Does it bring you Joy?

There is a trend out there for decluttering.   The mantra is, “Does it bring you Joy?”   If the answer is no then you are supposed to discard it.    I think this misses the point and is an over simplification of having respect for the materials and tools of life,  and also rejecting the idea that more stuff equals a better life.    Yes, this includes your sewing room.   I know it is odd for a shop owner to say,  but it is very easy to bury oneself in bags, boxes and piles of things and that can stop you in your tracks.      So my message for you today is that organization can help the joy to flow more easily.     The creative process is

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I could use another bed Mommy!!!

full of clutter and mess,  but a small amount of order within that facilitates getting things done,  and that is one of the biggest joys.

So if your sewing space is a mess,  start simple.    One of the best things in my sewing room at home is cubby type shelving.    I use it to hold yardage,  which I fold in a uniform size by rolling it around my long cutting ruler.    In theory they are sorted by colors.   I have another place for bolted yardage, one for fat quarters,  and for smaller things I use boxes.   If the pieces are really small I cut them to charm squares,  or add them to one of my baskets of strips.   These scrap containers are awesome,  and anything that doesn’t work in one of those categories gets put in a big bag that I use for stuffing draft blockers and doggie beds.

If you do find fabric that you truly don’t want,  there are plenty of uses for it that will IMG_2280bring joy to someone.     If you are truly stumped feel free to ask me to help.    Ugly and cheap fabrics make great foundations for string piecing patterns, or my  favorite Pineapple Blocks and boy will those projects use up fabric.  Of course there are just fabrics with patterns you wont use for yourself.  Juvenile, novelty and seasonal fabrics are great for give away projects.   This colorful beach balls design is being donated.    It will bring someone joy,  we just don’t know who yet.    Didn’t she do a great job?    She is going to quilt it herself too!!!

Tomorrow is Crazy Quilt Club,  and our first meeting for the Alaska BOM is on April 6.     I have finished the bits needed for April, but I’m still working away, with the goal of having the entire sample top done by the meeting.     I have room for one more person doing an alternate colorway.    All the blue fabric is spoken for.    If you are interested see the fabric photos on the Alaska page.       Also there are a few of you who have not yet picked up the final block from the Barbara Brackman project.       Please come pick them up so I can clear space for organizing the next project.    Remember that Work in Progress Wednesday is a great option if you need help finishing.

Happy Spring  (even though it is snowing right now)   —  See you all soon !!

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National Quilting Day

Tomorrow is National Quilting Day.   The tenth one to be exact.   This crazy activity of ours is so important to us that we made a holiday.   Most of you my dear readers are already dedicated quilters,  but this holiday is a wonderful opportunity to spread our enjoyment to others.    There are two major ways to share your love of quilts with those around you.   The first and probably most obvious is to give them quilts and quilted objects.    Of course when you gift quilts,  it is important that the recipieIMG_2173nt understands what an amazing gift it is,  and that is where the second way of sharing comes into play.   You can teach someone to quilt.    I am reminded of the saying about teaching a man to fish.

In order to support both the giving of quilts and  the teaching of quiltmaking we are having a sew in tomorrow.    I have a bunch of donated fabrics that will be available and pre cut for a simple pattern so that whoever walks in can sit down at a machine and learn a little about quilting.    How fun is that??     By the way, the fish quilt is by my friend Rene Pasquale.     If you want to come down and play with us the event runs from 10:30- 4:30     I hope we get the entire top done so it can be given to community quilts asap.

A couple of updates and reminders for you.    I wanted to share one of those big block of the Month projects I talked about last week.   Since I am sure you are wondering,  it is 98 inches square,  exactly the size planned.    Well done!!!   It is now on its way to the quilters with one of our extra wide fabric for the back.   IMG_2262

Crazy Quilt Club has been moved to next week.    And if you were curious,   the planned horse show was cancelled due to the horses having a virus.  We went to see my daughter anyway because she was bummed.     So was I,  but it was great to see her and spend some time even though she comes home for spring break today.

Lastly,  space in the Alaska Block of the Month is filling very fast.   Contact me immediately if you want to be part of this awesome project.  Alaska

 

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BOM as WIP, not UFO.

This week I helped a customer to make some critical decisions about large quilts that had been Block of the Month projects done either through the mail, or with other, now defunct quilt shops.     One top is now done, and the other nearly so.   Both programs were long enough ago that the fabrics in them are no longer available.    This presented several challenges which I believe have been overcome by some creative use of the scrap fabrics she had wisely saved.

As I have just handed out the last kits for a very large and complex Block of the Month that has taken us over two years it felt like a good time to talk about the finishing aspects of a big complex project.    First,   keep up with the project during the program if at all possible.    The directions and details discussed in class will stay fresh in both your mind, and that of the instructor,  and it will prevent the backlog from being overwhelming if you do miss a month.    Next,   take advantage of any extra helps available.    In the case of programs here that means come to Work in Progress Wednesday and if needed make an appointment to work on it with me at other times.

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Third,  give yourself a time frame,  as in aim to get it done in time to enter it in the fair, or one of the fall shows, or to give as a gift at a celebration.    This strategy works with any big task,  but the key is to break it down into components and give each of these a “do by” date.    It also helps to write in time for working on it,  in PEN in your calendar.    It sounds a little obsessive but it works.

My goal in sharing these tips with you is to help you get the big projects done in a timely manner.    That customer I helped this week was super frustrated by the projects,  one of which was about 10 years old.    Kits rarely have excess fabrics,  so my last tip is  that if you have the opportunity to purchase extra fabrics from the line used in your project, do it.   Even a year from now it might not be available.    You can always make a pillow or other small project to go with the big one if there is extra,  but if you run out it can be problematic.

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Alaska, our next BOM

We will be closing about 3 today and will re open Tuesday morning.   I am going to see my daughter in her very first horse show.    I will let you all know how it goes.    Tuesday is also Hand stitchers club,   materials for the new projects are listed on the club news page.

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Saturday the 16th is National Quilting Day,   and I will have machines set up and materials on hand to make some bed pillowcases and a scrap quilt for charity.   If you want to contribute your skills,  fabric, or loan a machine for the day let me know.   I will post more about it next week, but you wont want to miss it.

 

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Sew Much Excitement

Boy oh Boy,  there’s so much to tell you about I hardly know where to start.      I guess chronologically makes sense.   So tomorrow is the final meeting for Barbara Brackman’s Civil War Sampler Quilt.     We made it,   50 blocks,  many of which were complicated and challenging.    If you have kept up you should congratulate yourself.   If you haven’t remember that you can come to Work in Progress Wednesdays for free every week till you finish a top that you are happy with.

Next,   this Tuesday is Fat Quarter Tuesday,  which means that pre cut fat quarters are one dollar each.   We want to see your beads and mardis gras sparkles.    I will have some Jazz playing for atmosphere,  and there will be discounts on fat quarter and scrap quilting books and patterns too.    It is always a fun day and you can’t beat the price.   it works out to four dollars a yard.   That’s why I can only do it one day a year.

Wednesday is Work in Progress Wednesday,  and I would love to see some of you finishing the Civil War Sampler,  but any work in progress is game for you to work on.

Rocky RoadThursday is the first session for the Rocky Road workshop.   Love this pattern, and I truly wish I had made my sample larger.  You certainly can.   The photo is a bit dark, but the quilt is lively and wonderful.   In the first session we will do the string piecing to make the wedges.   You may want to wait to make the other fabric choices until these are made.     Full supply lists are on the workshops page.

Next Saturday we will be closed.    I need to go support my daughter as she rides in her first ever horse show.

I am still hoping that we will be able to begin the next BOM,  Alaska,  on April 6.    I have space for two more in the blue colorway as shown on the pattern.     If you would like a different colorway please check the Alaska page for the possibilities and reserve your spot as soon as possible.    I got so excited I found eight other sets of fabric that will work with this wonderful IMG_7154pattern.    These are available first come first served.     The blues have arrived,  and I am busy doing prep work on your behalf.    I just can’t wait to get sewing on this one.   The acrylic templates have seam intersection holes so the hand piecers out there need not worry.

AlaskaI look forward to seeing all of you and sharing the excitement.

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Ode to an underrated tool

Of course I am talking about your seam ripper.    This little gem of a gadget is ubiquitous.   Most people have one,  those of us who sew and quilt have lots,  and have probably lost lots of them over the years.    They are so indispensable to the process of making with fabric that sewing machines come with one.   You can get one for about a dollar,  you can spend some serious cash on one with a fancy handle.     My beautiful maple wood turned one that matches the wood on one of my guitars was a gift.     A nice comfy handle is helpful if you need to remove machine quiltIMG_2231ing.   That usually takes a long time and is accompanied with a great deal of frustration and sometimes even anger.   A good tool helps make it better.    But a seam ripper for more than just undoing poorly executed stitches.    It splits apart chain pieced units faster than scissors with less chance of snipping something critical and it opens up seam allowances when you need to spiral a bulky intersection.     It can be used to keep you from burning your fingers when pressing a seam by holding it in place.   At the machine it can help guide materials under the foot, once again keeping your fingers safe.     So here’s to the lowly seam ripper.    Be sure you have one is every sewing bag and box,  and I even have them attached to each machine.    Oh and just like scissors, needles and pins,  they lose their sharpness over time.    Is it time to treat yourself to a new one?

On March 2,  we will have the final meeting for barbara Brackmans Civil War Quilt.    50 blocks,  Five possible settings,   I promise that as finishes come in I will post photos.    It has been an amazing project.      Our next Block of the Month is called Alaska,  by Laundry Basket Quilts,  and hopefully it will begin in April.   There are still spaces to join so check out the details on the Alaska page.     You will also want to mark your calendars for our annual Mardi Gras celebration,  Fat Quarter Tuesday!!   This year it is March 5.   If you wear beads to the shoppe you can have your fat quarters for a dollar each!!   I play some jazz,  and if anyone has a good slow cooker gumbo recipe I would love to have it.    See you soon!!!

 

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Our inner critic

Once more this week the discussion in the shoppe turned to our own voice being the harshest one during a critique.    It is often also the first one to offer criticism.  We have all battled with our inner critic,  and many times we wish we could banish it completely.   This would not be a good plan.   The inner voice that rings alarm bells can help prevent mistakes,  help us fix issues,  and also help us learn new things.    It is when it gets harsh that we need to moderate it.

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Jake loves you even if the points don’t match

It can help to quiet it down by refusing to compare your own output to what anyone else produces.   It can also help to keep in mind the ultimate reason you created your project.   Did you do it to learn something?   Did you need the finished product for some purpose?  Did you do it to show love to the recipient?   Did you do it because someone paid you to do it?   Maybe the best reason,  I did it because I love to make quilts ( insert any noun in that sentence by the way )

The other day I experienced this in a profound way.   As many of you know I play

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classical guitar.       The local guitar society is having a concert on Feb 24, and I am going to play a piece.   At an informal gathering of the group we had a dress rehearsal of sorts.   Usually as the others play and I await my turn my thoughts are comparative.    Things like, wow I could never play that,   How come when I play that piece it doesn’t sound like that,  and perhaps worst of all,  why can’t I play that well?    I know the practical answers to these kinds of questions,  and yes I am currently the only one in the group who hasn’t been playing for decades, or even making a living at guitar in some way.    But the thought that calmed my nerves better than any other strategy I have tried is simply to remember that I want to share a beautiful piece of music with anyone who will listen.   Any time I had one of those negative thoughts I added to it in my head,  “But I just want to play this pretty song for them.”    It did take some effort,  but it worked.   So I share my experience with you hoping that it will enrich your own experience and allow your inner critic to whisper instead of shout.

Tomorrow is Crazy Quilt Club,    Tuesday is the rescheduled Hand stitchers club,  and on Wednesday we will have the traditional Kaleidoscope workshop.   There is still room call to register.    You can also still register for Alaska,  the Block of the month that will start in April.    I had thought it would be March, but the fabrics are still not in so we will have to wait.     Hopefully we will miss all the bad weather by starting a little later in the year.   Come join us!!!

 

 

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Love is in the air

I promised to tell you more about the next Block of the Month Program but first I thought I should address Love.   Valentine’s Day is next week.   My husband and I have been a couple for 30 years,  and Valentine’s Day has always been important to us.  Our second Date, where he met my family for the first time ( and brought chocolate and roses ) was on Valentine’s.   As we dated we always made each other cards.  Over the years it got a IMG_2191little out of hand,  but once we were parents the handmade cards had a different character.      I received the one pictured here yesterday from my nephews.      I think every Mom, Aunt and Grandma has one or more like this tucked away somewhere,   But this game is not just for kids.    To help you out all next week,   our heart and Key shaped buttons are buy 2 get one free,  and all other buttons, ribbons and lace by the yard are 15% off.

And Now off to Alaska.   No really,  our next Block of the Month is called Alaska.   It is from Laundry Basket Quilts and Edyta Sitar.   The blue and cream Batiks are by Andover.     The six month program is scheduled to begin in March and will be done before the Holidays.   How nice is that?    The focus in this one is on connecting designs from one block to the next and creating secondary pattern.    The straight line piecing creates the illusion of curves, and the results will impress even the grumpiest critic.    I am taking registrations now.   I so can’t wait to get started on this one.   Alaska

We will run it in our usual manner,  meeting on the first Saturday of the month,  where you will get your paperwork, fabrics and any other instruction needed.  Then you can stay and stitch or go and get on with your day.     If you miss a meeting just let me know and you can come in later and pick up your materials.     My job as the teacher/mentor is to get you working on and finishing projects that you love.     If you need some other type of customization of the program please ask and we will do our best to work it out.    I love sharing exciting projects with you, so please join us for this one.   All you have to do now is tell me you want in and give me your contact info.    Easy.    All the nitty-gritty stuff is on a handout you can pick up in store,  or I will be making the Alaska BOM page public by the end of today.

Be Happy and spend some time with someone or something you love this week.

 

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