Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Free Flower Tutorial

A few years ago I was introduced to Kanzashi, or Japanese fabric flowers. Of course, from there I had to try my hands at every way of making a fabric flower that is out there. After starting to teach sewing to children, I modified what I learned and came up with an easy peasy way of making pretty flowers that was fun for adults but easy enough for children!

I have had a lot of fun making these from my scraps over the years, and these are no different! All of them feature the scraps from Jenean Morrison's Lovelorn collection on FreeSpirit Fabrics. I love how fabrics can look so different depending on the project. The small scale of the flowers paired with vintage buttons give them a totally different vibe than when they are used in purses and quilts!

Miss K modeling her fabulous hairflower!

You can find the Free Flower Tutorial here. On the last page is a pattern piece, which makes it easier for everyone, especially little ones, to cut out. I make these often for teacher gifts, and the girls will often search out vintage buttons just to use in flowers!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Family Sew Time

School is out. I am OK with this. I think. We are at the point where durihng the day we can all spend a bit of time in the sewing room. There are 3 machines, so no fighting over machine time. Vasi has a toybox in the room full of cars and legos. He also has the scrap bag to make "outfits for his monster trucks" while we sew.

This past weekend, Evie finished her third quilt.

She is 9. Sometimes she is so grown up I forget that. She is already 5'2". She's very mature for her age, thinks through things and loves reading and math. She even says her favorite part of quilting is doing the math. This quilt was no different. We were talking about modern quilts, looking at samples and techniques. Then we also looked at Modern Art, to talk about what modern can mean. We also have been working on color theory for the past few weeks. Altimately, she found her inspiration in the paintings of Mark Rothko. She remembers seeing his work at the Carnegie in Pittsburgh, and liked it because of the colors. I thought she would want to do large blocks of colors, but no, when we went to Sew Memphis for solids, she chose 4 shaded of pink. We bought a half yard of each, then sat down to start planning. We had 4 colors and she wanted large blocks, so this is what came out. She chose the grey border from my stash, to be a frame of sorts. This took her 2 days with my help. I still don't let her rotary cut. 

My 7 year old (8 next week!) worked on this

She had scrap fabric from my stash and we printed out a map of Mississippi for her to use as a pattern piece. The burlap is a burlap canvas we found at Walmart in clearance a while ago. She is my hand stitcher, she loves handwork and would rather make stuffies. She has started doing a split stitch around the border and wants to make a heart where our town is! 

I love my lazy days in the sewing room with the kids! Happy Sewing! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mama's got a Brand New Bag!

OK, so when I create a pattern I usually end up making a few. I never design a pattern I am not going to use, so yes, my new purse is a Midtown. The beautiful pink one was made for someone else, but I could not get that fabric out of my head, so I ended up finding the citrus colorway on and making this sweet one for summer for me!

I am a fabric fanatic. I will admit to being a fabricaholic. I get really excited when new fabric lines launch, and follow the blogs of my favorite designers and those that sew for them. I have favorite lines of fabric I keep fatquarters of for years because I know you can't buy them in a store anymore and I want to keep a piece just in case. 

This season, I am totally in love with Jenean Morrison's Lovelorn. Check it out at the link. She is a designer with FreeSpirit Fabrics (of course, they carry most of my favorites, Joel Dewberry, Denyse Schmidt and Anna Maria Horner among them). I have made a few things already using this collection, including the bag featured in The Midtown pattern photos. This is one of the few fabric collections I love every colorway equally! It was really hard for me to decide which colorway to use for my personal bag, and after receiving a gift certificate for which is carrying the whole collection, I settled on orange for summer. 

As a fabric line, this has everything a sewist desires. There are beautiful large prints that lend themselves to home dec, clothing and big bags. There is a small ovals print that reads as a solid for quilting. There is a fun modern floral, there are 2 small prints for balance and this great arch print that adds movement to any project. The variety of scale, bold use of colors, and graphic nature of this collection make it the need to have collection for all your projects this season! 

While the orange and pink colorway are exciting and happy, the blue colorway keeps things cool and subdued, which is why I chose it for a baby boy quilt. 

One of the blocks

Close up of the ovals used as background, the hexies used as a border, and the large scale paisley as binding. Longarm services provided by Quilts2aT Studio

Toddler Time made from the pink color way. I know I put the arches with the floral together on each bag so far, but I love the look!

Sew, what is your favorite fabric line this season?

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, May 17, 2014


So now that I have made terms with it, talked to friends about it, I am ready to talk about it and turn it into something good. After you read this, no matter your age or coloring, I want you to schedule an appointment with a Dermatologist and get checked. Just in case.

I am sorry to everyone who I have been flighty with, or forgetful, or hurried. My mind has been elsewhere. On this, more specifically.

On May 8, 2014 I went into my Dermatologist Office to hear about my biopsies from the previous week at my annual appointment. I wasn't too concerned, I go to see her every year and she always takes a few things to send to the lab. I just figured she was calling me the office because of some new privacy law. Nope. She called me there to tell me the mole she removed from my left hand, the one I had since I was a child, had developed into Melanoma. She handed me a pathology report, a book called Understanding Melanoma, then proceeded to pull out her pen and say she wanted to take a few more samples. These samples included one on my foot, which made it hard to walk for days after, and one on my face, which just sucked.

She also told me to wait for a call from a surgeon they were setting me up with, I would need a wide local excision, a lymph node biopsy, and because it is on my hand a skin graft. 

This was the day before I was to go camping with my girl scout troop. Needless to say, I owe a debt of gratitude to the other 2 leaders who went with me, because I was in a complete daze and unable to walk much. I know my girls still had fun, even though I think I forgot half of the activities I had planned. 

The just of the pathology report is that it is Melanoma 2TA, 1.1 on the Breslow Scale, mitotic index of 4. It was in the dermis.

I started researching and reading, but was pretty freaked out. Cancer. How many people get cancer? Did I know anyone who had skin cancer? What would surgery be like? I am left handed. How will I do anything during recovery? How will I take care of my kids? The house? Work? MY GOD HOW WILL I SEW??

I met with my surgeon this past Friday, and feel OK about everything after talking to him. Sometime next week I will go in for a test to see which lymph nodes it could spread to for the biopsy, then they will schedule surgery for sometime in the next week or so. However, after surgery I will not be able to use my left hand for 3 to 6 weeks. They will take a silver dollar size chunk out of my hand to make sure all the cancer is gone then take a skin graft from somewhere else on my body to cover my hand, probably my thigh. Yeah fun! 

So now we are trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath of the surgery. We had to cancel our summer plans of travel, and I am frantically trying to finish projects I was working before I can't sew or do much of anything. But I am grateful. Grateful that this is all I will probably have to go through. Chemo and radiation is probably not needed, because it was caught early, because I go every year to get checked. 

I can also say that there was no noticeable change in the mole. She took it because it looked puffier, but I didn't notice. it could have been any mole. I never used a tanning bed, however like most people my age I spent all day outside as a child. I can remember being sunburned once.

Now that you have read this, thank you. It helps me cope better being able to share. Make an appointment to get checked. Melanoma's are on the rise.

Como, Mississippi

Yesterday we went to Como for an evening out to celebrate my 40th birthday. I know, we are so close to a hot spot like Memphis, why chose to travel farther south to Como?

The Como Steakhouse of Course! Well, that and the town of Como is charming. One of the things I love about Mississippi is that every town has a story. Several in fact. If you find yourself traveling through Mississippi, especially a meandering road trip (which I think everyone needs to do), find Como and stop for a spell. Meet some locals. Have the best steak of your life. I am not kidding. The sides at Como Steak House are nothing spectacular. But the meat is the most amazing steaks you will ever eat. Ever.


The town itself is small.After you exit from 55 you take what looks like it should be the main road to town, but Main Street itself is a little turn off right by the railroad tracks. I love architecture of Main Street.

Even the former City Hall Building has been left to grace Main Street.

There are three Blues Trail Markers in Como, but I will let you discover them for yourself.

When you are done eating and seeing what is town, take a drive around the area and check out some of the older homes. Gorgeous.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How to chose your long-arm quilter

While doing the binding on a quilt I recently picked up from my long-arm quilter, Teresa, I started thinking of the one thing I dread doing when we move to a new area. That is finding a long-arm quilter I like! When we were in Franklin I had established a rapport with a local woman who did amazing work, and took my tops there. Here it took me a while to find another long-arm quilter, and now I use her for everything. I was thinking of what I needed in a long-arm quilter, and what you should look for too!

Firstly, everyone has a different aesthetic. I am a patch-worky-modern-meets-tradition-kind-of-lets-see-what-happens kind of quilter. I don't do applique. I love the look of it, don't get me wrong, but when I am in my studio I have to be true to myself. So rule one is: Make sure your aesthetics jive. They can be an amazing quilter and have 40 years experience, but if you are both not on the same page design wise, you won't be happy as a customer and they won't be happy with the work they did on your quilt. I will admit when I take my quilts to Teresa, I tell her to do what she thinks will work best, because after 4 years I know we are on the same page and I will LOVE what she does. Along with everyone having different aesthetics, everyone has different experience. For most of my quilting, I want edge to edge. My quilter has a ton of pantos to chose from.

The quilting will add life and movement to your quilt, and yes, it can also kill it. When I first started quilting 10 odd years ago, I went to a lady because she was cheapest. It's not that they look bad, but they could look better. I have 1 bed quilt I made that has a meander quilting on it and the spaces are about the size of Texas. I also chose cheap batting for that one, which is a whole separate blog post.

Quilting by Quilts2aT Studio.

We all make mistakes while piecing, and I know that things can be "quilted out", so you don't notice your mistake. You know what else I found out? Things can also be quilted worse, and the mistakes can be highlighted.
So, look at their sample work. Check out their webpage, blog, etc. Talk to their other customers. Talk to them. I chose my quilter out of the 20-odd ones that work locally. I know all the local long-arm quilters do amazing work in their own right, but I chose the one who matched me the best!

Second, you should be able to talk to your long-arm quilter. Really talk. And listen. Trust. You hand over your tops, that you have spent a lot of money and time on. Did you sit down and let them know your vision? I think it is better to go in and tell what your overall desire is for the quilt, then pick the quilting design together, than to walk in there and say "I want this pattern with this thread and that's it!". But on the other hand, you should have some idea, if not concrete than conceptual, of what you want from them! Even if you just tell them your inspiration.

Evie with Teresa from Quilts2aT Studio. Evie has finished 2 quilts and loves to visit Teresa's studio!

Price. I would say don't worry about price, but know about what you will owe before you leave from dropping it off. I will also say if your quilter buys batting in bulk, check out their batting. I buy batting from my quilter because she carries higher quality batting. 

Another question to ask is what is the turn around time. Don't be shocked if it is up to 2 months! I would also say relax about time, you don't want them to do a rush job. So if you are doing a gift, make sure to leave enough time for the quilting!

Sew, if you are newer to quilting or just looking for a new long-arm quilter, keep this in mind! Ask others for recommendations. Check out photos of their work, and most importantly, talk to a few!!

Happy Sewing!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Weighted Blanket Project

I wish I could convince myself to blog half as much as I sew! I have been super busy since January but haven't taken the time to write about anything. The first big project is I was able to sucker, I mean convince some ladies from my quilt guild into making weighted blankets to donate to area children. We have a sew in about every three months, and at our end of February Sew in, Henry Bailey with The Commercial Appeal stopped by and wrote a nice article that ran in the Subday paper, was picked up by The AP and ran in papers across the country, including The Washington Times.

How cool is that? We have been able to keep going because of donations from area churches and people. We have given over 100 blankets and lap pads to area children. We have also received letters from people all over the country who have seen Henry's article! They have asked how to start a group in their area, so I hope to hear that other groups are starting up all over.

Quilters have big hearts. I know this. Every guild I have been apart of has had three or four charities they adopt and work with. They use their talents to bring comfort and warmth to those in need, and I am so glad to be a part of The Weighted Blanket Project. As a mom of The Amazing AspieGirl, I know how much these blankets mean to both the children and the families. Thanks again ladies! See you all on Monday for our next Sew In!