Saturday, December 22, 2012

26 Acts

With Christmas just around the corner, we've been rushing to finish our shopping and paying way too much for shipping to ensure everyone's presents arrive on time.  (Seriously, I just paid equal parts for presents and shipping...awesome.)  And to be honest, we are a very lucky family.  We aren't the kind of people who don't know what to do with all of their money, but we aren't struggling either.  We don't really NEED all that much.  And so aside from shopping for the kids (super fun!), buying stuff for each other isn't quite enough to get the Christmas spirit pumping through my veins. 

As you may have heard, Ann Curry started the newest fad of doing good with a simple tweet: "Imagine if we all committed 20 acts of kindness to honor the lost children of Newtown."  She wrote more about it here.  There are a number of variations on that theme (i.e. 26, 27, and 28 Acts) all making their way through social media and around the globe.  When I went to bed last night I thought "that's such a nice idea." But shortly after my morning coffee (sometimes a girl needs a little caffeine to get her going), I decided that I needed less thinking and more doing.  I was in.  I picked #26Acts simply because I had heard that number the most.  (I know...my complicated decision-making process is astounding!)   I try to do nice things for people on a regular basis: hold the door, smile and say hello, help carry things for people with strollers...once in a while I pay for the person behind me at Starbucks.  The thing I don't do very often is talk about it.  I like to be a quiet do-gooder.  (Those of you who know me in real life are laughing at the idea of me being quiet!  But you know what I mean!)  I'm not usually one for the spotlight when it comes to stuff like that.  But today I put on my big girl panties and documented my 26 Acts on Instagram and Facebook.  I was hoping that if I could get over the weird feeling that comes with bragging about kindness, I could maybe inspire a few of my friends and family to pay it forward for someone else.  So with that, my husband and I kicked off our mission....
Numbers 1-3: Christmas turkeys for the food bank
Numbers 4 and 5: munchkins and coffee for the fire and police departments

Number 6: bought a Christmas tree for a stranger (that's the firehouse...forgot to take a pic when I was getting the tree!)
Number 7: 125% tip for our server at lunch
Number 8: let people cut into traffic about 50 million times (too easy!)
Number 9: told someone I was thinking about them
Number 10: dropped a couple of bags off at Goodwill
Number 11-31: paid off 21 toys (3 layaway accounts) for families in our town
Number 32: donation to Salvation Army
So there you have it..our 26 Acts morphed into 32 Acts and it was amazing - Christmas is just oozing out of me now!!!  This was easily one of my favorite days ever!! When you start to do good things for others, even if you don't let them in on the secret, other people start doing good things for you.  Or maybe you're just in the right frame of mind and you start looking for the good instead of the bad.  People carried packages for me, they were patient and smiled, cars stopped to let us cross the street...it was a chain reaction! 

As a side note, we actually had some trouble finding stores that do layaway (some places only have Christmas programs that were already over and done with)...so in case you're interested, Sears and Kmart look like good places to start since they have year round programs!  AND as a reminder, since many people have made payments on their accounts, you don't have to sell an organ to pay one off...you know, just in case you're thinking about it!

Anyway, I hope my weird, selfish bragging makes you want to do something good in the world!!  Now I'm off to start working on number 33: do.Good Stitches blocks for December. (That one REALLY feels like cheating!)

Oh yeah, and Merry Christmas everyone!!! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Celebrate Good Stitches, Come on!

(If you were not singing that title a la Kool and the Gang, well...I just can't help you...)

So it's been quite some time since I've checked in.  (FYI, I was going for the world record for consecutive days without posting.  Keeping my fingers crossed that 38 days is enough to clinch it.)

Y'all know I'm part of the {Rad} Empower Circle for the do. Good Stitches charity quilting bee, right?  Well, Rachel has organized a big year-end celebration with prizes galore!  Each circle submitted their favorite quilt for the Best of 2012 contest and voting is open to the public.  Our entry is Heather's Square Pants quilt. 
Awesome, right?
Now here's the thing...each member of the winning circle gets a sweet-ass prize from Marmalade Fabrics: a bottled rainbow fat quarter set. BOTTLED RAINBOW!!  So this is the part where I beg and plead for your vote.  (You should know that I don't see anything wrong with bribery.  I'll be your best friend.  I'll make you cookies.  I'll do your laundry.)  So here's what you have to do.   

1. Go here and vote.  
2. Change computers and vote again. 
3. Repeat until you run out of computers or until the clock strikes midnight.  (Voting ends tonight at 11:59 pm...)  
4. Bask in the knowledge that you have my undying love (and maybe some clean laundry).

Now, "what if you're not in the bee but you've made a quilt for charity," you ask?  Well, you can add your quilt to the pool and be in the running for another sweet-ass prize: a Winterkist bundle from Mad About Patchwork!!  WHAT!?!  Quilts must be added to the pool by tonight at midnight. 

Ok, so quick!  Start voting (thank you, thank you, thank you!) and good luck with the Winterkist drawing!!!! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sewing, sewing, and more sewing

While we rode out the hurricane last weekend, I did a lot of sewing.  A LOT!  (We never lost power and didn't have any issues or clean-up from the storm...we were really, really lucky.  So I got to sew for 4 days.  Really, really, really lucky!)

I got my do. Good Stitches blocks done (October was my month...I picked Ashley's Converging Corners block...)
I worked on an improv project (sorry, no pics)...I got a million blocks done. (Ok, maybe it was only 10...but it seemed like a million.)

After all the improv, I needed a structured project.  So I whipped up a little patchwork number with one of my Bella FQ bundles.  (more pics to come)
I machine stitched the binding again....I'm starting to see improvement in my skills...baby steps to getting it right.
And today I picked up some nice fall colors to make Thanksgiving napkins for my brother-in-law. (He's hosting this year!)  I haven't started on them yet, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to want to keep them for myself!
Well, I'd love to stay and chat but I really have to get back to my sewing...(you didn't think I'd had enough yet, did you?)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side

I'm adding my Single Girl to the Blogger's Quilt Festival!  I wanted to make this quilt for quite some time before I actually started on it.  And I'm so glad I went for it! 

If you're a regular visitor, you might remember it from this post.  And if this is your first time stopping by, then welcome!  Here's a quick recap for ya.

I made this quilt for a dear friend as a wedding gift.  She had been a self-proclaimed "single girl for life"...right up until she got engaged.  I started with the dark purpley-red wine color of the bridesmaids' dresses and expanded into bright reds, orange, and one or two pinks and purples.  
The piecing was a challenge, but the quilting is where I spent most of my energy! (It's also my favorite thing about this quilt!)
Since my single girl was getting hitched, I used the quilting to transform it into a wedding ring pattern.  It wouldn't have been so bad if I had left myself enough time to pebble an entire quilt.  (But why would I make life easy for myself?)  I spent every spare second working on it and by some miracle, it was finished with a whole 24 hours to spare!
(wow - this is not a great picture...but you can kinda see the quilting?...)
This is one of my greatest achievements to date, second only to the time I single-handedly bathed two dogs and lived to tell the tale.  And in all honesty, if it had been for anyone else I may have kept it for myself, whipped up a quick whole-cloth quilt for the happy couple, and called it fair. But I really love my friend and she really loved the quilt!  Success!!

So here are the final stats:

Size: ~85"x92"
Pattern: Single Girl by Denyse Schmidt
Techniques: patience, free-motion quilting
Quilted by: me
Best Categories:  home machine quilted, bed quilt

Thanks again for stopping by and super-extra thanks to Amy for hosting the festival!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reaching the Summit

I spent the last two weeks recovering from Sewing Summit.  If you went this year, then you know...  If you didn't get a chance to go, you should clear your 2013 calendar and start saving your pennies for next year! It was absolutely amazing!  There's only a 2 hour difference between CT and UT, and I didn't even stay up late...but I was wiped out by the time I got home. 

I will not possibly be able to convey the awesomeness of Sewing Summit in this post.  And just like any bad blogger, I took almost no pictures.  But here is my random collection of comments in bullet point format.
  • Fantastic classes.  I am of the opinion that there's always something to learn.  You might learn a new trick or technique...you might learn a fun-fact from talking to the person next to you...you might learn that you don't like something and you would like to spend the rest of your days trying to avoid said thing..but there's always something to learn.  I got pretty lucky and got into all of the classes that I wanted, including many of the coveted hands-on classes - and I loved them all!  That said, there's so much more to Sewing Summit and you don't have to be in an official class to learn something, yo!
  • The people made the weekend.  Everyone was so amazing; the staff, the instructors, the other attendees...even the Starbucks employees were extra nice.  It was fun meeting blog friends in real life.  Like Lisa! (Hey, girlfriend!!)
It was so great hanging out and getting to know each other!  And I made a lot of new blog friends while I was there!  I'm pretty sure that even if I didn't take a single class, I would have had an equally amazing experience.  In fact, next year I'll probably leave a few sessions open just to have more time to hang out and chat with people. 
  • Make a name tag with your blog name/logo on it.  I didn't because it seemed silly to wear two name tags.  But really, that's how we all recognize each other in the blog/Flickr/Instagram world.  If you don't have time to make something super-duper crafty, just print out a sticker that you can slap on your official badge...just be sure to make it big enough so people will be able to read it from a comfortable distance.  (Unless you like people putting their faces in your boobs...then by all means, use 8pt font.)
  • If you're thinking of going to SS next year, start working on your Weekender Bag now.  There were 250 people there and about 249 of them had Weekenders.  I was already dreaming of making one before the Summit - I mean, it's just an awesome bag and the perfect carry-on size - but I couldn't decide on a style.  I spent the conference stalking other bags for inspiration.  Here are 4 of them.  4 out of 249.  (And if one of these is yours, well my undying love for your bag will have to suffice in lieu of credit because with my memory, I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of remembering who these belonged to!...)
I really didn't know where to start.  Until I saw this one that Marci made...
Game over!  That's my bag!  So much awesomeness!  Polka dots...with deer....wearing glasses!  Here's a close-up for ya:
I managed to find some for myself so I'm planning to be a giant copycat and make one just like it! (Also, I'm dying over those stripes she was working on when I took the pic...coordinates for Chicopee...yum!) Anyway, I considered grabbing the bag and running as fast as my legs would carry me, but she was really sweet...it's hard to steal from a nice person, you know?...so I guess I'm going to have to make one for myself.
  • Don't pack any clothes.  Just wear the same thing every day.  Because you are going to need every square inch of your luggage for fabric and swag.  At check-in, we got swag bags.  Giant, delicious, swag bags that came loaded with tins and batting and scissors and other amazing bits of goodness (free Craftsy class!  WHAT?!?)...and then, into this bag, we dumped even more swag over the course of the weekend.  By the time I was packing to leave, it was filled with magazines, books, fabric, thread, fabric glue, more fabric, more batting, even more fabric...  Plus, the day before classes started, there was a shop hop during which I purchased copious amounts of fabric.  See?...
Plus I found some Chicopee corduroy! 
Hey, check out my new awesome photography skills that I picked up at the Summit! (FYI, this is my only trick. I will be using it non-stop.)
I'm going to make myself a skirt...just as soon as I learn how to make a skirt. 

It might not look like a TON of stuff, but it would not all fit into a large flat rate box.  Luckily for me, the Sewing Summit staff is awesome and they set up a shipping station so I didn't have to carry it all on my person...(just some of it.)  I love them.
  • My secret celebrity boyfriend, Joel Dewberry spoke during lunch on Saturday.  It was awesome.  Ella offered to take a picture of me doing something wildly inappropriate while the distinguished Mr. Dewberry carried on a respectable conversation with someone else.  But as a woman who is completely chicken mature and grown up, I decided against it.  He played it really cool too...see how he's pretending he doesn't know where I'm sitting?  
He seriously gave a great talk and answered a bunch of questions and just seemed like an all-around great guy.  Plus we got to take a peek at Notting Hill and he said we could pet it. Ok, he didn't use that word, but obviously that's what he meant.
(and this is why you can't trust pictures on the interwebs...this picture sucks! But the fabric is awesome!)
So that was the super-extra long version.  Here's the short version:  Sewing Summit was awesome. You should go.  See you there next year!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Have you heard the news?

My secret celebrity boyfriend, Joel Dewberry, is going to be the keynote speaker at Sewing Summit!  WHAT?!? 

You know who else will be teaching a class?  My secret celebrity homeboy, Quilt Dad.  WHAT?!?

You're probably getting a little nervous that I'll do something to embarrass myself...or become incarcerated....well, fear not.  I'm really good at playing it cool.  (That is a lie.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Less Words Thursday...

...because sometimes you just can't get it together for Less Words Wednesday.
little, teeny, tiny dress for smallest niece!
slightly longer, little, teeny, tiny dress for oldest niece!
big girl dress for me!!
I used this tutorial and it was awesome!  If you need more tips for sewing with elastic thread on a brother sewing machine, check here...it saved my sanity!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

What I did on my summer vacation: Sewing Edition, part 1

As you may remember from previous posts, I'm part of the Empower Circle of do. Good Stitches.  Well, our group decided to take August off to get caught up on our dGS quilting projects (and to get caught up on life).  I have to admit, I was feeling all proud of myself for finishing my quilt in a timely fashion...until I realized that it's almost my turn again...which means I was just as slow as I was the first time around!  Oh well...a finish is a finish! 

I asked everyone to make string blocks with warm colors on one side of the string, and cool colors on the other.  Our color palette was rainbow.  Burn your eyes out, unicorns and care bears, magically delicious rainbow.  I pieced it all together in a jiffy and it's everything I dreamed it would be!...
The size would have been perfect with the blocks made by the group, but it was eating away at me to only have 2.5 warm diamonds on each side...so I made a few extra blocks and sprinkled them in to bring it to an even 3 and appease my OCD side.  I exercised a LOT of self control by not using it for a nap or keeping it for myself.  I really, really, really love this one!

I asked everyone to keep the seams parallel, but to vary the width of the strips for the color pieces.  The varied strip widths serve two purposes:
1. You don't have to worry about all of the seams matching up when you sew the blocks together.  (I'm lazy.)
2. It looks cool.

Here's a close-up of one of the diamonds...
Since the front was a tad busy, I kept the back muted and simple. The whole back is made of this soft taupey-gray...it's one of my all-time faves.
You can also see the quilting there.  I wanted to do some sort of free motion, and since I did stippling on the last one, I gave it the old loopity-loop this time.  It went really quickly!  (Side note: I tend to make small elongated loops so my exercise with this quilt was to keep them big and round...is anyone else singing Baby Got Back right now?)  For the binding, I used one of my other favorites, Pure Organic in Aqua.  It worked really well with the bright piecing and I LOVE the way it looks with the backing fabric!

It ended up being a generous lap size - I think it might work as a twin coverlet - it will definitely work for napping. (I promise, I didn't use it...I just measured it against my usual nap quilt....pinky swear!)  So now it's off to fulfill its quilt destiny at Alternatives for Girls!!  Happy travels, quilt!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What I did on my summer vacation: the London edition

(Disclaimer:  this is going to be one long-ass post.  Skip ahead and take breaks as needed.)

So it’s been approximately 1 million years since my last post.  I’ve been busy like a bee this summer so let’s just jump back in with a mishmash of vacation slide shows and stitchy fun.

First up, we visited friends in London.  They're awesome!  Case in point, they own this:
They’re the kind of friends you wish you could live next door to.  I sobbed when it was time to leave.  (I considered throwing myself on the ground in a full toddler tantrum and declaring that I wasn’t leaving but I settled on crying in an upright position. The floor of the tube station was filthy.  I couldn't bring myself to touch it.)  Anyway, here are the highlights:

W finally got to meet our friends’ daughter.  She’s almost 2 and she’s pretty darn amazing!  She gave me the tiniest little daisy within the first 5 minutes of meeting her.  She picked it just for me.  I really could have spent the whole visit just watching her interact with the world.  (Although I would have needed an intravenous coffee line to help me keep up with her...that kid has energy!)
We got to tag along to the Young British Foodies Awards.  
It was a night of fun and interesting eats.  Everything from fancy-pants to food trucks!  Our friend (and his friend) were nominated in the coffee category.  They opened a cafe in a gallery about a year ago (I think).  It's called Coming Soon (but really, it's already there...).    They're very scientific about their coffee making and it totally pays off - these guys make some AMAZING coffee!  I know I'm biased and all, which means you might not believe me.  So the only way to settle this is for you to go check it out and report back to the group...  (If you tell them I sent you, they'll probably let you pull the shot yourself.  Actually, even if you don't tell them I sent you, they'll probably let you pull the shot yourself!  They're nice like that.)
We did a lot of walking while we were there.  Sometimes is hard for an American girl to remember how to cross the street on the other side of the pond (especially an east coast jaywalker, like myself).  Luckily, my English peeps had me covered:
During one of our walks, we came across this gem:
Awesome!  I wanted to steal it.
We had our phones at the ready just waiting to turn someone in to the Dog Squad, but alas, we found no droppers...maybe next time.  Now, I don't want you to miss out on the best part of this photo, so I've taken the liberty of zooming in for you.
You stay classy, London.
Yep.  Steam.  Just in case you thought the dog dropped its ice cream.  Or a bulb of garlic. 
 
The city was preparing for Jubilee Weekend and the streets were festive!  I can't decide which of these is more British:
8 million Union Jacks under one roof...
or a mere 1,000 Union Jacks with a red phone booth and a man in an argyle sweater vest...
I'm leaning towards the latter...  

The young whippersnappers were feeling festive too
Is that ok?  I mean, she's the queen for cryin' out loud!
Anyway, I caught the fever and became British for the week.  As evidence, I present to you, my souvenirs:

1. Liberty booty.  This is exciting in the quilting world, but probably my most boring souvenir.  (Although I did stock up on my most favorite print (Strawberry Thief) in two colorways, some burn-your-eyes-out pink, and a super-special Olympics print.) 
2. Union Jack welly socks.  Because of these socks and salted caramel mochas, I'm looking forward to fall this year.
3. QE2 Rubber Ducky! 
Are you a little bit jealous?  It's okay...I would be too...

4. QE2 postcard.  I hope you know that this is going to be glued to a popsicle stick any day now so she can watch over my sewing and make appearances in photos...I'm not kidding.  
5. And finally, the piece de resistance...the thing that will make any food better (including an electric blue castle cake)....
That's right, QE2, her beau, and the royal dogs in the form of cake toppers!  Just seeing this picture makes me want to go spruce up a sandwich!

Well, there you have it...my London vacation.  I need to start planning my return trip ASAP!