Friday, December 30, 2016

The Bad Blogger

Hah! I started this post in November.... of last year.... and do you want to know how far I got?

The title. 

That's it... 

I really am a bad blogger :(

       I guess it's been a busy several years... seeing as how I haven't posted much since I started my teaching job in 2014. I can't believe how quickly time flies (which is consequently the name of a post I wrote in august of 2015 about how little blogging I had accomplished, hah!). Since the last time I posted I did indeed get my longarm, and I have loved it ferociously, when I am not too tired to quilt. I started experimenting with different kinds of painting (nothing much to show for it though), spent a summer playing the saxophone (and attended an amazing Jazz Camp in Port Townsend), started doing yoga, stopped doing yoga, and started doing yoga again (then took a break because I got sick but I promise I be back at it once school starts) and beat FFXV in 57 hours over about a week and a half.  I have probably done more stuff that is worthy of mentioning but I can't thing of it at the moment.  
       I think I would like to try blogging again. Not as a new years resolution because those never really work out, but more as a "I enjoyed blogging about sewing" and "perhaps it will encourage me to get off my butt and do something when I get home from work."
       I have a few days left of my winter break before venturing once more into the breach that is teaching elementary music. I may try to post again! With something more worthwhile, and with pictures!

Sunday, September 20, 2015


        I know that probably doesn't seem like a lot to an experienced blogger, especially over the lifetime of the blog but to me that feels like a real accomplishment!!! It's a nice big number to look at when I check my stats! I will have to check them more often... Over the summer I have had trouble once again maintaining my blog and now that school has started I fear I will slip even further into absenteeism. It's not that I don't want to blog... it's just that I forget... or I don't think I have anything work blogging about.
        Today at least that isn't the case! I am finally here to report that my longarm was delivered and assembled 2 weeks ago! Yes it's up and running and I am having a hard time writing this post instead of sprinting upstairs to quilt. The shipment weighed close to 450 pounds and somehow Nate and I managed to un-crate it and bring it into my sewing room on the second floor. He has vowed never to move it again....

        My wonderful A-1 dealer Kim arrived the following Saturday to set it up and teach me how to use and maintain it. It was almost difficult being in my sewing room while it was sitting there not yet assembled. Gladly I didn't have to wait too long.

        The frame sits back into the nook so that it can be out of the way. There is not much wiggle room in the nook so my plan was to put it on casters and pull it out when I wanted to use more of the frame. So far it's worked pretty well :) While carrying and assembling my machine I kept referring to it as a beast. When it came time to name him I decided to go with Adam as Adam is the name of the beast in Beauty and the Beast. I thought it was also funny in reference to the manufacturer (A-1... get it?!?)

     I decided that my very first project should be special but not something that I would want to ruin with my practicing so I picked this beautiful monstrosity. I made this quilt top back when I was 16 after finding a picture that I liked in a book at a friend's grandmother's house. I didn't calculate yardage, I didn't read the instructions and I didn't measure the top when adding on the borders. As a result it is a quilter's nightmare. The borders a beyond ripply and the seams were coming undone even before I put it on the machine. Perhaps I could have taken it apart and resewn most of it but that would have been too time consuming...

        Now that it's on the frame and I've had some time to play I think it's looking okay. Black thread really makes you pay attention to your backtracks and where you lines meet. It can be thoroughly discouraging but it can also be really good practice. I figured I would do some of Karlee Porter's "graffiti quilting" and I have come to realize that I totally suck at tracing my lines. That is something in particular that I would like to practice haha!
        So now it's off to the longarm for me! Happy crafting!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Time Flies....

...when you are having fun... or anxiously anticipating a large sewing machine... or the start of a new school year which will mean that you can't use said sewing machine very often... It kind of sucks. In the past few weeks I have been hard at work on various endeavors. I have done a bit of sewing and a lot of drawing and painting. More recently I have taken my creativity to a new medium: the digital one! I started digitizing hand drawn designs with the intent of printing the designs on fabric through the website/company Spoonflower. If you have yet to discover Spoonflower you should boogie on over there right now! Actually, finish reading the post then check it out! It has been such a fun experiment. The results of which will be apparent here in the next few weeks... but I will get to that later.

      So yeah, fabric design is fun! And time consuming! I started out by scanning in some of the water color exercises I had done through on online class. Nothing special but they looked kind of nice.

After playing with Gimp (free photoshop: its awesome!) for a little while I got a bit ambitious and tried to put these already existing designs into a seamless repeat. That took a lot of playing... and swearing... and undoing but I think I got the hang of it! This is the first on that I was able to manipulate.

 After playing with the files I figured I should probably actually order some of the fabric.

The colors turn out a bit weird in the picture but they aren't bad on the fabric. I also made the mistake of ordering the cheapest type of fabric available and it really falls flat compared to the Kona that is only a few dollars more expensive. The awesome Doctor Who toile is not my design but I just couldn't resist. 

After having a bit of success with my first attempts at fabric design I decided to delve a bit deeper and started doing more computer manipulation and editing. I started out by creating a repeat by hand using a pen, 4 index cards and some tape. I then scanned it and printed a few copies to see how the design would actually look in repeat.

I then uploaded the image into inkscape (free illustrator: also awesome!) and traced all of my lines using the bezier curve tool. It took hours. I am not exaggerating. It was not entirely fun but I feel like it really helped me learn how to use the program. I ended up with a design that I could then play with by adding a background color. 

Or coloring in different parts. 

This experiment gave me the inspiration, confidence and ideas to start on a much bigger project and so I decided to enter the Fabric8 design contest! The theme for this year is "botanical notebook" so I started sketching. For some mysterious reason all I wanted to draw was food (If you knew me in person you would already know that I have a profoundly deep love of food that goes way beyond normal affinity. My husband finds it amusing...). I found my theme and had fun with it drawing all sorts of  fruit and vegetables while adding a little bit of commentary in with my labels. I was so into this project that I bought myself one of those fancy drawing tables. 

I love it!

I was able to draw, digitize and color in all of the components in several weeks and the results look something like this:

After putting it all together I realized that I had a very obvious repeat which made it look super blocky and that drove me insane. I set to work breaking apart all of the files I had created into individual fruits/veggies/etc. I was annoyed that I hadn't thought to do it at the beginning but now its done so that's that. 

Besides that I am really very pleased with it. It took a lot of work but it was also a lot of fun. I might be a bit sad if it doesn't make it into the finals but I will get over it. I still need to order some for myself! Maybe I will do that today....

Since completing that monstrosity (the repeat is 12"x24") I have played with several other designs and flushed out what could be considered a line of fabric I loving named Butterfly Bouquet.

It used some of the designs that I originally started experimenting with and is a combination of watercolor paintings and digital designs. I have no idea what I am going to with my swatches yet... I should probably figure something out.... If I get it done I could even bring it to the guild next week!

I also drew out and printed a feather FQ design. I thought that people might be interested in using it as a template for free motion quilting. I think it looks awesome so I want to create a continuous repeat of feather just for fun. 

A friend suggested that it might be fun to color in or decorate. I think that might happen with this guy...

I guess I have been fairly busy with this endeavor. It has filled up my summer nearly to the brim. As for my longarm... I think I am getting close! Its hard to contain my excitement. I still have a bit of work to do to prep my room but I don't think finding the motivation to do that will be an issue ;)

Oh! one last thing! I recently heard about this wonderful things called Sit Spots! There is a giveaway going on and I would love to win! They would me endlessly useful in my classroom! 

Until next time!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I did it!

It's done! I've taken the first step! I've jumped off the deep end! I've ordered my longarm! 

I can't believe it but there it is. I placed my order on the 10th and put my name of the waiting list. My longarm will be constructed and shipped to me in 4-6 week from the order date. The time cannot move fast enough... 

But if it flies by that means that my summer vacation will be almost over...


One the one hand I get to take the next step in my quilting adventure, on the other I have to set it aside and jump back in to teaching music. 

The timing could have be better...

Bu that doesn't really matter since I AM GETTING A LONGARM!

Now to figure out what to do until it gets here.

I could sew or paint or draw. I haven doing a lot of that and it feels great. It's as though my lack or creative energy during the last school year was simply pent up to bursting and finally started to escape after the first say of summer vacation. It has been wonderful. Really wonderful! I have created something everyday. I have tried out different techniques and mediums and really expanded my horizons. It's a good thing that I have a little over a month left before school starts because I am not nearly ready to stop :)

And with that I think it is time for me to go make something!

Until next time!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Creative Overload

        It's hard to believe that it has been nearly a month since the last day of school. I am almost scared by how fast the days pass by, but as they say, "time flies when you are having fun" and I have been having a lot of fun. I have filled my days with creating of all sorts: sewing, quilting, embroidery and most recently watercolor painting. On my birthday, while wondering around West Seattle wasting a little time, Nate and I stopped into an art supply shop. I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to any art supplies, fabric, paints, beads, you name it. I have an especially strong fondness for pens. I LOVE pens! Fine point, ball point, felt tip, calligraphy, I love them all. On this trip I was enticed by a certain pen in particular: a water pen. I had read about the Koi watercolor brush pens by Sukura and was on the hunt but having no luck. Feeling a bit let down I wandered to the painting section and what do I find? A Koi watercolor "pocket field sketchbook" with a water pen. How cool is that?!?! It's brush that has water in it! This may be old news to some of you but I was enthralled. I have been playing with it all week. I even up loaded a few designs to Spoonflower. I can't wait to see how they print. Spoonflower is such a wonderful idea!

        I was even inspired to pick up some other brushes for watercolor. And by pick up I mean spend way to much money on. I have an addiction, and addiction to art supplies... but more on that later.

        Among my other endeavors recently I found myself once again pursuing garment construction and, on the fourth of July, haberdashery!... Haberdashing?... Haberdashering?... Hat making! That's right! I celebrated my freedom by making a variety of hats. I found a quick tutorial on Creativebug and had to try it. Only problem is that the pattern printed out too small. I had to attempt to blow the pieces up but had no idea what the correct proportions were supposed to be. After several hours and one hat that was way too small I ended up a nice that that was only a little too small. It sort of fits.

        After dinner I felt revitalized to make a second attempt. Truth be told I ended up cheating a bit. I slightly dismantled my original hat and altered it so that it could fit around my hair when it is in a bun. I always want to wear hats but never want to take my hair done. And now I don't have to! I worked perfectly!!! I wore it out yesterday and it fit very well. Both hats are fully lined and reversible. 

        All in all I have come away this week with a well improved wardrobe. I can't wait to wear my second new pencil skirt. Who doesn't love polka dots!?!

             Until next time!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Here Comes Another One, Just Like the Other One

        Alright you've caught me, not "just" like the other one, but the point remains:
I seem to be on a bit of a roll when it comes to making skirts recently. I've completed two more since my last post and I have plans for a few that I would like to tackle....fabric waiting in the wings as it were.

        The first of the two I actually completed on a school night! That's right, I came home from work and made a skirt! I couldn't believe it myself. It's just a gathered skirt with a polka dot waist band but I like how it turned out. It's already a bit wrinkled after wearing it once :( and as I hate ironing clothing that may or may not be remedied.... I picked up the fabric last year with plans to make a different skirt which I did end up making, just not in this color combination. Now that skirt is a bit too big. I might try to take it in. Well see.

         I am a bit more excited about the second skirt. I found the pattern online and fell in love with it and just had to make it, in one or more color options. I had plans and ideas bursting in my mind right away. Initially I was on the hunt for either a plain navy or a big black and white polka dot, neither of which I have found yet. While hunting through an unnamed fabric store I did find the most perfect peacock fabric. This fabric is like a peak into my soul. It is so me. It is also upholstery fabric and I wasn't sure if it would work. After much inner struggle I put it away. Only to return about a week later to purchase it. I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.    

          This awesome peacock skirt is fully lined in green silk and all the seams are hidden. The lining is sewn in by hand and zipper is hand picked! 

        Look at that lining! And it feels amazing!

         I am so excited about this skirt and I feel like it has given me a bit more confidence about clothing construction. I used to love making my own clothes and I might be experiencing a bit of a resurgence of that old obsession :)

         In other news I am participating in my very first instagram mini quilt swap: The Text-Me mini swap. I've been toying with the idea of participating in a swap for a while. Thought it might give me the motivation to get my butt in gear and do some sewing. I have yet to actually start but I am building some ideas and collecting fabrics (The best part of any project). Here's what I've got so far. Hope my partner likes it!

        Also! I am getting closer to purchasing my very own longarm, so you know, there's that :)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bringing Bustle Back

        I will not deny that I have been remiss in both my blogging and my sewing duties since I started my job in September. I honestly thought I would have more time, or better yet more energy to climb the stairs to my sewing room and get some crafting done. More often then not however I didn't make it past the couch when I returned home from work. Even weekends seemed to fly by without a thought of sewing... I am sew ashamed!

        Well, yesterday I broke the cycle. Last month I fell in love with a skirt on display at Calico Threads. It was so poofy and bright that I knew I had to have it in my closet. Only problem: the pattern is designed to fit a child... and I am obviously not a child... Hmmm... So after much thought, I decided to forgo attempting to recreate this adorable skirt and promptly forgot about it. This weekend however, after teaching one of my beginning free motion quilting classes at Calico Threads, I rediscovered the skirt in question and figured "Why not?!" I flipped through the pattern then set about deciding on fabrics. Much debate was had. In the end I opted for the original coloring, I can always make another if I want to... which I may rather soon... with a few alterations. I purchased my fabric and set off to my sew-micile (get it? Sewing domicile? hah!).

Look at how freakin' cute that is!!! Pattern is by Izzy and Ivy Designs.
        The pattern required roughly 4 yards of fabric for the largest 3 sizes. Looking at the yardage alone I don't know how this skirt couldn't fit me. Because the skirt is gathered the pieces were all rectangular I didn't need to wrestle with the provided pattern paper. YAY! I hate pattern paper. Especially trying to fold it all back up. It's a nightmare. I cut out my pieces and decided that it was finally time to try using my serger. If I am going to make a ridiculously poofy and ruffled skirt I might as well do it right.

        Oh serger! Where have you been all my life?!?! Oh that's right, in the closet... I can't believe I waited until this far along in my sewing journey to really learn how to use it. Sergers are amazing.

        I spent all afternoon serging and ruffling and rolled heming. Lots of rolled hemming and ended up with something that looks like this:

        I am pleased.

        Ok, ok, I am really excited to wear this. I think the reason I love it so much is because it is like a ruffly bustle and bustles are awesome.

Bustles are neat!
        I feel like my summer is off to running start, and I am not even out of school yet! A few more weeks and I will be free to pursue all of the sewing I could possibly imagine. I think I may have to make another one at some point with only a few minor alterations. Turns out a child's size 14 is too large for me. I needed to shorten the elastic by about 2 inches this morning, but I am still very pleased. I might even make my next one... shorter (SCANDALOUS!) 

Until next time, happy crafting!