Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy Quilty New Year

I'm so glad to see some of you were inspired by my attempts to get my scraps in order for the new year. Nothing like a clean slate. It will all be worth it when you feel like beginning a new project. Hope it's my Mystery Quilt, which we'll begin soon.

I cannot believe it's almost 2018. All in all, I have to say 2017 was quite a hectic year. I worked really hard and there were many ups and downs. My next book will be published by Martingale in July. I'm very excited about it. This is the best one yet. I know I always say that but this time it really is, LOL. They sent me a sneak peek of the cover recently and it's absolutely wonderful. I know you'll love it as much as I do, and the entire book as well. I'm expecting to get the sample mock-up pages next week and look them over before they do the final edit and the book is prepared to go to print. I'll share more with you when my publisher says it's okay. Yes, I know, it's a very long process to get a book from idea to reality, but oh it's all worth it. If you still haven't had a chance to pick up my last book, Small & Scrappy, I hope you do that soon so you can join us in more of the monthly quilt challenges we'll be doing from that book in the first part of next year. There are some cute little projects inside.

Also, I hope some of you had fun with all the events and swaps we held in the small quilt groups this past year. There will be more fun coming up in 2018 so you should join us (see group info on blog sidebar). We'll begin another Mystery Quilt sew along the first week in January, there will also be monthly challenges and our annual small quilt swap in spring, a signature block swap and probably another charm square fabric swap later in the year. (Maybe another retreat?) I hope some of you join in and participate in our online group events. It's a great way to make new quilting friends and keep in touch with the "old" ones.

I've been working on the new Mystery quilt pattern of the month and if you check back here in a couple of days, I'll have more info for you. I hope to have the first pattern available for you on January 3 or so.

My best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy and quilty new year! Now go and finish cleaning up and organizing your scraps so you have a nice head start on a successful quilting year . . . .

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Storing Your Scraps

There's a brand new year looming and that means lots of new quilt projects. We're starting a new Mystery Quilt in January so I have to stay organized. Don't let disorganization keep you from creating. Often, it's just a matter of taking the time to do a little planning first. Some of you may have time now that the holidays are almost over to work on organizing your fabric and scraps and that's a good start.

I always hear quilters say they have waaaay too much fabric and they need to stop buying more. I've decided that, for me at least, buying fabric isn't the problem. It's finding a solution for storing it. Buying new fabric is a good thing if it makes your heart flutter and fills your mind with inspiration. Buying and collecting fabric is part of the reason we love to quilt. If you had only 10 fabrics, and were forced to use those same prints over and over and over, would you feel the same way about quilting? I'm guessing you would not. All of your quilts would begin to look the same. Color variety and new prints = inspiration. It's inspiration that jump starts our creative impulses.

So, if you find that you have an overabundance of fabric and that's driving you nuts, then think about some solutions to storing it all. Some quilters organize their fabric according to size - strips or squares. The most effective way for me to organize is by color, in drawers or bins. Larger cuts of fabric go in wire drawers.  Scraps or smaller cuts go into drawers or bins according to color. This means a separate place for each color if you have the space. If you usually work with many different types of fabric, such as batiks, reproductions or novelty prints, then this may not be practical. A better solution might be to sort them according to color in different containers, drawers or on separate shelves set aside for the various types of fabric. You should organize so that your fabric is fairly easy to access if you suddenly have the urge to begin a new project. 

The best method is the one you will keep up. Clutter makes it difficult for me to create and it can be a huge visual distraction as well. I try to clean up the fabric and scraps I use and put them away as soon as I finish a project. If my cutting table is clean and my scraps are already organized before I begin a new project, everything flows a little better.

Scraps and smaller cuts of fabric go here. 

Here are some other tips:

--  Get rid of unwanted fabric or unusable pieces. Just because someone gifted you with her old fabric, it doesn't mean you are obligated to keep it. Pick through and keep what you will use and then donate the rest to a school or charitable organization that may be able to put it to good use. Don't be afraid to "donate" some to your trash. Not all fabric is sacred. Except for the pieces you absolutely love, get rid of it. Don't kid yourself -  if there's any doubt in your mind, you'll probably never use it. 

--  Find a storage solution that allows you to simplify the sorting process and gives you access to it when you need it for a project. 

--  Be flexible and don't beat yourself up if you don't have time or can't get a handle on it all at once. If you know you work better and can be more productive if you're organized, then remind yourself of that from time to time. Taking even 15 minutes to organize a little bit or clean up your cutting or sewing table before you sew can make a big difference. It does not have to be perfect, just try to make a dent in it. I have a tendency to get bogged down by messes and I discovered that this is why I get stuck if I'm trying to create. It may work the same for you. If I find that I'm not eager to start something new I ask myself - what's holding me back? Usually it's the mess. I always make a mess when I create. Most of us do. But I find that if I hold onto that mess for too long, it holds me back and "messes" with my head. If I clean it up even just a little bit, my head clears and I find I have a fresher outlook.

If you're overwhelmed by your scraps, take a little bit of time to organize them. If all you can do is sort some by color and place into bags, do that for 15-20 minutes. Try sewing a little something from those scraps to begin the creative flow. Nine patches, whatever. Something happens when we do this. It's fun and relaxing and if you were feeling a little stuck, you'll be surprised at how sitting down to play with fabric encourages your creativity and motivates you to make something.

 Soon, I'll blog about making some little scrappy quilts with all of your organized fabric. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, my quilting friends!

In the midst of all the holiday hustle and bustle, I was able to take some time to get in a little cross stitching recently. Not a lot but enough to make me think I really need to do some more as a nice break from quilting at times. I finished off some old projects I started awhile ago, reframed a few and got this little one stitched. It took me longer than I thought it would; my eyes just aren't what they used to be. There's never enough time to do it all but I find that taking even a few minutes here and there for myself is relaxing and worthwhile. Soothes the soul.

Almost finished

Almost finished. 

Thank you all for supporting me and my work as well as our little community of quilters. I always say I couldn't do it without all of you and it's true. I'm grateful.

You know I always get very sentimental around this time of year. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and are able to find some time to spend being good to yourself whether it be sewing or something else you find enjoyable. When we're kind to ourselves it's easier to inspire others to be kind. It's spreading the joy. This is the giving holiday after all and you know that does not only mean gifts. Give the gift of yourself to someone. Listen more. Be there for someone. Open your heart and share in the spirit of love, compassion, tolerance, kindness, understanding and sharing with others. The world depends upon it now, especially. Look beyond yourself to those who may need a kind word or gesture. It may really make a difference and we all need this now more than ever.

Okay, that's enough - I'm stepping down from my Christmas soapbox and wishing all of you a joyous holiday!

Even the Keurig got a gift this year - a new polka dot Christmas mug and an assortment of some delicious holiday coffees from Trader Joe's. Chocolate mint and caramel. Gingerbread. I have to try them all. Looks like I'll be up all night, waiting for Santa anyway.

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas Stitching

While my sewing machine is in the shop I decided to do something different. I took out my old Prairie Schooler patterns and thought I'd work on a little bit of cross stitch for a change. This always happens around the holidays. Every December I spend a couple of hours looking through all the Christmas designs I've collected over the years, thinking about all the lovely pieces I'd like to stitch. Occasionally, I even make something. Duh, it would never occur to me to start in July, when there'd be a better chance I'd actually finish something by Christmas. Oh well. 

Then, I pulled out some of my other unfinished Christmas items, like these Christmas tree mug rugs I started last year but never seemed to complete.

These are just too cute not to finish so I know I'll do that at least, if I get my machine back soon. And so I started cutting pieces for a few more. This is a free pattern on my website and in the small quilt group Files, by the way. 

For the December challenge in my small quilt groups (Yahoo and Facebook - see blog sidebar for links), we're making red & white quilts again. I realized I had to start thinking about what I want to make. If you don't have time to make a whole quilt, it's okay to simply make a mug mat or coaster. We're having a showing of the quilts on Facebook and Yahoo on December 30 so I've got plenty of time. I cut these pieces for one quilt and now have decided I'll probably make a different one instead. 

In addition to dreaming of all sorts of creative, Christmasy things I could be making, I started my Christmas shopping. Some of you are probably already finished. I just can't get into it if it's not cold or snowing. Well, we've now got the cold so out I went . . . .

Wishing you a happy December and may all your stitching dreams come true. Make a wish that some of mine come true too. I've been feeling pretty tired and lazy lately and since it takes me a lot of time and energy to write blog posts, I promise I'll finish writing the ones about making scrappy quilts after the holidays. In the meantime, make something cute and show me a picture of it in my Facebook small quilt group

Oh yeah, one more cute little stitching project I started and really need to finish . . . .