Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vacation crafts

We've had a great extended weekend away with my extended family in Palm Springs. I planned ahead and packed enough hand sewing for about 7 or 8 weeks of vacation... So I was more than prepared when my nieces wanted to dig in. First my eldest niece, Lily, wanted to sew her own project bag, like the ones I carry all my projects in, so I had a little sewing buddy all weekend. Then 3 year old Violet asked me in her tiny voice, "Lala, do you have any yellow favrics?" (insert my melting heart here and you'll see how she ended up with a yellow "packpack".)
Lily was convinced then to turn her bag into a backpack herself and after two days of working on it with great determination, she was able to put it on with pride for these pics.
I spent tonight working on a third bag for middle sister, Sofia, and of course, Mimi needed a little love, too, so I capped off the evening with some tiny surprises for my special girl, too.
(I'll show those tomorrow.)
Didn't really make much progress on my own projects, but I did get lots of sewing in and plenty of indoctrination to the cult of sewing for my nieces. (Mimi spent her vacation practicing Ms. Pacman and other old school video games on the big booth here at the house, for her own change of pace! Sewing, not so much...)

Favorite Sewing Books - post 7 - One Yard Wonders

Oh do I love this book!
It's another one that has gotten dog eared by my carting it around everywhere.
(True confession, I leave the house with at least one extra bag almost every time I leave - that has a sewing book and at least 2 projects to work on. This one has been in the bag a lot.)

I've made the cutest casserole holders from patterns in this. I learned about this book by hearing the podcast on Craftsanity and I love the fact that this is a truly collaborative effort by tons of designers. And so many projects? wow.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

favorite Sewing Books - post 6- Block Party

This book is an exciting view into the world of the new online quilting bee (like the two I am in!!). It's not only got the 12 projects that the women made, it's got the stories of their journey - their inspiration and it's really neat to see how the bee quilts turned out with 12 pairs of hands involved.

And yes, mine is signed (by Alissa). Which is always fun.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Charity quilts finished!

Aren't these so fun to behold? Here are 5 of the 6 quilts that my 8 guild member friends helped me to get together for the Sharefest Youth Development Academy kids from their artwork.
Huge thanks to Tanya, Lori, Latifah, Patsy, Pam, Lisa. Angela and Lauren for their contributions!
These look great, don't they????

Monday, August 22, 2011

Favorite Sewing Books - post 5- Modern Log Cabin Quilting

I haven't made any of the quilts in this book yet -it just came out.
But I have lots of pages marked.
Log Cabin quilts are fun to make and these are so fresh and revitalized.
Nuf said.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Favorite Sewing Books - post 4- Sew What Skirts

I'll confess I first picked up this book to see if it was giving away my Libby Dibby pattern. (it doesn't) But I ended up buying it because it's awesome.

I haven't made one of the skirts as they're presented. But the directions and know-how that are shared in this book are amazing and clear and valuable and I have at least 4 or 5 skirts I have made using the techniques I learned by reading this book - yes - ACTUALLY READING the book and not just looking at the photos.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seams Perfect stars for Theresa

I'm less than thrilled about these paper pieced stars that I made for Theresa this month in our Seams Perfect bee.

I just figured that since she had asked for scrappy stars that she would be getting a ton of wonky stars... So here would be something different... I shrank down a pattern from quilters' cache (starry web) and made my squares from that.
After 2 hours of practice and a lot of mistakes, I had a red and white block i liked for my sampler- but the next night, when usingTheresa's fabric, I got all the pieces in the right place, but in the end, they didn't match up.
Wah. I am not proud of these.
Still, like every month in my bees.. I learned, which is the reason I joined the bees in the first place.

(I am proud of the little pouch I made to go with it as a gift though... how lame is it that I was so much freer with this?)

Charity quilt progress - longarm day

There are 6 quilts in this little sharefest quilt project... And I am not doing them all alone. There are a lot of women who are helping me!
Today's fun journey was to take a little "me" time - all the kids were farmed out - so that I could visit my friend, Tanya, and we could quilt one of the quilts on her longarm machine. For those who have no idea what a longarm machine is: this is a 10-12 foot wide sewing machine that you use to complete those beautiful intricate quilting patterns you see on high end quilts. The machine is enormous. Before a few months ago, I think I imagined it was a machine that kind of ran itself on an autopilot kind of deal. It's not. While using Tanya's machine with her today, I literally felt like I did the first time I used a sewing machine. My stitches were so messy! So primitive! I couldn't even do the below raindrop design without really having to work at it! I think about two inches of 150 that I did were "good".
But I've said it before and I am not afraid of being a beginner at stuff. There's a Bible verse I love that says, "do not despise the day of small beginnings". I firmly believe in embracing my journey.
I'd taken a class a few weeks ago about "quilting" with Angela Walters... (been meaning to write about that) And I've taken the "free motion sewing" class with Lisa at Sew Modern- but can I just take my hat off to people who can do this well???? Geez, it's hard! Free motion AND longarm quilting...
It's fun, though.
Imagine learning that not only is driving a possibility, but flying is, too. (I still need to master driving... And sewing, for that matter.)
Tanya is REALLY GOOD at this. She showed me some recently finished quilts for customers and i was blown away. Even moreso after playing with her machine.
I'm trying to think of something I can have her quilt for me.... May have to make something....
These Sharefest quilts are going to be so great. Each one, so different. Each one having at least 32 pairs of hands having worked on it. That is awesome.
(oh, and thanks to Lauren at Sew Modern for donating this blue!)
I'll post pics when they are all finished. Can't wait to share.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

favorite Sewing Books - post 3 - Anna Maria Horner

It SEAMS TO ME] that everyone loves this book.
Ever since I first read about her in Home Companion magazine (Tori had passed the article onto me), I was in love with all things AnnaMaria Horner. I listened to the Craftsanity podcasts with her and I decided I had a hobby crush on AMH.

This book is sheer eye candy. Absolutely fabulous.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Charity quilts

Pardon my dark picture... Blogging from my phone...

This week's project (along with 8 other women from my guild... Thanks to Lori, Patsy, Pam, Angela, Lauren at Sew Modern, Lisa, Latifah and Tanya!) is to help the folks at Sharefest (a non-profit where my sister, Victory, works) assemble 6 quilts.

You can read about the kids who drew the artwork for these squares and their amazing camp experiences this month here:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Favorite Sewing Books - post 2 - Bend the Rules Sewing

This sewing book is literally so dogeared and worn from being taken to the beach and played with that it has to be #2 to be shared.
I actually have made a number of projects in this book. They're fun, fast, and really inspiring.
Highly recommend.
Amy Karol is candid and whimsical and I love this book. Even if it has sand in the creases.

Friday, August 12, 2011

historical serenity

My friend Alison took this photo as she toured a historical home this summer.
There are about 10 things in this photo that make me happy.

Long Beach Quilt Show

I was able 2 weeks ago to attend the Long Beach Quilt Show. It was my first time ever attending anything of the like.  I really enjoyed running into a couple of my guild members - and I especially liked seeing the demonstration of new tools - that's always what I like!
I have to say that there wasn't much represented in the way of the modern quilter a la "Modern Quilt Guild" - just a few little snippets. For the most part there seemed to be a huge divide between two well represented groups - the traditional quilters and the art quilters.
(I'll post some fun things I saw, I tried not to take any pics of ones I wasn't supposed to, so if you see any ones that I shouldn't have, please let me know and I will remove them)

Now of course, you know I loved loved loved touring the art quilts. The way that those artists manipulate fabric was mind boggling to me. And I for sure could see how I could fit into their camp with what I love to do on my art/collage side.  The traditional quilts didn't do much to inspire me, though there was CERTAINLY talent on the side of the quilters themselves. I just am an artist at heart and only snatched a few pics...

But I also really love the idea of a usable, washable, stainable, lovable quilt that doesn't just hang on the wall. I love the humility of a work of art that you end up sleeping with or using to cover your kids or have a picnic on.  There's just something about that to me.
(Look at how tiny these yoyos are! 
The owner of it said that his mother made it - It covered his entire 6 foot table, top and sides... it's amazing)

So I left, a little confused for sure - confused about where I belong. But I think that was good. Because I love the idea that there is a place somewhere in the middle for me. I haven't quite exactly found my voice and I don't think I fit particularly into any one box - but I love the dialogue I had with myself (you already knew I was crazy) on my way home in the car.

It's continued for a couple of weeks. And I know that I still have years and years to figure out my style. I loved my art professor in college who told me that my 20s and 30s were just about figuring out my artistic language and that my 40s were when I should expect to really be flying. That gives me 5 more years of experimenting!

Oh, and I'll leave you with this image that I saw outside on the pavement - which I found nearly as inspiring as what I saw inside the convention.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Inspiration is free - take some ideas!

Isn't it great that we can get inspiration anywhere? Here are a few places I recently found some inspiration:

1 - A child's palette. I was making hair wraps with embroidery floss on the 7 little girls on our camping trip recently and one of the 7 year olds picked this color combo. And it was great on it's own, but when I put it down to photograph and think about later, I only had my pants to use to set it down on, and then this green was there with them. Even as I am typing this now, don't you think this entire photo would make a great quilt?

2 - A child's painting. I feel like Z has such a beautifully abstract sense of creativity.
He wanted me to leave this painting at the museum where he made it, but I couldn't. I needed to chew on the layout and amazing color choices he made. I so could see this being a quilt, too.

3 - Just messing around. While Z was painting the above masterpiece, Mimi was painting mermaids and I was just messing with the paints. I hate this page that I did below, but I love the idea of using it as a study in color, or isolating little sections to find as my Collage professor, Franklyn, says "little moments" that work for further study.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Favorite sewing books

I have a thing for books with pictures. Actually I have a thing for books. But lately, sewing and craft books have been really a passion for me. I love the inspiration, the photos, the ideas - often I don't even follow the patterns - it's more about seeing the items and making things based on my inspiration from them.

I probably have 30-40 sewing books alone. (The first of which was my Denyse Schmidt book!)
That is not mentioning the 50-60 crafting/sewing/quilting magazines I also hang onto.
Now here's the problem. I have all of them, but have I really made something from them? Inspired by, yes, but wouldn't it be good to actually use the books? (I think so)

I have been wanting to challenge myself lately to make at least 1 item from each book, magazine, etc - that I've bought. Just one. So that puts me out at um. well - if I gave myself a month for each project - well, I guess I would be busy for about um (I hate math)... wait a sec... a decade or two? oy.
Okay, not going to do that.

Instead, I'm going to just share with you some of my favorite books and resources. If I had time to sit down and not chase a little baby tornado around (today I caught him trying to throw Z's snowglobes from a stool) - I would review even the top 10.
I'll try.
But I don't really have much time.
So instead, I'm going to just point you to them and when I get the chance, I'll write reviews. And you'll have to trust me that if they weren't my favorites,  and really worth buying... well, I wouldn't share them. ok? (not that you asked)
One of the cool things about being in the LAMQG is that I've been able to meet a number of the authors of the books that I love as they are either fellow members or speakers who visit our meetings to give talks.
That said, I have to start with Denyse Schmidt's book.

I bought this book YEARS before I ever thought I'd really make a quilt. I would periodically look through it and drool.  I can't say I have actually made any projects from it - but I can say that I still consider buying this book a valuable part of my quilting journey.
A fellow member and acquaintance of mine, Jenny, is actually working her way -Julie and Julia style through the book... woot! What a great idea!
Here's her finished quilt.
Any Way You Slice It Quilt - FINISHED!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I have the coolest friends - Tori writes another book

My friend, Tori, rocks.

But if you're a long time reader here, you know that. Tori and I met in college - we had our painting studios next to each other, and then when I was a textile designer vacating my Santa Monica position for the same job in Chicago, she was my replacement. So we sat next to each other, two engaged girls, planning our weddings and traveling together as little textile designers to exotic locales - like sweaty mills in Georgia, meetings in Seattle, conventions in Chicago and one fun trip to Vail.
The next few years, we were peers - working with each other over a long distance... both loving design, but rapidly growing more and more tired of corporate life and we both ended up leaving our jobs and starting our own design businesses within a year.
Tori started her stationery company which has really done some amazing things over the past 5 years.
In her journeys, she's also been able to meet some other incredibly amazing stationery artists and after realizing how the word about them needs to get out, she wrote her first book - Today's Top Stationery Designers. It's great! What a beautifully published book and a great resource for both inspiration and some fun places to shop.

Tori has followed up her first book with a second now. And it's equally as wonderful.
I really loved reading about the artists - their inspiration, how they got started and seeing the images about their design spaces - aren't we all wanting to peek into creative studios?

Don't I have good reason to be proud of this creative author?
I think so.  She's always been the one to keep me inspired and informed about design trends she sees... Now she can inform you too.

Neighborhood quilt is done!

It's done!
And there are far more than 12 women represented here. My bee gals made the amazing blocks, but it feels iike about 20 other people helped too. A friend gave me many of the fabrics, a neighbor gave me the binding fabric, my LAMQG gals helped contribute pieces for the final block at one weekend sew and at another sew I found many hands helping me baste as time ran out against the clock.

I stippled the entire thing on my small machine at home. I won't win any awards for how the stippling came out, but I am also not ashamed of being a newbie to the process of machine quilting a queen sized quilt on a tiny home machine.

I love this urban neighborhood.
My husband is begging that we switch the current quilt off our bed and he's promised to help make the bed if we put this one on it instead.

Here's one Alissa took of me presenting it at the guild last night too. It felt so fun to share it with the people that it really means something to. I feel so supported by my guild friends.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Charity: A great way to donate and also to win!

Check out Alissa's blog today. She's got the scoop on an amazing way to really contribute to the lives of women in the Congo who are learning to sew to support themselves. Last year, they raised $10,000 to help these women.

Contributions give you opportunities to win some really sought after collections of fabric.
Talk about a win-win-win.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Old Artwork - post 4

I'm not sure if this is a tree or coral, or what. But I loved using an old burlap coffee bag and sewing semi-precious stones onto it. I called  it the "Carnelian Tree" and it still makes me happy to look at this.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stacked books baby quilt

Wow. Last week was insane. To try and cope with all the stress I had, I was a sewing fiend! After whipping up the boy and girl baby quilts for my friend's new babies - I still had the same fabrics out and the inspiration to try my hand at another pattern that I've wanted to use...
So - same fabrics - different pattern. Still easy, still fast - and another chance to practice my stippling - which isn't fabulous, but isn't the worst ever anymore.
The monkey fabric is sentimental, because it's G's crib sheet. The sheet had a rip in it and I decided to cut it up and use it for quilts as a way to represent my journey - the good and the bad. I did the same with one of AJ's receiving blankets and that little striped pattern has made it into about 3-4 other quilts. The same way I carry my grief as I move forward into joy, I want to remind myself that the grief is also able to be made into something of beauty. So no matter where our journey with G goes - these monkeys may keep showing up as a little reminder of our journey. 

This quilt is headed to another friend who is adopting after some huge heartbreaks. Oh, I love adoption.  It may continue to elude us, but it is so amazing when it does work out for other people.
 (Our kids have BEGGED us not to give up. Can you believe it? They are even more committed to fostering than I feel some days.)
Stacked books baby quilt

Christmas in July (August)

This past month was my month to get blocks back for Bee Happy... I requested Christmas blocks. I've wanted, basically since I first started quilting, to make our family a Christmas quilt, ad I've collected fabrics forever for it, but never made one. So that's what a bee is great for, helping you tackle the projects that just seem too big.
Here are my blocks that I've made so far. My bee-mates are actually blowing my mind as they're sending in their blocks. Knowing July is a big travel month, I asked for only 1 block instead of the usual 2, but they all seem to be having so much fun with this that they have been sending me 3 and 4 blocks each. I can't wait to show you their work. For the time being, here's mine!



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