Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4: social tote

It's been awhile.  I haven't been doing too much sewing in the last month.  Life has been crazy, but I was also in Portland, OR for a week for Quilt Market.  While I was there, I got all of my friend Carolyn's new patterns, including her new Social Tote and the applique pattern Alturas.  I also taught her how to do my big stitch quilting - we had so much fun!  We didn't get a lot done that night, here's my progress (which included time spent quilting on the plane).

It's hard to photograph because all of the fabrics are shot cottons.  It's really much prettier in person!  This will be a wall hanging for our hallway.

When I got home, I decided I wanted to make the Social Tote, which is perfect for all of my hand sewing.  I will say, this pattern is not for the faint of heart!  I decided to do more fabrics than the pattern called for, which definitely made it more difficult, but there are also a few things that I'd do differently next time.  I'm really glad that I did use a bunch of different fabrics.  I feel like it showcases some of my favorites that I've been hoarding, including that outside print with the skulls, which is actually a canvas-weight print from Kokka.  I didn't use the pincushion pattern she had, because I already have a gazillion pincushions that are the right size.  The one that's in there now is one of my own designs done with tucks. 

I'm beginning (like, just beginning) a quilt for our friend Kelsey.  This quilt is a graduation gift, birthday gift, and a thank you for being our maid of honor.  I couldn't wait to try out the Alturas pattern, and since I'm doing a sampler-style quilt for Kelsey anyway, I decided she needed at least one Alturas block in her quilt.  You can see it below in the bottom of the Social Tote.  The outer edges are almost done, I just have to do the middle parts.

We're leaving town again tomorrow...  I'm trying to get everything together, including some sewing projects.  I'm taking my Circle Game blocks - I have two cut out and ready to piece and one that just needs two seams to be finished.  I'm also thinking about taking some more fabric to do Alturas blocks.  If you look at the pictures of my tote, you can see that I have a template all ready to go!  I'll have more to share when we get back, including all the pictures I've been taking in the last three weeks!  We'll also be getting legally married while we're there, and hoping that by the time we get home, our marriage will be legal here, too.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 2: Bubble pouch

Last Friday, Michelle over at Michelle Patterns announced that she was discontinuing quite a few of her patterns and was offering a special deal if you bought all of them.  I liked a few of the designs, and I knew my wife would love some of the others, so I decided to just buy them all!  I printed off the patterns for the Bubble Pouch, the Pleated Pouches, and the Box Wallet.  I grabbed some scraps - some of Carolyn Friedlander's Architextures line (I'm getting near the end of this - my favorite print from her line in what my co-workers would call "Phoebe green") and a piece of Kaufman's Essex cotton/linen blend in Grey.  I experimented with the interfacings and used woven fusible interfacing (Shape Flex) and Dream Cotton's Select-weight batting (my favorite!) - next time I think I might just do the woven fusible interfacing.  The final result:

A darn stinkin' cute bag!  It's about 4" x 3" x 1.5" - a little on the small side for me, so I'm not sure what I'll use it for.  Oh well, I enjoyed sewing it, and the pattern was great, which at this point is all that really matters!

Sorry for the not-so-nice pictures.  It just wasn't going to happen any better today, and I so wanted to show it off!

Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29: self portrait #2

I'm finding photography to be a truly great thing for me.  Right now, if I'm doing anything at all remotely creative, chances are that it's photography.  One of my goals before my 26th birthday is to have taken at least 100 self-portraits.  I thought it would be scary, in a good way.  Plus, I have very few pictures of myself.  So you may be seeing more and more self-portraits here.  I've even created a set on flickr just for my self portraits.  I think this one might be #4, but only technically #2 in my year of self portraits.

I feel like this picture shows where I really am today - contemplating life, the universe, and everything as Douglass Adams would phrase it.  Trying to figure out the conundrums of what interfacings to use in my bags, what to do about meditation, what book to read next...  I have no make-up on (not that I usually have a lot on), just sitting in the little bit of natural light from this rainy day.

And here is what I see:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17: a day in the studio

.. just not my studio!  Yesterday I had the opportunity of helping out my friend Suzanne in her lovely studio.  She's doing several shows in the next few weeks, and needed help getting everything together.  I mostly just stuffed bags, but it was wonderful to be in her calming studio, looking at all of her lovely things.

All artwork in these pictures is copyright Suzanne L. Vinson, and was photographed with permission.  You should check out her wonderful blog, or her etsy shop.  And, if you're in the RVA area, she will be at the Spring Bada Bing this weekend!

And the one that made it home with me - "find your voice and use it."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16: in the morning light...

Some things look sweeter... But other things do not.  Last night the only thing I could do was sew.  So I whipped up this cute little guy from one of the newest Mollie Makes (issue 25).

This morning, in the light of this new day, I am thinking of and praying for those in Boston, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15: From Russia with love

"Handmade Portraits: From Russia with Love" is an Etsy video shared under the Creative Commons License.

This is how I want to feel about what I do.  And I still haven't found that yet.  This is why my etsy shop remains empty - for lack of that something that I am so passionate about that I could do it everyday.  I guess the only way to find out is to try.

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12: hand made bowtie

We had quite a few friends over for dinner last week, including our friend Dean, who just turned 25.  I decided to whip up this fun bowtie, using this tutorial from Make.  I chose orange and blue in honor of his Alma-mater UVA.

I changed a few things from the pattern/regular bowties.  First of all, I cut the pieces on the grainline, and it seemed to work fine.  Because it was on grain, I just cut one long piece as opposed to having a seam in the back.  I also used one layer of Pellon's Shape Flex Woven Fusible Interfacing, which had the perfect amount of body.

I didn't actually get a picture of him wearing it, but it fit perfectly!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10: hand printed fabric (and more!)

My birthday was last week and my lovely wife managed to spread out the gift-giving over an entire week.  I got my last two packages yesterday, and they might have been the best yet!

I'm super excited about this hand printed fabric from Maze & Vale.  I've been reading her blog for a very long time, and when I saw her feather and cloud prints, I just had to have them!  I'm not sure what I'll be making from these, but definitely something special.

Leslie, who owns/designs/runs Maze & Vale also hosts hand printed fabric swaps.  I've always wanted to participate, but I keep talking myself out of it.  Well, hopefully next time, I'll jump right in!  She inspired me so much, that one of my other birthday requests was the awesome printing book Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin.  I received Printing by Hand, along with Hexa Go-Go by Tacha Bruecher, the Heather Ross Prints book, and Alabama Studio Style by Natalie Chanin.

If you haven't heard about the Heather Ross Prints book, the way it works is, there are a variety of projects, all of which use Heather Ross's various designs.  The AWESOME thing about the book is, there's a disk in the back, so you can print your own copies of her designs!  I jumped right in and printed some fabric (which I don't seem to have a photograph of - maybe I'll get a picture of it once it's in a project) along with these really cool little notebooks:

 Hexa Go-Go is an English Paper Piecing book that focuses on - you guessed it - the hexagon shape.  However, I was so excited, I ordered a bunch more EPP shapes.  I have 7 new shapes/sizes - all of which we now carry at Quilting Adventures.  In this stack there are chrysanthemums, diamonds, hexagons, honeycombs, kites, 1/2 hexagons, and squares, which will make 4 different designs/layouts.  I can't wait to get started!  My Pinterest board has some of the different layouts...

Last, but not least, I received this awesome hounds-tooth pattern Moleskine notebook/sketchbook from my friend, Abbie.  She also gave me a really awesome assortment of Sharpie pens, with which I've been journaling.

Needless to say, I've got some really awesome things brewing.  Once I slog through my to-do lists (taxes, among other things), I will definitely be jumping into some new projects using all of these different books and techniques!

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22: why'd the chicken cross the road? (or crosses and feathers)

I finally had the chance this morning to sit down and sew!  First up, I worked on some cross blocks for my new pattern.  The pattern is actually written, I just needed to test it and make the cover projects.  Hopefully, this one will be done soon - I love it!  These are done with a solid grey and 3 different shades of shot cottons.

Not a chicken, but... I know that the feather trend has been around for awhile, but I'm finally starting to like them.  When one of my friends posted the link to a fabric feather tutorial on Pinterest, I had to try it!  This is actually my second one - I decided to make an extra small one first, and lets just say it didn't work.  Since we don't have a printer at home, I just free handed the design onto the interfacing, instead of tracing theirs.

I've already started sketching for a feather quilt.  We'll see how that goes...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 20: what next?

I haven't done any sewing in about two weeks.  Heck, I haven't even read a book in the last two weeks.  Family emergency after family emergency left even one of my friends saying "when it rains, it pours."  Through all of this though, I'm still taking photographs, which has been wonderful.  Hopefully, the next few weeks will bring me back to "normal."

Beautiful roses that my wife gave me:

A family outing to Belle Isle gave me an opportunity for some beautiful shots:

My brother kindly took this last picture of me and my wife.  It's not my favorite, but definitely a good one.

I feel like there's just so much more to say, but I don't even know how to say it.  I was just reading an article about how reading blogs, facebook, etc., can make people more depressed because everyone's life looks so perfect.  I don't want to show that my life is perfect, but I also don't just want to share just the bad stuff.  I guess I'm working on that balance, especially at a time in my life when it feels like there's just a lot of bad stuff.  I'm only human.

Friday, March 8, 2013

March 8: redecorating

We're finally hanging things and redecorating our apartment (along with some much needed spring cleaning!).  Here's our front entryway...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 28: working on...

Remember this sketch from the other day?  Well, now there's a quilt to go with it!  I'm getting ready to start quilting this quilt, and the pattern's about half-way done.  I can't wait to show off the pattern and finished quilt! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 23: Pow-Wow and a doll

I've actually had these two things finished for awhile, but haven't had the chance to post the pictures.  First up is my sample for Pow-Wow, which is a class I'm teaching in April from the Pow-Wow pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew.

Next up is a fun little doll.  She's from the Kit, Chloe, and Louise pattern by Wee Wonderfuls.  I've decided to name her Arianna.

I've actually been finishing a lot of things lately.  It feels really awesome.  I need to get back into blogging, so that I can show them all off (that is, after all, the point of a blog).  I'm also really jumping into designing.  I have about 10 sketches waiting, and 2 that are actively being worked on.  I can't wait to show them!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 16: "woke up this morning..."

Sketches in the snow-lit morning
Yesterday I finally came to the realization that I wasn't going to transfer to a four-year university in the fall.  And it was hard.  It was hard because I really thought this was going to be easier.  It was hard because I have been procrastinating for weeks.  So, in some ways, this is really all my fault.  And you know what?  I feel pretty stupid.  I feel like a failure.  But, at the same time, I've spent a lot of the last few weeks examining my motivations for returning to school.  And I was beginning to realize that a lot of the interest in school actually had nothing to do with me.
Last night I went home after a crazy day of work, and with some very early classes this morning, and I expected to lose it.  But after a late dinner with my wife, I started designing.  And by the time I went to bed last night, I'd designed a whole new sewing/quilting pattern.  And it felt.... Right.  Like maybe this was the right place to be.  Then, when I woke up at 2:30 am (and was awake for 2 1/2 hours), I designed some more.  So yes, I'm disappointed.  I feel like I've let myself down.  But, at the same time, maybe this where I'm supposed to be, after all the agonizing over my decisions.  And you know what else?  I can still apply for the spring semester.
So, be on the lookout for up to 6 new patterns from me in the coming weeks.  I can't wait to show you what I'm working on!
* lyrics from Woke up This Morning by A3

Friday, February 1, 2013

February 1: cold and wet

I've started (and finished) so many awesome things in the last few weeks.  I guess the reason I haven't been blogging as much is because I really don't have anything to say right now.  Hopefully February will give me more to share.... 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 5: new year, new beginnings

I've been reading many places that this year, instead of resolutions, people are picking a word for the year.  This really struck a cord with me, as I want guidance, but without the pressure of a resolution.

My word for this year is: ME.

Now, that might sound really selfish, but here is how it's intended: this year will be about taking care of myself.  Putting myself closer to first, as opposed to always dead last. 
-I'm going to start taking care of myself.  I already eat decently, but I will start to exercise, as well.  We're considering (finally) doing the Monument Avenue 10k, and my wife just mentioned something about the Richmond Half Marathon in November (haha, yeah right).  For me, this will mean lots of walks (not sure about running yet) and going back to yoga.
-Making time for projects for my heart, old and new.  This includes some new clothes.  I'm going to start with more Painted Portrait Blouses, and maybe a dress from the same pattern (this is the shirt I'm wearing in the picture at the beginning of the blog entry).

This will also include ongoing handwork projects such as my English paper piecing.
(debating on a background color)

-Going back to school.  And following my passion while I'm there.  This time I'm doing this for me, not for a job, not for a degree (okay, maybe a little for the degree).
-Learning to say no to pressure and yes to opportunities.  This will give me the chance to find a base for myself.  To hopefully find some peace.  When I give myself this chance, I will have more to give to other people.
-Include myself.  More specifically, include myself in my photographs.  But I think there is a deeper meaning to this, too.
-Us.  I got married last April.  It was the one saving grace for last year.  Now that we've been married almost a year, our lives our finally falling into the shape we want.  It's time to focus on us, along with the "me."  This year is shaping up to be one of the most important for both of our careers, as well as our life as a family.  Within the me is the just as important us.

The 2013 Challenge

What is the 2013 Challenge, you ask?  I don't know, yet.  I've started with the amazing Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook.  It's 9" x 9" and designed for all mediums.  I purchased it at my local art shop, Main Art.  This may be sketching, it may be painting, it may be journaling, it may be quotes.  It is evolving.  It is the pressure to try something new, but without the commitment or pressure of something else.  I've started an idea board on pinterest, so that I can just watch this challenge evolve.


My first finished book of the year was Zaatar Days, Henna Nights by Maliha Masood. 
This year I want to keep track of what I read a little bit better.  I read a lot, and at the end of 2012, I found myself wondering how many books I'd actually read.  To help me with this, I've joined Good Reads.  Feel free to follow me over there as I read my way through 2013.

Finished Projects

Just for recording purposes, I'm going to start (trying) to post every time I finish a project this year.  By finished, I mean that all small projects must be DONE, and all big quilts must be at least finished tops.  Big is up to my discretion of the moment.  My first finished project this year were these two zip pouches.  They were meant to be an experiment, and a chance to let myself sew after the craziness of the holiday season.  They didn't turn out the way I intended, but that's okay.

Finally, I'm going to remember the two best pieces of advice that I received in 2012:

Acknowledge your truth: know who you are, and follow a path that lets you acknowledge yourself.

The desire for change is the root of unhappiness:  more specifically, to change another person or a situation you have no control over.  I'm not saying all change is bad, or that we shouldn't want to change ourselves, but that you can't change someone else.  Acceptance brings peace.