Sunday, April 21, 2013

What I Made...

Hey all! Wow, where does the time go?  It's already the end of's been nearly a month since I have sat down at my sewing machine....I haven't sewn a stitch!  This is unacceptable, I need to make some time for sewing..ASAP.

I'm finally getting around to writing about my Covert Robin project.  I couldn't blog about it until I was sure my recipient received it, and well, I just haven't had the chance since then!

Sending out a package to England was the tiniest bit nerve wracking to me.  I have never sent one before, and I just felt like the address was incomplete.  There wasn't very many numbers, but lots of words.  We have so many numbers in ours here in the numbers, street numbers, zip codes.  The icing on the cake was that I was so excited to get it out, when I wrote my little note, I forgot to include my email!  Over the next week or so, I sporadically checked my receivers blog.  She got it!

I couldn't wait to read what she wrote!  Such kind words, and I'm so glad she likes it!  I decided to go with a wallet.  I used the pattern for the Have It All Wallet from the Straight Stitch Society .  It was a good pattern, easy to follow, and I had most of it together in about two to three work sessions.  I had some trouble with the top stitching, as my machine got a little angry over the amount of layers it had to sew through, but after 4 attempts (and possibly attaching my walking foot, I honestly can't remember) it finally came out decent...certainly not perfect...but acceptable.  I just thought I would share a few pics of the process.  There were a few "firsts" in this for me, and I had fun learning some new techniques.

My second ever zipper...first time with those pretty little finished ends.

Zipper pouch nearly complete!

card wallet

Almost assembly time!

Ready to turn!

Sewn together, snap and bow placement test!

Hooray! All done! :)

Add a little tissue paper and some ribbon...ready to mail!
Hope you enjoyed seeing the wallet progress, I know I did as I was making it!  Hope you are all enjoying some great crafty projects!  If you ever have the chance to sign up for a swap like this, I recommend it! It was fun!  Thanks to all the wonderful hosts who ran it!


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Sunday, April 7, 2013


With the deadline for Covert Robin looming over my head, I forgot something very important...

I get a present, too!

Honestly, I had completely forgotten about it. Until I heard the mail truck...followed by footsteps on my porch...followed by my screen door opening, and a THUD!

I was sitting in the kitchen, thinking to myself, "Hmmmm...I haven't ordered any fabric lately...."  I walked to the door, and found an Amazon box sitting there.  I almost didn't even take a second look, as hubs gets a lot of Amazon boxes...but then, a flash of red caught my eye!

I looked at the envelope, and sure enough it was for me! From a person in Maryland, whom I don't know! My Covert Robin!

I was very well behaved, and opened up the card before tearing into the box. When I opened the card, the first words I saw were: "Hey Girl-"

RYAN GOSLING!?!?!? Is that you!?

Kidding!  Ryan Gosling was not my covert robin.  Danny, husband of the very crafty Jill over at Made with Moxie, was my covert robin.  He made me some super cool bar towels from handmade stamps and Pébéo Setacolor  paints.  They are cool and unique and I love them!   Here are some pics!

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Monday, April 1, 2013


March 30th.  To some, the day before Easter, no biggie.  To me: doomsday.  You know that whole thing about me being late for everything?  Well, I had two major deadlines on March 31st: Covert Robin and Knitters for Newtown. However, since that was Easter Sunday, I actually lost a day!  Both packages needed to be mailed by the 30th.  Usually, I cannot afford to lose days when something is due. But, guess what??


Two major projects all done, and mailed, ON TIME. (Granted, I may have been rushing to the post office 20 minutes before it was about to close, but hey...I still made it...ha!)

Look at my pretty squares, all ready to be put together and (hopefully) provide some comfort.  I knitted some and crocheted some.  I don't know about you, but I like to change things up a little.  I was so excited to use the special color ways...Love Wins and The Giving Tree.

And check out the cute little stamp I got at RPS. ( I needed a new stamp pad... haven't paper crafted in a very, very looooong time.)

I meant to take pictures of the boxes, but *ahem* I ran out of time...

Now to finish that 1st birthday quilt for sweet Angelique who is now 1 year, 2 months, and 5 days old...

Keep calm and craft on!

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quilt Fest NJ

If you know me well, or have known me for a long time, you know I am always late.  For everything.  I try so very hard not to be, and I always have an excuse!  Work? Parking! Church? Traffic! Anything I tell my husband I'm going to do? Quilting!   You see, I may have mentioned this before, but I am an OCD procrastinator.  Get it done right, just get it done...later.

I tell you this because, well, because this post is...late, of course!  I hope you enjoy it anyway.

With everyone all abuzz about QuiltCon the past few weeks, I couldn't help but be jealous!  Luckily, we had our very own little quilt festival right here in New Jersey this past weekend nearly a month ago.  I convinced my mom to go with me and we had a really nice time.  We both picked up some goodies and enjoyed seeing all the amazing quilts on display.  Some of them were truly remarkable.  I won't keep yammering on, I'll just share a few pics of my faves!

Comfort in a cup of tea...

Love these brightly colored stars!

Just thought this one was fun...

I want to run away and quilt here forever.

Of course, the American History teacher in me couldn't help snapping a pic or two of some historically themed quilts. My poor kiddies...I may have them analzye the Civil War one after we study it...

War of 1812

 Civil War (How cool is the whole north/south, blue/grey, red line = Gettysburg thing)

US Army Code of Conduct (printed on the white stripes of the flag)

Now, this next quilt deserves an introduction. If I recall correctly, this quilt won first place for hand quilting. I nearly fainted from the extraordinary detail. I wanted to meet this quilter, shake their hand, and ask them how they managed to not jump off a bridge whilst working on this! Alas, all I could do was snap a few pics that will inadequately portray the skill and ridiculousness. Remember: ENTIRELY HAND PIECED AND QUILTED!

Isn't it extraordinary!?!?!?!?

A little bit closer...

Can you even believe it!? 
Look at the detail! Look at that face!!! 
I am seriously still in awe....

Well, I can't wrap up this post with out showing off my treasures!
Guess what's in this bag of quilty goodness?

I totally splurged on:

  • Some Janome feet for my machine (the generics just weren't cutting it, and it was HALF price!
  • A magazine with a ginormous hexi quilt pattern
  • Some paper piecing hexagons (I'm on a kick...)
  • Sashiko thread and embroidery pattern
  • A really awesome quilt ornament
  • And my prize and real splurge...I don't even think its a full quarter yard, but some scrumptious Liberty of London fabric

Yay! Off to use some of it now!  Happy stitching, all!
xo Jess

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Covert Robin

Oh boy, I've really gone and done it now! A crafty friend of mine is a cohost of a Covert Robin from imagine gnats.  A whoosie-whatsie from where now you say?  A covert robin is like a secret craft swap.  People sign up and then the hosts send out the names, and you make a craft for someone, but they don't know who you are, and you don't know who has you!  It was a spur of the moment decision..sign up ended on the 28th of February.  When did I sign up?  The 28th of February, of course!

I was suuuuuuper excited to get my person's name yesterday! I already had an idea of what to make...paper pieced hexagon sewing machine pillow anyone? (Ambitious, I know...curse you pinterest!!!!)  When the email came yesterday, I was so stoked about getting someone from the UK. I was in the mall, but immediately went to her blog.  She is young and soooooo hip.  I, on the other hand, am sooo boring! Seriously, this girl is the deifnition of cool with her super trendy clothes and funky crafts.  I am so worried about making something that she will like!  The good news is that she knits and sews, so I suppose I can't go wrong with either of those, but I have to find something ultrahip, yet still chic and girly! I'm talking a cross between Jane Austen and vintage granny squares here people! *le sigh*  This girl looks totally adorable in all her pics.  I'm all like, here I am in my yoga pants and hoodie.

Sure there are a million things I can make, but this has to be unique and special and something I would never have the guts to wear, edgy, pretty, vintage, and modern all at the same time! Leg warmers?  A beret?  A bag?  Suggestions? Suggestions, anyone? Well, I am off to scour ravelry patterns and pinterest! Wish me luck!

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm sorry...

Oh, goodness.  I'm terrible at this aren't I?  Is October really the last time I posted? I had so many things to write about! But, in my defense, who has time to blog? I'm too busy SEWING!  I have lots of exciting plans for this blog, but I'll keep them a secret for now.  However, there are some things I would like to tell you about.  I'm probably going to be a bit long winded, so I'll break it up over a couple of days. (Famous last words..this may be the last post you read for a while!)

Sometime back in November, I finished my very first non-baby sized quilt.  It was also my first pieced backing, AND my very first long-armed quilting!  It was so much fun!  Here's how it happened. At my favorite (actually only, but it would still be my favorite if it wasn't the only) local quilt shop Rock Paper Scissors (RPS) in Montclair, NJ I belong to a group called the NewBees.  It's all beginner quilters and we challenge ourselves with a new project each month.  Back in August, our project was a "solids" quilt.  We are all so drawn to patterned fabrics, and Beth (owner, group leader, wonderful person) thought it might make us think outside of the box a little to do a quilt in ONLY solid colors.  Well, you all know by know that I am a total quilting wimp and was going to take the easiest way possible out of this.  Enter V&Co's Houndstooth Quilt.  I only had to pick TWO colors, and I still got to get one of my favorite patterns in there. Ha! I win!  I got the instant idea to make a quilt for my mom, my quilting partner in crime, for Christmas. I shot her a quick text asking for her two favorite colors: at that moment, buttery yellow and spa blue.  Hmmmmm....too babyish together. I decided to go with the yellow and a medium gray.  I have been loving yellow and gray combinations in every shade and color from neon and charcoal to the paler shades.  The cutting was kind of a pain in the butt, I'm not going to lie.  Squares that were 6 1/8 inch?  One eighth, really? Can't we find a way to just make that 1/4?  Oh well, such is life.  The rest of the assembly was quite easy and quick.  This is definitely a pattern I would recommend for an advanced beginner. We were allowed to choose a pattern for the background and with the help of Beth and my lovely NewBees friends Courtney and Melanie, I chose the Sweet Field pattern from Madrona Road by Violet Craft for Michael Miller.  I won't bore you with all the crazy details, but due to the directionality of the print, I had to do a pieced backing.  I broke out into a cold sweat and raced right over to RPS where I think I actually startled Beth with my pathetic cry for help.  She gave me some ideas, reassured me that I could do it, and sent me packing. After all, I had a 10am appointment the next morning (at a shop an hour and a half away) to long arm this....aaaaaaand my backing still wasn't done.  Yup, that's how I roll.

I ended up using some of the extra (read: still had to sew a few more) striped squares from the houndstooth pattern to make a chevron across the bottom third of the quilt. I'm still so excited and proud of how it turned out. (Photo credit: Mom)

The long arm part was the most fun...partly because it had to be a top secret mission.  You see, the quilt shop that rents the machines, Olde City Quilts in Burlington, NJ, is about 20 minutes away from where my mom lives.  I had to be down there at the shop, quilt it, avoid being seen, and not say a word.  I thought my brother's birthday would be the perfect day to head down there and get it done before going to celebrate.  What a wonderful, awful idea that was.  Literally, creating the huge stipple that I used, and finishing the quilt in about an hour had me downright giddy.  I had to spend the rest of the day with my mom and not say a word about it.  This may have been the most difficult thing about making the quilt.  I was bursting with excitement and kept opening my mouth to blurt something out before catching myself.  What made it even more difficult is that my mother was asking a lot of questions, "What did you do today?", "Oh, you used your $25 dollar American Express small business credit already? Where?", "How come you couldn't come over earlier?"  Seriously, did she WANT me to blow the surprise?  Even worse, I had to keep this quiet for another whole month. Ugh! It was torture, but I did it!

Just in case you don't know what a long arm is,  it's a huge sewing machine that you use to professionally free motion quilt.  You can just go for it, or you can follow a pantograph (a pattern that you follow by guiding a laser light on the machine). It has a stitch regulator so all of your stitches come out the perfect size.  If you have never used one, I suggest you give it a try.  It is so much fun (and a lot easier and faster than using your home machine) that you will want to use it for all of your quilts.

Pee-Wee the long arm...he is the smaller version, they are actually quite a bit bigger...
When I learned how to use it back in August, I wanted to buy one so bad.  Unfortunately, I don't have a few grand just laying around. Here are some pics of the machine, and me learning to use it. (I meant to blog about this months ago....oh well.)

Clockwise from L to R: The lovely selection of threads, a pantograph, me attempting to follow the pantograph (it was tough!),  my free motion doodles, my teacher Lynn)
I did the binding by hand over a few days, added a personalized label, and washed the quilt to get that yummy crinkly effect.  I really love it and am so proud of the way it came out.  I brought it to quilt guild and actually showed it off. In the picture that made the blog, you can see just how excited/proud I really was!  Here's a great shot mom took of the quilt.

On Christmas, I could not wait for mom to open her present.  She loved it! As a matter of fact, its picture made its way onto facebook with the caption "best Christmas present ever!" Woot! I remain reigning champion of giving the "best gifts ever"!

I think my nephew really liked it too, the way he dove on it face down, sprawled out, cars in hand!

So, there, you have it.  My first larger-than-a-baby-sized quilt! Whew! Sorry, I told you that was going to be long, but I wanted to share because it is something I am really proud of.  I hope you accomplished some great things to finish 2012 too!

Here's to some great stitching in 2013!

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Binge Crafting...

Please, tell me I'm not the only one who does this. Has this happened to you, too?  Life gets in the way, and you can't do what you want to do?

There's a long story behind this, but I'll make it as short as I can.  Basically, mid-september through mid-october was a very rough month for me.  Adjusting to being back to work and completing a nightmarish comprehensive exam to hopefully finish my masters degree (that I technically finished three years ago...crossed fingers that I passed!) left little no time for fun. I couldn't even go to my monthly quilt guild meeting!  Days were spent putting on the one woman show that so many refer to as teaching, lunch times were spent preparing materials for said show, afternoons and early evenings (weekends too!) were spent in the library, researching, reading, writing, researching, reading, writing, repeat, and when I finally got home, there was still lesson planning, papers to grade, and all the other work that teachers bring home with them.  My dining room table was an explosion of sticky-tabbed pages, research journals, and professional books.  Two 40-some-odd page papers on two different topics complete with literature review, best practices, and action plan for each.... in 30 days...and I nearly lost my mind.

I. was. cranky.

Cranky actually doesn't even begin to cover it.  I'm really not proud to say, but there were melt downs, temper tantrums, and panic attacks.  I have to give hubby a shout out here and say that I honestly couldn't have done it without him.  He really pitched in and kept the house clean, the hamper empty, and food in the fridge, as well as provided an incredible amount of support and encouragement. (Thank you!)

Needless to say, when this was all over, I had a crafting fit.  I was like the person who ends their diet and immediately eats a pound of chocolate, a bag of chips, a whole pizza, and a dozen cookies.  Binge crafting for sure:

First there was the knitting....

I made mittens and a hat for my nephew out of his namesake yarn. (Aiden by Three Irish Girls)

I made a cowl for myself out of yarn that shares my last name. (Katia Fabula)

I cast on a scarf for my wonderful husband. (Fresh Earth by Three Irish Girls)

I finished my pumpkin picking cowl.

I made one fingerless glove. (Yes, only one).

I started the gorgeous Kilkenny cowl with super soft and squishy yarn, both from an awesome company I found. (Quince & Company- Chickadee in Winesap)

I cast on, and then had to pull out, a mohair wrap that I decided might wait until spring anyway.

Then there was the quilting...

I finally finished my quilts for kids quilt.

I made a car seat quilt for a baby who was due to arrive in just a few days.

I worked on my secret solids project for NewBees.

I started a quilt with the Ruby jelly roll that I have been holding onto since my birthday.

I finally ordered the supplies I need to finish my block of the month course (that I am two months behind on) and got some cutting done.

I made another ugly block for my quilt guild.

Let me just tell you, it felt GOOD. So good.  I want to quit my job and be a professional crafter.  I know that's not going to happen...ever...but a girl can dream....

Now, a hurricane is coming.  I am hoping it will not impact us too badly, but it's not looking good.  It already sounds pretty windy out there, and we are still two days out from the worst. They are predicting 7-10 days of power outages, which will be a nightmare. At least I have plenty of knitting to keep me busy...  hope all my friends along the east coast stay safe this week.  Happy crafting to you!

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back to School... and a new trick!

Ah, September...the time of year when parents feel a rush of relief and teachers kids feel a gnawing anxiety that their life is over.  I love September, and as a kid I loved going back to school.  I was the complete opposite of the kids in this commercial.  I know you all remember it.

I used to spend my allowance in Staples.  There is nothing I love more than a fresh notebook and a brand new pen (or freshly sharpened yellow #2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencil!) this day.  I know, I'm strange.  Of course, now that I am a teacher, I don't quite like back to school time as much.  I do love getting new supplies and decorations for my classroom, and I like the teaching part, of course!  It's the waking up early and time spent away from my knitting needles and sewing machine that I dislike so much!

I suppose its all relative, though. This past Sunday, I was with my mom in Princeton.  As we walked around, I looked at all the college kids and thought to myself, "Boy am I glad I'm not going through that again!"  I loved college, but it's nice to get a paycheck.  On Tuesday, as I was getting ready for my first day back at work, I thought to myself, "Man, I wish I was still in college, driving to class, music blasting, singing at the top of my lungs, instead of going to work."  I guess there are two sides to everything.  But, I digress.

 I love all that September means...cooler weather (hopefully soon), leaves changing colors, apple really is a great time of year!  Fall is my favorite. Do you agree?

With that said, work starting back up means less time to craft, and as you know I have to get my charity quilts back in about three weeks.  The weekend before school started, I was in a crafting frenzy.  I sewed all day Monday.  Good news: the first one is finished!

Quilts for Kids obviously does a better job at choosing materials than I do!

 (and I made a bag for work- please ignore my doorway and pile of ironing.)

Spice Market Tote (small version) by Amy Butler
sewn in
Classica by Annette Tatum for Westminster Fabrics

Bad news: I'm still not crazy about my sport one...even the second attempt.   I haven't started sewing it together yet but this is my basic idea.  I'm sure a teenage boy will think it's cool enough.  As a former teenage girl, I can't help but think that it's ugly!

ugly boy fabric

I also had my needles flying on the perfect shawl-cowl-poncho whatever you want to call it for apple/pumpkin picking.  The pattern is Shaw Hill by Alicia Plummer and I am knitting it up in gorgeous, soft, squishy Malabrigo Chunky in the rich pumpkin-y Cinnabar colorway.  I am in love.  It can be worn as a cowl or around your shoulders.  Here's what I have so far.  There will be some adventures in steam blocking to share when I 'm through.  The picture doesn't do the colorway justice.

Pumpkin Picking Accessory!

Now, the moment you have all been waiting for.  A new trick!
Drumroll please....

You can bind a quilt with the backing!   

 I bet most of you will say "Oh, I knew that already."

Well, pin a rose on your nose!  (Name that character!)

But hey, there may be someone, somewhere reading this who didn't know!  I was going to do my own tutorial on it, but there is such a good one by Jera over at Quilting in the Rain , that I figured I'd just share it.  While I definitely wouldn't do this for all of my quilts, I think it's a great option for the Quilts for Kids.  These quilts are in hospitals and are washed daily.  They need to be able to stand up to the stress of constant hot soapy water and agitation.  Since the binding is quite literally attached to the backing in one solid piece and then machine sewn on, it makes me feel really secure that it's not going to fall apart.  It is a really neat trick, and much faster than traditional binding.  Let me know if you try it!

Well, I must get back to grading summer assignments now...I hope you all have some great fall projects lined up so that I can live vicariously through you!  Keep on stitchin'!

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

ADD like you wouldn't believe and a Charity Challenge...

Confession time.  Sometimes, I go a little overboard on a few things. But, most of the time, I go way overboard on a lot of things.  Oh, yeah, and my attention span is about as long as a mosquito's.  For example: I try to quilt, knit, crochet, read a book, and write a blog all at the same time.  Literally. At. the. same. time. Clearly, the blog has suffered, but the charity work has not and I will try and redeem myself today.

Let me backtrack a little bit.  I was wasting time on facebook a few weeks ago, and I saw a little ad on the sidebar for the Mother Bear Project.  This organization sends hand knit bears to children in Africa who have been orphaned because of AIDS.  I thought this was a really sweet idea and then I read the brochure and two of the testimonials had me near tears.  Here's the first one:

 "This bear is my only friend," said a child in Zambia.

His only friend!!! :-( and here's the second:

  "One little boy risked his life to rescue his bear.  
He told his sister, 'I have to get my bear. The heart on it means someone loves me.' 
Their house was destroyed minutes later by torrential rains, " said a teacher in South Africa.  

Seriously, rip my heart out, why don't ya? I can't do much, but I like to do what little I can, so I decided to knit a bear.  5 dollars for the pattern and 3 dollars for any extra bears you send.  They sew a red felt heart on it's chest and ship it off to Africa. With stash yarn, I think anyone can afford to make at least one bear.  Will you?  Here's mine, his sister is still in the works:

Then, I was wasting some time reading emails and came across one from Craftsy. (A great site to check out if you haven't yet!) It was from crafter and designer Vickie Howell of "Knitty Gritty" fame (does anyone else remember that show?) and I discovered that she has a son with epilepsy.  She started a non-profit called the Purple Stitch Project to raise epilepsy awareness.  The mascot of the organization is a ninja and he is the cutest ninja I have ever seen.  The idea is simple.  Make a ninja and it is given to a child with epilepsy to let them know they have a battle buddy against seizures.  (There are also patterns for hats and scarfs and other things, but the ninja is my favorite.  The best part about all this?  There are patterns for knitting, crocheting, and sewing! Crafters of all kinds can participate.  Of course, I had to try all three and I love each and every one of them because they are ridiculously cute, but the sewn one is my favorite.  (I wonder how many ninjas are getting annoyed that I keep referring to them as adorable and cute!) Check them out, which one is your favorite?  Which one will you make? Patterns are available for free on Ravelry and Craftsy. P.S. I also learned a cool trick on this one.  When making a knitted or crocheted plushie, use yarn to stuff it instead of fiberfil. Works just as well, and you don't get all those little white fly aways sticking out.  Now, maybe you already knew this, but I though it was genius.

Then, I was wasting some more time on facebook, and I saw a little ad on the sidebar for Downey and Quilts for Kids. I clicked on it, and reading through broke my heart, yet again. So, I decided it might be nice to make one.  I requested a free kit, and started searching the web for good teenage boy fabric.  (The company will send you a free quilt kit and they ask that you include a stash quilt of your own.  They mentioned that they are in need of quilts for teenage boys).  It is really difficult to find boyish fabric that is not babyish, just for the record.  While my other charity projects went so well, this one was somewhat of a disaster.  I found some Riley Blake fabric that was sporty and not at all babyish... the Play Ball line... and it was super cheap on etsy.  I was so excited.  I ordered three of the patterns and when they arrived just a few days later, I eagerly started my quilt.  Perhaps I should have planned a little better, or at least THOUGHT about it before I started because, holy busy-ness Batman! This thing is dizzying!  A solid (or two!) may have been helpful. But, I was just so excited!

Man, just looking at it makes me nauseous. Disappearing nine patch! Ha! Disappearing everything is more like it!  Obviously I can't use this, and yet I don't have the heart to cut it all up or take it apart.  I bought some more fabric, and I'm going to try again.  Luckily, I didn't get my quilt kit from Quilts for Kids until today, so I still have about 6 weeks to make them both.  My lovely friends from the NJMQG helped me pick out some coordinating solids for my new fabric last night at our monthly meeting.  I'm going to do the kit first, since that is all spelled out for me and then maybe I'll have an easier time with this one.  What are you waiting for?  Go order your kit now!

Lastly, I was visiting a quilt shop in south Jersey with my mom.  While at the register, I noticed a brochure for ConKerr Cancer.  Hooray! More charity crafting! This organization gives pillowcases to kids and teens who are in the hospital for cancer treatments.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea.  I've had too many family members affected by cancer.  Thankfully, no children, but I know how difficult it is to go through for adults, and I can only imagine how strong and brave children must be to battle it out.  I really got stuck on this one and whipped up six pillowcases.  It was so fast, fun and simple. (Love those little elephants!) Won't you join me?

So, there it is.  My excuse for not blogging.  I'd say it's a pretty good one, even if it did cause my ADD to spin out of control.  You should have seen my craft table...there was about 4 skeins of yarn piled on top of mounds of fabric, scraps and stuffing everywhere!'s the challenge.  I want you, yes YOU,  to make one craft project for charity.  Which one will you choose?  Leave a comment, telling me all about it.  There are so many options out there, and so many people in need. Even if we can only help one person at a time, it's better than not helping at all.  I hope this post has inspired you! I better go get started on that quilt....happy crafting!


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Monday, July 16, 2012

I got my sewjo back!

sewjo \ˈsō-jō\ noun- 1.self-confidence in one's ability to sew, 2.the ability to bounce back from a negative attitude about sewing, 3.the ability to make awesomeness out of fabric and thread.

Yes, I did just make up a word, and I love it. Feel free to use it often : ). I know my last post was a little whiny, and it didn't seem like I enjoy sewing at all. Sorry about that. I'm new at this.  I get discouraged sometimes. If it has ever happened to you too, fear not! I have some advice. This is how I got my sewjo back:

 1. Take some time to organize. Organization is the key to happiness. At least in my book. I always feel more motivated when everything is accessible, in its place, and looking pretty.  That goes for work, home, and craft room.  Hubby helped me with this one.  He made me an awesome pegboard to organize all my quilting stuff.  My poor rulers had been shoved in a too small basket, my rotary cutters were in a bucket and my mat was tossed wherever it was out of the way until it was needed.  Now, everything is in its place.  I even have little baskets for my starch and basting spray.  Perfect! I've ordered pegboard paper towel holders for my ribbon since the pegboard replaced my ribbon rack.  Can't wait 'til they arrive, although, don't ask me what I'm going to do with my self-healing mat... (P.S.- that's my lonely crayon block fabric in the bottom left corner)  Can you guess what my lonely crayon color is?
Bright green pegboard to match my bright green yarn rack!
2. Sew something.  Anything.  Anything other than what was annoying you in the first place.  Following step one, I was still in my organizing phase.  I took the too small ruler basket with its baby nursery purple liner, and decided it had to go.  The liner, not the basket.  Baskets are great when you have lots of stuff.  I realized that I might have just enough leftover fabric from my sewing machine cover to make a new matching liner for the basket.  I had no idea how to do this, and I was totally winging it, but I did it!  It felt sooo good.  Gussets and all, I totally made it up.  It fits, it matches...perfect!
3. Let loose, have some fun, and experiment!  You never know unless you try, right? Besides, you might just be pleasantly surprised.  Grab some scraps and wing it.  It's a tiny bit liberating to know that there are no rules or boundaries. (I know, it's ironic that I complained about this in my last post).  One of my quilt guild assignments was to make a name tag for our July meeting.  I knew that I wanted to try and combine all my fiber crafts into my name tag, so I went back to my roots and cross-stitched my name.  Then I grabbed some leftovers from my sewing machine cover/basket liner and went to town.  For a second, I tried to figure out the math part of it, and then I said to myself, "Whatever, I have enough stuff to make another one if it doesn't work out."  I think it turned out pretty cute.  I'm still trying to decide if I should do some blanket stitching and add a crochet edge.  I'd love to work in knitting, but I don't see how that's possible.  Eh, I have two more days to experiment and try to figure it out.

North Jersey Modern Quilt Guild Name Tag
4.  Do something completely different.  Before I had the courage to tackle my lonely crayon block (sans any helpful directions), I tried to distract myself with other stuff.  I attempted to reorganize my DMC embroidery flosses.  I printed out a checklist, figured out what I was missing, hit up Michael's for 25% off, wound new bobbins, blah...blah..blah.  Then I crocheted my mom this super adorable tea cup pincushion. ('s a secret! Don't tell her!) Oh, wait.  My mom is my only follower...sorry for ruining your surprise, Mom! : )  But, seriously, how cute is it!?!?  By the way,  I got it from the new Joann's app.  If you have an iPad and haven't downloaded the new Joann's app for it, close this blog and do it now.  It has some great inspiration and patterns. I <3 free patterns.
Teacup pincushion for Mom from Joann's app.
5. Claim your sewjo.  By now, you should be feeling pretty good.  You've conquered a task or two, you've organized, experimented and created: successfully! Go ahead and tackle what was irking you. I actually had fun designing my ideas for the lonely crayon block.  It was the math I had a problem with.  I had to create a 10.5" block.  Apparently, a 9 patch and a 10.5" block don't go so well together.  The closest I could get was 10.625".  I figured that was close enough, so I made my block.  Then, I just trimmed it accordingly.  I think it came out okay.  I went with option number one.  What do you think?
Lonely Crayon Block- Brown
P.S.- Sorry about my awful iPhone photography.  Photography is the next thing on my to-learn list if I'm going to keep this blog thing going.

Hope you've got some sewjo! Until next time, happy sewing!
xo Jess

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I'm too OCD for this...

Seriously.  Go ahead and laugh, but I'm not joking.  Along my very short quilting journey, I have struggled with my quest for perfection.  I'm one of "those" people, and I can't help it.  (Just imagine how I was at my wedding dress fitting...)  So, when it comes to crafting, I have pulled out more stitches than you could imagine, but I have fought a good fight.

I came up with a mantra.  Well, not on purpose, but I found myself saying the same thing over and over in my head.  "It's not perfect but..." and I would finish with "that's what makes it handmade," and "that's what makes it one of a kind," or "nobody is going to notice that this stitch is 1/32nd of an inch to the left of the others."  This mantra helped me to finish 3 quilts. (P.S.-machine binding is not for me, because that extra little seam that pops up on the back makes me MENTAL...anybody know any good tips on that?)

Enter Craftsy BOM.  July: Dresden Plates.  Circles.  I can't even make a circle with a compass.  Never could.  Now you want me to SEW one?  I've barely mastered straight lines!!! I watched the video lesson.  Twice.  Hers were not perfect, yet mine had to be.  I even got the little rotary circle cutter (which is pretty cool, by the way).  I sewed my first circle...very slowly.  I only went about 4 stitches before I would shift and re-align.  It actually came out pretty good.  I would recommend that method...but, it was too small.  Apparently you aren't supposed to sew dresdens with a scant quarter inch seam because they will come out bigger than intended.  Woops. Soo, I make another circle.  Same method, not so perfect circle. By this point my patience has worn thin and I just want these things done.  They're not perfect.  It's not the end of the world.  Do yourself a favor.  Let it go.  You will be much happier while quilting. Besides, I'm grumpy enough for the both of us!
My perfectly imperfect Dresden Plates
I don't mean for this post to be a gripe session, but here's another issue I have.  I need directions.  Specific ones, and lots of them.  This whole Modern Quilt Guild thing might not be for me.  Our first assignment was to make a "lonely crayon" block.  Perhaps you have heard of this before, but I had not. Adorable name, really. You choose the color you use least in your quilting- you're "lonely crayon", if you will.  You're allowed to use white and one other color.  You make a 10.5" square or a 5.5" x 10.5" block. Easy-squeezy, right? Um...wait...what?  That's it?  What's it supposed to look like?  What size do I cut the squares?  Should I do stars?  Half square triangles? Dresden? (Kidding!) Oh...I'm supposed to figure it out by myself?  Excuse me, while I go weep in the corner and console myself with a Skinny Cow Chocolate Truffle bar....

Ok, ok, I'll put my big girl panties on and design some blocks.  That's right, design.  All. By. My. Self.  I mean, they're not exactly totally original or anything, but I pretty much just played around with different 9 patch arrangements.  (I can't reinvent the wheel you know!) But, I have to figure out the math.  Why must this be so difficult!!!!???  Here are my options (I'll post the product when finished):

Hubby likes 1, 2, and 6.  Mom likes 1 and 2.  I kind of like my original flower basket-y thing (#5).  What's your preference?  Leave a post and let me know! :-)

Happy sewing! xo

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I created this blog about a month ago, and have yet to write anything! I started to...honest. I hemmed and I hawed...I wrote and I revised...I trashed and I rewrote...I edited and get it. And then, I joined a quilt guild! I was politely asked if I had a blog.  "I do," I hesitantly responded, "but,'t written anything yet." How embarrassing! I explained that I was having trouble with an introductory post, and they all said to skip it!  So here I am, pulling the trigger, and writing a non-introductory-introductory blog post.

I can't help myself though, so here is just a little bit about me. I only started quilting about 2 3 (!) months ago, but I'm already hooked.  I've known how to knit and crochet since I was a kid, but have really only gotten back into it in the past 7 or 8 years.  I used to cross-stitch quite often, but it's taken a backseat to everything else.  So, while I'm no expert, I thought I would go ahead and toss my ideas out there.  Share the little tips and tricks that I've learned (and perhaps share a bit of my fiber obsessions) with the rest of the crafting world.  I've learned so much in a short time, and can't wait to share it with you.

Oh, wait, before you go! Here are two quick pics of my very first quilt! Pre and post binding.  It's the Sophie Car Seat Quilt over at Moda Bake Shop. (One of my very favorite sites!) I used Hoo's in the Forest by Doohickey Designs for Riley Blake.

Thanks for stopping by!

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