Not even a seam…

No sharp things were involved in today’s short stint in the sewing room.

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This weekend is completely unscheduled but I also know better than to assume that would mean hours in the sewing room. Groceries needed to be gotten. Clothes needed putting away. And my main focus these last few days has been wrangling my work task list into something less overwhelming, so yes, I spent a little bit of time “working,” although it was all in the name of stress relief. Feeling like things may be dropping through cracks was giving me grief, so a few hours on the weekend spent making sure my organizational system is in order is basically self-care at this point.

So I managed about 20 minutes in the sewing room. Since I was also having an attack of the sleepies at the time, I decided it was safest not to work with rotary cutters or needles. So I measured.

These two UFOs will need a trip to the fabric store to procure backing fabrics. Measurements were taken and math done.

The UFO on the top already has backing fabric but I had lost steam by then and didn’t even feel up to measuring and math.

Tomorrow is another day.

Well, a little is better than nothing…

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Going into the long weekend of the 4th of July, I had dreams of actually getting a chunk of time to spend in my sewing room.

It was not to be.

I think I managed about a half hour. But still, that was enough time to put together the backing for the other of my jelly roll race quilts to be taken to a long-arm quilter.

Gee, look at that. I sewed one whole seam. Look at me go.

(Believe it or not, I had ironed the fabric. So much for that.)


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And yet, despite the snail’s pace sewing, I still seem to find a way to collect for my stash. I’m blaming this one on those two wonderful books I posted about a few days ago. They have some wonderful designs for 2 1/2” strips! So, yes, when Missouri Star Quilt Company had some Laurel Burch on one of it’s daily deals, I bit.

I’m about to crack open the book with a cup of tea. It’s all about the dreaming, after all.

A girl can dream...

Judging by today’s mail, one might think I actually plan on doing more sewing soon.  

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Unfortunately, this is a travel weekend so nothing is happening again for awhile, but at least I have pretty new books to help me dream.  

#CDSI (Comp Day Sew-In)

I did it! Look at me! I spent time in my sewing room!

It’s amazing what happens when you actually clean your sewing room, doesn’t it? With it all ready to go, it didn’t take much convincing to get myself back into it.

It wasn’t an incredibly productive day, but it was productive enough.

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If you recall, I’d once again signed up for the Cotton Cuts Puzzle Mystery Quilt for this spring, a pattern named “Stratford.” I’m doing the Juliet colorway, which is 1930s-inspired. I’ve been collecting the monthly shipments in a pile in my sewing room and finally sat down to knock out the Month 1 clue today.

They come with a swatch sheet to keep track of which fabrics are which throughout the process, clear instructions, and the pre-cut fabric pieces. It’s the Legos of quilting. When I’m functioning at as little brain-power as I am right now, this is exactly what can get me to my machine. They’d be really fast to put together if you wanted, but I am moving very slowly these days so it was a bit of a meditative approach for me this afternoon. Just what the doctor ordered.

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Those pieces eventually (meditatively) became this…

So unusually sweet for me.

I may have to give this one away when it’s done, we’ll see. Meanwhile, it’s nice to work outside of my usual color choices. Especially when someone else has done all the thinking for me.

I decided to take all the months’ clues out of the envelopes and put them in the bin (they’re in plastic bags within the envelopes). In doing so, I found the advertisement for the fall Mystery Puzzle Quilt. So I bit. I’ll be doing the large again (72x54) like I am this spring.


 
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It’s named “Cosmos” this time, and I’m doing the Reiki colorway.

I love the aqua batiks—those aren’t at all unusual for me to use. The salmony-pink is a little outside my typical zone, though, as I’m not a pastel kind of person, so once again I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to do something a little off my normal beaten path.

And I doubt I’ll have much more time in the fall than I do now, so the Lego Approach to Quilting will once again come in handy.

 
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The final bit of sewing I got done before I hit a wall (and it hit hard!) was to get the backing pieced and pressed for this jelly roll strip quilt that you may recall from way back when.

Not very exciting, but one step closer to having another finished project. Once I pay someone to nearly-finish it for me, that is.

I have a second jelly roll strip quilt I did at the same time that I thought I’d also prep today but, like I said, the wall got to me before I could do more than pull it off the shelf and locate the backing fabric I’d set aside to use for it. Still, knowing what my next sewing needs to be once I get back in my sewing room will make it that much quicker. It’s a fast back to piece (cut 4 yards of fabric in half, sew it back together in a different direction, good to go).

And with Mom back where she’s supposed to be, all is right in Auggie’s world.

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June Sew Sampler Reveal

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So I not only opened my Sew Sampler but I actually had the time to take everything out of the box and look at it this time!

This month’s theme is “Be Our Guest.” It contains two charm packs, which it often does, but this time the packs come from two different collections that coordinate well together, which is a fun twist. It’s “Walkabout” by Sherri & Chelsi and “Strawberry Jam” by Corey Yoder (both Moda). I’m finding myself in an unusual-for-me vintage mood these days with fabrics. These look just enough 30s or mid-century that I find them quite appealing. I’m not normally a traditional print kind of girl, but I’m also all about variation and new things so I’m just riding this wave for a bit.

One of the patterns is Block #3 from the quilt-along for the year, “Goodness Grows” by Corey Yoder. I don’t do the quilt-alongs but I’m keeping all the block patterns ‘cause ya never know. The other patterns is “Sunday Best Pillows,” from the Sunday Best Quilts Book by Sherri McConnell and Corey Yoder (Martingale). The pillows are cute—one is quite simple, the other would be a little more pokey. Not sure I’d make them but it’s a nice gift idea.

The tchotchke in this box are some sewing machine cleaning brushes and some needle storage tubes. Not sure I’m seeing the needle storage tubes getting much use in my life. My favorite Tulip Hiroshima needles already come in tubes, although these new storage tubes have a magnet that pull the needles out and fan them to make them easier to select. So, maybe. And cleaning brushes? Absolutely!

My favorite little notion in here, though, is the small felted wool pressing mat. I already have one of the big ones and absolutely love it. This little one will be great for doing paper piecing or smaller seam pressing right next to my sewing machine. I’m so happy to have this!

Leading a workshop at our denominational conference

Leading a workshop at our denominational conference

I have today off as a comp day, so I do plan on doing some sewing. I’m pretty darn exhausted (there’s a reason I have comp days after spending a long weekend networking at a denominational conference) so I’m not sure how productive I’ll be, but stay tuned!



Umm...well...yeah...it’s been awhile

if you hadn’t guessed, things got busy here in Western NY. The last time I posted (Boxing Day 2018) turned out to be the last time I touched my sewing machine. In fact, the few times I had enough breathing room to even think about sewing, I’d totally lost my mojo; something about being overtired, overwhelmed, and just a little bit strung out. The new job has been kicking my tuckus and I’ve just not had energy for anything other than reading in my free time. Not that there’s a whole lot of free time to begin with. That being said, I’m absolutely loving the job. I am so completely into what I’m doing now that it makes everything okay. And now, at about 8 months in, I’m starting to feel like I’m getting a little bit of the hang of things. A little, anyway.

Prisca’s new digs

Prisca’s new digs

This summer, as things slow down a bit here in the northeast (churches generally go program-lite in the summer and no one wants to be locked inside in meetings during our few nice weeks of the year) I’m trying to reclaim my personal life, slowly but surely. Trying to find space to once again return to things I love, like quilting. Earlier today I re-subscribed to a bunch of quilt magazines that I used to love. I think some of the no-quilting-issue has been out-of-sight-out-of-mind as I no longer work in the home office that shares space with my quilting studio. I’ve rarely been even going into that room. Just this week I moved my poor ignored Betta fish into a new aquarium in my family room so he’d have company again. 


Auggie likes the idea of me settling into my office again.

Auggie likes the idea of me settling into my office again.

Not using the sewing room much, of course, doesn’t mean it didn’t still get all stacked up with stuff. It’s been a dumping ground for the last several months. Today I gave myself a Sunday off from visiting a church as I’ve had quite a stretch of packed work-weekends (and work-weeks) and wanted to stay home with my hubby on Father’s Day. However, he’s feeling a bit under the weather so it turned into a very quiet day before heading to my MILs later for the family get-together. So, today’s return-to-sewing endeavor was to clean out my sewing room.


Uncovered a few new spools of thread

Uncovered a few new spools of thread

Now that I’ve taken care of that, I’ve decided my next step in clearing the decks to get ready for actual sewing again will be sorting through my UFOs and sending off anything that just needs to be quilted so I can get them finished by check. I’d been delaying because I kept telling myself I should do it myself but, frankly, if they haven’t gotten done in the last four or five years, they won’t ever get done. Time to contract those puppies out. I also need to get myself organized for the two wedding quilts I have in my head. One niece gets married next April, the other probably the year after that (she’s finishing up nursing school first, she says). I have both designs and much of the fabric but haven’t created myself project boxes with everything in one place. So that needs to get organized.


And a shipment of Tulip Hiroshima needles from Massdrop

And a shipment of Tulip Hiroshima needles from Massdrop

Will I ever get to a quilt retreat again? Signs point to not-anytime-soon. With all the travel I’m doing, when I do have a weekend off I prefer to to nest. Someday, I’m sure, I’ll slow down enough to fit that kind of thing back in.

I have, however, started pondering whether there might be a role for an Accu-Quilt in my life. When one doesn’t have much time, one explores time-saving techniques. Feel free to share your opinions and experiences with me!


And five months’ worth of Sew Sampler boxes, plus a fabric collection from Fat Quarter shop in prep for one niece’s wedding quilt

And five months’ worth of Sew Sampler boxes, plus a fabric collection from Fat Quarter shop in prep for one niece’s wedding quilt

So that’s my update. I decided I should return to blogging with some sort of regularity, though, because I think everything goes hand-in-hand. When I was podcasting and blogging, I was quilting so I’d have something to talk and write about. I stopped podcasting and blogging and gee, there went the quilting. I don’t have time for the podcasting at this stage, but I should be able to start squeezing in a little sewing room time and some short updates here and there, I hope. 


Clean, ready to go, and a very happy dog ensconced once again on his bed.

Clean, ready to go, and a very happy dog ensconced once again on his bed.

On the other hand, it may be another 6 months before you hear from me again. 

#BDSI Report (Boxing Day Sew-In)

I had a very relaxing day today. I’ve chosen to work tomorrow and Friday as it’ll be really quiet (everyone I serve is recovering from what Christmas is in congregational life so no one will want to talk to me). We’ve got lots of internal systems we’re working on so it’ll be good to have a couple of days without many phone calls or external demands on us to get things as settled as possible. All that’s to say today was my one serious pajama day, to just kick back and relax. I spent most of the morning reading a novel, as I said in a previous blog post. There was some cleaning to be done. But I did get to my sewing machine.

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The first thing I decided to take care of was finishing off the blocks from the Cotton Cuts Puzzle Mystery Quilt. If you recall, I was sent the wrong blocks the first time around and it caused several back and forth email exchanges with Kim from Cotton Cuts. However, I finally got the correct blocks and Kim was fantastic about the whole thing so the end result was that I have already signed up for their Spring Puzzle Mystery Quilt. It’s a fun, easy, fast way to keep myself sewing even when I have very little time or brain power.

This is one of the four blocks I finished (all identical). I had hoped to actually start working on piecing the top together but first, I had to get what was living on my design wall off of it. Which meant turning my attention to my other work in progress.

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I blogged about this one a few posts ago—I got all the blocks pieced a couple of weeks ago and had them up on my design wall as I’d had to work on the layout to avoid identical fabrics being too close. I had to give up in a couple of cases but it’s close enough. 

I still have to do the borders, of course. It’s not my favorite project but once I get the borders done it’ll be cute enough. Not sure what I’ll do with it once it’s finished—whether I’ll keep it or it’ll be put away as a future gift. 

By the time I got that piecing done, I was pretty much “put a fork in me, I’ done.” Christmas Day was a long day with family fun and such so I went back to my novel for a bit, then pulled out a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law that I was anxious to take for it’s maiden voyage for dinner....our new air fryer.

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Yum.  

Using the air fryer for the breaded chicken and my instant pot for the rice (I went old school saucepan to heat up the sauce, though), I had chicken Parmesan in just about 15 minutes for dinner.  

I’m so happy. Cooking after a work day just got SO much more interesting! 

And now my husband, daughter, and I are off to see Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.  

Yes, indeed, a relaxing vacation day all around.  

December Aurifil Thread Club

You may recall from some post a few months back that I had subscribed to the Aurifil Thread Club. Unfortunately, month’s one delivery went down for the count when my husband dropped the enveloped onto the driveway without noticing when he got the mail, and then later backed over it with his car. I tried to squeeze those poor little thread spools back into any sort of shape that would fit on my sewing machine to no avail. He felt terrible. I figured it was probably for the best as I wasn’t getting in my sewing room any time soon anyway and that gave me a good excuse as to why not. “Well, I’d be sewing right now, but my beautiful new thread is a pancake.”

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I just got this month’s a day or two ago, and immediately spirited it to safety upstairs into my sewing room. The closest danger there is Auggie deciding the spools are chew toys, so I have to keep them off the floor.

So this month is the Peppermint Color Pack. I’m not entirely sure why. It looks more salmon-y than peppermint to me.


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Here are the spools in their non-plastic-covered splendor.

Left to right:

2230

2460

6729

2420

All 50 weight

And now, time to stop catching up on blog posts and get to actually sewing on this #BDSI. (As a sneak peek—I got the correction block for my Cotton Club Mystery Puzzle quilt last week so I think I may be able to finally get that top put together!)

December Sew Sampler Box

I’ve taken today, the day after Christmas, as a vacation day and, although my plan was to spend most of the day in my sewing room, a new novel beckoned this morning (from December’s BOTM: The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay. Loving it so far!). That, along with a certain level of weariness after yesterday’s family festivities, meant I spent most of the morning with coffee curled up in an armchair near the fireplace. Not a bad way to kick off a vacation day at all.

After lunch, I ventured into my sewing space. Oops, yes, there was some cleaning to be done first, as it was also gift-wrapping central. 15 minutes later I then realized I had the December Sew Sampler box that I had done little more than glance at when it arrived. So here’s my Sew Sampler box report. By now, I know anyone who has subscribed has already gotten theirs and knows what’s in it so I’m not ruining any reveals here!

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The theme, as you can see here, is “Winter with You.” That being said, the box had a much more spring feeling to me. Not sure how they decided this was a winter box.


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This cute little pair of Cherry Gingham Heart Snips from Quiling in the Rain by Jera Brandvig definitely make me think of summer picnics with the red gingham. With their short blades, I think I might be able to get these on a plane, as I’m really working my brain into gear for taking my embroidery with me on all the trips I have lined up this spring. (I’ll mostly be doing carry-on luggage so the scissor blade length is critical.) I’ll be spending a fair number of evenings by myself in hotel rooms so there’s really NO REASON not to have it with me…or so I’m reminding myself now so I don’t get a fit of the lazies when I’m packing and decide to leave it behind.

If you look carefully, you’ll see the bit of plastic tubing they included in the package to put over the blade tip. Nice touch.


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In the same “handy tool” theme, this box also included 4.5” swiss style tweezers, by Tula Pink Hardware. According to the package, you can use it for pulling threads, of course, but also as a stilletto or to get a hold of embellishments and such. I’m trying to decide where it’s best for me to store this tool—would I use it more in my embroidery life, and therefore it should be in my embroidery case? Or would I use it more at my sewing machine, therefore warranting a space in my tool holder next to my machine? Pondering. In either case, it looks like it’ll be a nice tool and, although I already have tweezers in several places in my sewing collection, these have a nice angled point that sets them apart.


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Ah, Aurifil. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! (Which we’ll be able to do with my next blog post as well.) I suppose you could think of this color as a wintery blue but, again, it definitely feels spring to me. Still, it’s a gorgeous color. (MK50-2805 if you want to look it up.)

The color is selected to match the fabric…


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This box includes the Woodland Rose Mini-Origami Squares (two packages) and a finishing kit for the totebag pattern below.

I messed up the nice packaging to show both fabrics in the photo. It’s a very nice collection, although not entirely my style. I went through a Shabby Chic phase many years ago but haven’t been there in awhile. Still, I certainly know people who might appreciate it as a gift.


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The fabrics and thread are all intended for this pattern, The Avondale Tote Bag Pattern, a Fat Quarter Shop Exclusive.

It’s a nice pattern but, as a tote bag, it’s just not quite my bag. Ar ar ar. Nope, couldn’t resist, especially as overtired as I am today.

I prefer to use totebags that have some sort of closure at the top. However, there is certainly use for open totebags—think “packing for a quilt retreat,” although I haven’t been on a quilt retreat in quite some time and, with all my upcoming work travel, don’t see myself getting to another one any time soon. If I am looking for a relatively straight-forward project at some point, though, this might eventually fit the bill. We’ll see.


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Last is the usual Barn Block Recipe, and we’re up to #9. I’m keeping all of these although I’m not sure, again, if I’ll ever use them. But I can’t predict the future and they don’t take up much space in my sewing room, so it’s not a problem to hang onto them just in case.

So that’s it—my December Sew Sampler box opened, examined, and blogged about, and I even managed to get it done before getting my January Sew Sampler box!

And now I’ve gotten my first "#BDSI* project done—cleaning off my cutting table and dealing with the first past-due blog post.

On to blog post #2…

*Boxing Day Sew-In, if you’re not in the loop.

A more successful Saturday afternoon

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I did, indeed, go back to sewing after posting yesterday’s blog, and finished the blocks for the random jell roll strip top I’d started in those two weeks I had off between jobs.

So here are all the blocks laid out. I didn’t end up with as much contrast as I really should have in the nine-patches but it’s good enough for horseshoes. The design calls for a pieced border which I will do as it’ll use up more strips from the jelly roll, which is a good thing.

I don’t know if I’ll have sewing time today—I need to do groceries and some food prep for the week, plus my MIL is having folks over for a casual gathering for my husband’s aunt’s birthday. Several of the Fam are at the Bills game, though, so it’s not an all-out family gathering. Frankly, I’m still in enough of an introvert-recovery mode that I’d love to just spend the whole day at home in silence but I know I’ll have a good time once I drag myself out of the house-nest.

It does feel so good to have finally played with fabric again.

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Oh—and the almost-ending to the Cotton Cuts story: Kimberly got back to me this morning with a very apologetic email and refunding me the cost of month 6, and a promise she’s putting the correct one in the mail tomorrow. Turns out (as I’d sent her the picture of the block I’d made in error), that was month 6 of the previous mystery quilt. She has no idea how it happened that I’d get the wrong instructions with the right fabrics and the team who bagged all those clues is now gone. Anyway, her response was very nice and very prompt and she solved the problem exactly as she should have. So yes, I’ve just signed up for the next one. The Spring 2019 Puzzle Mystery Quilt “Stratford” just launched. I’m doing the larger one this time, and I’ve taken a complete left turn in terms of the color way as I chose one that looks very 1930s (“Juliet”). It’s not my normal schtick but I’ve been feeling a yen for doing a 30s quilt lately so this seemed like an easy way to work that yen out of my system.

So, that’s that! Tune in (probably next week) for more adventures in Sandy’s sewing room... 

Trying to re-enter the quilting world with limited success

So my last post was entitled “Survived my first week” and then you didn’t hear from me again. I guess that’s about as descriptive as I can be about life in my new job. Still loving it, but it has been busy! I took yesterday (Friday) as a comp day for the fact I’d worked most of the last weekend and realized it was probably the third full day off I’d had since I started five weeks ago. I’m slowly learning how to control my schedule better. Yesterday I spent running some errands and doing some Christmas decorating.

I decided to bag doing housework and such today (which has also fallen behind a bit) and focus on reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming (loving it!), and getting back into my sewing room.

Unfortunately, the sewing room part has been a bit frustrating. I have been sadly reminded of why I gave up doing blocks of the month. The first one I tried many years ago kept sending me incorrrect sizes of fabric to cut my pieces out of, and I ended up giving up and cancelling about four months into it. This time around, last year I bit on the Cotton Cuts puzzle mystery quilt. I loved the fabrics and the idea of everything being die-cut so all I had to do was assemble seemed tailor-made for my busy schedule while I was finishing my doctoral work.

However, I’ve had multiple go-arounds with Kim at Cotton Cuts trying to correct mistakes—I was sent the wrong size piece for month 6, then when she sent me the correction I received the same wrongly-sized pieces. We finally got that straightened out but, today when I went to finally assemble the quilt, I’ve discovered I was actually sent the wrong month 6 altogether. Each month we were instructed to label our completed pieces by some letter/number combination, which I did faithfully. The layout for the size I’m working on requires blocks labeled F. I looked over my stacks of blocks. “F? Where’s F? I have no F!”

I spent about 15 minutes going back through everything, laying them out in the order of the months I received (I did always keep the instructions each month, thank God, or I’d have been totally lost), and came to the conclusion that nope, I was never instructed to make blocks labeled F. Also fortunately, the last layout “clue” includes a list of which months we were supposed to make which blocks, so I could pinpoint the exact month that went awry—yep, the one I kept getting the wrong sized pieces for. Strangely, though, my instructions for month 6 are labeled for the correct size quilt I’m making, but the blocks are distinctly not what’s needed. Stranger and stranger.

I’ve sent yet another email to Kim at Cotton Cuts with photos of the two blocks I ended up with and instructions for month 6 to point out how messed up all this is, and then said that I had originally been thinking I’d join the new BOM mystery puzzle quilt that just opened this week but am now hesitant to do so because of these problems. It’s frustrating that something I was enjoying should have this kind of an end-story. Especially frustrating that I get so little time to sew and I was stymied at the get-go.

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So I have it all laid out on my design wall with big gaps where block F is supposed to go. I can certainly start sewing together the pieces that form the borders and such so I’m ready to finish it when I get the corrected month, but at this point I’m already a little worried they’ll be out of the fabrics needed. Fingers crossed I won’t end up with a slew of orphan blocks all for want of month 6.

At the moment, I’m also not keen on the fabric they sent for the binding. I’m going to wait until I get everything assembled and then decide final steps. But that’s a small thing. I would just love to finally be able to have a finish under my belt, for the first time in months!


Meanwhile, I am happy to say that my desk got assembled and my office is finally put together!

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The panoramic style makes it look a little bigger than it is, but it’s a comfortable space for me now. Note the space heater—the radiator under the windows is finicky and often needs help.

The quilt on the wall is one my mother made. I don’t know the origin story although it’s a sampler that smacks of a block of the month or class or something. But one of the blocks is a church and most of the rest are either crosses or biblically-related blocks (ie Jacob’s Ladder), and the office really needed some warmth and color in it, so it seemed fitting.

And no, I can’t put an area rug under the conference table because it’s strategically placed over a large old-fashioned metal outlet box that protrudes up from the middle of the floor. I do now (after this pic was taken) have a small quilted Christmas table-topper on the round wooden table at the side. Eventually more little bits and pieces may make their way into the office but for now I’m comfortable for working and have room for people to come visit and drink tea or coffee with me. And that’s happened a lot!

After 17 years of working from home, I have to confess that I’m enjoying having an office.

Now, back to my sewing table and figuring out what I might actually be able to accomplish today, that’s not under the control of external forces!

OT—Survived my first week

My new desk still sits in a box as my assembly has been rescheduled again. 

My new desk still sits in a box as my assembly has been rescheduled again. 

It’s Saturday, and I’ve officially survived my first week. It still feels good. But.... I still don’t have a desk. I didn’t realize we were supposed to have Monday off and scheduled myself three meetings that day. After today, I don’t have a day off scheduled until Thanksgiving. I haven’t touched my sewing machine. I had a 90% fail rate at making dinner. 

So clearly I still have some stuff to work out. :-)

I had planned several slow cooker meals this past week thinking about not having to cook when I got home, but didn’t get the time in the morning to do the prep that would be needed. By the time I got home, most nights I was too fried to even think about standing at the stove. DH gets home later than I do as he has a much longer commute, so if we wait for him to make dinner we’ll be eating at 9p. I need to do better meal planning around my schedule, it seems. Less slow cooker, more Instant Pot.

A beautiful bonsai from my former colleagues

A beautiful bonsai from my former colleagues

Now, that being said, I was in the office fairly normal working hours this week, and that won’t continue. Once I really get into the swing of things, my day-to-day schedule will shuffle around based on when and where I have commitments. I did go through my calendar last night and designate certain days as “no meeting” days, and some days off. This is a reminder for me to not overschedule myself all the time. It’s easy to do, and I have an emphasis on being with people. However, I do need some time sitting at my desk for planning, administration, and email or phone calls, so I’m going to have to schedule it in for myself and keep it as sacrosanct as possible. As for days off, I’ve started scheduling those in too. Eventually it’ll settle down. For now, I need the visual reminders: “Don’t schedule anything on this day!!!”

More greenery from a member of the region

More greenery from a member of the region

I head out of town for a few days this upcoming week, and the week after that is Thanksgiving, so it’ll be early December before I can really work on getting into any sort of routine that includes gym time and sewing. (I do have a few days off around Thanksgiving so Black Friday Sew-In, here I come!)

I’m writing this post far less for all of you, my readers, than I am for myself. I’m reminding myself: Don’t overschedule. Rework meal planning. Designate days off. Sew. Exercise.

Aug-dog   is always ready for some cuddles.

Aug-dog  is always ready for some cuddles.

And hug my dogs on a regular basis.

Letting Fabric Live

So I was all ready to “off” another jelly roll by whipping up a second jelly roll rug today. I even had in my head where it might go in my house. And, of course, since I’d already made one, this second one would go ever so much faster and turn out even better. At least in Sandy’s Make-Believe World it would, and that’s a happy place to live.

But I never got the chance to find out.

I started my sewing retreat day this morning by pulling a jelly roll out of my strip drawer that’s been in there at least eight years. Remember Moda’s Portobello Market from 3 Sisters? It was all the rage back then. I figured I’d had it so long and had never found a use for it that I might as well whip it up into a rug.

As I was pressing the strips (those darn wrinkles in the fold again!), though, I totally fell in love with the fabric all over again. I kept trying to picture it as a rug and thought, “I just can’t do that to these strips!” Too many of the gorgeous prints would totally disappear.

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So after I got them all pressed, I pulled one of my many jelly roll pattern books off my shelf and flipped through it for awhile, and now this is happening.

I’m using another fabric that’s been in my stash for eons as the background. All in all, it feels good to be using up some fabrics, especially ones that have been haunting me for so freaking long.

Of course, this is going to take longer to finish than a rug would.

And, of course, I’m totally ignoring all the UFOs I’ve already got stacked up.

Oh well.

I think I’ll be making besties with a long-armer soon to knock out a bunch of those UFOs. It’ll be money well spent!

I do still plan on making another rug—but I think I’ll use a bunch of my scrap strips on it instead and focus on color designing rather than just using a packaged jelly roll. Might be more fun, even. We’ll see.

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Meanwhile, Auggie had a couple of days at his new doggie day care this week (one only 5 minutes from my house), getting ready for when I’m back to work next week. The day care owner had told me that Tuesdays and Thursdays were her “puppy days” and Augs would probably find lots of friends to match his energy levels, so that’s what I’m shooting for. Once I’m at work, though, it’ll all depend on my schedule in any given week. He doesn’t need to be in every day—I’m mostly doing this to burn his energy so he’s not pestering Old Princess Doggie (who just turned 14 a couple of weeks ago) out of boredom. I can alternate days because it takes Auggie a full 24 hours to sleep off a day in day care, LOL. The owner texts pictures of the pups every afternoon. After several pictures of these two wrestling, I particularly enjoyed this one where Auggie (right) and his new buddy have clearly worn each other out. Yay!

Speaking of which, time to go pick my day care doggie up, bring him home, and let Princess Doggie spend 10 minutes sniffing him. Basically, Auggie being in day care is also bringing Spencer some in-home entertainment for her nose.

Look, Ma, I have a finish!

I started out with this.

(Artisan Spirit Water Garden by Northcott.)

(Artisan Spirit Water Garden by Northcott.)

And this. Because I felt too lazy at the moment to cut strips from my leftover batting.

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Unfortunately, when I opened up the jelly roll, the insides looked like this.

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So I had to do this.

Eventually, a podcast episode or two later, I ended up with this.

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I’m sorry to say, this gave its life for the cause.

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Soon I was able to start doing this.

For hours. And hours. Sheesh, it felt like it took for-freakin’-ever.

But finally, yay! I got to this!

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I wound it into a ball as per the directions, and the final step went by speedy-speedy compared to the rest of the process. Within a couple of hours, I had this.

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Well, that and a new iron.

So, my first jelly roll rug is complete. I’ve learned a few things along the way. I had difficulty choosing thread and now that I know what really does end up being visible I’d have made different choices. But trust the pattern—when it says to wind five bobbins before starting, wind five bobbins. I went through four and some.

I did my best not to let it get wonky (kidney-shaped) during the first few passes but my first few rows were way off. I was able to beat it back into almost-submission as I continued to go around that curve so it didn’t end up as bad as it started. I’m not sure I liked the way the pattern described the initial start, but now that I’ve made one I have a better idea what to look out for.

This was meant to be a gift. I haven’t decided if I like it enough to actually send it off. On the other hand, I don’t necessarily want to keep it around, either. I like those colors but I have none of them in my house. So I’ll ponder a bit.

This is addictive. I could easily see myself making more and, next time, actually cutting the batting strips to use up some of my odd left-over pieces.

Sew Sampler Unboxing Video (and a little about life)

It was faster for me to do a vlog post yesterday. So you get to see me unboxing the October Sew Sampler box as well as talking a little about life.

And the end of the story was that I got 1 1/2 months done and started month 3. It would’ve been two complete but one of the months was missing a couple of pieces. I emailed Kimberly at Cotton Cuts yesterday and already heard back today that they’re sending the missing pieces—woo! (Great customer  service!)


Dia Active Box

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Finally! I signed up for the Dia Active box probably about two months ago. I knew it would be a wait—it was a new launch for them. But it was a longer wait than I thought. Still, as my weight is going up and down many of my work-out clothes aren’t particularly comfortable for me anymore. I wanted something I wouldn’t want to rip off as soon as possible. Thought it would be worth a shot.

Not a bad first box, all things considered!

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First off, a pretty comfortable sports bra. (Yep, I was heading to the gym shortly after I opened the box so this got used right away.) The zip front makes it easy to get on and off—a perennial issue with sports bras. I’m not sure this would be sufficient for high impact but I’m not doing that these days anyway because of my foot. VERDICT: Keep.

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Next up, the first of three tops. I’m actually showing the back here so you can see the detail. I don’t normally go for “Mad Max” decorations but it’s relatively subtle and the shirt is so soft, comfy, and a great color, I’ll live with it. Yep, also wore this one to the gym right away. VERDICT: Keep.

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The second top fit well and is a nice teal (the photo took all the green out of the blue—really, it’s a dark teal). It was a nice cooling fabric. I just didn’t like the way it looked on me. VERDICT: Return.

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The third shirt is a baseball style that I didn’t even particularly like to wear when I was in middle school and it was all the rage. It fit well enough and was a great wicking fabric. It did hang a little oddly in the sides—I think it was actually a little big on me. In any case, it didn’t jazz me enough to spend money on it. VERDICT: Return.

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Finally, the box finished with a pair of Capri work-out pants. I tried these on and immediately decided to keep them, even though I’m not usually a fan of Capri length. (Having to shave my legs just to go to the gym? Pshaw.) But these are super comfortable and a great fabric, and the design on the leg is fun and unique. VERDICT: Keep. I also wore these to the gym right away. They’re actually a bit big through the hips—when have I ever been able to say THAT before???—but they didn’t move at my waist as I was working out so it’s all good.

3 out of 5 on the first box isn’t bad! I’m getting another box in a month—I need to replace some way old workout gear that just isn’t cutting it any more. It’s nice having stuff that feels comfortable to wear! 

Stitch Fix October 2018 Unboxing

If you didn’t read the previous post about Causebox, here’s the update: Auggie ate my tripod so I can’t do a video unboxing at the moment.  

I had a flurry of boxes towards the end of the summer when I knew I’d be having to build up an actual work wardrobe, now that I’ll be out in public most days rather than working from a home office. I then put them all back on the usual rotation, so I’m getting a StitchFix now, and Natalie Attired and Dia will be coming in a few weeks. (I do finally have a Dia Activewear box coming but that’s a whole other story so stay tuned for that one.) 

With apologies for the bad lighting on a rainy day, here’s what came in this month’s Stitch Fix. I’d asked my stylist (Patience), for tops that would go with a couple of tricky-to-coordinate-with blazers I’ve gotten in previous boxes. I also asked for a roomy pull-over sweater that I could layer, and said that scarves are always favorite accessories. Here’s what she sent. 

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This sleeveless top is meant to go under my olive blazer from a couple of Stitches ago. Although I love the fabric and print, I don’t like not having wider straps to cover my bra straps, even if I’m wearing it under a jacket. Also, the lattice work down the center didn’t hang quite straight when I tried it on. VERDICT: Return.

 


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This scarf is wonderfully soft, a nice weight (pretty lightweight but not sheer), and has great colors for my fall wardrobe.

Plus, we all know what a fan of scarves I am.

VERDICT: Keep.


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This green top was meant to go with the strange-blue blazer I’ve been working on finding something to coordinate with for several boxes now. It’s a great top in terms of shape and color (it’s a pretty emerald green, even though it may not quite look it in the photo), and the way it drapes, but it’s super-sheer. You can see how much the tags are showing through. I was disappointed. This would’ve probably been a keeper if it had been a slightly heavier fabric. Yes, I could layer it over a cami, but I struggle with tops that I can only wear if I have to wear something underneath them. Even in the cooler months that can get too warm.

Plus, even though color-wise it worked fine with the blue blazer, there was something funky about the two necklines—they didn’t play nicely together. VERDICT: Return.


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Yes, I’d asked for a pull-over sweater, but although I can look at this objectively and say it’s a cute sweater, it’s really not at all me. I didn’t even bother trying it on because I didn’t want to be tempted by the “Well, it does fit” demon. Sometimes I’m so glad to have something fit I talk myself into thinking I’ll like wearing it. And then I don’t. It’s also incredibly soft and I didn’t want that demon to come into play either. So it was better for me to just leave it in the box and not even pretend. VERDICT: Return.


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Finally, this was the only item in the box that was a total loser for me even at first glance. There’s something about the colors or the way the stripe works or something that was a total turn-off for me. Other people could easily love it. I just couldn’t. (And yes, the color is actually pretty true in this—it’s sort of a dark brick red.)

I did try it on just for the sake of argument and nope, it was still a turn-off. VERDICT: Return.

So if you’re playing along at home and keeping track, out of the five items, I only kept the scarf. That’s fine by me—I’ve been adding enough to my wardrobe anyway! 

And I just got a notice today that my Dia Active box has finally shipped—woo! Looking forward to seeing how that one works. So stay tuned!

Subscription Box Unboxing: Causebox

So, two things:

1. I was gone this weekend for a work event and between going with a mild cold and ending up with bad allergies while there, I’m down for the count and not particularly up for doing a video unboxing, which is good because, in any case... 

2. Auggie ate my tripod.  

Well, to be accurate, last week Auggie chewed up the piece that holds my iPhone on my tripod to do a video unboxing.* That one little piece renders the tripod useless. I’m looking into plan Bs. Meanwhile, I have to go back to photo blogs for the unboxing. (Sorry about the odd coloring on the photos—it’s a very dark and rainy day and I was taking pictures in my dining room which has a chandelier with red shades, so everything’s a bit rosier than normal.)

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I’ve looked at Causebox for awhile and finally decided to subscribe as a gift to myself when I got the new job. Causebox comes four times a year and is a social entrepreneurship box. In other words, it contains items that give back to women who create them and/or portions of proceeds go to not-for-profits benefitting women in poverty. This is my first box. I was very excited to get it!


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The box comes with a multi-page pamphlet that describes all the items and the women supported by the proceeds. The box itself features designs by different women artists each time—I almost hate to recycle the box! If only it were archival cardboard so I could use it for quilt storage.    

 

 

 


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You can see a totebag laying on top of the box. Now, mind you, I’m not exactly needing yet another totebag. But this is a really nice one, so it’s definitely a keeper! It’s very sturdy canvas and extremely well constructed. A zipper pocket and little keychain clasp are on one interior side, and some open pockets on the other.

This totebag is October Jaipur brand, a company owned by Akash Sinha and Rabia Singh, college classmates who decided to design modern products connected to their Indian roots, employing local artisans and paying good wages. (Check out their website—they have a lot of nice products!)


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It has a nice little slip pocket on the outside, but I think it’s a bit too small for my cell phone. I’ve got my hand pushed to the bottom so you can get a feel for the size of the pocket.

The "vegan leather” handles fit comfortably over my shoulder, although I would wish they were a little wider if I had the totebag really weighed down. Still, it’ll be a nice totebag to grab for the random farmer’s or craft market trip, or to pack more for quilt retreats (if I ever get back to one, that is).


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And here’s everything that was hiding under the totebag.

The paper filler and the box are all recycled materials.


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The next item I pulled out of the box was a scarf. We all know how much I love scarves! Indeed, I have to confess, it was probably pictures of scarves included in previous boxes that enticed me the most.

This scarf is from Bloom & Give. Partha Raghunatha and Madhu Rajendran created this handwoven textile company to support projects that send girls to school. The Causebox partnership allowed them to complete funding for a camp for 50 girls in Rajasthan (India), adolescents who had dropped out of school to help out at home or on the farm, or due to arranged marriages. They spend summer in the camp to study hard to catch up with their peers so they can go to high school or sit for the GED, making them more able to get better jobs or go to college.

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This is a wonderfully soft, light-weight scarf that I will absolutely be wearing this fall!


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Paper Source is a company owned by Winnie Park. The company creates handmade paper with makers in India, Nepal, and Japan. This particular set of notecards is made with recycled cotton scraps and remnants from the garment industry. The pamphlet also states that the paper is made using “human intensive techniques and solar power instead of heavy machinery.” It feels and looks beautiful! Who knows, I might even start writing by hand again.


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I’m not typically a fan of eye shadow palettes like this as you only end up using one or two and the rest go to waste. I also don’t change up my eye shadow colors all that often—I tend to find one that works well and stick with it for, you know, years. However, I have to say this one looks promising, and I absolutely love the color names.

They also included a shadow brush from the same company, so I’m looking forward to some play time.

The company is named RealHer. It produces vegan and cruelty-free products. The founder, Bill Xiang, apparently started the company after the birth of his first daughter, and realized the “standards and messaging of the beauty industry” were not what he wanted for her. There’s a positive affirmation in each product. 20% of the proceeds go to the American Association of University Women. They’ve also donated to other organizations, such as for breast cancer research, LGBTQ groups, and organizations that provide makeovers and products for women in hospice and those who are homeless.


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Natura Brasil is a beauty product company committed to sustainability. They use mostly recycled packaging, water reclamation systems, and have been carbon-neutral since 2007. They source their ingredients from local communities, which creates better economic opportunities for those families.

I haven’t had the opportunity to try this one out yet, but I’m game.


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Finally, the thermal bottle. This is so cool, although I already have so many water bottles I’m not sure how much use it will get.

It’s not in the pamphlet because the item that was supposed to be in the box (a hand-carved wooden cutting board) had run out before they’d managed to fill all the box subscriptions, so those of us who were late to the game got the water bottle instead. It’s from Swell, the “fastest growing woman-owned company” in the U.S.

It’s very beautiful and feels nice to hold. I went on the website to check out what else they had and would’ve preferred one of the other designs, but hey, this works. I suspect this will be better for my husband tail-gating at Bills games if he doesn’t think it looks too frou-frou for that purpose, LOL.

So, all in all, I really enjoyed this Causebox. Oh—and the pamphlet includes coupons for all the companies featured in the box so I may be doing a little more shopping (ahem, scarves). I’ll get the next one sometime in the winter—looking forward to it!

*He’s clearly entering his second childhood—he’s been chewing up a lot lately. We’re dealing with it but it’s a good thing he’s so dang cute because otherwise....

Jelly Roll Rug and Thread Treat

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So here’s the most recent project that’s caught my eye: the jelly roll rug. I know some of you have been making them. And I’ve been admiring.

You may recall that one of my goals has been to use up my boatload of jelly rolls and 2 1/2” strips. I’m not sure where a rug like this would end up being used in my house but I’m sure it will be! 

I ordered the pattern and two rolls of the 2 1/2” batting today from The Fat Quarter Shop. Yeah, I know I don’t really need the pattern as there are tons of videos and tutorials out there on it, but I’m not in the mood to think at the moment, plus I like supporting indie pattern designers. Also, I know I could cut my own dang strips of batting (and have scraps I could use up) but, again, for now, there’s the “not wanting to have to think” thing paired with the “instant gratification” thing I’ve got going on. So little time to sew, don’t really want to spend most of it slicing and dicing and piecing mini batting strips together to get the length I need. Maybe for a second rug down the line... 

I have two weeks off between my jobs and yes, indeed, I plan to spend a lot of that in the sewing room.  

And maybe I’ll end up with a cute little area rug to brighten up my new office in November.  

Oh, and the thread treat? While I was on the Fat Quarter Shop website I succumbed to the lure of their Aurifil Thread Club. I haven’t bitten that hook for a couple of years now because I don’t want to end up with boatloads of odd-colored thread (I mostly use neutrals). But I’m an Aurifil girl, so maybe having pretty pretty threads hitting my sewing room every month will keep me in said sewing room, you know, sewing!