Thursday, October 29, 2009

Making Time to Sew

Husqvarna Viking sewing machine logo clock I purchased at the Viking Convention in 2006.I have been thinking about how to make more time to sew lately. It's an activity I enjoy doing. I like sewing so much I seem to lose myself in the act of sewing where I lose all track of time when I sit down to sew. So I don't know why I sometimes put off sewing and get side-tracked doing other activities that aren't as enjoyable. I know there are the everyday household activities that need to be done. Things like getting groceries and shopping, cleaning up the house, laundry, cooking, etc. Then there is the time I spend sitting around watching tv or working or playing around on the computer. These are things that usually keep me occupied. Some of these things I really enjoy doing. Things like time spent on the computer and cooking are enjoyable. And I seem to lose all track of time when I'm on the computer. I think being in virtual world (on the computer) and sewing world are my two most favorite things. They sometimes compete with each other, but they don't need to. If I were to plan my days a bit better I'm sure I could work in the time to do more of the stuff I enjoy.

That's one of my objectives that I want to work on more. I want to be more organized and schedule more time for the fun things in life and work more quickly to get through the things that are neccesary but less fun. So scheduling my time better is one way to make more time to sew.

Another thing I have been thinking about is fine-tuning the layout of my home and studio to make working, sewing, cooking, cleaning and family time flow better. I got a huge amount of work accomplished the last time I spent a concerted effort on re-organizing my studio. The new organization that resulted from that de-cluttering process made the sewing and art supplies and tools more readily accessible, easier to find and use when I needed them. Lately I have been noticing there are still some things that could be fine-tuned a bit more to enhance those benefits even better. So, de-cluttering, re-organizing and fine-tuning my environment periodically is another way to make more time to sew.

During that last re-organization there were a few areas of the house that were left alone. I have been thinking about those rooms lately. I want to do some further de-cluttering then re-organize and re-decorate those rooms in my house.

This time I will be drawing out a floor-plan of the house and re-thinking what each room is used for. The floor-plan will help me to see at a glance if an idea will be feasable before I commit to moving things around. We have several rooms in our house that are under-utilized. This isn't the best use of our space. My goal is to re-vamp the rest of the house to make better use of all of our space here. After all, why have a home with rooms you barely ever enter? Why not re-think the use of those rooms to allow you to use them for the things you enjoy . . . the things that bring more enrichment to your everyday life?

Re-thinking and re-decorating to enhance your space makes the time there more useful and enjoyable. I think we should have beautiful, uplifting and enjoyable spaces surrounding us. After all these are the places we spend our days living and working within. We can chose to make them pleasant and refreshing. Even small changes made over time will be of great benefit if you are not able to make big changes all at once. Sometimes I think we become too comfortable in an existing setting just because it's familiar. Sometimes it slowly becomes a rut to the point we cannot or do not know where to begin to make a change.

I am one of those people who likes to make small changes fairly often. I am feeling a need for some change now. Recognizing and identifying a rut and taking action to make changes is another way to make more time to sew. It may take some time to do this, but in the long run you will be able to accomplish so much more. Plus you will have the added benefit that comes from beautiful and inviting surroundings that lift your spirits. There will be more peace of mind.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cutting Scrap Fabric for Quilts

Quick, easy and accurate fabric cutting with the AccuQuilt cutter.I love making scrap quilts! I've been cutting up my scrap fabric pieces throughout the summer. Most of what you see here in this post was already cut prior to getting my AccuQuilt Cutter. But now that I have it I have been adding to the pile of five inch charm square blocks. Plus I've started a new pile of tumbler blocks. Years ago when I was in my 20s I made a tumbler quilt. I cannot say what's become of it after all these many years. It's gone now. But I remember tracing around a tumbler shaped template and hand cutting all those tumbler shapes for that quilt. The sewing went much faster than the cutting in those days. That was before rotary cutters existed! Now with this new cutting equipment the cutting goes a lot faster than the sewing. It's fun to have these handy tools! I'm enjoying this one. My sewing friend was here today for our weekly Sew-In. Guess what we did? That's right - cut fabric!

Most of these five inch squares were cut with a rotary cutter. Not I can cut them faster, and the tumbler blocks, too.I know my first quilt using these five inch charm squares will be the Disappearing Nine Patch. Ever since I read about, and saw samples, of this quilt I knew what I would be doing with my charm squares. I need to do some research into seeing how many five inch squares are needed for a lap-sized and a full-sized quilt. I have a feeling there's quite a few quilts sitting right here in this pile of 5" squares. I think I'll get my little assembly line started on these this week and see how fast those quilts go together.

I've been cutting up my scrap fabric through out the summer - quite a collection going on here.This summer I was cutting fabric squares in a variety of different sizes - just to get them cut and organized. My thinking was that regardless of the size, I would use them up eventually. I tried cutting the largest size strips and squares first. Then made use of smaller scraps to cut the smaller 2 1/2" squares. That's the smallest size in this range of quilt squares. I will eventually use them all - it seems better to me to cut up all my smaller fabric scraps rather than have them taking up space on my shelves and bins. There was just so much fabric, smaller than a fat quarter, that seemed like so much clutter using up space in my sewing studio. Now it's getting more organized and ready to use. Makes me happy to be organized and know they are there, ready to be put to use.

I ended up with two bins of 2 1/2" fabric strips for jelly roll quilts, a huge overflowing bin of 5" charm squares, and two bins of assorted squares ranging from 2 1/2", 3", 3 1/2", 4" and 4 1/2". Perhaps I'll sew up a bunch of table toppers with these odd-ball variety of squares just to be done with them. I decided I want to just collect the 2 1/2" strips, charm squares, 2 1/2", 3 1/2" and 4 1/2" size squares. It seems to me these would be the most often used sizes to make 12 1/2" quilt blocks - handy to have around for quick-to-make gift projects.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Disappearing Nine-Patch Quilt

Check out the MissyMack blog - Sam sewed this great Disappearing Nine Patch quilt block. It's my inspiration for a new quilt.I was following blog links while crawling the web and came across this post through a link that Dena posted. Dena and Sam, thanks for posting! The quilt as shown on Sam's site, MissyMack, is called the Disappearing Nine-Patch. This is a new quilt I have not seen before. Now I know what I'll be doing with all those 5" blocks I've been cutting from my fabric scraps. I think I'll have to do a search for the Disappearing Nine Patch to see if there's more on this interesting looking quilt.

I've been cutting up my scrap fabric for some time. I wanted to clear out some of the excess fabric scraps I've accumulated. These are generally the short pieces left over from ends of bolts or previous projects. Some were given to me by quilting friends who have accumulated way too many scraps. Knowing I like scrappy quilts, I've been the recipient of these odds and ends from friends for quite a while now. Thus the exercise of cutting them up into either 2 1/2" strips for jelly-roll quilts or 5" blocks for charm quilts. Up to this point I've been busily cutting scraps - not quite knowing what they'll be when finally utilized. This Disappearing Nine Patch sounds like a really cool kind of quilt. And it's a fun quilt to look at as Sam's quilt, with the block pictured above, can attest. Thanks to all those generous bloggers out there for sharing. I've got another quilt project lined up. Now I just need to keep sewing so I can get caught up with all my new plans.

It's all a matter of finding time to sew, and making time to sew. That said, I need to make a more concerted effort to decrease some time on the computer and increase some time in my Sewing Studio. Part of the issue is I have such a wide range of interests. That's a good thing, too. Having so many interests means there's never a dull moment. There's always something fun to do waiting in the wings. Making time to take part in so many interests is key to being able to do all the things I really, really want to do. So far I haven't done as much to limit time on the computer. I get so into doing what I'm doing I find the time just speeds by as I'm in the zone. It works that way for me a lot - that being in the zone concept. Next thing I know, a couple hours have gone by while I'm focused on my project.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Yo-Yo Table Runner

Yo-Yo Delight Table Runner Pattern by Sandy Brawner sample displayed at J&R Sewing in Fargo, NDI found it! I knew I had a photo somewhere in my computer. I visited the J&R Sewing Quilt Shop in Fargo, ND about a year ago. While there I snapped a few digital photos of some displays. This table runner caught my eye because of the yo-yos around the perimeter. I envision my version with machine embroideries across the runner rather than the friendship star pattern this designer has pieced. I'm so glad I found the photo. Now I have a visual reference to help as I describe the way I intend to use my yo-yos. The pattern I am talking about is Yo-Yo Delight by Sandy Brawner. I think it would be fun to make up my own embroidery design as flowers and use more yo-yos as the flower heads. I think I'll work on making up a design using my Viking 4D Professional digitizing software.

Okay, that is what's on the agenda for tomorrow.

Check back for updates on this project . . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Making Time to Sew

Making yoyos is a good passtime when you watch television.A week or so ago I got to thinking about how I could work in more time to sew. Do I need lists? Should I set myself a schedule and plan out my days better? I spend a lot of time on the computer with my blogs, reading other people's blogs and crawling around the web to sites of interest. Sometimes the TV is turned to the news channel while I'm on-line. Lots of time I don't really pay attention to the TV, it's just background noise, but once in a while something comes on to catch my attention. When he's home, my dh is usually in control of the TV box changing channels often as he sits in his favorite chair nearby.

My time spent watching TV is almost always spent doing something else at the same time. If it is not about being on the computer it is about doing some sort of hand-work. A friend of mine, that I used to work with, prefers to machine sew. She always refers to 'hand-sewn' as two four-letter words - a big no-no in her book! LOL! I just love her sense of humor.

Here you see the important components needed for a relaxing evening in front of the computer or television watching a show: (1) a nice big iced tea drink, (2) a 45mm yo-yo maker, (3) pre-cut fabric circles, (4) needle, (5) thread, (6) TV or computer set to a good channel. Put your husband in charge of the remote control and you will not only be multi-tasking by watching TV and sewing, you'll be 'multi-multi-tasking' as you watch 2-3 channels simultaneously while you sew! LOL! Nearly everybody I know says their husbands are big channel surfers.

The Clover brand yoyo maker I used is the 45mm size.I don't mind doing some hand sewing at times. Usually those times are while watching TV. The background music tracks always give you a heads up on when to look up and take a peak anyway - when the mystery or the action is about to start. And I admit I'm one of those who asks, "What just happened?" if I missed something important to the story. My dh is usually a good sport and pretty good at filling me in when it's necessary for the story line. Often the plots are pretty predictable and there's not a lot to miss. By the way, if you're being assisted to 'multi-multi-task' while you sew it really is legit to ask what just happened when the story doesn't make sense or you missed the action sequence!

Yoyos tossed across my workspace at random.Anyway, I've been using my Clover brand yo-yo maker to hand sew these yo-yos for a future project. I've got a table runner in mind for these yo-yos based on one I saw at a quilt shop in Fargo once. It was an oval shaped table runner that had a pieced background and appliques with yo-yos sewn all around the perimeter. I've searched on-line for the pattern, but have not found it yet. If anyone knows the name of the pattern and its designer, please leave a comment so I can give credit. I will likely incorporate some machine embroidery on my table runner instead of the applique. Perhaps I'll choose an embroidered applique.

Here's the yo-yos dumped from their zippy bag and scattered at random for the photo shoot. Wait, I can't just leave them that way . . .

Yoyos all aligned in rows.Okay, since I'm a somewhat-halfway type "A" personality here they are ordered in rows. Nope, they're not going together this way, but being all tossed at random really isn't my thing. I might not be an exact and precise "A" type personality. Maybe I'm more an 'orderly messy' personality. How would you describe that? Things aren't necessarily perfectly clean and pristine, more relaxed - casually messy, but neat, and lived-in around here.

Okay, enough for now . . . I'm off to sew!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Time for a Little Re-Arrangement

I needed to do a little rearranging of some tables in my sewing studio to gain better access to my thread wall. I had my sewing cabinet back-to-back with a folding table, adjacent to the back side of my pressing station. It made for a nice big table area to work on if I was piecing together a large quilt. But at the same time it was awkward to get around that much table space and it was difficult to reach my thread spools on the thread wall behind it. The whole space just was not handy at all. So I did some moving around. I removed the folding table completely. It will go into the bedroom we are currently remodeling and soon will be painting. That will be the guest bedroom. The folding table will function as my photo studio area. I plan on sewing up some different colored fabric background cutains to hang as backdrops for photos of products I will sell in my etsy shop this fall.

My wire dressform decorates a corner of my studio.Now that I've moved the sewing cabinet back-to-back with my pressing station I can easily walk through to reach my thread wall. I've got some empty spool pins there because it was terribly hard to reach them to replace the spools I pulled down to use. They were ending up in a basket near my machine instead. That in turn made it harder to see all the colors and see at-a-glance which one I needed to reach for. I am enjoying this space so much more now that things are not so difficult to maneuver around.

The wire dressform is a decorative element I found at Hobby Lobby awhile back. Right now it's holding a fabric ornament I made for a class I once taught. I have another one of these currently attached to the stylus I use to access my sewing machine touch-screen and another one is acting as a scissors fob on my double curved embroidery scissors. I'll have to post something about making these sometime and show you a close-up. That will be a future post one of these days.

Three glass jars hold an assortment of sewing supplies for future projects.I like the look of various jars holding my sewing supplies. I like that I can see through into them to know what is inside them. And I also like that they have lids to keep the dust out and to keep the contents in. If I had more display space I would do lots more rows of these kinds of jars. The things enclosed inside are (1) buttons, (2) threads, (3) ribbons and trims. I've also got two plastic bins filled with more ribbons and trims, but the pieces here are shorter, odd-ball scraps and pieces not worthy of winding onto cardboard spools. I also have LOTS more jars and boxes of buttons. These are just a mixed selection for easy access. My other buttons are higher up on the top of my fabric shelf and in boxes tucked away at the moment. That's another area of 'stuff' that needs to be 'thought out' for better ease of access. I think I'd use more of my stuff if it wasn't such a chore to find it and get to it. Definitely in need of more refined organizing although I am quite happy with the progress so far. It is so much better in my studio now than it had been. I guess there's always room for improvement when I get the organizing bug next time.

Little papers in little cups.I taste-tested a drink sample at Starbucks once. I liked the little paper cup so I kept one afterward to take home. Originally I had been thinking I'd use it when I made a doll. Right now it is at home on this shelf holding those little papers with fortunes you find inside fortune cookies. I only keep the ones that I like what they say. The ones that have no meaning to me, or are silly, I toss right away. I thought at some point I might use them to sew into a fabric collage or a fabric art journal. I haven't accomplished that yet, so they wait patiently here on my shelf. Yep, you got it . . . I'm a saver. You may be asking why I am saving all these little things anyway? Does anyone else have this 'saving stuff' habit? Sometimes I will eventually use these little tidbits in some project and I'm glad to have saved them. Other times I decide I'm never going to get around to doing what I imagined and go through a cleaning and tossing phase. It just depends on my mood and how much space I need for other things. What about you? Are there other 'savers' out there?

Anyway, I am enjoying my space now with easier access to my threads. I've got several machines set up ready to use at any given time, so I can always find time to sew even if just for a short time. That's the beauty of having things set up, ready to go. I really appreciate that I have a studio to work in - where I don't have to worry about putting things away and cleaning up right away. I can take time here and there as I find time during my day to work around other tasks . . . or even spend the whole day in here if I want to do so.

At the moment my Creative Vision is at my local sewing machine dealer. It is receiving a check-up and a new up-date. It should be fun to play around with it in a few days when I get the machine back. There's supposed to be some great new things in this up-date. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pincushions Multiplying

Heart Pincushion pattern available free on-line.I mentioned in my previous post about the multitude of pincushions that have shown themselves in my sewing studio. I thought it might be fun to document it in this blog. Here's the most recent one I made. Actually I made two of them - one for a friend and one for myself. This heart shaped, bow bedecked pincushion pattern is available free on-line. It is rather large compared to the other pincushions. If I were to make any more of these I would likely shrink the size down by a third or one fourth the original size. It is filled with brand new quilting pins I recently purchased so I know these are sharp and unbent - for now.

Two more pincushions - a 'chair' and magnetic pin holderNext you'll see a Mary Engelbreit chair pincushion than came from a friend. I was tempted to use it as a small doll's chair, but for now it holds pins near one of my sewing machines. Immediately adjacent to it you will see my pink magnetic pin holder. This was given to me by two very lovely ladies who once took a class I taught on quilt making. I love the ease of using this as I can sort of 'toss' my pins in its direction without looking while I am in a sewing frenzy and it 'catches' most all of them.

Next you'll see a standard tomato pincushion and my Golden Chicken pincushion. The chicken was supposed to be sewn as a couple of basic mini Log Cabin quilt blocks, but I made mine up with mini crazy quilt blocks showcasing decorative stitches at the seam lines. It was used as an sample for a sewing class I taught once. Mine sample didn't quite follow the standard way of doing this as a log cabin, but was a derivative of it. The gold lame fabric is soft and pliable compared to the cotton in the rest of the piece. But the batting that is sewn in prior to making it into a 'chicken' gives it enough body to hold it's shape. Here's one source for this type of chicken pincushion.

Rubber Duckie pincushonIn the basket that sits alongside my iron at my pressing station are some small stuffed squares with Rubber Duckies machine embroidered on them. There are three of them in the basket, plus three more with another embroidery design. They could also be used as juggling aids (without the pins!) or as originally made to be used in a tossing game we featured once at the local sewing store where I worked. The small round tin with the cat also holds pins (yeah, more new pins)! When I saw this I knew I wanted it as I already have Loralie Harris' machine embroidery design with this same cat image. I am not really attracted to things with cats on them (I'm allergic to cats), but this little cutie caught my eye and now resides in my sewing studio.

The last picture shows the Heart Pincushion again as well as a portion of the Weighted Pincushion with thread catcher my friend Rosemary made for me. I'll have to get a better photo of it to share. It is one of her own designs that I haven't seen quite like it in my search on-line, but looks similar to this pincushion with thread catcher. Rosemary's version has crushed walnut shells in the pincushion part, an attached magnetic strip to keep track of needles and scissors, and is weighted with a ceramic tile.

You can see another package of NEW PINS! I found them while de-cluttering my sewing studio. I've also got some older yellow headed pins that are just not as sharp as the long glass headed quilter's pins. Obviously I like using the sharper ones so I don't struggle getting pins through several layers of fabric.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pin Cushion Collections

My chicken pin cushion keeps my pins neat and tidy.I realized the other day I have unwittingly started a haphazard collection of pin cushions. As I have been going through my sewing studio to organize and straighten up the place I've found lots of pin cushions. I recently went out and purchased a new box of pins since some of the old ones have become dull through use and bent out of shape. Upon clearing some of the clutter I found I must have had the idea of replacing my pins awhile ago. I ran into another new box of pins. Now I'm happy to report I'm well stocked in new pins.

Replacing pins is something one does not think about replacing often, but it is one of those little things that can be frustrating when sewing. If it's been awhile since you've purchased new pins, it may be time to do so. Just like your sewing machine needles get dull with use, your pins do as well. Approximately 8-10 hours use is the maximum for machine needles in order to maintain quality work. If you let them go much longer they are dull and end up tearing the fiber of your fabric and abraiding it rather than piercing neatly through it. You will end up seeing frayed edges along your stitch line once the garment or article you are sewing is washed. How disappointing that would be when you go to all the trouble to do a nice sewing job only to wash the item and see a row of frayed and worn fabric at the seam lines.

Heather Bailey's pin cushion patternTo celebrate the new, cleaner state of my studio I treated myself to Heather Bailey's pin cushion pattern. I've had my eye on this one for some time, but wasn't prepared to purchase it at the time. Now I want to sew up a few more pin cushions and will likely discard some of the old ones that have seen better days. I love visiting Heather's blog! She has such a fresh, colorful look and lively tales to tell. So, this will be something new I'll be working on in the next week. I purchased some of Heather's fabrics some time ago. That'll be the perfect fabric to use of course. And the felt for the leaves on the fruit is in my stash as well. Pictures to come . . .

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Couple Weeks to Heal & Refresh

I'm on the road to recovery and ready to take on more activities. In fact I got the go-ahead from my doctor the other day to do so. I've been given the nod to be able to go up and down stairs again. That means I have no excuse not to get back into the sewing studio downstairs. I'm looking forward to it.

The past two weeks of recovery I've spent a lot of time sleeping and resting while reading or watching television. In the meantime I've been noticing all kinds of things around the house that need to be taken care of. Things like spring cleaning, sorting and purging stuff (lots of clutter) as well as revamping my sewing and studio areas. I've been catching up with various sewing room blogs with ideas to get more organized and get rid of stuff that hasn't been used for a long time.

Currently there's piles of fabric I started to sort and pre-cut into usable strips and squares. I have a good size stack of 5" squares to make charm quilts. My supply of 2 1/2" strips has dwindled down to nothing thanks to the near completion of my Strippy Squares Quilt. I plan on cutting more strips to have on had for these quick and easy strip quilts. One of my goals is to cut more of both the strips and charms from lots more of my fabrics.

I also have lots of old magazines that I have already started going through -- tearing out articles and recipes I want to keep for future use. That is something not too taxing to do while recuperating from my recent surgery. There are still plenty of magazines to go through. I need to get a handle on all those past issues I've files away. They've grown beyond my storage capacity. Right now it's all about simplifying and reducing clutter for me.

This new blog is being adorned with some background embellishments I've recently discovered through a couple websites that have come to my attention. I had been noticing more and more blogs showing up with fancier, more decorative appearance to them. There are a few quick blog designer tools at Delightful Dots and also The Cutest Blog on the Block. I'm sure there are probably other websites that offer this kind of easy access blog template service. These are two that I've run across recently.

Playing with these new templates has increased my desire to get back into my web designing and web programming studies. I've been away from the books for about a year. I haven't lost it all, but I know some of the details have become fuzzy over that time. Getting back to my HTML and CSS books is another thing I want to invest some time into. There is a lot to learn, and to remember. Looking at some of the coding from these sites has helped inspire me to want to develop more of my own personalized pages for my website. I spent some time this past week getting back into some coding for my soon-to-be future website. It still needs lots of work.

So the pull right now is to spend time cleaning up, organizing, getting back into the sewing studio with some new work, and also hitting the books and revamping my website with some web programming. That covers multiple directions to direct my attention. I need a plan -- a schedule -- and some lists.