Category: Inspiration

To Market, to Market

I may officially be the last person to blog about Quilt Market. Seriously, I’ve been home more than two weeks and still haven’t finished scanning in my pics. Instead of waiting for the planets to align and that to happen, I’m going to just dive in with a few pics and my thoughts on some things I saw there.

Above is the view from our hotel room in SLC as the sun rose our last morning there. The weather was all kinds of perfect and Salt Lake City has to be one of the nicest cities I’ve ever visited.

It’s always fun to go to Market but exhausting, too. This trip was no different, with Sarah and I up and at ’em early every morning, on the go all day, attending social/networking events in the evening, then winding down in time to grab some (not nearly enough) sleep. Even with all that time on the floor, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and miss so much of what’s there. After comparing notes, Sarah and I noticed a few trends:

  • Solids are big and definitely getting attention from a lot of quadrants. Manufacturers, pattern designers and authors are all tapping into this one. I love me some Kona but I’m also grooving on the FreeSpirit Designer Solids (touch them and see if you don’t agree that the hand is just amazing).

  • Stitchery — embroidery and cross stitch — is being shown lots of love, too. Sarah Jane and Anna Maria Horner both come to mind but they’re far from the only ones (the awesome Rashida Coleman-Hale even gave out a free cross stitch pattern that goes with her new fabric line). The new aida cloth from Westminster is some of the nicest I’ve touched and may even seduce me into trying some more cross stitching.

  • Modern quilting styles meet more challenging techniques. Personally, I’m loving this! I am so enamored of the “modern” aesthetic but I’m ready to challenge myself every now and then with some more complex piecing — but nothing so overwhelming that I can’t finish it in a weekend (Mariner’s Compass, you’re just going to have to wait your turn).

Get Inspired

inspired to sew

I’m honored to kick off Bari J.‘s Inspired to Sew blog tour today. Her new book is a beautiful work filled with her signature style and projects I can’t wait to make (and I think you’ll want to sew them, too). Bari’s asked each blog tour host to share what inspires us to sew. Here’s my story:

My mother and daughter share a dimpled chin, a love of crafting and a huge part of my heart — and credit for inspiring me to sew. They have never met — can never meet — but I like to think my sewing brings them a little closer together.

I remember growing up and thinking my mom could make anything. Time and again she’d prove it by turning piles of fabric into my favorite outfits. I’ve combed through family photos again and again, trying to find ones that showed the skirts, the tees, the dresses, the Halloween costumes she made but it seems my memories are really all I have.

After I became a mom, my mother turned her talents to sewing for her grandsons, happily creating blankets and costumes for the boys who stole her heart. She satisfied her desire for a granddaughter by sewing for my much-younger female cousins, whipping up doll clothes and dresses.

And then she was gone.

Which led to me convincing Honey our family might not be complete after all. And three years later we brought home the sweetest, silliest, most amazing baby girl, who fills our home and our lives with so much joy. How could I not give her the same kind of love my own mother showed me? I bought a new sewing machine and began to sew for the first time in years — and the first time ever that I could not call my mom and have her talk me through a problem.

I’ve sewn countless yards of fabric in the past six years, enough clothes to fill a closet (or three) and even written a book — all inspired by my mother and daughter. I sew with love, the way my mother taught me, and the way I hope to teach my daughter, too.

Are you Inspired to Sew? I hope so — and I hope you’ll comment on this post so you can win your very own copy of Bari’s book. Tell me why you’re inspired to sew between now and noon Thursday, Feb. 3. I’ll draw a winner from the comments and announce it here on the blog and probably over on my Twitter, too. And be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour, too:

Feb 1, Jennifer Paganelli: Sis Boom!

Feb 2, Jona Giammalava: Stop Staring and Start Sewing

Feb 3, Rashida Coleman Hale: I Heart Linen

Feb 4, Sarah Fielke: The Last Piece

Feb 5, Jenny Doh: Crescendoh

Feb 6, Cara Wilson: Cara Quilts

Feb 7, Deborah Moebes: Whipstitch Fabrics

Feb 8, Monica Solorio-Snow: The Happy Zombie

Feb 9, Susanne Woods: Stash Books (giving away a stack of Bari’s Full Bloom fabric!)

P.S. That cool I’m Inspired to Sew blog badge is available on Bari’s blog. Go get one for yourself!

The Hostesses with the Mostesses

Me with Bari and Jona at International Quilt Market, Houston, October 2010

Before I wrote a book, I had no idea what it really entailed. The blood, sweat, tears and lack of sleep? No clue. I also didn’t know it would connect me with some amazing people, some I already knew but others I’ve met along the way. When it was time to pull together this little thing they call a blog book tour, I hoped some of those fun sewing friends would say “yes” — and I’m delighted they did. I think you’ll enjoy these introductions and maybe learn a little more about some of the cool folks who are part of my world.

  • Lisa aka The Domestic Diva is one of my favorite friends. I actually had the good fortune to meet her on her turf a couple of years ago and was delighted to find her just as bold, fun and loving in real life as she has been on the phone and Internet. Her blog is an indispensable sewing resource, covering everything from sewing room organization to tutorials for handmade gifts.
  • When Susan introduced herself to me in Houston, I was tickled to bits. And then I came home and looked at her blog and realized the amazing talent she is. She’s an author, a columnist for Quilting Arts magazine and a ridiculously talented fiber artist. Check out her blog post about Snow Squall and you’ll see what I mean (and then go download the free snowflake design and try your hand at it).
  • I met Jessica in Pittsburgh about 18 months ago where she was shopping around the designs for what would become her first fabric line, Timber. I think I must have been the last person who knew her blog and, boy, was I missing out! That girl does it all and makes it look so easy, too. She even makes camping look appealing!
  • It never ceases to amaze me how small this sewing/crafty world is. My dear friend Sheree (who also happens to be friends with Lisa) introduced me to Penny at Fall Market. Well, any friend of Sheree’s is a friend of mine — and she’s a curly girl, too, so I knew I’d just love her. She’s so sweet and down to earth, and I had no idea she was this super awesome quilty/outdoorsy girl. I can’t wait to try my hand at making some of these wonky star blocks.
  • In the boutique sewing world there’s really one source for what’s hot and that’s Boutique Cafe. Founder/host Daria is a tireless promoter of mompreneurs, mom of five (happy birthday, Lola!) and one of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. Go to your iTunes and subscribe to the free Boutique Cafe podcast — you won’t be disappointed.
  • I started stalking Rashida soon after I found out she’s also a C&T author. A C&T author who lives near me. Woooo! It’s like finding a cousin you never knew you had. In the real world, she’s too cool to hang out with the likes of me (she’s an author AND a fabric designer). But she’s still pretty new to the area and doesn’t know any better yet, so I’ll continue to drag her to lunch until she catches on.
  • Back in the day when I was still pretty new to this whole blogging thing, Sew, Mama, Sew gave me the opportunity to review a pattern for Children’s Clothing Month. Less than a year later, I was back and writing about sewing a muslin (a post that was picked up by Craft and made my head swell about 100 times!). When this book was still just an idea, I read Susanne’s interview on Sew, Mama, Sew and finally got up the courage to prepare my proposal for C&T. And, well, I think we all know how that ended.
  • Jona was one of the first folks I met at my first Quilt Market in Houston two years ago and I’m so happy to be able to call her my friend. I am perpetually in awe of all she accomplishes. She’s also a genuine, generous person who shares her time and talents with so many. Check out her great skirt mod tutorial and get a taste of what I’m talking about. Also? She has the stinkin’ cutest chiweenie on the planet and is lucky I don’t live closer because I’d have to take him home with me.
  • If you love fabric you have to be reading True Up. Kim’s site is THE resource for everything fabric related and is one of my must reads. Watching her in action at Market is nothing compared to reading her coverage of the event. She’s also a really fun person to hang out with, even when I’m being a total dork!
  • Bari and I brushed shoulders at my first Market. Both of us did some sewing for the then-wounded Paula Prass and happened to be at Paula’s booth at the same time. I recognized Bari right away but was too intimidated to say anything to her because ZOMGIT’SBARIJ! I finally had the chance to meet her in Pittsburgh (where she debuted her first line of fabric) and was still pretty awed because ZOMGSHE’SBARIJ! And then…we both ended up part of the Stash/C&T family, going through the whole process of writing a book at pretty much the same time. Bari was one of the few people I could talk to about the book and it made the experience even better to have her ear. And her friendship.

Be sure to visit each blog during the course of the book tour and enter to win a copy of Little Girls, Big Style. They’re an awesome group of women and I’m so thankful each one is taking part in this!

I Get Around

This weekend kicks off something of a mini book tour for Little Girls, Big Style. While it’s not on the level of a World Domination Tour, maybe I can consider it an Atlanta+Alabama Introduction Tour.

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited (and nervous!) I am. It’s kind of the next step in this whole writing-a-book gig but it’s still a little surreal. Fortunately, I’ll get to see some friends and family along the way, which is sure to make the whole thing even more fun. And of course I’d love to see you, too! Here’s where and when you can find me:

I’m also incredibly excited to have my blog book tour coincide with my mini signing tour. An awesome group of folks agreed to take part and it’s shaping up to be a really cool 10 days of reviews, Q&As and giveaways. You can check out all the details on the Stash Books blog but here’s the tour schedule

• December 6th The Domestic Diva’s Disasters
• December 7th Blue Moon River
• December 8th Juicy Bits
• December 9th Sew Take a Hike
• December 10th Boutique Café
• December 11th I Heart Linen
• December 12th Sew, Mama, Sew
• December 13th Stop Staring and Start Sewing
• December 14th True Up
• December 15th Bari J

I hope you can join the fun, whether in person or online!

Stop The Candy Shop

On Monday night, Honey and I drove into town to attend the premiere of The Candy Shop at the Fox Theatre. I first wrote about my work on the film back in August and have been counting down the days until the movie was ready, eager to see the final product.

We held hands in the darkened theater and watched this beautiful, terrible film come to life.

Still from The Candy Shop by Whitestone Motion Pictures. Costume sewn by me.

It’s odd to describe something as both beautiful and terrible, but it’s true. The Candy Shop is a Depression-era fairytale addressing the very real, very timely issue of child sexual exploitation. Atlanta, my home of the past 10 years, bears the awful distinction of being the country’s No. 1 city for child sex trafficking. Utterly horrifying and unbelievable — but true and supported by news stories and arrests, even in the past two days.

I was slightly giddy at seeing the costumes I’d sewn on screen, and grabbed my friend Amor’s arm a few times to silently celebrate our work. But much of the two hours was spent in stunned silence, fighting back tears at the thought of such horrors. When Amor told me about the movie this summer and offered to pass along my information to Dana, the costume designer, I jumped at the chance, as much for the cause as the costuming. Seeing the movie, I was overwhelmed by my good fortune at being involved — however minor my role — in something so powerful.

Brandon McCormick, the founder of Whitestone and director/producer of its films, told the audience of 4,500 people that The Candy Shop isn’t a PSA; it’s not meant to merely create awareness. Instead, the film is the start of a movement. Seeing the movie, hearing the statistics, feeling the vibe at the Fox — I have no doubt that Whitestone has kicked off a community-changing movement.

All proceeds from the film will benefit Street GRACE, a partnership of churches, community partners and volunteers dedicated to eliminating commercial child sexual exploitation. Whitestone plans to make the film available for viewing online some time next month but also is working on events in other cities (check out Whitestone’s Facebook page to keep up with the latest news).  In the meantime, you can visit Stop The Candy Shop for more information about the cause, what’s being done and how to get involved.

And Liberty for Me

I totally swooned when I saw that Liberty of London was coming to Target. And while I couldn’t help but buy two sweet little outfits for Miss L, I found nothing for me to wear. Sure, there are plenty of dresses and tops — but the styles are not flattering to my figure and I’m not a huge fan of polyester.

I eyed the dresses in the girls’ department, thinking some of them looked rather roomy. Roomy enough to make into a skirt for me?


I wear about a size 14 and bought a size L sundress. I think I really could have gone down to the size M, especially since I’m losing weight (wooohooooo!).

The tools you’ll need:

Sewing machine
Seam ripper
Bodkin/safety pin
Chalk or other fabric marking pen
Elastic (3/4″ or 1/2″ non-roll)

1.Remove the pockets with the seam ripper. Take care not to poke through the skirt!

2. Use the seam ripper to separate the shirred top portion of the dress from the skirt. Set aside the shirred portion. (I’m contemplating removing the elastic thread from the leftover piece and making a coordinating headband with the fabric.) See photo here.

3. Again, use the seam ripper to remove the black elastic from the skirt portion. Mine was sewn on with black thread, so I made sure to pick out only those stitches. Set aside elastic for reusing another time. See photo here.

4. Press the newly cleaned edge of the skirt.

5. Flatten the skirt, front to back, with the skirt right sides out. You’ll notice that the front edge dips with a nice, natural waist curve, while the back waist is convex. Use the chalk to trace the curve of the front waist edge onto the back lining.

6. Sew a row of basting stitches from one side seam to the other, about 1/4″ below the line you drew on the back of the skirt.

7. Trim the excess fabric from the back of the skirt, using the chalk line as your guide.

8. Finish the new back waistband edge (I serged it to match the front).

9. Fold over the top edge of the waistband 1/4″ to the wrong side of the skirt and press. Fold over another 3/4″ (if using 1/2″ elastic) or 1″ (if using 3/4″ elastic) and press again.

10. Stitch close to the inside folded edge of the waistband, all the way around the skirt, to create a casing. Take care to leave a 1-1/2″ opening for inserting the elastic.

11. Measure your waist and cut a piece of elastic about 2″ shorter. Attach the bodkin to the elastic and feed it through the casing. Overlap the elastic ends and stitch closed (make sure the elastic isn’t twisted in the casing first!), the stitch closed the opening in the casing.

The Write Stuff

My spring and summer reading list continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Here are a few titles I can’t wait to dive into:

1. The Polymer Clay Cookbook I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Santa brought me this book (along with most of the supplies to use with it) and I’ve yet to make one project from it. I just love all the jewelry ideas (it’s even got a bacon-and-egg ring!) and think they’d be great gifts for some of the tweens, teens and crafty peeps on my Christmas list.

2. & 3. Sewing Bits & Pieces and Small Stash Sewing I’d be excited about these two books even if I didn’t know Sandi and Melissa. I have been hoarding my fabric leftovers and can’t wait to have tons of ideas for using them up in cool, new ways.

4. One-Yard Wonders I just picked up this one today and already have a list going of projects to make. There’s one bag in particular that has jumped to the top of my to-sew list.

5. Sewing Clothes Kids Love How could I not add this one to my sewing library? I love sewing the Farbenmix/Studio Tantrum/Fledge patterns, so this was a no brainer. It’s just gorgeous and so inspiring.

6. Cake Pops This one doesn’t come out until this fall but I’m already drooling over the baking cuteness that it’s sure to include. Plus I’m really hoping there will be a book signing locally, since Bakerella lives around here.

So tell me: What books are you enjoying or planning to buy?

Gone Fishin’

I’m back after a whirlwind trip to PIttsburgh for the International Quilt Market, spring edition. My friend Sarah let me tag along with her to shop for Intown Quilters and I had the best time! It was kind of a quick-n-dirty trip because both of us had a lot of stuff going on with our families right now, but I think we made every moment count.

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to approach my Market round-up and I think I’ll hit up the people today, the goodies tomorrow and do a Market-related giveaway on Thursday. Yes, a giveaway! And I think it’s especially cool and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’m even toying with doing a second giveaway just for the blog fans on Facebook.

Now, on with the show!

We arrived in Pittsburgh Thursday evening, dropped off our stuff at the hotel and then headed over to the Omni for a casual get-together with some bloggy peeps. Lots of fun was had, even though I manage to spill half my drink on myself and Patty (sorry, Patty!). Among the folks hanging out were Jona (Fabritopia), who organized the shindig, with her hubby; Myrinda (Fabric Hound) ; Jamie (Maricopa Fabrics) and her mom; Jessica of Juicy Bits; Mary Beth (stringer for True Up); Jen (Tula Pink) and her mom; Paula Prass and her daughter Jennifer; Patty and her husband; Sandi Henderson; new Windham fabric designers Genevieve Gail and Bari J.; Jenean Morrison; Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Studios; and even a brief fly-by of Laura Gunn and Heather Bailey.

At Houston in the fall, I was so intimidated by all the amazingly talented people I kept meeting. I struggled to even say “hello” to some of them, much less talk to them or ask if I could get a picture. I’m happy to say that I’m over it! LOL! It was great to be able to be myself and be comfortable enough to chat with people and even ask favors of them. *grin* And I got a lot more pictures this time than I did in October:

Clockwise from top left: Me with Chelsea and Lucy at the Pink Fig Patterns booth; with the amazingly wonderful and sweet Jennifer Paganelli (who let me sew for her for Market!); at the Windham booth with their new designers Genevieve (who lives just up the road from me!) and Bari; finally meeting my sweet friend Kristen of Gock’s Frocks — that girl gives awesome hugs!

April Cornell organized a Tweetup at Market Saturday and it was an absolute blast. That’s actually where I ran into Kristen, who I did not know had made it down.

I’m not 100 percent sure how I managed to form words when meeting April Cornell, but I did and she was so, so nice. (And when I get the pic she had taken of our entire group, I’ll post it, too.) Also there were (at left) Gen, Bari, Joanna of Fig Tree Quilts, Paula and Sandi. Plus pretty much all of the people I’ve mentioned previously. Somewhere out there is a pic of a bunch of folks Twittering while at the Tweetup — too funny!

Sarah and I went to lunch with Phoebe and Joyce from Quilting Adventures on Saturday (later joined by Myrinda, Kristen, Eileen and Renee), but I somehow managed to not get a photo with them. Don’t ask me how that happened. So, fair warning, y’all: the camera is coming out in Houston!

And last but not least … I kept seeing this woman on the floor and thought, “She looks really familiar. Where do I know her from? Am I being outrageously rude because I’m not talking to her?” I even asked Sarah if she recognized her, since she’s the Market guru and has been eleventy-billion times. Nope.

Finally, I walked up to her and just said, “I feel like I should know you but I just can’t place where.” Turns out that her sister Rachel, who lives maybe two miles from me, had won a giveaway on my blog (they look a lot alike)! And she and their mom read my blog and happened to be at Market at the same time. So I made them take pictures with me! They are just super sweet and I’m so glad we bumped into each other.

Tomorrow: Fabric, patterns and just plain coolness in Pittsburgh.