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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!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

100 Day Challenge

Dear Lola,

I have decided to challenge myself to be completely and utterly happy for the next 100 days.  I am going to find a way to involve myself in a sewing activity every day for next 100 days.  I am certain this will bring joy to my daily outlook and as they say, "nourish my soul."

I'm so convinced about the importance of having sewing in my life every single day, that I am going to stretch myself to improve my handwork.  I'm going on a trip that will prevent me from taking a sewing machine, so my handwork will be along for the ride. 

One of the important aspects of my "100 Day Challenge" is that I am not giving myself any sewing project quota.  I'm not giving myself some arbitrary number of projects to finish during this time.  This challenge isn't about finishing UFO's or learning new skills.  I'm doing this to demonstrate the joy that sewing brings to my life, just because!

Each day, for the next 100 days I will sew!  I will find time in between laundry, grocery shopping, work, errands and everything else that makes my day mundane.  I will schedule time for a visit to my sewing space.  I will treat my sewing time like the necessity it is!  My sewing time will find itself on my daily list right next to morning coffee.  It is something I need in my day to get through the day.

So here we are on day 1, and I already feel the the joy and happiness.  Sewing always brings a smile to my face and makes life happy!

Hugs and stitches,


Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Thread that Connects Us!

Dear Lola,

In the next few months, I will be traveling a bit for my consulting work and for the quilt shop where I work.  It's quite exciting to be with other quilters and enthusiastic sewists from around the country.  I love seeing the quilting and sewing projects that are traveling too.  I always think, "what would these quilts say if they could talk?"  

The projects inspire so many new projects.  The new patterns and fabrics create so much artistic synergy.  Some projects are copied exactly, while others create a segue in a quilter's mind that develops into a completely new and different project.

As you know I have insomnia, but I always find it even more difficult to sleep during these creative excursions.  My mind is like a computer with a thousand tabs open, processing and formulating new directions and connections.

The metaphor applies to all the new friends we make and meet too.  I was at a wonderful Tuffet Affiliate Workshop recently and the connections that were made there were amazing.  These ladies are like sisters to me and we have been keeping up with each other on social media.  They are have been teaching wonderful classes and introducing tuffeteering to so many enthusiastic tufeteers!

While I wish I lived closer to these dynamic women, I know in my heart we are always connected.  I will always be rooting for their success and quilting and sewing happiness.  That's the beauty of quilting.  Side by side, or miles apart, quilting friends will always be connected by heart!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sewing Friends are Better Than Pixie Dust

Dear Lola,

The picture above says it all!  It's better to be sprinkled with life-long friends than pixie dust!  The best part of quilting and sewing is all the extraordinary friends to be made!  When I moved to North Carolina nearly 8 years ago, I didn't know a single person living here!  I decided to take up sewing and voila - instant friends.

People that are incredibly dear to me and have proven themselves through thick and thin came into my life through sewing.  My friends Melody and Brenda have been my personal rocks.  Yes, like all friendships, we can have rocky moments - but they are the stitches that hold my life together.  When I got to know them, it was as if I had known them my entire life.  They bring laughter into my life like no one else.  In fact, we can laugh so hard that we might almost wet our pants (sorry, if that's too much information).
Melody, Lori, Brenda - Stitch Sisters

No matter where sewing takes you, there are wonderful friends to be made.  When I joined a block of the month program, I met another dear, dear friend Chris.  We clicked immediately.  We talk on the phone almost every day and try to get together to sew as much as possible.  She is my retreat sister and my spiritual guide.  She keeps me grounded and shares so much of herself with me.  I thank God for her friendship everyday.

Over the years, selling fabric, machines, software has made me the best friends too!  Connie H., Kris, Debra, Pepper, Jeannie, Jennifer, Bonnie, Jane, Jodie, Lisa, Ruth, Shelley, Renee, Dottie, Bob, Page, Julie, Sudi-Laura, Karen, Diane, Kathleen, Sharon and Pat come to mind.  These ladies are super special to me and are very dear confidantes.  We stay in touch at work or reach out to one another through Facebook and casual get-togethers.

Classes and trainings have brought special friends into my life too!  I have tremendously enjoyed my very special relationship with Sharyn of Tuffet Source.  Her sunny, happy disposition is such a joy.  I have even had the privilege of working for her and helping to build the Tuffet Empire.  The ladies who came from near and far to attend a workshop in Winston-Salem and are now my "near and dear"!  Love them all:  Kerin, Jeanne, Cheryl S., Cheryl B., Kristen, Karena, Kimberly, Judy, Nancy, Marti, Brenda, Lise, Sandy, and Kathleen.

Tuffet Affiliates - March 2015

My guild has given me super special friends too.  Ina, Karen, Connie, Penny, Laura, Roberta, Sue-Ann, Myra, Ginny - the list goes on and on.  Ultimately my guild also gave me the dear sweet friends in my Bee - As the Thread Turns.  These ladies and I meet once a month and they keep me in stitches - literally,  Love them all:  Angela, Carla, Kathy, Dottie, Pat, and Rae Anne.  This monthly collaboration and feeding frenzy is something I cherish beyond measure.

Lola, I could literally go on and on!  When I think about it - quilting and sewing has given me more wonderful and special friends than I could have ever imagined.  Thank goodness for these wonderful friends.  Their friendships are definitely more magical than any amount of pixie dust!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Good Stash - Not Everyone is Worthy!

Dear Lola,

You have watched me over the years adding and adding to my stash. It's true, I have put together some of the most beautiful imaginary quilts that will be made at some future date.  Like all quilters, I go through that period of self-loathing for owning way too much fabric, and then I feel compelled to create a quilt using only my stash.

Since some of the stash has been on display on my shelves (I hate to admit it), for years as colorful, artistic inspiration, I have become very attached to it.  There are some fabrics that I love almost too much to ever cut up.  But let's face it, God forbid I die - there is no one in my family who is likely to sew with this fabric so it's time, as they say, to let the cutting, sewing and quilting begin!

Ok, now that hurdle has been crossed, we arrive at the next hurdle.  What to make; and who will be the lucky recipients of these "good stash-worthy" quilts?  Having loved the fabric for so long and so passionately, I need to select carefully when giving away these quilts.

Lola, I can hear you now, "Why?"  Well the answer is simple, I have to be able to keep an eye on my stash up close and personal.  I have a need to know where this beloved fabric is at all times (well most of the time).  Putting it into a quilt and giving it away is like giving up a beloved child or pet.  So not just anyone is "good stash-worthy"!

For all you non-quilters out there - be aware!  If a quilter gives you a quilt and she mentions that she has used her good stash - there are two very important things to know!

  • You are greatly loved!  Only well-loved, well-trusted people receive quilts made with the good stash.
  • Check-in time to time with quilter and let him or her know you are caring for and loving the "good stash-worthy" quilt.  

Lola, I promise to post a photo of my first "good stash-worthy" quilt and the lucky recipient.  I also promise I'm going to begin cutting it up today - after I finish my coffee and head out to the fabric shop.  I need a few fabrics for my stash.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Stash building - what's your excuse?

Dear Lola,

You know I think working in a quilt shop is pure joy.  It's wonderful to be around quilters all day and I truly adore helping them select the fabrics for their projects.  Sometimes, I get to assist someone who is putting together an entire quilt and sometimes we are hunting for the perfect backing or binding.  

Every quilter seems to enjoy selecting the "ingredients" of a quilt.  Some quilters effortlessly select the ingredients while others obsess over the fabrics, battings, and threads.  I recently assisted a customer with the thread she was using for her piecing.  We spent over 30 minutes discussing the thread options and colors.  I think she went home with an excellent choice, she was still questioning herself as she left the store.  She was still concerned that she wasn't sure we got it right.

I generally try to select an Aurifil thread that is close to the colors I'm using in my quilt.  I usually settle on a neutral and I am always happy with the results.  I never obsess over the color I use for piecing, just the brand - it has to be Aurifil.  

We also get lots of customers that are "stash building".  Sometimes customers are embarrassed by this. But most customers realize we have heard this many times and they seem to know a quilt shop worker understands this phenomenon intimately!

The shop where I work carries Kaffe Fasset Fabrics and we received our shipment of the 2015 collection on Thursday.  Our customers were anxiously awaiting the unpacking and checking in of these beautiful fabrics and purchased a predetermined cut of each and every bolt.  Not surprisingly, there was no specific projects in mind.  They were just adding these fabrics to their stash - because!

When I'm on the other side of the cutting table - when I'm the customer - I know the quilt shop worker understands my need for stash building.  That being said, my non-quilter friends and family do not seem to understand the purchasing of fabrics that I have no immediate purpose in mind.  

I recently showed some new finds to a non-quilter family member and she asked, "what are you going to make with that?"  I replied, "I don't know yet, I just loved it and had to have it."  She viewed me with dismay, "you already have a lot of fabric in your sewing room, when will you find projects for all of that!"  

If you look at the conversation through the eyes of a non-quilter, it's a perfectly reasonable rationale to wonder how will the quilter ever use all of her stash.  I can see that.  However, I am a quilter and have a quilter's mind.  How can I impress on the non-quilter the importance of stash building?  Then it occurred to me - I was on a humanitarian mission.  There was some fabric trapped in the quilt shop that needed to be rescued!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

How do you know you're a quilter?

Dear Lola,

How do you know you're a quilter?  Is there an official moment a person becomes a quilter?  Or is it a metaphorical status?  While I believe I became a quilter in my heart before I finished my first quilt, there might be some purists who would argue you are not an "official" quilter until you have completed your first quilt, as they say, "from soup to nuts."  By the way, I looked up "from soup to nuts" and it's derived from the description of a full course dinner which historically was comprised of all the courses - beginning with soup and ending with nuts!  

I also suspect that some folks like to add some qualifiers, like "beginning", "novice", "intermediate" or "dabbling" in front of the word "quilter".  There are other descriptive words that can be attached to quilter like "traditional", "modern", "next-gen", "art", and my favorite, "totally-completely-utterly addicted"!

Just like in most things in life, we don't always think of ourselves in a context.  For example, I didn't think of myself as old until I received my first AARP advertisement.  The day that postcard arrived congratulating me on my invitation to join felt a little like the moment your kid heads to college.  You are happy you made it this far, but unsure of how to celebrate.  

As I travel through my quilting journey, I feel fairly certain, I won't be receiving any postcards announcing my arrival at quilting milestones.  Yet, many quilters can and do receive notice along the way.  Some quilters enter shows and find their work judged.  This process helps them grow and often results in accolades.  We can also share our work with other quilters in organized groups like bees and guilds.  This is another wonderful way to receive feedback and feel recognition from our community. It's an affirmation of our "quilter-status".

I personally love my quilt bee, they are wonderful, creative women who share so much with each other.  I love the local guild I belong to as well.  It's a place where I can view the work of many women within my community and there are often great educational opportunities folded into the monthly meetings.  It's just plain fun to be part of these groups.

In spite of all the things that I do to identify myself as a quilter, it took a funny experience today to make me realize, "oh yeah, no postcard required, YOU ARE A QUILTER!"  I was in the kitchen cooking dinner with the television on for background company.  I heard bits and pieces of the report and heard the announcer say, "a great way to get ripped" and I immediately looked up  thinking I would see a seam ripper.  Instead, it was a hollywood hunk who was "ripped" in a completely different way!

So Lola, I think we can safely say, there is no doubt, I know I'm a quilter.  

Hugs and stitches,


Monday, March 16, 2015

Don't you hate making the same mistake over and over?

Dear Lola,

There is nothing worse than making the same mistake over and over.  I've been burning the candle at both ends and I just needed a little face time with my machine.  I have a block of the month that I have been working on forever!  Did I say forever?  I meant it - the blocks are 4 years old.

I have the fabrics cut out, so it seemed only natural to try to stitch together one block for a little therapy.  I literally sewed the block together wrong 3 times and was ultimately able to bond with my seam ripper instead of my machine.  I felt like the comic book character above - "These flying geese are killing me."

I have been doing a lot of volunteer work for my son's school and I love being around the kids.  They are all awesome.   The parents - not so much!  The parent group hasn't been very cohesive or very nice for that matter, so putting something together like one quilt block seemed like the perfect artistic therapy for me.

After the third failed attempt, I realized that the process was a metaphor for the frustrations I have been dealing with and even though I really like to avoid the seam ripper, I was able to control the outcome.  With life, we don't always have a seam ripper at our disposal.  We have to make do with uneven people and experiences.  We don't get do overs like we do with quilting.

So once again, my sewing space gives me the lessons and meditations that I need at just the right moment.  In hindsight, it's just fine that I didn't finish the block - ripping is just what this girl needed to do to let off a little steam!

Hugs and stitches,


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Share with Love

Dear Lola,

Quilters are the most amazing people and I'm not saying that because I'm a quilter.  In fact, maybe I became a quilter hoping to become amazing!  Each opportunity I am given to be around other quilters reminds me how enthusiastic, energetic and optimistic quilters are.  They are always so happy to learn, share, grow and encourage.

The minute I meet another quilter, I feel a kindred connection.  I'm inspired to ask about current projects, favorite fabrics and colors.  I love hearing about success stories and quilting horror stories - we all have them!  I recently met a wonderful lady who shared the story of a quilt she made for a Wounded Warrior.  She was honored to have met the recipient and had tears in her eyes on the retelling of the experience.  She said the experience was one of the proudest moments of her life. After hearing that - I had tears in my eyes too.

Over the past 7+ years, I have heard so many stories from quilters who were honored to share their quilts with others.  Each quilt we make is a labor of hope, grace, dreams, laughter and love.  Having a hobby like quilting enriches my life every day and I feel blessed because of it.

Hugs and stitches,