Dec 28, 2015

2015: favorite photos of stuff I finished, places I went and things I did

In 2015 I finished quite a bit of stuff. I went to some awesome places. And I actually accomplished quite a few things.

Plus, its super cool that I've kept up this blog as both my journal to record and my mandate to do so with good photos.

Here's a few photos of my favorite moments of 2015!

I like to quote one of the very talented writers I follow, Peter King (in case there are any other football nerds out there)... he always writes in his MMQB column a section called... "things that may only interest me"

So here goes mine... 

some things that may interest only me

In 2015, I made quite a few art quilts. Two that I love (zebras and a cardinal in applique), as well as several pieced and improv quilts featuring Japanese fabric. 

Mid-year I remodeled my studio. That was fantastic. Totally jump started my creativity. Also got me going to begin a project to use up my old stash. Now I'm making simple quilts of love to give away.

So many exciting things to remember... one of the highlights was being featured in a magazine: Where Women Create Business.

Went 'round and 'round the state of Texas (and one trip to Omaha) on a book tour. Met so many wonderful quilters. The husband traveled with me a lot and we put some miles on his snazzy new car. My quilt buddy Amy G. went on a few trips too. Turns out traveling with a quilter to give talks at quilt guilds is a pretty handy thing. My son had to substitute for one event. He was completely thrilled about that...(not really).

September - went back to Japan and held a reception for the artists' featured in my book. That was a ton of fun!

October - I was also honored to be invited to give a lecture at the Texas Quilt Museum - and the Consul General of Japan joined us!

And finally, 2015 will forever be remembered as the year my first book was published! 

Dec 21, 2015

a sweet handmade gift: some wool, a few feathers, embroidery and you have a bird!

This sweet bird is a Christmas gift given to me by my longtime quilt buddy Amy G! He's quite special (and so is my friend, by the way).  

All handmade ... with wool... some fur and feathers... lots of lovely hand embroidery... and some greenery to bring the outside in. Isn't he fantastic?

My talented friend is one of the many blessing in my life!

Merry Christmas everybody! And Happy Holidays!

Dec 10, 2015

homespun saga: giving thanks with quilts continues

My "quilts of thanks" gifts for my family and friends continues!

Two more done. Ready to be loved. 

The fabrics for these quilts were acquired some dozen years ago when I made this quilt from a commercial pattern. Its hand quilted! 
A quilt from long ago.
At the time I was so in love with homespuns that I collected and collected and collected!

I'm sure I could have made this whole pattern with a half dozen or so fat quarters. But that didn't stop me from buying what I'm certain turned out to be at least 25 yards (yes, yards!) of homespun fabrics of every shape and color!

And there they sat. For more than a decade!

So, I'm continuing my mission to use up this beautiful fabric.

A third quilt is basted and ready for quilting. All three quilts are simply pieced, a timeless patchwork of five-inch blocks. They're quite lovely actually and will make a great quilt to use on the couch while watching a movie or reading a great book. Nothing quite like a cotton quilt for warmth and comfort.

I'm happy to give these away to my family and friends that I love. And I especially love that I've made something useful and beautiful from all this homespun cotton fabric.

You can read my previous post about my quilts of thanks here!

I still have a long ways to go. Plenty of fabric in the stash. And sadly, there's even more fabric tucked away in the closet.

This mission will continue!

On Friday, I'll link up to
Off the Wall Fridays
Finish it up Friday
Free Motion Mavericks
Whoop Whoop Friday

Dec 2, 2015

the Japanese art of decluttering, how it works in real life

Three million copies of this little book have sold. Three million!

Marie Kondo shares her Japanese perspective on the art of decluttering. Its a simple concept and a simple book. Perhaps that's what makes it so appealing.

Here's her pitch: a messy home or office leads to a messy mind and messy work.

Get rid of everything you do not love. Declutter your life! And do it all in one day. Do not try to tidy up bit by bit.

There's a lot of truth to this. I always feel better after getting rid of stuff I don't need. I love this concept of decluttering your whole life too in one fell swoop, but in real life, this won't work for me.

I simply cannot go through my house and get rid of everything I do not love. For example, I do not love the 10 or 12 boxes of my daughter's books that we are keeping for her. But I can't throw them away either. As a parent, I feel an obligation to keep them for a certain period of time until she has a home of her own that is large enough to take them.

Here's another example. We once went on a safari to Africa. We bought lightweight cotton khaki clothes for the hot Africa sun. I do not love those clothes. Not even a little bit. But, there might come a day when I need them again and they were not cheap. So they sit in a drawer.

These are practical decisions. They're also economical and emotional decisions

Decluttering the Closet

That said though, I have been slowly decluttering small areas of my home, studio and work area. I know this goes against the "do it all in one day" thing... but this is how it works in real life. At least for me.

Here's one whole shelf cleaned up. The clutter is gone. Cleaned up. Dealt with!

Decluttering the Desk

I am also on a mission to try to go paperless at my desk.

Here's a stack of business cards. These cards just pile up and end up in stacks in drawers. Hard to make the time to organize them.

I've upgraded to a new app (we used to call these things "software") called Evernote.

This is an amazing tool that clips web pages and articles, holds my files and lots of other cool tools for my research. Plus it syncs across all my devices instantly. So if I am sitting on my couch at night with my tablet, and read something interesting, I can clip it and it'll appear on my desktop or phone.

With my Evernote upgrade, now there's a function to take a photo of a business card and Evernote actually READS the card and stores all the info for you. You don't have to enter all that data anymore! It also keeps the photo of the card associated with the contact so if I've written notes on the card I can still see them. This technology has been around for a while, but the beauty of this is the integration of the business cards with all my other notes and files!
Beautiful way to declutter the desk!

Decluttering the Studio

For months I've been working to declutter my studio. There was a complete remodel, which helped a lot. But it feels a bit like my studio went from this...

to this!

I love the art of decluttering. It feels good. And I plan to continue, my way... bit by bit... cuz that's how it works in real life.

Dec 1, 2015

denim and leather experiment

For something fun and new... I've been experimenting with sewing leather. Not sure where these ideas come from... but I recycled some old jeans and made my own pattern for a patchwork denim purse. Then I trimmed it with leather and made leather handles.

I kept the jeans pockets intact for the pockets inside the purse. No need to reinvent the wheel! They're perfect for keys and a smart phone. I quilted the purse interior to soft and stable batting, then fused the outside denim layer to it.

I actually sewed this leather trim twice. Here's the first attempt. 

I didn't like the color of the leather... its a blue/gray dusty dyed leather and it just didn't look right. Too close to the color of the denim. So I ripped it off and redid it in the fuchsia trim. This was all an experiment to learn how to sew leather anyway.
I tried a lot of different threads. I ended up with Isacord polyester in the top and bobbin. Anyone have any experience sewing with leather? I'd love to hear your tips!!! 

I purchased this leather roller foot for my Bernina and tried to use it. I thought it'd be especially useful on the handles by gripping the leather in a tight area. Turns out... after experimenting with it over and over, I could NOT get it to work. It just never gripped anything (even when I turned the foot pressure ALL the way up) and the stitching looked awful. So I ditched it and used my trusty zipper foot and the teflon foot. Both of which worked fine. Sadly, this was a waste of $95! Anyone know any tricks to using this foot?

I ended up purchasing my first Craftsy class on how to sew leather. It was a Black Friday sale and the class was only $20. Of course, I watched the class AFTER I had sewn this bag... would have been helpful before. But I did learn a lot and I am geared up to sew an entire bag of leather. Can't wait.

More to come.