Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Joy of Making

Sometimes people ask me an intriguing question: "what are you going to do with that quilt?" Sometimes I ask it of myself, when I'm in lala quilt land (a real place, obviously), dreaming of fabric and design.

Lately, I've been reflecting a lot, on my own and with my sewing friends, about why I quilt. Sometimes, I think, "what would I even be DOING right now if I wasn't sewing?" Sure, I read books, hang out with my family and friends, blog, work too many jobs, clean, etc.... but this is my hobby. MORE than a hobby. More like a lifestyle. It has become a more important/essential part of my life than I ever could have imagined. When I think about all the fabric I would miss out on in a non-quilty life, it's actually pretty upsetting!


It's about the process and the skills I've learned. Quilting has taught me how to be patient (huge shocker for real, since I am impatient by nature), precise, and impulsive (all at the same time). I've learned how to make things with my bare hands. I've stuffed a closet full of fabric and been able to justify (most of) it. I've learned how to make perfect HSTs and how to sew an accurate quarter inch seam. I jumped into free motion quilting a couple of years ago and I haven't looked back. I haven't met a fabric store I didn't love. As president of the CJMQG now, I program meetings and serve as the main decision maker and contact for all activities. I see those skills translating into my professional life. Of course, another huge reason why I sew is simply you, the community, that we are all apart of and that I value so much.

This Botanics Challenge quilt is really what it was meant to be: a challenge. This is the first huge wall quilt I'm intending to just keep. Yes, I'll hang it up in my home, but it's more just for me to make than anything else.  Also, it's noteworthy because as a "modern quilter" I haven't actually made a full-size "improvisational" quilt top. Most of this quilt top is just that. It's my second time working with a scattered/scrappy low volume background, too, and I am seriously delving into that part of my stash (and ending up with weird-sized scraps!). Oh, and believe me, it is bothering me that the quilt top isn't done yet… but I'm trying to just let it happen. 

This quilt is also different because there is no. deadline. No baby shower to prepare for, no birthday to commemorate, no person to mail to. Just me and my quilt. And I am quite enjoying it.  :) So, I ask you: can't we just make for the sake of making more often? A bit of a scattered post from a person who is scattered all over.

P.S. My friend Sarah is hosting a 30/30 Challenge, where you spend 30 minutes every day of March sewing for yourself. Check it out! This sounds like just the kind of motivation I need.


Friday, February 21, 2014

"Ashley's Adored" - A Mini Quilt


Last night was totally the highlight of my month (I've been looking forward to it for at least 2!). I visited the NJMQG, our MQG neighbors to the north, for their meeting! I got to meet Ashley and Mel for the first time after months (and Ashley, a year or more, I'm not quite sure) of being bloggy/Instagram friends! I also met some really awesome quilters who I now hope to sew with in the future and visit at Rock, Paper, Scissors (holy moley do I love that place). :)

Mel, myself, and Ashley from left to right - picture taken by Ashley (@abhinton on IG) - is this real?!? Are we actually here together?!

 A crazy idea popped into my head last week. Why not make a quilt for Ashley? Why not? I know how much she loves Chicopee, and I had some scraps, and as usual, I was itching for a new project... so I went all in.

I was sewing on Sunday with my friend Amy (like literally, I was piecing the backing for this mini quilt and getting ready to baste) when I saw that Ashley had posted her Sunday Stash post. She talked about how much Chicopee she had and her plans for it. Number 1? X-plus blocks. I think my jaw actually dropped. Can you believe our brains? Now, this was even more exciting.

When I originally put the four x-plus blocks together (using a great tutorial by City Stitches), the colors really clashed. Shudder. There was just too much going on. However, these were the only Chicopee fabrics I had, so I powered on. Mike helped me decide on Kona Medium Gray to make it more modern and break up the colors.

Of course, the next dilemma (this feels like a melodrama) was the quilting. What could I do to make the blocks stand out and combine with the gray simultaneously? I did some pebbling in the in-betweens and stitched-in-the-ditch around all x's, mirroring in the middle (oh and gosh, that was really tough - I hardly every SITD). I really loved creating a whole other layer to the quilt through the gray - that's my favorite part now! I wanted the quilting in the very middle to especially stand out, so I took some gemstone inspiration from Sarah. By the way, I used my new Hera Marker to make the  creases in the fabric before quilting - it worked perfectly. Just passing on how awesome it is! And, Ashley agreed that you can never go wrong with purple binding.

Work it.

I couldn't wait to give this quilt to Ashley last night! Let me tell you how cool it was to meet her in person finally! I was almost literally jumping with excitement (can you confirm, Ashley?). First I passed over my Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts starter (post to come, but it's on IG if you are curious), and then I pulled out the present! She loved it and I'm so glad (P.S. the name of the quilt is because it's her adored fabric!). Success. And so ends the saga. :)  Thanks for understanding my preoccupation with the bolts of Dowry while the meeting was going on, friend!

The meeting was so inspiring and fun! On my way there, the last thing I felt like doing was sewing (it was kind of a crazy week and I had just finished this and a couple of other projects), but on my way back, I was itching to play with fabric. Thanks to everyone in the NJMQG for welcoming me! I hope we can all sew/hang out soon :) And for now, I'll keep surprising my friends with quilts... who's next? You never know.

 Linking up to: Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilting Infatuation, I Quilt @ Pretty Bobbins, Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF

Monday, February 17, 2014

Winners - Sewing With Certainty!

 Coming in November!

Can you believe there were 48 posts (48!!!) between October and now, linked up to Sewing With Certainty? When I started this series, I had no idea so many different quilters would participate. Honorable mentions go to Renee, Sarah, and Lorna, who linked up the most! Thank you to everyone who supported the series, read along, posted on their blog, and encouraged others. I hope everyone got a chance to reflect on what it means to be a quilter today and why it is so important that we share our work, try new things, and have confidence in ourselves! I know I did.

<div align="center"><a href="http://store.yahoo.com/cgi-bin/clink?yhst-81933846735722+YTL9gJ+index.html+" target="_blank"><img src="http://site.1choice4quilting.com/logos/1choice4quilting-tallbanner.png" /></a></div> 

Please visit and thank my friend Nicole, who owns 1 Choice 4 Quilting. She is wonderful and her shop is totally decked out! Nicole ships out fabrics super fast and she offers free shipping over 50 dollars. She's also branching out the lines that she carries, and now has Free Spirit - there is currently a coupon code ("freespirit20" at checkout) for 20% off all Free Spirit through 2/24. That includes Botanique by Joel Dewberry and Anna Maria Horner True Colors - ya know, I'm drooling over here! Nicole is generously sponsoring first prize! Thank you, Nicole!

In case you are wondering how I chose two winners: I made a list of all the names of those who participated in order of when they linked up (this includes both goal linky parties). Then, I used the Random Number Generator:

True Colors Design Roll by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit

The first number drawn was 44, which was Lorna! Congrats Lorna! You have won a jelly roll of Anna Maria Horner's True Colors! (my favorite - I can't wait to see what you make!)

The second number drawn was 25, which was Mntnquilter! Congrats! She's won an assortment of modern fabrics from my stash :) I'll email you both in a minute!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Days, Sew Days

 *Don't forget to link up to the last two parties for Sewing With Certainty (they end Sunday!): Writing a Sewing Blog and Goal Updates! Prizes announced Sunday night or Monday!*

The last two days have been pretty blissful, besides digging two cars out of 3-4 feet of packed, plowed snow. Ugh. We've had 4 snow days in the last two weeks, plus 3 delayed openings. Crazy!

Positives - I got a LOT of sewing done whilst being a hermit in my apartment! I finished two bee blocks for our guild bee (one on time! Yeah!).

For Rachel. I am crushing on these colors but the little buggers (HSTs) took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. even with chain-piecing! But it's a-okay. :)

For Robin. It's fun to work with fabrics out of my norm. So much color - love! Robin's instructions were open-ended, which left room for experimentation.


I put up a little design wall (behind the light) with some extra batting! It works perfectly (just used a few push pins).

I finished the backing and the quilting of my Pantone challenge quilt! More on that soon! Here's a sneak peek from Instagram; I was pleased to find that border pebbling is not all that difficult. They are going to look like half circles when I bind the thing!

I started chain piecing a mini quilt!

I basted a quilt. PHEW (no pics yet). That was a workout after shoveling all afternoon. I swear I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight.

What have you been up to? Hopefully something quilty! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Love Someone" - A Mini Quilt

At guild meetings, we often have a swap. At last night's meeting, as in past years (remember the lost Valentine mug rug? =/ still lost, btw), we swapped Valentines!

 I found myself looking for a new project in between all the others (like that's anything new) and, since we like to try modern techniques, I tried this tutorial on Moda Bakeshop by Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting. The directions are very clear and the pictures were helpful - I highly recommend it if you want to try improv curves. Be warned that this technique takes more fabric than you will think... :) Instead of all solids, I mixed in some prints.

I love quilting words! This kind of just came to me as I was quilting, so I went with it.

Anyway, this little quilt was a joy to put together and even more of a joy to quilt. I thought swirls and pebbles would adorn the inside of the heart in a whimsical way, and that the improv squares on the outside would provide the much-needed presence of straight lines for balance. On the curves of the heart, you'll notice I quilted with random waves. The kind of quilting that lets me shut my brain off and play is totally the best. I do realize, of course, that I used red thread on the top and white on the bottom. I honestly just started and didn't realize until a minute in, so I continued. Oh well. I'm still really happy with it. Hopefully the recipient (Laura) doesn't mind. :) Another little quilt (or table centerpiece) done and in a happy home!

Purple binding! By the way, have you seen this purple quilt yet by Elizabeth Hartman? Oh... my... goodness.

Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins asked to feature me on this week's I Quilt! Linky Party (thank you, Gemma!!). I love Gemma's blog and I regularly pop over there for inspiration. She does beautiful work! See her post about balance and the linky party for FMQ this week:

i quilt blog button

Linking up to:  Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation, TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts

Sunday, February 9, 2014

SWC Final Goal Linky Party

It's time to link up your post about your goals for Sewing With Certainty! I wanted this series to be about learning new things and also reflecting on our practices, so here we are! Did you fulfill your goals? What did you learn? What do you still need to work towards? Scroll down for the linky.

Here's how I did (my goal post was here):

1. My first goal was to sew more clothes. HA. I did take in some of my work pants (they were too large, so I took seams out and cut out some material before sewing them back together), but that's it. Luckily, I'm about to try the AMH Socialite Dress (thanks to my friend Amy, who bought me the pattern for Christmas!) and I already bought voile (AMH, of course). We are actually getting together in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I'll have some progress to share. This is one goal that I feel like I need a fair amount of guidance with - and in person!


2. I definitely kept improving my piecing. I'm really proud of how many of the points matched exactly on Diamond in the Rough. I think this goes hand-in-hand with accurate cutting - don't you? I also worked with curves again recently and I feel much more confident. Bring on the paper-piecing (I'm thinking March!)! This goal will be continuous but I've already made huge gains this year.

How did you do with your goals? Please link up a post below - though, only those 8 bloggers who linked up on the original goal post are eligible to link up again here. Your link-up will also count in the running for prizes NEXT WEEK from myself and 1 Choice 4 Quilting!


Check back next Sunday for the prizes and the end of the series! Remember, anyone can still link up on our last topic, Writing a Sewing Blog.


Sewing With Certainty Schedule

Decorating with Embroidery Hoops: Project Color My Apartment

I've always been smitten with pictures of embroidery hoops (see my board on Pinterest, for example). I started to embroider about a year and a half ago, and I've been hanging the hoops up around the new apartment. Luckily the husband doesn't seem to mind too much. He's used to it by now. ;) Anyway, embroidery hoops can really brighten up a room with patterns and colors.

First, I chose to decorate our bedroom. I realize that the wedding quilt is quite colorful itself, but I love colors on the wall, too (plus, there is way. too. much. white. wall. without them). At first, Mike said it reminded him of a kid's room (and yes, I would definitely like to do something like this is in the far future), but I think it's grown on him (or he just knows it makes me happy and he'll let it be :) ). I even used guitar fabric on his side of the bed (I believe it is Michael Miller?). The fabrics are all some of my favorites ever, and they each have a bit of my own stitching.

 Before it was finished. AMH just *gets* me, I swear. Right, Ashley?

Yes, I need to make a bedskirt!
 I might play around more with the hoops, especially when I switch quilts around. They are just hanging by thread and Command Hooks, so no big deal. You might remember these embroideries sat on my bookshelf in the old apartment (I loved that):

I also hung up some special embroideries in my sewing room: "Always" (pattern by Rebecca @ Sew Festive Handmade), one of my favorite Loulouthi prints that I embroidered over, and "Wibbley Wobbley Timey Wimey" (original design). Mike took these pictures of my somewhat-chaotic-but-cheerful sewing/desk area. :)

Finally, the Nyan Cat resides on top of Mike's desk. Is an army of embroidery hoops taking over your house, too?

Look for the last linky party for SWC (goal post) on Sunday night.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WIP Wednesday

This week has been interesting so far, to say the least! We had a snow day on Monday (but luckily all the roads were great the next day). We had a delayed opening Tuesday. Today it looks like it will be another snow day. This is definitely the worst winter we've had in NJ in the last few years, and I'm so looking forward to spring! Though I have to admit, having extra time to sew and get organized during the week is totally awesome...

 I'm working on a Valentine mini quilt - more soon on this! I followed a tutorial for a fun improv modern heart quilt at Moda Bake Shop by Erica Jackman @ Kitchen Table Quilting. The pictures and instructions were spot on and very helpful (visual person here); the curves took a little bit of work but it wasn't too bad. I'll talk more about this mini when it's all done :) Just the binding and label to go.


I spread out allll the fabrics in consideration for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Quilts! I have to start the quilt and pass it on to Ashley in a couple of weeks. I'm super excited to work with black and jewel tones (an unusual combination for me, though the saturation isn't really a surprise).

My machine (Elsa) is almost 1 year old (!!) which means she needs to go in for a tune up. After FMQing this week I've heard lots of clunking and a mostly frozen handwheel (it sounds like the motor is struggling), so after the snow I'll need to take her to the shop. This is unfortunate because I have a lot of sewing that needs to be done! Luckily, I have some bindings to make, quilts to design, blog posts to write, CJMQG meetings to plan, people to email, and (maybe?) stash to destash. I also hope to read Paper Towns by John Green (I'm going through all his and Rainbow Rowell's books right now) and clean up the apartment a little. Maybe it won't be so bad... or maybe I'll be tearing out my hair after a few days of being machine-less. It's like a family member is sick!


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