Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My big news: I bought a longarm


I think I've been procrastinating writing this post for some odd reason....  But it's time to finally reveal the "big news": I bought a longarm quilting machine!  A good friend from my amazing book club, Kathy, who is a die-hard quilter, learned that our mutual friend, Marti, was selling her longarm due to an impending move.  Kathy has known that I've been very interested in owning a longarm and mentioned this to Marti....  It all became a whirlwind of a process, but soon enough, this Viking Husqvarna 18x8 Mega Quilter is now occupying a large part of our basement.

I'll admit that I've had some anxiety about this purchase and commitment....  But I was given a great price and the machine has not been overly used by any means.  I was told by a reliable source that you don't come across this kind of deal on such a well kept machine very often.  It's been my dream to own a longarm for a very long time.  I've rented longarms for about seven years now and after renting for so long, it's become quite natural to want to own my own.  Generally, when I go to the longarm rental places, I've felt a bit nervous because I am paying for my time and haven't felt that I could afford the luxury of practicing free motion quilting at $20-25 per hour.... Now I can practice in my own home and get my quilts quilted without waiting for my husband to have a day off so that he can watch the kids.

I will say that I feel like I am more "used to" the Gammill longarm brand (because that's the kind I've rented for so long) and I can kind of understand why they cost many more thousands of dollars than this Husqvarna.  I have to admit that I still want to own a computerized Gammill but owning this much more affordable Husqvarna will help me build my free motion quilting skills in the meantime without having large monthly payments and the pressure of building a quilting business while my children are so young.

Speaking of my children, this summer has been turning out to yield very little sewing time, and I am sure you, my kind readers, are not surprised that I am reporting this and you may even be experiencing the same thing.  I think this is a big reason why I am a bit stressed about the machine right now: I don't have a lot of time to work with it and practice on it lately.  But a few weeks ago I gave myself a little internal lecture that went something like this, "Just chill out.  You know you are glad to have a break from the school routine.  Do not wish away this summer or the extra time with the kids.  You got stressed when you had to go rent a longarm and now you're acting all stressed because you own a longarm.  Chill!"  Honestly, my little pep talk helped and now I am just trying to be okay with it not being used a ton right now and just be patient with myself.

Even though I've complained about not using my longarm often enough, I have finished the Circle Circus quilt and will showcase that this Friday.

One side note I'd like to add about renting longarms: long time readers of this blog know I just LOVED living nearby and renting from Laurena in Burlington, MA.  She recently sold her business to a personal friend of mine: Louise Rains.  So if you're one of my good readers from the Boston area, please continue to support that business and tell Louise I sent you.  She's a great lady who was generous enough to have me over years ago and she actually taught me how to make and put on a real quilt binding (I used to fold the back of the quilt to the front for a makeshift binding.... *shudder*).  Louise has named her new business Burlington Electric Quilters and I believe she's in the same studio Laurena had used.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Daysail Baby Gifts

 During May and early June, I had a lot of sewing goals to accomplish.  I am happy to say that I just wrapped up one of my biggest projects: making baby gifts for a niece.  My brother Brian and his wife Ashley are expecting a little girl and I guess the plan is for Ashley to be induced this Thursday.  They already have a little boy, just 2 weeks older than my youngest son.  I knew they appreciated the baby gifts I made for their son, and I love to spoil babies in the family, so I went all out for their little girl.

Long before Ashley was even pregnant with her daughter, I bought two Daysail charm packs to stash away for the possibility of her ever having a girl.  She and Brian are obsessed with sailing and I knew I should grab some "feminine sailing" fabrics, as that is not a very common theme!  I am so glad I did, making a bunch of "Daysail" projects was a lot of fun.

Of course, I had to make a quilt.  I used the Moda Bakeshop tutorial, Charming Stars, by Stefanie of Little Lady Patchwork.  I made just 9 blocks, it was a very easy and enjoyable project.  Initially, i was just going to do red solid stars in the middle of every block, but by adding pink and blue, I was able to use a lot more of the Daysail squares without anything blending in with surrounding fabrics too much.


I sashed the blocks with a Cloud9 background fabric from my stash- I was *so* close to not having enough, but I managed to find some scraps of it, which helped me have just enough to make it work.  I thought about sashing the blocks in white, but I just couldn't do it.  I really don't like using too much white for a baby quilt!


I finished this quilt while my parents were visiting last week.  It was such a busy time, but I knew I wanted to get everything done in time for my mom to take the sewn gifts home (as they live about 45 minutes from Ashley and Brian).  Stippling a quilt is the fastest way for me to quilt on my domestic machine, but I am so tired of doing that.  I decided to try a decorative stitch and sew it along across my quilt.  It's like waves, right?



I used stash fabrics for the back and purchased a Bonnie and Camille basic stripe for the binding.



I made a tiny Geranium dress, size 3-6 months, for the baby too.  Isn't it just darling?!  I happened to have these Daysail fabrics in my stash- but I wish I had first remembered that I had a whole half yard of the aqua sailboat fabric.  Having a large stash can have some drawbacks!




Eventually, I remembered that I had the aqua sailboat fabric and I went ahead and made some bibs and a diaper pouch.


Here's all of the themed gifts together.  Isn't it so fun?!


It feels so good to have finished up all this stuff and I know it will be appreciated.  It feels kind of weird to have lots of freedom on what to choose to sew next....  I will say that I have big news on a big change that is coming to my "sewing life."  I'll share more soon!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Spring Time Clothes Sewing

I have SO many quilt WIPS and fabric pull piles for potential quilts.... but I keep making my kids clothes.  I am kind of dying to get back to more 2D sewing - not having to worry about curves, buttonholes, and gathers....  BUT these cute kids keep growing and I am truly trying to sew up garments for them now- when I have the right amount of yardage for their size and before their willingness to wear my makes goes away..........  Plus I love seeing them walk around in prints that I love and my daughter still adores the dresses I make her....

So, I made her two Ice Cream Social dresses, size 6T.  


This purple one gave me SO much trouble.... I especially struggled with the bottom band- which is technically a lot easier than the top yoke... but I was dying!  I even threw it across the room in frustration at one point!



The cat corduroy is an old favorite, long out of print, that I used 2 years ago to make Charlotte a jacket.  When she grew out of it, she cried and cried!  I was so happy to discover more of the fabric recently and surprise her with this dress, even if I had many frustrating moments in making it!


I've had this pink solid and Japanese print prewashed and waiting since the fall.... it was definitely time for me to sew these fabrics into a dress.


My second go at making this pattern went much more smoothly.



My other big project has been making Charlotte and Owen matching jackets.  I wanted to make Charlotte yet another "Baby in the Hood" jacket and purchased this Ann Kelle fox corduroy.  Later, I found the coordinating red version locally and knew I wanted to make Owen a matching jacket!


Making these went very smoothly!  I was so grateful.  I guess the only significant hiccup was my automatic buttonhole feature on my machine went a little wacky.  That was frustrating- and I was SO close to being finished!





This kid just turned two years old!  He's about to be discharged from speech therapy six months early because he's made so much progress.  Comically, his favorite phrase is, "go away."


This scene is evidence of my third attempt to get a picture of these two wearing their jackets together.... it's so not easy to photograph kids!  


Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

MOPS Gifts: Perfect Zip Bags, Celestial Style

I've said before that this move to Colorado from my beloved New England has been H.A.R.D.  But thank goodness there is one community I'm a part of here that has become quite meaningful and integral to my emotional survival: my MOPS group.  I found them by enrolling my oldest son in Holy Apostles preschool and a mom invited me to their "mom's group"... and the rest is history!

One way I learned quickly to enhance my experience in the group is to always volunteer to be in leadership of the MOPs group.  It just helps you get to know others better and in a more meaningful way; when the group roster changes dramatically every fall (hello military town!), you still maintain a sense of continuity.  

Last year I was in charge of Membership and that was a BIG job!  This year I decided to give myself an easier time and agreed to be a "Discussion Group Leader" (DGL).  My role was to lead an assigned table and help those ladies know about upcoming events, any responsibilities we had, and help everyone feel involved and included.  

ANYWAY- I decided to make them all parting gifts as our 2016-2017 year came to a close.  The MOPS theme was "We are the Starry Eyed"- so I finally broke out a bunch of my moon and star fabrics to make Bag C from Perfect Zip Bags, an Elizabeth Hartman pattern (if you don't have this pattern, you NEED it.  It enables you to have that clean finish by each end of the zipper that is very elusive in other bag patterns!  She is also very clever with an interfacing approach that makes these bags super sturdy).  


The bag was made out of Yarn Dyed Essex Linen in Flax, my stash patchwork, thrifted zippers, and some handmade "celestial themed" custom zipper pulls.  My friend Leslie, who has experience in jewelry making, helped me make them and they were the perfect accent to the project:


The ladies were very appreciative of my gift and it was a little sad to say goodbye to such a fun year we had together.  


Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dresden Lane Designs Etsy Shop


After months of hard work, I am finally launching my Etsy store.  Photography and graphic design are not strong talents of mine but I've done my best to create a nice space on Etsy to showcase my handmade items.  Right now, it's all kind of a mix of things for sale: patchwork dish towels, coasters, crayon wallets, chalkboard roll ups, and all of those pillows and mini quilt made with reclaimed needlework.  Hopefully within the next 1-2 weeks, I can reveal my new and improved marker totes too.  

I will continue to make quilts and clothing for my family and share them here, I am definitely not ready to give up all of my "personal" sewing.  

Here's a sampling of what I have to offer in my Etsy store:








Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 15, 2017

May Scraptastic Tuesday Link Up

The Front Range Modern Guild is hosting an outdoor quilt show on June 17 in Monument at Limbach Park (151 Front Street) from 10-4.  The leaders are organizing a guild quilt that will be displayed there (I think it will be donated to a charitable organization afterwards).  Guild members were given a few solid fat quarters and were asked to make a 12.5" block.  Here's what I came up with:


I used the Kona blue/green fat quarter I was given and bright orange scraps.  I had so much fun making this.  Wonky stars are definitely not new, but I am still proud that I figured out the math on this on my own and got it to be precisely 12.5" as requested.  It wasn't until I finished the block that I realized I could've avoided four seams if I had did rectangles on the interior of the block instead of the squares but that's okay.  Maybe I'll do a tutorial of this soon- wouldn't this be so cute repeated over and over to make a big quilt?!

Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Finish it up Friday: My Donation to International Institute of New England

Last week I got to work on my donation quilt for the International Institute of New England.  I've had two charm packs of Thomas Knauer's Asbury fabric line in my stash for ages.  It's so bright and fun and even gender neutral.  I also had a yard of this crazy-bright yellow that helped the colors pop even more.  I used a very simple pattern by Elizabeth Hartman, found here, on Sew Mama Sew.  The only change I made was to add borders on the side.




I used coordinating stash fabrics for the back and scraps of binding from previous quilts- something I've always wanted to try out.  The quilt measures 40 x 43.


Please see my previous post if you are interested in donating a baby quilt/blanket/afghan etc. to help refugees in the New England area.  Soon after I published that post, someone commented on it and asked where to send the quilts but the comment disappeared for some reason.  If you'd like the address for sending quilts, please directly email me at LaurieEMatthews @ gmail dot com

Linking up to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

This and That: Gifts and Thrifting Treasures

 I've been busy with setting up my Etsy shop and making gifts for friends.

A sweet gal at church just had her first child and she loves elephants.  I made a few bibs for her and a few for the shop:


This year at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers group) I've been a "Discussion Group Leader."  An optional aspect of this role is to give small gifts to those who sit at my table.  I'll admit I've slacked off with this duty this semester, so I wanted to make something special for everyone for our last meeting.  I'm using Elizabeth Hartman's "Perfect Zip Pouches" and I chose a "celestial" theme because the national MOPS theme this year has been, "We Are the Starry Eyed."


I decided I wanted to have a little something "extra" for the bags and decided to make custom zipper pulls.  Lots of help from a local friend and a few inexpensive supplies at Hobby Lobby and Joann's yielded these cuties:


I am pretty psyched about how this project is coming along!

I had to share some of the amazing thrifted sewing goodies I bought this past weekend.  This bundle of vintage fabric was at a company-run estate sale.  I don't often enjoy these "professionally run" sales because they are usually characterized by super high prices.  I thought I would probably leave empty handed, but I couldn't resist grabbing these goodies.  There were no price tags on fabric and I braced myself for an astronomical sum, but the guy asked me if $2 was okay.  Um.. yes, that would be great!


This is my favorite piece:


At the same sale, I bought this hand embroidered table topper for $3.  I'm thinking of re-purposing this into a hoop:


The last sale I went to on Saturday was a little chaotic.  Stuff was just everywhere and the poor place just looked like it needed a giant dumpster.  But tucked in a back bedroom, I found a box of linens and this GORGEOUS tablecloth with four matching napkins.  All of the needlework is impeccably done and while there is one big hole and a few stains, I really think all 12 of the bouquets are salvageable!  I can't just put these into a pillow... I'm thinking I need to go BIG and make a whole quilt with these.  The cherry on top is that all of these were $1.


Thanks for reading!  I'll be back on Friday with a simple quilt finish.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hey Mercedes Purse: Jackalope Style

For Christmas, my sister gave me Sara Lawson's newest book: Windy City Bags.  The "Hey Mercedes" pattern really appealed to me, so I went to work making it over the past few weeks.

Yes, it definitely took me more than a few days to make this bag.  Bag making is serious business, you almost spend more time cutting out fabric and interfacing, as well as locating hardware, than you do actually sewing.  

But the reward is pretty sweet when you're finished.  Here's the front:



Here's the back:


I just love a good fabric pairing outside the bounds of using fabrics from the same collection.  I used Tall Tales Jackalope in Dusk and Geometric Bliss Polygons in Yellow.  The red solid is a Cirrus solid from Cloud9.


I didn't put a magnetic snap in because I thought I had one and when I realized I didn't, I didn't want to waste a good half hour going to Joanns to get one.  I am fine with that choice- if it had really mattered to me, I would've gone to the store.  I found the metal rectangle rings at Hobby Lobby- they were a buckle style, but I just used pliers to remove the middle bar.  So much better than special ordering them!

I really like this purse and I am excited to carry around this whimsical fabric that I enjoy so much.  It's a bit bigger than the purse I've been carrying around for a while now: my 241 tote.  I am glad to have something a little bigger that will better accommodate the few things I like to carry around with me.

Linking up to Sew Sweetness Bag Contest 2017.