Saturday, November 9, 2019

RETURN ON RETREAT

Last month I attended my annual Smokey Mountain retreat with ladies I met through The Crafty Gemini.  We wanted to get together even more often so Andra, of Andramakes on Instagram,  came up with the idea of a fall retreat in a lovely log cabin in the beautiful Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.  We think about it all year!  We have a count-down from the end of the last day of one retreat to the beginning of the first day of the next retreat!  This year was no different.  We gathered, cooked, ate, shared, and of course sewed and quilted.  It is an incredible feeling to be surrounded by women who share a common passion:  fabric and all things made with fabric!

We are cheerleaders for each other, teachers, mentors, and design assistants.  However, not one Quilt Police among us.  Encouragement and support is what drives people to keep going even on their worst days and it's no different with my quilty friends.  We are our worst critics, however, being part of a positive and enriching quilting community is key to success.  

Over the summer my dear friend BJ and I attended the Mid-Appalacian Quilt Convention.  It has been in existence for over 30 years and this year was special because it was the first year held at a different venue, Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA.  Lovely campus, albeit a little spread out.  But it was the first year and actually put together at the last minute due to the original venue needing to cancel with no warning.  So, all in all, it was still successful.  

The classes were amazing, the instructors top in their field, the accomodations adequate (probably working the bugs out) and the food, surprisingly good.  It was a bargain considering I took a top-notch class every day for three days, was lodged and fed... it added up to $400!  That's right!  Plus, they had "volunteer" porters to move your equipment to and from classes as needed, tips welcome. And remembering what it was like to be a student, I was very grateful and generous for their service.  What was missing?  Camraderie.  The kind you receive from an intimate gathering of friends who treat you like family (or better) and who don't "police" your work.  BJ and I found it amusing and I am sure there were other like-minded quilters there.  In fact, the instructors were more like my retreat sisters; not looking for perfection or loosing sight of the reason we do what we do.  Remember, perfect is not necesarily finished and finished is perfect!

Here are some pictures of work I completed at the retreat and pieces I am still working on from the MAQ convention.  Enjoy and remember, "Stay Calm and Quilt On".

MAQ Convention, July 2019.  BJ and I on campus, enjoying the beautiful historic buildings and yummy food:






Hummingbird Thread Painting Class with Joyce Hughes
Water Color and Thread painting with Joyce Hughes




































Tennessee Retreat:




UFO No. 1 from 2014... Finished  I used a lot of
techniques for FMQ that I learned from watching
Angela Walters YouTube Videos



On the Right is a Quilt I have promised my Jeep Loving Wife!  It still needs boarders but it's nearly done.  This is my own pattern.
 This is a Crafty Gemini Quilt I pieced last summer at her retreat.  Afterward she taught us different FMQ'ing techniques which we practiced on every block.  I can really see the evolution of my quilting from the first to the last block which I quilted this summer at the Smokey Mountain Retreat.  I am pretty happy.  It's difficult for me to NOT quilt police myself...
This little cutie is from the samosa block, also taught by Vanessa Vargas Wilson using her 10" slicer.  I played with the placement and this placement looked like funky fat birds.  So, I thread painted spindly legs, added pieces of fabric for tail and head, buttons for eyes and sewed a beer  It's hanging on the Wall at aother retreat belonging to my friend Pat Armbrister, The Twisted Stitcher Quilt Retreat Center near Gainesville Florida.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

DECLUTTER THE CLUTTER

"I might need this for my next project"
"It's so pretty... I will use it somewhere"
"I might be interested in this again"

Sewists and quilters have all said this to ourselves at one time or another.  Over the past two years I have had to move my sewing room three times and each time I realize I have more than I need, use or want.  However, because money doesn't grow on trees and we have invested a lot into our passion we are hesitant to part with items that sit long forgotten and are literally taking up space.

Recently I returned from a daytime sewing retreat to find my room completely destroyed... by me!  I literally took it apart in order to put my travel items together for ONE DAY of sewing fun at a friends house.  Many of the items lying about were things I never use, haven't used in a long time, or have several of the same.  I couldn't face the mess so I put my travel sewing items in the room and shut the door.  The condition of the room, the clutter and the guilt over things that go unused keeps me from sewing and stunts my creativity.  Thinking back on when I am my most creative I realized that I have only the items I am working on around me and my supplies within easy reach.  This got me thinking.  How much of this stuff do I really need?  Do I need 40 spools of ribbon, bins and bins of fabric scraps and doo dads that I never use or have lost interest in?

I find it seriously funny that I needed to google reasons for decluttering.  I actually needed to give myself permission to purge the items in my sewing room that I don't need or use in order to make room for the things I truly love and want to keep in order to continue creating.  Thankfully, I found many articles on decluttering.  Some were about sewing and craft rooms but the ones I found the most helpful were about decluttering the basement, closets and general home environment.  This one in particular really helped me.  A Declutter Formula to Help You Throw Stuff Away Without Regret  I am now going through every bin, nook and cranny of my sewing room and asking myself the same set of questions that Mr. Ho stated in his article:   "Recency, Frequency, Acquisition Cost, Storage Cost, Retrieve Cost."  In my case tt's the best formula I have ever come across as it addresses the issue of storage which is always an issue in small sewing spaces.  

Here is a list of other articles on the subject of decluttering that I found to be the most helpful, including a vlog.

Declutter Your Sewing Space & Supplies to Spark Creativity

10 Things You Can Do In 10 Days to Declutter Your Sewing Space

How to Declutter Without Feeling Guilty

Little House Lovely Home

Just Get it Done Quilts - YouTube Vlogger - This Vlogger has great ideas.  

Hopefully these articles and videos will help you as much as they have helped me.  Let me know in the comments below.  




Friday, March 1, 2019

INSPIRATION



Inspiration

Merriam-Webster's definitation states:

Inspiration:


1a: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation 
b: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

c: the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

I found that the history of the word made more sense than the definition. Merriam-Webster goes on to state:

"The Inspirational History of Inspiration"


"Inspiration has an unusual history in that its figurative sense appears to predate its literal one. It comes from the Latin inspiratus (the past participle of inspirare, “to breathe into, inspire”) and in English has had the meaning “the drawing of air into the lungs” since the middle of the 16th century. This breathing sense is still in common use among doctors, as is expiration (“the act or process of releasing air from the lungs”). However, before inspiration was used to refer to breath it had a distinctly theological meaning in English, referring to a divine influence upon a person, from a divine entity; this sense dates back to the early 14th century. The sense of inspiration often found today (“someone or something that inspires”) is considerably newer than either of these two senses, dating from the 19th century."
We, Fabric artists, quilters, bag makers, small project creators, all have the same thing in common. A desire to create something of beauty and worth. In order to do this, not once, but over and over again, we must be inspired.

The history of Inspiration is, for me, very close to what I feel when I am struck with an idea. I feel the breath of inspiration when I am witnessing beauty in its many forms.  A live performance, be it music, dance, a play; the reading a poem, prose or a story; witnessing a life changing event.  All of these things can be the spark that ignites Inspiration.  

Some of us only need an event to move us forward.  The birth of a grandchild, the graduation of a niece or nephew, an upcoming trip, to inspire us to begin the process of creating in order to meet a need.  Others, the rising of the sun, or the quiet of winter's first snowfall.  

I am not an artist.  But, I am an artist.  I am a musician.  Classically trained.  What I find ironic is I am a Visual Learner.  Most would think a musician would learn differently than visually and I'm not sure why I am wired this way.  I do know that I have a tremendous desire to recreate what my heart sees.  Because of this I seek out ways to turn my visions into something tangible.  I take classes, go to museums, read stories, browse through fibre art publications, and contemplate.  I contemplate my stash, threads, embellishments and think through all of the things I could create.  Eventually, I gather the courage to start a project, all the while doubting my own abilities.  And doubt is our enemy.  So, this year and for as far into the future as I am granted to be here I promise myself and encourage you also to never, ever doubt your ability to create beauty.  Look around.  The inspiration is everywhere.

I once saw a painting in a Goodwill that sparked my interest and I plan on turning it into a raw edge quilt someday:



It's such a simple painting but it sparked joy because I loved the colors, the yellow flowers and orange wallpaper looked so cheerful.  I want to recreate this using the medium I am familiar and comfortable with.  

Here is a list of teachers, YouTube Chanels and publications that keep the embers of inspiration glowing:

Stitches by Julia - She began sewing and crafting 26 years ago.  She uses her sewing machine to create one of a kind wall hangings, journals, bags, and refashions clothing.  I love her aesthetic and she very generously shares her ideas and her inspiration.

A Fate So Twisted - The creator of this chanel is a wonderful artist, and a creative and passionate maker.  She recently began to make longer tutorials of her projects and I am really inspired by her story.

Joyce Hughes Originals - I consider Joyce Hughes to be a mentor.  I have taken her classes and not only are her creations works of art, she is one of the most sincere and amazing people I have ever met.  If you have an opportunity to meet her and listen to her story at a trunk show, run do not walk!!!

Art Quilting Studio


Sew Sommerset Magazine


Stampington & Company 


Thursday, February 28, 2019

UPDATED: A LIST OF MY FAVORITE SHOPS FOR FABRIC AND THREAD

Last year I posted on where I like to purchase fabric.  While I always purchase from my LQS, when I purchase on line, I like to make sure that I am supporting either a brick and mortar LQS somewhere or that I am supporting a small business owner, someone who is a visionary and entrepreneur with a creative spirit.

This posting has more details and a couple new shops that I really like to support and why.

Dragonflyquiltworks - Wonderful selection of modern fabric lines incuding Lotta Jansdotter, Vanessa Vargas Wilson, Carolyn Friedlander, Alison Glass and beautiful, modern blenders!  The owner Lora Douglas, is also gifted designer and quilter.  Her attention to detail is unmatched.  She also has bag making supplies, notions and patterns.  Great prices and wonderful Customer Service.

BobbielouFabric - What began as a hobby and sewing for baby showers grew into a family owned business and they have the most current, trendy, fun and modern fabrics.  They have a beautiful selection of modern, bright, fun and beautiful fabric.  BobbielouFabric also has a huge selection of double gauze!  I love using this fabric for Infinity scarves and receiving blankets and had no idea until I found her site that it came in so many colors and patterns.  Their site is full of eye candy and you will enjoy a visit to BobbielouFabric.

Stash Fabrics - This is a favorite of Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness.  I can definitely see why.  They offer a huge collection of modern fabrics by popular designers as well as lesser known but just as talented designers.  This is a family owned business.  Another reason to check out Stash Fabrics are the free patterns and the ability to pre-order the newest lines.  I have found some really difficult to find fabrics here as well.

Green Fairy Quilts - A wonderful Story.  This on-line shop offers mainly Moda pre-cuts but also yardage, patterns, notions, supplies and THREAD.  Beautiful, lovely, yummy thread!  And the prices are all discounted.    Sometimes up to 40%  They carry Aurifil and every Superior Thread made. Here is the "wonderful story" part.  Once a year Clint of Green Fairy Quilts travels to Romania to take donated quilts to orphans, and uses the donated money to buy food, school supplies, clothing, toys etc. for those in need. All of this is funded by their on-line quilt shop.  You can also add $1 to your order and all orders ship for free if they are at least $40.  Shop and Give.  It's really a win, win.  You can learn more about their Romania Mission by reading their story at Green Fairy Quilts.

Quilt Addicts Annonymous - I found this on-line fabric store when I came across a YouTube tutorial for paperpiecing by the owner, Stephanie Soebbing. She also just published her first book entitled Simple Quilts.  It is full of amazing quilts that range in order of easiest to most difficult.  Although the title implies simple, they are all interesting and unique.  One of the things that may set this resource aside from others is her Sit and Sew Radio Podcasts.  Instead of watching a video while sewing, you can listen to interviews with Sewlebrities.  It reminds me of my Dad listening to the Dodger Baseball game while working on an engine in the garage.  Of course she also has  a YouTube chanel, Blog, Free stuff and she is very generous as well, giving away a free pattern with on-line tutorial when you purchase her monthly Stash Club called Stashin' with Stephanie.  Included with this is a $10 off coupon of any purchase of $20 or more... every month.

So, that's all the new stuff I have for now.  I hope you find this informative and I hope you will post in the comments if you tried any of the resources I wrote about and your thoughts.

Until then, keep calm and quilt on.















Sunday, February 24, 2019

THE WAND CHOOSES THE WIZARD, AND THE MACHINE CHOOSES THE THREAD

Its true.  In the Wizarding world, a wand will choose it's wizarding mate.  After all, it's usually a lifetime commitment. As for Sewing and Embroidery machines... well, it's much the same.  Sure, machines will tolerate some fussy threads like metallic or shimmer threads but it will definitely let you know it's annoyed.  A friend recently told me that when using metalic thread she will place it on a spool belonging to an adjacent machine sitting a few feet away.  Using that spool holder she wil then bring it over to her machine and thread it.   This gives it time to unwind and "relax".  Honestly?  Yes.  It makes sense.  It's kind of like when the dentist hides the needle that he or she is about to stab into your gum!  Before you know it, you get a shot and begin to numb up and drool.
Image result for babylock Journey

Many machine manufactures recommend thread brands. Bernina recommends Mettler.  Viking Husqvarna recommends Gutterman for sewing and Robison-Anton and Sulky for Embroidery.   Babylock recommends Madeira.  I own a Babylock Journey, Sewing and Embroidery machine.  At this time I use Aurifil 50 and 40 wt., Superior Threads Masterpiece 50 wt. and Mettler 50 wt. for sewing.  For Embroidery... so far, it likes Isocord, and BFC.  I still haven't tried the recommended thread, Madeira, but I plan to in the near future.  One thread my machine doesn't like is Robison-Anton.  It's really a beautiful thread though and my friend, Pat from Twisted Stitchers Retreat Center uses it exclusively in in Elna.

You all know what I mean by "my machine doesn't like it."  It means it literally has a little fit when you try to sneak in that beautiful color of thread that you cannot find in it's preferred brand or it was too pricy so you found a less expensive one and SHAZAM!!!  The thread shreads or breaks, bells start ringing, buzzers go off and lights begin to flicker.  Your machine is really upset now.  You have to unplug it, maybe erase its memory of the whole incident and when you turn it back on, act like nothing happened and you're still best friends.

So, let's talk about thread for Sewing, Bag making, Quilting and Embroidery.  I'll share what I know to be true for me and I invite you to share in the comments what threads you have tried and your results.

Aurifil  -  Well, who doesn't like Aurifil?  It's lovely.  Beautifully and expertly crafted, practically lint free.  What I find interesting about Aurifil is that they are double ply, not triple ply like most of the threads that I've used or researched. The stitching is delicate, yet very strong because of the process Aurifil completes with the production of it's brand.  I use it for quilting, general sewing and ... Yes, bag making. It isn't as strong as polyester yet I have never had an issue with strength and love the results. You really need to explore their website.  Aurifil There you will find information on their threads, where to find it, FREE projects AND links to the Aurifil artist Blogs!  It's pricy but good deals can be found on massdrop and craftsy. Please share where you find a good deal.

Madeira - As I stated, I haven't really tried a lot of  Madeira   I do know that they make several types, including serging thread.  The serging spools are tall and slender opposed to shorter and wider such as Signture or Maxi-Lock.  In addition they make the following for embroidery:

Image result for madeira threadClassic Rayon - Lustrous finish
Polyneon - Shiny
Frosted Matt - Matte
Metallic - Smooth Metallic
Supertwist - Twisted Metallic
Burmilana - Wool Blend
Burmilana Co - Cotton Blend
Luna - Glow in the Dark
Monolon - Monofilament
Fire Fighter - Flame Resistant
Color Cards - Thread Charts

I have used  Madeira polyester thread specifically created for T-Shirt embroidery. It worked well in my machine and the stitching was lovely.  They have many, many colors and come in a variety of spool sizes so you're not having to purchase a large spool of a special color for smaller projects.

Floriani - High end threads for quilting and embroidery plus supplies.  Their site also has software support and an on-line learning center including tutorials and projects and if your LQS sells Floriani ask them when Floriani will be offering a class.  It's at the top of the price range but sometimes you have to spend a little more to get just the right color.   I have used both embroidery and quilting threads by Floriani and even though the quality is amazing and my machine loves the thread, I still favor Aurifil,  Signature Masterpiece, Isocord, and BFC.  I am accustomed to and prefer the softer, finer texture of those threads.

Sulky - I really like Sulky AND it is conveniently available at Joanns and the Viking Gallery located inside most Joanns.  Both Joann Fabrics and Viking Galleries offer discounts and coupons which can make Sulky  very affordable.  Don't forget that Sulky also makes a line of embroidery stabilizers that when purchaed with a Joann coupon make it one of the most affordable on the market.  In addition, Sulky also has Education and Events, Inspiration, Resources and Free Projects on their website, Sulky.  In fact, Sulky also offers a teaching certification course which could be the catalyst you need to boost your own dreams of becoming an educator in the textile world.   My favorite Sulky  products are Sulky 30 wt. Blendables which are Beautifully variegated colors that I love using for top stitching, decorative stitching and zig zag on top and in bobbin and Sulky Sticky which is perfect when you would prefer to float your embroidery fabric rather than hoop it.  You really need to check out their site because there is so much information and inspiration.  You will also find currated threads from sewlebrities such as Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction and The Crafty Gemini, including sets to accompany Frond and Cotton and Steel fabric lines.  You won't be disappointed.

Superior Threads  A beloved brand of many, I found Masterpiece by accident and fell head over scissors in love!  It sews and quilts so smoothly, like butter!  Also, Superior Threads has notions, tools, stabilizers, needles, clubs and EDUCATION!  My favorite Superior Threads Special is the "Try Me" special.  Sometimes they have it at a ridiculously low price.  The only catch is you cannot usually pick the color.  However, I ordered twice and each time I received Beautiful, yummy colors.  I wanted to try the silk thread, serger thread, Razzle Dazzle and their Metallic thread for serging and thread painting.  I received 10 spools, full size, for around $35.  And all of the colors were beautiful.

Connecting Threads  This thread is one of the MOST affordable threads on the market, and its a very good quality.  It is a little linty but honestly, every thread has lint.  Many quilters and bag makers use it and have wonderful success.  My machines like it very much.  It is three ply and too thick for my piecing aesthetic, however I love using it for bag making, miscellaneous projects, top stitching and decorative stitching. Connecting Threads  also caries fabric, precuts, their own brand and other famous quilting cottons, tools, books, patterns, downloads, etc.  They are a virtual on-line LQS!  The sets are an amazing value and first time shoppers receive a 15% discount!

BFC-Creations - This is a really unique machine embroidery design site.  While talking to the owner I learned that she and her son created the business, digitzing the designs and in the midst of this their main thread distributor stopped making the brand they recommended... so they created a line of thread that they could stand behind.  I bought a set to accompany an original embroidery design I purchased and I love it.  My machine does too.

I hope you have enjoyed my thread conversation.  It's certainly not even close to being over... so many more to talk about.  Please share your own thread experiences in the comments and remember... stay calm and sew on.

Friday, January 4, 2019

UPDATE ON "WAITING FOR THE RIGHT PROJECT"

It's Finished!  Actually, I finished it months ago... but a lot transpired between then and now.  I am extremely happy with the outcome, the tutorial was amazing and made the entire project so much easier.  I know I will make a few more.  Here is a picture of the finished result:

It is really big and fits so much stuff



I really love finishing projects.  As Angela Walters says, "Finished is better than Perfect."  Of course I made a few mistakes... well, design changes.  I would have to say that the only thing I am not really happy about is my binding abilities, but honestly, if anyone wants to look that closely, have at it!  

After finishing this project I began working furiously on the items I made for my wedding guests.  Oh, did I mention I got married in June?  Well, it was an epic time in New Orleans.   A lovely June wedding ceremony on the front porch of the Sully Mansion and a late supper at Muriels at Jackson Square.  Just family and a few close friends.  I highly recommend eloping in NOLA with a few loved ones by your side.  The atmosphere is festive, the food amazing and there is no better party on earth than in NOLA!  The Dirty Martinis are pretty amazing too!

Here are some pictures of the welcome totes I made for my guests:



I used an applique embroidery pattern from Designs by JuJu and the totes are a basic pattern.  In fact, I didn't use a pattern... just winged it.  

In the coming weeks I have several posts coming.  I'll be talking about Thread, Free Motion Quilting, Inspiration for quilting and sharing about a lovely retreat I attended in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.  Until then, keep calm and sew on!


Monday, April 2, 2018

WAITING FOR THE RIGHT PROJECT

Good Wonderful Easter Monday everyone and happy last day of my Spring Break.  Baltimore County Schools has taken away all of the traditional week of Spring Break and allowed us only Good Friday and Easter Monday now.  So, I made the best of it and have posted several things on my blog and have been working on several projects.

Last year when Vanessa Vargas Wilson aka The Crafty Gemini, released her second line of fabric I scooped up the entire line. It is a collection of black and white prints which can coordinate together or with other colors or just a lovely black and white project.  Well, as I said I purchased it last year... and waited... and .... waited... for the right project.  Have any of you done this?  I wish I were one of those quilters (and I don't think there are many of them) that have a project in mind and purchase the fabric, then make the project.  But I'm not so instaed, I purchase fabric that I love and pet it for a while as I wait for the inspiration, while also saying to myself, "I know I will use this."

I love black and white!  I knew I would use it.  But, I also didn't want to just use it willy nilly and then not have enough for something that really inspired me.  Well, lightening struck... in the form of "The All Rolled Up Bag" Tutorial from ........... Vanessa Vargas Wilson!  The pattern is written by one of The Crafty Gemini's Friends in the Industry, Color Me Quilted, and Vanessa chose it for part of her Organizer Club.  It's really a win, win.  We learn from Vanessa while making a wonderful product developed by another great sewist!  Plus we get all of the amazing Crafty Gemini Tricks and Tips.

Here is a picture of the fabric choices.


The two black and white selections are from her line and now that I have finally decided on the combination I will make ever project in the Organizer Club out of her fabric with a pop of color (proably pink, another favorite color).  I am super excited because it is the first time I will be making a series of things that coordinate together. 

Image result for The All Rolled Up Tote

It measures 15 " across, has four pockets and two removeable zipper pouches, plus a pocket in the bottom to hold a sizeable ruler!  The one in the above picture was made by the pattern writer.  The Crafty Gemini also has pictures of her own on her website, The Crafty Gemini Clubs.  

I hope you are inspired to get to work on something special and use that beautiful fabric that's been waiting for you to turn it into something amazing.  If you can't think of anything, hop over to The Crafty Gemini Clubs and one of her four clubs.  You'll be so busy you may have to go fabric shopping again!

Please post any pictures of your work in the comments below or on my facebook page, Vintagekindagirl.  

Happy Sewing!



RETURN ON RETREAT

Last month I attended my annual Smokey Mountain retreat with ladies I met through The Crafty Gemini.  We wanted to get together even more o...