Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Wedding Quilt

The first quilt of 2016 is done and it is a special one!  One of my dearest friends got hitched not too long ago and to celebrate her union and new chapter in life, a quilt was in order!
This quilt holds tons of symbolism.  Sunsets, sunrises, two becoming one, a spiritual presence, and the inclusion of three darling kids are all represented within this work.  I went into it without a plan (as I do) and love the way it turned out.  
The background fabric is a sweet vintage sheet I had in my stash and seemed to compliment the focal point just perfectly.  Plus, it's super soft since it's had years of loving making it perfect to continue life in a quilt!
I quilted it pretty densely, mainly with lots of straight lines.  When I was finished, or so I thought, I wasn't happy with the quilting in the main part - it just seemed bare.  I pulled out the free motion goodies, gave some stippling a try again, and am so glad that I did!  It reminded me that I'm not terrible at free motioning and that there are endless possibilities when using it!  And it gave this quilt exactly what it was missing.  :)
The backing is a combination of scraps, the front sheet, and the addition of another sheet that I loooooooove.  I am thrilled with how it all balanced out!  

Size-wise, I'd call it a good-sized couch blanket that can fit a few cuddling bodies underneath.  :)
I'm learning that one of my favorite parts of making a quilt is pulling it out of the dryer after washing it all up.  That crinkling effect is gold!  
I'm super happy with how this one turned out and am even more excited for its new family to wrap up in it for years and years and years.  To the future, dear friends!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My First Mini & Quilt Show!

Close to the beginning of last year, my quilt guild got together and tore some fabric up.  Seriously, that's literally what we did.  We were asked to bring one yard of a solid fabric that tickled our fancy.  I went with green, naturally.  Everyone stood in one large circle, tore their fabric in half, kept the larger piece, and passed the smaller piece to the person to our left.  Then we repeated that seven times until we had a random rainbow of different sized solid fabrics.  The mission?  To make a 'mini' quilt (24" x 24") using all of the colors given in a 'modern' style while pushing ourselves out of our quilting comfort zones. 
I was soooooo not inspired by my fabric pull so this project sat for months and months until I realized I only had a few weeks left before it was due!  Finally, one day I pulled out the stack and just started slicing and piecing.  We were allowed to incorporate a print, if we saw fit, so I decided to bring in this constellation print by Lizzy House (that I had leftover from a dress I made myself) to tie everything together. 
I challenged myself in a few different ways.  Not cutting things square was more of a challenge than I thought it would be!  Ha!  I made the binding using my seventh color.  Also not following specific quilting lines pushed me a bit as well.  For the quilting, I decided to use four different colors of thread which I ended up loving.  I worked on burying my threads (still working on that!), learned how to make a hanging sleeve on the back, and hand sewed my binding on which I'm very new to!  So this little quilt ended up teaching me loads more than I thought it would.
I just ended up using scraps for the backing, as I usually do.  When I was done, I had a hell of a time deciding which side to use as the official front - I loved both sides so much!  You can somewhat see the sleeve at the top of the backside. 
We were also asked to name our quilts and label them.  I had never done that before aside from naming them after who they would live with!  While I was making this one, I was busy binge-watching Vikings so I ended up naming this little guy 'Nott' which means 'night' in Norse. 

Fast forward several months later and my first mini quilt was hung among others from the same challenge at an area quilt show!  Pictured is only a small portion of the minis that were completed.  Such variety, talent, and inspiration in our group!
It may have just been a tiny quilt that I was able to share in this type of public setting but you have to start somewhere, right?!  I'm proud!  :)

Now back to finishing my current quilt!  ¡Hasta luego!

Friday, January 8, 2016

One of Those Outfits: The Alliday Holiday Party!

What's that?!  An outfit post?!  And an extra special one at that!  If you follow me on Instagram then you probably already saw a sneak peek of what I wore but if not, here ya go!  When we made the big changes to Alliday last year, it was decided to add a Friday night party and boy, oh boy was that a good decision.  Retro Den had been wanting to have a holiday party so it worked out perfectly to combine the two.  For 2014's show, Volupté outfitted us in some gorgeous gowns.  For 2015's show, Owl & Drum guided us in making our own dresses! 
Making these dresses together was such a fun process!  We made the Pearl Dress from Green Bee Patterns.  Super simple to make, with lots of variations to choose from.  We chose these beautiful woven solids and then chose accent fabrics for the neck trim and pockets.  I used that same accent fabric to make Brent a matching tie, but more on that below.  We met three times and sewed together while enjoying each others' company.  Owl & Drum is SO helpful in learning to sew whatever it is you desire!  I strongly encourage you to visit their shop and take a class from them!
The gals from Owl & Drum also made the Pearl Dress but in patterned fabrics.  I was so excited to see us all together!  I really cherish these ladies.  They are all kind, hilarious, driven, and admirable.  I feel fortunate to call them my friends.  And to dress like them.  :)
While I was working on my dress one evening, the mister asked if I would make him a coordinating tie for him.  Um, yeah!!  I'd never made a tie before but I figured I'd never learn how to unless I tried!  I found a free pattern online and went for it.  It was a horrible dud.  It was puffy and impossible to knot thanks to the interfacing I used.  I wasn't deterred though so I made a second one without interfacing and it was perfect!  The real test was Brent's seal of approval - he gave it his stamp!  
So of course I did what I do - I made six more.  Amazingly I only have one left!  Ties, who woulda thought?!

For my neck accessory, I made myself a necklace!  I've been dabbling in my beads a bit lately just for fun.  I finished off my ensemble with some blood-red tights and some never-been-worn 90s Italian leather heels.  I really lucked out on a shoe haul not too long ago!
So many friends came out to party and shop with us!  I wish I'd been able to sit down and take a photo with each and everyone of them!  I was able to steal away a moment to grab a pic with my dad and my best friend.  Who knows what we were laughing about! 
It was a wonderful, wonderful night thanks to so many people who shared their talents with us and who came out to support us!  If you'd like to see more (fantastic!) photos from the Alliday Holiday Party, find them here!  All party photos by Adam Forgash.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Not This Post

I feel like the first post of the new year should be some grand statement in some way or another but that's not this post.  I don't have any resolutions really.  I finished off 2015 with a bang and I hope to continue onto 2016 in the same manner.  So far, so good. 
Our nice break at home has ended but that chill vibe has continued and I'm totally embracing it.  Things seem to be falling nicely into place lately.  We've had some incredible luck with Craigslist, both buying and selling, which has motivated us to really get going on some other house projects.  We finally have a hallway floor (!!!) and hopefully we'll have many more walls painted by this weekend.  Small projects have been getting marked off of the list with great speed which makes me suuuuuper happy.  I'm all about completing lists and making house progress!  House projects progress reports coming soon to an internet browser near you.

In other news, we made the BIG decision yesterday to enroll the kid in a pre-school just two days a week so I can pick up another class to teach, so she can hang out with some youngin's more often, and so I can have a few hours to myself.  It wasn't an easy decision to come to since I have mixed feelings on putting her in school but I think a few days will be good for both her and I.  This change starts next week!  Feeling good about it all right now.

I've got a large sewing project in the works that I've been enjoying immensely.  I'll be sharing that in the near future.  It's a bit top secret right now.  I realized the other day that I have many sewing projects that I never shared here so those will also be coming soon.  I know, you're dying to see them all!  ;)  There are some other creative business doodads in the works which I can't wait to share with you.  Working to be more intentional with my business direction.  That's another post for another rainy day though.

So in sum, things are good and I'm crossing all of my fingers and toes that things continue in positive directions for our world and yours.  Cheers to the past and cheers to the future!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

That Post Christmas Chill

How is tomorrow the last day of 2015?  Seriously, I don't understand how the end of the year is suddenly here (says myself and the entire internet).  Our little family has taken to hibernating as of late.  After Alliday (spoiler alert: it was amazeballs!), we quickly went into 'prepare the house for Christmas celebrations' mode and are just now emerging. We welcomed Brent's family to stay with us over Christmas for something different and it was fantastic.  We had family sleeping in every corner of the house for several days, ate way more food than we should have, and had an all-around grand time.  Just perfect.  Now, we both have the week off from work so we've spent much time in our pajamas while watching the ice/snow melt from a few days ago.  It's been a welcomed, relaxing, and rare break.  With that, I give you a series of photos of a clean house, pre-festivities.  And maybe a photo of a cat.
There's that cat picture!  :)  Until next year, my friends!

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Gift For You! (scroll down)

Friends, I have been sewing like a mad man as of late!  Last weekend I participated in Indie Emporium and next weekend, I'll have a booth at Alliday!  Oh, and I'm organizing the show too!  Not crazy, not crazy at all. 

I made up close to 100 of these little tissue holders for our tote bags that will be given away next Friday night.  They are slightly addicting to make.  I imagine I'll be making more in the future.
I've also been hard at work at the bag assembly line.  They are all fully lined and have divided interior pockets.  I want to keep them all!  But my world has no room for any more bags so they're all looking for good homes.  :)
And now, a little something for you - specially priced tickets to Friday night's Holiday Alliday Party Since you're so supportive of the handmade world, we figured you deserved a gift!   Thank you for cheering me on!  If you're not able to make it to the party next Friday night, join us on Saturday for free!  See all of the show details here.  See you soon!

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Caroling Costume!

Not too long ago, my sister was hired onto a professional Christmas caroling company.  She was in need of a specially made Dickensian-style costume and she needed it fast.  For some reason she thought this was something that I could do and for some reason I said yes but with some conditions.  We agreed on trading services (costume for graphic work, coming soon!) and decided that we needed to pull in the big guns - we called Mimi.
Our Mimi is quite the amazing woman, in so many ways.  She's 88 years old but you wouldn't think she's a day over 70.  She raised my father and his two brothers for which she deserves multiple medals!  Her style is enviable and her eye for decorating is on point.  Mimi has sewn for as long as I can remember.  In fact, before I started sewing but wanted things changed up, I'd take them to Mimi and she'd fix them up without blinking an eye.  I once gave her a bag of scarves that I dreamt would make a beautiful skirt and she made it happen.  When I spent time in India, I brought back fabric for her and she made a shirt that I still covet.  For my 18th birthday, she showed up with at least 10 handmade garments to add to my closet.  It was amazing.  She is amazing.

So I gave Mimi a ring and to my elation she was in.  I'm not sure she quite knew what she was getting herself into, though!  For many years of her life, she lived in a smaller Oklahoma town and volunteered with the community playhouse where she would alter costumes for the actors.  I LOVED spending time at the theater with her and seeing the costumes come to life thanks to her work.  I'm filled with sewing memories of Mimi but I had never sewn with her prior to this project.  I was thrilled to finally have that opportunity.
Meanwhile, Afton and I were busy planning what the costume would look like.  She found a pattern on Ebay that she had to have approved by the director and we sourced our fabrics at Joann's.  We needed a LARGE amount of fabric so I knew I could use a combination of coupons and their sales to cut down on the costs and Af was able to see the potential fabrics in person at her local Joann's.  It just made sense.  We settled on a polyester 'suede cloth' that looks satin-y on one side and suede-y on the other, giving us many different texture options.  Thankfully, it was easy to sew with too.  It took a bit to decide upon and gather everything up that we needed.  We were finally as ready as we could be.
We decided to set up shop at Mimi's apartment.  It was great not to have to fully clean up my workspace every evening (no kittens and no toddlers!) and immediately get back to work.  We needed every moment we could to work.  Did I mention that we had a two week deadline to get this shipped to Afton?  That added a bit of a stressful element but we did it!  For twelve days straight, we both used every spare moment we had to complete the costume.  I did my best to keep track of our hours and, if my records are correct, we clocked over 100 hours of work, much of it hand sewing.  The pattern included approximately 50 pieces (including lining and interfacing) so cutting alone took forever.  The end result included one (complex) jacket, two detached sleeves, a dickey collar, a satchel, and an enormous skirt.
We started work right before finals week at school so life was a little crazy for me during that time.  What was nice about that though was that I was able to stitch some in class while my students were taking their tests!  I also did some stitching in a board meeting and constantly at home.  Every little bit of trim you see was meticulously hand-stitched on.  I'm not certain my hands have recovered yet, two weeks later.

If I wasn't in school or in a meeting, I was at Mimi's sewing.  Often I had Rio with me but there were a few days that it was just myself and Mimi.  One evening, Rio and I decided to stay the evening which was quite the experience (hello, cranky kiddo!) but wonderfully memorable.  The conversations we shared, the laughs we produced, the moments we created, and the memories we formed were priceless and I'll forever cherish them.  Definitely the highlight of making this garment for my sister was sharing it all with Mimi and Rio.
In regards to the dress, it was a challenge but one that I welcomed!  This pattern was a bit more complex than anything I'd completed before, to say the least.  Boning?  Check.  Casement pleats?  Check.  A million buttons?  Check.  You get the picture.  Everything was a challenge.  But we did it and we're proud of it!  This project absolutely consumed me.  I literally dreamt about it, it was the only thing I could talk about, and my mind was constantly thinking about how we would get through the next step.  I read that pattern more times than I care to count.  There are only a few things that I would have done differently which all involve the skirt.  Not having Afton nearby for fittings made things a little challenging as well but we managed.  In the end, she had to have the skirt taken in just a bit since she opted to wear a petticoat instead of a hoop skirt underneath.  That sucker was long!  Now she just needs a pin to finish up her collar and she's good to go!  I believe she may scallop the bottom of the skirt just a bit to shorten it just a tad more and to give it more 'embellishments' which the director is allllllll about.  Also, the bonnet?  Afton made that!
So would I do this again?  Oh yes.  This dress gave me the confidence that I can make anything if I at least try!  Seeing it moving and conveying the feeling that we set out to create was amazing.  I am all about costumes, if you couldn't tell already.  Bring them on!
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