Friday, January 19, 2018

Sewing Saves the Day

"What if," I said as I pulled a tearful Mouse into my lap, "we made a pillow together? Would you like that?"

She lifted one hand to knuckle away the tears...sniffed...nodded.

"You could pick out the fabric, choose a pillow size, the whole thing. Sound good?"

Another sniffle...another nod...the beginnings of a smile.

My 7-year-old had come wandering into the loft while I was sewing one night last week, looking for a special stuffed friend that she hadn't seen in a while. I took a deep breath and broke the news to her that the friend had been in the line of fire during Mouse's bout of flu several months back, and I hadn't been able to save it. A torrent of tears and several long hugs later, I had done my best to salvage the situation with the offer of a mommy-daughter sewing project. To see my girl move through the stages of grief in approximately 3 minutes flat and then start chattering away about her new was reason #347 why I'm so thankful that I sew.

So Mouse picked out a pillow form at Joann Fabrics and a Rifle Paper Co. linen print from my stash, and soon we were stitching away at my machine. I fleetingly wondered how many more times she'll be able to sit on my lap while we sew together, as she -- like her sisters -- is growing up so quickly these days. It took all of ten minutes before she was trying to hug her finished pillow and me at the same time. And with a quick, "Thank you, Mommy! Thank you so much!" she was off and running to share her new friend with the rest of the house.

And there you have it, I thought. Sewing saves the day again.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Crochet Foray

For some time now I've wanted to be a "quilter and." Many a friend I've met in the past few years is not just a quilter; she is a "quilter and knitter" or a "quilter and crocheter." How I've envied these people who fill their Instagram feeds with beautiful quilting projects, yet every now and then suddenly pop in a stunning picture of yarny goodness, saying, "Oh, and here's a little thing I just finished on the side." I love taking time off from one hobby to refresh with another. Fabric design has been a wonderful switch for me when I need a break from quilting, but of course, I'm not allowed to show you 95% of what I'm working on at any time. So a voyage into the world of yarn arts seemed like a good idea.

I've attempted knitting before with dubious results -- and by dubious I mean that I haven't actually finished a knitting project yet. One day after being emboldened by taking an online video course, I was traipsing through the aisles at Joann Fabrics and suddenly told the girls, "Pick out your favorite color of yarn, and I'll knit you a scarf!" They were thrilled and so was I...until I found myself knitting at the speed of a three-toed sloth, which frankly could have probably made better time with three toes than I was making with ten fingers. My husband, who is a wonderful knitter, spent several days quietly watching my agonizingly slow progress before he sweetly offered to knit one of the other scarves to help out. By then I was worried enough that our Southern California "winter" would be over before the girls had the chance to even try on their scarves, so I agreed. In the end, he wrapped up the first and second scarves before I was even halfway done with the third, and I wound up giving him that one to finish as well so that my last daughter didn't have to go around scarf-less while her sisters basked in my husband's handiwork. Since then I've only used my knitting needles as first-class turning tools when I'm sewing.

The dictionary defines a foray as "a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, especially to obtain something; a raid." Except for the whole "enemy territory" thing (I've always thought that crochet and patchwork were quite friendly together), this pretty much describes how aggressively I throw myself into any new hobbies I attempt. For the past few days I've been crocheting during every free minute. I absolutely love that this is a craft I can do anywhere. Granny squares are something I always wanted to try, so I found a good video tutorial (this one really clicked for me) and off I went. I made a larger version to go on a coffee table in the living room, and then a stack of tiny ones to form a garland for the family room.

I don't know if I can officially call myself a "quilter and crocheter" yet -- it feels a little early and presumptuous for that -- but I've definitely found myself a new hobby to love. I'll admit, though, that I've felt a bit as if I was cheating on my fabric and sewing machine over the past few days. It may be time to give them some love...

Monday, January 8, 2018

Pinnie Pennant, Enamel Pin Edition

I picked up a few enamel pins at Quilt Market this fall and immediately had the start of a brand new It took me a few months, but last week I finally made a larger version of my Pinnie Pennant tutorial so that I could display my new beauties, with plenty of room for more friends as they come along.

I tripled the size of the original pattern, leaving off the felt landing spot. The colored fabrics are all scraps of Liberty from my small stash, paired with some favorite black and white text prints. Since the larger version needs more stability, I swapped out the hanging string for a pair of twill tape loops and a thin wooden dowel. It's everything I wanted it to be and looks perfectly charming hanging over my cutting table.

I've decided that I might just need my own grown-up reward system involving a new enamel pin every time I accomplish something significant. Now I just have to haggle with my conscience over what constitutes significance. I'm guessing that one pin for each load of laundry folded might be pushing it a bit...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Recycled Storage Solutions

I've learned to follow my own personal shopping rule when I spot something I like in the store: if you really love it, buy it -- even if you don't know how you're going to use it. I know the experts say that's a no-no, but I've found that I almost always find a use for that object sooner or later.

Fortunately, I didn't need to justify my rule when I spotted this vintage style soda crate at Michael's, because I knew exactly what I wanted to put inside it: the gorgeous stack of Confetti Cotton solids that Riley Blake sent me last week. I actually own several authentic soda crates from the last century which I inherited from my grandmother, but I'd be worried about storing fabric in them with all the accumulated grime inside that's hard to remove with cleaning products yet would undoubtedly rub off on my precious fat quarters. So instead I stack those boxes on the shelf above my teacher desk where I can look at the great typography on the outside. This reproduction crate, however, works perfectly because a) there's nothing on the inside that could come off on my fabric and b) the sections inside are exactly the right width for my folded fabric pieces.

It's always important to keep this sort of thing in mind when you're recycling truly old things to hold new ones. I love using containers of all sorts for corralling sewing notions, home office supplies, or any number of little things around the house, and antique items have so much personality. Depending on what you want to put inside them, though, you might want to consider whether vintage or vintage inspired pieces will work better for the situation.

I'll be sharing some of my favorite repurposed organizational containers with you over the next few months so that you can see how I use them in my sewing room and other parts of the house. Once you start looking for ways to work fun objects into your storage solutions, it's hard to stop!
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