gifting

It’s the gifting time of year, and no matter how many items I check off the gift list, I never feel right until I include something home-made in the mix.

Over the years, I have made and given:

Ginger Lime Syrup - web

Ginger Lime Syrup for making home made Ginger Ale – also delicious in tea and apple dishes

DSC_0014

A beach bag with a hand made pouch

 

Christmas 2015 015

Home made bird suet

Christmas 2015 013

DSC_0006 (1)

A refillable burlap bird feeder

DSC_0065 (2)

It was popular with the recipients as well as with the birds.

DSC_0027

Regifting wine bags

DSC_0036

And various gifts for my chicken lover friends –

DSC_0059

And my cat lover friends

I hope someone will get some ideas for making some hand made gifts of their own. Let me know if you have any questions about any of these. Happy Gifting!

 

Advertisements

writing for magazines

My newest sewing article is out, and I thought it might be interesting to explain how the process works.

DSC_0130

Almost a year ago, I sent Sew News an email with the picture above. I said I’d like to write an article explaining how to make these 3 pillows I was working on. After 3 weeks or so, they got back to me and said yes, I have the assignment. At that point they sent a contract detailing what they wanted (process photos, instructions, patterns, etc). They also gave me a due date and told me what they would pay me. I got to work.

Prior to the due date, I packed up the pillows and mailed them to the Sew News office for a photo shoot. I sent the article, patterns, and photos of the process via email. Months later, I got paid. Months after that, I got the pillows back along with the latest copy of Sew News magazine with my article in it.

SN1805_Cover_500

It’s on sale now in bookstores, sewing stores, and craft stores.

SN1805_Not_Too_Shabby_Pillows

 

Cozy Place

Ever since my kids started moving out, I’ve been thinking of ways to lure them back. Not permanently, I love that they are off living their own wonderful lives, but I do like lots and lots of visits.

My latest project has been a “guest room” in the space in the attic that was my former office. I cleaned it up and used what I had to try to make it cozy. I guess it worked; my daughter’s boyfriend liked it enough to take a picture.Cozy Place

Then my daughter put it on Reddit last night and almost 30,000 people liked it. Cozy Spaces

My grandmother’s rug anchors the space. It was a real treat hauling that up from the basement. Old pillows and pieced-together fabric scraps make comfy floor pillows. The sturdy felt bin is great for blanket storage.DSC_0045

I recovered a chair the cat had ruined. Then I layered on a quilt and another pillow.  I use the old shutter and clothespins to put up pictures and notes.

DSC_0051

An old milk crate is the night stand.

DSC_0047

I didn’t want to block any light with curtains, so I made a “valence” out of embroidery hoops and fabric scraps.DSC_0034

My husband built this bookshelf years ago. It’s great for storage and keeps people from plummeting down the steps.

DSC_0042

 

Happy Holidays

One of the great things about having adult children is the people they bring into our lives. After a while the friends and boyfriends and girlfriends start walking in without knocking. The dog knows them and stays on the sofa and wags her tail. (Instead of going ballistic like she would if a stranger came into the house.)DSC_0009

I decided this year that my daughter’s boyfriend and son’s girlfriend needed their own homemade stockings. An official welcome to the family.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

the double bind

Riley web 002Have you met Riley? She’s 112 pounds of hairy love. And I do mean hairy.20170422_213444

I’ve made a bunch of scrap quilts to try to keep the furniture clean.  I pull them up and wash them: so much so that they are now frayed along the edges.

DSC_0063

I sewed a second binding to this ragged quilt and loved the result. Not only did I clean up the ragged edge, but I added a second layer of fun to the binding. Super cute. It makes me want to have a double bind on all of my quilts.

creativity 4 – know yourself

DSC_0009Do not adjust your screen; there IS no color in this quilt.  When my son saw how my daughter’s quilt birthday quilt looked, he let me know that he’d like a similar one some day.  So, here is my third big quilt, and the only other color I ever used was yellow. i am a quilter

All the quilts have been unplanned and random. I used what I had and only bought fabric as needed. The quilting on all three is straight (ish) line and close. I know this kind of monotony would drive some people nuts, but I like it. DSC_0016I also like silence when I’m at a difficult point. I can watch TV or listen to music when I am quilting the straight lines, but I prefer quiet when I am piecing the front of the quilt. I tend to be supply driven; what do I have and what can I make from it? I’d rather not follow patterns; I prefer to stumble along on my own. This results in lots of failures, but it’s what works for me.

What works for you?

 

 

the big reveal

After months of cleaning and painting and organizing, I am finally calling my new office/sewing room done.dsc_0008Here is my printing/cutting/mailing area.dsc_0010-1If you know what a Cricut is (my Christmas present from my family,) then you will know that I am spoiled, indeed.dsc_0013-1Here is my desk with my new computer system – a birthday gift from my family (I wasn’t kidding about the spoiled thing.) My geranium and begonia are struggling to hold out until spring.dsc_0022Here’s my sewing area – my focus was overcome by the cuteness of Brittney – a violently feral cat when she came to us pregnant – two years ago. My daughter spent a ton of time feeding her treats, one by one. Now, she’s a full-fledged people person. dsc_0018And here’s the area behind my desk – the wall I see from my sewing table. I am having a ton of fun, these days.

movin’ on down

I am so excited! I am moving my office/sewing room from the attic to the basement. I am still organizing and decorating, but it’s starting to come together.

Sewing Room Shelf

Sewing Room Storage Shelf

dsc_0023

This space is so much nicer: not as hot/cold as the attic – and I can actually see some of my bird feeders from my desk. I enjoy that. So does Brittney, the no-longer-feral cat. (Pictures of her in the future.)

creativity 3 – make time

My niece made me a present years ago. It hangs in my office and makes me feel good every day.hurry

So, for her birthday, I wanted to make her something special. I was giving her money, since that’s what teenagers want, so I decided to make a little purse to put it in.

I didn’t start sewing until the morning of the party. My machine wasn’t sewing just right, but I didn’t take the time to fix it because I was in  a hurry. The stitches around the zipper were crooked, but I didn’t rip them out because I didn’t have time. Eventually, I showed up late to the party: unshowered, empty-handed, and full of apologies.

I know better. I need to make mistakes as I go and have the time to fix them. My best work happens when I can enjoy the process and not just hurry to the finish.hurry_0001

I made this sign for my sewing room as a reminder to take time for creativity, and to have patience with myself as I learn and grow and improve.

Oh, and Gillian got a little package in the mail a few days later – with two purses.

creativity 2 – make mistakes

I never know where I’m headed when I create. Whether it’s a meal, a quilt, a garden, or a blog post, I just have to jump in and see where it takes me.

Sometimes I make something great that doesn’t work.grilling-june-garden-hummingbird-009Despite heroic measures on my part, I was unable to overcome the effects of gravity; the plants kept falling out of the frame. So I gave up.

Sometimes I make something bad that works.dsc_0127I wanted to try free motion quilting, but I knew I wouldn’t be very good at it. I did it on the back side of my daughters bolsters – the side that goes against the back of the couch – so no one sees it.

And sometimes, I just have to keep trying until I get it right.grilling-june-garden-hummingbird-059BEFORE – Here’s a little seating arrangement under a cherry tree. After years of cleaning up petals, pits, and poop (the birds LOVE those cherries), I took out the seats.may-backyard-prom-003AFTER – I used the pavers to make a little wall, filled the area with soil and made a cute little garden instead. Now all of the cherry tree debris just disappears.

creativity 1 – limits

I pay attention to what helps and hinders my creativity. Surprisingly, limits seem to help me. So when my younger daughter asked for bolsters for her futon, I decided to try to use only the fabrics (in her chosen colors) that I already owned. My first problem was that none of the fabric was big enough. So I decided to piece them together to make the pillows.bolster 013

Isn’t this so cute? If I had just run out to the fabric store, I would have bought a print with blue, purple, and tan and that would have been it. But using what I had, I had to get creative. That lead to the stripes AND to the embroidery to make it seem cohesive.

Quilt close

It has happened before . . . My older daughter asked for a gray and white quilt, and instead of hating the limits of no color, I loved the result.

homemade wooden trellis

And this trellis? I didn’t have enough wood to make all the horizontal pieces go all the way across, so I got creative. Limits really bring out the best in me. Does anyone else feel like that?

i am a quilter

I made my first real quilt this spring at the request of my eldest.  birthday quiltQuilt

And I have been hooked ever since. My 1981 sewing machine did fine, but I needed more open space to shove all of that fabric through. After much soul searching and internet searching, I decided I wanted a better quilting machine.machine 006

Ta Da!! This work horse has been such a great addition to my sewing room. The yellow space above ( harp space)  is only about 1/4 inch higher  and a couple of inches wider than my old machine, but it makes a huge difference in the ease of sewing large projects. And it is  so powerful  and has such features . . .Date 017

My second quilt, for my brother’s 50th birthday, sports a fancy machine- embroidered date label.Quilt Back 021

The close stitching  that I love was way easier with the bigger harp space in my new machine.Quilt.16

And right after I finished this quilt, I started another. I am a quilter.

birthday quilt

My firstborn had one request for her 25th birthday – a gray and white quilt made by me. “Yes!” my heart said – but I wasn’t sure. My first qualm was the 1981 sewing machine I use. My second qualm was the TIME. My third qualm was gray and white – like NO colors? I had QUALMS.

But I started cutting up my fabric and sewing it together and I pieced that baby together on the fly. It turned out great and my daughter loved it. And I loved it. And I love her. Happy birthday, baby girl.Quilt

Made with love in every stitch.

Quilt close

 

 

decorated hand towels

transitions

I like the changes in my life that come about naturally with the changes in the seasons. This time of year, as the garden fades into fall, I turn my thoughts and efforts indoors.

I gave the bathroom walls and ceilings a good scrubbing. After that, a little well-placed touch up paint worked wonders.curtainsI sewed some new curtains to freshen up the windows.

curtainsdecorated hand towelsLeftover fabric scraps pretty up the hand towels.

Now – on to the next room!

backyard love

Fall is here and it’s my favorite time to enjoy the yard:  The gardening frenzy of the spring is long gone. The sloth of the sticky summer has blown away in the cool of the autumn breezes. Fall is the time to sit on my swing and admire the season’s hard work. (Of course, I need a nice cushion to sit on, and a quilt to snuggle.)

quilt and pillows on swing
modern quilted pillowOh, and a pillow, too!

hand sewing

I love my sewing machine, but there will always be a special place in my heart for sewing by hand. I love the organic look of hand embroidery, and ***bonus*** I can carry my sewing with me wherever I go. pot holder

Here is a pot holder I decorated by hand.canister