family, friends, personal

When You Stop Being RAW

Be Daring, Be Different,
Be Impractical,  Be
Anything That Will
Assert Integrity Of
Purpose And Imaginative
Vision Against The
Play-It-Safers, The
Creatures Of The
Commonplace, The
Slaves Of The Ordinary.

Cecil Beaton

I’ve always believed that you should live your life being the best you that you can be. Be strong and powerful. Create your own beautiful life. Rebel a little. Remember it’s okay not to conform, and different is good.

Then the last year happened.

It was unbelievably stressful for me. While there were moments of amazing, like my book being published and Alex Anderson at my School House (I almost died! I forgot what I wanted to say…it was all fabulous in my head until I saw her in the front row…then I choked a little bit), I always had the weight of some things going on in my life weighing heavily on my mind. December through May had me in knots, I was RAW, but since school ended I’ve been able to start getting my mojo back. Or as a friend of mine calls it, my sewjo. (Best phrase EVER!)

I spent a lot of the last six months WANTING to be productive and creative, knowing it would be a healthy outlet, but I didn’t have it in me. My inspiration was crushed. I worked on a few things, but not at my normal speed. Quilt making was slow and almost painful, in a way.  While I’ve always had ideas circling in my head, the inspiration for new quilts wasn’t there. I didn’t have a list of twenty new quilt ideas – I could barely come up with one. When I did have a spark of inspiration I had a tough time getting concepts to come to life, and if I got stuck, I’d quit. When I’d go back to the quilt or whatever project, it always seemed to take longer to make anything happen, and I didn’t always like what I was making. Blogging  from the heart was impossible because when I sat down to write the words were toxic, and that’s not me. I’m not perfect, but I’m not (usually) toxic. I’d become a shell of someone I didn’t recognize and kinda didn’t like her.

Try as I might, I could not get out of the fog in my head, going over things again and again. I knew it wasn’t healthy for me to do that,  but I was so angry –  so RAW – at some of the events that transpired AND at myself for getting so caught up in my head – the one thing I NEED to get my ideas transformed from cloth. I knew that space and time would help, and they have, but waiting for those two things to happen caused me much heartache.

Finally, summer arrived. I spent some time getting my house organized. It started with one closet, and trickled to other rooms. Cleaning closets, purging drawers, reorganizing toys, crafts, and fabric. The things you always put off because they aren’t exactly fun but you are always SO glad when you finish.

But for me, I wasn’t just reclaiming my house, I was reclaiming my heart. I was reclaiming the space in my head, clearing out the clutter that I’d ignored for months because I couldn’t deal with it, and taking that space back, literally and metaphorically. Welcoming back my creativity. My happy. My peace. My me.

All of ^^^ that has been good for my mental health, not to mention my house, and I’m starting to feel like my old self again. The me that loves life, and the special people that share it with me and have my back.

I’ve regained the me that is unequivocally, somewhat unapologetically ME. I’ve returned to being who, in my heart, I know I am, and once again being true to that girl. A little sweet, a little snark, a lot of sarcasm, and a little rebellious. And I have needed it. A LOT. Turns out I missed her.

Turns out, that finding her again has sparked my creative spirit, too. I have the next twenty quilts in front of me, and projects, and it’s good. It’s really, really good.

17359458_10155937369352995_5006696626382673197_oWhile all this was going on, I felt the need to rebel a little bit, to prove that the mostly sweet, creative soul with a splash of bada–was still somewhere in there. I’m not gonna lie, getting this tattoo felt good to honor the rebel in me.  I’ve wanted one for 25 years. A needle and thread, and the word fly….it’s a nod to my book club and nod to myself to remember that I conquer anything; I can put on my big girl panties and rise to the occasion to overcome, and when I need to, I can spread my wings and fly.

 

friends, make something, sewing

Hack A Quilt Tote

I was at the beach this week for fall break and wrote a post that was supposed to appear instead of this one. Then I got home last night and decided to make a bag for Mary’s Hack That Tote! blog tour instead of my wimpy little post. Seems reasonable, right? 5 days of travel surely meant I had time to come home and make a bag. Well, in my head it did.

I planned to make a tote for Quilt Market LAST YEAR and failed. I ran out of time and couldn’t get it together. No biggie. I sat on the fabric for a FULL YEAR ready to make something but never really carved out the time for myself to do it. Always wanting to make a bag but couldn’t get it together.

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So when Mary asked me to participate in a book tour for Hack That Tote! I KNEW I had to make a tote bag with this fabric. I knew it! Then, once again, I ran out of time. I clearly have time management issues. And small children.

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I digress, though.

I LOVE a good tote bag. I mean, seriously LOVE…so picking my favorite pattern was a breeze. My specifications are big and kinda slouchy – sorta like this bag I bought several years ago.

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The obvious starting point for me is the pool tote.

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Using Mary’s tips about sizing up and down your tote, I grabbed my calculator and increased the size 10%. Not a lot, but enough to hold a good size quilt and supplies for binding.

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I lined each piece with a heavyweight non-woven fusible interfacing and added a small pocket to each side of the lining pieces.

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I made the interior following the steps for the Basic Tote.

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I attached cotton webbing to each side of the exterior tote bag before sewing the pieces together. Because I planned to use this as a bag to tote half finished, in need of binding quilts and other projects, the straps are rather long to accommodate the bulk of quilts.

I sewed the straps across the top, bottoms, sides and made an “X” in the center for stability. I also added an extra piece of interfacing on the back where the straps attached (something like 4″ x 15″).

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I placed the lining inside the exterior of the bag, wrong sides together. I pinned the top, attached a bias binding and voila!

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fullsizerender-9A quilt tote is born! The bag has a lap quilt AND and full size quilt in it with room to spare. Perfect for carrying around projects! I’m so excited about it!

Aside from showing you how to take a basic pattern and changing it into virtually any kind of bag, Mary also has great information about interfacings, fabrics and accessories for your bag. For a chance to win a copy of your own Hack That Tote! be sure to follow my blog and leave a comment about your favorite tote hack below or a hack you’d like to make.

I’ll pick a number using random.org for the winner (announced on 10/7). Winners in the States will receive a copy of the book, and winners outside the States will receive an e-book.

You can follow along and leave comments on all the blogs below to increase your chances to win this incredible book!

9/27 C&T  http://www.ctpub.com/blog/
9/28 Sue O’Very http://sueoverydesigns.com/blog/
9/29 Gen Q Teri Lucas http://generationqmagazine.com/
9/30 Patty Murphy  http://pattymurphyhandmade.com
10/1 Vanessa Lynch http://punkinpatterns.com/blog
10/2 Lindsay Conner http://lindsaysews.com
10/3 Stephanie Moore http://www.alittlemooreblog.com
10/4 Katy Cameron http://www.the-littlest-thistle.com
10/5 Kim Niedzwiecki http://www.gogokim.com
10/6 Mary Abreu  http://confessionsofacraftaddict.com

Happy Hacking!

friends, quilt, quilting, quilts

Finding Wisdom

I have been missing my intown quilt friends lately, and the many aspects of the creativity it fosters in my life. It’s been 3 years in suburbia and I haven’t found that group yet. To be fair, I’ve spent a large amount of time renovating my house and generally getting settled  – finding friends, volunteering at the school, etc. – so figuring out a quilt groove in these parts was not high on my priority list. But now it is, and wow! I’m ready with a vengence!  I know  I’ll get there but it will take time. In the meantime I find myself going into town to my favorite quilt shop more and more and to my intown guild meetings again. Maybe this is my new groove. I’m okay with that.

I’ve been reconnecting in many ways and it feels good for my personal spirt and my creative one. It’s refreshing to feel like I’m finding me again, since she’s been gone for a few years. Creatively I’ve been in a funk, but personally, as well. Both of those lights are starting to shine again. I have spent the last year and a half working on a HUGE project (that I can reveal later this summer) and while I am super proud of what I did, it took  a lot of time and energy. More on that later, though.

Camaraderie is a real thing when it comes to art, y’all, and while I can use technology to help, like a facetime chat with this gal, this gal or texting photos to friends, the in person interaction can make or break a project. Different eyes pick up on things you miss, and friends can give you suggestions how to make a project better or enhance it in some way. Without a doubt I can say that the collaboration with friends has been a big help in my quilt journey and has changed the way I see things with many quilts – color, design, technique. We can all learn from each other. Young, old, new quilter, old quilter.

I’ve started going back to guild meetings, even if some days it means sitting in ridiculous traffic, and I’ve joined a local guild, that thankfully doesn’t require me sitting in ridiculous traffic. One item of note about each guild is that the groups, while completely different in style – one is more like a large bee and the other is a “real” guild – is that they are made up of women that are, for the most part, older than me, which leads me to the real topic of this post.

I was chatting with my friend Mary Mattimoe the other day about wisdom with quilters. She and I often laugh that we are the youngest members of our Intown guild. We are also the most absent since she lives across the country now and I live a half hour away without traffic. The thing we both agree on is the amount of knowledge in that group. It’s fascinating. Many of those women have been sewing and quilting longer than I’ve been alive, if that’s any indication of what they can offer.

Without a doubt I know if I have a question on almost anything quilt related one of them will know the answer, or know where to direct me to find it. I’m not an art quilter but my friend Casey is amazing! If I need to know something about painting or dyeing fabric, she’s my gal. Mary Lou creates the most amazing applique and English Paper Piecing ever. She’s been a HUGE source of wisdom on that for years. If I’m stuck on a design issue, Taffy and Regina usually have me covered. All these women are 20 years my senior. All these women are incredible.  All these women are my friends. And that’s just four of the members. I can think of how each person in that guild has offered me advice in some way or another in the 12 or so years I have known them. That’s a lot of words and stitches shared. It’s not all about quilting either – childcare, family, friends – the list is long.

They can share because they know a thing or two about life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve presented a problem to any of these women only to find they have a solution. Often one I hadn’t thought of or a modification of something I had. Their perspective is different because they HAVE been there. And what makes it better is that these ladies aren’t my mother – they are my friends – so the dynamic is different. Don’t get me wrong, I respect my mom seven ways ’til Sunday, but sometimes advice is taken differently when it doesn’t come from your mom.

I’ve spoken with quilters my age, or younger, that think one way or another on this but for me, especially as it relates to older, more traditional quilters, well, I think there is no greater way to learn about quilting than from others. It was an oral history for hundreds of years before books were around on the subject. Mothers and grandmothers taught the art of quilting to daughters and granddaughters. Why in the world wouldn’t I want older quilters to share their knowledge of quilting with me? I always welcome the advice with open arms. I’m well aware that many people have been quilting longer than the 40+ years I’ve been alive and they may know a thing or two. And the advice is free. The friendship is, too. I can say that I have learned more about quilting from this group of women than I have from anywhere else.

So I guess my point is this, we can all learn from each other. Older quilters have a lot to share. Don’t discount them because your style is different. The inverse is true for younger quilters. Hand piecing can be just as rewarding as machine piecing. Computer guided long arms offer as much as sewing on your domestic. It’s all a matter of opinion and what works best for you. What you enjoy.

But at the end of the day, if you are in a room with a bunch of ladies you don’t know but you all clearly share the same interests, strike up a conversation. Ask for help. You’ll never know what you can learn from it. Great friendships are sometimes born by asking for help. You just have to be willing.

 

 

 

 

 

friends, quilt

Quilt Retreat

Quilt retreat was this weekend, and oh. my. gosh. I needed it. I had parts cut for two quilts, and managed to finish a little more than half of one. I’m so happy with the progress, and can’t wait to finish. The blocks will finish at 9″.

I love this group of women. Many have been in the guild for twenty years. Some for just two. I’ve been part of it for ten, though I’m less involved since I moved. BUT, I always love an opportunity to see my friends, and retreat is the perfect excuse. Even better, my MOM joined this time. I think she enjoyed it. Sadly, I didn’t snap a photo of us, but I did get one with my friend, Mary.

The thing that always resonates with me as far as this group is concerned is that we build each other up. Retreat is fun, and exhilarating, and wildly inspirational. We all talk, and commiserate about quilts and there is no grousing or complaining, no piddly bickering. This is a group of women that genuinely cares about each other and their lives and artwork. We trade tips, eat, and laugh.

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about anyhow, right?

family, friends

Winter Break Comes to an End

Winter break this year was eight days instead of six, thank you very much winter storm Pax. We did some fun stuff, but by today the kids and I were pretty much over each other. We met some friends and headed over to the Chattahoochee Nature Center. I’m glad we did. The kids needed the sun, and fun!

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We counted three turtles, and some ducks.

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And found this awesome tree called the Pawpaw tree. I’m going to have to print a copy and send it to my Dad, who we call PaPa. I think it’ll make him laugh.

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