Sunday, May 22, 2016

Coming Home

Incredibly, I'm a homeowner again.

When I moved into this little Craftsman-style bungalow as a renter almost exactly 2 years ago I never imagined that I would end up buying it, or any house, again.

Of course, when I moved into this house at the end of my long, long marriage simply getting out of bed and breathing was considered a victory (see this post).   Forget about long term plans or financial decisions. Just keep living until you're alive again.

But as most of us know, grief is finite.  And at some point, after a long time, it's time to empower yourself, take the reins of your life, and kick some ass.  Or at least try to.

By the way, that's not my cat in the picture, although it is my porch.  She lives next door, but likes to nap here.  I think of her as porch decor.

Throughout this journey, this house has been so much more to me than a place to live.  It's truly felt like home since the day I moved in.

The couch-- and those pillows-- were here when I moved in.  I want to make some patchwork pillows for it this summer.

Click here for my tutorial to make your own Dresden Plate table runner like the one on my coffee table.

Several months ago the former owner of this house (and my former landlord) said that he wanted to sell the house and that he would offer it to me first.  At first I thought it would be impossible, but as I have been learning over the past 2 years, many things are possible.

And needless to say, the opportunity to purchase a house that I was already living in and wouldn't have to pay a realtor fee for was a great opportunity.

And how could I possibly walk away from a bedroom painted lime green?  If that's not an omen that this house was meant to be mine then I don't know what is.

Closing was April 29.

Welcome home.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

One Quilt Top Done

You might recall from this post that I'm working on 2 custom memory quilts for twin girls.  The girls are 7 now, and their mom brought me a bunch of their baby and toddler clothes to be made into quilts.

This first top is done!

The recipient of this quilt loves animals (particularly aquatic ones) and her favorite color is pink.

I saw this fabric and simply had to include it in this quilt.  It couldn't be more perfect for this project!

It's called "Mermaid Play" from the Out to Sea collection from Michael Miller fabrics.

That whale was appliqued on a dress, so I cut it off and reapplied it to pink whale fabric ("Tossed Whales" from Timeless Treasures )

Next I will start on her sister's quilt!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Quilt Show!

Last week I had the pleasure of finally attending the Sewing and Quilt Expo in Lakeland, Florida-- about a 40 minute drive from my home.

This show has been coming to Lakeland for quite a few years but it's always been scheduled during a busy work week for me so I've never had the time to go.

This year my Spring Break occurred during the same week as the show so HURRAY!  I finally got to go!

There are loads of really fun classes offered at the Expo but when I saw this one it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to get some technical skills to use on my HQ Sweet 16.  Plus, the class was actually taught on the Sweet 16 --there was a whole classroom of them!

Here's a quick shot from the class.  We worked with handouts breaking down the basic shapes like straight lines, S curves, loops, and hooks (shown in the picture.)

Some of the students were new to the machine, others were like me and had owned them for awhile.  (I've had mine for about 3 years.)

This was a technique class, not a project class, so I just had this sampler at the end. But I learned a lot!

Some skills were brand new, like this attempt at pebble quilting.

Looks more like a bunch of grapes to me!

I LOVE THIS.  It's feathers done as "l's" and "e's".  Make your spine, then work your way down with the l's and e's done as figure 8's.  Really easy and I love the modern look.

This fern design was one of my favorites too, working all with "S" shapes.  And I like how it looks really good if the 2 sides of leaves don't match.

As usual at an event like this there were lots of vendors plus some beautiful quilts on display.

I loved this one from the Tampa Modern Quilt Guild.  That's some really adventurous quilting in the white spaces.

Now THAT'S what pebble quilting is supposed to look like!

Monday, March 7, 2016

For The Girls

My first custom order of 2016 has arrived in the form of clothing quilts for twin girls who live in my neighborhood.  They're 7 years old now and their mom brought me some of their favorite baby/toddler clothes to be made into quilts, one for each of them.  What a great idea!

Like all memory or t-shirt quilt projects, it starts with a full bag of clothes.

Actually, there was one bag for each child, but I decided to work on each quilt separately-- meaning, I will complete one child's quilt top entirely before I start on the other.  That way there's no danger Clothing Cross-Contamination between the sisters.

When I started really digging into the bag there were some beautiful dresses!

The pink and green one on top has a Lily Pulitzer label-- fancy!

Also, due to the pleating on a lot of them they yielded a surprising amount of usable fabric once I started cutting them apart.

The clothes also had many pretty embellishments, which are always fun to include in this type of quilt.

I always try to reflect the recipient's personality in the quilt.  I have found out that this child loves animals, is concerned about the environment, and her favorite color is pink.  So I'm thinking a pink animal print plus coordinating fabrics might work well in this quilt.

I was feeling a twinge of guilt over not having made a quilt like this with my son's baby clothes, but then I remembered:

He was a cutie all right, but not much of a fashion statement.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Best Kind of Fabric

I love the weekly fabric porn  email newsletter from Hawthorne Threads.  Pretty pictures, the latest fabric trends-- and a giveaway!  I've always dutifully entered my email at the bottom of the page, never expecting to be a winner.

Remind me to start buying lottery tickets.  Imagine my surprise when I saw my email at the bottom of the page where they announce the winner:

 Congratulations to strad121, our winner of a Penny Arcade Fat Quarter Bundle from Kim Kight! Please send us a quick message to let us know where we should send this winning prize!

Holy cow!  I couldn't wait for the package to arrive!

Penny Arcade Fat Quarter Bundle

I love it!
In addition to all 18 fabrics from the collection there was also some awesome SWAG

A little key ring of swatches of solid fabrics

Plus 3 sample sheets of three of their self-manufactured collections (more of those here):

The sample sheets are the perfect size to use as runners on my breakfast bar!

A big thank you to Hawthorne Threads for making me feel like an extra-lucky quilter!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

From Seoul to the Amazon

I received a belated, if well appreciated holiday gift from my son.  He's a sophomore at University of South Florida right here in Tampa but is spending the academic year studying International Business as an exchange student at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.  What an adventure it's been for him, and thank goodness for Skype for me, as we're able to talk frequently. (I still miss him though!) He's blogging about his year here if you'd like to find out more.

Anyway, during his holiday break he did some sightseeing in Seoul and went to a huge market that is apparently an entire square city block of 2 things:  fabric and food.  I WOULD NEVER LEAVE.

There were all types of fabrics but he picked out this cotton print for me.

Let's see:  bright colors, a large scale print, contemporary style.  Yes.  I trained that child well.

In other news:

Handmade 101

I received an invitation to apply to Handmade@Amazon a few weeks ago.  I filled out the application and was accepted!

I'm not leaving Etsy but my 2015 sales there were way, way down not only from the previous year but dating all the way back to 2011.  (I opened my store there in July 2010).  I've never been a high volume seller but had steady and dependable sales for several years.

It's not a fluke or just bad luck.  It's a change in how search works on Etsy (for more information here's a highly informative article:  click here).  And more changes are coming, which might be good or bad, there's really no way of telling (click here for the latest announcement from Etsy concering their search function).

One can always hope that things will work out. But one thing I've learned as a small business owner:

Hope Is Not A Business Plan 

Around the time that I was assessing what had happened in 2015, and wondering what to do about it, the invitation from Amazon showed up in my inbox.  It seemed silly not to at least try.  Like all online selling platforms the reviews are mixed, with some people loving it and others not so much.  I think the big test for all of the H@A vendors will come in August, when they start charging a $40 flat monthly fee.  

First things first:  build another store!  Time for lots of sewing to make new merchandise!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Home Improvement

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and a great start to 2016!

As usual, I was really busy with orchestra work and free-lance jobs through Christmas Eve, then I had some much-appreciated time off.

I even had time for a few Crafty Household Adventures.

I made a cool black and white bath rug for my cool black and white bathroom.

I pieced together 5 1/2" squares, then used a towel for the back.

There's no batting (it's thick enough with the towel back) and no binding.  I used the "turn and topstitch" method of construction.

It was a great way to use up scraps and assorted small pieces of fabric.

I like it so much that I'm considering adding something like this to my Etsy shop stock.  There's very little like it there now among all the bath rugs for sale there (surprising to me, yet true) and it might be a nice complement to my selvage bath mats.

Also, I painted my refrigerator!

Before you start questioning my sanity, let me explain:

I have a beautiful renovated kitchen with a nice set of matching white appliances:

Stove, with matching microwave above it;

matching dishwasher;

too many scuff marks!
And a rather old, scuffed up BLACK refrigerator that works perfectly well but was simply not aesthetically worthy of the rest of the kitchen.

I rent this house, and when I asked the landlord where the refrigerator came from, he said that when he was redoing the kitchen his office was moving and they were giving the refrigerator away.

Hooray for free appliances.

It was also a low-risk makeover project.

It looked better even with just primer on it!

Now it's a chalkboard!

I followed this tutorial that I found on Pinterest.  It wasn't a difficult process, although I did spread out the drying times for the coats of primer and paint overnight due to the freakishly hot and humid holiday weather that we had.   It's a great way to give new life to an old appliance!