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Back at the Machine

July 6, 2011

I’ve been away from sewing for a while now.  I’ve been busy with end-of-school mayhem, beginning-of-summer mayhem, painting-the-kitchen mayhem (it’s still not put back together – need to have the backsplash installed), VBS mayhem … you know, LIFE!

Yesterday, I spent the day decluttering, deep cleaning and putting away in the main family room.  I celebrated the accomplishment by sewing today!  Yahoo!

First, I won a great giveaway a while back from Sew 4 Home.  I knew I wanted to make a skirt (don’t you just love a flouncy skirt for summer?), so I picked up a pattern at Las Colchas (natch).  And, it sat.  And sat.  And sat.  (Natch.)  You see, I’ve never sewn a skirt before, so I was terrified to even try.  I’m so afraid of failing that oftentimes I won’t even start.

Today I decided to try something new.  I pulled out the pattern (The Belle Skirt from Favorite Things) and went to town.  It really didn’t take that long – maybe an hour and a half – and I made an adjustment to the waist.  All in all, I love it!

Belle Skirt by Favorite Things * Fabric: Silent Cinema by Jenean Morrison for FreeSpirit by Westminster

(Does this photo make me The Walking Skirted?!)

I also dug into my Designer Mystery Block of the Month from Fat Quarter Shop.

Fat Quarter's Designer Mystery Block of the Month

This is Block 1 of the BOM quilt.  It was designed by Bonnie Olaveson and the adorable Camille Roskelley and uses the Fig Tree Quilt’s Strawberry Fields collection for Moda Fabrics.  How adorable is this block?  It’s perfectly named Sweet Pea!

My purr-fect sewing companion Max was basking in the sunshine under the window while I stitched away.  She moves around the house to find the perfect sliver of sun.


I thoroughly enjoyed sewing today.  In fact, I even turned a blind eye to this in my entryway …

and this at the base of my stairs …

I have about 45 minutes before Pablo gets home – plenty of time to threaten the kids get things picked up and get supper started.


For Lizzie: Bag Samples

April 28, 2011

this is a post for the great Lizzie House who needs some bag help!

Hi Lizzie,

Here are four bags that I’ve sewn recently that I think would be great to showcase your fabrics.  If I can help, please let me know.

Bohemian Bag, pattern by Lila Tueller

This would be a great way to showcase all of your fabrics in one portable bag.

Fat Quarter Bag

This one can be modified in so many ways – a ruffle, fussy cutting, applique, etc.

Birdie Sling, pattern by Amy Butler

A great way to showcase a big print

Six in the City bag with tie option

My current bag crush.

Can’t We (Quilters) All Just Get Along?

April 15, 2011

The quilting and sewing worlds are abuzz about a series of posts by Sandi of Piecemeal Quilts.

Dresden Plate Pillow - very traditional!

I first read about the series through Craft Gossip, one of my favorite sites for all things creative.  (Think of it as a Google Reader that’s already set up for you!)

Here’s my nickel version (but do read Sandi’s three posts!): “Modern Quilters” are holding back those learning through them and not encouraging growth in the art.  The labeling of techniques as “intermediate” for a modern quilter vs. “beginner” to a traditional quilter can do more harm than good for someone turning to the internets to learn to quilt.  (Please note: This is just my opinion of the three well-written posts on Sandi’s blog – mine condensed into a few sentences!  Really, though, read Sandi’s posts and form your own opinions!)

Scarlett Burroughs who moderates the Quilting area of CG posted a well-worded, gentle opinion piece in response to Sandi’s posts.

Here’s where I stand: I see it both ways!

I was not fortunate enough to be taught by my mother or grandmother.  In fact, my mother and I both began quilting very recently.  It’s been fun to discuss this new connection.

Anyhoo, I am one of those sponges who can absorb anything through words and pictures.  I bought a book and taught myself to knit.  I opened my sewing machine’s instruction manual and learned to sew.

That said, I love the “Modern Movement” that’s happening and all the not-so-stuffy quilters’ blogs out there.

Close-up of my appliqued wall hanging for Spring

I look around my studio and see whimsical machine appliqued pieces.  I also see very traditional Log Cabins with perfectly straight lines and precise intersections.  Next to them are wonky Log Cabins.  The idea for me is to learn one technique then step outside my comfort zone and change it up a little.  (Wonky wasn’t part of my vocabulary a few months ago!)

When I first began sewing a little more than 2 years ago, I had no idea where to start.  So, I Googled quilt shops in San Antonio and landed myself in Seventh Heaven Quilt Shop.  I must admit: The flowery fabric background on the shop’s website and the photos of women older than my mom sewing stars didn’t make me want to hop in the car and zip over.  But, I needed fabric and advice, so I grabbed a cupcake, freed my mind and headed to Alamo Heights.

I was greeted at the door by a tall, white-haired lady.  “Great,” I thought, “I’m going to get that what-are-you-doing-here look” (like I got by the women at the Evil Fabric Store).


Dixie, Seventh Heaven’s owner, welcomed me right away and immediately began to ask if I was working on a particular project, was I looking for a certain fabric, did I have any questions and let her know if I needed her help.  She gave me a quick tour of the shop, showed me where the sales fabrics were and introduced me to Judy at the cutting table.

Then she complimented the necklace I had made.  Well, more like, she wanted to see it and study it.  Then she took it – and me! – to a back room where ladies had gathered for a class and passed my necklace around and told them I had only been sewing a little while.

There was this room full of women who’ve probably been sewing longer than I’ve been alive acting so excited to see something new!  It was that moment that my heart danced because sewing is something that transcends ages, generations, styles, qualities and trends.

Books and blogs have taught me great techniques, but spending time in local shops have taught me what sewing and quilting are all about: Creating something that makes you feel good.

I love meeting other sewists and quilters and discussing what we’re working on, what we’re struggling with, where we shop and what we want to do next.

I love that I walk into Seventh Heaven and Las Colchas and am welcomed as an old friend – from the first time I stepped foot in the shop to yesterday when I went to Las Colchas to pick up some fabrics.

I love that the ladies who work in these LQSs want to see pictures of what I’ve just finished.  They hug my children and know their names.  They playfully jab when I’ve been absent for a while.

Most of all, they offer the insight of “traditional” and embrace the movement of “modern” and love both just the same.

~ ~ ~

Please note: This post is in no way meant to condemn or condone the opinions expressed by others.  These are just my opinions in what is a hot-button issue!

Seventh Heaven Quilt Shop
6706 N. New Braunfels Ave
San Antonio, TX 78209

Las Colchas
110 Ogden Street
San Antonio, TX 78212

Evil Fabric Store
Shall remain nameless.  If you live and quilt or sew in SA, you know who they are!

Picking Paint

March 17, 2011

I’ve lived in this house for 3+ years now and have yet to paint any of the walls (aside from the occasional touch-up!).

I’ve had the “perfect” color picked for my kitchen from the minute we moved in.

SW 6213 - Halcyon Green

It’s the same color my girlfriend has in her living room, and I absolutely love it.  She and I share a lot of the same design philosophies, and just about anything I have could have come from her house and vice versa.

So for three years I’ve had the swatch marked on my fan deck.  And for three years, Paul has been telling me to just pick a color so he can paint!

Then, I decided that maybe a different color was for me.


It’s two shades lighter on the same strip.  In really like it, but it seems to be kinda gray.  I know it’s an illusion based on seeing other colors on that same strip in real life and in photos on sites like Favorite Paint Colors.  In fact, here’s a gorgeous photo they feature of Rainwashed.

Now I’m not so sure!

Today, I loaded up the boys (it’s Spring Break) and headed to Home Depot.  I picked up 4 colors – actual samples this time! – and made a sample board.

(Clockwise from Top Left): Glidden B20 Tropical Lagoon, Martha Stewart MSL 129 Sea Glass,
Behr Premium Plus 480E-3 Marina Isle and Behr Premium Plus Ultra UL220-8 Clear Pond

Here’s the skinny on each:

Glidden Tropical Lagoon – This one came out much more Robin’s Egg Blue than I anticipated.  And, it took the most paint to cover the 12×12 sample area.  (To me, this means that I’ll need more of it than any other to get the job done.)

Martha Stewart Sea Glass – This one is a little more vibrant than I anticipated.  The paint went on the easiest.

Behr (both) – These two were spot-on to the swatches I picked up, which really surprised me.  The Behr paints went on easily.

I think I’ll go with Marina Isle.  It’s the bottom right in the shot above.  When I was looking at swatches, I kept pulling it out and putting it back.  And, every time I’d see something else I thought I liked, it was still Marina Isle.  I think that’s a sign.

Paul is on his way home from work, so I’ll poll him over and over again!

Disclaimer: Of course, these are paint colors through the lens of my camera, adjusted for light on my computer now displayed on your monitor.  In other words, please don’t hold my photos to be a true representation of the actual paint color.  If you like what you see, get thee to Home Depot and pick up some samples.  They run about $3 each and are worth every penny to the Type A’s like me!


Bliss(ful!) Dresden Plate

February 23, 2011

I recently finished my first Dresden Plate quilt block and decided to turn it into a pillow.

It’s quite jaunty, I think!

Anyhoo, I used fabrics from Bliss by Bonnie and Camille for Moda.  I absolutely adore this line of fabrics and am using it to make a Sunbonnet Sue quilt as well.  (In fact, I raided my Sue Stash to make this pillow.)

This was my first attempt at a Dresden Plate, and I’m quite pleased with how it came out.  I used the wonderful tutorial prepared by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! penned for Sew, Mama, Sew! The instructions couldn’t have been any better; I was confident from start to finish (after reading through the tute a few times).

I picked up Darlene Zimmerman’s handy dandy Easy Dresden ruler, which made the spokes uber easy.  (And, I cut the 5-inch spokes from Jelly Roll strips.)

A few things I learned making this pillow:

  • You must use 20 spokes to make a plate!  I know, I know – it seems like a given, but I figured I could just make it smaller by using 12.  Rookie mistake.  When I attempted to attach the two sides together … let’s just say I didn’t take a photo of that!
  • You can fool your sewing friends by using an easy way of making a circle then topstitching to the center of the plate.  I was showing off a photo to the wonderful ladies at Las Colchas, and one complimented my sewing on the curve.  I revealed my secret, and now she thinks I’m even more clever!  (I wish everyone could have a shop as great as Las Colchas.)
  • When using the above-mentioned circle trick, don’t cut too close to the stitches when cutting the back of the circle.  I thought I was doing good by cutting it pretty close – and it backfired in a few spots.
  • White probably isn’t the best background color for anything that’s to be used here at Casa de Chaos!  With two boys and a cat, things don’t stay white for long.  This pillow has been living on the little sofa in my bedroom.
  • Photographing your finished projects in natural, indirect light is best.  Nestling your pillow in a rosemary bush makes a lovely photo – and makes the pillow smell quite nice as well.

More photos are available on my Flickr page, if you’re interested.  Also, I’m submitting this pillow for the Great  SMS Pillow Contest and part of the Bloggers Pillow Party. Wish me luck!  (Actually, disregard those links – you don’t want to enter anything into the contests!)

Meet Autumn

January 24, 2011

Meet Autumn!  She’s my most recent embroidery/sewing/pillow project.

Autumn is a featured pattern available in Fat Quarterly Magazine, issue 3.

I’ve even entered this into the FQ contest.  (Like I’d ever win – have you seen the work others do!?!)

For the deets:

  • Background fabric: cut from a canvas drop cloth I picked up at Home Depot.  I like the contrast of the nubby, industrial fabric with the feminine subject and soft details.
  • Flosses: DMC, of course.  My colors were based on Sweetwater’s Sunkissed fabric lines, which I knew I’d use to complete the pillow.  I just wasn’t sure how when I started.
  • Floss details: I used all 6 strands for almost everything.  I used three ply each of two similar shades of dark brown (3031 & 801) to make her hair look a little more realistic.  The black stitching was done with 3 strands.  I like to use variegated flosses as often as possible, as I like the way the colors flow.  But, sometimes, it ends up a little wonky – check out Autumn’s leg warmers (socks?) – the floss went from a soft, buttery yellow to a pretty ballerina pink – on the backside of the stitching!
  • Stitches used: Tons!  Split, chain, French knots, backstitch, stem stitch (my version anyway, on her hair and on the swirl)
  • Ruffle: from Sunkissed by Sweetwater for Moda Fabrics, available from Fat Quarter Shop.

Help Us Track the Gingerbread Man!

November 29, 2010

Mitchell’s kindergarten class is tracking a Gingerbread Man as he travels all over the globe before returning to their classroom on December 17th.

If you can spare a few minutes, please send a postcard to Mitchell’s class about your “gingerbread man sighting.”

Here are some tips from the teacher:

  • Say you were doing something ordinary when you spotted the cute gingerbread man.
  • Report that you tried to stop him but he turned to you and shouted “Run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me.  I’m the Gingerbread Man!”
  • Please address the letter/postcard “Dear Mitchell.”  (The kids will be so excited to get mail addressed to them!)
  • Start sending as soon as possible!

The kids don’t know that the parents are asking for these letters/postcards, so it will be a huge surprise when they start to arrive!  And, the Gingerbread Man himself will be visiting the school on December 17th (which also happens to be Mitchell’s birthday!).

If you can help, please address your letters/postcards to:

Mrs. Heinze’s Class
Timberwood Park Elementary
26715 S. Glenrose
San Antonio, TX 78260

Thank you all for your help in this geography adventure!!!