Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Love The Home You Have - Book and Challenge

Recently, I was introduced to a new book, Love the Home You Have, by Melissa Michaels. I have followed Melissa’s blog, The Inspired Room, for several months so I knew that I would love her book if it was anything like her blog. I have to admit that every time I say the title in my head it goes like this...Love The Home You Have (With Quilts!). We will see how that gets interpreted as we go along.

Her writing is gentle and positive. She teaches through her experiences and guides her readers to take a look at their homes and their lives in a new way. There is a 31-Day Love Your Home Challenge in the back of the book with lots of good ideas and approaches to making your home the best it can be for you and your family. I have decided to embark on this challenge at my own pace. My challenge may end up being a 31-week challenge and that is perfectly okay.

Day One is Home Gratitude. Melissa’s instructions are to walk around your home and think about how thankful you are for a place to call home. Let me back up a little first. At the beginning of the year, my husband and I took a tour of our home and wrote down everything that was wrong with it. All of the maintenance we needed to do, all of the improvements we wanted to make, every bump, bruise, and negative thing about our home was analyzed and documented. While that was an exercise we needed and wanted to do for planning purposes, it was the exact opposite of the idea behind Home Gratitude. I was thankful to have the stark contrast of that day to compare to this day of Home Gratitude.

My home tour did not make it very far. One of the first places I looked was across the room to our kitchen table. Our home is not a fully open plan but it is open enough and the kitchen table can be seen from several other rooms. This is our fourth home and we have been here for twelve years. The kitchen table was purchased right after we moved in.

I thought about all the memories around this table. How many meals had been eaten here? How many games played? How much homework conquered? How many birthday candles had been blown out? How many times had we laughed so hard we cried? If this table could talk, it would have many wonderful stories to tell. So for today, that is where my grateful home begins and ends.

These aren't the best quality pictures. I did that on purpose. They aren't staged. The lighting hasn't been set just so. They aren't even in great focus. I didn't clean up anything. You can see the recycling on the counter and the chairs not pushed in all the way and the place mats (made by a dear friend) that are a little out of line. But if you look really close, you will know that this is a room full of family, full of memories, full of so many things to be grateful for.

Thank you Melissa, for helping me to pause and be grateful for this perfectly imperfect home.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Drawing and Doodling Journal

This past Christmas, my daughter and I received blank journals. We decided together that we would draw something every day in 2015 and share what we were doing.

My first drawing
Well, that idea sort of went the way of many new year's resolutions.

We were diligent in January, a little slack in February, and completely off track for March.

I had to remind myself that my word for the year is PAUSE and that it is totally okay to draw when I want to draw and when I have time to draw.

It is much more relaxing and fun that way. I started adding color to some of them. Sometimes markers and sometimes watercolors.

When I do take the time to draw, it is very therapeutic.

Also, the more I draw, the more I want to draw more complicated things, which generally means more than one sitting for a picture anyway.

I'm hoping that somehow, all of this will translate into improved free motion quilting.

I do like how easy it is to always have a journal and some pens everywhere I go.

I have always been a doodler. My notes at work and school always have something scribbled in the margins.

This next one even looks a bit like a quilt. I was seeing how many different ways I could draw the simple design in the upper left corner.

My daughter and I each drew the face and hair below. It was interesting to compare our styles. She is very bold and puts pen to paper readily.

I have to at least get the outline drawn in pencil first, then fill in the details with my pen. My drawings are lighter and a little more delicate.

We will see how much drawing occurs for the rest of the year. Right now, quilting seems to have caught my attention. No matter what, my energy will always pour into some creative endeavor or another.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lost My Marbles - A Work In Progress

For five years, from 2007 to 2011, I owned a quilt shop. It was a dream come true for me and a great experience. One of the things I held on to after the shop closed were the color cards that were used to order basics, like Moda Marbles. Really, I only kept the color cards that had real fabric samples on them. I finally decided it was time to do something with them. They were great as a point of reference for a while but they were starting to get a little bit out of date.

First, I pulled every single sample off the Moda Marbles color card, more than 200 of them. Some were unusable because they had too much glue and paper that just wouldn't come off, but most of them were just right.

It was possible to cut a clean 1 3/4" square from each sample. It took a few sessions to get everything cut but it was a lot of fun to handle each and every color. I really had no idea what these would become.

I wanted to do something mosaic like and I had recently grabbed up a Bella solids gray fat quarter bundle from the Fat Quarter Shop, so that became the next step. I cut strips from the gray and paired them with the Moda Marbles.

I also paired the grays with each other and threw in some white that came with my gray fat quarters.

The two patches became four patches, and the four patches went for a whirl on the design wall.

None of the fancy mosaic ideas in my head were working out once laid out on the design wall so I simplified the whole idea and came up with this.

I'm loving the tile look and it has just the right pop of color. There is one white bella square in each of the bigger blocks. There are many more to stitch and all of the ones on the wall now are still in their four patch status. It will be interesting to see how accurate these turn out. I have not sewn with so many small squares before. This will be a true test of my quarter-inch seam allowance. I'm usually not great at naming quilts but this one just makes me laugh...Lost My Marbles. This is true on a few levels with this quilt.

Linking up with Lee's WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

House Quilt - A Finish for do. Good Stitches

In January, it was my turn to be responsible for the quilt for our do. Good Stitches Believe Circle. With permission, I copied a design by Debbie Grifka over at Esch House Quilts. I posted a tutorial for the house blocks here. All of our members sent in vertical strips for the quilt.

Each member could place the houses anywhere on the strip they wanted to. I like the neighborhoods that formed as a result.

Since the fabrics in this quilt are so busy, the quilting was kept really simple. Wavy vertical lines run across the entire quilt top.

The thread is a 30 weight Sulky Blendable in a variegated gray.  

The binding is black with bright colored dots. It is a basic Timeless Treasures print. The back is a Kona solid. It is an older piece so I don't know the official color name. This quilt finishes at 46 x 51 inches.

All of the quilts our group makes are sent out with a special label on the back.

Even though we are almost at the end of March, this was a good quilt to start my year. Thanks Believe Circle, for sharing your quilt making talents with me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Word for 2015 - PAUSE

I have never picked a word for the year before. There are just too many and if I was going to pick one it had to be a really good one, or at least a good one for me. So, apparently this is the year.

Stop and think about the why before acting
Don't act simply to avoid the real issue
Don't act to one up or prove a point or be in control
With the right purpose
At the right time
For the right reason
In all areas of life

This is going to be a go with the flow kind of year. Not making any concrete plans or rigid promises. Ready to expand and explore and see where this year leads. Ready to try new things. Like drawing.

My daughter and I each received blank journals in our stockings for Christmas. She was half talking to herself when she said, "What should I use this for?" And I immediately replied, "Why don't you draw something everyday? If you do, I will." And our drawing journals began. I am much more of a doodler than drawer as you can see from these examples. I plan to stretch my drawing/art muscle throughout the year. I've already purchased colored pens and watercolors.

Ready to try new things. Like flute playing.

I played in high school, sold my flute at a yard sale long ago, and have regretted it ever since. The family gave me one for Christmas and a couple of days later, I found out from a fellow quilter that there is a community band in my area. Excited to stretch my music muscle.

Ready to explore new sewing projects.

Like this zombie Sew Together bag. I started this back in the fall and was super intimidated by all the zippers. I picked it up again a few days ago and finished it. It was worth it.

Look at all that storage. This one is going to my daughter. She is a big Walking Dead fan. Now she will have a place to store all the small things you need in preparation for the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

Ready to make more quilts. Do not be fooled by the new activities. Quilt making will always be near and dear. 

I have a number of color cards from back in the day when I owned a quilt shop. I couldn't just throw them away. They have REAL fabric on them. Recently, I pulled every last sample off the Moda Marbles card and started cutting squares, 1 3/4" squares to be exact. I'm not sure what this will become but it will definitely be full of color.

I don't have any new year's resolutions or schedules to blog a certain number of times a week or month. I do promise to share here all of the exciting things that remembering to PAUSE is going to bring to my year. It's always more fun to share.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Last Finish - Modern Dresden Wreaths

What a great way to finish the year...with a bright Christmasy modern wreath wall hanging.

The striped fabric had been sitting on or near my cutting table for a long time (like more than two years!). I knew I wanted to make something festive with it and had pulled a number of other stash pieces to go with it, and finally a couple of weeks ago, the urge to make some modern dresdens hit.

Interestingly enough, the original dresden, made from the stripe and a cream print, didn't even make it into the final project. I had peppermint candy in mind when I started, but as the bright lime greens and vivid reds took over, there just wasn't room for anything else. It was really fun to sew strips together, cut the dresden pieces, and sew, not being quite sure what the final result would look like. I can see someday making a bigger quilt playing with the possibilities. It was lots of fun.

Each one is raw edge appliqued to the background fabric using a machine blanket stitch. It needed a little something more so the lighter green circles were added. The quilting on this was fun although it was hard to decide what to do.

Each of the small circles was quilted with a snowflake and the big dresdens were quilted with an asterisk with lots of extra lines.

The stripes and the narrow background piece were quilted with straight(ish) vertical lines.

I wanted to quilt more on the background but I feared overdoing it so I stopped while things were looking good. The backing is a fabric that I considered ugly so I turned it over and used the wrong side. Take that, ugly fabric! I like the way the green thread looks on the back, although it looks a bit yellow in these pictures.

When I was growing up, I was always told that whatever you were doing on New Year's Eve is what you would be doing a lot of the next year. So I'm all set to create, experiment with design, and FINISH lots of quilts next year.

Hooray for a finish, especially a bright fun one; hooray for a blog to share it all, and hooray for readers like you who take time to read and comment. I am thankful for you all.