Creative 2017 is Now in Session! Won’t you Join Me?

It looks like 2017 is going to be an extremely creative year for me. I’m only 3 days in and so far I have been working on a quilt, drawn a neighborhood home, started Joanne Sharpe’s 2017 Artful Life Class, and have a knitting project on my needles! All this… and so much more either in the design stage, or further!

The Quilt – I fell in love with Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s Star Storm pattern and have been busy choosing fabrics for mine. I am blogging about the process… so you can read all about it HERE and HERE. Deviating from the original color scheme is certainly exercising my creative brain!

Star Storm creative Fabric Selection

House Drawing – My neighborhood is an eclectic mix of homes at the Jersey Shore. From sprawling mansions to tiny bungalows and everything in between, we have it all. As I walk around I am humbled by some of the amazing homes. I want to draw and paint so many of them!! One of my favorites is one that has so much character and texture it SCREAMS for me to look at it as I pass. The stained glass window on the front door is a spider web!!! So AWESOME! Taking a break from the quilt and some computer work, I spent this rainy day finally drawing this house. I still have to pull out my water colors to finish… but that might have to wait for another day. Working from a quick snapshot taken this summer, I had to take creative license on some areas I couldn’t see well.

creative Ink drawing

2017 Artful Life Class – I signed up for this online class the moment I heard about it… grabbing the ‘early bird’ pricing. I have been following Joanne Sharpe for a few years now, purchased her books, read her articles in magazines, and have even taken an older class or two. I love her easy style of teaching… and the positive atmosphere she creates in her classes. This particular class runs the ENTIRE YEAR!!! One of the main reasons I signed up for her class was to document my life in a fun and creative way, while learning new techniques on a regular basis. I highly recommend this class to ALL of you… even if you don’t think you can draw! Seriously! Joanne makes it sooooo easy to follow her!! More information can be found HERE!

Creative Lettering - 2017 Artful Life

Knitting – In reality I have TWO projects on needles. The first is a hat for my grandson in Florida. Obviously it will be lightweight as the temperature doesn’t drop that low. It won’t take long to complete… maybe a day or two. The second project KILLS ME!!! The scarf that took me THREE YEARS of off and on again knitting… and had to be ripped out and re-started FOUR times (post of progress HERE)… was LOST!!! I only got to wear it TWICE!! I was wearing it when I hopped on the PATCO High Speed Line, and by the time I walked the many blocks to The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia… it was GONE! AAACCCCKKK!!! I can only hope that it is keeping some homeless person a little bit warmer this winter, and they needed it more than me. I quickly purchased new yarn (on sale… SCORE!)… and am ready to start all over again! To satisfy my creative side, and not feel I’m knitting the same thing over again, I purchased a different color.

Other Projects – First up, I have another card table play tent to sew for my daughter’s business… Posted Fete (formally Bash Box). Last time was a Luau theme… this time it’s camping. Fun! It will debut next month. The creative design stage is complete… it’s now time to get this thing on the sewing machine. Secondly… I’m working on a super secret project due soon. As soon as I am able to share it with you, I’ll post.

Working on the computer, checking in on high school classmate’s parents, staying in  touch with family and friends, and finally eating and sleeping round out my day. The big question I have now is… WHEN did I ever have the time to work full-time job????

Here’s wishing you a happy and creative 2017!!!

 

 

Have Sewing Machine… Will Travel

Two weeks ago I found myself in an odd predicament. I had to make an emergency purchase… of a sewing machine! Really! Who does that??? Who wakes up in a panic and runs out to purchase a new machine? Me… apparently.

Since sewing comes as naturally to me as breathing… I take on a few projects to help make ends meet. I was working on a very large project when I realized I was running out of time. Although the deadline was a few weeks away, I had a flight to catch to the west coast in two days… and this project would not be finished by then. My brain went into ‘think outside the box mode’ to figure out how to possibly get the project finished AND make my flight.

Checking with the airline on the cost to switch my flight made me gasp for air! I didn’t pay that much for the original ticket!!! I rationalized I could always take the project with me, finish it out there on the opposite coast, and FedEx it back to the client with a few days to spare. This plan would work, as long as I had a sewing machine at my destination.

My sewing machine is too heavy and too large to take as carry on… and there was no way I was going to allow the baggage handlers to toss it around. Visions of my machine arriving on the carousel in tiny pieces… held together by shipping tape danced through my head… knowing that marking a bag ‘fragile’ ensures it will be thrown across the tarmac and run over by a baggage cart, and that’s AFTER elephants stepped on it and gorillas played with it.

Knowing there was a sewing machine I could use at the other end of my travel, I happily packed yards and yards of fabric and all my sewing notions in my suitcase, instead of my clothing and toiletries. Eh… who needs all those outfits any way? I can always wash and re-wear.

suitcase filled with sewing

With a plan in motion… I set out on my trip. The first day was spent getting situated instead of sewing. No big deal… I would get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed and be ready to go. That’s exactly what I did! I woke up, had a good breakfast, pulled out all of my sewing supplies, set up the loaner sewing machine, sat down at the machine, positioned my fabric under the needle, reached for the knob on the right to set my stitch… and THAT’s when I noticed I had a problem. This particular machine was designed for a beginning seamstress. I should have known, because I purchased it for my daughter-in-law as a gift two years ago. It doesn’t have the ability to do the more advanced sewing I need to do on this project. Crap!!! There’s also no way to ‘fudge’ it either.

The only viable solution I could come up with… was to purchase a machine that would do what I needed. Seriously… that was the only way out of this mess. With time (or lack there of) a huge factor, I drove to the closest sewing and vacuum shop according to Google… AFTER checking my bank balance to see what I could afford. It was there, at Quality Sewing and Vacuum in Northgate, Wa that I met the most wonderful sewing machine sales associate EVER… Esther! She listened to my plight… and showed me the best machine for my project and abilities in addition to a lesser model… giving me options.

I’ll be honest… I have been saving for a new sewing machine since my ‘work horse’ is beginning to hiccup. However… the one I have my heart set on is over $1,000. THAT was NOT happening this day. Oh no! Not only was it not in the budget, it is overkill for what I needed at the moment. So… confidently throwing down my debit card at the register, I purchased a new machine. But the story doesn’t end here.

I went back to the house, and finished the project. It was the perfect machine and ran like a dream… but I wasn’t happy. I already have 3 perfectly decent machines at home. One is a vintage Singer Featherweight (I hear all you quilters drooling), another is a Baby Lock on a mid-arm frame (for quilting), and the ‘work horse’ commonly known as a Janome Quilter’s Companion, which is over 20 years old, only speaks German and it sews everything I push under the needle. So you see, I didn’t really need another machine. AND… if I were to purchase a new machine… it would replace the Janome. This new one doesn’t even compare. Sigh.

So here I am… a bit ticked that I spent $400 of my accumulated cash on a machine I don’t really need, all because I didn’t plan ahead appropriately, AND now have the same problem of getting it across the US to the opposite coast. as I did originally. Double sigh!

But wait!!! A silver lining appears (that’s actually a pun as Esther’s last name is Silver). One of the selling features of this particular machine is that it is small enough to be considered ‘carry on’ for the airlines! Whoopie! I begin the hunt for a padded bag to protect it as I stuff it in the overhead compartment. No luck. As much as I abhor shopping online as opposed to shopping local, I had no choice. Thanks to Amazon I found the perfect bag. I ordered it on a Sunday evening… and it arrived at my door on Wednesday morning… 15 minutes before I had to leave for the airport. Phew! That was cutting it close!

Purple Sewing Machine Bag

I’m a bit happier now… as this machine is perfect for traveling! Not only on planes, trains, and automobiles across the country… but to sewing retreats, quilting classes, and clients homes if necessary. In the end… it was the PERFECT choice.

My savings for a larger, more stable and sturdy machine that actually speaks English and has a large harp to fit quilts through, is back to zero. Honestly, it’s in the negative… but that only makes me work harder to earn enough for the machine I REALLY want!

Afterall… a girl can always dream.

Here’s a sneak peek of ‘the project’. A professional photo shoot will be available in late October of the entire project… along with another similar project. Both are absolutely ADORABLE!

VW

A Tale of Two Quilts – DP#143

When I decided to make quilts for Hurricane Sandy Families it was very freeing for me. I had amassed a lot of favorite fabrics over the years and this was a way for me to put it all to good use. Rarely do I know anything at all about the recipient. If a friend of a friend asks me to make a quilt for someone the MOST information I get is… “They are a close knit family with three kids”… OR… “The quilt is for a husband and wife, in their early sixties, he likes to fish and she likes cats.” More commonly however, I get no information at all. I have total creative control over the entire project from beginning to end. I choose the design, the fabric, the backing, batting, border and final stitching… and cross my fingers the recipient/s will love it as much as I do.

If I am making a quilt for an organization such as Quilts of Valor… I need to follow their loose guide lines of using Red, White, and Blue fabric with a patriotic design. Again… I still have total control over the creative process… as long as I follow the concept.

Well… this Holiday Season my world got turned upside down. Two special quilts caught me off guard and had me looking at sewing in a whole new light.

QUILT #1…

Someone I know personally contacted me about making a quilt out of her son’s band shirts. “Sure”, I replied. My mind began planning the quilt before the shirts even arrived. First step would be to get a look at the school colors, and the mascot… then move on from there. I received a plastic bag of shirts a week later and when I opened the bag my jaw dropped to the floor!!!

What I saw before me was nothing but black shirts with names like Mayhem, Doom, Metallica, and others. OH MY!!!! Not at all what I expected. YIKES! Now what?  I took a deep breath… re-arranged my thinking… rolled up my sleeves and got to work. My heart just wasn’t into it. I went through the motions cutting up the shirts and tried my best to get enthused… but it just wasn’t happening.

I plodded through and eventually the top was finished, and ready to have the actual quilting done. I dragged my feet. The black and grey was depressing. I had no clue where to even begin. One day I sat down at my sewing machine, resolute to finish this thing and get it the heck out of my house. Ick!!

Placing the quilt under the presser foot, I sighed. Slowly I started stitching… black thread on grey fabric… blah. My mind went on cruise control. Thinking about the recipient of this quilt… a young man in his early twenties. He wouldn’t want a prissy, perfectly executed quilt. The light bulb over my head flashed BRIGHT… like a neon sign!! My hands started moving on their own in a different pattern. All the rules I have learned about quilting flew out the window. Leaving raw edges frayed, not following a straight line… the quilt was telling me what to do!!!

It turned out AWESOME!!! Edgy!! Perfect for a guy his age. Nothing at all what I envisioned when I first received the call about making the quilt.

I know his mother, the client… loved it. I can’t wait to hear his reaction!!!

Edgy Quilt 1

QUILT #2…

A young woman called and explained her father passed away 4 years ago, he always wore polo shirts, was a ham radio operator with a call sign… and asked if I would possibly consider making a memorial quilt out of his shirts as a surprise Christmas gift for her mother. Again I answered, “Sure.” And again I began designing the quilt before seeing the shirts. I envisioned ham radio logos, graphics, call signs and such. I was excited to get started.

The shirts arrived, I opened the bag, I pulled the shirts out and saw regular, plain, solid colored, well worn and well loved polos. Remnants of the life of a loved one… and this person, whom I have never met, trusted me to make something wonderful of them. Speak about PRESSURE!

I learned my lesson from the previous quilt. Let the shirts speak to me. Let the quilt design itself. “I am just the instrument”, became my constant mantra.

The first thing I did was to dump the shirts out onto my dining table and mix them up in a huge messy pile. With no preconceived plan, and a pair of scissors in my hand… I started cutting up the shirts. My heart was racing, not knowing what my hands were going to do… but I let them do what they wanted… and WOW was I amazed at the result!!!

Being guided by some other force… I cut and sewed, and sewed and cut until I finally came up for air. Shirt fabric flying left and right, I felt like Edward Scissorhands!  Again… this quilt designed itself… and I couldn’t have been more pleased!!

The block I am most proud of is the one with the CALL SIGN. The young woman told me the story of how her dad came to her in a dream and told her the call letters… W3GWW. I sewed a block of stripes, then appliqued the letters. Zigzagging around each one brought back memories of the hours and hours I spent sewing High School Band jackets and hundreds of ice hockey jerseys ‘back in the day’. I still have the skills!! Woo! Hoo!

Call sign

 

Quilt 2

I am honored to play a small part in the these families Christmases. Both will have an heirloom to treasure forever… and I helped to make it happen.

And THAT is what makes Christmas special to me!!!

Merry Christmas to one and all!!!!

Quilt 2 pinned