Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sew OK Was More Than OK

Last weekend, I took off for an adventure of all kinds.  While it was just down the highway from where I reside, it truly felt like I had a vacation that I'll remember fondly.  You may remember that I signed up for my first sewing retreat, Sew OK, recently.  I was mega nervous for a million reasons - not feeling up to par with my sewing game, longest time away from the kid, rain in the forecast for my traveling days, and leaving a big decision behind that I'll talk more about later.
I actually ended up hitting the road last Wednesday, one day before the retreat began, so I could avoid the rain.  Well, most of the rain I encountered was during my drive!  But it ended up being a very therapeutic drive with a nice steady, summer rain.  Oklahoma City is the place I called home for four years while I completed my undergraduate degree.  I haven't gone back and just farted around for many years so it was a welcomed, unplanned day that was fantastic.  I dropped some of my handmade clothing off at a new shop, Out on a Limb, in the Plaza District, visited a dear old friend and her brand new baby, spent time shooting the shit with JD of Deluxe, had a lovely dinner with my brother-in-law, and stayed the night with one of my besties that I don't get to see often enough!  It was a PERFECT day. How could the sewing retreat even compare?  Oh it did.  It did.
 
I really didn't know what to expect.  The event was held in a super cool (and haunted!) historic hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.  I had stayed there once before last year so I was excited to return to spend more time.  I opted to make a little vacay out of it and not have a roommate which was SO nice.  Of course, I was given a room on the infamous haunted floor but never saw a thing.  Although, the last night, I swear I felt something 'sit' on the end of my bed more than once.  I just kept those peepers shut tight!  Ha!  The actual retreat was held in a gigantic ballroom where everyone had their own workstation.  Machines were provided, if needed, but it seemed most traveled with their own.  I brought both my sewing machine and serger with the intention of playing with some of the machines they had provided but ended up only using my own.  Glad I had brought them!  
There were two optional classes offered throughout the three day retreat but other than that, nothing else was scheduled so you had the opportunity to sew willy-nilly all day and night long!  I don't think I have EVER sewn so long, so consistently.  It was heaven.  I attended both classes, one taught by Dana of Old Red Barn Co. (what a sweet, sweet soul!) who taught us how to simply sew curves and the other taught by Carolyn Friedlander who taught us how to make her Social Tote project.  Both classes were invaluable and fun! 
99.9% of the time I was working on my first king size quilt which I completely finished there!  I had intentions of using their fancy mid-arm machine to do my quilting but ended up doing the entire thing on my own machine which, in hindsight, was a little crazy!  It was SO nice to have such a large floor space to lay things out on and large workspace to spread out on.  I'll shared photos of the finished quilt in my next post.  :)  Even though I only worked on one project, I learned SO much from my fellow attendees and their projects! 
One highlight from the experience was one that I just never even anticipated.  The fellowship.  It was beyond nice to be among other women equally obsessed with sewing and making things.  The bonding I experienced was priceless, especially within one particular gal.  Mary, who many of you may know as one of the fabulous sewing teachers at Owl & Drum, ended up being someone who I felt like I'd known forever and that I know that I WILL know forever.  I loved every moment that we got to share together that weekend. 
I sincerely hope that I am able to be involved with something like this again in the near future.  Hours of uninterrupted sewing with ladies that I think the world of in a fancy schmancy setting was just more than I could ask for.  Oh, and free stuff.  Like tons and tons of free stuff.

So thanks to the *hilarious* ladies who made this weekend possible, to the teachers who were so patient with this non-precise sewer, and to the gals who stayed up late with me to make!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Whirlwind of Goodness

For whatever reason, July always seems to be one of my busiest months of the year.  Try as I might to make this one different, we're halfway through and I'm already needing to stop and catch my breath.  The past two weeks have been crazy fabulous so I wanted to pause and take a moment to reflect before running through the last of the month.

The main reason for our nonstop hustle and bustle was due to having my sister and her man in town for two weeks!  They took to the open road from California at the end of June and barreled down the highway to join us July 1st.  In true 'don't waste a moment' fashion of our family, we hit the ground running.

Randomly enough, the first few days that they were here, my childhood best friend and her entire family were also in town (hi Tracy!!) so Afton, Rio and I took advantage of the timing to do some catching up with friends so close, I consider them family.  It was wonderful.
Next up was our whirlwind of 4th of July festivities.  My old desk job from several years back hosts one hell of a 4th party right on the river so we took full advantage of that fiesta.  Their office sits riiiiiight where our city has their 4th party.  It's pretty much perfect.  We had a great time and caught this death-by-adorable photo of Rio and two of her little friends.  They are all close to being one year apart and have all enjoyed each other hand-me-downs throughout the years. 

While I'm not a shout-it-from the rooftops patriotic type gal, I sure do like dressing in themes so our little family went full throttle with some red, white, and blue goodness. 
After staying up a little past our bedtime that night, the next morning we found ourselves on the road to our family's cabin.  I haven't been to the cabin with Afton in many years so that was quite the treat.  It was also her man, Nick's, first time to our family's retreat which was also equally wonderful.  In fact, it was lovely to get to hang out with him throughout their entire stay. 
Fireworks, creek swimming, over-eating, laughs, skinned knees, hula hooping, bad dancing, and more filled up our evening.  The kid was a dream, save for one meltdown that signaled a much needed nap.
The rest of the week was sprinkled with lots of gigs for the imported musicians, an impromptu cookout at our place with loads of folks, family dinners, some Big Splash time, and tons of just hanging out with each other.  It was really special to have Rio spend time with her aunt apart in person, not just on a screen. 
For the last day of their stay here, we convinced the imports to join us at our annual pilgrimage, Woody Fest.   Remember, this is where the mister and I first met and have continued to attend as a sort of anniversary for ourselves. This was the first year ever that I didn't have a booth as well as the first year that I only attended one day.  With things as busy as they've been, we just couldn't work it out to be there any longer but it turned out to just be perfect.  Af had never been to Brent's hometown of Okemah, where the festival is held, but had only heard stories and seen pictures.  After a little time 'in town' and at my father-in-law's, we found ourselves at the festival site to listen to John Fullbright who is just amazingly wonderful and Arlo Guthrie who is just straight up entertaining.  After all of these years at the festival, I'd never seen Arlo live before.  On top of it all, the super moon was also in attendance, putting an exclamation point on the evening.
Every time my sis comes back home, it's always a good time but this go around was covered in extra special goodness.  Like all sparkly and shit.  :)  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Alliday is Back!

I've alluded to working on a big top secret project for the past few months and now, I can let the cat out of the bag....There WILL be a fifth annual Alliday this year!

Yes, I gave it all up after last year's show.  I was done.  For six months after, I didn't even contemplate doing it again.  It was a great mental break for me.  Then, as I started to think about the rest of the year, I started thinking about how I wanted, no neeeeeeded, to organize some sort of holiday show.  You see, before Alliday was even born, I would host handmade holiday open house shows a few weeks before Christmas in homes.  They were small but fun and very profitable for the makers that participated.  When I started thinking about what I should do for this year, I reflected back on those events.  Then I had a lightbulb moment.  There are no rules for what Alliday must be.  It's my baby and I have free creative reign on allowing it to evolve whichever way it may.  It was then I started rethinking the show and how I could bring it back on my own terms, on a smaller scale, and with a more tailored look. 
Enter Retro Den.  These gals opened up what has quickly become one of my favorite local shops in town a little over a year ago.  I lurve window shopping the vintage finds that they hunt out and even more, I love chatting it up with the Ashleys (yes, they are both named Ashley!) when I'm in the shop.  They are gold, those girls.  What started as a conversation about me making pillows for their shop evolved into us agreeing to partner up on Alliday.  It all seems very serendipitous, actually.  After a few months of meetings and planning, it's all official.

So here are the deets.  This year, Alliday will be TWO-DAYS long on December 12th & 13th, feature TWELVE top-notch Oklahoman artisans, and will be held at Retro Den!  Those are the big changes you'll notice.  One of the changes that I'm most excited about is our Holiday Party Friday night!  It's going to be off the hook.  There will be limited tickets for the soiree but don't fret if you don't get your hands on one, Saturday will be free to shop and will have its own highlights that you won't soon forget.  As time draws closer, I will share more secrets as to what we've got up our sleeves and will let you know when Friday's tickets go on sale!

In the meantime, we are on the hunt for our artists who will be the stars of the show!  Applications can be found right here and information on being a vendor with us can be found here.

Whew, I'm glad that's not a secret any longer!  :)  Party time!  Excellent!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pillow Art Presents

My mom paints.  My dad dances.  My sister sings and plays music.  I lately focus on sewing.  Whenever two of our family members' interests are able to merge together to create something that fulfills more than one of us, well, it just feels damn good.

My mom's birthday was at the beginning of June and for some reason, I always have a hard time finding a gift for her.  This year though, I figured it out.  I decided to have one of her paintings printed as fabric.  It's safe to say we'll definitely be doing that again.  For a few years, I've hopped over to Spoonflower off and on to learn more about those services but just never bit the bullet and ordered anything until now.  The process was smooth, user-friendly, and, I thought, affordable for what you were getting.  I didn't realize that you can get even more printed than just fabric so who knows what we'll end up with in the future!  And no, this post sure wasn't sponsored by them; it was just a good experience!
I first had to narrow it down to what painting I wanted to use.  I really take a shine to her more abstract works so that's what I sought out.  I thought that kind of work would really translate well to a fabric design.  Once I had the digital image of the painting, I just starting playing around with it in their editor.  I really dug the mirrored image look of the painting so I went forward with that, hoping that she'd be cool with me playing around with her art.  She approved.  You can see the original work below.  
When I ordered, I accidentally ordered two different types of cotton which actually ended up being very educational for me!  In the below image, the pillow on the right side was made with their standard cotton which was very nice all around.  The pillow on the left was made with Kona cotton which was one step up from their standard.  I don't know if you can tell or not but the Kona colors are much more vibrant than the standard.  The Kona also feels to be a denser fabric so perhaps a bit more sturdier, as well.  I never, ever would have been able to tell any differences had I not accidentally ordered the same pattern on two different fabrics!  Perhaps not interesting to anyone but myself.  :)
Since there was so much color happening on the front, I backed these pillows with a velvety light brown color.  I looooove the way they feel and the way the fabrics worked together but that backing was a *b* to work with!  Slippin' and a slidin' all over the place.
About a week (or two) after her birthday (due to my procrastination of ordering), I gifted my mom her fabric gift.  Her request was that I 'do my thing' and make her some pillows out of them.  Done and done.  I do have some scraps left so I'm sure you'll see them again, probably hodge-podged into a quilt or two.  I'm truly excited to do some more work with her art in the near future!  Cheers to collaboration!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Plethora of Pillows

When I mentioned yesterday that I'd been busy in the sewing world, I wasn't kidding one bit!  I'm super, SUPER stoked that my pillows are now being carried at Retro Den!  They specialize in crazy cool vintage furniture and housewares that I seriously covet.  This first batch of pillows I delivered to them were all made with fabrics handpicked by the Ashleys, themselves.  All come with the pillow forms, are various sizes, and are drool-worthy good, if I may say so myself.  Here's a rundown of what is there now, with more to come!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Byrd Quilt

Hellooooooo!  It may seem like I haven't been making much lately but that couldn't be further from the truth!  I have been mega busy busting out one thing after another but have had to wait to share these things until the time was right.  First up, a widdle baby blanket for the little one my friend Amby is cooking right now!
I'm actually elbow-deep in working on a king-size quilt right now so working on this piece was a nice break from the gigantic-ness I've been focusing on.  Amby's shower crept up so quickly for me that I wasn't sure I'd have time to bust out a quilt for her but I was determined (and crazy) so this was born during nap times and bed times for half of a week. 
What's different about this one for me is that it's made from all modern fabrics!  The killer main fabric came from Owl & Drum (have I told you how much I love that place?!) and the solids were some of Tex's handmedowns.  Amazingly, the bias tape was purchased and matched that center strip spot on.  Serendipitous, yes?
I also decided to free motion quilt this one.  I could have just used a regular foot but, I figure, I'll never improve with FMQ unless I keep practicing with it!  The front doesn't show too much of the quilting craziness but the back sure does!  It may not be perfect or aligned or straight but, boy howdy, it's durable!  I was pleased that there was minimal puckering which tells me I'm getting better at basting!  Progress!  :)
The backing may look familiar to many of you as this is the third quilt I've used it on!  I *think* I may be able to squeeze one more baby-sized quilt out of it if I'm careful.  It's just so soft and works with SO many colorways!  I'll sure miss it when it's all gone.
Amby is such a sweet, good mom to her little man, a wonderful maker, and a good friend to me with a terrifically wonderful laugh.  Seriously, it's the best laugh.  I can't wait to meet her next guy (soon!!) and to see him being all baby-ish on his quilt!  You can spit up all over this one, little man, it's yours!  :)
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