19 12 / 2012
My favorite part of making a quilt is not the end. I guess it should be… that moment when all your work is finished and there’s nothing left to do besides enjoy it. I do like that part a lot (I’m not a complete weirdo). I also love the way it looks with half the binding sewn on and half the quilting done. I even like the neat stacks of squares and triangles on my table after I’ve cut everything up. I love the progress of each phase and often take a moment to admire it.
(The most loathsome part in my opinion is the pressing. I hate standing in front of my ironing board. Spray starch —gasp!— has helped a lot with that, but still… so far from my favorite that it comes in dead last.)
My very favorite part though is when the quilt top is completely assembled and pressed. Obviously I know what the thing will look like. I’ve either followed a pattern or drawn up a plan myself, and I’ve lain all the pieces out on my bed and moved them around until they pleased me. It’s not a surprise.
But the hard part is over. Everything after that is pie. Sewing straight lines for the quilting (I haven’t dared anything schmancy yet), squaring off, attaching the binding (sometimes a pain, but mostly mindless), and then the sweet, simple repetition of handwork. It’s time consuming, yes, but easy.
Finishing the top is the halfway point, the peak of the mountain before the descent. And it’s such a pretty view…
I’d share it, but my sister-in-law might be lurking, and the gift is as much for her as it is for her daughter. She won’t see the finished project until Beks tears the wrapping paper off Christmas day.
So for now it’s another episode of Alias (how did I never watch that show?!) and a snuggle on the couch before I start quilting. The goal is to have it ready to be bound before I go back to work tonight. I’m a little unsure whether that’s even possible, but I’m great under pressure.
14 12 / 2012
Not very recently, an ex-coworker of mine contacted me about making a quilt for her daughter for Christmas. She’s the one who chose that gorgeous Riley Blake fabric, who asked for a minky back (groan!), and the inset heart and embroidery. Finally (finally!) I finished the quilt and got it mailed off to her.
Originally, I offered her tons of design options for her quilt. I offered plain blocks and stars and nine patches and triangles and chevrons… tons of really interesting and fun patterns. What did she choose? A simple strip quilt. And not even tiny strips! Fat, six and four inch strips! It took me all of five minutes to square-up and cut her fabric (exaggeration alert).
Once that was done, though, I more than made up for any speed with that inset heart. I had previously pinned someone else’s pretty heart to my Pinterest board, thinking there’d be a tutorial or at least a basic explanation.
It was just an “ooh, look at my pretty bag” post. And this I only know because I ran it through Google Translate. I don’t read Russian.
So I was left to examine the digital image as thoroughly as possible and figure it out on my own.
“Okay, so she cut out a heart and laid a pieced square underneath it.”
“Are those sides turned under?”
“Google search embroidery stitches. Oh! It’s a blanket stitch. Good search blanket stitch how to.”
It took me a three hours, but it was fun! And it was worth it! It came out so pretty!
When she told me she wanted a rag quilt, part of my was happy because rag quilts are easy. Part of me was also sad, because I don’t love them. There’s so much room for error that there’s no place to really show off tight blocks and perfect stitching.
But dang it! Look at that ruffle! I’m glad she chose the minky now, cuz it produced such a lovely rag. Seriously! It looks like I sewed ruffles to the quilt top. Also, the minky wasn’t hard to work with and it didn’t shed nearly as much as I was fearing. I had read reviews and such that warned me to have a vacuum at the ready and count on fibers absolutely invading every crevice and corner of my house.
Not so. My sewing room floor was no more fibery than it normally is after a project is finished.
And how about rounded corners! I love them. I LOVE them. I will never miter a dang corner as long as I live. Seriously. I have zero intentions of ever sighing and growling over devious corners ever again.
I also got to use my tags for the first time!
I ordered them from an Etsy Shop not too long ago, and I was really pleased with the way they came out. My only problem was that I forgot all about them in my rush to get the binding done, so I forgot to machine sew it to the quilt and I had to hand-sew it into the binding. Nothing necessarily wrong with that — the binding is quite secure — but I was nigh to cussing, it was so difficult to get the needle through the binding and the tag and the minky without piercing the quilt top.
Aw, look at that pretty quilt…
I liked it so much I almost didn’t wanna send it. But I wanted to get paid for it more. :B
So now I’m finished with client projects until the new year. Now it’s on to quilts for my niece and nephew.
But more on that later… :)
26 11 / 2012
13 11 / 2012
… before the ripe old age of 30.
1) Hurting people hurt people. It’s a good thing to remember when someone hurts you. It doesn’t excuse their actions, but it helps you to forgive them anyway.
2) Your feelings are completely untrustworthy, and logic ain’t far behind. The only thing that is actually trustworthy is the word of God.
3) It’s always best to own your crap rather than deny it. If someone is accusing you of saying something and you said it, just own it. If you were wrong, you deserve what you get. If you were right, they deserve to know.
4) There is a difference between understanding sanctification, that you are constantly being conformed to the image of Christ, and hating yourself. Low self-esteem is still self-esteem and we shouldn’t esteem ourselves at all.
5) If your faith doesn’t reform, you’re not growing. You can’t believe the same things about God that you believed when you first met him. As you mature, your understanding of him should evolve, not because he changes, but because you change.
6) Laziness is sin; rest is ordained.
7) For everything there is a season, and God knows best which season you should be in. Trust him, and enjoy the present. You won’t be in it forever, and even when you get to the season you’ve been craving, there will be parts of this season that you’ll miss.
8) While you’re at it, be content with what you have. Greed in any form does not lead to happiness. And if you’re not content, don’t pray for more stuff, pray for contentment.
9) Ditch your long husband shopping list. Just ditch it. You’re probably focusing on the wrong things anyway.
10) Everything, everything, everything in this world points to Christ. Open your eyes and look.
11) Don’t be a spiritual snob. God is limitless, infinite in his attributes, and you don’t know him as well as you think you do. Be amazed that he condescends to love the likes of you and receives your pitiful love in return.
12) Hospitality is a ministry of womanhood. Embrace it. Use it.
13) Idleness breeds sin.
14) If it isn’t grace to the hearer, keep your dang mouth shut.
15) Deal with your doubt now. If you’re not 100% sure that God is good or right or just, it’s better to go ahead and deal with that than to wait until some dark hour. It’s considerably harder then.
16) Know what you believe and why. You may find out that you’ve believed unbiblically all these years or you may strengthen beliefs that were true. Plus, you never know when someone will ask you what you think, and “that’s what I was taught” is not an answer.
17) Fun for the sake of fun is alright. It’s called joy. Embrace it.
18) No one has their crap together. Everyone’s pretending. And pretending isn’t useful at all.
19) Few things take a person aback like a genuine apology. This isn’t a movie or a soap opera. When the wrongful party apologizes, it usually goes a long way to restoring a relationship.
20) Whether your dad was amazing or left much to be desired, God isn’t like him. God is God, and he never fails, and he loves you more deeply than your dad ever could hope to love you himself.
21) Live in the culture you live in. That’s where you are. That’s where your friends are. That’s who you’re going to minister to. Speak their language.
22) Give. A lot. Often. Joyfully.
23) Show the people you love that you love them. It’s dumb not to, and the awkwardness will eventually pass.
24) Deal with your past. Whether you have to make something right, or forgive yourself, or forgive someone else, just deal with it now before it gets even bigger.
25) Isolation is foolish. You will die. There is grace and growth in community.
26) Circadian rhythm is important to your well-being. Nurture it.
27) Your feet hold up and align your entire body. Be good to them.
28) Eat your vegetables.
29) Manage your dang money.
12 11 / 2012
I turned 30.
When I was 25 I imagined that were I still single and barren at this point, I would most likely drown my sorrows in a bottle of hot amber liquid. Weirdly, I didn’t. I celebrated with friends around a fire, roasting marshmallows and laughing and carrying on.
You know how we do.
I had a feeling it would be like this. As years passed and I got closer to the dreaded three-oh, something strange happened…
I liked it more and more.
Turns out I love being thirty. I positively adore it! I would never in eleventy billion years go back to my twenties, not for eleventy billion dollars. (How’s that for exaggeration?) And seriously, I might consider a drastic exit if I were greeted by an evil time lord and forced to go back to my teenage years.
Do you know, I have been wearing the same clothes for about four years now? Probably you never noticed. Do you know why? Because normal adults don’t rotate their dang wardrobes out every year! And nobody notices.
Or maybe they do notice and I just don’t care.
My oh my, I love being thirty.
In my three decades, I’ve learned a thing or two. Or thirty! (Saw that one coming a mile away, didn’t ya?) And because I’m doing this whole blog thing that no one’s reading, I made a list:
Thirty Things I Learned Before Turning the Wise Age of Thirty
I’m going to break it up for you. Mostly because my circadian rhythm is waaaaay off (gracias, night shift), and I had to take a Benadryl to make myself sleep tonight, even though I’ve been awake at this point for… 21 hours. See? Messed up. I’m totally going to address that in the list.
But it starts tomorrow. Sorry to keep you in suspense, but the diphenhydramine is creeping through my veins, causing everything to slow down, thoughts included, so that I stare at the screen for a moment in between phrases.
I’m rambling at this point. I should stop. I should delete this entry in the morning. Probably I won’t do that.
12 11 / 2012
I love mornings. I used to hate them. I wanted to sleep til noon and stay up til 3am. Now if I sleep past 8 I feel like I’m missing a beautiful, quiet part of the day. Plus, you know, I figure once I find a man to marry, and we start procreating, mornings are going to be hectic, right? I should thoroughly enjoy this phase of life.
So, I wake up. Open the blinds in the whole house, let sunlight pour in. Get dressed. Make a Starbucks run (I am, after all, thoroughly enjoying this phase). Come home. Wash dishes. Tidy up (cuz I’m the only mess-maker here). Sit quietly my wallerhole of a sofa and piddle away on the internet. Read blogs. Write a little.
And here we are.
I finally finished the wonky star quilt I’ve been working on. It came out gorgeously. It was a little smaller than 50x50, which makes it a little small for me personally. Not too small, however, for my 5-foot-nothing, hundred-pounds-sopping-wet sister-in-law (that’s an absurd amount of hyphens). And she was dropping hints like Colin Farrel drops f-bombs.
“Wow. That is so beautiful. I love that quilt so much. Who are you going to give it to? Are you going to keep it? My birthday is coming up. It’s less than a month away. Close enough, right?”
Needless to say, I gave it to her as an early birthday present. Truthfully, I wanted to give it to her once she made sure I knew she wanted it. I really love my sister-in-law. Plus she’s tiny enough to actually snuggle beneath it. :)
And just look at that binding! Impressive, right?
No, not really. The mitered corners were torture enough for me to decide that rounded, un-mitered corners are the way to go, and for my next venture, that’s precisely what I’ll be doing. With all the other things I’ve got going on with this project, I definitely don’t want to worry about the headache of mitering…
a minky back (best phrase I’ve ever typed was when I requested a custom listing from an Etsy seller of the “butter yellow dimple minky.” Seriously. Best ever), and
a patchwork, appliquéd heart.
Yeah, we’re gonna skip the mitering this go ‘round.
I do, however, get to work with some really great fabric, which, as I’ve previously confessed, is quite a vice of mine. I’d been eyeing this fabric only a short time when a Facebook friend from waaaay back in the day contacted me about making her daughter a quilt. When she described what she wanted, I sent her some images of fabrics and she immediately chose this one. Yay! A perfectly justifiable reason to purchase it!!
It’s The Sweetest Thing by — of course — Riley Blake.
So here’s to the day ahead, which I’m about to greet with a glass of sweet tea in one hand and a rotary blade in the other. Should be fun AND productive, two words which don’t oft meet each other with that particular conjunction between them.
29 10 / 2012
Yesterday, my awesome friends threw me a birthday party which consisted of all my favorite things (friends, s’mores, and Catch Phrase!) with some other things that were also wonderful (potato soup and presents!), so the very first thing I did when I woke up was make plans to head into town and buy some things with the lovely gift cards I now possess. One of them was for Walmart, where I may or may not have entered and left through the garden center without once straying from the Christmas section.
Hate all you want. I totally don’t mind.
Last year’s tree was entirely handmade ornaments, and it was fun, because my family and I made all of them on Thanksgiving before decorating the tree. This year, though, I want to supplement those great ornaments with store-bought ones. And my good friend Lauren knew that, so she spearheaded a campaign to get me a gift card for exactly that purpose.
Walmart. Check. Ornaments. Check.
Also on my agenda today was a trip to Joann Fabric, because my coworkers gave me a Visa gift card and I seriously can’t think of a better place to spend that booger.
Actually, that’s not true. I would have loved to go on Etsy and buy fabric or other such niceties, but Joann has things I actually need and I had so many dang coupons that were going to waste.
So, Joann it is!
I recently decided to get into embroidery. Mainly because I think that embroidered accents on quilts are really pretty and someday I’d like to try hand quilting. I also like that you can take embroidery with you. If I utilized public transit, I’d totally be that weirdo on the bus with a hoop in my lap and a thimble on my finger. It’s a bit cumbersome to hand-bind a quilt in public places. And awkward. And I certainly can’t be binding by hand at work! All those hospital germs rubbing off my scrubs onto a pretty quilt… uh, no.
I can, however, bring a hoop and a piece of fabric! And if I keep all my things with me in a little bag that I can toss into my bigger bag, well that’s a definite win!
So I bought a little three dollar bag. Something big enough to hold a bit of fabric, some small scissors, some embroidery thread, and needles. I was originally going to make a bag, but sometimes its much more worth it to buy something for a few bucks than to take the time to make it. And I was originally going to buy some little squares of felt to keep my needles on, but then I remembered browsing Etsy and stumbling onto this beaut:
It’s a felt needle book! There are felt pages inside to keep your pins and needles safe and sound! And it’s only 10 bucks!
But I would have to wait for it to arrive. :(
But the internet is awesome! There’s probably a DIY somewhere!
Okay, so Joann. Check. Felt. Check. Embroidery supplies. Check. Embroidery book. Check. Follow the DIY. Check.
Well, I followed it for the most part, anyway. I forgot about the ribbon on the front, so I had to jimmy rig it by doubling it in the back so that I could wrap it around like some trendy leather-bound journal or something. I wanted to nix it all together, but it won’t stay closed without it.
Also, my stitching is terrible. Like, horrid. It’s so bad. I’m pretty sure a first grader with some paper and yarn could do better.
But the ruffle is nice. :)
And it certainly does its job!
So, now to learn about embroidery!
Actually, scratch that. It’s getting late. Now to my other plans…
A little binding and a little Downton Abbey, instead.
24 10 / 2012
(Props if you know who sings the song in the title.)
I really was going to give this quilt away. I love the fabric but I can always get more. Even after I pieced the top, the plan was to give it to a friend of mine who’s been particularly kind to me.
Then I began what can only be explained as torturous physical labor.
First basting with spray adhesive, then with big safety pins, then rolling that booger up and figuring out how exactly to keep the excess out of the way and not pulling the part I needed off the table (with hair clips, of course!), and then it was four excruciating hours of endless stitching…
and listening to Brooks Ritter.
and the Civil Wars.
and (when I got the hang on the whole quilting thing) singing Adele at the top of my lungs.
and laughing at Brian Regan.
I was about at the halfway mark when I heard the screams of multiple children and one grown man. I turned in shock to the window overlooking my empty backyard. I heard it again. I jumped up and started out of the room to the back door when I remembered that I live literally less than ten paces from the historical jail, which becomes the haunted jail at Halloween, during which time people actually pay for the opportunity to be so scared they can’t help but scream bloody freaking murder.
Really. They do this. And I get to be an unwilling party to it, because they’re practically in my backyard.
So back to stitching away.
I will never quilt a whole quilt in one day again. That was stupid. My lower back hated me. Still hates me, actually.
Ehh, who am I kidding? I’ll do it again someday, when I’m under the gun because of procrastination and someone’s baby is on its way into the world and I remember that I have to finish that quilt for them. Or something.
But it came out so lovely! There’s a bit of puckering, but I like that. I think it makes the quilt fluffy and comfortable and gives it a real handmade feel. The first thing I said when I first started the actual quilting was, “I will NEVER quilt on a home machine again!” But broken up into two sessions instead of one, if the quilt is a manageable size (I’ve been commissioned to do a queen sized quilt which will unquestionably be going to long-arm quilter), it’s quite rewarding to know that with your own hands you’ve created something that’s beautiful and useful.
I don’t think I can part with it. I want to give it away, I really do, but now I’m binding it by hand and I’m curled up beneath it, taking a needle and thread to the edges, and it’s soft and warm and so pretty…
We’ll see. We’ll see. I still have to finish binding the thing, so maybe, just maybe, I’ll find it in myself to part with it. Maybe.
23 10 / 2012
I don’t buy fabric to keep on hand. I know some people do, but if I bought fabric just because I liked it and it inspired me and I wanted to stock my shelves with pretty designs, I would go to Etsy and buy the well over $500 worth of fabric I have favorited right this moment. Then I would just waltz into my sewing room every now and again and run my fingers over their softness and think, “how lovely,” and then go back to my business. No. Absolutely not. The rule is that a project must be planned before I can buy fabric. No, ma’am. My job pays for my bills, not my addictions.
And my, am I ever addicted to fabric.
I didn’t see this coming. No one ever does, I suppose, play on the jungle gym as a wee one and say to themselves, “When I grow up, I’m going to be an addict!” I mean, honestly. I lived in fear of getting into trouble and having to stand on the wall instead of run around and play.
Well there was that short period of time when my friend and I stood on the wall to make the other kids think we’d gotten in trouble when really we hadn’t. That lasted a whole three recesses before we were busted. I was fundamentally strange. I think Mrs. Cook new that.
But one day, while I was browsing that vicious, greed-inspiring Etsy, I came upon this perfect little bundle:
It’s Riley Blake’s Marguerite collection. And I bought it.
In reality, I had also purchased Aneela Hoey’s A Walk in the Woods for a quilt for my niece, Beks, and it was all pressed and hanging over a blanket rack, waiting to be cut and pieced (still is actually). AND I was in the process of cutting half-square triangles out of some dusty-hued fabrics for a quilt for myself. I shouldn’t have bought it. I had no plans for it. It’s just that it was so pretty! And I love Riley Blake fabrics!
So I didn’t even press it. I fingered its silken threads and put it on the shelf, then grudgingly went back to my dusty-hued triangles.
Another reason not to buy new fabric. I’m instantly distracted.
So, I was Pinteresting quilts. Being a pretty new quilter, I still have so much to learn, and I stumbled upon a wonky star quilt. Which led to a wonky star block tutorial. Which led to me pulling out the pretty Marguerite fabric and trying to measure out if I had enough. I had purchased 3 yards for the top, 3 for the back, and 1.5 yards for the binding (I always try to over-estimate so I can build up a nice scrap collection). I had plenty for the backing and binding, and if I was careful, I would have enough for a 50x50in quilt top.
Was I working on something else prior to this? I don’t remember…
It still has to be basted and quilted and bound, but for now it’s draped over the guest bath shower curtain (if I have to press that thing again, I will be very upset!), but I’m so happy with how it turned out! It took me a whole block to get into a rhythm with the stars, but I really like this quilt. It’s pretty and feminine with a pleasing balance little girl and grown woman. It begs to be included in an evening with Fitzwilliam Darcy or Edward Rochester.
26 6 / 2012
I have these knee-jerk reactions. Lots of them. Reactions that have been so ingrained in me over the years that they are like lightning. Unfortunately, knee-jerk reactions aren’t known for their brilliance. The question is usually, “Why in the sam hill did you do that?” with a responding shrug and “It was a knee-jerk reaction.”
One of the egads that permeate my life is to run from the things I should run toward. I’ve just sinned? Why in the sam hill did I do that? What’s this tugging on my conscience? A call to repentance? Oh, I should definitely go in the opposite direction. Because whatever God wants for me, it’s definitely bad and not for my good, because he can’t possibly want to bless me with a good relationship with himself. Outrageous.
So that’s what I do. I avoid him at all costs. Which is comical, because he’s everywhere. And I know from prior experience that avoidance leads to a hardened heart, which leads to misery, which leads to me sobbing all my makeup off in my pastor’s office.
And that misery is grace.
But I really don’t wanna get to that point.
So how to destroy that wretched jerking of the knee? I found a highly technical sequence of events that seems to work:
1) Place palm on knee
2) Force foot back to solid ground.
Crazy, right? Yeah.