Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Busy As A Bee

It's hot. And no A/C, just fans. But most days I still feel compelled to sew for at least some of the day. I have many projects in the works.

 First up is the #100days100blocks2018 challenge on Instagram. I bought the book the year it came out but I never could make myself dive into it. This challenge, and several successful sew alongs behind me, spurred me on. I find that I am enjoying it and to make it doable for myself, each group of 10 blocks has a specific color theme. This makes choosing fabrics less overwhelming.
This is one of the block diagrams to show how to assemble. None of the blocks are difficult, but at least one has 30 pieces and these blocks finish at 6 1/2 inches, so, small pieces.
And an upside is that I am using some of my stash for this. Look at the year on this piece. I have used some in various projects over the years. Man...and I don't think it is the oldest piece I have either.

At a request from my oldest, the children need an overnight bag. So I found this free pattern and I have to say I do like it. The comments on the site are not very kind for the most part. It is not the best written pattern I have ever used, but it is 5 years old and I like to think the designer has improved her skills. If you are an accomplished sewist, you can do this. It requires a bit more thought than just following the directions.
This one was the first I made, for my daughter to test the bag out. I have made a few adjustments to the sewing of the pattern that I will use for the others. Bottom line, it is a nice duffel bag. I chose to add batting to the sides and bottom instead of just an iron on interfacing. The interior of the bag is the fabric with the months on it, so I chose to put the month of her birthday on the outside as well.
These are the end pieces for the bags for the three children. Instead of doing the cording along the top of the pockets, I chose to fold a bit down and stitch it into place. I did the cording on my daughter's and while it is a nice touch, I think it's not necessary here.
 The next project I have, waiting in the wings (ha!) is this Firefly quilt. I don't usually fall for these, but for some reason this one really spoke to me. I didn't want to join the sew along, but they offered just the pattern, so I bought that. I have never made a totally solids quilt, so another first for me.
And here is the fabric, just waiting patiently to be pressed and cut for this little lovely. It's been nice to have a bunch of different things to work on this summer.

I still have 3 triangles to applique on my Kingfisher quilt and then it is done and ready for quilting. And I am still sewing hexies for a future project that I haven't fully thought out yet. I just enjoy having hand work to do,
I hope you are staying cool. Talk to you soon.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Stash???

I have been working on a project for the last couple of weeks. It is the 100 Blocks 100 Days challenge using Tula Pink's City Sample book. It is being held on Instgram if you want to check it out. I have decided to use only my stash for this challenge and so far, so good. But, it has led to a lot of thinking while I am pulling fabrics and scraps from my stash and pressing them to be able to cut them.
Do you do that too? Let your mind wander while you cut and sew? I do much of my best thinking and soul searching at my machine or at my ironing board. Anyway, back to my question about too much stash.
 When I first started making quilts, around 1990, I would figure out a quilt to make, try to figure out how much fabric I needed and buy just that. I over estimated sometimes, and my stash was started, because I save everything. I kept all my scraps,no matter the size, in an old chest of drawers that traveled with me from house to house, state to state while my children were growing up.  They were all thrown in ther, jumbled together.
 Once we settled in North Carolina, I became more serious about quilting. I still mostly shopped for fabrics for specific projects, but for the first time, I lived near a local quilt shop. The proprietor would hold an anniversary sale every year, 35% off all cuts of 1/2 yard or more. That was when I really began buying fabrics I really liked just because. The second or third year of this sale, I remember a woman came into the shop while I was waiting to get my fabric cut, and left her credit card with the instructions that she wanted a half yard cut of ever single solid that was in the shop at that time. I was stunned! Do people do that?
I attended that anniversary sale every year for about 20 years, until sadly, the proprietor retired and closed the shop. But, beginning in 2010, I found the on line quilting community and I began to buy fabrics on line, that my LQS didn't have in stock, because, hey, there isn't room to stock everything, right? This was when quilting blogs were really ramping up in popularity and there were so many of them. They showed new lines and it really drew me in.
 There were tons of new designers, the colors were brighter, the Modern Quilting movement was really taking off. This spoke to me...loudly! I bought more fabrics without a plan, feeling a compelling need to build my stash.
 I would take breaks from buying, but inevitably a line would come out that I couldn't resist. I cleaned my sewing room. I reorganized my stash...multiple times. I seldom got rid of much. I couldn't bear to part with it.
 But then we move across the country and I purged, big time. I got rid of a big box of fabrics that I just new I would never use. Some just weren't my style any longer. I got rid of books and tons of other sewing things too, and tried to keep only what I really loved. It is still a lot of fabric.
 One of the things that working on this block challenge has done, is showed me bits and pieces of fabrics that have been around for years. Really. Ten years and sometimes longer. I thought I had gotten rid of most of those. I was happy to see some of them, and I was able to look at them and figure out a way to use them, when I hadn't been able to before, and that feels great to me. I put together combos that I might not have in the past. My style and tastes are still changing. This surprised me.
The other thing I noticed, and that was what led me to this post, is that some of my older fabrics have been folded in my stash for so long, that despite not being in direct sunlight, have faded along the fold lines. This too surprised me. I wondered how people who have much larger stashes than mine deal with this type of thing. Do they even know it is occurring? We tend to use our fabrics as decor in our sewing rooms, maybe this isn't a good idea.

I have learned from this experience that I truly do have more than enough fabric to last me for quite some time. I know I cannot live forever. But will I quit buying fabrics? Probably not. But I would like to continue with projects I can sew from my stash. It would be sad if all that pretty fabric went to waste.
If you feel compelled, comment here and let me know how you feel about your stash and how you take care of it. Is it big enough? Are you still adding to it? How do you try to use from it? And do you have any great stash busting quilt patterns that you have made and loved? I would love to know.
Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pushing Myself, Creatively Speaking

How do you push yourself to continue being creative? I love sewing, it's a really big part of who I am. But sometimes I feel like I am just churning things out and not being terribly creative. Or it begins to feel same ol' same ol' to me. So I started thinking about this yesterday. And in the last year or so, there are a couple of things I started doing to keep things fresh and new for myself.

Now, I have never been a big joiner when it comes to quilting. No quilt guilds, and only a few classes back in the early days. I love working on projects, but I hate packing everything up to go work on projects. I am a bit of a solitary maker. And then I love to show it off when it's done. I stayed away from many techniques that seemed too hard. And then I realized that that is what was holding me back and making me stale. I had to get over it and do something.

One of the first things I did was to make this set of tiny blocks to work on my precision piecing. These all finished at 2 inches square. I found that while they weren't tooeasy, they weren't too hard. Slow it down and do it right.

The next thing I did was to take the Penny Sampler quilt class on line from Rachel. I love her classes for their content, but I was also able to work on this at a pace that worked for me. The other thing about it was that there were some techniques in this class that I needed to learn and master. Like paper piecing. I came away knowing how to paper piece. It's still not my favorite technique, but when it's called for, I can do it. Also, this was a 12 month class. I have NEVER taken that long and slow to make a quilt and I found I really liked that slower pace, with time for other projects as well.

The next thing I did was to make this quilt for my niece. I used only fabric from my stash, except the background fabric. I have never done that, and only blues, which is also the first time I have made a quilt using only two colors. It wasn't that it was hard, just different and helped me to stretch myself a bit creatively.

I am currently working on an English paper piecing and applique piece, also hosted by Rachel of Stitched in Color and Jodi at Tales of Cloth. I never had any interest in EPP when it was all the rage a few years back, but now I cannot seem to get enough of the slow hand stitched pace of the hexies.
And now I have joined in on the 100 blocks in 100 days 2018 on Instagram. I bought the book for inspiration, the year it came out and then it sat on the shelf. This 100 day project is really pushing me creatively. I am doing every 10 blocks in one color, like a rainbow of sorts. I added pink, teal, dark pink and split the violet into red violet and blue violet to have enough for ten sets. It is all coming from my stash and scraps and choosing the colors is tough, but oh, so satisfying. I do a happy dance for each one I pull.

So that's what I am doing to keep moving forward as a sewist, quilter and maker. Tell me, what to you do to keep it fresh for yourself?
Talk to you soon.