Camp Goodies

Can I brag on my campers one more time? They were such awesome girls and I had so much fun with them last week. They also were amazingly prolific during the course of camp. Clothes, bags, quilt blocks. You name it, I threw it at them and they knocked it out. Out of the park, even! LOL!

Friday was our last day and they came in that morning and whipped up their fourth A-line skirt before tackling the big final project: crazy log cabin blocks. Because I only had two girls in the camp, I could let them work on different projects so one girl chose to make a little bag and the other a pillow.

They used 7″x7″ pieces of muslin for the blocks and I had them foundation piece their log cabins. Why? Well, I think it’s easier to keep the shape — especially when using different sizes of strips — if there’s a little something to help guide the block formation.

The girls kept me busy cutting strips. One decided to use only the fabrics she’d sewn with all week for her blocks while the other was willing to dip into my stash for hers. Of course, she also wanted to use her favorite fabric — Paula‘s Par Avion from Flights of Fancy — for the centers of all her blocks, so I spent some extra time fussy cutting them.

I could not be more proud of their finished projects and they were so happy with them, too. And they promised me they were going to wear and use everything they made (in fact that’s why one pair of PJ pants is missing – they were worn the night before at a sleepover!). Also missing from the photos are the gifts they made their moms as a thank-you for enrolling them in summer camp: another wristlet and a tote-style purse with pre-made handles (which I hear were much appreciated).

Pssst! Live in Atlanta? I’ve got a second week of sewing summer camp in August.

A Little Quilty

Hey! What’s that thing hanging from the tree in my front yard? Could it be … a quilt top? Why, yes. Yes, it is. And I made it.

I made it! I made it! I literally wrapped it around me and danced around the living room when I finished it. Because I’m kinda nutty like that sometimes. (Like you couldn’t figure that out!)

It was such a big deal to me, that I told pretty much no one that I was making a quilt. Seriously, if it hadn’t turned out, no one would ever know I had even tried. It did, though, so now I’m going to be a total show off. Tee hee!

We’re all friends here, right? So you’re going to be nice and sweet and completely ignore my goof ups (which I’m not going to detail myself). I think it’s not half bad for my first attempt at making a quilt. I used my favorite beautiful Sugar Snap fabrics (with the exception of one print, which we could not find anywhere in the shop that day).

The pattern I chose because I thought it would be well suited for my temperament (i.e., lack of patience). It’s called Piece of Cake and it’s by Thimble Blossoms. Really met my expectations, in a good way. I think I did all the cutting one day and the sewing the next evening while watching TV. It probably came together in maybe three hours. That’s my kind of project! LOL!

I now totally get what everyone was telling me about quilting being addictive. I seriously can’t wait to start my next one and have a stack of patterns picked out for probably my next six quilts. No idea when I’m going to sew them because I can’t even come close to keeping up with my current sewing to-do list as it is.

I’m not sure about doing the actual quilting part of it. It’s part equipment, part skill and part time. Fortunately, there are plenty of folks who are willing to do that part for me, although I think I may do the binding myself, just because I love sticking myself in the finger repeatedly with a needle. OK, not really. But I do want to have that closure of finishing it. At least my first quilt.

Spotlight: Melissa Averinos

This is part of an occasional series of interviews with interesting artists and craftsmen.

Listening to Melissa Averinos talk about escaping into her art as a teenager, it’s easy to imagine her as the quiet girl with paint on her jeans and a sketchbook perpetually in tow.
“I was always doing art, ever since I was little,” she says. “In my early years, it started with just drawing and doodling, then I started doing more paintings.”
She fondly recalls the support her father gave her burgeoning hobby, from buying supplies and books to keeping her work.  “My dad had stacks of my drawings that he kept, and that was great,” she says.
Averinos began exploring fine art painting in high school, including a period of self portraits. She describes those four years as a creative experiment, which also included collages. “It was kind of a form of therapy,” she recalls.
The Cape Cod, Mass., native says her work has always provided an emotional outlet for her, particularly through a medium called visual journaling.
“I would take a blank book and just write some but mostly putting down color, scraps — anything,” she says. “I would spend hours at it a day to keep myself breathing and focused. It was very therapeutic and necessary. It doesn’t always come out pretty but that’s not the point.”
Averinos admits her art journal is not a part of her daily creative life right now but “when times are tough, I know it’s a good tool for me. It’s like a playground, a place where I can just go and be kind of unfettered and not worry whether it’s marketable or it’s pretty.
“It can just be whatever it needs to be.”
For many years, Averinos pursued art solely as a hobby. She describes herself in those days as “an artist on the inside,” while her days were spent operating an embroidery machine, stitching logos and the like on apparel. The solitary nature of her work forced her to take action and admit to her boss that she needed to do something else within the company — or find another job. The move paid off: the company had been considering adding an in-house art department instead of outsourcing its screenprinting and embroidery work. The only problem? The job required working with vector graphics programs on the computer.
“All I knew how to do on a computer was check email and maybe look online a little bit,” she says. “They said, ‘we think you can do this.’ I didn’t know I could learn anything new but they believed in me and I trusted them.”
Averinos’ employer gave her the tools and support to learn Adobe Illustrator, and soon found that she had a new medium for creating artwork. As her skillset grew, so did her confidence — as well as her portfolio.
Her first forays into commercial artwork involved the tabletop industry, and one of her designs was purchased for use on a vase. “It was a lot of work and a lot of pounding doors, and little payoff.”
Averinos struggled to make an income from her design work while she held a string of day jobs. A Craigslist ad seeking a vector artist caught her eye one day and soon led to selling some designs to a print house for use in the apparel industry.
“Victoria’s Secret ended up buying some of my designs and made pajamas out of two prints,” she says.
Each minor success, however, was trumped by other rejections. By early 2007, Averinos admits she began contemplating giving up her artistic dreams.  She decided to take another chance and submit her work to FreeSpirit Fabric.
“I had looked into FreeSpirit when I was looking into tabletop stuff,” she says. “I liked how they promote their artists, liked the other artists with them and I liked that they take chances.”
The gamble paid off and FreeSpirit licensed what now is known as Sugar Snap. Cinnamon, pink, aqua, yellow and cream play together in bold swirls, strips and squiggles. The line debuted at the International Quilt Market in October, which included an appearance by Averinos on the streaming podcast aired from Market by Boutique Cafe.
The line began shipping soon after Market’s close, and Averinos says she’s enjoying seeing how her work inspires others.
“It’s the best!” she says. “Fabric isn’t cheap, so to know that someone saw it and spent money on it is really exciting to me and really gratifying. I take it as a huge compliment.”
Averinos appreciates the chance to become part of someone’s childhood memories, as well.
“I remember stuff my mom made for me when I as little,” she says. “My heart kind of does jumping jacks when I think about it, to think someone who’s a little girl now has my fabric in a jumper her mom made for her is really exciting.”
Read a little more about Melissa Averinos, her artistic inspiration and her sewing endeavors on the Trendy Textiles blog.

Feels Sew Good

I have been indulging in a bit of recreational sewing lately, vs. sewing for hire. It has been a nice change of pace after being so busy the past few months (not that I’m complaining!) and I’m really loving (mostly) what I’ve been working on.

My love for Sugar Snap by Melissa Averinos knows no bounds. I don’t remember the last time I was in love with an entire line of fabric and wanted to sew with every piece — and it’s not hard to do with this line since there are only 15 prints. (BTW, if you’re in the Atlanta area, Sarah has the entire line in stock at Intown Quilters.) It is just so fun and I love the colors. The bag on the left is Sandi Henderson‘s Market Bag pattern. It’s the first time I’ve made it and I really messed up where the straps connect, so it’s good that you can’t see it. I think if I make the bag again, I’ll try home dec fabric and skip the canvas interfacing. It was just really bulky to work with in some spots. Plus? I’m lazy and would rather not spend time basting canvas to fabric if I could be putting something together.

The dress on the right is too darned cute for words. It’s from a Japanese sewing book and I thought it was a great match for the print. I like that it can be layered over long sleeves or worn without when the weather warms up. Actually, that’s why I cut out the size 4 instead of the 3 (Miss L’s usual size) — I’m hoping she won’t have outgrown it by the time spring rolls around. Oh, and it’s also for the Trendy Textiles launch on Etsy next week, which is all about Sugar Snap. (Yep, that means it’ll be in my shop, as a custom-sized item.)

Continue reading “Feels Sew Good”