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!  :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Holding On

And just like that, this kid is definitely no longer a baby.  With her constant babble sprinkled in with actual, clearly spoken words and her nonstop ability to figure things out, she's growing up faster than a million cliches.

I think every person who has a child has certain things they look forward to or that are monumental to them.  For me, one of those markers was having my child hold my finger to guide me places. That was always an act that I found endearing in my friends' children and now, my little one does the same.
On Saturday, Rio and I hit the Flea Market just as we've been doing since she was born.  Just like I've been doing since I was a kid with my dad.  What was notably different is that this was her first Flea Market trip that she got to walk through.  In the past, I've either worn her, carried her, or pushed her in a stroller but this time, she explored on foot.  Our condition was that she must hold onto my hand, which translates to her that she must hold onto one of my fingers, throughout our trek.  And she did.  She also carried my one purchase (some fabric, naturally) in a grocery sack, dragging it behind her the entire way.  I heard many folks oohing and ahhing over the sight as we made our way down the aisles, meanwhile I was soaking up every moment of this small adventure we were sharing together.  Cute to strangers, downright special to me.
Perhaps it's parenthood, perhaps it's scanning all of our old family photos, or perhaps it's just aging but as I look to my past, I'm becoming more aware that these moments that we're living now will soon be the ones we'll look back on nostalgically.  These are the moments we'll be remembering.  These are the stories we'll be telling in the future.  So while I could likely make good use of both of my hands at times, for now I'll gladly offer one to the kid so we can share our steps together.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Our Bedroom

Once upon a time growing up, my dad promised me that if I cleaned my room from top to bottom (which I was always all about) he would repaint my bedroom.  My bedroom walls were ALWAYS 'Spanish White', nothing else.  In fact, every wall in our house was that color.  I was beyond motivated just so I could get color on my walls!  Well, imagine my disappointment when my new paint color was just a new coat of 'Spanish White'.  Yeah.  This story explains my desire for the brightest colors possible on the walls of our house.
When we first moved in eight years ago, our room was the last that we tackled.  As we slowly worked on the rest of the house, I knew that our bedroom had to be blue.  Bright blue.  We took our time picking out the color and Brent took his time getting in on the walls....and I hated it.  I referred to it as 'we just had a baby boy' blue.  It was overpowering but we decided to live with it and now, I can't imagine our bedroom in another color.  It's soothing at night and it's just beautifully bright and happy when the sun begins to shine.
I'm a chronic re-arranger but I think I'm done moving this room around, finally.  We've arranged the furniture around enough to where we have a bit of floor space that we were lacking before, we each have room on either side of the bed, and the beast has an area large enough to accommodate his stretched out sleeping habits.  Tiny midtown bedrooms for the win!
For almost a decade, I slept on a twin mattress on the floor.  I never complained about it but eventually, I decided that it was time for me to get a real bed.  I looked and looked and found this one about two years before I met my mister.  Perhaps getting a bed is what finally classified me as an adult.  The rest of the furniture is a hodge podge from random places, just like the rest of our house.  The wooden trunk is notable though.  Brent made that sturdy piece in high school and I love it.  It has served SO many different purposes in this house but in here, it is a pillow holder/photo shoot studio/dirty clothes mountain/toy deposit.  In other words, it's priceless.
The past six months, I have made our bed almost every single day.  The only other time I've done that was in the dorms where my bed folded out and I had no choice but to make it.  I don't know what spurred the bed-making kick but it makes a world of difference on how I start my day.  It takes less than a minute and starts things off feeling accomplished.  Plus, it just looks nice and it's satisfying to come home to after a long day.
There are a few randoms in here also.  The cat couch (yes, our cats have their own couch), the old school Nintendo which totally works, the sticks on the walls which have their own crazy stories, and the little gallery wall filled with local art all come together to make this bright blue space ours.  It's nothing fancy, but neither are we.
*Behind the scenes exclusive!*  There was a tiny little kitten in 99% of the photos I took of our bedroom.  It seems this is one of her favorite spaces to spend time in as well.  She's taken to sleeping under the covers with us, curled up at tightly as she can be right next to me.  It melts me.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Ode to Tex and Nancy Quilt

A little radio silence over here, I know!  My 'free' time has been filled lately with finishing up this number, learning new tricks with my machines, working on a top secret project that I can't wait to share with you (!!), and planning out a king-size quilt commission!  Plus, just living and enjoying the days with the kid, the man, and the furry herd.   
This was a bit of an emotional quilt for me to work on.  That may not make sense to some but often, creating is a very emotional process.  You see, for whatever reason, I inherited much of Tex's fabric that wouldn't be sell-able. I've sat staring at those fabrics for a while, wanting to make sure I did them justice and made Tex proud with what I used them for.  I don't know that I'll ever use up all that I was passed along but I am going to do my best to use every single little scrap!  To say it's an honor to work with Tex's fabric would be an understatement.  
This quilt was totally inspired by Tex and our mutual friend Nancy who took on the huge task of going through Tex's fabrics.  Let me tell you a story.  When I was busy planning the first Alliday, I hit up our neighborhood garage sale.  I came across a sale with some cool odds and ends and, randomly, tons of amazing handmade hats hanging in a tree.  I inquired and sure enough, the homeowner, Nancy, had made them herself.  In the weeks that followed, I suppose I bugged her enough to convince her to join me at the show which thrilled me to no end.  After getting to know her a little bit, I knew that her and Tex needed to know each other so when I did space planning, I situated their booths back to back.  What followed was a beautiful friendship between two women that I admired greatly.  Not only does this quilt honor Tex by using her fabrics and showing a modern design, it also honors Nancy by using her signature colors of orange and blue.  I like to think that this piece shows their bond and what it meant to me to witness their friendship.
So, the quilt.  The cool patterned fabric I picked up at an estate sale a while back but I don't believe it's vintage at all.  Quite modern, to me.  All of the solids came from Tex's batch.  I was scared to start cutting into them but just went for it!  I'm honestly quite thrilled at the way the design turned out and how bold it is.  I find it to be much more exciting to go into a quilt design without a plan and see where it takes me.  I may change my tune someday but for now, it's what works for me.
When I quilted this one, I actually free-motioned all of it.  I'm lucky that this is a busy pattern because this was my first real go at FMQ.  I'm pretty damn proud of it, even though it may not be technically perfect.  I'll never improve unless I just start doing it!  That's my mindset at least.  :)  It's a tight stippled design which gives the quilt a really nice feeling to it.  I do wish that I had quilted the centerpiece more densely to mimic the rest of the quilt but, c'est la vie.  Next time, next time.
The backing is another large and soft vintage sheet.  I thought the design of the sheet worked perfectly with the colors on front.  Since it's not as busy a pattern, you can better see the quilting on the back.
I also made my own bias tape for this one and for the first time, I didn't refer to any instructions on how to do so!  That was a big deal for me.  I literally used every last piece of that gorgeous orange fabric to finish it up.
So what started out as an intimidating and emotional project for me became one of my favorites.  Sure, it's not perfect but I certainly learned tons from it, as I usually do.  I'd like to think Tex would approve, and that Nancy will too.  To both of you ladies for your creative encouragement and for sharing your unbelievable work with the world.  You inspire more than you know.

For those interested, this quilt is now available in the shop.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Girls' Getaway

For someone who used to travel internationally at least once a year, recently realizing that I hadn't even left the state in the past two years was a little jarring.  I was thrilled to break that streak this past weekend with a quick jaunt to Arkansas with some of my closest girl friends for a weekend in the woods.

On Friday three car-loads of ladies who have known each other for decades first met up in Bentonville which is home to the uh-mazing Crystal Bridges museum.  Before perusing some art, lunch and drinks were shared in town square while we did some very important catching up.  Amazingly missing small rainstorm after small rainstorm, we finally made our way to the museum and had an accelerated afternoon of artful acculturation before starting the caravan back up to head to our weekend cabin.
After driving on some of the THE scariest and bumpiest country roads I've ever been on, we finally arrived at our huuuuuge cabin that we had booked months in advance.  It was lush.  We were spoiled.  Friday night was filled with a home-cooked dinner, a beverage (or three), LOTS of laughs that made your belly hurt, the scariest face masks you ever did see, hot tubbing in the rain, nonsensical games, and a sunset in rockers on our screened-in porch.   
After a hearty breakfast Saturday morning, the crew headed out to Fayetville to spend the day (and most of the night) but I opted to hang back at the house.  I rarely ever get true time alone so I jumped on the opportunity.  Oh man, was it nice.  I made friends with the hot tub again, read (for fun!), took the most leisurely bath complete with mimosas and snacks, gave myself a pedicure, watched some movies, took a THREE-HOUR NAP (worthy of three exclamation marks!!!), did some serious reflecting, and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Here's the thing with away time with friends who've known you more than half of your life - sometimes, they help you see yourself in a different way.  Perhaps see things that you don't want to see or have been ignoring.  Or maybe they help you see the good that you can't see.  I had a girls' weekend like that.  It was a very introspective getaway for me complete with some of my dearest helping me through it. 
And of course, the weekend wouldn't be complete without stopping by the side of the highway in a field of wildflowers to take odd engagement-inspired photos with my best friend.
Growing up is weird.  And sometimes really hard.  Life is confusing and often overwhelming but  having your friends along for the ride makes it just a bit more possible to conquer the difficult parts.  To my girlfriends, and their friendship through it all. 
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