He did it!

I remember when our oldest son, Christopher, first went to school. He was cute, and smart, and on the quiet and serious side.

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We were proud of him then and we are proud of him today, on his last day of school*. He has successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at SMU. Oh happy, happy, very happy day!

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This was a long time coming. Chris and Lorna have had 3 children, bought and remodeled a house, and worked hard to survive during his journey through higher education. Steve and I are proud of his achievement on every level. Way to go, son!

*Chris’s area of study is the long 18th century of British literature. His dissertation is currently titled Primal Filth. I have not yet read it, but Chris is an excellent writer so I expect to be entertained.

Weeding tips…

anudge asked for tips on how I weeded out my stash. Here goes:

I used to keep my linen, vintage, hand-dyes, etc., in their own separate groups. I realized that I forgot about them when I was pulling fabrics for a quilt so I decided to merge all of my fabric.

I emptied the top shelf in my closet. I worked standing up at the long dresser in the bedroom where my fabric lives. I worked with one stack of at a time. I touched every fabric and decided to keep it, or not. The ‘nots’ went into bags.

The keepers were sorted into stacks of solids, lights, mediums, or darks. Where it made sense, I grouped similar shades of a color together. For example I have yellow-greens in one stack and blue-greens in another. I know that my stacks are going to eventually get messed up so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on this.

Next I pulled my ‘special’ fabrics, sorted them and added them to the cottons in the closet. 1-yard big print pieces that will be used for backings are still separate.

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Let me show you how it works with a much smaller group of fabrics. The back story is that I have been inspired by friends to work on a quilt using Liberty of London fabric. My friend, Kathy (hi Kathy!) sent me a fat quarter bundle from the Liberty shop in London — how cool is that! I do love these fabrics from the bundle…

I don’t love these 4 fabrics. If they were just plain old fabrics in my stash, they’d be gone.

But I’m going to make a Liberty of London quilt and can’t afford to be picky! Plus all the fabrics in the bundle actually do play well together. (It goes to show that you can make just about any fabric work, but that’s another story.)

And the bundle fabrics look really good with my other Liberties…

So what does this mean? It means that there are some fabrics I like and some that I like less. When I have too much fabric, I have to decide what no longer fits. Making decisions is hard and it can wear you out if you over-think it. So I don’t think too much as I’m sorting. I put the cast-offs in a bag so that I’m not tempted to bring them back.

If you have more fabric than I do (and that’s a real possibility) I would suggest tackling one color at a time. If you start with yellow, pull all of your yellows, from everywhere. Put them on a big table or bed. Work through them. Put your tidy stacks on the shelves, ignore the cast-offs, move on to the next color. Don’t give up (you’ll be tempted). Power through it, you’ll be glad you did

 

Weeding out your stash…

My color lecture always includes the suggestion that it’s important to weed out your fabric stash. This idea is often met with skepticism, but it’s something I learned from Linda long ago and I stand by it. I usually weed out my stash once a year and/or when there is lots of fabric stacked on the floor.

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There’s more fabric on the floor than you can see here.

The shelves inside this closet are about 5′ wide — you can’t see the far ends of the shelves unless you are in the doorway. There are shallow shelves inside, to the left of the door that face the main shelves that also held fabric.

I arrange my fabric by color and value. Over time, however, the values get mixed up and the colors don’t always end up in the right place. The fabric is squeezed between the shelves so tightly in places that it was hard to get to it.

With the unicorn quilts finished last Friday, I turned my attention to this project. Over the course of 2 days, I removed 44 lbs of fabric from my stash.

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Here’s my newly-clean stash:

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I didn’t stop with the closet. I also cleaned out drawers with hand-dyed and hand painted fabric, vintage fabric, silks, and more. I found appliqué blocks that I don’t have any idea what to do with, and more. So much more that I’m going to have an online Studio Sale next Tuesday morning, January 10. I’ll send a newsletter* reminder. I’ll also put a Studio Sale link in the menu bar that Tuesday morning at pieceocake.com.

*If you aren’t on my newsletter list, go to pieceocake.com, scroll to the bottom of the page, and sign up in the newsletter box.

Now that this job is done, I get to think about what’s next. I’m excited!

Happy new year!

Have you wondered where I’ve been? The short story is that I have been chained to my sewing machines. Well, not really ‘chained’, it only felt that way because I was on a very tight deadline.

Last summer when we were in Germany with the kids, Celia (DIL) asked me to make her a special, magical quilt — for Christmas. That was in July.

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Do you know what makes a quilt magical? A unicorn! Yup, that’s right, she asked me to make her a unicorn quilt. Celia doesn’t make quilt requests often, so I said “Sure, I can do that!”.

I was traveling a teaching a lot, but I got to work on it late August. Once it was drawn and on the wall in September I realized that this really is a magical quilt and that others would want the pattern. C&T agreed to publish it (next spring) but they wanted to show it in more than 1 size, with and without a border. That meant I needed to make a 2nd quilt. Again, I said I could do that without really thinking through the time it would take.

As it turns out, having 2 quilts in the pattern is better. I met my deadline for everything (2 quilts, the manuscript, the models for photography, etc.) with a few days to spare.

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Celia got to see her quilts on Christmas morning and she truly did have a tear in her eye. I can’t show more of the quilt because I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but trust me when I tell you that you are going to want to make a unicorn quilt of your own this spring :-).

My year is off to a very good start and I hope yours is as well!

Christmas pillows…

My DIL, Celia, always puts the cutest Christmas pillows on her sofa and bed. I admit to being inspired! I often buy pillows but you know what? We can sew and pillows are EASY! I made these 2 blocks when I was teaching Pick-Up Sticks (from The Quilter’s Practical Guide To Color) with the idea in mind that they would make a good pillow.

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The four 8″ x 8″ blocks in each of the larger blocks are the same, they are just turned differently. I sewed the blocks together, being careful to leave an opening for stuffing. You could insert a zipper on one side and insert a pillow form if that suits you better.

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I turned the pillow right sides out and pressed with steam, using my new Laura Star iron. (More on that in a future post.) It did not take long to stuff it with polyfil and sew the opening closed.

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I love a fast project! I’m not sure which side I like the best.

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The Santa pillow came from Hobby Lobby. It didn’t look nearly as good in the store as it does on my sofa :-).

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Can you take a better picture?

Do you remember when photos were printed on paper, from film that had to be developed by someone that was not you? Opening the package of prints was always a surprise — often not a happy one. On my best days, 1 print out of 10 might be good. The rest never did match my memory of the moment.

Fast forward to now. Digital photography has advanced to the point that we take pictures all day long. The results are immediately available and we can see if the picture is good, or not. But here’s a question: Do you apply a critical eye to your photos? Are you taking the best photo that you could?

Two years ago I signed up for Ricky Tims’ 52-Week Photo Challenge Class. I had no idea how much I didn’t know! The dials and buttons on the camera are no longer a mystery. I’ve quit relying on autofocus!

I’ve learned to pay more attention to the image before I actually take the photo. What needs to be in the photo, and what does not? Every photo gives you the chance to play with light, color, and scale — and the relationships between them. Happily, the same rules of design apply to quilting!

Much of the class is about image editing. Ricky teaches how to use both Lightroom and Photoshop, both of which are powerful editing tools. I had never used Lightroom and now can’t image working on photos without it.

After I finished the 52-week class, I signed up for the Critique class. Even when I’m busy, I do my best to take my weekly photo. Maybe that’s why it feels like a gift! Taking time to do something that makes you happy is the best gift you can give yourself.

Ricky is starting his 3rd 52-Week Photo Class. If it sounds good to you, click here and sign up. Steve (my husband) already has.

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Here are a couple of my recent photos…

Taken near the Hudson River, NYC. This was a quick photo, lightly edited.

Taken near the Hudson River, NYC. This was a quick photo, lightly edited.

My granddaughter offerred to help out by posing which was very nice.

My granddaughter offerred to help out by posing for my Wonderland photo assignment which was very nice.

For the Mirror Mirror challenge.

For the Mirror Mirror challenge.

Show and tell…

Stars In The Garden by Maxine Olson

Stars In The Garden by Maxine Olson

I love seeing how quilters use our patterns to make their own quilts! Here is the story of this quilt, sent to me by the maker. Maxine did, indeed, make a wonderful quilt!

Here are pictures of my completed and wonderfully quilted (by Linda Carey) “Stars In The Garden” quilt. I just love it and I can’t thank you enough for saving me when you sent the PDF so that I could finish the setting. I have still not found those directions…I know they have to be in this cluttered quilt room somewhere.

Everyone who has seen my quilt just loves it. My quilt was a BOM that was left behind when my dear friend, Linda, died from a terrible disease. Being the appliquer in our group made me the likely recipient. I requested my quilter to quilt “Linda” somewhere within the quilting. She did that on one of the latices.

This is my third Piece O’Cake quilt I have completed. I have done Simply Delicious and A Walk in The Mountains, My husband saw your Land of the Free…so I think I might have to do that one too. Oh my..  I also have Beautiful Berries awaiting….

Again thank you for replying and helping me when I really needed it. I hope I have done your pattern justice.

Please enjoy the season.

Maxine O.

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