now, but some day I will have a drop in table for my machine. In my next sewing room…

I did get a new cutting table this past year, and I absolutely love it. It has tons of storage, adjustable dividers in each drawer (the drawers also pull out completely so you can see everything), and I like the open lower shelf to corral all of the baskets and bins I already had. Since I started doing some scrapbooking again this year, this cutting table has been really useful. I only wish I had room for two! One for quilting stuff and one for scrapping. Again, in my next sewing room…

With this new desk, I also have a separate work space, which is very, very nice. It’s not as convenient for watching movies while I sew, but I don’t have the time to sew in such long stretches anymore. (And I highly recommend that chair from the Container Store. It really is comfy.)

I put all of my 1 yard plus fabric pieces on mini bolts to take up less space so I’m down to the one bookcase (for prints and quilting weight, at least). I would like to thin it out even further if I can force myself to really destash. For all of you who covet a big fabric stash, I will say this…Yes, it is nice to have so much variety, but it is also overwhelming. It tends to kill my inspiration when I look at all that fabric. I have learned that I DO NOT need to stash 1 yard or bigger pieces. When I need bindings and backings, I will buy them then. Half yards and fat quarters are plenty large enough for the kind of sewing I do. Half yards are ideal actually because you can cut into two fat quaters, use one, and still have one to stash.

This corner is my favorite part of my studio (after my cutting table)

I don’t sit there often but my dogs and baby seem to really enjoy it. They tell me it’s comfy.

This last photo is part of my sewing room that I have never shown. The closet! Eek. This is where I hide my WIPs, fabric and notion overflow, srapbooking stuff, and just a miscellany of things that make me ask myself, Why did I buy that? The top left shelf that is just out of view is stuffed with pillow forms. There are about 20 pillow forms there. Why?! I don’t know. My husband would probably have a heart attack if I ever covered them and put them around the house. Two pillows on the sofa is too much for most men. I’d really like to tackle this closet one day. My goal is for all of my fabric to go in here. I dream of a tidy space with just 12 WIPs in those perfect ArtBin containers, and a perfectly folded stack of fabric. Someday…

So that is my space. The things I love about it most: lots of light, my Martha Stewart cutting table, my Bisley drawer unit (shown above), and my Bernina.