Sunday, May 1, 2016

House: a blog post that is not about quilting.

Hello my dear friends. This blog post is not about quilting. Bear with me. It might be long and have tons of photos.

If you are a reader of this blog, or know me, you know my husband and I bought an old house that had been significantly fixed up this year. You may or may not know that we were on board with the purchase before the renovations. You also might know that the house had a pretty radical transformation between when we first saw it and when we moved it. You might have heard me tell you that the resident before us was a sweet old lady who just could not manage the house and that it was a mess when the people who sold it to us bought it (she had cats, too many cats among other issues. 

I have been telling myself that when I finish decorating the house, I will clean it top to bottom and take pictures. Friends, that is not a realistic goal. I am not a designer or photographer, I will never "finish" decorating. 

This weekend and last weekend my husband and I did a ton of cleaning and yard work because it needed to be done and because we have family coming into town next weekend. I decided it was time to start sharing some house photos. YOLO. Besides everyone loves a good before and after, right?

So, here we go... The before and afters (really, the middle, we did not see the true before, apparently they got the cat smell out before we ever saw it)...

Some background, the house was built circa 1920, it is three bedrooms and two bathrooms, originally it was probably two bedrooms, one bathroom with an at home office. 

Today I am going to show you the front and the three "public" rooms or the three rooms that would have been used for entertaining historically. I will try to do the kitchen and bathrooms later this week when we get them clean. 

Before (the camera is not crooked the column on the right is leaning): 










That is all we really got clean this weekend friends. I am all for keeping it real, but I am not sure I am ready to be dirty kitchen and bathroom real. I hope you all enjoyed a little peak into the bacon casa. I know I LOVE those shows on HGTV when they do the flips and complete renovations. I am no Fixer Upper stylist, but I have fun and force my husband to tolerate my decorating hijinks. 

Now back to the sewing room, which is far too much of a disaster to be photographed today. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

White Fences Quilt

I started this quilt in 2012, the same year I started quilting. I sketched it out all cute on a sheet of graph paper.  I still remember waiting in line at my local quilt shop with the two bolts. I cut out about half the quilt. I even started sewing.

I had some notion of this quilt being inspired by those beautiful horse fences you see in Kentucky, I think.

Then I got distracted by something shiny.

The pieces sat in my work in progress box. Every time I saw them I thought about getting back to that quilt.

The years past, so much changed. I made lots of quilts. We grew up a lot. I looked at this quilt in my sewing room and thought about finishing it. I think we all have seasons in our lives where we look back and realize that we passed some developmental stage during that time. Between 26 and 30 I feel like I became an adult. Not in the, now I can pay my bills kind of way, or even, the I can't be goofy and have fun kind of way. I mean my priorities shifted and my outlook changed. I was looking for a place in the world, I stopped waiting for "real" life to happen and started living my life.

That whole time I would occasionally look at the pieces of this quilt up and think, I will finish this someday, not now.

Then, in my 30th year,  everything changed again. We bought a house. We moved to another town. We reached another life milestone.

New years eve of this year, I was cleaning my new sewing room in my new, much loved house (actually it is a really old house) and I saw the pieces of this quilt and I knew it was time to finish it.

I finished it that night while drinking champagne (no joke).

I quilted it the next day.

It was time finish this quilt. I just didn't know that I was waiting until I was home.

Quilt Stats:
Name: White Fences
Size: 67" x 68"
Pattern: Designed by a 2012 version of me
Quilting: Organic grid with Aurifil thread
Finished: January 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Softest Quilt.

I seem to only find myself in this space when I am procrastinating or I have abandoned my daily routine. I could apologize for that, but I think you all get it. So pull, up a chair, I am drinking a pot of tea and ignoring chores right now.

I am not going to say, "I am just so busy." I reject that generally for myself. I have made choices that keep me away from this blog and I am okay with that. I could make different choices, but, for me, just coming here occasionally is the right choice for now.

I have a new house that is tons of work. I have full time job that is more than just a day job, it is a career that requires me to invest myself in it physically and mentally. I have a husband that deserves some of my time. I like to eat. I like to sleep. It is a good life.

Anyway, enough of your complaining Sarah! This is a quilting blog.

I still sew almost everyday. I still like blogging and sharing. So, I still have a quilt to share!

This quilt. Is the most comforting quilt I have ever made.

Last summer was not a good time for me. I had a huge deadline at work. We were buying a house that was under construction. And oh, our lease for our rental ran out and we had nowhere to live. Now, do not feel sorry for me! We have tons of lovely friends and family and the means to rent something short term and move our stuff into storage. It was stressful, not catastrophic.

At the end of July, we had to move out of the tiny house we had lived in for the past five years and move everything we owned into a storage unit. Then move ourselves (and very cranky cat) into a coworker's house (aside: the very best coworker in the whole entire world!). Then the next day I had to leave for a business trip.

It was a tough time.

Like many people, I lost all of my inspiration. I just did not have the energy to think (also, most of my supplies were packed away in a storage unit). Before I moved I put all of the double gauze I owned into bag and then I started this quilt. This is the softest quilt I have ever made. It is not complicated. I didn't plan it out, I just started making hearts (using this awesome tutorial). Then I cut a bunch of squares 5.5 inches tall and random widths. I knew that I didn't want to worry too much about aligning seams or keeping angles perfect, because double gauze is shifty stuff and it would be futile.

The fabric is a mix of Cotton & Steel, Nano Iro, and some random Japanese brands. I didn't worry about matching or even trimming selvedges.

Then it was a quilt top. I backed it in this perfect soft cotton lawn with some fun hot pinks, because I love hot pink. Quilting was simple and relaxing too, just random straight-ish lines. It was the first quilt I basted and quilted in my new house. It felt like magic.

Before I washed it, I noticed I had a fray in a seam (double gauze...). I didn't want to worry too much about that so I used some fray check and an awesome patch with some visible mending.

This quilt was therapy. Now it travels with me when I go on work trips and I can snuggle under the softest quilt.

Friends. Thanks for bearing with me on this long post. Sometimes the words just need to come out.

Love ya.

Quilt Stats:
Name: Softest Quilt
Size: No idea, small throw
Pattern: Simple patchwork with lovely hearts from Cluck Cluck Sew's tutorial
Quilting: Simple grid with Aurifil thread (white)
Fabric: Primarily Nano Iro and Cotton & Steel double gauze, Heather Ross Tiger Lily Lawn on the back.
Finished: September 2015

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Northern Flicker. A Quilt and a Bird.

The Northern Flicker. 
(Colaptes auratus)

photo by Kent Keller (

"Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers with a gentle expression and handsome black-scalloped plumage. On walks, don’t be surprised if you scare one up from the ground. It’s not where you’d expect to find a woodpecker, but flickers eat mainly ants and beetles, digging for them with their unusual, slightly curved bill. When they fly you’ll see a flash of color in the wings – yellow if you’re in the East, red if you’re in the West – and a bright white flash on the rump." - The Sibley Guide to Birds

Hiking in the mountains of Santa Fe, my husband and I heard the noise of flickers knocking on the trees. Two male flickers were fighting about something just above the trees. They are beautiful birds all spots and stripes with bright flashes of red.

Flickers are Derek's favorite bird. They are one of my favorites too. When Derek and I were dating we were both living in (separate) off campus houses with friends while we were undergraduates at the University of Denver. The houses were only a few blocks from each other and I remember many walks between those houses in the residential neighborhood around DU. In the early morning and in the early evening the flickers would come out to hunt.

Walking in the New Mexico mountains with Derek ten years later, the flickers were still fighting, hunting, and scavenging. Derek and I are still walking.

Sometimes you see something and you know it needs to become a quilt. I knew my flicker quilt was not going to be a literal bird quilt. I wanted to try to capture the colors and movement in the birds feathers. I just started cutting fabric and sewing it again. Triangles and circles, to make stripes and dots. I wanted the quilting to be irregular and organic. 

I gave this quilt to Derek and he promptly wrapped it around himself. Later I found it in his office. I think he likes it. Flickers are his favorite bird.

Quilt Stats: 
Name: Flicker
Size: Approximately 65" x 70"
Pattern: Improv, with lots of straight lines, but no pattern.
Fabric: So many scraps....
Quilting: Organic lines with the walking foot using Aurifil thread
Finished: January 2015

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Why I quilt and #quiltconreject

Why do we quilt?

Why cut up fabric and sew it back together? Why do we do elaborate things with fabric when we could just sew together simple squares and the final product would be just as warm?

Quilting is a meditation for me, a meditation about creation. It is something I devote time and energy to because the craft makes me feel good.

I was reading Uppercase Magazine (January 2015, Issue 24), editor Janine Vangool interviewed Denyse Schmidt. In this interview Schmidt discussed why she started quilting, "The tangible record of time and effort I held in my lap, versus the ephemeral nature of what I produced day to day was a revelation."

That is it.

Sometimes a quilt is not designed or pieced, it is built block by block. I feel a little like a mason building a brick wall. It is not improv, per se, I used rulers and traditional blocks with precise point. It was a journey, I did not know what the finished project would look like until the end.

I chose traditional blocks to reference our heritage as quilters. I am so proud of my quilting fore bearers and I like to think they stitched up beautiful designs both for the practical and aesthetic reasons. Just like me, beauty was created for beauties sake. The quilting is done by both machine and hand. It felt important to make this personal quilt even more personal by adding handwork.

It also felt important to take my time. Quick quilts and easy patterns have their place (I personally love them!). A quilt that takes time is special, it means something when you stop and contemplate your work. We don't have to do this. If I needed a blanket, I could sew some squares together (something I have done and loved), but devoting oneself to a project gives it more meaning. It is almost like I stitched part of myself into this quilt.

I put my name on the front of this quilt. It felt so permanent and personal. It is also a statement on the art and craft of quilting. Quilting is an art that generations of women have perfected and loved, it is also an art that has often been ignored and under valued (I am sorry men, not trying to leave you out, but quilting has been long considered women's work and has been undervalued in the way that tasks considered "feminine" often are). Stories of finding intricately pieced antique quilts with no name or date are so common. On a quilt that is all about the maker and the process of making should include placing the person on the front with the design.

This quilt was rejected from Quilt Con 2016.

I am not going to lie and tell you I was not disappointed. I poured my heart and soul into the construction of this quilt. It was a passion project that took me weeks and months to complete. I do not, however, make my quilts for showing. I made this quilt because I had something to say, I needed to make this quilt.

I know that many fantastic quilts were accepted and rejected from the show at Quilt Con and I try not to derive self worth from a jury decision. Sure, it still stings. I am writing this here in case you were rejected from a show. I think it is okay to admit to being bummed. We want to be cheerful cheerleaders for our buddies who are showing quilts and the craft that we love! You didn't submit a quilt unless you loved it and believed in it. It is hard to hear a "no".

The good news is, this quilt lives in my house and I still love it. I am happy with my concept and design and I would not change a thing.

Quilt Stats:
Name: Why I Quilt 
Size: 65" x 70"
Pattern: my own, many traditional blocks included...
Fabric: Many stash fabrics, mostly from the scrap bins (as an aside, how do these bins never look smaller!)
Quilting: Straight lines by machine with Aurifil and hand quilting using Finca thread and some Aurifil Floss. 
Finished: August 2015

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reunited and Happy 2016.

Dear Blog,
I am writing this letter because I miss you. I miss posting my finishes. I miss checking in with my works in progress. I miss being connected. I am writing this letter because I didn't know how to come back after being gone for so long. I didn't know how to catch up with the months that we missed. There have been ups and downs. Incredible things have happened and then, I didn't blog. I am so sorry. I am writing this letter because I want to come back to you.

Let me start with a bulleted list of the THINGS that have happened in since I have been gone. I do my best work in lists.

1. I turned 30. This is a big milestone. I am out of my twenties. Time to adult like a pro (higher level amateur?).

2. We bought a house. It is nearly a hundred years old and was under renovation when we bought it. That all means that less than two weeks after my 30th birthday Derek and I moved out of our rental and into a storage unit/friend's house. The friend's house was nice, but the experience was simultaneously the worst and scariest thing I have ever done. The house is pretty much done now (if a hundred year old house is ever really done). It is now glorious and feels like one of the best decisions we have ever made since we decided to get commit ourselves to each other (5 years ago this year!).

3. My job got so stressful. It also got more rewarding. Probably related.

4. I have the best sewing room in the world now. Sorry other sewing rooms out there. Mine is the bomb (also sorry it is not pictured, might need to be the subject of another post and some camera time).

5. I finished some of my favorite quilts ever and then, just like that, I lost all my creativity. I think the energy went straight into the house and the job. It took several months and some real work to find my creative fire again. I only have photos of six finished quilts from 2016 (mostly terrible photos), but I think upon my current count I have actually finished at least ten. That is certainly less than last year, but pretty decent for a year where we moved and I have had been more busy at work than ever before. The real shame is that I have only blogged about three of these! I am so sorry blog.

I am going to stop my list there. I feel like a I need a fresh start. I might try to blog about some of the missing finishes, but I know you will understand if I let them go and free myself from that burden. It is a new year, we are finally living in our new house, and it is time to come back together.

Reunited and it feels so good.

Love and kisses,

PS - No resolutions or words right now. I am just so happy to be here and I just want to enjoy this year and see where this trip around the sun takes me. I know you understand.