Saturday, November 10, 2012

eye candy.
oh, how I love pearl bracelets.   
several of these beauties with be appearing 
in the shop over the next few months.
I can't wait!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

anatomy of a sewing room.

With all the room shuffling that's been going on around here, I managed to get a new sewing room / office out of the deal.   Previously my sewing things were divided between the basement and an alcove off the kitchen, and the computer desk was in a corner of the dining room.   Here are some shots of everything co-habitating in what we now simply refer to as The Room.

The shelves were moved up from the basement, where they had a similar function of fabric storage.
On the top row are "mini-bolts" made from foamcore with fabric cuts in the one to three yard range.   I hate to admit it, but some of these are fabrics I've been hoarding for years!  Next are books (when they aren't strewn around the house), a bin for scraps, and other randomness.  Below the books is a cubby with folded fabrics that haven't made it onto mini-bolts yet.
Then, across the bottom we come to The Bins.  The bins on the left are for 1/4 to 1 yard cuts, organized by color with special bins for polka dots and Kaffe Fassett woven stripes.  These are my go-to bins for just about all my sewing projects - scrap quilts, zipper pouches, you name it, they pretty much all start here.   The bins on the right (also sorted by color) are for scraps that I refer to as "too tiny for anything practical".  (Although to be fair, many of these scraps are several inches in size, which is definitely practical!)  These typically get used for anything small and scrappy or improv, or that special accent applique.

To give you an idea about how ridiculous I am, here's a photo of some recently culled and pressed scraps.  See that little blue on white polkadot in the center?    1/2" x 1"   I've got my sights on it for a snack bag.

The sewing table got located in front of the window, along with two rolling carts, which house - you guessed it - more fabric.   This time in the form of current or future projects, solids, linen, precuts, and special fabrics, including Heather Ross and some prints a friend brought me from Japan.  There's also a basket for my yarn collection.   These carts get placed to either side when I'm sewing - one with the iron and the other with a small cutting board.  That's the fat cat looking out the window on the left.  The door in the corner leads upstairs to the new attic bedroom.

The office part is much less interesting.  Typical book shelf, computer desk,  cabinet with printer.   One of the carts can double as an extra table top for paperwork, which is handy. The design wall also found a spot in this corner.   Nothing too exciting up there right now, but you can tell I've been thinking about the color green!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Still swooning.  Slowly but surely.   I now have four blocks completely finished, and all others in various stages.   That counts as halfway to nine, right?    It's exciting to see it coming together and I've made some new (to me) discoveries with these blocks and all the precise piecing.

Spray starch.  Stiff fabric!  Who knew?   I'm not quite convinced yet that I like it, but it certainly seems to help with trimming things down to size - especially all those HSTs.    I also picked up a 3 1/2" square ruler which has made truing them up against the diagonal seams a breeze.

Pins.   Okay these aren't new to me, but I tend not to be much of a pin-er.   These blocks I'm pinning.   A lot.  Each side of every seam, and one in between.   It takes time, both putting in and taking out, but it sure makes a difference in keeping all those points in alignment.

Pilot Frixon Pens.  I'm pretty giddy about this one.   A fine tip pen (and not a sewing specific pen either) that disappears with ironing.    That's right.   Press your seam and it's gone.  Perfect for marking the diagonal on those pesky flying geese.   I picked mine up at the quilt shop in Long Beach Washington during our last-hurrah-before-school-starts trip to the beach, but they're available at most office supply stores.  A few warnings though - ink will reappear if the fabric gets cold before washing (although it will iron out again) and it seems to slightly fade blue fabrics.   For marking on the back side however, like I've done, it doesn't matter.

Seams.  I have traditionally been a side-presser with a few exceptions, but for the life of me I haven't been able to consistently press these blocks so the final seams are all opposing.   I have since diagrammed it out and it looks good in theory, but I'm not overly optimistic.  I may be doing more open seams in the future....   luckily the spray starch helps with this too.   I have also been plagued with my down-facing seams flipping when they pass over the needle plate.   Then, in a rare moment of brilliance, it occured to me that I could actually adjust the adjustable feet on the extension table to make it just a tad bit higher than the plate.  Yep. That fixed it.  I felt pretty stupid about this one.  But it ranks right up there with the new pen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yikes!  August is quickly going the same way as July - and soon to be gone !
Which is not to say there hasn't been progress made on several fronts ...

The big project this summer has been the attic, and it's getting close to finished.  Don't let the above picture fool you - it is NOT the before shot.  The space was actually "finished" when I bought the house, but not in a condition that I considered livable.    I pretty much ignored it for a decade and then gutted it some years back to insulate.   And then it sat unused while I dreamt up crazy plans of raising the roof and moving the stair (it's in a bedroom closet) and doing all kinds of work that cost way too much money.   I finally decided to get real and re-finish it out as-is with no structural changes.   I'm hoping to get the floor laid this weekend so we can have a move-in date before school starts up in September!

I've also been plugging away on my Nightshade Swoon quilt.   These blocks are intense!  I made the first one from start to finish (with the exception of my rough cut HSTs) and it took the good part of a morning.   I've since been a little sporadic and have multiple blocks in various stages of completion.   Overall it's gone together well and I've only had to unpick a few seams to get points lined up.   My biggest struggle has been with the flying geese blocks.   They were turning out just a smidge too narrow until I started marking the diagonal on the rectangle instead of the square.   Now I can overlap a slightly oversized square on the base rectangle and trim it down to size after stitching.  Problem solved!

And lastly, we managed to sneak in a few days of camping and paddling at one of our favorite spots...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I might be starting a new quilt.  or two.  
but I have two that are almost finished.  
That balances out, right?  

First up is a Swoon quilt.  Finally, after admiring the pattern and quilts for so long!  
The delay in starting had as much to do with finding the right fabric as it did with [almost] finishing up other projects.   When Tula Pink's Nightshade arrived in the shop, I couldn't resist any longer.   The Spider Blossom print in particular pushed me over the edge.

I've selected three of the five prints in the collection and grouped them with an assortment of coordinating solids, from left to right:
kona parsley 198
kona olive 1263
moda bella celery 9900 72
moda bella dusty jade 9900 38
moda bella teal 99000 87
kona azure 1009
cotton couture peony
kona wood rose 1393
cotton couture primrose
the lavender is unknown, but very close to moda bella 9900 33 

Here they are cut into squares and paired up:

(I ended up not using the olive)

and sewn into a gazillion half square triangles:

I may be a little crazy, but I sewed all the HSTs for the entire quilt first.  and I cheated.   I overcut my squares slightly and will trim them down to size whenI need to sew them together.  Is this lazy of me?  I don't know.  I'll have to do the work eventually.  I like to avoid the stress of cutting everything perfectly, sewing perfectly, pressing prefectly, but still get close-to perfect blocks.  I'm sure I'm not the only one that does this!

(The neutral solid is bella natural.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Look I can sew!  Part 4.  

I figured it was high time I posted about an actual sewing project rather than just blabbing on and on about the shop.  I do have more to say, specifically a lengthy "lessons learned" post, but I'll spare you all (for now).

I've taken a cue from Crazy Mom Quilts' small projects sew-along and decided to tackle my own list of small projects.  (because I'm certainly not going to finish a large project any time soon!)
Now that the sun is beginning to shine here in Oregon, I can start hanging clothes up to dry outside -  all that's been missing is a clothes-pin bag.  Previously...well you probably don't want to know what I've done previously... but I finally got my act together and stitched up a little bag in about the same amount of time that it took the washing machine to get through a load of whites. 
I raided my scrap bin for the log cabin front and straps, used a bit of polka-dot from stash on the back, and lined with muslin.  Rather than overthink the hanging, I took the easy route and used a child's skirt hanger I had floating around the laundry room.  In hindsight, I think using some batting and quilting the bag would help give it some structure, but overall I'm pretty happy with the results!

Here's a little side story - My grandmother had a wire and fabric contraption for her clothes pins that hooked over the clothes line and had a sort of hoop at the bottom that gave form to the bag.   I can remember, one summer when I was maybe 6?, 7? stuffing as many farm kittens as I could find in the bag and sending them for a ride down the line.  Yikes!  I don't remember exactly how it all went down, except I'm pretty sure they all survived relatively unscathed (myself included) and I didn't try it again.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A big thanks to everyone that took the time to check out the new shop and leave such nice comments and great suggestions for the site. I'm definitely looking forward to making some improvements as time and budget allow. Here are the top two items on my list: 
  • Add fat quarter checkbox to category pages AND shopping cart. 
  • Add images to the collection category page.
Although I've been in business for a few years now with the shop first on etsy and then big cartel, having my own site opens up a lot more opportunities and is quite exciting!

For the giveaway, winners as chosen by the Random Number Generator are: 

Karen P. 
I love the fabric's by collection in the scrolling circles! Such a great idea! 


I love the store! Congratulations!!! I REALLY love the fat quarter option! I am just getting back into quilting and like being able to buy a little bit of a LOT of fabrics at once! It would be nice to have the fat quarter option next to the fabrics without having to click on the individual fabric first. Does that make sense? This may not be an issue for others, but our system loads slower and waiting that extra each time adds up.... ;)

Please send me a note via the contact link in the shop with your email address and I'll get the gift codes off to you.

I've also extended the coupon code LARK until May 2nd to give a few more days to take advantage of 10% off!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

And we've got a live one!
It's so exciting to have the new website up and running and to see this little shop grow up!  Thanks to all that have helped make it happen!

Here's a quick summary of the features:

  • Most fabrics are priced per yard and sold in quarter yard increments - yup that's right.  purchase 3/4 yard.  4 1/4 yards. whatever you want!  The exception would be prints that are an obvious panel, or pre-cut bundles
  • Fat Quarter cuts are available at no additional charge - check the option box on the product page before adding to your cart.  Once it's in your cart, there's no way to add the FQ option - something I'm hoping to fix soon
  • Shop by collection, designer, manufacturer, color, theme, and fabric type
  • Create a wish list to save favorites or look at several choices together on the same page
  • Fabric cut discount for cuts over three yards
  • Customer appreciation discounts 

To start thing off right, I'm offering a FREE fat quarter on all purchases of a yard or more through the end of the month.   You can also receive 10% off your purchase (excluding shipping) with coupon code LARK.  Remember to enter the code on the shopping cart page prior to checkout.

AND I'll be giving away (2) $20 gift certificates here on the blog.

To enter to win, hop on over to the shop, take a peak around, then come back here and leave a comment letting me know what you like or don't like about the new site!  

Comments will close on Friday April 27th, and I'll draw winners that weekend.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This shop update is so long overdue it makes me want to cry.  Who knew it could take so long?  But it's really close now.  Like within a week close, so I'll save the sob story for another day.
It's not perfect, but close. I keep discovering little things here and there that are just a wee bit off.  I've decided they can wait.   Wait until the dust from the move settles and I've caught up on my sleep (and laundry!).

So stay tuned!  I'll be offering up a few gift certificates, coupon codes, and more on the big day!

In the meantime,  here's a little sneak peak of the home page:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Giveaway Winners!
(I haven't forgotten, really. I've just been a little distracted.)

The winner of the first bundle o' scraps, picked by RGN, is Kritta22, who wrote:
I have started cutting my scraps into 4.5 scraps for a scrappy star quilt I'm trying to make. It might take me a few to get there but it's fun!
Also I want to make a ticker tape quilt. That uses little scraps!!
Thanks for the giveaway! I'm off to read more of your blog.
Good luck with all the change in your world this year!!

I think it's a great idea to pre-cut scraps to a certain size and have them ready to go for a future project!

It was a tough call for blogger's choice, but I have to go with I Plead Quilty! who wrote:
My scraps are immediately stuffed into one of two scrap drawers. Once it reaches critical mass (read here: I can't close or open the drawers any more) I bribe my daughter with a movie, sugar, cash, whatever it takes to sort them by color into large zip bags. Sometimes it's accurate, sometimes not so much, but I get to keep sewing while she sorts for me.

Now why didn't I think of that before??

Congratulations to both!
- please send me a note via the contact link in the shop with your address, and I'll get these bundles packaged up this weekend and on their way!

And Thanks to all who took the time to leave a comment and offer my scraps a good home. I truly appreciate it!

n.b. The quilt above was made with scraps for the pinwheels and yardage for the sashing and back. Each pinwheel requires (2) 4 1/2" squares of a print and (2) 4 1/2" squares of the background.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Out of control.
Need I say more? And I'm not just talking about my overflowing scrap bins here. It's been a crazy few weeks.

First off, I'm in the midst of a long-overdue website redesign. As much as I love the simplicity of hosting the shop with Big Cartel, I outgrew their product limit long ago. (Which is a good thing right? It means that my little shop is a little less little now.) After struggling for months with trying to make sense out of the numerous ecommerce options out there, I gave in and hired a local web developer to do the heavy lifting. What a relief. The new site will actually get done, and get done well. I'm hoping for a "grand-opening" at the beginning of March, which means the next few weeks will probably be even more crazy. Stay tuned. There will be door prizes. Well, virtual door prizes.

I'm also plotting a home renovation project to capture some much needed square footage from the unused second-floor attic. The intent is to add a bedroom and "lounge" space for the teenager in the house, who likes to sprawl and won't be bothered so much by the lower ceiling. I'll be calling in some reinforcements for this work as well. The days are long gone when I could be lured into hauling sheets upon sheets of gypsum board anywhere, let alone up a staircase, in the name of "sweat equity". I have to say, I'm giddy at the prospect of having an extra room. The desk and loom will get moved out of the dining room, and the sewing table out of the kitchen for starters. Yes folks, my sewing space is set up in an alcove off the kitchen. Rather convenient actually, if you don't mind the occasional burnt dinner. Stay tuned for this one as well. I'll take pictures! It'll be cool.

Work has been busy too. (The desk job.) Which is good; time-consuming and a bit mentally-draining the way work usually is, but good.

And if that's not all, I'm trying to get my 2011 accounting buttoned up asap. one) so I can get a financial aid form turned in to my daughter's school, and two) so I'm not filing taxes on the due date this year. (It's really stressful. I don't recommend it. Once is enough.)

Here's where you all come in:
In order to calm a bit of the chaos, and get a head start on spring cleaning, I'm giving away fabric scraps. Lots of fabric scraps.

Leave a comment on this post with a tip on how you manage fabric scraps (or as in my case, don't manage) for a chance to win about two pounds of fabric (a.k.a. what I can fit in a flat rate envelope). TWO POUNDS, people! That's between six and seven yards of pure scrappy goodness! A lot of the pieces will be in the 4-5" range, some full width, and a few fat quarter-ish in size. The only catch is that if you receive some fabrics you don't like or can't use, I ask that you pass them along to someone that can. (If you're short on ideas for scrappy projects - take a peak at my flckr favorites.)

Comments will be open until the evening of February 14th, at which time I'll pick not one, but TWO winners. One at random, the other whose comment I find the most inspiring or amusing.

Ready. Set. Go!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I spent today wrestling with my overflowing scrap bins (more on that later!) and then sewed up the first block of the Solstice Star Series - the Ribbon Star - before Downton Abbey started. I have no plans at this time to make anything with this block (or any of the other blocks in the series for that matter) but sometimes it's nice to sew just for the sake of sewing. I do love me a pretty star block, and Faith puts together great tutorials. Sewing individual blocks like this are the perfect way to practice skills and pick up a few new ones, as well as experiment with fabric combinations without the pressure or commitment of a larger project. Perfect for a lazy Sunday.

I expect it will grow up to be something special someday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A little more information about the chair.

Actually, I don't have any information about the chair, but based on the style, I'm guessing it's from the 50s/60s. The upholstery appears to be original, although there was a skirt around the bottom that was removed at some point. Thankfully, Finn hasn't shown any interest, but Maizy, on the other hand, has to be watched like a hawk. (Seriously considering getting those "claw covers" for her. Maybe in Pink? or Blue Glitter?)

I found the chair at a vintage shop up the street and it was love at first sight. (I should add that I was NOT looking for a new chair.) It has replaced a 1960s George Malhauser Plycraft chair - an amazing garage sale find ($15!) when I first moved to Portland. I'm not getting rid of the Plycraft chair, but the tilt mechanism is cracked and it's a bit heart-attack inducing when unsuspecting guests sit down and find themselves tipped back nearly to the floor. For now, it's propped in the corner of the dining room, where it can't cause any harm, until I can figure out how to get it fixed - which most likely involves welding and a skill set that I clearly don't have.

P.S. The snow has all melted.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

I got the cats a new scratching post.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I think I'm going to conveniently forget about a 2011 recap or even a 2012 "looking forward" post and just show off a little christmas sewing.

Someone in the house (not me :( ) got a Kindle for Christmas. Which needed a little case of course. I had to pretend I was making more potholders and then finished it up late Christmas Eve, just in time.

It's modeled after a sleeve I made for the ipad awhile back, with a few notable improvements: I added a pocket divider inside and an elastic closure to secure the flap. And put a bird on it.