Friday, March 27, 2015

A Challenge? OK!

Right around the time I was churning out bags left and right, an old friend of mine contacted me to see if I could make her a customized bag.  Luckily, I was very bag-motivated and immediately set out to work.  She wanted a cross-body bag with a few pockets and at least two fabrics that 'didn't go together'.  I figured I could do that!  I spent time sketching and sending fabric ideas to its recipient until one day, I decided to stop planning it over and over in my head and just start cutting. 
 
I based the shape off of this bag but changed pretty much everything else.  I accidentally bought a heavier interfacing than I normally use but decided to just go with it, making it super sturdy.  It was a material I had never worked with before so it was a learning experience!  I added a zipper to the main closure, took out the snap and the exterior zipper pocket, added an interior zipper pocket (my first!), and changed the strap structure.  Those are just the major changes. 

At one point after I had the bag over halfway constructed, I was not happy with its direction so I stopped, spent a few hours completely taking it apart, and started over.  Time consuming and exhausting but I'm glad I took the extra time to do it right!  I spent a lot of time in my head trying to figure out how to make it work construction-wise, how to make it super strong, and how to make it look nice.  I'm thrilled it worked out how I had envisioned it!
Once it was finished, I couldn't stop staring at it.  I am in love with it.  I'm pretty sure I'll try and replicate another one for myself with a few more tweaks.  I love that this project took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to work with new techniques all on my own.  Yay for learning and growing!  Best of all?  My friend absolutely loves it.  I can't wait to ship it off to her. 
 
Oh, and variegated thread?  My new favorite thing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

Somehow, my mister turned 40 today!  I met him when he was a strapping 31 year old and I was a wild 26 year old gal.  I remember thinking how crazy it was that I was seeing a guy in his thirties!  Ha!  Now look at us!

I'm allllllll about celebrating birthdays so of course I decided that this young man needed a birthday party - a SURPRISE birthday party!  It was a super simple shindig and SUCH a good time.  After talking to our out-of-town friends, I decided to set it up for the weekend before his birthday and crossed my fingers that I could keep a secret!  I reserved several lanes for bowling, picked up a small cake, and invited the masses.  One of our friends hit him up a few days earlier to 'fill in as a sub for a charity bowl team' so we could get him to the bowling alley without raising any eyebrows.  My folks graciously agreed to take Rio home after bowling so we could have an after party at our house! 

We had a fantastic turnout at the bowling alley and, what matters most, Brent was totally surprised!  We had SO much fun!  It was Rio's first time bowling so that was extra special as well.  I couldn't stop smiling.  :)
 
The biggest challenge?  Keeping Brent from starting a HUGE project in our living room that week without telling him we were having a party in a few days!  Getting the house clean was no issue because I obsessively clean anyways so that raised no red flags with him.  :) 

The after party brought about round two of folks and was a blast as well.  I made up a cheesy slideshow of photos to embarrass the birthday boy, we feasted on some pizza, and just had too good of a time.  I couldn't have been happier with how everything played out! 
 

There aren't many photos from the festivities which is probably a good thing.  ;)  This year is actually kind of crazy for birthdays - Brent turned 40, my sister turns 30 in June, and my dad turns 60 in August!  2015 is the year for milestone birthdays!  But if you look at birthdays like I do, every birthday is a milestone. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Sweet Spring Quilt

About a month or so ago, I started playing with the fabric used in the four large squares on the yellow side of the quilt.  It was fabric that I won at Sew OK (among a crap ton of other fabrics) which I'm finally pulling out to mess around with.  Nothing was really jiving as I was pulling fabrics until I glanced down to the small stack of work-in-progress pieces that I inherited from Tex.  It also happened to be the anniversary of her leaving us, without me even realizing it.  I'd barely looked at that stack of work for so many reasons but that day, it made itself seen.  It felt right to start using it.  Any part of this quilt with solid gold and solid yellow together was pieced by Tex. 

The rest of this quilt was comprised of vintage sheets so you know it's crazy, crazy soft.  I had the perfect amount of handmade bias tape leftover from this quilt and it coordinated so well with this one that I had to use it. 

Right now, I feel like my quilts are very representative of emotions I'm processing.  My last one was a bit darker themed as I was coming out of darker times while this one screams spring and growth.  I'm feeling much more refreshed, as this quilt represents.  Or at least that's what I've noticed after finishing the last two.  :) 

When making this one, I had no plans for it but after our last TMQG meeting, I've decided to donate it to Cancer Treatment Centers for those needing warmth as they receive treatment.  It feels like that's where it is supposed to be.  So without further adieu, I give you the Sweet Spring Quilt.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Crafty Weekender (& What I Finished!)

Just a few weeks ago, I spotted something that caught my eye on Instagram - Crafty Weekender.  One of the founders of Sew OK decided to start doing similar sewing weekends in the region but on a smaller scale.  Susannah, a doll and a half, seeks out houses that you can rent for the weekend in random cities, invites crafty ladies that she knows from various events, and hosts a laid-back crafty weekend.  I was in.  The next one was in Tulsa and I was more than stoked but there was a kink - all of the spots were filled.  I let Susannah know that I was 100% in if there were any openings but didn't really think it would happen.  Well, surprise surprise, one gal had to drop out just a week before and I was still available so I was in!  I was thrilled!

There were only seven of us and I had previously met all but two of the gals.  The house we stayed in was only two miles away from my house which made it possible for me to still work on Friday, make an emergency fabric run home, and to still attend a StreetCats' meeting that I couldn't miss.  Meant to be, if you ask me. 

It was just wonderful in every aspect.  Every single one of these ladies kept me in stitches (pun intended) and were filled with sewing wisdom that they so graciously shared.  And their work, man oh man, their work was spectacular.  I think my sewing game was upped just sharing air with them for a few days.  

There were no rules, just have fun and sew.  There were so many moments where it was silent except for the hum of seven machines and it was glorious.  I'm sure to some that sounds pretty boring but to me, it was much needed and welcomed.  We sprinkled in a trip to my beloved Owl & Drum, ate home cooked meals, watched cheesy eighties movies, listened to questionable music, and played Cards Against Humanity (amazingly my first time).  Absolute perfection.

So what did I work on?  Prior to the weekend, I had printed out the pattern for the Cargo Duffle, but stuck it away to work on at some undetermined time in the future.  When thinking about what I'd like to work on for the retreat, I knew I wanted to sew for myself so the duffle it was.  I found the instructions to be a little confusing when I first read through them so as I cut up my pieces for it the night before, I perused blog posts about others that had made the bag.  Theeeeen it all made sense and I was ready to go. 
I'm absolutely enamored with it and am proud of myself!  I think I'd like to make a few more, with some slight changes.  Maybe a different pocket configuration, add zipper pull tabs, and stabilizer in the handles.  It's totally functional as is though and I've been using it from the moment I finished it!
Since I'd studied up on the pattern before beginning, I flew through its construction!  The only thing that took any time was quilting the pieces.  I wasn't prepared to have finished that quickly!  I figured I'd be working on this bag all weekend!
Luckily, I had stashed my Tulsa Modern Quilt Guild challenge project in my bag so that's what I moved onto next!  At our last meeting, we had to draw an envelope and a random zipper.  The envelope held two random paint chip samples which were to be the two main colors in our boxy tote, along with the zipper that we drew.  I felt like I lucked out in my pull as the colors were ones I use often!  I treated myself to some new fabric at Owl & Drum for the project and love the way it turned out.
Well, I flew through that as well!  I'd made one last year and meant to make more but never got around to it.  They are super simple and mega handy.  I use my first one alllll of the time.  I bet you know how this story ends.  I decided to go with the boxy tote flow and busted out three more in a few hours.  I'm telling you, my productivity was on point!
I picked up more zippers yesterday so I can mass produce many more of these since everybody and their dog is now asking me to make them one!  Ha!  Good thing I like to make them.  :)
And there I was again, not knowing what to make next with many hours left to make.  One of the gals there was preparing to start a large paper piecing project and welcomed me to watch and ask questions.  Paper piecing has always intimidated, confused, and intrigued me but for whatever reason, it's something that I never thought I'd be able to do.  I don't know why.  It was just always so precise and stunning that I didn't think I was that kind of maker.  After watching and beginning to understand the process I decided to give it a try but all that was on hand was the advanced piecing that she was working on.  I figured, why the hell not?  I was in a room with experienced makers who could help me and it would give me something to try out.  So I did it.  And it was amazing.

I keep saying that it was mind-blowing, that it opened up so many sewing possibilities for me, and that I can't believe it was so easy.  It's a game changer.  I made a second one yesterday and have plans for one more with this pattern, the Pineapple Block.  It only measures 8" x 8" and is great for scrap usage.  I have plans for these blocks, grand plans!
This past weekend was the perfect way to start Spring Break.  I may not get a traditional break from my other job or from parenthood but sprinkling in positive experiences like these makes the 'break' feel like all sorts of special. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Working Together

The kid is at such an interactive stage now that I have to figure out ways to include her into my creative work so we both stay entertained simultaneously.  The majority of the time, Rio is by my side which can be challenging but can also be inspiring.  We play with shapes, talk about colors, play with scrap fabric, and whatever else I can pull out of my arse to keep her engaged.  The other day, we created together.  Kinda.
About a year ago my Mimi (merely one of the most awesome women I've ever had the honor of knowing) gifted Rio with a pretty cool onesie from the Oxley Nature Center.  She was told that the images on it would change to colors when in the sunlight which sounded pretty cool but the problem was that we haven't put Rio in onesies in a really, really long time.  I threw it in my altering pile to change it up somehow and never thought of it again as (I keep saying) life got crazy.  Finally, a year later, I made it wearable.  Luckily it was huge so she's still nowhere near growing out of it.
 
It's obviously nothing fancy and took maybe ten minutes to complete but it's done and she loves it which is all I really care about.  I simply cut the bottom of the onesie off below the design, gave Rio three fabric options to choose from, and sewed on a long skirt once she had chosen her favorite fabric.  Easy peasy.  I may go back and add a few oversized pockets to it since pockets are this kid's new best friend.
 
A few days later, we did a quick 'costume change' just for kicks and ended up going outside to soak up this spring weather that is teasing us.  Within minutes, colors started popping up and we were all slightly amazed.  Would that be the same concept as a hypercolor shirt?  Remember those?

And just because, here's a few snaps of Mondo and Rio giving each other some lovin'. 
Yeah, almost too sweet to handle, isn't it?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Get Organized!

Sometime last year before life went cray-cray, I had what I thought was a genius moment.  Genius may be up for debate but I did have a welcomed spark of creativity and went with it.  I had ordered a large amount of gold hoops to use on making adjustable belts but when my order came in, the hoops were much larger than what I had anticipated.  After a good amount of time was spent staring at them and scratching my chin wondering what to do, I figured it out!  Hanging jewelry holders!  It would help me use up scraps of fabric and quilt batting, would put the hoops to good use, and allow me to practice free motion quilting!  I made a few and fell in LOVE with them so I made more and more, as I do. 


So why do I love them?  It keeps jewelry organized and as we all know, I'm allllll about that organization business.  Just pierce earrings and pins through the (thick and sturdy!) quilted fabric and hang necklaces and bracelets on the hoops.  Easy peasy.  I even like the idea of hanging hook earrings through the side tassels!  Keeps your baubles from getting lost in a drawer, makes them easy to see when getting ready, and, as an added bonus, when you travel just take the sucker off of the wall, fold it up and you're on your way! 

With the move and all, I never got around to photographing them until these past snow days gifted me with unexpected free time and sunshine.  I've sold a few through shows but still have these (and a few more) now listed in my shop.  Trying to focus on my own handmade business once again!  Party time!  Excellent!
Until later!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Caught on Film

When I was in college I was gifted a mighty nice film camera, riiiiight before digital cameras became all the rage.  I used to shoot film like nobody's business.  Not that I was grand at it but I loved it.  I loved the surprise of what would be on the roll, I loved documenting moments that would otherwise be forgotten or fuzzy, I loved the whole process. 

I'll never forget being a young child and joining my Great Granny at Petrik Drugs on Main Street in Broken Arrow, having sherbert ice cream while listening to 'In the Jungle' over and over on the jukebox, and watching Tony Petrik develop the rolls of films neighbors would drop by.  It was fascinating and such a fond memory of mine.

Prior to receiving my film current film camera, I learned to use my mom's classic camera and used it exclusively for a photography class in college where I learned to develop my own film.  That dark room was a magical place.  And a stinky place.  The class was forever informative and inspiring though I wish I could revisit it to refresh my memory.  I'm curious what the instructor now thinks of nonstop digital.  

Last year, I decided to play with film again.  I bought a few rolls, stuck a black and white roll in my camera, and would pull it out here and there for random shots.  It rarely left the house.  Fast forward a year and I FINALLY got that roll of film developed.  It was pre-move, pre-animal losses, covered multiple seasons, and filled with memories.  Here ya go.
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