This week is Agora Days at my school, which means I am teaching a class on Yarn Bombing and another called The Jane Austen Auxiliary Society. In the Jane Austen class we will be spending two days on dancing and two days on letter writing and card games. The quills and walnut ink that lettermo participant Mea Clift sent will be put to good use when students try to write in the style of Ms. Austen.
In other news, I’ve signed up for Leslie Keating’s Handprinted Fabric Swap which I’m a dead excited about. I’ve wanted to do it for awhile and missed the sign ups both times, but this time I signed up on the first day and am already playing with ideas. I won’t have my swap group until March 3, but some practice before then is not a bad idea. Also, I need to make sure to use my real camera this week. Instagram is fun and all, but I am not so good with the iPhonography (I can’t believe that is really a thing).
I’ve successfully completed the first week of the Month of Letters Challenge. I mailed 12 letters, including valentines to my nieces and nephews, a couple postcards to other lettermo participants, a letter to a college roomate, and a couple letters of introduction to other lettermo people.
The valentines were all well received; my nephew Lucas apparently said that he no longer likes letter than come in plain envelopes and he needs a letter opener so that he can save the envelopes forever. I <3 five year old.
I also participated in a letterpress card making workshop and made my card letter themed. Those cards are only now printed and folded and will be what I send out in week 2. I have found myself getting into a rhythm of decorating envelopes on the weekend and writing letters during the week. I had a couple busy days where I thought I might not have time to write a letter, but found that there are always 5 or 10 minutes windows when I’m waiting for someone that I usually spend clicking around on the computer. If I have a postcard or stationary handy, I can usually dash off a letter in that amount of time.
Next week I’m on jury duty which, from all reports, involves a lot of sitting and waiting. I’m planning on taking my letter writing materials with me to the court house. The post office is right across the street, so I’ll be able to drop them off on my way to the car.
Week 2 envelopes waiting for their letters.
I was following links on the internet last weekend when I found information about a man who sells unused vintage stamps. I dropped him an email on Saturday morning and today I held in my hand an amazing collection of unused US postal stamps. I had asked for balloons, dinosaurs, rocket ships, and animals, but am most delighted with the stamps I didn’t ask for. He included a number of postal themed stamps which are delightfully meta to be using during The Month of Letters.
My favorite single stamp is this chicken, celebrating the Centennial of the American Poultry Industry. A very important event in 1948.
I only recently realized that you could use vintage postage to send letters (but when I think about it, of course you can. The PO can’t put an expiration date on stamps) and I am excited to have some in my hot little hands. Remember that we used to have to lick stamps to make them stick? Hot hands are a liability with those stamps.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled program for the following announcement:
You may have noticed that the sewing has been on hold for awhile around here (with a few exceptions) but I haven’t completely stopped being creative. In the last year, I’ve become increasingly taken with handmade letters. It started when I first met Donovan and Kathy of the Letter Writers Alliance at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. I’ve been writing more letters since that meeting and then in November I noticed a post of the LWA blog about throwing a mail art party and I was completely hooked. Now I’m contemplating participating in the Month of Letters challenge.
I have a new niece on the way so it was time to start and finish a quilting project. I really enjoyed working on this one over the thanksgiving break. It remains to be seen if there is another quilt in the works, but for now I’m very happy with this one.
It started out as a low volume quilt, but quickly became colorful. I used several special fabrics and love seeing them in the finished project.
I rounded the corners because I think this makes a baby quilt look more casual and usable. I’m constantly trying to convince my friends and family that quilts are meant to be used.
This was my first time making bias binding and while it took me a long time to figure out exactly how to make the continuous strip (I had drawn my pencil marks the wrong direction), I was pleased with how easily the bias binding attached to the round corners.
If there is another quilt in my near future, it’s definitely time to buy more spray binding. I ran out after attaching the quilt top to the batting so ended up having to pin baste the whole thing in order to keep the backing fabric in place.
It has been 15 months since I’ve pieced a quilt top. A new niece will be coming into the world this winter and I’ve had it in the back of my head that I wanted to make her a baby quilt. Saturday morning I made what I thought would be a half-hearted attempt to pull fabric for the quilt, ended up destashing nearly 12 pounds of fabric, and then spent the rest of the morning cutting the pieces for this quilt top.
The inspiration came from these quilts in the low volume QAL. Of course, there isn’t anything low volume about the fabrics I ended up using, but I do think they are suitably pastel for a baby quilt. And I’m thrilled to be inspired to sew again.
So I destashed all of this fabric. Looking at it now, even after it is claimed and boxed and waiting for delivery, I’m not totally sure how I feel about it leaving. I haven’t been sewing much in the last year and at all in the last six months or so. The last quilt I made was in August 2011 and I only finished it because it was a gift for a baby whose arrival was imminent. I haven’t wanted to be in my sewing room for a number of complicated reasons (having to do with energy and family and inspiration). The hundreds of dollars of fabric that I have sitting in there were making me uncomfortable as they went unused week after week. I have a friend from high school who has started quilting and I sent her a message last week asking if she would be interested in buying a bunch of fabric from me. Even after she said yes, I hesitated to pull the fabric, photograph, and price it for her.
And then yesterday morning I woke up ready to make a new baby quilt. I started pulling possible fabric for the quilt, and at the same time pulled fabric to destash. Now that my fabric shelves are much leaner I suddenly feel lighter and more ready to sew. I don’t know how long it will last, and I certainly don’t think it is a simple linear relationship, but the destashing felt good. I’ve read about others feeling this sense of relief when they destash and I never really got it until today. What do you think that is about?
In early 2012, I was invited to join the Pastiche Bee, a paper piecing bee inspired by Ringo Pie and Cocorico. It’s been a really good and really challenging experience. I don’t feel like my skills are quite what I would like them to be, but I’m also excited to have the chance to push them and the women in the bee are supportive and generous in their feedback.
March was my month and I choose a vintage school / office theme. I made a pinterest inspiration board for the group and then they went to town. You can see the blocks I received at the top of this post. I’m hoping to make some additional scrappy blocks to flush out a lap quilt to keep on the couch in my office at school. Right now I’m thinking this might be a fun time to try out some + & x blocks in favorite fabrics, but I also might decide to make improv blocks. It’s all theoretical at this point.
Here are the blocks I’ve made so far for the bee.
Keats Block for Marilyn
Alice block for Leah
Landscape block for Lucinda
Rex Ray Inspired for Krista
Melinda is up next and has asked for blocks inspired by the bounty at the farmer’s market. I’m thinking about using this apple block pattern from Charise as the basis for my contribution.
The heat has given us a reprieve and I spent some time this afternoon doing handwork. Not sure where these will end up yet, but enjoyed listening to This American Life and stitching away this afternoon. I’m back to school on Thursday and am trying to come to terms with how quickly this summer has flown.
I just got back from several days in Colorado with my brother, sister-in-law, and their daughters. Their oldest daughter Clara, plus some Alexander Henry owl fabric convinced me to start sewing again a couple years ago. Clara is turning five this fall and requested a mermaid dress when I was visiting. I had a fat quarter of this Heather Ross print that I worked into a dress for her this afternoon.
I wanted to sew from my stash, so I was limited in my yardage options for the body of the dress. I like the brown and blue of the fabric I choose, but I’m a little nervous that she won’t love the colors. I used Charm Stitches’ Midsummer Dress Tutorial. It was easy to follow and I’m especially pleased with the button closure on the back.
One of my favorite parts of visiting my nieces is that they are very willing to do a fashion show of clothes I’ve made for them in the past. Here Clara is modeling a dress I made her out of a fat eighth bundle of Happy Zombie.
And here is Julia breathing new life into a well loved dress I made for Clara. So cute!