An actual craft post, yay!

Sewing and crafting has been slow. Really slow. The first trimester exhaustion and nausea that inhibited my crafting abilities has yet to dissipate, even though I am now at 19 weeks, and so almost halfway through this pregnancy.

When I first fell pregnant, the plan was to just take a crafting break for a few months because I assumed this pregnancy would be like the other two and I would start bouncing back at around 13 weeks. That has yet to happen, and I don’t want to go this whole time in a crafting funk, so I’m trying to adapt and just work more slowly through projects (something I didn’t even think was possible, as I am possibly the Slowest Craft Ever).

Cross stitch has been a nice, easy, fairly mindless thing to do when I want to sit and do nothing (which is all the time), but also do *something*.

I’ve been working on this adorable little sampler from last year at Cloudsfactory. I started it last August, so I’ve been working on it a year and I’m still only in May. Like I said, slowest crafter ever.

I also started a little Halloween wall hanging in the Cotton + Steel Spellbound line, which is probably the only Halloween fabric I have ever liked. I figured since hubby and I actually own a home now and I sew, I should like, make pretty stuff for it. I’ve been “working” on these for about two months now, and all I have to show for it are just two blocks. Seriously. Sewing is hard when you can’t brain.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91936282@N00/20526445639/in/datetaken/

I started a queen sized quilt way back in March and haven’t worked on it since I got pregnant, but I need to get back to it. It was originally from a quilt a long hosted by Modern Handcraft. I am only about two blocks into it because SCE (see above). I’m using neutral Kona solids with the Shimmer line, by Jennifer Sampou. It’s supposed to be dwarfy.

I’ll end the post here with some deep thoughts, brought to you by DMX:

It’s not you, it’s me

I’m not in love with Tula anymore. I know, shocking. It really is beautiful fabric. I appreciate the saturation, the fascinating subjects of some of her panel pieces, the creativity, but after about a year of seeing that fabric everywhere and in every thing, I can say with some confidence that it just isn’t my cup of tea. Oh sure, I browsed #thegreatfabricdestash on IG sometimes to catch a good deal, but I realize now that more than anything it was the thrill of the chase, and trying to acquire a highly desired piece of fabric simply because it was hard to find and so many other people wanted it. Thankfully, I set a price point early on and never went over it, so I don’t have any pieces I’ve purchased that I’m really ashamed of the money I spent on it. I am, however, a little ashamed of how much I have spent on bundles (usually just FQ) of entire collections that now I’m just not sure I’ll ever use. “Sure, just destash it”, you say, but that comes with its perils, some of which I have recently discovered. First, destashing is stressful and a big pain the rear. I destashed a lot of what I have so that right now, of my Tula, I only have a FQ or less of each print. I made some money, but I can’t say for sure if it was worth it. Second, and this is what really turned me off of both destashing, and maybe even the fabric itself (bad associations now), people can be nasty. See, you think you’ve done some research into the pricing of particular, HTF OOP fabrics, you list them for that, and instead of people behaving decently and just scrolling along if that price is too high, they comment. They balk, they tag their friends to come and look at your listing. Maybe then someone comes along and undercuts you and alludes to you in their listing, so their followers can go and look at your high priced listing and then go back and say nasty things about you, your motivations for selling at a certain price, and so on. All the while, you thought you had found a fair price point. You had seen the fabric sell for that very same price just that day, with no balking, no nasty talk, just a fair and honest transaction.

Yeah. My feelings were hurt. Yeah, maybe it’s silly to have my feelings hurt, but I really thought it was unnecessarily childish and hurtful. How hard is it to just move on? If it costs too much, you are under no obligation to buy or even comment.

I can’t even bring myself to look at this fabric right now.

So, the goal now is to use up what I have. Difficult, since this hasn’t been my go-to fabric to begin with.I did want to do the 100 Modern Quilt Blocks Sampler with what I have (I know, how original). Maybe later, after some more prints have gone out of print, I can try my hand at selling again and make back what I’ve spent.

Yesterday I broke up most of the collections and put them in my regular bins, sorted by color. I need to use the fabric from those bins more often, and I’ve been feeling pigeonholed by seeing collections all together. Maybe breaking them up will help the creative juices flow, and maybe after a while out of sight, I won’t feel so negatively about the fabric and will actually be able to use them.

A year in review – thoughts on using Instagram for quilt inspiration (part one – the good)

It’s been about a year since I first discovered Instagram as a great way to network and meet other amazing quilters. I’ll have to credit Molli Sparkles with being the first quilter I followed, and from his page, the three or so hundred I now follow. I think the easiest way for me to work through my thoughts on this would be a simple pro/con list, because I do have a fair few of both.

Pros:
1)This one is easy, really. Getting to “meet” amazing quilt artists from all over the world and being able to expose myself to a huge variety of quilts and styles. I’ve mostly followed the modern crowd, but I do have a few more traditional quilters on me feed as well.

2)The fabrics! I would have never, ever known about some of the amazing lines of fabrics that have come out this year or in the past. This has been a bit of a double edged sword (as you’ll see in the cons list), but overall it’s been quiet positive. I’ve learned about some great shops, both larger internet ones, small etsy shops, and my local modern quilt shop.

(Denise Schmidt fabrics are  my jam, yo)

3)The quilts, duh – Of course, amazing quilters using amazing fabrics are going to make some killer quilts. I confess, I have hundreds of pictures of quilts and quilts in progress saved on my phone just to easily refer back to and look at because so many are so gosh darn pretty.

4)Global participation/swaps/trades/etc – I think it’s just awesome that I’ve made some quilt friends from all over the world. I love it. I love thinking about how even though they might be on the literal opposite side of the world, we all share a common interest and spend many of our days sitting at our sewing machine, taking photographs of our work and sharing and commenting. Even better, that some of these people take it upon themselves to organize swaps so that we can gift each other with what I consider basically beautiful pieces of art, created from the heart of someone else for another, regardless of skill level. Through these swaps, I’ve learned how to appreciate fabrics and aesthetics that I might have overlooked as “not my taste” and never thought about again, but by using fabric out of my comfort zone to make something to the taste of my partner, or my receiving something my partner has made for me, I can see fabrics, techniques, everything in a new, refreshing, and inspirational light.

(Minis I’ve received in swaps so far)

5)Branching out – Not only have I really stretched myself this year in quilting, but I’ve also decided to pick up a few other hobbies. Many of the quilters I follow also do embroidery and cross stitching, so I’ve picked up some materials and have started a few projects I’m really excited about, too.

A year long sampler I am so, so, so behind on (this was for 2014)

6) Motivation – I don’t think I have ever sewn so much in such a short span, but this last year I have finished so many quilts, tried so many new techniques, just seen SO MANY new things. Plus, seeing other quilters just crank stuff out so quickly lights a little bit of a fire underneath my rear, so I’m really itching to get to a few unfinished projects that have been languishing so I can post them and call them DONE.

Sew My Stash 2015 – Taking Inventory

I use Instagram A LOT for my quilty networking. Some people are just so much more organized and enthusiastic about setting up little challenges, and it’s a lot of fun to join in with other quilters to accomplish some task, be it for charity or just to help yourself.

Around the end of 2014, Project: Leasa started up a little something called Sew My Stash 2015 to encourage us fabric hoarders to use up some of our own stash. My stash is unfortunately some horrible by product of rabbit DNA manipulation, and I swear multiplies by itself while it sits in my craft room (cheesy innocent face here, accompanied by whistling), so I really need to do something to cull the fabric madness.

First thing’s first. I am officially off buying fabric. Mostly. Well, there is a collection coming out in March that I want, and another in May, but those are planned and will be budgeted! And just ignore that I might actually be waiting for some fabric coming in the mail this week. But it’s okay, though! Those are “investments”. Yes… See, they’ll go out of print, and if I don’t get to use them, I can sell them and maybe make my money back! Yeah?

Okay, my resolve is weak, but I really will try, for the sake of my pocketbook, marriage, world peace, and so I don’t end up on hoarders one day.

Now that I’ve admitted I have a problem, the next step is taking inventory. I can’t plan and create beautiful works of art without knowing what I have!

Here’s what I’ve got (cries):

These photos are all from an old CD and book shelf. This is the top half of one

The bottom half

The bookshelf part. This is where some of my backings, solids, and popular fabrics for my etsy shop are. The bottom of that shelf is where I keep my quilting books. It’s actually neat and tidy, so no picture.

This is my bin of shame. I only discovered the wonderful world of designer fabrics about a year ago, and so this bin is full of miscellaneous fabrics I was either given, or purchased from local big box stores. Not to say there is anything wrong with that AT ALL, and I’ve cleared out most of the really low quality stuff, but to be honest, my fabric tastes have changed a whole lot in the last few years. This is my main problem area, and where I would like to make the biggest dent in the stash. I need to find a way to fall in love with all of these fabrics again. I love looking at a designer’s collection and seeing how they all coordinate is so pleasing, and all the matching work has been done already, so it’s hard to see a lot of random fabrics and put something cohesive and beautiful together. I used to be better at this, before I started buying collections. I’m ashamed that I’ve fallen out of practice. These are all organized by color, and while the drawers aren’t opened, trust me when I say it’s quite an assortment.

Here are my scraps – bits of fabric smaller than a fat quarter. I have my scraps somewhat organized. All of the fabrics in the plastic zip bags are organized by color, and when they get small enough I cut them into 2.5″ squares. I don’t like to store anything smaller than 2.5″ because while I know someone, somewhere could make some use of them, I already have a problem and don’t need to take up space with some someday project I’ll never do. I’m extra bad, too. I just toss the scraps. I don’t even save them for pet beds or anything. The scraps in the little bin and paper bag need to be sorted. Sigh.

Nothing bad here – just backings for baby quilts.

Now this is really awful. Last June a good friend told me his mother was having an estate sale, and since she had quite a bit of fabric, he just gave me this. Free fabric is such a double edged sword. One one hand, it’s free! On the other, you always get too much. In these bins are large pieces, most over a yard, and some as much as three to five (I’m guessing). She had slightly different tastes than me, but I’ve been able to use some of it as backings and sashing and whatnot. Oh, and that black batik is the backing for a UFO I would like to finish this year and give to my dad. It’s for the Apocalypse bargello.

Now for the designer stuff.

Most of my precuts. I’m not going to name them all because you can probably see and recognize them. At the bottom are some Asian themed fabrics. I bought those because I was going to make some little wall hangings for one of our bathrooms, but I still haven’t done that yet. I think I may still make wall hangings with them, but for donation to a charity like Love Without Boundaries or something (see the button on the right)

This is the entire line of the first round of Downton Abbey fabrics. I think that includes Lady Mary, Edith, Sybil, and The Dowager Countess. In half yards. What was I thinking? I have since learned that when I quilt, I rarely use more than a fat quarter of a particular fabric, maybe even a fat eighth or layer cake. I like little tastes of fabric.

I’m not much for Christmas fabric. This is all I have. Obviously, I need to make a tree skirt, because I don’t have one. Maybe a table runner? These fabrics are the only ones of Kate Spain I can stand.

When I said that was all the Christmas fabric I had, I was mistaken. I have this Valori Wells collection set aside, all either half yard or full yard cuts. I love the designs, but they’re so big I have had a really hard time finding a pattern to show them off. And so they sit… Any ideas? (sorry for the terrible lighting. I had a toddler turning the lights on and off and only just saw how dark this was)

Various lines from various designers. I can see some Carolyn Friedlander (just got that! Well, I preordered it in Nov and it only just came into my possession), some Denyse Schmidt, AMH (?), the Arizona line from April Rhodes (I LOVE this one, but still haven’t found the perfect project), and I can’t recall the name or designer of the bottom right.

Here are some Bonnie and Camille and Kate and Birdie. I wrote about when I first got them here. Still haven’t used them. I’m in a swap and my partner said she liked Bonnie and Camille, so April Showers would probably work. Not that a mini will make much of a dent in what I have, but it’s a start. I have fat quarters and half yards.

My Tula Pink. Like I said before, I am fairly new to designer fabric, and I am not going to fight or pay $7 a fat quarter for out of print lines, so what I have is pretty new stuff, aside from a random piece here and there I was able to get a good deal on or someone just wanted to unload (yes, there are actually people who just “unload” Tula Pink. For free, or for less than what they paid. Those people are saints.) I don’t have that perfect project yet. I’m really torn about what to do with these, actually. Part of me feels like it’s cheating a bit, creatively, to use the designer’s fabric in a quilt that same person designed, but at the same time, at least with these fabrics, I think some of the quilts Tula Pink has designed really show off part of what I love about these quilts. Some frame the fabric designs beautifully, and some really showcase the gorgeous color saturation. I’ve thought of making the 100 Modern Quilt Blocks City Sampler, but just last night I was browsing and realized I am a  little afraid to cut into some of these, and I would have a hard time choosing which fabrics for which blocks, and so on. I know, silly problem. I’m going to have to cut them up eventually!

This last photo is a bin of fabric I am never going to use. Every once in a while I try to sell some of it with varying degree of success. After a while, I just donate it. This will slowly fill as I pull out more fabrics I just can’t even see myself using.

So that’s where I am. I have a lot to use up, and that’s AFTER I finish all my WIPs!

First finishes for 2015

Yesterday was a really productive day for me! I was able to get my Schnitzel and Boom mini quilt finished, gather all of the extras, and mail it today.

Please forgive the bad lighting, on this one. I finished it late at night. I really liked the fabrics, although I am not totally in love with the layout. If I had it to do over again I might have picked something more cohesive, like chevrons or something, and I am a bit nervous about the quality of my hand stitching, but I still do like it overall and I hope my partner likes it.

I sent a few extras along with the quilt. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they make their way to Australia!

I also finished a ring bearer pillow for the wedding of some close friends. The wedding is in about two weeks, and the person who was originally going to make this wasn’t able to. I think I did a rather nice job, considering I wasn’t totally sure what the bride had in mind.

Now to finish the wedding quilt!

Christmas in July!

Hah. Not really. Not really at all. I was just reminded that I now have less than six months until Christmas, and I should really, really get started on whatever Christmas gifts I would like to make for my friends and family.

Since people read this (in theory, at least), I suppose I should refrain from posting ideas here, lest I ruin the surprise.

I will say I intend to make lots and lots and lots of apple butter in the fall for gifts. I love apple butter. Maybe I’ll post my recipe when I make it.

Watch me sit here and goof off for another three months, and then just not be able to finish anything. Like every other year.

Someone want to babysit my kids so I can get started 😉

UFO June

I meant to get to this a few hours ago, but my son fell asleep in this office chair watching episodes of Pingu, a silly Swedish claymation cartoon that he just loooooves.

Last entry I mentioned I’d like to try something I’m going to call UFO June, UFO meaning UnFinished Objects. I’m pretty sure all crafters have at least a few of them, and depending on your craft personality, some remain UFO’s forever, some for 30 years, and some for just a few years. For me, after sitting for a few years, I think the materials need to be either made into whatever they were intended for, or dissolved into other projects. I hate having too many UFO’s around. My time threshold is usually between 3-5 years, but ideally not more than 2 or 3.

So, in preparation for this month, earlier today I dug around in my craft tote where all of my non-quilting stuff is stashed, and looked for unfinished projects. This is what I found –

I had forgotten that when I packed this over a year ago, I was actually planning on this day! Well, not UFO June, but the day I’d pull out stuff to finish because I’d either need the space, or would just get so tired of toting it around.  In this box I found the four sewing projects I can remember starting and not finishing (I’m not including the several crocheting projects that are in various states of completion because I haven’t been in the mood to crochet in over a year).

These are what I hope to finish, or make significant progress on, in the next month –

Ugh, the first one I pull out is also the most dreaded Hanukkah Table Runner. This has been in this sorry state for going on five years (my husband and I weren’t even engaged, and our fourth anniversary is next week). I found this table runner in a magazine after I pieced my first lap quilt, a simple rain fence pattern. I knew ( and still know) nothing about foundation piecing, but I thought it was pretty and my mom saw it and requested it, as she’s always wanted stuff to decorate for this holiday. Most of the fabric is already cut, and I have all the supplies. I don’t think this one be the one I start with, but I promise I WILL start on it.

These are Christmas stockings I started last summer, but set aside when my etsy shop took off. Another request from my mother – our family Christmas stockings were falling apart after 25 years of use, and we had additional family members to take into account, so we needed more anyway. They look a little shabby now, since they’ve been shoved in a bag for a year, but I think a little ironing will do some good. I will share one breakthrough memory I had with these – electric scissors! My wrists hurt SO MUCH after cutting out the pattern pieces, so my dad gave me his Black and Decker Electric Shears. They were amazing – I could cut through 8 layers of fabric around wacky angles and save my poor wrists.

My third project is this apron.

I originally intended this apron to go to my cousin, but then I took too long on it and she went and bought a handmade apron that’s probably about 1000x better than this one is going to be. Maybe I’ll use it. Or maybe I’ll give it to my mom. I’ll see I guess. The fabric is covered in cat hair, and so I’ll need to launder it all before I start. This or the stockings will probably be the first thing I work on.

And last –

This bundle of wadded fabric are the beginnings of some quilted placemats. I’ve made a few of these four piece sets, and they are really simple strip piecing with quick in the ditch quilting. I have no idea who these may go to. I may keep them for myself and my future kitchen table, as I have no placemats.

As for my ongoing projects, I’ve got the borders on the bargello, and I’m about to start hand stitching the tiles on the Cathedral Window pillow.

With all that, plus the revamp of my etsy shop and staying on top of that, it looks like I’ve got a lot on my plate this month!