Sunday, March 29, 2015

How do you get so much done?

Last weekend I presented a "trunk show" to the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild.  Recently, a guild friend had "outed" me to the leadership when she came over and I showed her the 40+ quilts I had in my home.  It's unusual for someone to have so many quilts in their possession, especially within a "modern" guild which is generally made up of members who are still in stages of mothering young children as well as full time work.  I really didn't mind sharing my work with the guild, it was kind of them to recognize my talents/passion.  

One thing I addressed in the presentation was the question, "How do I get so much done?"  I honestly didn't think my level of productivity was unusual until a guild member asked me a few years ago, "Do you ever sleep?"  I have just been pursuing a hobby I really enjoy and wasn't comparing my number of finishes with anyone else's.  Just this week, on instagram, a person commented on one of my projects, "I am jealous of all your time [sad face emoticon.]"  I will admit this comment got under my skin a little but I know I shouldn't take it personally.  I don't feel like I have more time than anyone else, but I know my life circumstances and priorities are very different from everyone else too.

So, how do I get so much done?

  • I have a very supportive husband who watches the children a lot when he's not working.  He really enjoys being a dad.  Once, when we lived in Massachusetts, he brought the kids to the Museum of Science on his day off and I made a very challenging bag all in one day.  I have been on three retreats within the past year, thanks to his willingness to shoulder single parenting for a few weekends.  On a regular basis, he gladly gives me a break from their demands when I need or want to attend to a sewing project.

  • I am a stay at home mom and I can fit in sewing time fairly frequently during the day.  When I just had my son, he was a champion napper and didn't give up taking two naps until he was about eighteen months.  He didn't stop napping altogether until he was way past the age of three.  Once my daughter was born, my sewing slowed down considerably but eventually I got them to take naps at the same time.  

  • Yes, sometimes I sew when my children are awake.  GASP!  Go ahead and call children's services on me if you'd like.  I think it's funny when people insist they only do anything for themselves when their kids are asleep, as if taking a few minutes for you, throughout the day is just not acceptable.  But I will admit that sometimes I have been selfish and maybe my obsession with a project has taken priority when my kids needed me more- that's something I try to pay attention to and avoid.  I really do feel strongly that kids don't need to feel like they are their parents whole universe, it's healthy for them to see you doing something for you and to know that they don't reign over the parents lives 100% of the time 24/7.  

  • I can sew when my kids are awake sometimes because my sewing areas have been in close proximity to their activities.  I sewed in my kitchen for seven years.  This picture shows that area in our MA apartment.  (The sink and countertop are to the left, the "living room area" are to the right- it was cramped, but we made it work!).  Right now, I am blessed to have a sewing room that is adjacent to the toy/tv/family room, where they play quite a lot.  I also allow my kids to come in my sewing room (second picture) when I am in there.  

  • I usually gravitate towards projects that are comfortable within my skill level.  It's true that I like an achievable challenge but there are many techniques I know I don't have the patience or time for.  I don't make queen sized quilts out of tiny paper pieced blocks.  Intricate needle turn applique holds no interest for me.  It's true that I make super sized quilts but big doesn't always equal hard.
  • I sew a lot because I LOVE it!  It's my favorite and only hobby.  I used to read tons of books and had a passion for journaling.  Now I am lucky if I read a dozen books a year and the journaling has slowed down considerably.  Perhaps my priorities are sometimes a little out of balance: we eat leftovers frequently, my house is not as clean as it should be, and I often favor sewing over exercise.  I have had a few successes with being published but I am really not in this game to make money or make a name for myself.  I love how diverse sewing and quilting are: there's always new patterns and fabrics to try and use and new skills to be acquired.  I love giving my creations to friends and family and I feel good that I have also created heirlooms for my children.  Lots of people lose their motivation (aka "sew-jo") and give up on it all for a while, that never happens to me, although frustrations do occur.  I wouldn't do it so much if it weren't so fulfilling and satisfying.  It's a cliche, but unlike housework (for example), sewn items "stays done"- completion is achievable!
Thanks for reading if you've gotten this far.  I hope it's okay to write down my thoughts now and then instead of just posting project after project.  I have been thinking about ways to make this blog more personal and personable instead of just being a record of my WIP's and finishes.  To end, here's a quote I love from a beloved Mormon leader within my church.  It sums up exactly how I feel about my hobby.

"As you take the normal opportunities of your daily live and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you." Dieter Uchtdorf.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Dress: Addison Pattern for Modkid by Patty Young

My mom came for a visit and every time she comes, I try to do a sewing project that she can assist with.  She's not an extremely avid sewist, but she definitely has had experience and is good for helping me wrap my brain around patterns and sewing challenges.  We made my master bedroom curtains together and she helped me eke out enough of the black fabric for the maternity shirt I made.  For this visit, I got out the Addison dress pattern I've had for forever and some stash fabrics: Modern Whimsy bunnies and some Kona Pomegranate.

I prewashed the fabrics and traced out the pattern for a size 3T.  I tackled buttonholes for the first time ever (not super scary after all!).  The most difficulty I had was with the tiny sleeve cuffs- those were a killer.  

This picture shows the bow/sash in the back:

I can't wait for her to wear it to church for many Sundays.  Even though this garment was probably the most challenging garment I've ever attempted, it really wasn't too bad and I could definitely see myself making another.  She really likes it too, it definitely helps that there is a "critter" motif for the main fabric.

On a completely different note, I wanted to share a new quilting tool I invested in: software to print out my own Thangle-like HST's templates.  I really do not like making half square triangle units the traditional way: cut two squares extra big, draw a line diagonally down one square, sew two 1/4" lines on either side of that line, iron, and worst of all: lots of trimming.  I have bought Thangles numerous time (for about $7-9 per pack) and that adds up.  It's also inconvenient to wait for them in the mail or find my LQS is out of the stock of the specific size I need. I finally learned about this software that allows you to print your own templates in every conceivable size: Triangulations.  I am not sponsored by this company at all, but I thought it would be helpful to share here.  It cost about $32 with shipping but I know it's going to be worth it.  I rarely spend my sewing money on anything but fabric, but I think this was worth the investment.  Here's a link on amazon where I found mine.

Thanks for reading.  I have a BIG finish to share next week.  Have a great weekend.

Total stash fabric used in this post: 3 yards
Total stash fabric used since 1/1/15: 27.5 yards
Total stash fabric used to date: 30.5 yards

Monday, March 23, 2015

Baby Boy Quilt Finish

I finished the baby boy quilt and I am pretty pleased with it.  It's not as much of a "show stopper" as the girl quilt but I like the graphic appeal of this design and the prints I used.  Sewing together equilateral triangles was quite easy for me after having had experience with patterns like Krackle and New Wave.  As long as you line the pieces up correctly, it's no more difficult than simple patchwork squares.

Since my first two children have been "texture snobs," I have learned by experience to make baby quilts with soft backing fabrics.  My choice for this quilt is called "Gnome Pants" from Cotton and Steel.  I did straight line quilting and bound this quilt with some Happy Go Lucky dots from my stash.

Total stash fabric used in this post: 2.5 yards
Total stash fabric used since 1/1/15: 25 yards
Total stash fabric used to date: 27.5 yards

Thanks for reading!  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Birthday Gifts

Sometimes the thought of going to Target on a Saturday morning for birthday presents is enough motivation one needs to make handmade aprons for the birthday kids instead.  I stayed up way too late on Friday night but it was worth it.  The family apparently likes to bake/cook together and the mom mentioned loving the idea of having kid-sized aprons for her children.  The aprons have pockets and are made from an easy "Sewing for Dummies" pattern.  We used the money we saved to hire a babysitter Saturday evening and my husband and I went on a date!  Win, win, win.

Stash fabric used: 1 yard
Total stash fabric used to date: 26 yards

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Le Challenge: Private Swap between Friends

A while ago I approached my friend Sarah about doing a private mini quilt swap with each other.  She's kept in touch since moving away from the Boston area and I've really enjoyed our friendship.  We met at the BMQG about 3 years ago and I thought it would be meaningful to have something made from a good friend to hang in my sewing room.  My walls are SO bare in there and it's shameful!

Our taste in fabric is pretty different.  She loves all things yellow and doesn't go near pink or red very much.  Pink and red are my favorite colors and I love Anna Maria Horner fabrics.  She mentioned liking Kate Spain and Lizzy House.  Lizzy House fabrics were an easy starting point for me.  I have almost every print from her collections, so I whipped up a little economy block mini:

I felt nervous that this would be good because it wasn't as complicated/time intensive as a lot of the minis you see for swaps on blogs and IG.  I also doubted my choice of using the color brown, as that is not a very rarely a popular color choice among modern quilters.  But I felt like if I didn't have a few very dark fabrics, the design wouldn't "pop" and the whole thing might look washed out.

I also made some extras for Sarah with some yellow fabrics I had in my stash; a large open wide zip pouch and a Sew Together Bag.  I think I've made about five Sew Together bags and this last one probably gave me the hardest time of all!  Imagine my shock when she received two Sew Together Bags from friends prior to our swap deadline, after I had made this especially for her!  She is so loved, she had three different friends willing to make one of the most difficult and time intensive zip bags for her - did I mention she now has three?!

On Instagram, I saw sneak peaks of Sarah's mini she was working on for me and I was excited:

Isn't it gorgeous?!  She really nailed it.  I love the choice of fabrics and the color scheme.  I love the design.  (This quilt is one of my all time favorites from the blogosphere).

I wanted to share close ups of the amazing free motion quilting.  This girl has skills!

Sarah also generously provided lots of extras - including clothing for the baby and bubble wands and candy for my kids.  That night, after I had received her package, I literally had a dream that we got in an argument because she was upset that her package to me was better than what I had sent to her!  I emailed her about it and we had a good laugh.  But seriously, she was extremely generous.

Linking up with this month's Le Challenge for the word, "passion."  There's lots of ways this post and these sewn items relate to passion.  It was passion for this craft that has led me to include guild participation as a priority in my busy life.  Meeting people like Sarah has been the best part of that decision- it really is all about the connections you make with people and it's more than fun to share enthusiasm for the same hobby together.  I also have to say that my appreciation and enthusiasm for different designer's fabrics keeps me hooked too.  If I only had the fabric choices that traditional shops catered to, I really doubt I would be sewing much at all.  I have known to go "fangirl" for specific designers and that is so un-cool, but oh well.  People like Anna Maria Horner, Lizzy House, Amy Butler, Ann Kelle, and Joel Dewberry have really changed the fabric world and I love it!

Le Challenge

Total stash fabric used in this post: 1 yard
Total stash fabric used since 1/1/15: 24 yards
Total stash fabric used to date: 25 yards

Friday, March 06, 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird: Book Club Door Prizes

It's my turn to host book club again.  Our small group picked the classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird."  I will admit that I was less than thrilled with the choice because I have read it numerous times.  If you grow up in New England, you will read "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and Mockingbird ad nauseum.  At least that was my experience.  But despite my trepidation, reading it again was nice and I really enjoyed it.  It's a classic I can actually understand.  This mommy brain can't handle Chaucer and Dante right now.

Anyway, I went a little overboard with the door prizes, I am hosting our group tonight.  You see, I have a lot of bird fabrics and pulling from my stash was easy.  I am also trying to be more generous and share what I make.  I tried to do simple projects besides zip pouches and I enjoyed the diversity of making so many different items.

I started with a library tote:

 (1 yd)

Then I made a hoop organizer (you hang this on the wall and it can be a pretty way to store sewing supplies, writing utensils, etc.)  I had never made one before but it was quick and easy, it only took me an hour.

I returned to the Divided Basket tutorial and skipped the divider to save time:

(1 yd)

Here's my son modeling the apron I made, isn't he so cute?  What a good sport.  Something tells me he won't be so willing to do this for too much longer.

(1.25 yd)

Finally, a pillowcase out of some fabric I've had for ages.

(1 yd)

Several weeks ago, at an FRQG meeting, I made a resolution to use up 50 yards of stash fabric by the year's end.  I haven't done a good job of keeping track of this, but I am going to start documenting this on my blog now.  I will end each post that documents finished projects from stash fabrics with a total.  Within the next week, I will go through my most recent finishes blog posts to update what I've accomplished since that meeting, which will also allow me to keep a running tally.  Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading.

Amount of stash used in this post: 4.25 yds

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Boy Quilt

The fun bag I received as part of the FRMQG swap gave me the color/fabric inspiration I needed to make a boy quilt for this baby.  I already had the necessary Cotton and Steel fabrics in my stash and I pulled several blenders for this project.  It's safe to say that my stash of navy fabrics is nearly depleted.  I bought a Fons and Porter 60 degree ruler at Joann's and this top was done in just two days.  Now I am waiting for some navy voile backing to arrive in the mail in order to finish this up.

We've had several chilly days in Colorado that have resulted in many preschool cancellations.  My son is been driving me a little nuts, he's been bored being house bound so often.  I finally came up with an idea to allow him to play in my fabric scraps one afternoon.  He is loving it and Charlotte's been having fun with it too.  It makes a mess but it's pretty harmless.  Since we moved here about a year ago, I have been throwing all of my scraps into two large tote bags that are now overflowing.  They seriously need to get organized but my procrastination will continue to serve the kids well for now.  File this activity under the heading, "fun things to do with scraps," right?

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.