One of the great things about blogging is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world - people that you would otherwise never have the chance to meet. Jane isn't one of those people. From the ages of 12 to 18 I saw Jane nearly every day of my life. We were best friends at high school and while we don't see each other very often any more it's still lovely to be able to connect with her over all things creative. Thanks for visiting Jane!
Thank you so much for having me here Caroline and Maryanne, so I can talk about one of my favourite things, my fabric collection.
I have been quilting on and off for 17 years now, and it should be noted that it’s all Caroline’s fault, since she’s my high school best friend and I’m sure it would have taken me much longer to find quilting if I hadn’t spent all those sleepovers tucked under one of her mother’s beautiful quilts. Her mum also took me under her wing when I decided I wanted to learn to quilt, fielding numerous phone calls that started with the words, “No, I don’t want to talk to Caroline, I have a quilting question...”
After many years of quilting, I have a sizeable fabric stash. I really do try and keep my fabric spending in check, but seriously, it’s fabric, peoples! Whilst I suppose, in theory, I could buy fabric as I needed it for a particular quilt, the reality is that’s not going to happen any time soon – and if I did it this way I probably wouldn’t be able to find what I want.
I LOVE having a big fabric stash, and I find it makes my quilting process so much easier. I don’t tend to make quilts using one particular range of fabric, I prefer to decide on a colour scheme and go from there. So when I decide I want to make a particular colour quilt, it helps that I already have quite a collection of that colour on my shelves. I might top it up with new purchases, but for the most part I don’t have to. This means I can start quilts on a whim, without having to wait for international parcel delivery or hoping I can find the right fabrics in the fairly paltry local offerings.
Since I quilt by colour, I stash by colour too. I am very fussy about my stash. I prewash and iron everything, then fold it just so. My scraps are also sorted by colour, pressed and waiting in their little boxes. (At this point, Caroline, who always laughed at my alphabetised CD collection in high school, is rolling her eyes.)
This may be a little more high maintenance than the bung-it-all-in-the-cupboard approach, but it works for me, for a few reasons. Because it’s on open shelving (not in direct light), I can see what I have at a glance. It makes it easy to pull fabrics for a new project and it serves as a reminder (sometimes) that I don’t need to buy anything. Sorting by colour is critical for me, both for when I need to pick fabrics and so I know what colours I need. For example, I could go a lifetime without buying pinks or blues, but purples, greys and yellows are in demand. So if I’m topping up an order (to make the most of flat rate postage), I’ll stash build those colours I don’t have much of.
When I’m stash building, I don’t tend to buy full ranges or busy, many-coloured prints – because my quilts tend to feature one or two colours, prints with lots of colours in them don’t work for me. But I am a sucker for blenders, big time. These useful prints are the foundation of a good stash, regardless of what you’re sewing. Spots, stripes, geometrics, squiggles, I love them all. And usually, I’ll buy every colourway in a range if I can. The simpler the print, the better it will work as a stash builder.
The advantage of stash building by colour is that you’re going to have much of what you need on hand when you start a new project. I recently started cutting a new quilt that required 100 different blue/aqua/green prints. I’m almost embarrassed to say I could do this without buying a single piece of fabric! But if I’d had to find 100 blues/aquas/greens locally, there is no way I could have done it at once and found prints I like. With fabric ranges changing so quickly, it is good to buy versatile, timeless prints when you can.
My inspiration for new quilts often starts with a fabric, and I build a colour scheme around that. The Sunshine and Shadows quilt started with a bundle of yellow/grey/black and white prints I purchased, and I built on it with more prints in the same colours from my stash, so it’s cohesive but not too matchy matchy. The Lattice Windows quilt started from the teal and lime lattice print my son took a liking too – we built the rest of his quilt around this colour scheme. The Diamonds in the Sky quilt grew from an interest in the high-contrast orange and blue colour scheme.
Whenever I’m working on a quilt, colour, and my colourful fabric stash, is my best friend.
If you’d like to hear more about my creative adventures, pop over to my little blog at http://wherejanecreates.blogspot.com.au/
Today we're happy to have Shannon from luvinthemommyhood here to tell us all about her best friend. She doesn't really need much of an introduction because she is such a core part of the crafty-blogging world! Her space is fun and inspiring -hey, she even inspired me to pick up a pair of knitting needles to make her gorgeous Mallory Cowl!Over to you Shannon...
Hi everyone! I'm Shannon and I'm the blogger behind luvinthemommyhood.com
- a fun, friendly neighbourhood connecting creative moms.
I was so excited when Maryanne and Caroline asked me to be part of their fun new series "my best friend
"! Such a great idea! When it came time to write my post I had originally intended to talk about the people in my life who have had a huge influence on me when it came to sewing but I just kept coming back to one of my fave things in life - my sewing machine Poppy. Yep, that's right. She's got a name. Poppy the Pfaff is one of my best buds. I spend all my spare time with her, tell her all my secrets, cry with her, laugh with her, cheer with her, get angry at her, and just plain love the buckets outta her. She's my sewing machine.
When I first started sewing I was using a basic run of the mill sewing machine that my lovely mom/dad gifted me for xmas way back in 2001 if I remember correctly. It was a great machine for a starter and did me just fine for what I needed for years and years. It lived for a long time in storage until I started this blog and decided to dust it off and brush up on my skills and really learn how to sew. Now that machine (which is lovingly referred to as "the devil" in my house) went through war and back. I did some not so nice things to it while learning how to sew. I sewed on that machine much more than a person probably should have and and will openly admit to improper usage of fabrics/stitches/needles and all the other common mistakes newbies make. It's never been serviced/cleaned or properly taken care of. It was loved though, albeit in a love/hate kinda way.
You see, as I was learning I fell more in love with sewing and more out of love with my machine. I simply outgrew it. I couldn't afford to get a new one so I had to make due with what I had. I don't think my machine liked that very much. It started getting grumpier and grumpier, sewing wonkier and wonkier and then just began crapping out on me when I had deadlines and needed to be sewing. Yep, not a good thing when you are a blogger with things to sew. I cried many a tear and even admit to whacking it with my scissors more than a few times....lmao...now that was a sight to be seen.
So instead of having to end up in Sewing Machines Anonymous I decided to start saving all my hard earned pennies (a huge thank you to all my wonderful sponsors!!!) so I could finally buy a new one. Luck would have it my birthday was around that time and my loving family all chipped in and gave me money towards my new machine as a gift (thanks again everyone). So on my birthday last year I went and picked up my dream machine - the Pfaff Ambition 1.0
. I love her and she loves me. We get along just great. I know there are way fancier machines on the market (shhh...don't tell her I said that) with a lot more bells and whistles but she has everything that I need and want...for now (wink, wink). I put a lot of hours into research when it came to choosing a new machine and you can read all about the process here:*sewing 911 - the new baby is home
*sewing 911 - how the heck to choose & buy a sewing machine *sewing 911 - what's your machine of choice?
I'm so beyond thrilled with this machine. After buying my Pfaff
my sewing skills got so much better and sewing overall became a much more relaxing and efficient process. No more busted machines, wonky bobbins and scary buttonholes. Now it's smooth, streamlined, powerful and technological. The oomph my Poppy has is amazing. She will sew through anything. She puts up with me sewing on her almost every single day and hasn't let me down yet. She's a huge part of my "sewing life" and career and without her I think I would still be back trying to fix wonky hems, unprofessional looking garments, get a darn piece of stretch to feed through my machine and more sewing nightmares I would love to forget...lol.
I'm not sure I would have kept going to tell you the truth. I had pretty much hit my breaking point with sewing on my old machine at that point and was really assessing whether or not it was enjoyable for me. A quilt would never have properly happened on the ol'devil. So like a true friend, Poppy lifted me up, cheered me up, filled me with confidence and pride and set me on track to take on my dreams. So when it comes to who/what my best friend is when it comes to sewing her name is Poppy the Pfaff Ambition 1.0
and I luv her to bits :)
Want to read a full review on the Pfaff Ambition 1.0
? Watch for a full review post coming up very soon on the blog on how my first year with Poppy the Pfaff has been. In the meantime if you're still looking for your dream machine here's a handy little checklist I made last year that you can download for when you do your dream sewing machine shopping: Sewing Machine Checklist
(this is for personal use only)
Thanks so much for having me be a part of your series Maryanne and Caroline! You guys are so inspiring! Follow along with the rest of the "my best friend"
series on sew together.So...who/what is your best sewing friend? An indispensable tool? A machine like me? A family member or friend? C'mon...join in! it's fun!
Thanks for all the hints and tips Shannon - A good relationship with your sewing machine is SO important. Me and my machine? We're a little ambivalent, I think...Maybe it's time to start thinking about starting a new relationship!
Today, we're excited to have Cherie from you and mie to tell us all about her best friend. Cherie's post made me a bit teary... I think she's really captured the essence of what sewing is all about for me, too (and I am a teeny bit jealous of her super - organised crafting space). Thanks Cherie!
Read on to find out all about it!
Hello! I'm Cherie from you & mie
and I'm so happy to be here today as a part of Caroline and Maryanne's Best Friend series!
Truth is, I had the hardest time picking one thing that I wanted to write about. There are soooo many necessary tools, amazing resources and incredibly inspirational and creative people that help me continue to sew and blog. But I wanted to share something that I really couldn't do without.
(This is going to get a little long winded and actually ends up getting a little personal, but I hope you can stick with me till the end :) )
I started looking through all my old pictures to jog my memory about what really inspires me and how I learned to sew in the last couple of years. Then I came across a folder of pictures that really got me excited. My (then) new sewing area!
So I decided to tell you a little bit about my sewing area and how much I truly love it and can't live without it. It is, after all, where all the "magic" happens! So here's the story:
I've been sewing casually for several years now. But when Yuki, our daugther came along, it really ignited an interest in sewing things for our home and for our little baby. About one year ago, I started getting really serious about sewing and started considering starting a blog, creating an Etsy shop and really investing more into this growing passion.
I didn't have my own sewing machine - I was switching back and forth between borrowing my mom's and my mother-in-law's. I had my own desk to sew on, but it was ridiculously cramped and cluttered. But I was happy with what I had because it worked, and what more could you ask for, right?
Well one day, some time just before my birthday, I came home to see the most AMAAAZING sight!
My partner, Hideko, and one of our very best friends, Sanjai, had spent HOURS cleaning and organizing all of my stuff, purchased and built furniture and cleared a bunch of other stuff so that I could have all of this beautiful space. My jaw dropped and I was in tears. It was honestly the best gift I've ever received!
All of these pictures were taken the day that I came home to this amazing surprise (almost a year ago), so A LOT has changed since then. Namely, the huge piles of projects, papers and clutter all over the place, but there have been positive changes as well. The most important things have stayed the same though, the things that make this space so efficient and conducive to work. So I thought I'd show you around a little bit.
2. Scissors, ruler, rotary cutter, pens, pencils, water soluble pens, etc.
3. Sewing machine and small cutting mat
4. Pins, measuring tape, seam ripper, etc.
I think the most important thing is to keep all your essentials within reach. At any given moment during a project I might need anything of those things and nothing ruins a groove like having to put down the project and get up to go get something. Or even worse, go searching for something!
I love having all these drawers surrounding me. They are filled with office supplies, decorative paper, zippers, bias tape, elastic, needles, trims, and every other notion I might need for sewing. Again, all within reach from my chair. On the right of the machine I have a jar of buttons, my yard stick, more thread and bobbins. I also keep my patterns in the shelves near the wall. The magnetic board above the machine now houses some pictures as well as lists, ideas and inspiration.
This desk used to be Hideko's and we're actually still supposed to share it, but honestly, no one gets much stuff done here anymore because my "work in progress" basket had about a million babies and they have been strewn all over that desk. Hah!
I LOVE having my iron and board so close and always out. I'm a short cut taker, so unless I make it really accessible, I probably would never bother. I definitely value ironing during sewing, so this just makes it that much easier.
Something that I added immediately was a clothes line to one of the blank walls. There were actually already 2 nails in the wall from a large frame that used to hang there, so I just strung a rope between them and now I use it to hang and photograph almost all of my projects. It's by no means original or stunning to look at, but it allows me to document my projects in a consistent way. The clothes really stand out and I think it's almost become a trademark for me.
I also love that I can get great shots of detail or can photograph the clothes from unique angles. Something that I can't get when my lovely, super active model keeps running away from the camera!
Now my sewing area is really great and everything, but it isn't actually what my "best friend" is. See, when this gift was given to me, it wasn't just the sewing space that touched me. It was the fact that these people who were so close to me, really believed in me and wanted to support my dreams.
Shortly after that, for my birthday, a bunch of friends and family members pitched in to buy me my very first sewing machine. All of their support really changed the way I viewed myself and what I then considered, just my hobby. I decided to take the plunge and start a blog and start investing time and money into sewing and see where I could go with it. It's been almost a year and I have had the most amazing experiences since then. My sewing has improved by leaps and bounds, I've joined an incredible community of artists, parents, and bloggers, and every day I feel even more inspired and my "to do" list grows way faster than I can keep up with. And I really owe it all to them. My family and friends.
The people who offer to take Yuki out of the house for a few hours so I can finish my current project. The ones who listen to me DAY after DAY talking about my next project, my next blog post, or my next fabric purchase. The one that lets me buy SO. MUCH. FABRIC. The ones that hold up my quilt so I can take pictures or takes 300 pictures of me so I can get at least a few where I don't look too fat. The ones that console me when my project has gone awry, even though they can't even see what's wrong with it. The ones that give me advice every time I ask, even though I almost never take it (sorry!). The ones that compliment every little thing that I make. The ones that put up with the messy house, the unwashed dishes and the instant dinners because it's KCWC. The ones who put up with just one. more. trip to Joann's (it'll be quick - I swear!). The ones who love and support me through it all.
So it turns out that my best sewing friends really have little to do with actual sewing at all. They are my friends and family, and most of all, more than anything or anyone in the world, my real life best friend and life long partner, Hideko. And I am forever grateful!
Thank you, Caroline and Maryanne, for inviting us all to think about the things and people who enable us to do what we love and for letting me share my story with your readers!
Happy sewing, everyone!
Don't forget to go and check out you and mie.
It's a gorgeous chronicle of all things crafty!
When we first started blogging, I wrote this
post about my fantasy sewing space. I've also dabbled in a few organisational posts like this one
about embroidery threads and this one
about storing the little bitty - bits that are associated with sewing and craft.
Ok... true confession time. I now have my own purpose built sewing room but my potentially beautiful sewing space is a disaster!
Want to see the evidence? Here are a few snapshots from my sewing room today...
and they're just the beginning. Check out my shelves!
I want an organised space, but I really, really need your help! Please
hit me with your hints for sewing room organisation. I really want to reclaim my space!
How do you store your
- Big pieces of fabric?
- Little scrappy pieces?
- Thread and bobbins?
- Patterns, books and magazines?
- Bits and pieces?
I'm looking forward to hearing from you - bring on the organisation tips!
The idea of me writing about sewing room organisation is hilarious. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I am the most disorganised person ever. I know a lot of people say this about themselves, but it's really true about me. No really, it is.
My sewing room has finally come to fruition - it's gorgeous and light and sunny (and there will lots of pictures to come, I'm sure). It has lots of built in shelving, perfect for the big stuff- fabric, wool, pieces of felt, patterns and books.
It's the little things that do my head in, though, and sewing certainly has a lot of bits and pieces associated with it! Sewing machine needles and hand sewing needles, safety pins, bobbins, straight pins, bodkins, bits of bias and ric rac, sewing machine feet, buttons - the list goes on and on.
Take a look at the contents of my 'bits and pieces' box....
There had to be a better system!
Searching in the spare room (Lizzy calls it the 'messy room' for obvious reasons!) for Martin's shoes, I came across 24 metal tins that were the perfect size for all my tiny sewing bits. I spent the afternoon sorting and loved the fact that all of my things were neat and organised. But then, how to organise the tins?
I found my solution at Ikea. (is there anything you can't find at Ikea?) A magnetic metal board and some tiny magnets. Add some spray glue and some grey spotted fabric from my stash...
and voila - a magnetic bits and pieces wall storage solution!
I love it and it's inspired me to keep the whole sewing room under control. Does anyone have any tips and hints for a girl who needs a bit of organisation remediation?