Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Circa 52 Floor Pillow

Rainbow Circa 52 Floor Pillow for Birch Fabrics by Fabric Mutt

When my sweet friends at Birch Fabrics asked me to be a part of their first ever blog hop to celebrate the re-release of the Circa 52 collection, I was so happy to join in. Not only do I remember when these prints came out the first time, but Tree Stripes in Shroom was one of the first designer prints I ever added to my fabric stash as a new quilter. I hoarded it for a while before finally using it to make a bag for Bear, who was then not yet three years old -- and still uses that bag every week, by the way. Just looking at the pictures on this post makes me a little misty as I remember those days when I was trying to balance my new sewing hobby with three tiny little munchkins. How time does fly...

Rainbow Circa 52 Floor Pillow for Birch Fabrics by Fabric Mutt

Birch sent me a lovely stack of prints and coordinating solids to play with for this blog hop, all of which I thought would be perfect for making a giant colorful floor pillow. If you've never made one of these, you should definitely give it a try. Floor pillows are an inexpensive substitute for bean bag chairs, and they fit in just about anywhere: the library corner, the family room, even the patio. Sewing up a pillow cover for these is no harder than making a mini quilt and just as much fun. In this case, I sewed together 14 strips, each 2 1/2" x 28", to make the pillow top. The solid strips are all quilted in coordinating Aurifil thread, 1/8" from each long side. It was really fun to use all those different colors of thread on this project, and I love the way it turned out.

Rainbow Circa 52 Floor Pillow for Birch Fabrics by Fabric Mutt

I used my favorite Woodland Party print for the pillow backing. Everything about this fabric makes me happy, especially those little strings of rainbow bunting.

Rainbow Circa 52 Floor Pillow for Birch Fabrics by Fabric Mutt

If you'd like to win some Circa 52 fabric for yourself, Birch is having a fabulous giveaway on their blog. Visit them here and enter to win a yard of each print in the collection, either poplins or knits. It doesn't get any better than that! Also be sure to visit the other stops on the blog hop:

Monday 1/26: Caroline from Sew Can She
Tuesday 1/27: Heidi from Fabric Mutt
Wednesday 1/28: Anneliese from Aesthetic Nest
Thursday 1/29: Melissa from Lunden Designs
Friday 1/30: Melissa from Brindille & Twig
Monday 2/2: Marte from Companie M.

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sew the Library: Spring Pincushion


Today kicks off our very first Sew the Library Link-up of the year. Rather than tackling one of the big projects I've been wanting to sew, I decided to start small with a cheerful little pincushion based on a pillow from Sherri McConnell's lovely book, Fresh Family Traditions.


Sherri's book is packed full of traditional projects made a little more modern thanks to fabric choices and block settings. I absolutely adore the Kitchen Sink quilt on the cover which I'm hoping to tackle later this year when I have a bit more time. Her Spring Flowers Pillow is a wonderfully simple design made of half square triangles. I shrank the finished size of the squares down to 1 3/4" and made only nine blocks, giving me a pincushion just under 6" square. I paired one of my favorite color schemes (pink, orange, yellow, and purple) with plenty of black and white text prints. It all comes together to make the sort of project I adore: simple, colorful, and oh so useful.


The back of the pincushion is a favorite piece from Lori Holt's Flower Patch collection. I adore this print and will definitely be ordering more.


With spring on my radar already, I think this pincushion will look perfect next to my new terrarium. They're both already making my sewing room a happier place!

So what did you sew from a book or magazine this month or last? (We're including December in this first round!) You can link up your Sew the Library projects below through January 31st by clicking on the Inlinkz button below and following the directions. Be sure to visit at least a few other posts and share the love by leaving encouraging comments along the way!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Etched (And What I'm Doing in June)


This week I had the chance to play with some fabric designed by the wonderful people at Hawthorne Threads. They were kind enough to send me two pieces from their new Etched collection to make into something fun. I had originally planned to turn these into a little clutch, but they turned out to be exactly what I needed to corral all my planning supplies for one of the biggest projects I've ever tackled: our family's upcoming move to Texas this June.


But first let's talk about the fabric. I would agree with some other reviewers that the Hawthorne Threads fabric is a little stiffer than your typical designer quilting cotton, but since I was using the prints to make a large pouch, that wasn't a problem for me. I paired Vanes in Tulip with Essex linen in Flax for the exterior, saving the charcoal Hexie Bramble print for the pouch lining. A grey zipper accented with a leather pull was the final touch. The finished pouch is 13 x 16" -- just the right size to hold my master planning binder, moving box inventory, and any other papers I don't want to lose along the way.

Etched is the latest collection designed by Hawthorne Threads, coming out this month, and I think it's their best yet. The simplicity of the prints and the pairing of just a few well chosen colors (charcoal, glacier blue, indigo, and tulip) on white make them absolutely perfect for modern accessories and home decor projects.


So Texas... Our family is really excited about making our first out-of-state move this summer, but the process is pretty overwhelming. Between managing the house, home schooling the girls, sewing, blogging, working on upcoming promotional stuff for my book, and now starting the process of purging and packing...well, life is more than a little crazy these days. I'm learning to take things one day at a time -- sometimes one hour at a time. And let's just say that I'm definitely keeping Diet Coke and Ghirardelli Chocolate in business...

Happy weekend

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rainbows


Rainbows...I love them.


My girls are always on the lookout for the colorful patches that sometimes shine through our windows onto the floor, and I'll admit that I've teared up at the sight of more than one rainbow in the sky after a California rainstorm. They are so rare, so achingly beautiful. They remind me of promises kept and love that won't let me go.


Just the sort of message that I wanted to share with a friend today through this little pillow.

Happy week, my friends.





Friday, January 2, 2015

She's Out of Control


I am a control freak.

The funny thing is, I wasn't really aware of it until I had a quiet little epiphany last week. Up till now, I would have said that I'm the girl who goes with the flow...and for the most part, that's still true. But as I spent some time on the last few days of December thinking about 2014, it suddenly occurred to me how many things I tried to manage this past year through sheer willpower: my grandmother's declining health and eventual passing, my book, sewing opportunities, my girls' education, the running of our home, the health and happiness of my family, and the prospect of big changes coming up in 2015. It's as if I thought I could make all these things turn out right if I just worried about them enough. Now I wonder why I wasted so much energy obsessing over things I couldn't really control...

It's the popular thing nowadays to choose a theme word for the coming year rather than make a list of resolutions. Alright, I thought last week, let's find a good word that means the opposite of "control." So I pulled up a thesaurus on my phone and found the following list of antonyms:

helplessness, powerlessness, relinquishment, renouncement, weakness

I have to admit, I was pretty stunned by these results. Every single one of those words, with the possible exception of "relinquishment" has a negative connotation. Is being "out of control" truly that unpopular in our society today? Do we really see the inability to manage everything in our lives as a sign of weakness?

The more I thought about this, the more the pillow in the picture above kept coming to mind. This scrappy pillow and I have had a bumpy relationship since I made it over a year and a half ago. On the one hand, I adore it -- those great scraps, all the colors, that dotty border. But at the same time, it drives me absolutely crazy. Nothing is in color order, some of my blocks don't match up perfectly, and a few prints are even upside down. How sad that my need for perfection sometimes robs me of the joy I could take in things like this which are still lovely, even with their little mistakes.

So this year, I've decided that I'm going to be out of control. I'm going to do the best I can to hold up my end when it comes to my responsibilities and then I'm going to let the rest go. Because honestly, any control I think I have is nothing more than an illusion anyway. I've even placed that scrappy little pillow in the entryway of my home so that I'll see it every morning when I come down the stairs. I need that daily reminder to accept my own weaknesses and imperfections so that I can be even more gracious with those that exist in the people and situations around me. And I'm really hoping that as I grow in this area, I'll be able to spend less time managing my life this year, and more time enjoying it.

Wishing you all an imperfectly wonderful 2015.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Making

Hadley Case by Fabric Mutt

December has been the month of the never ending cold virus at our house. In spite of all the coughing and sneezing, though, I've been snatching a few moments to sew whenever I can. I finally had the chance to try out Kelby's fabulous tutorial, and it has changed my life, I tell you. Why did I never think to finish off the edges of my pouch linings with a zig zag stitch? As someone who adores the look of a structured case, that last step of binding the raw edges inside has so often kept me from making one. No more of that! The case you see above, made with Denyse Schmidt's gorgeous Hadley collection, has been sitting in my WIP pile for weeks because I couldn't face the time it would take to properly bind the lining. I'm thrilled to death to have this project done at last!

Cotton + Steel Dopp Kit by Fabric Mutt

Using Kelby's tutorial, I made a Dopp Kit for my Dad using new canvas prints from Cotton & Steel.

Cotton + Steel Dopp Kit by Fabric Mutt

I love that Tokyo Train Ride lining inside this pouch!

Melody Miller Makeup Pouch by Fabric Mutt

I also made a smaller version of the pouch using Melody Miller prints. This will be a perfect little makeup bag to fit in my luggage for our Christmas trip to Arizona this week. 

And speaking of Christmas, I hope you all have a wonderful one. Hugs to you, friends!

Monday, December 8, 2014

When Your Hobby Becomes Your Job


All of us started sewing because we fell in love with it one way or another. We felt creative and inspired. We found something that both energized and relaxed us in the midst of our crazy schedules. In time, some of us even made the decision to take our hobby to the next level -- starting a blog, writing a book, designing fabric, writing patterns, opening a fabric shop, teaching classes. It was fun and exciting to see those doors open, and we were thrilled to have even more chances to do what we loved.

But one day you wake up, and something's different. It's not that you don't still love what you're doing, because you do. It's just that now this isn't something you get to do for fun whenever you feel like it. There are expectations, deadlines, maybe even financial obligations tied to this thing that you used to do when you were trying to escape all of those responsibilities.

What do you do when your hobby becomes your job?

I've seen enough on blogs and social media to know that I'm not the only one who's faced this reality shift, so I thought it was a topic worth discussing. Here are a few things I've learned in my own journey...

1. Find a way to play. The truth is that when your hobby becomes your job, you're left without a hobby. Either something else needs to take its place, or you have to find a way to divide things up so that some tasks are for work and some are for play. Are you running a fabric shop? Be sure to give yourself time to not just cut fabric, but to actually sew with it. Are you writing patterns? Take a break from pattern testing once in a while to make something just for fun. If you can't find that balance, try picking up something else that helps you be creative in a more relaxing way: drawing, painting, knitting, photography, crochet, music, sports, reading, etc. You may even discover another talent that you didn't know you had.

2. Don't take yourself too seriously. When you start a new adventure like this, it's a big deal. You should commit to it, celebrate it, and give it your all. At the same time, though, it's important to keep things in perspective. When I got my book contract, I was totally consumed by the project for months on end, trying to get every last detail just right. Some of the best advice I received was from my family. "Heidi, it's an amazing thing that you got to write this book," my mom told me, "and you'll always be able to look back and be glad that you got to do it. But don't ever forget that the book is just something you did. It isn't who you are." As my husband put it, "It doesn't have to be the best book ever written, sweetheart, just the best book you can write." Cut yourself some slack. You're not going to be perfect in any area of your life, including this one...and that's okay. Do your best and let the rest go.

3. Be honest with yourself. I'm the poster girl for overcommitment, and every few months it catches up with me. It's easy to feel that, because this is something you love to do, it's okay to load yourself up with more obligations in a week than any reasonable person could achieve in a month. It's also tempting to commit to some projects for free that cost you a lot in time and materials because you want to get your name out there. I personally feel that there's no hard and fast rule on these issues. There are times when you're going to have to work your tail off, and times when you desperately need to pull back and reevaluate your commitments. There are moments where you're going to put in a lot of work for less compensation than you probably deserve, and other moments when you need to hold out for a better offer. Deep down, we usually know which is which if we're brutally honest with ourselves. Take time each week to refocus and prioritize so that you can stay clear headed and know that you're making the best decisions for your situation.

4. Be willing to count the cost. I think sometimes we feel that a hobby-turned-job is in a different category than an ordinary, run-of-the-mill job...but it really shouldn't be. There's a line between our dreams and our reality, and it's important to know where that line is. Working on my book for almost two years has been a fabulous experience in so many ways, yet it has definitely come with a cost. Thankfully my family was able to make the sacrifices necessary for it to happen, but if this had come a few years earlier, we could never have managed it. If you're struggling or unsure of your situation, ask yourself a few questions, such as...
  • Am I making ends meet? Can I sustain this financially?
  • Would I be willing to do this for any other typical 9-5 job?
  • Is this working with my family situation? Are the sacrifices that they're making (or I'm making) worth it? Will it be easier if I wait a year before doing this? Three years? Five years?
  • Is this is an offer that I just can't turn down or is there another way to make this happen that works better with my situation? Have I weighed all my options?
If you're happy with your answers to these questions, that's fantastic! Pursue your opportunity in the knowledge that this is the right thing for you and your family. If you look at your situation, though, and realize that things aren't working out the way you hoped they would, there is no shame and much wisdom in changing course. It's ideal if you can weigh the sacrifices before you start a venture like this, but never be too proud to stop and refocus, even in the midst of things. It doesn't always mean that you have to quit what you're doing; sometimes it just means that you need to start doing things a little differently to make it work.

I'd love to hear from those of you who are dealing with these issues in your own lives. What's your advice?
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