The one that’s going to stretch your book budget

Last night was the second meeting of the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild–we had a few less attendees, but the weather was awesome, so I suspect some were outside enjoying family time on a pleasant Summer evening!  We are still finding our groove… and have some ideas for pumping up the next meeting already!  The sixteen of us that came shared our favorite quilting books with the group, and let me tell you, my Amazon wishlist grew a bit last night!  WARNING:  Reading this post may do the same to you!

Tricia brought along a book about creating your perfect Quilting space, because let’s face it, which one of us doesn’t have that dream studio floating around inside our heads?  I’ve seen Tricia’s sewing space, it’s big, but it’s in an unfinished basement that serves as her boys’ playroom and her work-at-home-hubby’s office as well–dream big Tricia!  I have a copy of that one in my library, too–great resource even if you only have a small corner of a room to fix up into a proper sewing area.

Crystal and Jill M. both mentioned Malka’s book as one of their newest faves, but didn’t bring a copy to share…  I have a copy gifted to me for Christmas by my friend Toni, and I can assure you it is well worth the price!  It’s so full of fun, bright colors and fresh project ideas.

Kris shared Linda Otto Lipsett’s Remember Me, a book of quilt history talking about signature or friendship quilts, like the one Victoria is collecting blocks for.  There are no patterns, just diary entries and stories of groups of girlfriends from days gone by doing the same things we are doing today via flickr and the blogosphere…  Kris also shared that she’s enjoyed everything written by this author.

Karen is a relatively new quilter and she shared this book, The Ultimate Quilters Visual Guide, given to her by the person who first introduced her to quilting.  It’s her fave because of the personal connection, but it is also a valued go-to answer book when she comes across a term she doesn’t recognize, or a method that’s new to her.  BTW, Karen writes a fun blog, you should check it out!

Our resident linen and asian fabric devotee, Veronica, brought along FIVE faves, all by Japanese designers, and we all had fun gawking over those.  Many of the intructions are in Japanese, but the photos and illustrations are amazing, and one really doesn’t need to read the instrctions, anyway, right?!?  This one is so being added to my library next week!

A book I had not heard of before, but was shared by Maria, Stash Happy Patchwork is full of super cute small projects…yeah, I’m buying this one too!  I mean, look at that adorable cactus pincushion?!?

Penny and Lisa S. both shared Elizabeth Hartman’s book, which I’ve been told by more than one person is a great basic reference book…might have to add that one to my library as well.  (Hmmm, the book budget is going to get a workout this month.)

More than a few of us mentioned that we love the Material Obsession and Material Obsession Two books… I have MO-1 and used it to make this quilt, (which is at my quilter’s house right now).  Our Guild happens to meet at a local library and I know the library has them both in their stacks.  I’ve checked MO2 out from there before.  Both fabulous books for inspiration and unique patterns.

Until I saw this book in person last night, I thought, why would I need a book on log cabins, it’s a basic pattern and so easy to interpret yourself into a new design?  Well, let me tell you, this is a fabulous book!  Modern Log Cabin Quilting is full of unique project ideas, combinations of fabrics such as cordouroy and linen, small projects as well as full quilts–worth checking out quilters!  Penny, Jill Mc and Meghan all brought copies of this to share with the group and raved about it!

The book I shared was Applique Outside the Lines, by the Piece O’ Cake Designs ladies.  They were one of the first established pattern companies to recognize the modern quilting movement by joining in, this book is a great reference for developing modern/fresh/bold color combinations; raw edge applique; and asymmetrical organic designs that are influenced by traditional applique designs and methods.  It’s great eye candy and good information all in one…

Etta brought a block reference book (one of the biggies–as did Linda) and she also brought this book on fabric manipulation.  I have looked at this book online before from the standpoint of wanting to get better at my garment sewing, but I hadn’t looked at it from the perspective of quilting before…  Anyone with any interest in art quilts would find this book to be a great addition to your library.

One thing we all agreed on, while we may not actually read all of these books, we love to collect them and great photography (read: eye candy) is essential to draw us in and satisfy our hunger for them.  I wrote a post over two years ago, about utilizing quilting books from the library.  I still stand behind each of those books as great reference for any quilter! 

Do you have a favorite quilting book we didn’t mention at last night’s meeting?  Please comment, I’d love to hear about it!


A Creative Climate

Just a few short years ago, I lived in a teeny tiny apartment with almost no closet space, and my sewing area was set up in a small area at the foot of my bed.  It was not a great creative climate, and incidently, I created far less art than I do now.  To me, having the space to create is just as important as having the tools to create!

Now, even though we live in a small condo, I am fortunate enough to have the entire second bedroom as my studio.  Every thing about this room makes me happy…

My Ikea Expedit bookcase and desk was a dream come true….as was the new Janome that sits atop it…

The vintage items that line the top of the bookcase just make me smile.  The box used to store my Mom’s oil paints and brushes (today it stores small jars of beads), the wood finials are from my Grandpa’s workbench, the mini iron was an antique store find, and the spools and hem marker were gifts from my friend, Toni.   Everything I chose to display, store, or hang in this room gives me a sense of joy and peace, either because of who it is/was connected to, the colors/patterns that give it visual appeal, or the what it represents.

I don’t know who made this gorgeous crazy quilt of 1950s and 1960s fabrics, but it reminds me a quilts my grandmother made, all types of fabrics mixed together, colors wildly combined that somehow “work”, it’s just a happy quilt. 

In 1950, my grandma would have been the same age I am today.  I like to think she might have created something like this quilt when she was just facing her middle age…as I am now.  On the shelf is a photo of my Grandma in her rose garden, when she was about ten years old.  She’s wearing a fabulous 1920s sailor dress and has a hideous short bobbed haircut–it’s priceless!  And, at the right is her thimble collection. 

On the other side of the room is drop table that usually holds my 1978 Bernina, today it is providing a spot for a nap for my furry friend…

Above that table hangs a stained glass window that came from my great-grandfather’s farmhouse, with a favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that I added to it…

And in the corner is my stash, housed in Ikea Antonius baskets…which looks nice and tidy right now, because I just cleaned it out to do some destashing via Etsy.

The fat quarters are displayed prettily in this Eddie Bauer Home bathroom fixture, which hangs above my cutting table…

That’s a little tour of my studio, my fabulous aqua blue, filled with joy and happiness, “creative climate”. 

To see more spaces and creative climates, visit Karen’s blog

Sew Content

I am so blessed, blessed with great talents, great family, great friends, great opportunities….I have alot to be thankful for! And thanks to the support of these wonderful family and friends, virtual as well as IRL (in real life), I’ve found peace with the struggles I was having a few weeks ago…

Who cares is this is the only sewing I got done in over a week?! At least I had time to sew one night…it could have been NONE!

What does it matter if I don’t have time to post on my blog for over a week? The world won’t end…

Why should it matter that my blog has only 30 readers and another one I follow has over 300? I still enjoy writing it, I enjoy journaling my progress here, and having a record to fall back on when my 40-year-old memory fails me yet again…

My life is wonderful, my life is blessed. And I choose contentment. Because the contentment of the past week or so feels so much better than the self doubts, self pity and self battery of the previous weeks.

Here’s to your contentment! Have a wonderful week…

Buy Local

Huh…. that was a completely unintentional (and long) blog break. Life has just been incredibly busy, not much time to create, and even less time to shoot photos and write something about it!

I have some things to show you this week, so be sure to check back… But today I want to show you some goodies I purchased over the weekend at a few Iowa shops that are sadly closing their doors. I went to visit my Mom, who lives about 100 miles away, northeast of Des Moines. On the way to her house, I stopped at Grinnell Fiberworks, a shop I once adored, but was forced to seriously downsize a few years ago and are now closing. All of their merchandise is marked 50-60% off and they had some great fabrics still available. This is what I picked up:

Some great Kona Cottons, a few yards of the fabuolous Michael Miller Jet Brown solid, an older Amy Butler print, an older Kaffe Fassett piece, some batiks, reds, dots…all great basics! I picked up some thread, my favorite applique needles, and handbag hardware as well.

On Saturday morning, Mom and I took off for a road trip to my Favorite Quilt Shop in the world, Yellow Bird Art in Lansing, Iowa. Sadly, it is closing at the end of this month, and this was most likely my final visit.

Lansing is nearly a five-hour drive from my home, so I have not been there often in the last few years, but I’ve ordered from her online shop. The owner, Amy, is such a gracious host and great shopowner. Sadly, the economy is forcing her to close the doors on her business dream.

Her shop is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, in a 19th Century building made of local limestone. Her shop has just as much personality and charm as Amy!
‘Yellow Bird Art was once featured in Quilt Sampler magazine. It’s been open for a little over five years, and she has the same employees/staff that she had when she first opened the doors. That says alot about the kind of business she ran, I think! This weekend was a good reminder, for me, of why we need to support our local businesses.

I brought home these lovely fat quarters…aren’t those the softest colors you’ve ever seen?

And some yardage for a few projects I have brewing in my melon…

And this thread holder, which I’ll make a cover for to keep the light and dust off my threads when I’m not sewing.

Be sure to show your local small business owners some extra support this Spring. It’s been a tough year and they deserve our support.

Happy creating,

Stash Stats

SHARING MY STASH….along with Sew, Mama, Sew

I’ve recently done some de-stashing in my etsy shop, and donated some pieces to a local sewing program. It’s a “cleaning” and “de-cluttering” phase I am going through as well as a desire to liquidate some assets.

I have a much smaller stash than my local quilting buddies, it was smaller even before I downsized, but to be honest I am tempted to buy more almost daily when I see a new print on someone’s blog, receive an email from an online fabric shop extolling their latest arrivals and sales…ahh, TEMPTATION.

1. What do you usually sew?

Quilts and handbags. Occasionally clothing for myself, so I have a small stash of apparel fabric in a drawer separate from my quilting stash.

2. When you shop for fabric, what size cuts do you usually buy? (i.e. If you see something
beautiful, but you don’t have a use for it right away, how much do you buy?)

Two yards if I think it will be a focus fabric. A fat quarter if I’m feeling particularly frugal.

3. Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?

More often than not, on impulse. Then I have to go back and buy things I need to make a project out of it!

4. Are you a pre-washer? If you are, do you wash your fabric before you need it, or only when you’re ready to use it?

I first learned to sew clothing, taught by my mom. So, of course, we pre-washed every piece of fabric that came in the house. Y’know, to pre-shrink it. I started quilting about 10-12 years later, and after another decade, I’m still having a hard time breaking that habit ~ being told that I don’t need to for quilting. I would say I still wash about 90% of my fabric prior to cutting into it.

5. Do you iron it?

Yes. before. during. after. often.

6. How do you sort it? (color, print size, collection, etc.)

Dots and stripes in one bin. 30s in one bin. Large florals together. Batiks together. Novelty together. Holiday together. So, I guess that would be by “type” or “genre”. It has been this way for the last three months. Prior to that it was by color. The new way seems to be much more functional for me.

7. Do you have any special folding techniques?

No. It just has to be folded neatly to satisfy my OC tendencies.

8. How do you store your fabric?

Most of it is stored in these wonderful wire mesh baskets from Ikea. They are from their Laundry Room storage area, and work just great. They roll into a large closet I have so the fabric is protected from light and dust.

9. What tips do you have for building up a well-rounded stash?

Oh Lord, I wish I did have some tips. I’m not sure I know how to do this. Mine is fairly well-rounded, but I think it got that way by chance.

10. When do you say enough is enough?

I’ve decided to limit myself to two of the Ikea wire mesh racks. If it starts to overflow, I need to clean out and donate or sell some of the pieces that don’t “move me” any longer.

11. What are some of your favorite stash-busting projects?

Any scrap quilt block. My newest favorite is this one.

12. Do you have a current favorite print in your stash? Let’s see it!

Well, I love it all, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. My go-to tone-on-tone is the Kaffe Fassett Aboriginal Dots…sadly I think this may be the end of my stash of that… 😦

And I just smile everytime I see this recent addition:

I mean, look at the giant tomato/strawberry pincushion…

And hello?! How sweet is that red zipper? It should be sewing room curtains or something, but right now I’m just admiring it!

from fabulous Alexander Henry, of course…

13. What’s your definition of the perfect stash? (Consider sharing a picture or two of your stash & storage, or direct us to a pic on Flickr!)

I think one that is VERY usable (easy to access, find items, etc.) and that looks gorgeous displayed (which does not count mine as it rolls away into a closet) but one like this…or that one…or, *gasp*, pretty much any of these