Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Looking back on 2015


Blogs and Instagram feeds are flooded right now with best of’s and upcoming 2016 goals, and while I tend to be a spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, procrastinating kind of gal when it comes to my sewing projects, I recognize the importance of reflecting on accomplishments and successes, while looking for areas to improve. I thought that Cheryl from Meadow Mist Designs had some great insights for looking back at top projects in 2015.

To start out, one of my top accomplishments for 2015 has simply been blogging on a regular basis. I never put this in black and white, but it has been my silent and personal goal this whole last year. 2013 was a low point for me as far as blogging goes, only blogging about once a month… but I had just had baby number two, was working a lot, and with my husband being gone so much, not to mention a complete loss of inspiration, something just had to give… and that was blogging. But in 2014 I was slowly able to get back into thing and managed to double my posts, and  this year I almost doubled that and posted at least once a week. Posting once a week may not sound like much, but for a mom of two kids under five, it’s huge!

As far as actual sewing projects go, my project with the most views was my Swell quilt finish… geez, this thing was so huge and took such a long time to make, but considering the fact that it was my second quilt, I have decided to not be too hard on myself for taking so long to finish it. While I am not new to sewing, I am new to quilting, and I learned quite a few things from this one!


My Best Conversations Posts were actually what I call “life” posts… the kind that aren’t just talking about which quilting techniques, etc, but about life and emotions… the thing that makes you feel more connected to other bloggers. If you missed this top conversation post, read at your own risk, or at least wait until you have some tissues with you… this project has actually inspired me for another special project in 2016!


Best Free Pattern Post actually has a couple of winners… my Deck the Halls pattern has had the most visits, but I couldn’t end the year without talking about my mini’s just one more time. While it might not appear as a huge project with a fantastic finish posts, I was able to learn so much from such intense little projects… 


And also noteworthy was my “Mochi Necklace” tutorial that I did for Sew Mama Sew at the beginning of this year. While the tutorial is technically “not mine” anymore, it was still a big accomplishment for me in many ways, and a kick off post back into the land of blogging.


At the end of last year “While She Naps” blog author, Abby Glassenberg, had broadcasted a fabulous interview with Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Fabrics and  Kristin Link of Sew Mama Sew. This was exactly what I needed to hear to inspire me to move forward with the hardest thing I have done this year… shutting down my long time online fabric shop. It’s amazing that when I reflect on it just a few short months after the fact,  it’s the best decision that we made in 2015,  and I don’t regret it... not for one second! I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure out why I was holding onto something for so long that was simply not bringing any benefit into my life!


If you prefer the condensed version of a little less talk and a lot more action, you can check out a few of my IG best… the irony of it is that while I am a windy girl myself, I'm totally a picture girl!


What was your biggest accomplishment in 2015? 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Planned Roadblocks & Ditches


When I start a new project, very rarely do I plan everything out from start to fininsh down to the last stitch. Perhaps that's why I always run into bumps, ditches, hiccups, and roadblocks all along the way. First threre are size issues, then the issue of whether to follow the pattern as is or add to it, border vs no border, and let's not talk about the nightmare of the long wait if you need additional quilting supplies shipped to Germany!?! 

Even though I have several projects in the works, despite how it might appear, I really am conscious of bringing all those backburner projects to the front again once each issue is sorted out. Usually if I put it on hold for a while, then somehow that "break" gives me the time to process the direction that I want to take it.
 

I was finally able to connect my Farm Girl Vintage blocks, but you can imagine how frustrated I was when I had run out of the sashing fabric right in the middle of trying to finish it! So when I had to re-order the sweet swiss dots fabric, a "few" stowaways just happened to mysteriously fall into my cart... I'm still trying to figure out how that happened?!? Does that happen to you too?
 

In addition to some Erin Michael low volumes that I've been drooling over, I added a few jewel tone colors from the 2015 Basic Grey grunge basics. I've been in the home stretch of finishing my Facing East blocks for some time now, but had decided to put that too on hold until they came in... and now I've even been able to whip up four blocks with the new colors!


... well, now there's nothing to hold me back from some finishes! (except maybe for Christmas, life with kids, and a flooded basement where I keep my quilt design wall!... you know, life!)

Do you plan your quilts start to finish? If so, do you find that you run into less snags? Or are you more spontaneous with your quilting projects? If so, do you find that run into more snags?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Deck the Halls Free Christmas Tree Pattern!


 It would seem that when I like a particular designer's work, I can gush on, and on, and on ( and on) about them. One designer's work that I keep coming back to time and time again is Cori Dantini. Almost every fabric line that she has put out, as soon as I see it, I have about twenty project ideas that come to mind. When I first saw her Joy & Wonder collection for Blend Fabrics, that was no exception. As I was drooling over studying her collection, it hit me... a paper piecing pattern was staring me right in the face! So, I approached Cori earlier in the year and asked if I could adapt her design into a paper piecing pattern... and now in the spirit of the season of giving, I am turning around and giving it to you too... the Deck the Halls Christmas Tree pattern!


I also drew inspiration from other elements in Cori's fabric line, and added a house and tower. Her fabrics are absolutely perfect for fussy cutting, don't you think?


For the stars I used the reverse applique method because I wanted to have a very clean and finished look, but did not want to remove excess fabric from the back of the small stars as you would for a freezer paper applique star.

 
Much of my quilting was simply shadow and straight line quilting, and I really wanted the stars to be focal points of the quilting as if they were really shining. You can see a good bit of the work in progress on my instagram feed.


...additionally, I wanted to say a big thank you Jessica, for helping me get this into a nice, cleaned up pdf format!

Area you busy working on Christmas projects for yourself, as decorations, or are you part of Santa's team and making presents for others?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social. 
 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

On Again, Off Again


About two weeks ago, I got together with a friend of mine for a sewing day, whom I met on a WIP Wednesday linkup some time ago!... it perhaps doesn't sound too out of the ordinary to meet on such a platform, but it might actually make it very out of the ordinary if you know that we both live in Germany! It's amazing how much you can get accomplished when you have a whole day dedicated just to sewing, despite lunch and chocolate breaks! I have so many WIP's in the works, it was not too hard to find something to work on.

If you've visited here a time or two, you might have figured out that I am a debater when it comes to my sewing projects. When I started my Farm Girl Vintage blocks, I had a very clear direction as far as colors and fabrics, but then I hit my stumbling block: the sashing. After several fabric auditions and many seam ripper moments, it got packed away again, and it wasn't until after won a pretty little stack of Swiss Dots fabrics from Sew Fresh Quilts that I had my Eureka moment:


Here's the best part... half way through my sashing, I realized that I had calculated wrong about how much sashing I needed to get this WIP together... uggghh! Luckily I was able to find the fabric again, but now back to waiting until the fabric makes it all the way to Germany... hmmpff, back to the back burner with 'ya.


... and flipping to the front burner again, do you remember this fun little stack of orange peels? They too are starting to take shape, and I really think I will enjoy this Modern Beauty Block as a table runner for our dresser in the front hallway. I've actually decided to make a few changes on some of the orange peel fabrics, so this might be another long time in the making project, but that's just how I've planned this "basket project" to be.


Oh, the lengths you go to for that perfect shot... here's Mell capturing a few of our WIP moments. Do you stand on your piano bench too for a good picture?
 

 ... and speaking of the backburner... I've not forgotten about my Facing East quilt... no, no, quite the contrary! That's was another debater moment, and I've decided to add a few of the new Basic Grey 2015 grunges to the mix... and wouldn't you know, they are in that same box with the swiss dots fabrics... back on the back burner again!

Are you an "On Again, Off Again" project maker? Do you seem to run into a lot of road blocks on projects, or are your projects planned as to leave no room for error?

Linking up this week to WIP Wednesdy and Let's Bee Social. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Heart's Desire & Quilt Finish


Have you ever wanted something so badly that it felt as if your heart literally hurt and ached? Usually such a yearning comes from the desire for personal relationships... whether it is a longing for a spouse, a friendship, or probably the ultimate of yearnings... the wish for a baby.


Before we were pregnant with our oldest son, we actually had a miscarriage. It was so early in the pregnancy that we barely had time to comprehend it ourselves, much less share it with family and friends. Even though the pregnancy was only in it's first weeks, the loss was still very real, especially since we had been trying for a while. After having gone through such a loss, I ended up coming out on the other side with a deeper understanding for others who have been hoping for, praying for, longing for, and even aching for that wee little set of ten toes and ten fingers to rest in their arms... and for some reason it just hasn't happened.


 
A while back a friend of mine had shared with me that they had been longing, hoping, praying, and aching for their own wee one... and for NINE years! There is a verse in Proverbs that sums up that very feeling... "Hope deferred makes the heart sick"... I so get that, I understand this, and I feel it. I especially get it for those that are in that place right now. Did you know that neurons have been discovered in the heart? With that being said, it sheds a new light on the depth of feeling that ache,

...BUT.....


... the turn in this story is that there is a "but" to the rest of the story! The verse in Proverbs doesn't just stop at the heart being sick part, but there is a second part of this Proverb... "but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life"... and the story of my friend does not stop there either! After nine long years of waiting, my friend has just welcomed her ten fingered and ten toed wonder into the world!


The really amazing thing is that just weeks before my friend had shared her news, I had started this quilt. I had no particular plans in mind for this project at that time, or even a particular recipient, but as I read through her announcement email, I then knew why I had started this. Sometimes you just know things in your heart before they happen, and only after the fact realize why your heart led you the way it did.

If you are, as they say in German, "built close to the water", then I'll give you your chance now to transition and perhaps grab a tissue, while I give you a few stats about my "Scrappy Windmils"/"I Spy" quilt:


Quilt pattern: "Scrappy Windmill" quilt from Judith Dahmen as featured in Issue 10 of Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine.
Started: June 2015* (I had a three month waiting period for the batting. Otherwise this might have been finished sooner!)
Fabrics: Kona Cotton white and favorite fabric scraps from my stash.
Finished quilt size: ca. 50 x 60 inches (ca. 125 x 150 cm)
Backing: Zen Chic, "Swinging" and Julie Comstock, "Cameras", various scraps.
Thread: Aurifil cotton 50 wt white
Binding: Basic Grey grunge, grey  


Once the sun, moon, and stars had once again aligned to snap a few pictures, it was really fun for me to do a little "I Spy" quilt photo shot with our little guy. As you can imagine, he was all over the place like any normal three year old boy, and "can you put your leg down", "hold still", "no, don't jump" were repeated over and over again... but I think that in the end, he was a pretty good little model, don't you think?


He even pretended to take a nap on the quilt... (you can almost hear the fake snoring, can't you?)


With such an amazing story of a longing that has now been fulfilled... is it any wonder that this little bundle of joy's middle name is... Joy? Tickled pink happy for you, Jules! 


Do you have any long-time-in-the-waiting stories? 

Linking up this week with WIP Wednesday and Let's Bee Social.
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