Saturday, February 27, 2021

Signs of Spring...

So this has been a bit of a stressy week... 2021 is NOT turning into the fairy tale ending I had hoped for, for most of the people I love and for a few, especially, in particular. And so I ask myself, what is all this sewing, sewing, sewing accomplishing?

And the answer is: A LOT! My mental health has never been better, and I really have used it to be as supportive and present as I can be in my little world. And to this I can add that I'm going to have many finished projects to gift as a way to give a more tangible hug as well. 

One problem I am having, or rather the same problem I always have, is the "started" projects are mulitplying again. I find myself working a little bit each on more things, and then less and less time on many things, until I am accomplishing nothing on everything.

My 2021 planner book is now a bit neglected, so here's a short list of what I did last week and what I want to accomplish next week.

1) February Table Runner of the Month-- not finished, but very much progressed, I have all the little 4" blocks done. 

This was made from a Cider honeybun I received in January-- I had already purchase the fat quarter set, which I now regret. The collection, as a whole, is gorgeous-- but when push comes to shove, there is too much white and too much blue for what I'd consider a good fall set. Some of the prints I just frankly don't love either. What is that bubble thing? 

So from now on, before I shell out a hundred bucks for a set  fat quarters, I'm going to look at the set as whole AND as individual prints. Goal for next week-- get the coffee table I planned this for cleaned off and sew the thing together! Picture if you will, this unloved corner of my bedroom with a gorgeous table runner, and  DUSTED even!

2) Double-wide Dresdens-- fantastic progress. I have three down one to go. Hand stitching these in the morning is as close to YOGA as I'm ever gonna get. 

I'm making four in all, because that's how many pieces a charm pack yielded-- I also did get 1-1/2 yds of "Rosewood" backing from an Etsy seller-- the collection is about two years old. It's such a good feeling to support a small business, and I received it in record time-- you do get soaked a little for shipping, but that's okay with me.

3) Here starts the "NEWS." I absolutely cannot resist this "Charm Pack Carrot" idea I dreamt up. I have the perfect Fig Tree quilts charm pack for it-- I also digitized up the sweetest ever bunny border-- I'm so proud of it-- it's at the top of this post. Sew hoping to release this a week from now. Does it count as a table runner of the month? NO.

4) More "news..." On the drawing board-- finishing kits for Once Upon A Time, Winter-- this is a priority for March-- I'd love to just have those done the week after the twelve blocks are done. I'm thinking a pillow for the charm size and a table piece for the 5x5 blocks, and I have picked out "Folktale" fabric to finish it off. Yup-- another set of fat quarters, but these totally met my new standard of loved as a whole and loved individually. Just look at that "magic dot" print on the right!!

This week we had dancers-- we may not all feel like this these days, but we can still stitch it. It has been really challenging to do people-- my daughter is drawing them-- but it's great to explore more ways of using thread, and I am really happy with the results. I hope they are making you smile.

5) My "Olive" Frivol Kit-- QUILTED!!!

 I got back on my big, beautiful longarm this week and put it over the top. This is one of those projects I had on my list a few weeks ago when I was trying to sew the whole world. So that's a good feeling. It's better than perfect-- it's FINISHED!

When I showed Mr. SFO it was finished, he said, "No, it still needs binding." I was so proud of him in that moment-- he's been paying attention!

 You know how everyone is always saying how tough it is to get tension on your longarm-- it is true. In my case, it's been a case of "good enough," where it's not quite right, but I am so afraid to tweak anything in case I totally screw it up. My friend encouraged me to just mark on the bobbin the original setting and then go for it-- I replied that I'D RATHER JUMP INTO A POOL OF ALLIGATORS. So this week's goal is to just buy some cheap muslin at Joanne, and take the jump. I will let you know how that goes!

6) Stitches of the Sea-- the Copperband Butterflyfish has come alive! He needs a few tweaks and some coral.  On the site Tuesday, people.

So that's part, but not all, of what goes on here-- I sincerely hope you are all hanging in there with me. There's a certain lack of enthusiasm I've noticed with sewing groups on Facebook and Instagram-- less posts-- are we losing heart? Don't. This past week I heard the birds singing... I just know Spring will rescue us, as it faithfully does every year.


Friday, February 19, 2021

Crushin' It!

 At the risk of boasting, I have to say I am crushin' it so far this year. But last post, you all told me I was too hard on myself-- and as we say in my family-- it ain't braggin' if it's true!

This week we have another set of Carefree Highways states for a total of fifteen...

These are really fun and easy to digitize-- I loved the states as a kid and enjoy reading all the fun facts about each one!

And Once Upon a Time, Winter, is still ON TIME...

My talented daughter is drawing these up.. it's been challenging to digitize characters for a change. I feel like I am ready to spring off in a new direction-- what is it?  Applique? More illustrative? Embroidering fabric designs, then assembling them into larger pieces? I am just not sure yet. I feel unsettled about it, but excited. Think of when Picasso was in his Blue Period-- one morning, did he just wake up and think, "I'm going use Rose today..."?

 I had another morning handwork finish yesterday...

I started this cross stitch in 1997-- it is "Winter Circle" from Sudberry House and it's still for sale on their website... all those little outfits were really fun to stitch, and it didn't have a ton of backstitching. But all this awesomeness of late had me feeling a bit tired in the morning when I would usually work on it, so it took a bit of doing to finally drag it across the finish line. Isn't that always the way when you get something 99% of the way done?

Now I'm in need of a new handstitching project, so I dragged this out...

Remember on Halloween night, when I sewed a charm pack together and then sliced and diced it into a million pieces like Jack the Ripper? 

This how you start the Double Wide Dresden pattern from "Me and My Sister" designs.. it's always interesting to me, as someone who writes instructions, how many finicky steps a designer is willing to subject you to while still expecting to stay in business.

So after all the sewing and the cutting, you then fold the pieces right sides together and sew the top and bottom. Then, Step 36b,  you get to stand over a hot iron with forty persnickity pieces to turn inside out while getting sharp points and making sure they are symmetrical. I offer this as no criticism to the designer, as clearly, you are my people and think nothing of all of this-- it could as well have been 1,000 pieces to a quilter. 

Then you use ten of the bits to make a dresden with a star in the middle. It is called the Double Wide Dresden, because you only need HALF the number of pieces of a regular dresden-- what an incredible savings in time! LOL

But once I got here-- I am totally over the moon with it-- that is SEW worth it! The fabric is Rosewood by "3 Sisters." I always recommend buying TWO charm packs when you buy them (it's like getting kittens), so I have enough for four of these, and plenty of extra for a border. Unfortunately, I didn't follow my advice to get a yard or two of my favorite print from this collection for a backing-- you can sometimes still find yardage on Etsy, so I'll head there next.

So that is ready to be handstitched down, and I'll be starting that tomorrow morning-- if I'm not too tired!!

My Febuary Tablerunner of the Month is underway-- the Cider fabric is a bit washed out when I got it in person-- I'm second guessing myself and wishing I had taken some of the white pieces out. 

My honeybun was 1-5/8" wide, which was generous of them since the pattern called for 1-1/2." (Should I have trimmed, and what is the point of the honeybun if you need to trim? These are all rhetoricals.) Hence the note, and thank goodness I checked.

Instead of a white background, I'm going to mix in some of my stash grunges for more color. Those squares with the four bars now get a 2" flip 'n stitch triangle in each corner-- so this project has a few "steps" too. It's not looking like it will be done by the end of the month.

If I can finish both of the pieces by the end of March, that would be my next two table runners done and I would be fine with that. Instead of one a month, it's two, in two months. It reminds me of an conversation years ago, when I complained to my chiropractor about how many visits I was having to make. He told me instead of eight visits a month I could go down to two a week. I remember saying that worked better for me.

Enjoy your weekend... CRUSH IT!



Tuesday, February 16, 2021

LATE Happy Valentine's Day!


 We have a Valentine birthday in the house, and this year it was one of those "ZERO" birthdays, so that's why I'm late! Names and numbers are withheld to protect the innocent. We had a wonderful time-- are these little happy moments more precious after the past year? I think so.

     We finally got a good snow cover-- there is nothing like having a view of a winter wonderland from the comfort of your warm home when you know you don't have to go out! 

Well, I guess I was tempted to go out and get some of these lovely pictures. My mom had a shore house back in the day-- during a hurricane, you'd be sure to find her on the beach-- I guess the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree.

We had to shake all the trees and bushes-- they were about to break under the heavy snow. Those birch aren't supposed to look like that!

Then look what I found-- YES! It's the comical stalk from last summer-- I either forgot, or couldn't bear to trim down my little branch that gave me such amusement over the summer. It was bowed into a lovely arch. This was a new rose bush, so I now have probably completely ruined any potential it had by allowing it to grow so lopsided. The stalk will definitely have to go in the spring, but it will be fun to see what happens with that bush next-- it definitely has a sense of humor.

    And just like that, I finished 49 blocks of my Alaska quilt! I'm usually a quilting contrarian, and would work on something like this over the summer, but it was fun to take the last block out for a little photo shoot! Do you quilt with, or against the seasons?

     Somehow, I cracked the code on the eight pointed star and it just all came together. Now it's time to assemble-- this is the part of quilting I like least-- sewing those long seams with all the matching points... it's PIN, PIN, PIN, OUCH! This is the view, unassembled, from a drone over my bedroom floor (this thing is BIG) and will you please let me know if you see any mistakes in layout!

     I'm going to put Alaska away for a bit, and I've already picked out a pattern for my February 2021 Tablerunner-a-Month challenge. I have been getting the Fat Quartershop's Sew Sampler subscription for quite a long time. Every month, you get a little fabric, a pattern, and a couple of notions. Don't laugh-- until I joined the Sew Sampler Facebook page, it never occurred to me you were supposed to make the pattern with the fabric! 

   In January, I received a honey bun of Basic Grey's new CIDER fabric-- so delish. And the pattern looks super easy. Whaddaya know? That PATTERN uses that FABRIC-- what a happy coincidence! This is what a fabric pull looks like in my studio-- no judgment please-- how else are you supposed to see if the mix works?

   The reason I am doing the tablerunner challenge-- it occurred to me when I was decorating for Christmas-- I have NOTHING nice here-- over the years I have tended to give most of what I sew away, for fear of being buried. So I am going to make two little side table pieces and one big coffee table piece with my honeybun and extra grunge fabric from my stash-- specifically for a non-holiday, generic look in my living room. Let's see what happens!

    On the embroidery front, I finished another set of five cross stitch states for a total of fifteen. Once we get half way, we're going to set our states in white sawtooth stars on a blue background-- I'm thinking the border with have red and white stripes. 

For Once Upon a Time, Winter this week--
the fairytale forest animals are making some strange sounds! 

So thats what's happening in my neck of the woods.
We'd love to hear what's happening in yours!


Saturday, February 6, 2021

Know thyself...

I'm following up on my "big chunks of time" theory. This is the year of becoming a better person-- for me, a big part of that is increasing productivity. We need more charity quilts!, more gifts!, better dinners!, a cleaner house! Mr. SFO was away all week, so I was able to schedule my time without eating or sleeping and this is how it went. Five days, five projects, five big chunks of time.

MONDAY--January tablerunner of the month-- DONE!

Ok, well it was actually finished on Feb 1st, but I'm putting it in the WIN column. I did discover it's hard for me to spend more than TWO hours at a time on ONE thing...

I had a little head start with one block finished and I do love a checker, but after fours hours I was frequently asking myself, "Are we having fun yet?" I powered through.

Lesson: I stitched this while testing embroidery-- a technique that really works for me-- but seriously, aren't we supposed to be enjoying this? Nonetheless, it is finished-- is that all that counts? No answers, just more questions.

2) Tuesday-- Cottage of the Month Quilt-- ASSEMBLED

I'm seeing quite a couple of these now finished on the group page-- so I'd be lying if I didn't admit the irony that mine is not! This is Joanelle from Idaho's finish...

Loving her gold borders! When talking about productivity-- I'd like to spend a week with this person-- she's amazing.

And this is my friend, Rosemary from down under:

One of the best parts of this business is making friends around the world-- Rosemary and I frequently exchange weather reports! She cleverly used her mug rug size to make the quilt. I'm also pleased to see these women using their "Design Floors" to good advantage! You are my people! xox

and now for mine...

Another check mark for Tuesday. All assembled! No borders, but I really want to embroidery at least "2020" on one of them and maybe even my name-- that was a year the history books won't neglect! Let's see what happens-- I want it completely done by the summer.


Moving on to Wednesday-- early in January, I wrote on my calendar every third day I would have a set of four blocks finished on this-- it was completely unrealistic. I didn't base that on any actual experience!

They are all eight pointed stars more or less, and it's been difficult. As with anything, I am getting better at it. I mistakenly pressed my seam allowances the wrong way, but it helped me understand how to get all of the points matching in the middle.

 Feeling like a rock star on that one!

I did complete two sets of four more blocks done-- but stopped when enough seemed enough. So that makes 28 blocks out of 49 done-- I'm going to keep pushing myself on this. I'd love to finish four quilts this year-- so I have till the end of March for this one-- it's do-able.

4. Thursday-- Longarm Day--"Olive"

One of my "things" that has totally lost steam so far this year-- my longarm practice! I loaded this quilt before Thanksgiving-- it is from my Frivols tin collections-- and you know what happens over the holidays... I planned to give it some time and love this day!

There's only one row and three borders to finish. BUT... all that productivity finally caught up with me-- when I got up on Thursday-- I WAS TIRED.

This answers the question-- if you could sew all day-- would you ever get tired of it? And I guess the answer is-- physically, yes! My heart was still in the game-- I just couldn't.

Go easy on me-- because I have my day job all week-- San Francisco Stitch Co.-- and I lied-- I did eat and sleep.

5. Friday--The Burrito

This is my pet name for my vintage 2017 Flower of the Month quilt, because it sits rolled up in a corner for months on end. This is a beautiful textile..

and over the past two years, I have gradually added those to-die-for embroidery machined sashings-- THERE. ARE. ONLY. SEVEN. LEFT. TO. DO. as you can see by the puffy sashing areas at the top. A chunk of time would certainly do it!

There's no nice way to say it-- I HATE doing them. In fact, I once tested myself by saying to myself, "I'll either work on THAT, or clean the bathroom" and the Wet Swiffer and Scrubbin' Bubbles were out quicker than anyone has ever witnessed.

So this didn't happen either.

On the plus side-- I do have a gorgeous rose border digitized and tested-- I'll be releasing it this spring-- and I do believe 2021 is the year for this finish.

My take aways this week-- know thyself-- to me, a big chunk of time spent on any one thing can only be about two hours. Limiting the number of projects is a real help, however. And finally- there's always next week!



Friday, January 29, 2021

Glasses half full...

 Here we are at the end of January-- I made my lists, fell quickly behind, but in spite of that, I have had a super productive month! 

Sometimes it is more beneficial to write down what you did accomplish, instead of what's missing... so here's my January wrap-up...


I got Once Upon A Time, Winter rolling-- FREE Charm 5 is out today. A secret-- my talented daughter Caroline is drawing these up for me-- did you notice a little stylistic difference? I've been really enjoying the fresh, new color scheme--some of these thread colors were never touched by me-- hee, hee, and it's been challenging and exciting to explore new ways of digitizing that only occur to me now that I am interpreting someone else's drawings.

A case in point-- I never could get a decent poinsettia digitized despite my love of all things Christmas-- I think my brain looks for symmetry, in which the poinsettia is sadly lacking. Presto! She did it. I would never have tucked that gold leaf in there!

Does it occur to us to ask for help when we need it? Just a thought.

So as we work together with this, I also have her drawing up some PEOPLE-- specifically, sewing people--let's see what happens! My skin tone thread assortment will have to be taken out of its preshrunk plastic wrapper for the first time!


Cottages of the Month are ready for assembly! I used my chunk of time theory to spend 4 straight hours trimming them-- my least favorite part. Next week, I am going to schedule in a time chunk to stitch it all up at once-- how long do you think that would take? I'm guessing another four hours. In my quest to quantify the time spent on quilting tasks-- I've noticed after two hours on a single task, it gets very hard for me.

Once it's all together, I promise I'll get a better picture. Another thing I did differently is to use block, sashing, and border fabric that are all quite similar in color. It is subtle and sensational... but just can't be captured by a camera. As an artist, it's always such an exciting feeling to throw away your usual choices and try something new, isn't it?


I mentioned that I want to have four quilts finished this year-- the first one I picked is Laundy Basket Quilts "Alaska." So at the beginning of the month, I wrote in my planner that I would stitch up a set of four blocks every three days-- that ended up being totally unrealistic! Glass half full, glass half full-- I did finish twenty blocks in all-- nothing to sneeze at. Also, these blocks are all made of diamonds-- that's something I haven't done in a while, and there was a bit of a learning curve. I put it aside for a bit, but next week, I am going to give it a huge chunk of time-- maybe even a whole day, and see where I am. I really have till the end of March when I'd like to finish it. It snowed here, so I'm really channeling it!


The more I resolve NOT to do something-- the opposite usually occurs at an accelerated pace. So, NOT starting new projects has NOT happened. I want to try to make a new tablerunner every month this year, so I pulled this out of my closet.

A couple of years ago, I subscribed to Fig Tree Quilts Little Box of Figs subscription-- I got a cute little box each season full of goodies. They're still in my closet. LOL. This was a Valentine's Day edition-- it is a table runner named "Mimosa." I love this pattern-- I'm very partial to checkers.  

So, again, LATE on the January tablerunner of the month, but I'm giving it a chunk of time next week and hope to even finish it. On the plus side, I have a stack of "started" table runners, so other months may get a head start. I still think I can do it! Isn't it great, how hope springs eternal in my heart? Another topic I've been discussing with Caroline this week-- if you have a PASSION for something, do you really need TALENT? I just don't think you do. :-)


Carefree highways-- Maine is done and Colorado is under the needle as soon as I get up. I'm issuing sets of five, and this collection is now going to get time and love-- look for it SOON.

Your turn-- what will you spend a chunk of time on today?