Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Planning for TMQG Retreat 2014

This weekend is the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild's annual retreat.  It is an opportunity to get away, socialize with like minded quilters, and make some progress on those WIPs and holiday gifts! We have a very open format without a program for the weekend which leaves for a LOT of time to just sew. 

This is actually my first sewing retreat and I have to admit that I am a little overwhelmed with the idea of picking and packing my projects.  My children will be going with me and we are all staying with my parents a short distance from the retreat site.  I am so lucky that my parents are willing to watch over the littles while I focus on moving forward on some of my projects, but I also feel an obligation to be available for bedtime and to spend some time for my parents as well.  All of this leaves me wondering how much time I will actually be quilting and how many projects will I need to take with me to fill this time?

So here is my current plan:

Emerge Quilt - I finally got the star appliqued onto the background and I have a general quilting plan. I got the first stitches down and I am looking forward to making some real progress on this one.  This project will be my priority for the weekend. I need to choose a binding for this project.  I am not sure I will get to that stage this weekend, but perhaps I should pack a few options just in case.
Basted and appliqued! Now onto the quilting.
Vice Versa BOM Quilt - I have pieced the blocks for January, February, and March and my 4 year old son has now claimed ownership of this project, so I better get moving on the rest of the blocks. (On a side note, even though I am only through the March block for this pattern, I am really debating jumping on board with Gen X's 2015 BOM Moccasin as well!) I need to choose a backing and binding for this project as well.
Image courtesy of
I also have a few smaller projects to work on for the holidays including two pillows for my mother-in-law and a paper piecing project for my dad. And as always, I keep my first english paper piecing process in my purse for those moments when I can fit in a little hand work.

How much do you pack when you aren't sure how much work you can accomplish? What limitations do you put on your packing? 
Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Amazing Fabric Gift

Have you ever received a gift, and you're not quite sure what to do with it, but you know it is awesome? This weekend, my aunt invited me over to go through some of her stash she wouldn't be able to work with.  She is a more traditional quilter and so we often use different types of fabric and trade with each other.  She is also a yard sale queen and picks up great finds on a regular basis.  This week, she had a huge stash of fabric strips! 

This is only about a third of what she gave to me. Tons of ziploc bags full of strips! Some of the strips are WOF strips and some are precut into lengths that my aunt thought she would use for some log cabin blocks.  They range in width from 1.5 inches to about 3 inches.

This little grouping looks like such a fun kids block bundle! I love those watermelon-eating dinos!
What would you do with strips like these? My first plan is to make myself a laptop bag, but what next? There were a lot of pink and purples not shown here too.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stash Bee Signups

Hi Friends, happy Thursday!  I was hoping to have some progress to show you this week, but with the NC State Fair and a preschool field trip to a local pumpkin patch, my sewing time has taken a bit of a hit. And then yesterday my little guy took a spill that required a few stitches in his sweet face!  He was a champ though and hopefully things will quiet down starting today so I can get back to my machine.

Are you interested in taking part in a quilting bee?  The Stash Bee is open for signups for the 2015 year now!  For more information, check out this post and sign up here. I hope you will join us.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Q4 2014 Finish Along

Hooray! I feel like I am finally in a groove with some of my projects, and so, I am going to set some goals and join in the Q4 Finish Along at The Littlest Thistle.
1. Emerge Quilt 

This guy is all basted and now just needs quilting and binding. I have to admit though that this quilt has me seriously considering purchasing a new machine.  I spent too much time fighting with the tiny throat space on my machine.  I spent most of my day at work today thinking about whether I should take what I have done out and start again! I think I decided yes, but I am going to sleep on it.
2. Vice Versa BOM
Given that I've only completed the January blocks and cut the February pieces, it is a good thing I have our Guild Retreat in November to work on this project!
GenX Vice Versa BOM
3. Christmas Stockings
These may or may not have been started when my first was about 3 months old... and now I have 3 kids...
Guess that means this is the perfect time to add them to my list to finish up this quarter!
4. Tumbling Blocks
This quilt is one that I have put aside for a little while for a number of reasons, one of which is fear of failure. While the 3 items above are my priorities for this quarter, this quilt and my fear should not hold me hostage any further! If time sincerely permits, then this quilt is back on the table!

5. Depression and Anxiety quilt designs
I have two quilt designs rumbling inside my head, and while I have no delusions of even coming close to completing these quilts for the FAL, I wanted to put them on this list as encouragement to put pen to paper and get the ideas out of my head and into a more useful state.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

It is still Monday, right? This is what happens when you have three children 5 and under and your husband goes out of town for the weekend - your Monday post goes live closer to Tuesday than you would like! Anyhow, thank you for visiting if you are here from Ants to Sugar or Veni Vidy Vicky, I'm so thrilled to have you. 
On with the blog hop!
What am I working on?
Most of my sewing time recently has been spent on my Emerge Quilt from the Angled Class by Stitched in Color. I love that Rachel is able to present a way of designing quilts with triangles and diamonds of various angles in such a way that makes the angles perfectly easy standard seam sewing.  This class presents 5 different quilt patterns and I hope to make each of them in time but the Emerge pattern appealed to me the most so I want to stick with it even as the class moves on.

Sorry about the terrible exposure - late night quilting at its finest!

I also started my first hand sewing project during a recent girls' weekend with my mom and her sisters.  The 4 hour plane ride to Las Vegas was the perfect opportunity to do a little slow stitching.  This is a pattern by Katy from I'm a Ginger Monkey called Spring Carnival.  I hope to make a pillow from this eventually and hopefully one day I will get to make one with a color palette similar to Katy's as well.  I'm not exactly a speeder sewer, but I'll be taking this little kit with me to guild meetings.

How does my work differ from others?
I don't know that my quilting differs from others but I hope that you find that my blog has an authentic voice.  I am a mom who works full-time and I struggle daily with depression and anxiety.  Quilting is my creative outlet and a place where I can express myself.  My Emerge Quilt represents a light that glows when I am sit at my sewing machine.  I am working on an original design based on my experience with anxiety this year.

Tumbling Blocks by Undiscovered Optimist
Why do I create what I do?
Quilting connects me to my grandmother who passed away a few years ago.  I ended up with a large amount of her stash that sat in my garage for several months.  I loved the beautiful things she created but I had no idea where to start. So the fabric just sat and sat until I finally decided that it was time to start.  No idea what I was starting but I was determined and so I sat down at my computer and googled something related to quilt patterns.  Suddenly I was in a world of blogs with stunning work and there was no end in site.  I am so thankful for the blogging community!  This virtual community gave me the courage to find my local Modern Quilt Guild and take some technique classes at Spoonflower.  My anxiety would typically keep me from reaching out to a community of strangers like this.  This was just the beginning of my love affair with this diverse art.
How does my creative process work?
Like so many of us, I just work on what I feel drawn to.  I have been more determined to remain focused on my Emerge Quilt, but I have a list of projects in various stages of piecing.  At first this made me really uncomfortable, but I am learning that this is part of my creative expression.  If I am going to express myself and my mental health is reflected in my work, then what I work on is going to vary from time to time.  
GenX Quilters BOM January block - definitely a WIP that needs some attention!
Thanks again for stopping by!  As I am quite new to this community and so many bloggers have taken part in this awesome blog hop already, I don't have anyone to pass the baton to, but if you want to carry on this fun little tour, leave me a comment and I would be happy to send my readers your way next Monday!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Monday, September 29, 2014

In to something new

I was inspired at our last guild sew-in by Lauren who was working on this english paper piecing pattern. Quilting in general is pretty new to me but since I had two long flights on my way to and from Las Vegas this weekend, I thought I would give english paper piecing a try.  

I thought the Passacaglia pattern was a bit much for a newbie so I started with Katy's Spring Carnival pattern instead!

I am using a Denise Schmidt layer cake, one of my first fabric purchases. I don't have too much of a plan as I am mostly hoping that it fabric selections will come as I go.  Fingers crossed!

Have you tried something new recently? I'd love to hear about your experience too.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Weekend Fun and progress

I know the weekend seems so long ago, but what a fun weekend it was! Really it started last Thursday. My husband's birthday was Thursday, but we chose to go to an extra special dinner to celebrate 10 years since our first date. What an incredible decade it has been. In those years he taught me to race cars, I taught him how to grill, and we built a life with three gorgeous kids that make us laugh until our sides hurt.

Courtesy of Diane McKinney Photography
On Sunday, I was able to hang out with my fellow guild members of the Triangle MQG for a sew-in. I was able to chat with some members that I had only spoken to briefly before which is always refreshing and inspiring.  I am thrilled that I was able to get almost all of my diamonds cut for the Emerge quilt from Stitched in Color's Angled class.  I am loving this class so far, all about sewing with triangles, diamonds, and various other angled cuts.  This week we will be working on a quilt based on the lonestar found in many quilts and I love my fabric choices.  I have been holding these fabrics (Joel Dewberry) for a while just waiting for the perfect project.
Fabric Selection for Emerge Quilt from Angled Class by Stitched in Color
Next up is cutting my fabric for the C + S Basics Swap which just arrived.  I am loving diving into some fresh fabrics!  What are you diving into this week?

Linking up with I Quilt @ Pretty Bobbins - see button on the right - and Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fall Renewal

Labor Day signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall here in the States.  I love the changing of seasons, particularly here in North Carolina where our seasons are so unique, each one fading into the next as the years ebb and flow.

I am hoping to take advantage of the change in seasons to reinvigorate both my personal life and my quilting/crafting life.  So here is what I am working on...

A new tote bag for my preschool son to take to school.  Last year I made each of my big kids a tote bag but they were too small and really too flimsy.  They were good sports and used them for the year anyhow, but I thought it would be good to make something more sturdy that will handle Little Man's art work and lunch box.  He chose the fun dino print from my stash and although he wanted an entire bag made of this print, I only had a large scrap. So I dug further into my stash to find some fun to go with these friends.  My stash is a bit of a challenge currently as I am still a new quilter, but I was thrilled to put together this mix of fabric.

I am also thrilled to be starting a class presented by Stitched In Color called Angled. I love Rachel's sense of color and have followed her blog since I began on my own quilting journey. I am regularly inspired by her work and I am really looking forward to stretching my quilty muscles with this class. Rachel has provided us some planning sheets before the class begins today. Here is my first plan for the Emerge quilt.  I think I might end up actually reversing the color order and putting the lighter colors in the center since the background fabric that I purchased is a very light neutral.

Are you invigorated by the change in seasons?  Are you already planning for the holidays? 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Community of support

I have been pondering this post for a while now. I completely understand if this is a topic that does not interest you. Otherwise, thank you for taking the time to read.

Robin Williams recent death has affected me in ways I would never have anticipated. Typically, while I love the gossips mags as much as the next girl, celebrity deaths are simply a sad passing. But Mr. Williams death has stayed with me this week as I work, on my drive home, when I read to my kids in bed, and as I sit at my sewing table with the quiet hum of my sewing machine. Perhaps it is because, as a child of the 80s, Robin Williams was seemingly everywhere.  I grew up watching reruns of Mork & Mindy. I fell in love with mystery and adventure while watching Hook.  Jack and Patch Adams impressed upon my young soul the value of laughter and unfailing generosity and compassion. 

The movie What Dreams May Come first hit theaters as I entered my senior year of high school.  In the previous 6 months, I had my first experiences with death as a schoolmate died tragically in a car accident and a close friend's mother committed suicide. This movie would forever color my perspectives on death, heaven and hell, providing striking visuals to accompany my traditional Catholic upbringing. If you have not yet seen the movie, it touches upon some of the darkest themes and personal struggles many individuals and families face with the warmth that only Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr. could provide to such grave subjects. 

Three years ago, a close friend and coworker of my husband's committed suicide and it was heart-wrenching. Much like Mr. Williams, he was the life of the party, everyone's best friend, and the funniest guy in the room, and he also suffered from depression that overwhelmed him. 

Why do I tell you all of this? 

Because these events remind me that as I struggle with my own mental health, that I have an outlet that helps me each time I come to it and I have this wonderful community to thank for it. Quilting has given me a place to be creative when my accounting brain and sensibility thought it couldn't be creative. The hum of the sewing machine is the peace that my heart longs for after the chaos of life with 3 kids under the age of 5 and a full-time day job. 

January 2014 GenX BOM Alternate setting as found on
GenX 2014 BOM January
On any given day I can choose to work with bold, vibrant colors or perhaps something more subdued. I can choose to work on a pattern where my mind can rest and simply follow directions, or I can choose to follow my own direction and piece together as the fabric speaks to me.

Making a plan

So I want to say thank you to each of you for supporting me by reading, by visiting, by commenting here on my blog, but also providing me a community where my work is safe and valued and for the inspiration that each of you provide to me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Good enough?

Are you a "good enough" quilter? Or a perfectionist in your piecing?  
I am working on a mostly low volume top that will probably end up in some sort of floating nine-patch.
Happy pile waiting to be pinned
Because I am really pretty new to quilting, I read a lot of quilting world blogs and I adore them.  They are so inspiring with their gorgeous mix of colors and inventive design ideas.  I'm definitely not there yet so I'm just working on the basics of piecing, basting and quilting. But I am in love with the process and get a huge sense of satisfaction as the pieces build and it all starts to come together.  
Perfect Points (sorry about the terrible fuzzy picture!)
How do you get to be that good and quilt such beautiful art?  By putting a lot of hours into the craft!  So my question is: Do you recommend that beginners piece until experience breeds perfection? OR do you recommend that beginners focus on the details, unpick and rework mistakes, and the experience will come?  And how big a mistake warrants getting that handy tool out to pick those stitches?
Pucker in the navy blue too much?

Are those points close enough?

Linking up with Fabric Frenzy Friday at Fort Worth Fabrics, I Quilt Thursdays at Pretty Bobbins (see sidebar) and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts (see sidebar).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Joy

One of the things every bride stresses over is her wedding day photographer.  I was so lucky to have found mine in 2008 when Sean and I were married.  Diane of Diane McKinney Photography has an artful eye and a love for families.  Although she has always been a wedding photographer, I nudged her into taking newborn shots of each of my kids as they were born and I am so thrilled she obliged.

In June, I asked Diane to spend some time with my family as I wanted some new photographs that weren't taken from a cell phone ;)  I wanted something fun, light, and playful.  The reality is that when you have three kids under the age of five "portraits" are hard to come by and really just not an accurate reflection of our life. Diane delivered more than I could have asked for as always and I wanted to share a few of my favorites. All pictures are copyright Diane McKinney Photography.