Monday, August 17, 2015

When your sewing room is your office and your office, a sewing room

A while back, my husband started working from home. That meant we had to set him up with a home office. This was my office/sewing room: 

This of course was shot on a good day after it was clean. Most of the time it was crammed with too much stuff. It is a 10'X10' room and was really quite small to be a dual purpose room.

So I did what any amazing wife would do and I sacrificed that space to my husband.  

Okay, let's be honest. He needed a room with a door and I had been eyeing the upstairs living room because it was bigger. I had dreams of turning it into one of those amazing sewing spaces from Where Women Create. I clearly had ulterior motives. But hey, my room did have a door so he needed it.

Well, I never quite took the time needed to set it up so it was never quite right. While I love the tall table with shelves, it has never been comfortable to sit at whilst sewing. My back always aches after just a few minutes. And I am constantly retrieving the seam ripper-bobbins-stylus-thread-what have you's from the floor after they roll off the table. I really wanted a new sewing cabinet, but the $3000 budget for a table is kinda hard to justify with two kids in college.

About two weeks ago, I remembered that I had my moms old sewing cabinet in the garage collecting dust with some other big items we store there. I awoke one day and suddenly had the mad desire to throw all the miscellaneous objects away that were blocking the path to my cabinet. I worked really hard with my hubby, got the table out, cleaned it up... and before I knew it, I had this...!

It works just fine! The best part is that I can store my hoops and stabilizers inside and the doors have little cubbies for my thread snips, bat scooters and seam rippers! No more rolling off the table. It should work out just fine. 

Now, I want you to notice just beyond the little wall is the front door. I am often horrified to have guest show up unexpectedly to see the rest of this room. It is usually a mess. For the past few weeks, I have known that I needed to rearrange things. It just was not working.

I failed to take before pics of my room. However I dug through my computer and found a few from a day I was trying to make a friend feel better about what she felt was a messy house. This should make you feel better too. 

My sewing table and the seldom used couch

In front of my desk (view-able from the door)

Behind my desk - Pretty hideous!

It wasn't THAT bad when I started this on Friday, but it was not great either. Something had to give. I could not concentrate to write when I came in the office. I was getting stuck on sewing all the projects I need to sew for Generation Q. I couldn't focus on anything.

After taking a few measurements, I realized the couch was taking up too much space in this 11'X13' room. If I moved it near my desk, it would be a great seating area for the kids when they want to be in the room with me or want to chat after school. It also would be handy for putting on shoes. 

I am more than halfway done with the rearrange. Want a sneak peek? 

 I moved all of the furniture, freeing up space around my cutting table and I moved the couch next to my desk, creating a nice conversation area. It already feels so much better. I have a few items on the floor near my desk that need to find homes, but that will be done soon enough. I just need to clean off the cutting table/activity table and sort though a bit more stuff that needs to either find a new space to live or go away. I should be done in a day or two. :)

I promise to take some more pictures in the daylight and show you the rest of the sewing space.

How is your space working for you? Is there an area that you feel needs better organization? Let me know!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

World Sjogren's Day and Quilting

It is world Sjogren's Day and I decided to make an update to my previous posts. It is now two and a half years since my diagnosis. I still wish for a cure. I still often wonder why I am so tired... and then I remember. This is my normal.

The blessing in this diagnosis is that I am learning self-care. I am learning to say "no" when I need to. Sometimes that is when I really want to do something and just can't. Other times, it gives me permission not to do something I didn't want to do anyway.

I got to write a few articles in GenQ about products that keep you sewing when you have health issues.  Let me know if you want to hear about some of those in future posts.

If you would like to learn more about Sjogren's Syndrome, please visit

Anywho, enough about that! How about I share some fun stuff? Go check out my post on Generation Q's blog today. I am a guest in Ebony Love's blog hop for her new video!

Blog Hop

I love Ebony. And I love Sizzix. So this makes my heart sing!

This week I was a guest at Riverwalk Quilters Guild in Naperville IL to talk about "Inspiring Kids to Sew" - it was fun! Junior editor and daughter extraordinaire came to show off her sewing projects.

I can't believe how many people showed up for a July meeting. Kids were invited to attend and eleven young sewists came. They even brought show and tell! They were awesome. I hope to have more speaking engagements in the future!

Have a great day! I am heading out for a girls night out tonight with some friends. What are you doing?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Catching Up - BERNINA, Tardis Quilts and Sizzix fun

Hello? Is there anyone still out there? Ha! Yeah, it's been a while. I got kinda a bad taste in my mouth after the last post. So I took a break. I have been busy though and it has been good. 

Both of my boys are in culinary school. My oldest is studying beverage management at Kendall College and my younger son is studying at The Culinary Institute of America. It has been a big transition but exciting to see my boys enjoying what they are studying. When they have a restaurant together, I have already requested my own table so I never have to cook unless I want to. :)

I have had some health ups and downs. I ended up being too sick to go to Fall Quilt Market which was quite depressing, but the right decision. I really was way too sick. And it is fine, there will be another Market in a few months.

As for quilting, in November, I became a BERNINA Ambassador. I needed an embroidery machine loan to use for the March issue of the GenQ and I thought I would just borrow it and give it back, but they gave me a year long contract. Wheeee! I got the BERNINA 780 and it really is magical. It has seriously amped up my sewing and helped me regain some precision that I was struggling with since my diagnosis.  

My first quilt of 2015 was made for my son for Christmas. He is a big Dr. Who fan so it had to be a Tardis quilt. Yeah, it was supposed to be done for Christmas, but was done during the first week of the year. But that's okay! I can mark it off as the first quilt of what is sure to be a prolific year for me.

Quilt pattern is Relatively Dimensional by my friend Sam Hunter

I have never done any serious amount of free motion quilting on any quilt I have made. I mean, sure, I have done a few loops here and there, but I never really felt confident enough to do much more than that. 

Well, going to the BERNINA reunion in December changed all that. Sitting in a classroom full of award winning quilters, quilting book authors and world renowned teachers - PRETTY INTIMIDATING. 

I had a choice. Be afraid or be fearless. I chose the latter. 

When we had to try out the BERNINA Stitch Regulator, I had a moment of panic and then I just decided to go for it. I mean, stressing wasn't going to make my stitches better... 

We were given some silk flower petals, a circle of tulle and some cording to try out using the red bobbin holder for bobbin work. The example shown was of a cool-sort-of-asian-inspired-flowerpot. I looked at what I was given and decided to go in a different direction. 

I also got to try out several machines, including the new long arm. OMG! What a machine! It was crazy. 

I know you can't see it because the print is so busy, but this was the first time I ever tried a long arm and actually had good results. 

It started me thinking about how sometimes you need the right tools for you. So many great sewing machine brands out there (and I love several) but it seriously is not one size fits all. You gotta go out there and try different brands before you invest in a good machine. Try 'em all if you can! Find the one that fits you just right.

Another favorite product that ups my game is my Sizzix Big Shot Pro and my Fabi. I just got to play with some new dies by the fabulous Victoria Findlay Wolfe. You can read all about it over on the GenQ blog.

I talk a bit about how Sizzix has helped my cutting. When My hands hurt from a Sjogren's flare, I can still easily cut fabric. It's great! I also like that I can cut with Accuquilt dies on my Sizzix Big Shot Pro (you can't do it the other way around, Sizzix dies are too thick, unless you have the Studio cutter).

In the blog post over on GenQ, I talk about two articles that are in the Jan/Feb issue - Sewing Forth and/or 25 Tools and Strategies for Adaptive Sewing. Both articles discuss products and strategies for continuing to sew when you have physical challenges, such as autoimmune disorders, vision problems, etc. So check it out!

That was a lot I know. Thanks for making it all the way to the end! I hope to write here a bit more frequently this year, so stay tuned!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sexism and Quilting

I have been thinking a lot about this really well written article by Deanna McCool over the past few days. I used to make a snarky remark about men who quilt being famous - and this was mainly my way of making a point about sexism. My point being that men have a tendency to do something, make their presence known, be an expert. We women, sit back, ask permission. I am over-simplifying, but do you get my point? It is two different mentalities. 

Something about this article was making me feel uneasy and I finally put my finger on it. As long as I have been quilting, we have had what used to be called "the quilt police" and what we at GenQ call "Q-bullies" which are those people who need to drag you down, point out your flaws, tell you that you are doing it wrong or essentially don't belong. This behavior is getting the spotlight lately and I hope the behavior will change quickly.

But I still felt uneasy and had to dig a little further and it finally occurred to me. The sexism that these men refer to? Well, we women have experienced it our whole lives. As long as I remember, someone has told me what I can and cannot do because I am a girl.

 "Be ladylike", "Sit down", "Lower your voice", "Be polite", "Don't act up" - am I right ladies?

Often, it was men that I didn't even know telling me what to do or how to behave. I was exposed to cat-calls on the street even as a young girl not much older than my daughter. Or later asked to "Smile. It's not that bad" as I walked down the street. Really?!? What is that about? Why do I need to make your world more beautiful if mine isn't so bright today?

Remember the Virginia slogan "VA is for Lovers" that was everywhere back in the early 80's? I was wearing that t-shirt in NY while shopping when a guy came up and asked me "Is it?" as he ogled my breasts. I was 12 or 13.

It doesn't feel very good to be told what to do, does it? It doesn’t feel good to be judged solely by your sex. It certainly doesn’t feel good to be told that you don’t belong here just because you are a _________ [fill in the blank]. If you don't like it, imagine how we feel.

Women have dealt with this kind of "you don't belong here" mentality for centuries and honestly, I don't think you guys will have to deal with it for very long because we know too well how it feels. 

My wish is that if you are a man in this industry, or anywhere really, that you might think about what I am saying and help to alleviate what we women go through. If you are complaining about the sexism that you experience, perhaps you can think about any sexism that you have imposed on women or that you see other men imposing and either speak up about or stop that behavior. This is a great conversation to have and I hope the dialog continues because it will create change.  

I can't wait to hear what you have to say. So leave me a comment and let's talk about it! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Stitch 'N Swap Blog Party and Giveaway!

Well, it certainly has been a very busy year for me. I have had a lot going on and not all of it was very good. But I gotta say that one great thing that happened was being a part of this!

 I nearly wasn't a part of this great new book that Jake Finch put together with the rest of the Gen Q team. I was just diagnosed with Sjogren's and I was having one giant flare after another. I had so much going on simply at home that I remember crying to my husband one day because I always wanted to be a part of writing a book and here was a small chance to be a part of one and I couldn't do it! Luckily both he and Jake were so very supportive and kicked my ass to get it done. So I did!

The wonderful thing about this book is that it is made up completely of small projects - 25 to be exact! We are talking things that can be made on a rainy afternoon. The idea is that they are small items that can be made and swapped with a bee or in your guild. They also are perfect items to make and give as gifts! Each project is made by someone

Here are a few of my personal faves:

Vicki's Hot Drink Cozy
 Melissa's Casserole Carrier

 Emily Herrick's Tote Bag

And finally...

My contributions were two doll quilts for American Girl Dolls. Clearly I made these quilts for my daughters AG bunk beds and not the bed in the photo - but I gave instructions to measure and make it for your dolls bed so it will fit just right! There is also an adorable pillow with pillowcase!

I have a lot of fun using the mini-prints from Timeless Treasures for these quilts. I think it looks super cute to use small scale prints on the things you make for dolls.  

And now on the the fun part! 

About the book: Stitch ‘n Swap releases May 19, 2014. It has 112 pages filled with 25 projects from amazing designers and get this–it’s only $17.95. Please go to your local quilt shop and ask them to save you a copy of this wonderful book (and I am not saying that because I am in it!) when it releases on May 19th. After May 1st head over to GenQ to buy a copy. We are an independent magazine, so when you buy from us we really are a small biz - it helps keep us writing! You can also pre-order a copy now directly from C&T
But you can win a copy!!!
About the giveaway: GenQ is giving away three copies of the book to winners drawn randomly from commenting on THIS post. If you live in the U.S., you’ll win a hard copy of the book. If you live outside the U.S., you’ll get a digital version. A winner will be chosen on May 8 "noonish New York time".

About the party list: Join the festivities! Over the next 3 weeks, our fellow contributors will be sharing their favorite bits of the book, tips on hosting a Stitch ‘n Swap or other glimmers about their design process. 

Blog Party week 1: Jeni Baker, Anne Deister, Emily Herrick, Sam Hunter, Lynn Kraus
So head on over to GenQ and Enter the contest and visit the rest of the Stitch 'N Swap Amazing Contributors!

Jeni Baker Carrie Bloomston Karen Cunagin Anne Deister Jake Finch Victoria Findlay Wolf Michelle Freedman Linda Hansen Scott Hansen Emily Herrick Rose Hughes Sam Hunter Heather Jones Kevin Kosbab Lynn Kraus
Melissa Peda Vicki Tymczyszyn Elaine Wong Haselhuhn
And me of course! This was really fun to be a part of this amazing book. It makes me feel like I am somebody in the quilting world! ;)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Next Generation of Quilters and Sewist

What is the world coming to when your nine year old daughter is getting solicitations from fabric stores???

What the what?? Well, happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How I started quilting

Years ago, when I first got married, I wished I was one of those friends that remembered birthdays and sent cards. And then Facebook came along. It is my special place where I keep in touch with my friends from all over the country and I can be that friend that remembers birthdays.

So when my friend Cheryl Sleboda posted on Facebook and asked if anyone wanted to participate in a blog hop that shared how we started quilting, I raised my hand.

It all started when I was four. My mom loved to sew and she had a nice fabric stash. One day, she asked me if I would like to make a quilt. I nodded. She took two squares of flannel and folded them on the diagonal and had me whip stitch the edge. After I did a few, I remember asking her when we would finish the quilt. We never did. She totally doesn't remember this event, so perhaps she was simply trying to keep a four year old busy. But for me, it stuck. I always wanted to make a quilt.

Fast forward to 1991. I was pregnant with my oldest son and I wanted to make him a quilt. I found myself on bed rest at 4 months and my family did their best to bring me some fabric and supplies, but I really had no idea how to make a quilt and I didn't have a sewing machine.

Shortly after Z was born, we moved to a new apartment that was conveniently located two blocks from the library and two blocks from a fabric store that had a very modest supply of calicos or quilting cottons. It was back in the day when you had to be careful that you didn't buy quilting cotton that was actually a cotton poly blend. :P Yuck!

I read every quilting book that was in that library. Fabric was $5 or $6 per yard, so even when I was on a tight budget I could usually buy half a yard. I also watched every episode of Penny McMorris's Great American Quilt on PBS.

So I messed around a bit with the fabric and made sampler blocks, all with cardboard templates and hand sewing. Then, my dad announced he was getting married and I decided I would make him a quilt. He is an architect, so it needed to be graphic...

When I chose the pattern, I chose a "simple" one block pattern.

The hardest part was finding the gradient fabrics. I made the entire top and never quite figured out how to line up the triangles properly before sewing. Simple, my a#*! LOL

However, he still has the quilt hanging in his home and that makes me happy. Luckily it is up really high, so you can't see where the points don't meet.

So Now is the time when I am supposed to show you something recent I made. And darn it! All of the really cool stuff I made recently is totally off limits to sharing on my blog. I have two adorable doll quilts that will be in a book. Some great projects that are coming out in the next two issues of Generation Q. And seriously, everything else you have seen! LOL

So maybe I will show you a few cool things that are not my most recent...

My second quilt was one for Z. It was completely hand appliqued and hand quilted. 

Next came things like this...

And more recently, scrapbooking in fabric...

 Needle felting...

And Pikachu for E...

Now I do more of this...

So there you have it! Leave me a comment and let me know what your first project was and what you think of mine.

Thanks for visiting! Why don't you go check out some of the other people who have participated in the blog hop too?

Aug 1. Cyndi Zacheis Souder
Aug 2. Becky Glasby
Aug 3. Cheryl Sleboda
Aug 4. Barb Forrister
Aug 5. Jackie White
Aug 6. Me!
Aug 7. Lisa Chin
Aug 8. Laura Krasinski
Aug 9. Catherine Redford
Aug 10. Sylvia Lewis

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