Monday, February 8, 2016

Get back into the swing

Our move is complete and we're getting settled and have successfully navigated a holiday season.  My husband is in training for a major career change, which fortunately draws a salary.  I'm still searching for a full-time job but am enjoying working part-time at the local Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts store.  Let's face it - cutting fabric all day and discussing sewing projects is not really work!

My first chore was tackling the redesign of some broken, bare-bones muslin Roman shades from Ikea for the guest room (three of them) and my sewing area (two).  The guest room shades were a challenge because I went to Jo-Ann stores in three states before finding enough fabric to finish them, but here they are:

And here is a shot of the sewing room area, where I coordinated the fabric with the valances I'd made ages ago with a yellow and blue floral print:

I've yet to find a local longarm quilter to bring my tops to complete, but I've also resolved to add to the pile of finished tops from started projects.  The first one to be completed was the cover quilt from Pat Speth's "Nickel Quilts" - I added a checkerboard border of 1" finished squares, which, I'm proud to say, turned out perfectly.

Finally, with a bit of my paycheck money, I treated myself to Katja Marek's "The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece" and started playing around with her fun little patterns during Winter Storm Jonas (or whatever it was called).  I have a project in mind for these that I haven't shared with ANYONE yet, so stay tuned.  These are addictive!

Next up, finishing another top, and then beginning to piece a large Windows Into My World Pattern from Geta Grama (her Etsy shop link for this is here, with her own picture below).  It's easier than it looks!  I have yet to buy the fabric for it so I'm occupying myself with hexies instead.

More to come in time.  On deck - celebrating National Sewing Day with my new guild, and hopefully hearing whether I'll be fortunate enough to be a block tester for another issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Change, soon?

It's been nearly a year since my last post and that's in part because I've had nothing to say.  I've had all my fabric, quilts and other sewing stuff in storage for about 15 months.  Within the next few days we'll be moving, finally, to a new state, and the movers will deliver it all.  It's exciting because I will finally be able to regain some sanity with setting up a sewing room again, joining a new guild again, and having the peace that being surrounded by my stuff brings me.  But it's frightening because this move is a risk; we still don't have jobs, and we have the banged-up egos that being unemployed for over a year tends to give people.  It's so strange how you can pursue your education, work hard for twenty years, make decent professional and personal connections, and then it all comes to a screeching halt and nothing ever happens again.  I'll be going to my 25th college reunion in the spring and I'll be lucky if I have a part-time minimum wage job at Joann Fabrics by then at the rate things are going, much less anything career-worthy that I can mention to my classmates - judges, entrepreneurs, executives.  But I guess this is a little like the orchestra playing as the Titanic went down ... it let the doomed focus on something slightly more pleasant than their impending demise.  So maybe I will be sewing and even posting again before the year is up.  And maybe not.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

nothing happening

I'm still kicking, but that's about all I have to say.  We were fortunate to sell our house less than a week after listing it for sale this past summer, but that's where our good luck pretty much ended.  We sold about a third of what we own, put most of the rest in storage, and moved just clothes, food and bare necessities into my dad's house at the end of the summer.  "Bare necessities" includes toiletries, computers, financial documents, and, for me, one sewing machine, a basket of notions, two WIPs and some fabric scraps.

The rest of my sewing room - fabric, books, notions, and every quilt I own - is in a storage unit in North Carolina somewhere, along with all our Christmas decorations, furniture, personal memorabilia, kitchenware, family photos, etc., etc.  I'm far more fortunate than the refugees I see in the middle east fleeing their homelands for safety with only the clothes on their backs, but I do worry that I'll never see my belongings again.

Neither of us has had much luck finding work in the almost seven months since my husband was let go, despite job searching being our full-time jobs during these past three months since the move.  We are grateful to have a free roof over our heads but the stress is leaving us struggling to find hope - rather than fear - in what might come next.  I have little momentum and space to sew, so if life doesn't change for us soon, this blog will probably end up being pretty pointless to maintain.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What to work on when you don't want to work on anything

As mentioned in my previous post, life has been chaotic.  There have been some times that I find myself craving the type of self-care that quilting gives me, but feeling completely overwhelmed in my sewing room.  First of all, there is all sorts of home dec project material laying around waiting for me to pick up again, so going into my sewing room feels like an obligation and not a getaway.  Secondly, even if I manage to ignore it and set it all aside, I just have TOO MANY PROJECTS in various stages of completion and I become absolutely flummoxed as to which one to pick up and work on.  And if I begin something new?  I remember again how much I have in progress when I decide I'm done for a while and want to put it away and have all sorts of project boxes already stuffed full.

It's not relaxing, which is what sewing should be.

Finally I decided to bite the bullet and just do "maintenance" work.  Namely, I decided to trim all the bonus HST units I've set aside from various projects.  Actually, not ALL of them, since there are a lot, but all the ones paired with a white rather than black or another color.  This is what was left after about 650 HSTs:

Now they're all nicely pressed and trimmed and ready for use in a project.  I'm thinking a baskets quilt much like this block from 101 Patchwork Patterns:
A number of these in a variety of colors, set on point like this pattern from Quiltmaker, is what I have in mind.

But first to finish other projects ... assuming I have enough time before another move to do so.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


About a year ago today, I was still dealing with the news that we were going to have to sell the house we'd just purchased and move from Virginia to North Carolina as my husband's company was relocating its executive office employees.  We spent six months in a rental apartment while getting to know the area and finding a new house that suited us, and we closed on our new home in mid-March.  I had some good job interviews and came close to working, but no offers.

Two months after moving in, my husband went into work to be told that his position was being eliminated effective immediately.  Although he negotiated a severance package that leaves us able to make ends meet for the near future, I will be spending the third summer in a row preparing a house for sale and moving.  Obviously, we are both annoyed that they couldn't make this decision before we bought the home.  In the long run, I think it will end up being a good thing, but I won't be able to say for certain until we land elsewhere.

We will most likely return to the Baltimore-Delaware-Philadelphia area to be closer to our kids and family.  We'd really like to sell the house during the summertime when people are relocating before the school season starts, and the market has picked up since we purchased.  Still, we had a lot of plans for this house and have to finish up the things we've started and take the direct route to being ready to list for sale.  My sewing room has not seen any quilting happening, as I've been focused on curtains and other home decor projects instead.  It has been challenging to find the emotional energy to do something fun like quilt, especially if I wonder how long it will be until I can unpack in a new sewing room somewhere again.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Post-Christmas productivity

Christmas has come and gone and I managed to meet all my sewing deadlines on time.  The green and white quilt I featured in November was given to my sister-in-law who had been dropping not-so-subtle hints for some time that she wanted one!

Her husband has been hard at work finishing their basement into a media room with wet bar, home office, gas fireplace and powder room, with lots of green tones, so this was perfect for them.  For my other sister-in-law I whipped up a set of placemats with this easy pattern from Sew Biz called "Set the Table, Mabel!"
And then for my 11-year-old stepdaughter, I bought her a bunk bed set for her two American Girl dolls and made some bedding to match what she likes and has at our house.
I note also that the doll on the top is wearing a pajama set I made her last Christmas (with a matching set for my stepdaughter, each of whom have their first initial appliqued to the white t-shirt in flannel).

As usual, my well-trained family gave me a nice variety of quilter gifts - fat quarters, a half dozen charm packs, a jelly roll, two Accuquilt dies, and Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Designs book (in print).
Now my husband is off to see his daughters for the weekend (although we just said goodbye to them all Wednesday) and I'm going to have to go through my sewing room, cleaning up from hurriedly-made gifts, putting my gifts away, and deciding what to make with my new goodies.

I do wish my sewing room had better lighting.  It's fine during a sunny day, but there are no ceiling lights and floor lamps only go so far.  We have not yet made progress on finding a new house, but, happily, our old one is under contract, through inspections, and scheduled to go to settlement in mid-January.  So I suppose the next part of getting settled here in Raleigh can move more quickly.  I'd love to find a job soon too, but so far no movement on that front, either with temp agencies or applications.  Frustrating.  More sewing time, I guess.

On the plus side of staying in and nesting, TCM's Star of the Month is my favorite classic film star, Joan Crawford.  Sadly, my DVR only holds three movies before it's full, so today I had to set my alarm for 6 AM to start watching before it tried to record a fourth at 7:15.  Of course, I'll have to make sure there is sufficient room for the start of Season 4 of Downton Abbey beginning Sunday night!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Recent finishes

I'm settling in here pretty well.  I'm still waiting for a call to return to working but am sewing and getting other things done until then.  I've finished two quilt tops - no photos yet - and three quilts.  Nancy Drew was bound and sent off to its new home last week:

I also finished two other quilts that Laura at Star City Stitchery quilted for me:  a green and white jellyroll scrap quilt she did in a Baptist Fan pattern ... 

And my Lily Ashbury Summer House jelly roll quilt that was made from the free pattern that Moda released with Kate Spain's Good Fortune line (you can get the pattern here).  Laura quilted this with a Sunflower pattern she had used on my previous quilt, Spanish Treasure.

The sun really helps the eye see the quilting patterns on these quilts.

In the move I came across those stray Quiltmaker 100 Blocks tester blocks I had made and blogged about as part of my giveaway for Volume 6.  Volume 8 hit the stands this past week, that's how long ago that was!  And I never did anything with those blocks.  Well, the bee I've joined has a box for random blocks - take or give - and I think they will go in there.

The bee meets tonight so I'd better get ready to go.  Just wanted to mention that I'm still here, still sewing.