Monday, December 13, 2010

Holy Giveaways, Blogland!

A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.  ~Chinese Proverb

I am awed by the amazingness that is Sew, Mama, Sew!'s Giveaway Day.  Over 300 folks giving away handmade items and supplies.  How cool is that?!?  I've only gotten through a third of the offers so far...(and it's taken nearly all day...good thing the weather and my schedule made for a great lazy indoor day). I would definitely like to partake in the giving next year.

Not only can you enter to win really cool stuff, it is also a fantastic way to discover fun blogs and awesome artists.  Check out some of my new favorites:


Friday, December 3, 2010

Tools of the Trade

My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky. --William Faulkner 

As a beginner quilter, I've bought supplies without really knowing what would work best for me.  I thought I would share my tool experiences for quilting in a small space. Perhaps you can save some money by reading about my learning lessons.

In terms of pin cushions, I started with the traditional Dritz Tomato Pin Cushion, which I still find helpful for hand sewing. However, when machine sewing, I noticed that I would put my pins down on my desk (which would lead to lost pins, random sticks, and fear that the dog or cat would find them on the floor), as opposed to pushing them back into my tomato cushion.  Perhaps this was due to the fact that the tomato would often find itself lost under a pile of fabric or rolled on to the floor. (I'm not the neatest fact it often looks like a tornado blew through when I'm really getting down to business.)  I also lost a fair amount of needles into the center abyss of the tomato, never to be seen again.

So, next I purchased a Collins Daisy Wrist Pin Cushion, thinking that if it was attached to me I couldn't avoid putting the pins away, rather than just flopping them on my sewing table.  WRONG.  I stuck myself a few too many times; the daisy petals are thin and are not backed by plastic so the pins go right through.  Ouch.  And it was a two step process, having to put the pins in the wrist cushion and then transferring them to the tomato at the end of the day.  Eh, too much work.  Also, the pins would stick so far up, that they would get in the way when folding and sewing my quilt, and wind up getting flung out of the cushion.  This one got sent to Goodwill. 

 √ MY SOLUTION: The next purchase was a Grabbit Magnetic Pincushion.  VOILA--PERFECTION! This is perfect for me.  I can toss my pins toward the Grabbit and it does exactly that-- Grabs It! It is easy for me to secure and store my pins.  And if I drop pins on the floor I can waive the Grabbit around and it sucks them right up.  It is a bit more expensive, but I think it's worth every cent.  I am thinking of buying an extra one for my quilt basting pins.

Living in a relatively tight space in San Francisco, I originally bought a mini (sleeve) ironing board.  Although I used this for years, it was ultimately super annoying.  I struggled with avoiding creases where the fabric hung off the edge of the board. 

 MY SOLUTION: Then, I decided to try the Fons&Porter Portable Ironing Pad and I LOVE IT! It arrived wrinkle free and allowed me to have a large and flat ironing surface right on my coffee table!  The pad is thick enough to protect my table surface and it comes with a handy storage bag.

I bought this BobbinSaver, thinking it would be a great storage solution for me, but came to realize that was not the case.  My biggest gripe is that there is no place to elegantly store an awkward
plastic ring.  Secondly, the thread ends come loose and lastly, if the ring is not full, the bobbins sort of float around.  Some folks love this thing, so perhaps it just isn't my cup of tea.

√ MY SOLUTION: I like the idea of these Bobbin Buddies.  They keep the bobbin thread tidy and I can pop them in a section of my thread box.  MUCH SIMPLER.


First, I bought this Fiskars 45 mm Stick Rotary Cutter and immediately disliked it.  The blade felt kind of flimsy and wobbled a bit.  This made it hard for me to cut straight lines (or it could have been my inexperience!! or a combination thereof ;-). The blade also seemed to have a hard time getting through multiple layers.

√ MY SOLUTION: I then replaced the Fiskars cutter with a Olfa 45mm Ergo Rotary Cutter and was much happier.  This made cutting EASIER! (not easy, but easier ;-) I was able to cut more layers, with straighter lines, and less stress on my wrist.  Woohoo!

What tools have you bought and replaced??  What are your favorites?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pics and Puns

The goodness of the true pun is in the direct ratio of its intolerability.  
-Edgar Allan Poe, Marginalia, 1849

My dear friend, Kami, loaned me her sewing machine a few months ago.  I had not sewn on a machine since grade school, and previously did all my t-shirt and onesie appliques by hand.  Another dear friend, Andrea, gave me a very thorough tutorial on how to use my machine and off I went.  These are my first quilts. I hope you like them!  While I was sewing them (for a fruitless fair) I got a bit delirious and a whole string of sewing puns wound up on my facebook feed (thanks to my friends for chipping in their puns!).  Enjoy the pics and the puns.

P.S. These quilts are for sale. 
P.P.S. Pic quality isn't the apologies. 


Chicken Quilt:


I'm sew tired, and hanging on by a thread, but the sew must go on!

sew it goes...

Sew 'Nuff.

Pretty Preppy Quilt:


sew far, sew good.

sew be it!

sew many puns, sew little time

Sailor Boy Quilt:

 sewing puns? how unseamly! ;)

your updates are sew predictable 

 You have me in stitches. ;)

Nautical Nuttiness Quilt:

 I am a material witness to all these seemingly innocent comments.

 This thread has me bobbin my head in agreement.

I'm beginning to see a pattern here.  And I'm not ready to cut it out! Needle-ss to say.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fabric Cutting Learning Curve

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow."  
-- Albert Einstein

I have totally fallen for quilting.  Love at first stitch, so to speak.  That is, except for the cutting part, which is made extra difficult by lack of space, insufficient work surfaces, and a bad back.  I'm getting better at it with practice and learning a few tricks of the trade from reading all kinds of blogs.  The biggest lesson I learned is that selvages (the edges of fabric that are woven so as to not fray or ravel) are really your best friend for cutting straight lines.  This is a great tutorial on preparing and cutting fabrics:

All that said, I would love to just get to the designing and sewing part.......which brings me to this:

Please, oh please, with a cherry on top (and whipped cream), let me win this giveaway for an Accuquilt Go! fabric cutter!!!!!

If that fails, maybe Hanukkah Harry or Santa will bring me one for the holidays :)

Happy quilting,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dreams and Reality

I dream my paintings, then I paint my dreams.
--Vincent Van Gogh

I am an amazing artist in my dreams. I allow myself to lay claim to all that I see when I dream, for it is coming my brain. The problem I face is bringing my dreams to reality; how do I produce what I see in my dreams with my waking brain? I've never felt that I have very strong drawing or painting skills, yet this is the art I mostly create in my dreams. That and fabulous clothing from time to time. But I see beautiful things. Last night, I dreamt that I was in a Chinese art vault. The Chinese government was trying to destroy pieces of art that were controversial. There was a great debate over what was art and what was trash and what was a confession of sins perpetrated (use of blood as paint). I got hired to work in the vault and catalog the art. I saw the most amazing things: Easy pencil drawings; simple and bold graphical paintings of people and creatures; majestic winged birds embroidered using a color palette of eggplant and clover; and the list goes on and on. In my dream, I was struck over and over by how, if I let go of my critic, the art I loved was not necessarily the most classical. I was not drawn to the perfectly created pieces; I was drawn, rather, to the more chidlike, free, easy and spirited art. And I realized that perhaps I'm too hung up on perfection, "skill", and classical training that I don't allow myself to create for fear that it won't be very good, nor perceived or received as worthwhile "art". In reality, I never say I'm an artist. I say I am crafty. That is a much more comfortable space for me to inhabit. However, going forward I would like to think of myself as both. I hereby give myself the freedom and permission to explore and learn and stretch my eggplant and clover covered wings and someday perhaps, believe fully that I am an artist and craft gal all in one.

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery,
it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all. --Michelangelo

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hello World

Feels funny to be posting to the world, when really, at this point, I am merely talking to myself. Anyhow, here we go. Welcome to Adventures in Craftlandia. (Thanks, Self. No Problem, Self.) My hopes for this little corner of the blogoverse are pretty simple at this point; I'd like to join the scores of crafty gals and guys who are putting forward their creations, inspirations, thoughts, struggles, and successes. These bloggers have propelled me to be a better crafter, taught me tricks of the trade, and have inspired me on countless occasions. I hope to not only inspire others, but more importantly I'd like to connect with my peers and (secret, thus far) mentors. I also to plan to use this blog to keep me on track (whatever wacky track that may be), to keep myself stretching and learning, and to revel in all that is possible. How's that sound? I think that sounds pretty okay, Self. Thanks, Self.