Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Behind the Scenes

How many times have you attended a movie, a theatre performance, an art show, a conference, or other major event and simply just soaked everything in and enjoyed it rather than stopping to consider, what really went on behind the scenes to make it happen? Having worked at several events and shows, including my dad’s art shows, I know firsthand the kind of energy, time, preparation, and to-do lists that one needs to make an idea turn into an end result. 

Depending on how much you know about me personally as a shop owner, you may or may not know that my “behind the scenes” is operating daily in a foreign language that is not my own to make the business run. If you know that much about me already, what you may not know is that over the past seven years, I have been the creative force behind the scenes, while my husband has been the “German voice” on the front end of things. With the curtain dropped and an up close look at our behind the scenes, the reality of it is that I am essentially a “one-man-show” with only partial abilities.  

When things were smaller, my husband’s work life was not as demanding, and there were no kids in the picture, running the one-man-show was doable. But now things are much bigger, my husband’s work life has doubled, there are TWO kids in the picture, and my passion to sew and create, the exact thing that drove me to start my online shop in the first place, must constantly take the backburner to everything else. The behind the scenes discussion has been going on for quite some time… should I keep it up? Should I go another direction? If not this, then what? Despite all the hovering questions, doubts, and unknowns, I have decided to leap. 

I have no landing plans, no safety nets, or predictable outcomes, but I am looking forward to my after-the-dust-has-settled moment. I don’t want to make claims of all the things I plan to do, or what I hope to have accomplished when it’s all over with, but the outlook is positive. The specifics are not etched in stone, but my general direction is clear. I am excited and feeling envigorated now about the “what ifs” that I will finally have the time to pursue. 

One small change is that what I plan to say in the future will be in my own language. Such a statement should not be taken as a shutting out or shunning statement against the very customers that have supported me over the past 7 years, quite the contrary, it is for you that I write this. But my plans are borne out of a deep inward yearning to function without the restrictive “verbal handcuffs” that come with operating in a foreign language. 

In any case, I hope you will join me as one chapter closes, and I begin writing the next!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Swell" Work in Progress

If you've been hanging around for at least a year or more, then you might remember this stack of fabrics and my original work in progress post... distraction #2,478 (or something like that). I've been asking myself how crazy it is that I have three, yup you heard right... THREE quilts in progress!?! They have all been set to the side for various, but all for very good reasons.

The current quilt that I am working on is Camille Roskelley's "Swell" quilt pattern from her Simply Retro book. The reason I put this one is hold is because of the same dilemma I seem to always run into with every quilt that I start... what size to make it? The finished quilt dimensions are about a large twin maybe full size, but of course we have a queen/king size bed, thus perhaps the expected back and forth... should I make it the same size as in the book? Should I make it bigger? If so, how much do I need to add... the questions got even more overwhelming to me as I considered each one. I finished the blocks to make the quilt as is a LONG time ago, but by the time I had decided to enlarge it, I calculated that I was only half way finished instead of being in the last lap of the home stretch... sigh!

Well, now she's been pulled back out, dusted off, and has been brought to the front burner to be finished off. It really helps a lot to have an actual quilt wall to see it all come together. It's been fun pulling out some of my old favorite Amy's, especially since I haven't seen them in a while... there's a total of five different collections represented here!

Speaking of back and forth debates... another question I've been pondering is whether to move my office and working space downstairs where there is almost triple the space - room for a quilt wall, space to spread out, room for a proper sewing table, storage space, and even a comfy space to relax, but no natural light. Option two is to stay put upstairs with my natural light, and closer to the center of things, but with limited space. Right now projects are always being shifted from one side to the other... any thoughts? 

Well, in any case, it sure is fun to dream... I could so totally see my finished quilt draped over this couch in the comfy corner of a new sewing space... hmmm?

Linking up to WIP Wednesday when all are awake on the other side of the pond!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


My original plan when I started making sewing models for our Kreativ Hamburg stand this fall was to make a mock skirt that I could later transition into something else. It made no sense to me to make something that could only be used for the show.... especially since my model has a (ah hum), slightly "trimmer" waistline than mine.

I used this great tutorial here for the arrow blocks... not to fret, no paper piecing involved. So, I thought that simple straight line quilting would show off the off-center design the best... and that's how I ended up with yet another pillow! (much more practical than a skirt that doesn't fit, right?)

After having cut my strips for the arrow tail into 45 degree angles, I thought it would be too bad to just throw away the sewn scraps... so, I decided to sew them together and make a cosmetic bag out of them, which has now become my sewing notions bag with my favorite and highly used sewing tools.

I love it when I find a way to use those wasted scraps. How about you, do you have any projects using leftover scraps or that you've transitioned from one project into another?... leave me a link!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Vogelhochzeit & Lena's Patchwork

Some time back my oldest son started a special tradition with his Omama (grandmother), that each time they would drive somewhere together he would always get a bon-bon and she would play his favorite CD, Vogelhochzeit (Bird Wedding.) The Vogelhochzeit is a sweet musical tale by a well known German composer Rolf Zuckowski. Unlike some other children's music, the whole CD is full from start to finish with melodic surprises that are truly a delight to hear.  

The tale starts out with a bird that wanted to have a wedding (Ein Vogel wollte Hochzeit machen)... "what does a bird do, who is alone? Do you all know what I mean? He looks for a spot in a tree, and sings his most beautiful song, and when he is lucky, soon a little female sits next to him."... and such delightful songs were the inspiration for my latest project's for Lena's Patchwork magazine (German):

The story progesses when the lonely bird greets his future mate and asks to sit next to her, they dance together, and later await the arrival of their baby. The mother-to-be bird dreams of one day flying again, but is happy to protect her little egg until the baby comes... and then later as expected "tick, tick, tick, what is knocking there in the egg"? (was klopft denn da im Ei?)

...the new little chick arrives and anxiously greets his parents "Hello Mama, Hello Papa, the time is up, and here I am. Hello Mama, Hello Papa, how are you, is everything OK?"

The little family soon finds out  that a baby chick is never full, but when he grows up that he wants to fly to the clouds, and knows that "he must learn a lot... dreams about the golden stars... wants to stand on his own legs... and fly the world alone."

The story comes to an end as the grown baby sits in his own tree and sings his most beautiful song... a bird wanted to have a wedding.

Models including patterns and sewing instruction in the Febuary issue of Lena's Patchwork magazine. Fabrics: Cori Dantini "Good Company" for Blend Fabrics.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Meet Edyta Sitar

Each person that quilts has their own understanding and definition of what modern quilting is. Although my own personal sewing and creative style tends to lean towards to working with more modern and current fabrics, I deeply appreciate a variety of styles when it comes to quilting, even very traditional.

Living on the other side of the pond, but following the American quilting scene quite closely, much of what is necessary for me to keep up on things is done behind the computer screen. So when I get an opportunity to meet a quilting legend in person, it doesn't take much to get me to jump. Since Holland is essentially just at my back door, I decided to travel to the tulip country to meet such a quilter.

Like most sewer's, Edyta Sitar's love of fabrics started at an early age. However, once she was introduced to the family tradition of quilting through her mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law, her passion developed wings, and really began to take flight. What makes Edyta's quilts unique and fascinating, and has become her trademark and signature style, is that she combines traditional small prints with colorful batiks, which most would not have dared to do.

Many of Edyta's quilt patterns mix traditional blocks with beautiful applique shapes. When I asked her how she originally started designing patterns, she shared that she had showed a quilt that she had designed at a public event, and afterwards she had numerous quilters approach her asking for the pattern. After working with a local quilt shop to sell the patterns and teach workshops, Laundry Basket Quilts was born.

Edyta also shared that about ten years ago she received offers from two different companies to design fabric, and has been designing fabric for Moda Fabrics since then. The Jelly Bean batiks with bright colors, adding that extra pop and interest are my favorites.

I found Edyta to be very warm and pleasant, and just as humorous in person as she is on her Moda Schoolhouse videos. Originally from Poland, but having grown up in Germany, and now living in the US, I can indentify with her in many ways, living an expat life myself and working to build a creative business.

In addition to Edyta's patterns, she also offers a Craftsy Class giving tips on fabric selection, piecing, and fusible appliqué, a variety of YouTube channel tutorials and how-to's, and has authored multiple books.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

We Interrupt This Regular Broadcast

... to bring you this special program:

I've decided put my Facing East blocks on hold for a bit... but with good reason. It has become painfully clear to me that I really need a quilt design wall if I'm going to get very far. I give up with trying to keep things small, as was my original goal. In keeping with my usual dilemma, I always think... "well, if I've come this far, then why not go all the way?"

While reading through some of my favorite blogs this January, I stumbled across tons of New Year's Resolutions, but one really stuck out in particular. We all (that is if you sew) have that "special stack"... you know, the ones that we pull out every so often, moon over them and stroke them, and then pack them back into their place of honor, telling ourselves that these are far to special or too hard to find to cut... right? Well, this bloggers challenge (oh, I can't even remember who it was?!?) to herself and to others was to get that one fabric that you've been saving for something special and make something for yourself! Somehow, there is a little hint of brilliance in this simple and obvious statement! So, here she is... my one Melody Miller print that I've been hoarding saving:

It may seem that I am the ONLY one out there that has not made the Super Tote bag from Noodlehead, but I decided to remedy that. I started out using other snippits of this fabric, but decided the colors were too muted for a favorite purse and decided to mix it with the new Cotton & Steel fabrics. My favorite little telephone print is framed out and in focus using the inner star from this free tutorial. I've already finished and quilted the front side by simply outlining the star and shadowing the shape on the rest of the piece.

... and here's the start on the back. It's always amazing to me the "shrink" that you experience once the blocks have been sewn together. This is the mini version of the Mayflower Block from the Vintage Quilt Revival book that left the internet all ablaze last year.

So tell me, what fabrics are in your "special stack"... any plans for them this year?

Linking up later to WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

To Turn (or not to turn) That is the Question

I really love the fact that some of the modern sewing books that have been published recently are embracing the art of sewing from the core of it's very humble beginnings... stitching by hand.

I've always had the utmost and highest respect for the hand quilter. For me, WOW, goes without saying. When I look at almost everything that Anna Maria Horner puts her hand to, digging back to her generational roots, it really makes me realize that this woman really has it in her to the very core of her being! Carolyn Friedlander's new book Savor Each Stitch, really encourages just that, and in her recent book, Applique, the Essential Gudie to Modern Applique, Alison Glass even subtitled her "Fountain" quilt, "this could take a while". Isn't it refreshing that such modern designers, who have been told by today's society that being domestic is not "in", make such efforts to not only preserve the art of handiwork, but take it to the next level?

While my appreciation for the "art of doing it by hand" goes deep, I unfortunately belong the microwave generation. If you want something hot it's very simple... one short minute... ding... eat! With that being said, the very thought of needle turn applique has been haunting me since I started my "Facing East" blocks.

I know that there are two sides when it comes to quilting: machine quilting vs. hand quilting... and EVERYONE who quilts usually has a strong opinion about one or the other. Perhaps my previous statement might be a pretty good indication of my opinion of the topic. This also comes from a girl, who has never even hand basted a quilt binding (I know, I know, big cringe for some of you)

So I looked for a compromise to my dilemma... how to make the center circle for the Facing East blocks using another method other than needle turn applique? At my husband's encouragement, I decided to make the center circles slightly smaller. It was kind of fun pulling out school tools for the task.

I then I remembered a tutorial by the "queen of do-it-by-hand" herself... using this great little tutorial that Ms. Horner came out with back in the Chocolate Lollipop days. Make a circle template, place the template on top of fabric, wrap it up in foil, and iron it in place.

I attached the centers using a blind stitch on my sewing machine, and DING... ready for the next one.

What about you, do you like to savor the WHOLE process of quilting, including quilting by hand, or is the microwave version more your thing? Linking up with WIP Wednesday this week found here.
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