Studio Spring Clean

For decades I’ve sewn in a corner of my bedroom, in the basement, in the kitchen and in the living room. But last year I inherited the big studio in our loft when Luke moved to Kansas City.

I had moved down to Los Angeles in 2016 with my sewing machine and a few boxes of fabrics and tools. Since then I’ve used a mish-mash of tables and storage found in the hall, left by Luke, or bought at IKEA. It’s been less than ideal.

Here’s proof:

I am a crafter, sewist, and quilter so I have a big variety of fabric–everything from cotton to leather, in everything from rolls to scraps. It makes finding a way to organize it even harder, in my opinion.

Another big issue is the table. It’s a great standing height but it has a weird curve in the one side and no storage underneath. I made do with it but I knew I needed something better. And I had just the partner to help me out…


We took a trip to the absolutely gigantic IKEA in Burbank and picked up two each of two different size Kallax shelves (the 2×2 and the 2×4). Then to Home Depot for a couple sheets of plywood, one with a melamine top, five table legs, aluminum for the sides and bolts to hold it together.

{This is when I feel especially grateful: I have a space that’s larger than anything I could’ve hoped for; I have a guy who cares about me enough that he’s willing to drive all over Los Angeles for me to buy stuff then haul it back in his truck and help me build the damn thing. Life is good.}

While Hawke ran some work errands, I broke down the old table, moved everything to the side and built the bookcases in the middle of the room. Then he came over and cut the plywood sheets down to size. The bottom is the same size as the bookcases. The top is 1 1/2″ wider on three sides and 12″ longer on the fourth side.

The leftover from the plywood was the perfect size for a ironing board and I’d lost space for the standalone. I used Leah Day’s tutorial, using two layers of batting covered with canvas. In a weird coincidence, the fabric is actually from IKEA, as well, it’s just been sitting in my stash for about five years.


I started getting stuff put away ASAP but there’s been a bit of shuffling and as I use it I’m sure it will move around even more until everything finds its happy place.

My machines (Bernina 350PE and Pfaff 130 Industrial) live under the window. My serger (Brother) lives on the table for easy access, with plenty of room for cutting mats, ironing board and my new Sizzix die cutter.

My books and magazines and precuts make for a pleasant view when you enter my studio and are way easier to access in these shelves. I don’t love the power cord coming down from above but it totally works, so I can’t really complain.

I finally bought a spool holder for all my thread, which made me realize that I have more than 120 spools of thread, in addition to the dozen cones I have, as well. I might have a problem with collecting thread.

In lieu of buying fancy cupboards, I just hung up a white sheet to cover the piles of random denim, minky, knits and linen on the shelves. Visually it helps a lot to not see the mess. Or at least so much mess.

I’m not finished but it was such a dramatic improvement I couldn’t help but do a little happy cry. I think is going to help my productivity, my happiness, my concentration and creativity by adding the table and storage. I’ll check back in with you later, but I’m pretty optimistic about it.

Follow along with the rest of the Studio Spring Cleaning crew:

April 23 – Lori Crawley Kennedy – http://theinboxjaunt.com/

April 24 – Jennifer Thomas – http://curlicuecreations.blogspot.com

April 25 – Robin Koehler – http://nestlingsbyrobin.blogspot.com

April 26 – Andi Barney- https://www.andibarney.com/

April 27 – Misty Cole – http://www.mistycole.com/blog

April 28 – Carolina Moore- http://alwaysexpectmoore.com/

April 29 – Heather Pregger – https://heatherquilts.blogspot.com/

April 30 – Linda Bratten – https://lindabcreative.blogspot.com/

May 1 – Lisa Reber – https://www.dippydye.blogspot.com/

May 2 – Teresa Coates – http://www.crinkledreams.com

May 3 – Lisa Chin – http://www.lisachinartist.com/

May 4 – Jamie Fingal – http://www.jamiefingaldesigns.com/

May 5 – Sam Hunter – www.huntersdesignstudio.com

May 6 – Jessee Maloney – www.artschooldropout.net/blog

May 7 – Randa Parrish – http://www.sewartsyfartsy.com/

May 8 – Sarah Vedeler- https://meaningoflifedesigns.com/

May 9 – Jessica Darling – https://jessicakdarling.com/

May 10 – Melody Crust –http://www.melodycrust.com/

May 11 – Debby Brown – http://higheredhands.blogspot.com

May 12 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://blog.muppin.com

And thanks for inviting me to participate, Cheryl. It was just the kick I needed!

A New Spin on the Drunkard’s Path {book}

I first heard about this book a year ago when I was chatting with John Kubiniec at Quilt Market and he mentioned he was working on a book devoted to the Drunkard’s Path block. Drunkard’s Path?! That’s one of my top five! I love love love this block and its million different combos. I pretty quickly begged him to let me get a sneak peek at the book and he agreed. Months and months down the road, the book was finished and I got a copy to review.

11182_frontcover-1John’s “A New Spin on the Drunkard’s Path” was just released from C&T Publishing and is available directly from John (and he’ll sign it!), as well through many fine shops (and I’d encourage to seek it out at an independent quilt shop or book seller near you).

It wasn’t until I’d started reading it that I realized I’d met John’s work long before I met him. Like many quilters, I’m always tearing patterns and inspiration from magazines. Back in 2013 I found a beautiful red and white Drunkard’s Path in McCall’s Quilting magazine. I tore out the picture and put it into my files, ready to inspire me again when I had the chance. Come to find out, that was John’s quilt design and it was his first foray into the Drunkard’s Path block! That block layout is the one he used on the cover and so, of course, it was the one I had to use, as well.

I started with a half-yard bundle of Indie from Art Gallery Fabrics. I’ve been holding onto it for three years, as well, so I figured it was a great fit. I kicked out a couple of the fabrics in the bundle, choosing eight to work with, then combined it with Kona White.

His advice for manageable bits is wonderful and exactly the reassurance you need to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. You can do this, really, but take your time and John’s advice to make it a fun, productive process. As he suggests, I simply did the cutting on the first day. And then let it sit there in a pretty little pile for longer than I should have, but hey, at least it was a lovely addition to my view.

You’ll notice that I cut out my triangles. I did much of the construction slightly differently than John, but only because I’m very comfortable sewing curves the way I sew them and prefer trimming before I sew.

His tips on sewing the curves are great and I totally recommend them. You’ll learn ways that make it easier for you along the way.  John suggests you pin at the ends and in the middle. I don’t pin at all, but you can see that I don’t always get it right in the pic to the left.  I have one block that is perfect and another that ended being 3/16″ off. John’s method  But in the end, I had a whole big pile of Drunkard’s Path blocks to play with.

Drunkards Path blocks in Indie
I really like how they play together and create these little bow ties in there.

I love how the fabrics play together and am so glad I held on to the Indie bundle for all this time.The view from above. Right now it measures 48″ x 42″ (approx) and is great crib size quilt. I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep growing it though. 🙂 big-rig-quilting-bow-tiesIt’s fun to compare this quilt to what John originally designed in the red and white combo and what he shows in “A New Spin on Drunkard’s Path” with the black background. And honestly, this is one of my favorite aspects of quilting–the never-ending ways you can put together the same thing. Same block, same construction, totally different look. It keeps quilting fresh and fun and intriguing to me.

In his book, John shows several variation of each quilt to give you some ideas, spark a little creativity in the reader, which is a much-loved feature for me. But I think the winning aspect of the book is his attention to detail and accuracy. It’s clear that John is a teacher who wants his students to succeed.  He walks the reader through each step with clear photos, tackling the curves and adding interesting details to the block.

If you’re nervous about sewing curves and need someone to hold your hand through it, John is there for you, explaining and reassuring you at each step. He shows you just how easy it really can be and then opens a whole new world of quilts for you with 12 beautiful variations of the Drunkard’s Path.

I’ll be giving away a copy of the book to inspire you to get started on your own curvy quilt. Just leave a comment here and tell me what has stopped you from taking on the Drunkard’s Path or if you have, what you love about it. We’ll pick a winner on October 9.

Congratulations to Lori Morton for winning her very own copy of John’s “A New Spin on Drunkard’s  Path” book!

Handmade Holidays Time!

hh2015I’m excited to be the one to kick off the Handmade Holidays over at Sew,Mama,Sew! If you’re new to the series, you’re gonna love this. Every year Handmade Holidays runs through November, each day offering up tutorials gathered by a variety of designers, authors, and bloggers.

My focus was Gifts for Crafty People and I included tutorials for a pincushion, apron, clock, lanyard, crochet hook case and my own needle book. Plus there are a couple of my favorite recipes (mmm!) and some printables. Continue reading “Handmade Holidays Time!”

The Importance of Pressing

“It’s a waste of time. I’ll just iron it when I’m done.”

The first time I heard someone say this I audibly gasped, horrified that anyone would put off pressing. But the mm-hmming  of those around me made me realize that it was a common sentiment.

As a long-time garment sewist, the need to press as-you-go has been drilled into me, but many quilters and new garment sewists don’t realize  the difference it can make in the final outcome.

Because I can be a bit fanatical (I prefer devout) about this aspect of sewing and quilting, Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design Studio invited me to share my experience and tips in her Back to School Blog Hop. If you haven’t checked out Cheryl’s post about the quilter’s knot or Peta’s post about diagonal quilt backs, go check them out. And make sure to follow along with the rest of these talented quilters and sewists: Continue reading “The Importance of Pressing”

Pattern Review: Butterick 6168

[This is part of the Dress Up Party, hosted by Sara at Sew Sweetness. Check it out for lots of pattern reviews and giveaways!]

I’ve long been a fan of Liesl Gibson’s designs (Oliver+S, Straight Stitch Society and Lisette), so when I heard she was partnering up with Butterick to release more Lisette patterns, I was all over that one. Yes, please, where do I sign up?

20150319-145751-53871876.jpgLuckily for me I stumbled onto them back at Sew Expo this spring and bought the Butterick 6168 right away. I made it up using Sara’s new Fantasia voile, which was gorgeous, but I messed up the front somehow and was left with quite the plunging neckline (photos and dress are NSFW!).

Continue reading “Pattern Review: Butterick 6168”

Supernova is a pattern!

Supernova

Last month I participated in Jennifer Sampou‘s Black and White Collection blog hop via the work blog, but I’m so happy about how it turned out, I just wanted to share it here as well! We got to choose our own pattern (or make up our own) for  each stop along the way. I’ve learned to really love this Winding Ways block and wanted to use that. I set to work with a pencil and a Winding Ways blank template.

winding ways supernovaOne of the things that I really love about this pattern is all the intersecting circles and how they play with each other depending on where you put color and where you don’t.

I can sit and color in those blocks for hours, erasing and re-arranging until everyone has locked the doors and gone home.

 

I can’t say I figured this out on my own, either. It was thanks to doing work with Luke Haynes on this Moda quilt that I learned just how entertaining this traditional block can be when fiddled with.

sorry for the iPhone shot, but it's all I can find :(
sorry for the iPhone shot, but it’s all I can find 🙁

I played with it until I settled on a design, got the fabric and set to work on cutting out the pieces (thank you, Accuquilt) and piecing, piecing, piecing. I did a lot of these blocks one at a time, which I tend not to do (I love chain piecing more than almost anything), but since it was a pretty finicky pattern and I was making it up on the fly, I needed to get it right.

If you look close enough, though, you’ll notice that I didn’t get it quite right. Let’s call that a “design choice” or a “only God makes perfect things” decision.

Yeah, that’s it.

The quilt was featured on the third day of the hop and I was super happy to see it get so many likes on Instagram. I know, it sounds silly and superficial, but really…it’s hard putting your work out there to be judged. And I’ve seen more than a few designers ripped a new one over their designs and it is not pretty. Luckily this one was liked.

20150208-050158-18118064.jpgA lot. And people asked for a pattern. (What the what?!?)

So I asked my boss if we should do a pattern through work or if I should do it on my own.

She said they’d do it (which is great because their graphic designer is WAY better than I could ever be). I wrote up a few guidelines, figured out quantities and then “tested” it with paper pieces.

 

Then wham-bam, there was a pattern!

20150208-050159-18119132.jpg

And you can get it for FREE from Fabric Depot: Supernova Quilt.

In March I’ll have a little quilt along for those who are interested in making your own version.  I’m still working out the details and trying to figure a workable timeline for everyone, so if you have feedback on what you want/like/hate about quilt alongs, leave me a comment. I’d love your input!

Modern Quilt Perspectives {book review}

thomas-knauer-sews-book-cover-250x314

It’s finally here, the book that Thomas told me he would someday write way back when we first met at Quilt Market. Houston in 2011, right, Thomas?

I’d already fallen for his first collection, Pear Tree, and its lovely muted colors (the same just-off hues that would sucker me into every TK collection).  We’d talked online thanks to my work for FabShop News magazine and I was both awed and honored when he went out of his way to talk to me in the wide aisles of Market. He told me his ideas for a book and I knew this guy was different.

Spend five minutes talking to Thomas and you’ll be awed by his vast knowledge and ability to pull info, facts and connections seemingly out of thin air. I like to think the guy is a genius. He chalks it up to a lot of schooling. I’ll agree to something in the middle.

Thomas’ skill at drawing connections and thinking beyond the “Isn’t that pretty?” that infiltrates the fabric world continues to amaze and inspire me. And it is in that unique way that Modern Quilt Perspectives unfolds.

Essays. Quilt patterns. Sidebars of wisdom. It’s a remarkable book and I can’t recommend it enough.

In particular I want to share about the Excess quilt. No, I didn’t have anything to do with it (though I did make an ‘I’ for the Identity quilt!).  It’s just one that symbolizes all that this book does.

Here, take a look:
book-88

Lovely, right? It is an incredibly long quilt (13 feet, in fact!) and when I was flipping through the book for the first time, it caught my eye with its size and the preponderance of reds and dashes of green and blue. It’s scrappy the way scrappy ought to be, I thought.

It wasn’t until I stopped to actually read the accompanying essay, that I understood its importance as a piece of art, an unspoken message.

And that’s something that Thomas never  forgets or looks past. Quilts are art. They can be powerful, awe-inspiring, meditative and breathtaking. This quilt took my breath away.

In Excess, there are 1,600 of those little 2-1/2″ blocks. It’s not a random number, something picked out of the air or decided on when the quilt got to the right size. No, that number was chosen for a reason.

Every year, approximately 1,600 women and men are killed in acts of domestic violence in the United States, victimized by their partners and spouses. … Excess is a memorial to this overwhelming reality, a visualization of the forest of loss. Each of the 1,600 squares in the quilt represents a death, with each red or orange stripe a woman killed, and each blue or green one a man.

Now go look at that quilt again and meditate on those numbers, that issue.

Then go read how Lisa quilted it with the text from the United States’ Violence Against Women Act.

This is what makes Modern Quilt Perspectives more than just a quilting book. There is substance and depth and meaning, so much meaning, to all of it. Thank you, Thomas, for reminding me (us?) of the import of it all.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

IMG_7348

I decided I  would make the pattern myself (this is a quilting book after all), though not in the numbers that Excess originally calls for. Just a few dozen in my favorite greys. I haven’t decided how big I’ll make it, or quite what I’ll do with it when I have pieced it together. But I can tell you that the quilts in Modern Quilt Perspectives are not only powerful art, but that they are well-written patterns as well.

 

So get to it–go get the book, read it, learn from it and venture onward. I can promise you this: it will change the way you look at quilts and the messages they can send.

Thank you, Thomas, for an amazing book, jaw-dropping quilts and for being you.

Modern Quilt Perspectives {book review}

thomas-knauer-sews-book-cover-250x314

It’s finally here, the book that Thomas told me he would someday write way back when we first met at Quilt Market. Houston in 2011, right, Thomas?

I’d already fallen for his first collection, Pear Tree, and its lovely muted colors (the same just-off hues that would sucker me into every TK collection).  We’d talked online thanks to my work for FabShop News magazine and I was both awed and honored when he went out of his way to talk to me in the wide aisles of Market. He told me his ideas for a book and I knew this guy was different.

Spend five minutes talking to Thomas and you’ll be awed by his vast knowledge and ability to pull info, facts and connections seemingly out of thin air. I like to think the guy is a genius. He chalks it up to a lot of schooling. I’ll agree to something in the middle.

Thomas’ skill at drawing connections and thinking beyond the “Isn’t that pretty?” that infiltrates the fabric world continues to amaze and inspire me. And it is in that unique way that Modern Quilt Perspectives unfolds.

Essays. Quilt patterns. Sidebars of wisdom. It’s a remarkable book and I can’t recommend it enough.

In particular I want to share about the Excess quilt. No, I didn’t have anything to do with it (though I did make an ‘I’ for the Identity quilt!).  It’s just one that symbolizes all that this book does.

Here, take a look:
book-88

Lovely, right? It is an incredibly long quilt (13 feet, in fact!) and when I was flipping through the book for the first time, it caught my eye with its size and the preponderance of reds and dashes of green and blue. It’s scrappy the way scrappy ought to be, I thought.

It wasn’t until I stopped to actually read the accompanying essay, that I understood its importance as a piece of art, an unspoken message.

And that’s something that Thomas never  forgets or looks past. Quilts are art. They can be powerful, awe-inspiring, meditative and breathtaking. This quilt took my breath away.

In Excess, there are 1,600 of those little 2-1/2″ blocks. It’s not a random number, something picked out of the air or decided on when the quilt got to the right size. No, that number was chosen for a reason.

Every year, approximately 1,600 women and men are killed in acts of domestic violence in the United States, victimized by their partners and spouses. … Excess is a memorial to this overwhelming reality, a visualization of the forest of loss. Each of the 1,600 squares in the quilt represents a death, with each red or orange stripe a woman killed, and each blue or green one a man.

Now go look at that quilt again and meditate on those numbers, that issue.

Then go read how Lisa quilted it with the text from the United States’ Violence Against Women Act.

This is what makes Modern Quilt Perspectives more than just a quilting book. There is substance and depth and meaning, so much meaning, to all of it. Thank you, Thomas, for reminding me (us?) of the import of it all.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

IMG_7348

I decided I  would make the pattern myself (this is a quilting book after all), though not in the numbers that Excess originally calls for. Just a few dozen in my favorite greys. I haven’t decided how big I’ll make it, or quite what I’ll do with it when I have pieced it together. But I can tell you that the quilts in Modern Quilt Perspectives are not only powerful art, but that they are well-written patterns as well.

 

So get to it–go get the book, read it, learn from it and venture onward. I can promise you this: it will change the way you look at quilts and the messages they can send.

Thank you, Thomas, for an amazing book, jaw-dropping quilts and for being you.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

A giveaway! I almost forgot. Tell me what issue/message you’d quilt about if you could. Personally, I’m pondering ways to put the struggles and joys of solo parenting into fabric form. Let me know if you have any ideas. Comments will close on Monday 4/7 at midnight. Winner announced 4/9.

Quilting Isn’t Funny, but I sure am laughing

Bias: The irrational inclination to believe that holding down a job or cooking some food for once is a more productive use of time than quilting.

QuiltingIsn'tFunny

Are you familiar with The Bitchy Stitcher? Megan Dougherty is the mastermind behind the blog that takes the idea of a stitch-n-bitch to a whole new level and she cracks me up.

I’ve been enjoying her sarcastic little rants for some time now, but now that I’ve read her new book, Quilting Isn’t Funny, I realized I’d missed out on some real gems.

Like everyone else on this book’s blog tour, I’ve snickered and snorted my way through it, publicly embarrassing myself and left unable to explain why it’s funny. You have to be a quilter to understand why I choked on my mocha when I read:

…But like all things of this world, fabric and tools and machines are impermanent and imperfect, and let’s face it, the only person who is going to bitch about my seams not aligning is that snotty lady from the quilt guild, and she can suck it.

This is what I love about Quilting Isn’t Funny. You’re just reading along, nodding “impermanent and imperfect” yeah, totally;  “that snotty lady from the quilt guild” haha, I know exactly who she could be talking about  and then bam, Megan hits you with her snark. “She can suck it” and I bust out an exhale of laughter.

And can I explain to my daughter why that’s funny… the imperfection, the snotty lady, the quilt police and the pointed dismissal of all criticism? No. I’m left laughing to myself in the kitchen while my daughter does homework and throws awkward glances at me.

Thanks for that, Megan.

Quilting Isn’t Funny is available now in softback on ebook versions. Whatever suits your fancy. Personally, I loved the electronic version, tucked neatly into the Kindle app on my phone,  but you (or the loved ones you buy it for) may very well love the paper version.

Megan also offers up some fabulous pins with her witty little phrases that you should probably check out, too. My favorite is “Don’t make me cut you.” And that’s because of Miss Bon Qui Qui:


I could watch that another fifty times and still LMAO every single time.

And I’m pretty sure the same can be said for Quilting Isn’t Funny. It’s just good stuff. Buy yourself a copy and pick up an extra for your quilting pals.

Want to win a signed copy? Leave a comment and tell me something funny. Anything goes, but if it’s quilting/sewing/fabric related, I’ll throw in an extra entry for you.

It’s Giveaway Day-Week!

Twice each year, Sew,Mama,Sew! does this awesome thing called Giveaway Day. I haven’t been able to participate in a while with life being a bit crazy, then forgetting, and thinking I’ll do it the next time, then not.

But this year I am doing it! And what am I giving away you ask. How about a little four-pack of fat-sixteenths! Sew,Mama,Sew! Giveaway from Crinkle Dreams

I love these itty-bitty bits of fabric. They’re the perfect size for all sorts of crafts and scrappy quilting and little bits of fun on anything. These four packs include fabrics from Suzy Ultman, Carolyn Friedlander, Lizzy House and Laurie Wisbrun for a total of 16 fat sixteenths.

To win the fabric quartet, comment and tell me about your favorite scrappy project (finished or on your to-make list). Feel free to include a link–I’d love to see YOUR work, too.

Follow me at facebook.com/crinkledreams or Instagram and check out my shop on Etsy for more fabric scraps, kits and finished samples.

If you’re interested in participating in my Sew Em Be sewing drive, let me know in the comments as well.