Sunday, May 31, 2015

Busy Girl Sews: Maureen Cracknell Handmade

Summer Tourist Blocks from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

I had dinner with one of my best friends tonight, an aspiring novelist. We enjoy getting together to talk about our personal lives, but we also love to discuss writing -- an interesting topic for us when we approach it from such different genres. Writing, like sewing, is an art form, and my friend and I agree that those who do it have to find their own balance between creativity and structure.

It's one of the things that I was most passionate about as I was writing Sew Organized for the Busy Girl. I wanted to give my readers a framework for discovering what works best for them as they look for that same balance in their sewing rooms. There's no magic bullet, no one perfect method that works for everybody. You have to know yourself and your situation well enough to create systems and habits that will be useful in the busy corner of the world that you're living in right now. Nothing has made me happier than to have people email me or tag me on Instagram to say that they're working through my book, that they're getting more organized, and that it's really helping them find time to sew. I am so thrilled to hear it, my friends!

This week's stop on the Busy Girl Sews Tour is Maureen Cracknell Handmade. I started following Maureen's blog before I even learned how to use a sewing machine, and I continue to be just as much in awe of her now as I was then. Maureen is both wonderfully sweet and artistically gifted. She has a never ending supply of gorgeous quilting designs -- all of which are showcased through her stunningly beautiful photography. You can purchase her darling felt creations (my daughters each have one of her personalized floral crowns) on Etsy, as well as buy her beautiful Wild & Free collection for Art Gallery Fabrics from any designer fabric shop. I could not admire her more and am so thrilled to have her on the tour as well as featured in my book. Be sure to stop by her blog for a peek!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Busy Girl Sews: Charm About You

Dotty Hexagon Pillow from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

I am absolutely giddy about Lucy's take on the Dotty Hexagon Pillow over at Charm About You this week! Instead of solids, she went with a mixture of unbelivably adorable prints, and if she lived any closer to me, I would be stopping by her house every week just to stare at it. Lucy was kind enough to share a few tips with us too about how she stays organized at her place, even in the midst of making the gorgeous patchwork projects that she sews each month. Is it any wonder why I love this girl? Be sure to stop by her blog today for a peek!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

3 Things I Learned at Quilt Market

April Rhodes had everyone who visited her Art Gallery booth add a strand or two to the weaving on her wall. Could there be a lovelier way to display the heart of the quilting community?

My first Quilt Market made quite an impression on me.

Sadly, this is the only picture my fabulous roommate Becca and I took together last week. I couldn't have survived without this girl around to show me the ropes at my first Quilt Market.

First, let me say that when people tell you they're tired after getting home from Market, they aren't kidding. It's an unbelievably exhausting experience. Between walking everywhere, lugging around your stuff, the good but tiring stress that comes with being "on" for several days straight, and the experience of spending hours packed into the sardine cans that pass for today's airplanes -- well, it took me at least two days after I got home to feel like a human being again.

I can't wait to sew with these beauties...

But that's really all I have in the negative column. If you ever get the chance to go to Quilt Market, do it. The fabric and other goodies are pretty amazing, and Sample Spree is a riot -- in every sense of the word. I took advantage of my long arms to get through the mob surrounding the Cotton + Steel booth that night and was able to reach between two ladies to grab the canvas bundle I wanted...only to find that my hand wouldn't fit between them anymore with the fabric clutched in my fingers. Of course, they couldn't hear me saying, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" due to all the noise. I stood there for at least a full minute until they noticed me and quickly stepped apart so I could get my hand out. I wasn't letting go without that fabric!

No booth captured my heart quite as fully as Cotton + Steel. Oh, that vintage style...

It's surreal to see people passing by whom you know from your online blog reader. I saw faces that I instantly recognized, people whose work and lives were as familiar to me as my own even though we'd never actually met. Some of them noticed me before I saw them, and sometimes it was the other way around. Rather than putting faces to names, it was fun to put voices to faces as I got to speak to these people for the first time. And let me tell you, there are many, many kind people in the quilting industry.

A Lizzy House rainbow at the Andover booth...

I feel like Quilt Market gave me a new perspective in some ways. Here are three thoughts that came to mind during my trip...

Alison Glass is a bonafide color genius and one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And I really want that stack of Childcraft Encyclopedias...

1. It's business. When quilting is your hobby and you find your way into this creative community -- either online or in person -- you kind of forget that the quilting industry is a business. What struck me more than anything on that first day of Schoolhouse presentations was how serious everyone looked, but as Becca reminded me, "It's their business." It was a fact that humbled me. I know what it's like to work for a small business, the joys and the hardships of it. Knowing that these people are willing to carry my book in their stores, to let me be a part of what they do to provide for themselves and their's an honor. It makes me want to do the best work I possibly can, and it makes me want to support every local quilt shop I have access to. After all, if we don't, who will?

Pat Bravo is a talented artist but also such a gracious lady.

2. It's personal. The new fabric gets a lot of hype at Quilt Market -- and for good reason! -- but what I remember most is the people. When you spend time talking with designers, authors, and those who represent them, you see how deeply personal this business is. There are countless hours of dreaming, planning, writing, and sewing behind each collection, book, and booth. Yes, everyone is hoping to make a living from their work, but they're also wanting to touch lives and create beauty. It's a wonderful but terrifying experience to lay your heart out on fabric and paper for others to see and critique. So whatever I may think about a fabric collection or a sewing book, I can be kind in what I say -- or don't say -- because I know that someone invested a piece of themselves when they shared their work with me.

I've always felt that Anna Maria Horner has a gift for marrying traditional and modern fabric designs in a way that appeals to people in both camps. Her new Loominous collection can't be fully appreciated until you see it with your own eyes.

3. There's room for everyone. There are so many different kinds of people involved with the quilting community these days, and it reminds me of the dynamics you find in a big family. You have your quiet ones and your noisy ones, the ones who glow in the spotlight and those who are more comfortable behind-the-scenes. Last week, I met traditional quilters, modern quilters, and lots of people who fall somewhere in between. The beauty of it is that there's room for all of us! It's okay for us to not all like the same stuff, but it's also okay for us to bond over the things we have in common. This industry has grown to a point where it can support so many different styles of creativity, and that's such a wonderful thing because it gives us more freedom than I think we've ever had before.

It's not as if I didn't already know these things, of course, but when you see the people's faces and hear their words and feel their passion, you understand it in a way that you just can't quite grasp through a computer screen. And you can't help but bring that warm feeling home with you, tucked in a corner of your heart.

So Quilt Market...yeah...such a good idea.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Busy Girl Sews: SOTAK Handmade

Heather Ross Deluxe Pincushion from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

As I explained in my last post, I rarely make the same pattern twice. That's why the Deluxe Pincushion from my book surprised me. I never tire of making these. The Heather Ross version above (which I sewed up in a mad dash on the night before heading to Quilt Market) is my latest and possibly favorite one yet. It reminds me very much of our new home in Texas which I can hardly wait to visit in just four weeks.

Heather Ross Deluxe Pincushion from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

Svetlana of S.O.T.A.K Handmade is sharing her own pincushion this week, and I'm delighted that she's not only on my book tour but also one of the bloggers featured in my book. She has a design style that is so uniquely her own -- I can instantly recognize her hand in any project she makes. I'm honored to call her a friend as well as a fellow blogger. If you're not familiar with her work, go spend an afternoon scrolling through her beautiful blog posts as well as the fantastic patterns she has for sale. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

I'm hoping to have a post for you in the next few days to share impressions of my first Quilt Market. What an adventure! It's all still processing in my head, but I can't wait to share my thoughts with you. We'll talk soon...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Market Case

Market Case by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Over the past few years of sewing, I've discovered a little quirk about myself: I rarely sew the same thing twice. Most of the projects you see in my book were a one-time deal -- the first time I made it was the only time. The same is true of my tutorials. For instance, I adore the Ellie Travel Case and have loved seeing all the creative versions of this little bag popping up on Instagram lately, but would you believe that I don't actually own one myself? I made a single bag for the tutorial which I then gave away as a birthday present. One of these days I need to make another for myself, but there just always seems to be something else on my list of things to sew that comes first. I guess that's why it sometimes takes me longer than expected to finish a project that I'm creating from scratch. Rather than make a prototype, adjust details, and then keep remaking the project until I get what I want, I usually spend a ton of time processing those details on paper and in my head so that I can do it right the first time. At least 75% of the time, it seems to work out far, anyway.

Over a month ago, I decided to make a new bag to take with me to Spring Quilt Market this week, but my idea of what that bag should look like must have changed at least a dozen times. I wanted something that had only zipper closures so that nothing would fall out and get lost while I was traveling. It needed to be small enough to use as a purse, but large enough to carry everything I wanted to take with me on the plane. I had originally planned to make a crossbody style bag, but due to some recent neck pain from hauling around too much in my everyday purse, I decided to go with shorter handles instead. After weeks of tinkering with the pattern, here's the result: my Market Case.

The front pocket is made of a hexagon panel that I sewed by hand, and I adore the way it looks with chocolate brown yarn dyed linen from Robert Kaufman. The front pocket and main interior are lined with prints from the new Natural History collection by Lizzy House. Those butterflies are a personal favorite of mine. I added an inner pocket made from the linen as well, knowing how handy those can be. Since I was running out of time, I decided to do a zig zag stitch along the inner seams rather than bind them. I've found that I really don't mind the look of seams finished this way, and it takes less than half the time which, to me, is more than worth it.

I am completely delighted with how this bag turned out. It's exactly what I needed -- even if it wasn't what I first envisioned. And if you happen to spot it while you're walking the floor at Quilt Market, please come over to say hi! Since every bag needs a buddy, I made a rainbow badge holder using Monica's brilliant pattern to go along with it. It's so good to have these projects finished and ready to go in time!

For those of you going to Quilt Market, I'll be doing a Schoolhouse session on Thursday at 1pm in room 211B and signing books at the C&T Publishing Booth (#1440) on Friday at 4pm. You can follow me on Instagram at @fabricmutt too where I'll be posting often. I'll only be at Market for those two days, but I'd love to see as many of you as possible while I'm there!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Busy Girl Sews: Ellison Lane Quilts

Weekend Tourist Mini Quilt from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

The Weekend Tourist Mini Quilt is kind of like the Summer Tourist Quilt's little sister. There are times when you just don't want to wait; you've got to play with your scraps and have a finished project to show for it right now. I pulled out some of my treasured Heather Ross prints for this project, and oh, how I love it. A Tim Holtz newsprint fabric makes a great background, and I bound the quilt in a purple dot print by Violet Craft. It's enormously simple, but definitely one of my favorite projects from my book.

Weekend Tourist Mini Quilt from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

Jennifer is sharing her version of the Weekend Tourist over at Ellison Lane Quilts this week. I have so many "firsts" in my sewing career tied up with Jennifer and her blog. Her 2012 charm swap was the first fabric swap I ever joined, and her 2012 Modern Mini quilt competition was the first quilting contest I ever entered with my Retro Kitchen quilt -- you can see that old favorite right here. Jennifer is such an encouraging person, and she has come up with so many amazing ideas over the years for quilting events, both online and in person. Her Sew South Retreat is legendary, and one of these days, I hope to see it with my own eyes! Be sure to stop by her blog to see what cuteness she's done with the Weekend Tourist.

Weekend Tourist Mini Quilt from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

My husband spoiled me with hours of deliriously happy sewing over the weekend so that I could finish up a few projects for Quilt Market this week. I can't wait to show you what I made, so stay tuned!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Travel Portfolio Set

Biology Travel Portfolio Set by Heidi Staples for Modern Patchwork Magazine

Earlier this year I finished my Travel Portfolio Set for the Spring issue of Modern Patchwork Magazine which has just finally been published. The lovely people at Cloud 9 Fabrics were kind enough to donate some of Sarah Watson's stunning Biology collection for this magazine project. I think Biology is one of the most original collections to come on the market in the past year, and between you and me, I want to cover everything I own with that dreamy border print on the left. It's truly stunning!

These portfolios are available in two sizes, and they're perfect for work, school, or household lists. They make a wonderful last minute gift for teachers, moms, or grads too. Just add a pad of paper and something to write with -- even a gift card, if you're feeling really nice! -- and you're in business.

Biology Travel Portfolio Set by Heidi Staples for Modern Patchwork Magazine

You can pick up a copy of Modern Patchwork in your local book store or quilt shop, or you can just buy one online right here. There are some amazing projects in this issue, and I'm pretty honored to be featured alongside such talented people!

Happy weekend!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Busy Girl Sews: Why Not Sew?

My prototype for the Nine Patch Pocket Pillow from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl was made a little over two years ago when I sewed up a last minute gift for a friend's daughter. You'll find three variations on the project in my book: the Deluxe Pincushion, the First Aid Station, and the Book Nook. I love that these projects are all based on the same pattern yet are so completely different from each other!

This week you can visit my dear friend Erin at Why Not Sew? to see her adorable version of the Book Nook. Erin specializes in some of the sweetest patchwork you'll find in the quilting community, and she has been an incredible blessing to me over the years with her sweet words of encouragement from one busy mom to another. She has a book of her own coming out later this year, and I can't wait to get a copy. Be sure to drop by and see the darling project she made for her girls!

Congrats to go_design & EmileeHope, my winners from last week's giveaway. I've emailed you both and look forward to getting some fabric in the mail to you tomorrow!

Have a wonderful week, my friends!
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