Spring Clean Your Studio – my turn!

Don’t hate me. Truly. And no… this is not a Pantene commercial!

This post is supposed to be about showing you my messy studio, and then showing you the cleaned up version, but here’s the thing: I don’t make much mess while I work. And if I do, I clean it up before I go to bed.

So please…. don’t hate me!

Here’s how it looks in here most of the time:

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Click on this image to see the larger and more detailed version!

I’m one of the few people that gets her creativity shut down by mess, and turned on by a lot of blank-slate work surfaces. The thought of digging under piles of fabric on the floor to find my fave scissors makes my stomach churn… instead, I pretty much put things back where the came from as I work.

I’ve always been a a relatively neat person (I was raised by parents who were raised by Victorians, and I wasn’t allowed to get messy!) but I honed my current tidying process in a corporate job some years back. I used to work for 4 different project managers at once, and I did it while I was finishing my BA in Sculpture and single-momming my son. At work, I was introduced to the Franklin Covey planning system, and one of the things it advised is using the last 10 minutes of your day to set the scene for tomorrow. It saved me when I was juggling all those crazy obligations, and I’ve continued with it ever since.

So at the end of the day, I tidy up:

  • Put away fabrics (more about this below)
  • Empty the iron and turn it off (I use an Oliso and they last longer when emptied at night)
  • Put away the tools
  • Shut down the sewing machine and computer
  • Lay out tomorrow’s project if I’m mid-stream on something
  • Add my hours to the studio tally sheets
  • Update my weekly lists – check off the DONE and add any new that cropped up during the day

The most important thing it does is gives me end-of-day peace of mind so I can sleep…. when I go to bed without doing this, I frequently wake up fretting about forgetting to do something. If it’s all on paper and laid out, I can rest easy that I’ll know right where to start tomorrow. I feel invited in by a tidy studio.

Now before you think I’m a saint, here’s the place when things can get messy for me – the top surface of my fabric drawers:

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This space is where everything goes while I’m working. I pile on the fabrics that I’ve been using or auditioning, scraps, new purchases, bits of patterns in development, and all the quilts that are ready to be quilted. In this image, it’s about half as bad as it can get (while still staying contained to this space). UFOs that are not yet quilt tops are in zippy bags in a bin under my printer (lower left).

When it bugs me, I sort it out, which usually entails trying to put all the fabric away. I love the fabric drawers I have, and alas, this model is no longer made so I can’t buy more. Thus, I made the rule that if I can’t fit my fabric it all in the drawers (with upcoming projects set aside in zippy bags – see the bin in the top right corner), then I must cull the herd. Right now, some of the drawers are so full I can’t get a hand down the side, and yep, that actually makes me a little crazy.

So culling is on the agenda! Here is my plan:

  • Check the UFO bin to see if it’s time for any lingering projects to be tossed out
  • Fit all the fabric into drawers
  • Donate culled fabric, or package it for giveaways
  • Empty the “working scraps” bin (upper right)
  • Bag up the projects in process with all their parts and notes

And here’s the after image:

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I love all that empty space! on top! I managed to cull over a drawer’s worth out, and most of it got taken home by my mini group. There’s still a deeper cull to be done, but for now, getting it all put away and photographed for this post was good enough!

If you’re interested in how I use my space, read below for some posts I wrote a while back (in my old studio) about my storage processes:

And don’t forget to check out the rest of the hop!

May 7 Kathy Mathews http://www.chicagonow.com/quilting-sewing-creating/
May 8 Misty Cole Http://www.dailydesignwall.blogspot.com
May 9 Heather Kinion http://heatherkinion.com/
May 10 Jessica Darling http://jessicakdarling.com/
May 11 Lisa Blevis Filion http://upstatelisa.blogspot.com/
May 12 Peta Minerof-Bartos http://www.thenotsewguiltyquilter.blogspot.com/
May 13 Mandy Leins http://mandalei.com/
May 14 Amalia Teresa Parra Morusiewicz http://funfromatoz.com/
May 15 Sam Hunter http://huntersdesignstudio.com/
May 16 Debby Ritenbaugh Brown http://higheredhands.blogspot.com/
May 17 Debbie Kleve Berkebile http://www.mountaintrailquilttreasure.blogspot.com/
May 18 Michelle Mattingly http://stitchesofjoi.blogspot.com/
May 19 Cheryl Sleboda http://blog.muppin.com

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Spring Cleaning Blog Hop begins today!

Today kicks off a fun blog hop! Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.com, and maven of the fabulous sewing skully merch, asked a group of us to show some before and after shots of doing a little studio cleaning. If you want to join in on social media, please use #springcleanyourstudio

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Here’s the line-up:

May 7 Kathy Mathews http://www.chicagonow.com/quilting-sewing-creating/
May 8 Misty Cole Http://www.dailydesignwall.blogspot.com
May 9 Heather Kinion http://heatherkinion.com/
May 10 Jessica Darling http://jessicakdarling.com/
May 11 Lisa Blevis Filion http://upstatelisa.blogspot.com/
May 12 Peta Minerof-Bartos http://www.thenotsewguiltyquilter.blogspot.com/
May 13 Mandy Leins http://mandalei.com/
May 14 Amalia Teresa Parra Morusiewicz http://funfromatoz.com/
May 15 Sam Hunter http://huntersdesignstudio.com/
May 16 Debby Ritenbaugh Brown http://higheredhands.blogspot.com/
May 17 Debbie Kleve Berkebile http://www.mountaintrailquilttreasure.blogspot.com/
May 18 Michelle Mattingly http://stitchesofjoi.blogspot.com/
May 19 Cheryl Sleboda http://blog.muppin.com

Hopefully I’ll be ready to clean up the market mess by then!

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Market is coming… again! And cool news from Aurifil!

Spring Quilt Market is coming up, starting May 14th in Minneapolis this year. Like other people in the industry, I’m beginning to dig into the final stretch of work that needs to be done. I’m again doing some fast sewing for Hoffman Fabrics, with the help of some dear friends who are offering up Stunt Sewing services. Keep an eye on @huntersds on Instagram for images as we crank out a bunch of quilts this week! It’s all good and exciting stuff – new patterns made from new fabrics – and it’s been a real bummer to not be able to share most of it with you during the development.

But I will be able to share SOON. Really SOON. Once I’m allowed to blab I’ll be blabbing and sharing pix, and offering up some free stuff, so watch this space!

One thing I CAN blab about is this…

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Yes, that’s my smiling face on the box! I was approached last year by the ever charming Alex Veronelli of Aurifil to pair a collection of thread to Hoffman’s batiks. This is the result! And I’ll be releasing the quilt pattern that goes with it for market, so you’ll see it here shortly.

I chose bright, summery colors of batiks, and matched them up with bold, bright colors from Aurifil.

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Yes, there is ORANGE! But also red, yellow, blues, purple, greens, teal, and a medium gray for everyday piecing. They are all 50wt, my favorite, and not just because it’s on an ORANGE spool! I love the finer weights for both quilting and piecing.

I’ll have one to give away soon!

In the meantime… back to the sewing machine!

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My New Slow Project – Union Jacks

I know it probably seems weird that someone who sews for work also sews to relax. I’m lucky to have several social sewing opportunities each month, and I try hard not to take my work to them. Sewing with friends helps me re-connect to the joy of sewing, and to the heart-warming community aspect that has always surrounded quilting. I always come away refreshed and recharged.

Small projects work well for me when I need to go portable, and while I’ve had a recent run of making Sew Together Bags (and, egad, I might not be done with them, I still have a couple of people left to spoil), I needed something else to play with. The solution? Another Slow Project.

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Check out the tiny Big Bens in the print in the top block!

I decided to make Union Jack blocks for this one (in homage to my English heritage), and chose the tutorial from Molli Sparkles for the construction method. Molli’s pattern has the right ratio in the proportions of the flag, and the thick/thin aspects of the white stripes are correctly rendered. (Read here for more information about the flag’s design.) It’s also a pattern that doesn’t leave you with all bias around the edges – a problem that isn’t hard to solve, but great to avoid if other solutions are available!

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Like my last slow project, I think I’ll make this one for my bed, which means it could take a couple of years (which is great, because then I don’t have to think about what to take to sew day for a while!) The block is 7 1/2” x 15”, so I’m probably looking at about 100 blocks to make another big bed quilt. I also have a friend who made it very clear to me that if I junk up her living room with a Union Jack quilt, she’ll love me forever! Who can resist such an offer?! So perhaps I’ll aim for 150 blocks to start.

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I’ve made a working rule for the fabric choices: a print goes in the “blue” space, and a solid goes in the “red” space, with the “white” space remaining white. It’s been fun to comb through my stash for prints, and I’ve also had some donated to the cause by friends.

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I imagine that it will need some calm sashing when I set it, but I’ll worry about that when I get there.

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I’ve made 15 so far, and I’m really having fun with them. Looking forward to the next social sewing day!

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The Joy of a Slow Project

I’m capable of working quite quickly, fast enough that my friends invented a hashtag for it, #sewingatthespeedofsam. Yes, I get through a lot of projects – remember, I design and sew for a living! – but over the years, I’ve had several slow projects, lasting more than a year, and I find great delight in them. There’s something about NOT being on a deadline that is so relaxing.

My most recent “slow” finish was a huge bed quilt, just for me. I started collecting the fabric a couple of years ago, and then spent a retreat weekend cutting up the strips I needed. It took me the better part of a year to put it together, just sewing a bit at a time over retreats and social sewing days to finish the quilt top.

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The quilt is comprised of 36 big log cabin blocks. I had a loose rule for them, making rounds of 2 different sizes of strips for a little randomness, but a rule that made sure they would all hit the same size at the end. Most of the centers have to do with writing, and if not writing, they are personal to me in some way, representing my hobbies, heritage, passions, and travels. The quilt is a celebration of birthing my book, Quilt Talk, and I thought that getting that book finished and launched was something to commemorate with a significant project, not to mention something I will continue to be proud of for years to come.

The blocks are 17” across, and the postage stamp sashing is 1” wide (and yes, there’s a lot of sashing, about 45 yards of it!) so it came in at 110” square – big enough to hit three sides of floor and hide all the things stashed under my raised bed.

I sent the quilt to Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting here in Portland, and she searched for the right text driven design to quilt over it. Nancy is a wonder… not only does she bring her considerable talent to her work, but she spends time getting to know you as an artist before she begins her design process. She knew what I liked before I even talked about it with her (not too dense, and no feathers!). And the design was beyond perfect, full of letters and numbers in different fonts – so right for the quilt, and so very ME at heart:

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I finished the quilt right at the end of 2014, and have been sleeping under it since. It sleeps and drapes beautifully, and I utterly adore it.

Later this week I’ll show you blocks for my next slow project… do you have one on the go?

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Come sew with me this weekend

I’m teaching at Fabric Depot in Portland, OR, again, this Sunday (April 12th) – I’d love it if you come play!

(BTW – Teresa Coates of Fabric Depot interviewed me for their blog – read it here)

HDS.003 - Big Block Tumble - COVER

This time, we’ll be working on Big Block Tumble. It’s a delightfully fast and easy quilt to make, and needs only three fabrics in the main body (you can add more in the borders like the cover sample if you like).

You can sign up here: http://www.fabricdepot.com/big-block-tumble

Best of all, it has NO Y-SEAMS! It constructs in easy, forgiving strips. You’ll probably have the body of the quilt top finished before you go home. And just so you know, I iron and rip for my students :-)

Here are some other versions I’ve made:

BBT OrangeBrown for PS Tumb Blox RedGray cropped

 

It’s a fun and versatile quilt, and a great one to make when you need a quick gift. I’d love to see you in class!

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Free Pattern – Washable Veggie Bags

I have another freebie for you over at Janome’s site! This time, a fast way to make cloth bags to take to the farmers market or grocery store.

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One yard of fabric quickly turns into SIX bags of different sizes. And you just know you have a yard of something in your stash that you might no longer need to keep :-)

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I’ve been carrying bags like this, along with my re-usable shopping bags, for a couple of years. I always get compliments about how cute they are, and how cool it is to use one less plastic bag. And if they get wet or dirty, you can pop them into the laundry with your towels.

The link to the project is here – enjoy!

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Free Motion Inspiration from Christina Cameli

Yesterday I wrote about playing with Sara Lawson’s new fabric, Fantasia, and promised you a look at the quilting I did. It’s based on designs from Christina Cameli’s latest book, Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting.

I should preface this with the fact that I don’t consider myself sophisticated at machine quilting at all. It’s my least favorite part of the process, and while I still quilt most of my own quilts*, I’m very practical in my designs. I tend to echo straight lines around things, or run lines and grids across the surface, and I can do a mean stipple to fill space when I need to.

Sara’s fabrics have a sweet, cheery feel about them, and I felt that banging a bunch of straight lines across the quilt would be a disservice to the nature theme of her designs. So I turned to Christina’s book for some inspiration.

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It would be easy to look at this book and think that all the designs are intended for a long-arm audience, but that’s far from the case – they are designed to be handled on a domestic machine (this is one of Christina’s superpowers). The designs have an organic, hand-drawn feel about them that I find to be a lovely respite from some the intense, dense, and almost mechanical quilting that has been recently popular. I don’t buy many quilting books, but I’m so glad to have this one in my library – it’s that good. And no, I wasn’t asked to review it!

The book has several edge-to-edge designs that have elements that interlock with each other… the element of one line takes up the space left between two elements of the line next to it:

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I took this concept, and looked for something in Sara’s fabric that might lend itself to such a pattern, ending up with this petaled design:

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Which I interpreted like this in quilting:

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And interlocked like this across the quilt (this is the back, for a better look):

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It was really easy to do down the length of the quilt, and flowed well on the bed of the machine. The rhythm of the design wasn’t hard to find, and the quilting got done quite quickly. I will definitely be using these types of designs again!

The book is lovely, Christina – Brava!!

* When I don’t do my own quilting, I happily hire Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting, and Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts here in Portland, OR.

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Sara Lawson’s Fantasia

My friend Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness put a call out a couple of weeks ago for people to sew with her new fabric line, Fantasia, by Art Gallery Fabrics, so I raised my hand to help out.

I worked with some Art Gallery fabrics while writing Quilt Talk, and they’re not kidding when they say “feel the difference.” The hand of the fabric is smooth and silky, and it makes minimal shreds while you work with it. Lovely stuff!

Fantasia is a light-hearted and whimsical line, with a healthy dose of PINK running through it, so as you can imagine, this was out of my comfort zone! The prints are well integrated both thematically and in terms of variety of pattern texture. There are several good blenders, with a couple that could become great “low volume” staples too. There are two colorways: the PINK/GRAY based Ambrosial, and the TEAL/ORANGE based Crepuscular (what a fun word that is – worth looking up!)

The feature/focus prints are based on Unicorns…

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with supporting designs of flowers, mushrooms, and unicorn-shoes!

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Sara sent fat quarters of both colorways, so I decided to mix them in a fast and easy precut pattern that’s been on the design wall… I’ll be releasing it in May with a few others, so no full pix until then! I used Christina Cameli’s latest book for quilting inspiration – more about that tomorrow!

The fabric should be shipping this month, so ask for it at your local quilt store.

Thank you, Sara, for the chance to play with Fantasia!

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Dimensional Indeed!

Pam Lincoln at Mama Spark’s World recently filled my inbox with goodness! Check out the pix of her rendition of my Relatively Dimensional pattern!

IMG_3494She used a custom Gallifreyan Spoonflower fabric for the background, and then sent it to Kathy Koch at Thread Bear Quilting for the long-arm artistry.

IMG_3496 IMG_3497I’m utterly entranced with the interplay of the circles, and more than a little geeked out by the “DW” motif in the door panels. Swoon!

Brava, ladies! And thank you SO much for sharing the pix with me!

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