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I love all things sewing!  It's all about the creative journey.  All my blog posts are letters to my sewing alter-ego - Lola!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sew Bowl

Dear Lola,

It doesn’t matter who you are rooting for in this week’s Super Bowl match-up between the Ravens and the 49ers, an event for record books is in the making – two brothers are going head to head against each other for the first time in Super Bowl history.  In fact some news media outlets have dubbed this year’s bowl – the Bro Bowl!  The Harbaugh Brothers - Jim and John will be front and center playing out the ultimate story of sibling rivalry right before the entire world!  With the Lombardi Trophy up for grabs, one brother will go home a winner and another brother may be somewhat disappointed.  Ok, maybe that last part is an understatement – but luckily in the world of sewing we can all be winners!  We are all in this together!  We can unite behind one thing – it’s not the Bro Bowl – it’s the Sew Bowl!

I’m not a huge football fan; you’d think that with a house full of men, I would have learned to love it more – oh well c’est la vie!  With that being said, I am a BIG fan of the Super Bowl though!  In fact, it’s one of my favorite days.  I get up early to make lots of appetizers, chips and dips, and set them all out on the counter.  I fill up the ice buckets and coolers, remove any fragile items from the area, and make sure there is an empty trash can near by. Then I happily sneak into my sewing room, no one looks for me, no asks for me, and I am set free to sew to my heart’s content! 

I will be gleefully ensconced in my sewing space.  I have been “training” this week almost as hard as the Giants and the Ravens – getting ready for my Sew Bowl!  I’ve organized my projects with big plans of reaching the goal line!  I’m getting my stadium of sewing ready.  I’m the home team and I totally plan to win!  I've lined up my Aurifil (+Alex Veronelli) thread, my notions, my fabrics and my patterns!  I've got a game plan and a starting line up of my own!  I plan to work on my Michael Miller Clubhouse Bonus Projects and finishing up last year’s Clubhouse Quilt.  Then I will move onto the overtime round of embroidery, sewing some shop samples and binding a finished quilt.  I plan to score on every level!

Sometimes, my local sewing retailer has a Super Bowl Sale, so if I’m in the mood – I can saunter right out of the house for some retail therapy too!  That’s an awesome plan for my half-time show!  Or maybe I can take a Craftsy class!  It’s amazing to me that on this day, I am completely invisible to my family.  The pre-game show, the offensive line-up, the commercial line-up and the real half-time show take total precedence over anything I’m doing!  Isn’t it wonderful? 

So if you haven’t already made your Sew Bowl plans – what are you waiting for?

Hugs and stitches,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sewing Wishes

Dear Lola,
Do you think it’s too late to share my list of sewing wishes for 2013?  It’s still pretty early in the year and you know I love my lists! A few years ago, I gave up making “traditional” New Year’s Resolutions like losing weight, exercising more, and keeping the garage clean in favor of creating a list of life experiences I hope to have in the upcoming year.  This new system works much better for me and of course, it’s definitely more fun!  The list isn’t law, but it sure will be great if I can accomplish it!

Here’s this year’s list of sewing wishes:

Charity Quilt
I want to make at least one charity quilt.  For starters, I totally believe in karma and I adore the idea of making someone feel happy. 

Master Electric Quilt 7
This year I want to learn how to design a quilt in Electric Quilt 7.  I am just enchanted by the thought of using this software to create my own quilt design and then ultimately bringing that design to life!  I promise to post about my experiences!

Attend Quilt Market
This has been my dream for a couple of years now.  Education, inspiration and creativity all rolled into one amazing experience!  Enough said!  I might even get to meet Alex Veronelli from Aurifil or Leah Day from the Free Motion Quilting Project.  They are two of my quilting world "idols"!

Make a T-Shirt Quilt
I’m ready to give this fun project a try.  Everyone loves a T-Shirt Quilt!  I know this isn’t a super ambitious project from a technical standpoint – but heck – everyone deserves some whimsy.  Another motive for doing this - getting rid of old T-shirts to make room for more fabric!  lol!

Hand Stitching
Just saying this makes me nervous!  I have a bonus project in my Michael Miller Clubhouse this year that requires hand stitching.  It’s time for me to tackle my irrational fears.  If I don’t – I’ll definitely never improve!

Machine Embroidery
I have a great machine that is capable of doing in the hoop embroidery, but I honestly don’t use it enough.  I am going to embroidery at least one project a month.  I promise to post my projects here for you to see! 

Through my job at Wish Upon A Quilt,  I am reminded my little sewing world is full of possibilities.  I love every learning opportunity I am given.  I also honestly believe there is not a more giving community than the sewing community.  Sewists and quilters love to share not only tips and techniques but also heart-warming stories of their sewing adventures.  When I took up sewing, I had absolutely no clue that I would come to adore my sewing peeps as much or more than the actual sewing!

It is thanks to my sewing peeps that I am always being introduced to new patterns and techniques that I want to experience at least once.  I also believe that some sewing experiences can be more successful when given more than one trial.  Like heirloom sewing – I gave it a try a few years ago and I honestly don’t think I was ready.  I just didn’t have confidence in my ability to maneuver the fabric accurately.  Now that I practice sewing almost daily – I think I could give it a try again in the future with better success.  I am praying there is a grandchild in my future that will be Christened in a gown I have sewn.  When my kids are ready – making that gown will definitely make the list!

The hardest part of making a list of sewing wishes is being realistic.  Like an enthusiastic Labrador puppy – I want to chase the ball until I fall over!  Luckily, I’m Sew Sleepless!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tools, Tools, Tools

Dear Lola,
I just love how easy quilting has become over the last 10 years.  Even though I have only been quilting for about 5 ½ years - I know it’s become easier from just listening to all the long-time quilters who visit us at Wish Upon A Quilt; reading quilting books found on my public library shelf, and tuning into to QNNtv to watch old episodes of Fons and Porter.

Quilting tasks that used to be somewhat daunting are now easy, easy.  Modern ingenuity has helped quilters create their own personal quilting style.  By the way, I am not saying that the tried and true – hand piecing, hand quilting, hand applique, tracing templates and binding by hand don’t have a place in the bigger quilting universe.

That being said, in my own little solar system – it’s all about the tools.  Since I didn’t take up quilting until I was nearly 50 years old – I’m all about finishing projects, learning and the sisterhood of it all.  If I had to do it all by hand, I honestly think I would have given up before I started.  With virtually no sewing skills to draw from – I needed tools to give me confidence.  You could liken it to Peter Pan sprinkling me with Pixie Dust.   So I am immensely grateful that the modern world of quilting convenience exists.

As with any hobbyist, I have a list of the top ten tools I absolutely cannot imagine my quilting life without!  I’m happy to sing their praises here with the caveat that I fully expect to keep adding to my list as new and improved tools are introduced to the marketplace. 

  1. Creative Grids Rulers – This Company and it’s products are the absolute bomb at giving quilters the rulers we need and don’t need  – but will want eventually!  Their non-skid technology keeps me straight and lets me focus on the fun of quilting.  I no longer stress about straight cuts or how to get the cuts I want.  All I can say is “Hallelujah” for Creative Grids.
  2. Martelli Rotary Cutters – Bye, bye cutting fatigue!  With this amazing rotary cutter I am able to go the distance.  I think I have cut my way around the globe at least a hundred times by now and thankfully my Martelli cutter gets the job done without all the aches and pains I used to experience.  Yes, it’s a little pricey – but certainly worth every penny.
  3. Aurifil Thread – Less lint, bigger spools, yummy colors, and awesome results.  That should be enough for any quilter – but Aurifil also comes with Alex Veronelli – Aurifil Guru and wickedly funny Aurifil Front Man.  Follow him on Pinterest and the artistic inspiration will take your quilting to lots of new places!
  4. Best Press Spray Starch – I keep this miracle spray starch around by the gallon.  It smells yummy (I adore Linen Fresh ), eliminates wrinkles, never flakes and makes it almost fun to press!  Remember I said – ALMOST fun!!
  5. Frixion Pens and Highlighters – Oh yeah!  Love these for marking HST (half square triangles), marking quilting lines, and any other sewing related marking.  The marks disappear with a little heat from the iron.  I use these pens as a hooping aid for machine embroidery too.  I love them for my Day Planner too!  I can write on the page and use friction to erase any changes in my appointments!  I carry Frixion pens with me at all times!  Just don’t write a check with them!
  6. Clover Wonder Clips – No more pin pricks from pinning my binding.  These clips hold my binding folded over in the just the right place.  They slide down as I am working and my bindings have never looked better.  The little marks keep me lined up correctly!  Stepping on one in the dark will not result in a trip to the emergency room either!
  7. Sewline Glue Stick – I use this glue stick for lots of things, but my favorite use is when I join my binding strips.  I have never been able to mentally retain the process of joining the strips.  I lay one strip over the other, dab a little glue in the right hand corner (it will be trimmed off), draw a line with my Frixion pen and stitch on the line.  I then trim ¼” from the stitching line and voila – I have a perfectly joined strip – every time. 
  8.  Supreme Slider – Apply this baby to the bed of your machine and Free Motion Quilting is easy.  It’s like a magic carpet for quilters.  My project moves effortlessly and I avoid that tension I used to get in my neck and shoulders whenever I attempted to free motion quilt.  Be sure to line up the opening for your needle carefully – don’t ask me how I know this is important.
  9. Grabaroo Quilting Gloves – another item that has made Free Motion Quilting something to enjoy.  These purple gloves are just what the quilting doctor ordered.  They help me keep a grip on the quilt without being clumsy.  They have little grippers on the end of each finger that allows me to shift my quilt in the right direction every time.  The purple color makes them hard to misplace and each glove fits either hand – another plus. 
  10. Karen Kay Buckley Perfect Scissors – they are indeed just about perfect.  There are 2 sizes, I love the 4½ inch and keep them nearby to snip off threads during piecing and applique.  They have a comfort handle and a micro-serrated edge.  I’ve attached a little lanyard to mine so they don’t travel to destinations unknown.

You will undoubtedly notice that I did not put a seam ripper on this list.  That’s because I absolutely hate my seam ripper!  Using it means I have probably made a mistake!  I am only happy to use it when I am doing a “Swirling Seam” on a pinwheel block or a four-patch block.  Since this is my least favorite tool, I can’t for the life of me explain why I own so many of them!

Hugs and stitches,