New Adventures at Needle & Foot

Most of you have read that I have an Etsy shop. I opened it just over two years ago, about the same time I began blogging. I love having a shop and enjoy my customers, several of whom are repeat customers. However, until recently, my shop mainly sold items I had made, which means I am usually selling to customers who are not makers.

About a year ago, I began listing a collection of both vintage and current sewing patterns for garment makers. Also, I listed some cuts of my collection of vintage sheets, including fat quarters, fat quarter bundles, and charm squares. As these items began to sell, I realized that I was very much enjoying the interaction with the makers who were coming to shop my store. These are my people, know what I mean? It has been really satisfying to answer questions, chat back and forth about their projects, and help them find the pattern they are looking for, etc.

After much talking and brainstorming with my husband, I have decided to greatly expand my shop!  To say I am excited about this new adventure doesn’t come close to describing how I feel. My husband, Ray, is very supportive and has many good ideas about the business end of it. I am not sure if you remember but my father owned a couple of fabric stores when I was growing up. This is a business I am very familiar with. I worked in his shop on many Saturdays as well as during the summer as a teenager. My father was almost always self-employed which means I am well aware of what this entails. However, in this time of on-line shops, I have the wonderful opportunity to open a business without having a brick and mortar shop.

I have been working very hard to choose a selection of fabrics that will have something appealing to each of you. Of course, the seed money to get this adventure off the ground isn’t limitless (oh how I wish…) With my start up budget in mind, I made list after list of the manufacturers I wanted to work with and the lines that I wanted to carry. Then I went through an arduous process of culling that list and narrowing it down to what I can afford at this, the very beginning of my adventure!  I have selected some gems. Over the past several weeks, I have received bolts of beauty from designers such as Alison Glass, Maureen Cracknell and Kim Diehl to name a few.  I have fabric from Henry Glass, Andover, Art Gallery Fabric, and PB Textiles to offer you. Over the next two weeks there are some amazing bolts coming from Red Rooster and Windham as well as a few more from Andover.

A sampling of what is available now!

Fabrics began arriving during the first half of January. When I got home from Toronto, things really kicked in. I am slowly but surely listing inventory as it arrives. There is still more to come but I wanted to share with you what I have so far. It is so exciting to see this take shape after weeks and weeks of preparation. I am fortunate to have a large basement level family room. There is one wall with built in shelving. This is where the current fabric lives. As it grows, we will need to add more shelving but for now, this is working well.

Alison Glass’ 76, Fiesta Fun and Maureen Cracknell’s Garden Dreamer!

 

 

I plan to hold a Grand Opening of sorts in the beginning of March. I have a blog hop and several giveaways planned- it will be a blast. Waiting until the first of March also allows the craziness that is QuiltCon to subside. But for now, let’s celebrate here! I am really proud of the shop and very excited to show it off to you. I am offering a giveaway of a $25.00 gift certificate to my shop. In an effort to get to know you better and to decide how to best serve you, will you take a look at the questions below?

  1. I shop on-line for fabric – All the time, Sometimes, Rarely, Never?
  2. True or False-When shopping on-line, I am comfortable interacting with the seller (eg asking questions about product, asking for a custom bundle or a specific cut of yardage etc)
  3. Two or three of my favorite designers are: (eg Maureen Cracknell, Tula Pink, Kate Spain, Bari J, Pat Sloan, Joel Dewberry, Bonnie & Camille, Zen Chic, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Heather Ross, Kaffe Fassett –  to name a few out of the zillions available!!  Who knows? Maybe your favorite is someone I am not familiar with. Teach me.)
  4. True or False-Modern fabrics are my fave.
  5. True or False-Repro fabrics are the best.
  6. Batiks? Use them all the time or not so much?
  7. Novelty Prints? Yes/No/Sometimes
  8. Precuts?  Love them? Or only when I win them in a Giveaway? Or not so much?
  9. If you do love precuts – tell me your preference?  (eg Charms, Fat Quarters, Fat Eighths, Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls?)
  10. What type of sewing (if any) are you interested in other than quilting? ( eg Garments, bags, totes, zip pouches)

You absolutely DO NOT have to answer all of the questions. But if any of them speak to you and you don’t mind taking a minute to give me some input, I will be forever grateful!  Leaving a comment with your thoughts, on one or more of the questions above, is your entry to the giveaway! If you prefer, you can also send me a quick email, using the “contact me” form. That counts as an entry too. As always, if you are a follower, just tell me how and that is an additional entry. I will leave the giveaway open until the end of the month. A name will be drawn on January 31st with the winner announced in a post on February 1st.

NOTE:  Giveaway is now closed!

Additionally, in appreciation for your loyal following of my blog over the past couple of years, I would love to offer all of you a discount code. To receive 15% off any order of $5.00 or more enter NANDFREADERS15 at checkout. This code will be active for just over two weeks,  through February 12, 2017. Use it now or in a week or two. Use it once, twice, as many times as you like! I love the fabrics that are in stock now and look forward to the pieces that are due next week and the week following. Oh how I love the sound of the UPS truck coming down our drive!

Finally, I will be posting updates on incoming fabric and promotions on Instagram. If you don’t yet follow me, now is a good time to start. There will be a fun promotion over there the first week of February. Don’t miss it!

2017 is definitely going to be an adventurous one – with my son’s wedding,  our first grand baby, and my own fabric shop! I hope you will come along for the ride. Please know how much I appreciate your support of this journey of mine. Blogging wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun without readers – you are what makes this worth doing!

My New Look

Well, what do you think? I have been torn between wanting to update my blog’s appearance and feeling too attached to the vintage photo of the presser foot that was in the blog’s banner. I kept going back and forth on it.

Over the Christmas holidays, when my son was here from Vermont, I was talking about it with him. He is my source of help for all things technical for the blog as well as the guy that took that original photo for me some years back. He knows I like a “minimalist” look to the blog, clean lines and no clutter. As we talked, we both agreed that neither of us was the right person to create a new look. We needed something to work from. He told me about a website, Fiverr.com. It is an interesting place where independent designers, most from other countries, put up a quick bio and explain their style. You than contract with one and they design logos to work with a set of criteria that the buyer predefined. For instance, I asked for something with a sans-serif font (no curlicues on the letters), blues and greens in color, not fancy or intricate, and somehow related to my theme of Needle and (presser) Foot.

Within 48 hours he sent three designs (the number that I paid for). Two of them looked very industrial, the third one is what you see here. It took several iterations to get the presser foot to my liking. But this wasn’t an issue as I paid for, and was given, unlimited revisions. The designer was quick and tried to match my expectations. Overall, it was a great experience and gave me a logo from which to base some changes. I ordered new business cards, which was great as I only had about five left. Also updated my Etsy shop and the small enclosures that I send with my customer’s purchases. It has been so much fun to work on these updates.

Yesterday I Facetimed with my son and he walked me through changing some of the colors and details on my blog. Usually he does this for me but you know the saying, ‘Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man  to fish, you feed him for a lifetime’? Let’s just say this easily converts to ‘teach your mom to do her own blog maintenance….’!!  😉

I would love to hear what you think. I am quite pleased. If you check out the site, let me know what you think. There are all sorts of services offered there, not just logo design.

Sunday Update

Good morning! Looks like we are in for another rainy day. This is fine with me as I have lots of projects to work on. Yesterday I spent the day at a seminar that one of the local agriculture colleges hosted for the 4-H kids that have swine projects. Lots of information was provided and Julia is one step closer to bringing home her piglets. But it did mean we were away for most of the day. It will be nice to be home today.

I wanted to finish my story about my trip to Toronto earlier this month. Remember I mentioned I was able to have coffee with another quilt blogger?  It was a pleasure to meet Lisa of Sunlight in Winter Quilts. Lisa also began blogging in 2014, right around when I started. We met through the New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop. (If you haven’t participated in this event, and you are fairly new to quilt blogging, you might want to check it out. It is a great way to learn about blogging and to meet others. The link I provided will take you to the 2016 event for a general idea of what it entails.) Anyway, I digress.  Back to my coffee date. Earlier in the fall, I mentioned in a post that we would be traveling to Toronto for the wedding. Lisa emailed me and said she would love to meet if I had time. There is always time, right??

Lisa lives about 1.5 hours outside of the city proper. She graciously made the trip in, even though I told her I wouldn’t have too long to hang out. She made a weekend out of it. Her post about her weekend explorations is here. Both of us forgot to take a picture, which I regret. It was a lovely visit though – it is so fun to catch up in person, isn’t it? We had coffee, talked about our blogs, quilting projects, and of course, our families. She is just as sweet in person as she is in her blog posts. In fact, because she knew I wouldn’t have time to explore any shops in Toronto she brought me a little bundle of fat quarters. She wanted me to take something home from this trip. She is really a thoughtful person.

I have a love for Ankara wax prints. I have used them in several projects, including this tablecloth, and think they have a wonderful character to them. These fat quarters are also wax prints. Love the guinea fowl and the elephants! It will be fun to think of a project for these. Thank you Lisa for the gift of the fabric, and more so, of your time. Hopefully the next trip to Toronto will allow for some fabric shopping.

When I got home I there was a package that had arrived in the mail. When I mentioned the baby quilt I am making for my new grand baby, Mari, of Academic Quilter,  asked if I would like some light gray Kona to use in it as the background. She had also sent me a lavender print earlier to contribute to the baby’s quilt. She is such a thoughtful person! The print works well with the others I had selected and the pale gray is perfect for the background. Now I need to start cutting.

In the same Q1- FAL post where I talked about the baby quilt, I also mentioned I wanted to try making a baby quilt by enlarging one block to about 36-40 inches. For inspiration and reference, Mari added her copy of the book, Sew One and You’re Done. It basically does just what I was saying. I have hardly had time to take more than a quick peek at it but I think it will be helpful. Thank you Mari!!

My stash has grown just a bit and I now have all the fabric for the baby’s quilt. Time to get busy!

Linking to Sunday Stash.

Pattern Testing a Great Beginner Quilt Pattern

I have followed Sarah Goer’s blog, for a long while now. We both began blogging around the same time and somehow we became blogging buddies. Sarah is crazy busy these days. A stay at home mom of two little ones, she also blogs, quilts, and spends a lot of time teaching her two (very young) children to quilt. Now she is adding pattern design to her list of talents. When I heard she was soon to release her first pattern, I threw my name in the hat to be a pattern tester for her.

This is the second quilt pattern I have tested. Last year I tested for Mihaela of A Beautiful Day. You can read about that here if you like. Sarah’s pattern is very different from Mihaela’s Urban Folk Quilt pattern. She wanted to develop a pattern for beginner quilters. I think this design is just perfect for new quilters. It has very basic cutting and piecing which ensures success. That is just what a new quilter needs so they will gain confidence and feel good about their progress. Sarah did an excellent job with the pattern. Her instructions are very clear and easy to follow.

 

I chose to make Sarah’s pattern with this colorful bundle of fabric from the Fiesta Fun line produced by Art Gallery Fabric.  Sarah’s pattern uses directional fabric to create some movement within the design. A focal fabric is placed in the center and the directional fabrics surround it. This pattern came together in an afternoon. I cut it and pieced most of it the day before we traveled to Toronto. Because of its simplicity, I think this would be an excellent pattern for quilting instructors teaching a Basic Beginner Quilting class.
I love the bright colors used in this quilt. The top finished at 36 inches square; perfect for a baby quilt. I have some fun ideas on how I want to quilt it. Maybe with a spiral? Maybe a spiral that begins in a corner and works its way across the quilt? Time for some doodling to figure out which motif to go with and then there is the torturous decision about thread colors (never an easy one for me). I also need to dig through my stash and find a backing fabric. I do have the perfect binding though, a bright polka dot fabric. Hopefully I will get it quilted soon. The size is reasonable and won’t take too long to do.

This pattern will be given to anyone who signs up for Sarah’s newsletter. Her first issue will be published next week. If you are interested, you can sign up here. I am looking forward to receiving the first issue.

Linking to my favorites this week. See the list at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Home Sweet Home

We are home! It was a fantastic trip and I was terribly sad when the weekend was through. It is very difficult to have two of my four children living with their wives on the opposite coast. So much distance is between us. It is strange because we have our children and never really think about the separation that often happens as they grow up and find their path in life. I am fortunate that my boys are good communicators. We have a family group text string that is used daily – multiple times each day. Sometimes about silly stuff and other times about important things. We are very much in touch with each other, which is great. But nothing beats being together, you know – in person. 🙂

Since we got home I have been mentally and emotionally processing the wedding. When I experience these big events in life, I love that feeling of thinking about it. Kind of mentally ingraining the memories so I will always have them. It is akin to the feeling when I finish a really good book. I usually wait a bit before starting another one as I am just enjoying thinking about the first one. Does that make sense?

The happy couple!

My son’s wedding was absolutely perfect. He and his wife worked very hard to plan an event which represented the two of them. They knocked it out of the park. The ceremony and reception were held in a very small restaurant on the campus of University of Toronto, where my daughter-in-law both teaches and studies (she is working on her PhD, studying the religious artifacts from early Russian history.) Gallery Grill, located in Hart House, was a gorgeous venue for the event.  There were fifty people at the celebration. The officiate was a Humanist minister and her ceremony was so beautiful. It incorporated the necessary, legal elements of a Canadian marriage ceremony as well as the philosophical elements that the bride and groom wanted. I found it interesting that the marriage documentation is signed during the wedding ceremony (as opposed to afterward, like we do in the States.) Both the bride and groom are led to a table where they sign the marriage certificate and then the two witnesses (the bride and groom’s older brothers) come and sign. It was so sweet. The ceremony culminated with the groom breaking a glass, which is a Jewish custom, signifying the fragility of a marriage and how it must be cared for by both parties. (There are many actually many interpretations of this custom. You can read more about it here.)

Proud, joyful parents of the Groom!

I didn’t take many pictures over the weekend. Sometimes the camera actually distracts a person from enjoying the experience. Also the wedding invitation specifically asked that guests take no pictures – the kids purchased the electronic files for the photos from the professional photographer and I know those will be far superior to anything I would have taken. When I get those, I will share a few. The one picture that is here was taken, on the sly, by my sister so she could quickly text it to the other four sisters who were unable to attend. My sister, Cathy, was our social media coordinator and she Face-Timed with several of the sisters, showing them the venue (so pretty), the food (amazing!!), the flowers (peonies in January??), and the cake (I ate a bit of all three flavors!)  My sisters were able to get a good feel for the occasion, which was wonderful.

I very much enjoyed spending time with my daughter-in-law’s family. We had met them last summer, when they joined us in Maine for a few days. We enjoyed a few meals together and got to know each other a bit more. They are very sweet and it is wonderful for the kids to be living near family. (The bride grew up in Toronto.)

Oh, my thoughts on Toronto, you ask?  Of course, here you go –

Toronto is freezing. Not just cold, more like stepping out onto an iceberg wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Here, in the mountains of Northern California, we get cold. We have many days where the high temp is in the 30’s and the lows can dip into the low 20’s. We see snow now and then. But I kid you not, it is a whole different sort of cold up there so close to the lake. We walked and walked as Kyle toured us through the city and the University. (He is a great tour guide, walking backward and showing us the sites, providing fun anecdotes along the way.) We had reasonably warm clothing but my face would just be numb, especially my chin for some reason. The local Torontonian’s kept telling us what beautiful weather we were experiencing because the high’s were in the low 20’s (farenheit). Yikes. I know that means it could have been much colder! Crazy kind of cold! The bride was more than a little disappointed by the lack of snow. She really wanted a dramatic, snowy day for her wedding. I tried to hide my joy in the lack of snow. 😉

Trying to fit in (and definitely not getting there!)

We stopped by the National Hockey League hall of fame. We didn’t actually go in but I loved this sculpture that was out front. I’m thinking this is as close to a hockey game as I will ever get.

Black squirrels? I had never seen one. Apparently they are common on the East coast of the States and Canada, both. I looked it up and read that there are actually some living in the Bay Area here in California because they were introduced to the population at Stanford University. However, there are not many. (I wonder how the person got that squirrel here to California – Customs was digging through our bags both entering and leaving Canada. I am pretty sure I could not have hidden a squirrel in there anywhere! Haha.)

Dramatic beauty (and frigid cold) at Niagara Falls.

On the Sunday after the wedding my eldest son, his wife, Julia, and two friends took a day trip to see Niagara Falls. Ray and I didn’t have the energy for much so we declined. I think is was about an 80 mile drive to get there. They had a great time and I love this picture of the three of them.

Now that we are home, it is time to get back into my routines. I have been doing laundry constantly and today I need to clean up the house.  It was so busy the week before we left, I had not cleaned or picked up around here, and now it is time to fix all that! I did get to sew a bit yesterday and will share that in another post.  I am far behind in reading everyone’s blog posts. Last night I got caught up a bit but without commenting. Apologies for my rudeness. I’ll be back in touch soon. Also, I had the very good fortune to meet up with another quilt blogger in Toronto and will share that soon as well.

Glad to be home, sad to be separated from the kids. Such is life – always striving for a happy medium.

By the way, the picture of the map at the top of the page is a print I had made for the kids. It was done by a graphic artist who has a very unique Etsy shop, Ink of Me.  Check it out.

 

Gemstones is a Finish!

Never have I said good bye so many times. This is getting ridiculous. But last night I finished my Pretty Gemstones quilt. How could I leave and give it away without sharing it? There aren’t that many quilt finishes in a year (for me anyway) to skip one!  This will be a quick post, because you know, the wedding and all.  So much to be taking care of around here.

In all it’s glory, here is the first quilt finish of 2017! By the way, pictures were all taken indoors and late at night so they are not of the award winning quality that you have come to expect from me.  😉

This quilt was made with a pattern called Pretty Gemstones. It was designed by the wonderful Cynthia Brunz of Quilting is Better than Housework (which is absolutely true!)  It was published in McCall’s Quilting magazine in the January 2016 issue. The pattern is a breeze to make. I love a pattern with sashing. It means that my less than perfect piecing doesn’t make me go crazy because there are no corners or points to match. (I can be so lazy!)

I started this quilt last January as one of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects. But to be honest, I didn’t always follow the color prompts of the challenge. I was trying to use colors that are reminiscent of gems.  I think this came off quite well. There is are blocks which represent sapphires, rubies, topaz, tiger eye, amethyst and rose quartz. I skipped many of the suggested colors because they didn’t work for this project. I am pretty sure that is allowed but, if not, please don’t tell on me.

The sashing is done with Kaffe Fassett’s solid (the color is Ecru). I found it difficult to work with this fabric. It is a thin cotton and has a great deal of give to it. It became almost stretchy, especially the long strips for the sashing. Honestly, I doubt I would buy it or recommend it to a friend. (Sorry Rowan Fabric and Kaffe.) I had to starch it and while that helped, it didn’t completely solve the issue. This is the second time I used these solids.  The first time was in the jelly roll quilt I posted about here. I had quite a bit of trouble with awful stretchy waves in this project too. Part of the problem on the jelly roll quilt was I had to rip out stitches several times which distorted the strips. Now I also think it was this fabric. Seriously, it is very thin. After trying it twice, I doubt I would purchase these solids again. I have used Kaffe Fassett’s gorgeous print cottons and they are wonderful. It is this line of solids (and his stripes) that I am not a fan of.  For the backing I pieced the sashing fabric with a deep purple remnant that I picked up a while back. See the label on the back? I am trying to be more diligent about labeling my quilts. The purple fabric was also used to bind the quilt.

I quilted it with a motif of interlocking squares and rectangles of all sizes. This is the first time I have used this pattern and I loved it. The boxes are very forgiving. One interesting thing I noticed is that I can control the machine better with a square pattern than a round. Circles are more difficult for me to keep a consistent speed with as opposed to square. It felt more relaxing to quilt the squares.

On the plus side for Kaffe Fassett solids, they are quite soft – especially after washing. This quilt crinkled up so nicely after a quick rinse. No color bleeding issues either. Yay for Color Catchers!

Finally, take a close look at the quilt. See my rather silly error?  I didn’t catch it until about 1/3 of the quilting was done. Yikes!

I am giving this quilt to my new daughter-in-law’s parents. We wanted to bring them something as a thank you for the events they are hosting for this weekend’s wedding as well as to welcome them into the family. I hope they like it.

I am not going to promise this is the last post for the week. It probably is. But who knows?

Linking up with the lots of fun places. Check out the list at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

If you are shopping for a new Craftsy class, this weekend is a good time to do so. From Friday, January 13th through Sunday the 15th, the classes are Buy One, Get One. BOGO deals are great – two for the price of one! Check it out here.

(Note – I am a Craftsy affiliate. I am paid a small stipend for purchases made after clicking through the links on my site.)

Q1-2017 FAL Plan

I wasn’t going to post again this week but I decided I should do a quick outline of my quilty plans for the first quarter of 2017. I will be joining in with the FAL event hosted, in part, by Rhonda at Rhonda’s Ramblings. I joined in last quarter of 2016 and I liked having that list to work toward. In fact I finished all but one item.   Here is the plan for the current quarter.

  1.  Baste, quilt and bind the Harmony quilt. This WIP is moving from last quarter’s plan to this quarter. The issue is that I really want to use a rental at the long arm shop to finish this one and between their schedule, my schedule and my unpredictable migraines, I haven’t gotten there. Surely I can manage this over the next couple of months though.
  2. The second goal is going to be so much fun!  I will make – cut, piece, baste, quilt and bind – a sweet baby quilt for my first grandbaby. The baby is due March 3rd. I hope to have it done by then. It is a simple pattern of HST’s set on point that my kids chose.  Called Simply Snuggly, the tutorial  was written by April Rosenthal. The pattern finishes at 52″ x 61″ so I will be cutting it back a bit.   The parents-to-be chose a lavender, gray, white and pink color scheme. I have the fabric – all of it – for piecing, binding and backing. So I am ready to go. When I get back from our trip this week, I will get it cut out.
  3. I have another baby quilt to make this quarter as well. My niece is expecting her third child, a sweet baby girl, at the end of March.  My plan is to make a quilt from one oversized block. I am thinking of doing a big granny square block with bright, cheerful fabrics. I don’t have the fabric for this project yet but if I look through my stash, I suspect I will find at least a portion of it.
  4. I also plan to make some progress on the Sew Fresh Quilt Bee Hive blocks I am doing for the Canadian Ronald McDonald houses. I have 3 1/2 blocks completed.  I am sure I will be able to squeak these in between the other projects.
  5. I would like to make at least one, and maybe two, garments. I have no plan for these yet but I have a few pieces of fabric that would be fun to use. Two of them work for a baby outfit for that little grandbaby we are all waiting for. Or, I have that vintage border print I have mentioned before. I would love to make a little skirt for myself with it. I can fit those in, right?
  6. If there is any other time left for sewing, I will start a scrappy project. I decided not to follow the RSC17 color of the month this year. I have two scrap bins whose lids no longer snap tight. The green and blue bins are overflowing. Tons of scraps!! It would be fun to make a quilt with greens and blues and a pop of – something? – maybe yellow or a tiny bit of orange?  I will use Amanda Jean Nyberg’s and Cheryl Arkinson’s   book Sunday Morning Quilts for inspiration. I look at that book all the time, drooling over the ideas within. Maybe I should actually use one of them?!  Did you know Amanda Jean is soon to publish her second book, No Scrap Left Behind (love that title)?  I can’t wait to get my hands on it!!

This is plenty to shoot for this quarter! Now to see what actually is accomplished. Are you planning along with this quarter’s FAL?  If so, I look forward to seeing how the quarter progresses for you too.  OK – this is probably, almost certainly, the last post for this week. Probably, maybe, I think so?

Winter Bookshare

Who is ready for another book share? The summer book, Vinegar Girl, has made it’s way home to me. The Fall book, The Double Bind, has reached the last reader in the group and should be on it’s way home to me soon. I think that means it is time for the third round!

If you aren’t familiar with this activity, I select a book that I have read and think people will enjoy. If interested, you sign up by leaving a comment (first come, first served) and we share the book. I mail it off to the first person on the list with three fat quarters that I relate back to the book in some fashion. Once that person is done reading it, a note is written in the front cover of the book for others to read. We usually just share a couple of sentences describing our thoughts about the book and then forward it on with a new set of fat quarters for the next person to enjoy. This has been a lot of fun and I enjoy hearing other’s opinions of the book.

For this round, I selected a book by Elizabeth Berg. She is one of my very favorite authors. A prolific author, Ms. Berg has never disappointed me. I believe I have read all of her books except for the  most recent one. (Only because it hasn’t been available at the library when I have checked!)  The book I selected, Open House, is wonderful. So much so, that this is the second time I read it. This novel is about a woman dealing with divorce. It is a heartwarming story of the process that the main character, Samantha, goes through as she grieves the dissolution of her marriage and figures out how to heal and become whole again. One thing she does is open her home to boarders so that she can afford to stay in her house.

Elizabeth Berg has the ability to develop characters that the reader easily relates to. I usually come to love the protagonist and almost always feel just a little sad when the book comes to an end. Berg writes about real people dealing with real life situations. Her stories are not deep or complicated but they are genuine. In this book, she does a good job of developing the secondary characters (the boarders and Samantha’s friends) and I enjoyed each of them. My only criticism is that the happy ending for Sam might have been better served if it hadn’t involved a man. She got to the other side of her divorce a much stronger person and not just because of her new relationship. This is a quick read and one that I am happy to share. This book is not a long one which will be good for the group. It takes a while to get the book to each reader so I thought it might be nice to choose a book that was on the shorter side.

Ope House  is an older book which was published in 2000.   I find it interesting that this was actually Berg’s first novel. After writing it, she decided she didn’t like it and went on to write another one. Later she pulled it out and worked it over, publishing it as Open House. It is often the case that we make something and feel disappointed in it, only to shove it back in the closet somewhere. Then we bring it back out another time, change it up a bit, and give it new life.  There is usually value in our work – it just doesn’t always become apparent at the very beginning.

Books are such a great escape for me. Ray and I both read quite a bit and I am pleased that our children enjoy reading as well. Here is a picture of Julia a few years back.  I found her in her room, looking over her stash of books and somehow she ended up balancing a stack of them on her legs. It made me smile to see this! (Granted, the photo isn’t the greatest quality – I snapped it with my phone.)

 

I will be out of touch for a week or so. My son is getting married next weekend. We are traveling to Toronto,Ontario for the wedding. Things will be back to normal in a week or ten days. Until then, be creative and make something you love. 🙂

Post Update: sign ups for this book share are closed- Sorry to disappoint anyone. Let me know if you wanted in and I will give you a heads up when I post the book for the Spring Book Share.

New Beginnings

I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t really like the New Year’s Holiday. I think it was because to me it signified Christmas was over (oh how sad I was to see my mom take down the Christmas tree) and school was starting up. I didn’t like school a whole lot as a child – I would much rather be at home!  Anyway, New Year’s wasn’t my thing, that’s for sure.

Now it is signifies a clean slate, opportunity, and a new beginning. While I do love putting the tree up and decorating for Christmas, by New Year’s Day, I am ready to take it down and clean the house. Time to embrace the new year and the awesome opportunity that lies within!

For 2017 I have a few major goals:

  1. The first of which is to greatly expand my Etsy shop. I have a plan blocked out for this but I believe I will save the details for another post. I am excited to share this with you but need to finish a few things up before I do. Now you’re all curious, right??
  2. The second goal is to continue to improve my free motion and long arm quilting skills. I feel like I made great strides in 2016 and want to keep the momentum going. To this end, I am plan to:
    • Make some smaller projects (baby quilts and several minis) because I can quilt those with ease on my home machine which provides lots of practice.
    • Additionally, last night I made a stack of small-ish quilt sandwiches to practice on. Using batting scraps that I stitched together and old fabric, I pinned four sets to be used strictly for practice. For whatever reason, I usually think I need to actually “make” something before quilting. Really, I just need to practice. Using up scraps and weird fabrics will be an economical, quick way to get some practice in.
    • I have two larger quilts planned for this year which will be provide practice on the long arm that I am able to rent. Also, I still have one quilt in my UFO pile and will quilt it on the long arm as well.  (It is the Harmony quilt that was made for a wedding gift for my nephew. He was married in September and I still haven’t finished this. Not for lack of trying though!  I have made two different appointments to rent time on the long arm but both times woke up with a migraine and had to cancel.  Lucky for me, they are very kind about these things. Hoping to schedule time later this month to finish this up and then I can mail it off to the newlyweds.
  3. Next on the list is to fit in a few garment projects. I have several really nice patterns that I would like to make. These are patterns I have picked up while collecting product for my Etsy shop.  Refining my skills in actually fitting a garment would be wonderful. Seems like the main thing that holds me back from making clothing is the difficulty around fitting the pattern. There are a billion tutorials for this, many of which are found at www.collete.com. I subscribe to their newsletter and follow their blog. This year I am going to actually implement some of what I read on their site! First off, there is a vintage fabric I found a long while back. It is a border print and I think it would be cute for a simple skirt. Wish me luck!
  4. Last on the list is time management. There is SO much I want to accomplish. The best way to ensure I can do this is by managing my time wisely. Between sewing, blogging, my Etsy shop and taking care of the house, I seem to run out of hours in the day. To achieve this I plan to:
    • It is my hope to use the Quilter’s Planner even more this year. (I was fairly good about using it last year too.) If I can set goals for each week and plan blog posts out for a few weeks at a time, that would be great. Last year I tried to sketch my week out each Sunday. This year I would like to sketch out farther than one week at a time.
    • Stop multi-tasking. Seriously. This is my downfall every time. If I start one thing, invariably I stop to “just do one quick thing” and then I don’t finish the first thing. I need to stay put. Finish the quilt block, complete the Etsy listing, write the entire blog post, etc. Finishing what I have started would be hugely advantageous. Texting is a big distraction. Turning off the sound on my phone is very helpful
    • Meal plans also help. I do love to cook but if I don’t have a plan for the week’s meals, it feels like a chore. Trying to come up with something at the end of the day often results in dinners like omelets (thanks to our ever diligent hens).  Let’s just say Julia is sick and tired of eating eggs! I love knowing what I plan to make for dinner. It allows me to put more energy into the rest of the day, especially if I prep meals ahead.  Meal planning is something that I do sporadically. It would be so helpful if I planned at least four meals weekly – so that is the goal here. It makes grocery shopping much more efficient as well. I make more quick runs to the grocery store when I don’t have a meal plan. (This is actually a fallacy; from my house to the grocery store is a 14 mile round trip which  means there is no “quick run” to the grocery store!)

With these goals listed, I have a plan. Each objective is easily broken down into steps which makes achieving them much more likely. Go 2017!!! I am off to begin reaching for these goals. Later this week I will share the book that I selected for the Winter Book Share. Stay tuned! Happy New Year everyone!

 

Christmas Finishes

I have two little projects to share with you. These were both gifted at Christmas and I thought I would wait to post until after they had been given to their intended owners. First is a small, fabric book that I made for my soon-to-be-born grand daughter.

I have several of these panels, in two different flavors, that I purchased when a local fabric store was closing out, maybe four or five years ago? I thought it would be good to have them on hand as a fun gift to give. Then somehow I lost track of them or they went to the bottom of the pile in that closet of mine. After some digging, I found them.

I think it is a sweet way to introduce baby to books. The pages are thick and easily grasped, bright colors and not a whole lot in the way of a plot. Plus it is washable which might come in handy.  😉

If you haven’t made one of these before, it is basically a panel of rectangles. Once you cut them out, the panels are paired up to be sewn in a certain order so the pages are in the correct order. (This is crucial when the plot is as deep as these are!) The instructions said to fuse a mid-weight interfacing to one page of each pair. I chose to use fusible batting instead. It makes the book a bit softer. Each pair of pages is sewn, right sides together and then turned right side out. Press and sew up the little opening that was left to turn the book right sides out. Stack the pages and sew down the center to hold them together. Ta da! Your book is complete.

I didn’t put her name on the book because it hasn’t been shared yet. (Actually, I am not certain they have truly decided on one yet.)

The other gift I made is a scrappy Christmas pillow. I had cut lots of rectangles from a bag of Christmas scraps and decided to use a few of them. I stitched the rows and then when I sewed the rows together I offset the seams. It makes things a little bit more interesting. I love some of the vintage Christmas scraps in this pillow (especially the candy cane fabric).

It looked too busy with the patchwork rows right next to each other so I took a solid khaki color scrap and cut some strips that were 1.5″ finished. At first I quilted the scrappy rows with my walking foot and a variegated Mettler thread in Christmas colors of red and green. That looked boring. I added the big stitch quilting on the solid rows and liked the way that was looking. (You may have seen some of this on Instagram – I shared a few pictures there along the way.

After doing the straight lines of big stitches (using Perle cotton thread) I added the phrasing. I think that finished it off nicely. A simple envelope backing and it was complete.

I didn’t give as many handmade gifts as I sometimes do. Time doesn’t always allow for these things! But these were very simple and fun to make.

I have been reading lots of great posts about everyone’s plans for the new year. I am hoping to get to that soon. I didn’t get it done ahead of time and now we are in the middle of lots of family time. Maybe next week when things settle down again. I do have some fun ideas for 2017 and am excited to share them. Stay tuned!

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you all the best in 2017.

 

Linking to my usuals – find the links at the top of the page, under Link Ups. Additionally, I linked to Frontier Dream’s linky party, Keep Calm and Craft On.