How to Exercise Self-Control in the Fabric Shop

How to Exercise Self-Control in the Fabric Shop

How to Exercise Self-Control in the Fabric ShopWith so many beautiful colors and textures, it can be really hard to resist buying up ALL the fabric in the store. Things like budget, project specifics, and potential use fly away in the midst of gorgeous bolts. If you’re like most people, though, buying every bolt of fabric isn’t actually feasible. Following these tips will help you stay in control of your bolt buying and your bank account.

Bring Your Pattern

Bring your pattern with you, even if you know how much fabric you need. Having it physically in your hands – in the way of grabbing endless bolts – helps you remember why you’re in the fabric shop and actually prevents you from grabbing every bolt you see. It’s a way to ground yourself in the heaven of the fabric store.

Don’t Drop In

It may be tempting when out running other errands to simply drop in to the fabric shop for a break. Don’t do this. Without a specific project in mind, it’s far too easy to buy reams and reams of fabric that will only wind up in your stash supply and may falter there for years without being used. Instead, schedule your fabric shop trips to coincide with specific projects.

Make Fabric Shopping an Event

Instead of making fabric shopping a stop on the tour de errands, make it a special event. Allow yourself lots of time to luxuriate in the bolts of fabric before you have to make a purchase. The more time you spend, the fewer “must have” fabrics will leap off the shelves and tables at you. When you’ve narrowed the selection down, it’ll be much easier to choose just the right one for your project without bringing home a bunch of other options too.

Bring Your Budget

Although it’s not possible to bring your bank or an ATM, you can bring other physical reminders of your budget. Even a piece of paper with a number on it would be sufficient. The goal is the same as with bringing your pattern – having something to hold on to helps you remember you can’t buy every bolt in the store and also keeps your hands busy so they can’t grab every bit of fabric in sight.

What else do you do to control yourself in the fabric shop?

Create your own #BearBat Plush Toy!- WIN A FREE Sewing Machine!

smp bearbat plush contest

Create your own #bearbat Plush Stuffie and you can win a NEW Sewing Machine!


Official Contest Rules:

  1. No Purchase Necessary. Download the official #bearbat pattern here:
    TO DOWNLOAD CLICK HERE
  2. Cut out and create your #bearbat plush pattern:
    1. Be as creative as you’d like when selecting your fabric types and colors
    2. Decorate! Use buttons, ribbons, anything! Make your bat bear uniquely yours
    3. 1 entry per person, get your children and grand children involved!
  3. Take pictures of your completed #batbear plush and submit before October 21, 2016
    1. Email pictures to: Contests@sewingmachinesplus.com
    2. Include your name, city, email, and phone (optional) and a brief description of your #bearbat.
    3. Voting will start October 22, 2016 via Facebook. So follow SewingMachinesPlus.com on Facebook to vote!
    4. The winner will be announced October 31, 2016!

Materials You Will Need:

materials you will need

  1. Pattern: TO DOWNLOAD CLICK HERE
  2. Material – for the body we used 2 pieces of felt or 1/4 yard of fabric and scraps for the face, belly, and wings.
  3. Sewing Machine
  4. Scissors
  5. Pins
  6. Thread
  7. Polyfil Stuffing
  8. Any other buttons or accessories you might want to add.

All of these materials can be found at your local craft or hobby store.


Let’s Start!

Step 1: Download the #bearbat patter and print out 2 copies. One for directions, the other for cutting patterns.

Step 2: Cut your patterns out, then place and pin to your material.

pin your patters to your material

Step 3: Cut your patterns out leaving 1/4″ seam allowance. We suggest using Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Scissors to help with tight curves and turns.

cut out your shapes

Step 4: Mock your pieces up, cleaning cut edges as needed. At this point, you may want to change up material in different areas depending on the type of look you are going after.

mock up shapes

Also, you can replace the heart shape on the belly with whatever shape and design you would like. I decided to create a button pocket in the middle of the heart.

heart shape

Step 5: Fully assemble your front and back piece.

WINGS & Ears: Top stitch the inner ear pattern to the face of your front ear piece. Then with the inner ear piece facing the back piece, sew your ears together keeping your 1/4″ sew line in mind and keeping the bases open. Turn your ear pieces inside out then fill with Polyfil. Repeat the same step with your wing pieces.

BACK: Next, place the back wrong side up and pin the ears and wings onto the back piece keeping your 1/4″ sew line  in mind.

FRONT: Place the front body piece facing up. Place pin your eyes, snout, nose mouth and belly shape in place then sew then onto the front piece keeping your 1/4″ sew line in mind.

front and back

Step 6: After your back and front pieces are fully assembled and sewn on, with the backside facing up on the bottom piece, place your front piece faced down on top of your back piece and sew a 1/4″ line around the border. MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT SEW THE BOTTOM EDGE.

Pulling your plush inside out from the bottom, your ears and wings should pop out, and the bottom should be open, leaving an accessible area to fill with Polyfil.

front and back

Step 7:Fill the head and body from the bottom using Polyfil and sew the body shut. You are now finished with your #bearbat.

finished

Fabric Stash Ideas

Fabric Stash Ideas

If you’re like me you’ve got a giant bin (or two) of left over fabric from projects dating back to the stone age. It takes up valuable closet space, but you refuse to let it go. Maybe it’s even a point of contention with your spouse/partner. With these fun ideas you can free up your closet space, make some fun projects, and maybe make a little money on the side too.

Fabric Stash Cash Wallet

Fabric Stash Cash Wallet

With just a small bit of fabric scraps, some ribbon, and a quick row of stitches you can make a unique cash or coin wallet. Measure out your scrap so that it is the dimensions of a credit card (2x height), plus seam allowances and room for a ½ inch ribbon. Fold it in half with right sides together and stitch up the sides. Make a pocket for the ½ inch ribbon and sew that up. Feed the ribbon through and turn the cash purse right side out.

The ribbon can be tightened to close the wallet and prevent spillage in a large purse or bag. It’s cute, unique and keeps all credit cards, cash and coins neatly organized. Even better, you can make a bunch and give them as gifts or sell them at craft fairs or on Etsy.

Fabric Stash Rag Clowns

Fabric Stash Rag ClownsTo give credit where it’s due, this is an idea I’m stealing from my great-grandmother. Right up until the day she died, just shy of 100, she made these adorable clowns. They were all over her apartment and each of the grandkids and great-grandkids had at least one. I’m not completely sure how she did it, but the basic idea is this.

Cut a circle of scrap fabric, fold it in on itself so that the edges meet in the center and sew it into the now smaller circle. Make a bunch of these and then string them on wire to create clown legs, arms and body. Add a pre-purchased head and voila! So cute! For extra fun you can add bells on the ends of the arms and legs and/or an accessory like a necklace. Sure to be a hit with any children in your life, at craft fairs, and likely a best seller on Etsy.

What other ideas do you have?

I Didn’t Think It Would Look Like This

I Didn’t Think It Would Look Like This

Oops!We’ve all been there. You spend hours, days even, working on a sewing project. In your mind, you’ve got this image in your head of the gorgeous completed project, but when it’s finally done it doesn’t look anything like you thought it would. You thought it would be a simple one, so you didn’t bother with a muslin mock up, but it’s not at all what you expected or wanted. So now what?

Grumble

If you’re like me, you spend a fair amount of time grumbling and cursing about the “messed up” project or worrying about what you’re going to wear to the event instead. This is helpful short-term. It lets off the stress and and can be cathartic, but it doesn’t really solve anything.

Alter

Once you’ve finished grumbling and worrying, try the piece on again. Take a careful look at the seams. Can you alter them to change the fit so it’ll more closely match your vision? Maybe adding some darts or a tuck at the waist would help?

Accessorize

Often the picture on the front of the pattern package shows people wearing shoes or jewelry. Can you add your own accessories or shoes to make the item more closely match your imagined outcome? Maybe a shawl or scarf would help?

Change it Up

Sometimes, when choosing a fabric, you might choose one that turns out not to flow the expected when it’s all sewn up. In these cases, rather than remaking the entire project, add sections of another fabric in areas that will help the flow. It’s nerve wracking to cut apart a completed project, but since you’re not going to wear it the way it is anyway you don’t have much to lose.

Embellish It

Try adding a little pizazz to change the look of your sewing project. Patches, lace work, embroidery, beading, or other fancy details can completely alter the look of your project and provide it with a touch of class or color that may help it more closely match the vision in your head.

Combine It

Depending on how different your vision is from the completed project, combining two or more of these techniques may be necessary. In most cases, though, it’s possible to save the project and make it work for you – sometimes in ways you didn’t expect.

What other techniques have you tried to make your project work?

Quick Quilts: Time-Saving Tips

Quick Quilts: Time-Saving Tips

Time-saving Tips for Quick Quilts

Many sewists want to delve into quilting but are daunted by the amount of work required.  It is true that any quilt is a labor of love, however, quick quilts are easier to make than more intricate quilts.

This simple quilt has a super soft flannel backing and may be the most loved and cuddled quilt I have made yet.

This simple quilt has a super soft flannel backing and may be the most loved and cuddled quilt I have made yet.

Quick quilts start with a simple design, using large square and rectangular blocks, rather than many small or fussy pieces.  These easy designs ensure beginners more enjoyment, completion, and success.

Do not choose an intricate star pattern and a bed sized quilt for your first foray into quilting, for example!  This would only result in frustration.

Baby, crib, and lap quilts make great first projects, or you can make a small wall or table quilt.  Starting small ensures an enjoyable, do-able project that will make you proud.

Quick quilts are not just for beginners, though. Everyone loves quilts and, with these, you can give quilts as gifts more often. Let’s look at some tricks to quick quilts.

Many steps go into “building” any quilt.  These are:

  • Design
  • Cutting
  • Patchwork, the “quilt top”
  • Making the “quilt sandwich” and basting
  • Quilting
  • Binding

Quick Quilt Designs

I spy with my little eye...A quilt begins with the patchwork design.  Quick quilts use large square and rectangular pieces for faster completion.

Another option is to just skip the patchwork step. You could use “cheater” patchwork print fabric instead, and quilt along the lines. Or choose a plain fabric and sew your quilt in the “whole cloth quilting” style.  These are easy ways to save time and trouble.

But you won’t want to make many quilts using this method, because the patchwork is the foremost fun of making quilts!Here is a simplified, quicker version of the baby quilt I showed how to make in a previous post.

Specialty and novelty fabrics work well showcased in large squares.  Add interest and coherence by adding frames or borders between the individual squares.

Here is a simplified, quicker version of the baby quilt I showed how to make here.  It uses larger and fewer blocks than I used for that quilt.

Saving Time with Patchwork

There is one important time-saver that all quilters must embrace: the rotary cutting tool.  Every quilter needs a rotary cutter, a self healing mat, and a clear ruler to use in cutting patchwork.  These tools make cutting many pieces at a time a breeze, and ensure precision.  Perfect pieces are essential for patchwork; this is not easy to achieve using scissors.

The “Quilt Sandwich:” Saving Time in the Basting Step

The quilt sandwich consists of a backing, a batting, and the quilt top. These are usually basted together using long running stitches.  I like to skip this step and baste my quilts using quilter’s safety pins. This is quicker than sewing stitches and having to remove them later.  Unpinning as needed is faster and saves steps.

An even quicker way to get your quilt layered, basted, and ready for quilting is to use basting spray.  Spray this between the layers to hold them together and there will be no need for pins or basting stitches. This can be a huge time saver, but be careful when using this method.  Take care to ensure all layers are smooth, and be careful as well not to overspray, because this can be messy.  You may like to prepare a place for taking this step outdoors. Otherwise, use a well ventilated room. You might even like to wear a mask or bandana around your face to avoid breathing in fumes.

Saving Time Quilting

The quilting is the actual stitches sewing the three quilt layers together.  Quilting can be elaborate or simple, and dense or sparse.   Many quilts combine more than one quilting pattern and density.

The easiest and simplest way to begin quilting is the “stitch-in-the ditch” method.  Do this by sewing quilting lines along the seams of the patchwork squares.  I recommend that you begin your quilting journey using this method, because it is easiest and fastest by far.

Saving Time in Binding

Most quilters make their own binding strips.  This is easy to do with a rotary cutter, but as a time-saving measure, you can skip this step and use packaged bias or quilt binding instead.  These come in an array of basic colors and you can find them to match most any quilt.

Most books say to sew the binding along the front of the quilt by machine, but to sew the back down with hand stitches.  If you are a purist, you will want to attach your binding along the quilt back by hand.  There are no quilt police, though, so you can save time by sewing the binding down with your machine. Use the same color thread as the binding, take care with this, and chances are no one will notice or mind.

Skipping the Binding

You could save more time by skipping the binding entirely.  One way to do this is to build your quilt sandwich in a different way. Instead of layering the quilt with the right sides out, layer these right sides together. Place the batting layer on top, then sew around the edges, leaving an opening for turning.  Clip the corners and turn right sides out, slip stitch the opening closed, then pin and quilt.  This takes care to do well, but can save you the entire binding step.  The edges of this quilt will not be near as durable and long wearing as a bound quilt.

In addition, I have also cheated on this step by using my serger.  I serged decorative thread around the edges of my quilt instead of using binding.  This looks great, but again, is not as durable a finish as traditional binding would be. Therefore, this might work better for a wall quilt than a baby quilt, which would be more frequently washed.

Just Do It!

Making quilts is fun and worthwhile.  Saving time and frustration by making quick quilts is the best way to get started.  If you ever wanted to make a quilt, don’t waste any more time wishing you could and just do it!  You surely can and you will be so glad that you did.

Teaching Kids to Sew

Teaching Kids to Sew

How Young is Too Young

Does your daughter (or son) hang around while you’re sewing? Do they seem really interested? Maybe they even beg you to show them or let them help? If you’re like most parents, this makes you happy that they’re interested, but unsure when is the right time to get them involved in your hobby.

Like many things in the course of childhood, the decision of when to teach your child to sew isn’t as much about chronological age as it as about maturity level. Before you teach your child to sew, they need to exhibit patience and ability to sit still and pay attention for an hour or so at a stretch. Manual dexterity helps, but isn’t absolutely necessary since you’ll be there to help with items like pinning and cutting.

Step 1: KISS

Even if your child doesn’t love momma kisses and hugs, keeping their first sewing project simple and fun will help keep their interest. Bean bags, doll pillows, and similar items are a great way to engage your child’s interest and help them learn basic sewing skills. They’re small enough to be completed quickly and not overwhelm your child with several steps.

Bean bags can be cut freehand without the benefit of a pattern. Depending your comfort level and your child’s interest and abilities, you can guide them through the setup and use of the sewing machine. At the end, you can both have a great time stuffing the bean bags and playing a game of bean bag tag.

Step 2: A Tougher ProjectHelp your child learn to read the pattern and understand how to lay out the pattern pieces.

 

Assuming the first project went well and they’re still interested, you can help your child pick a simple pattern to work on. Projects like simple doll clothes for American Girl sized dolls or a basic stuff animal can be great options. Give them some guidelines and set them free to pick out fabric.

 

Help your child learn to read the pattern and understand how to lay out the pattern pieces. If they’re up to it, explain about the different ways to fold the fabric based on how the pattern needs to be laid out. If you think they’ve got the dexterity, it might be appropriate to let them help you pin and/or cut the pieces. As with the simple first project, let them help you with the sewing machine if it seems appropriate to do so.

Things to Remember When Teaching Your Child to Sew

  • Every sewing project is unique – so is your child
    • Go at their pace
    • Keep their physical needs/abilities in mind
  • Start small
    • Keep it simple with an easy, fun project
    • Judge their interest and only move on to a tougher project if they want
  • Be patient
    • Just as many parents can’t teach their kids to drive, teaching your kid to sew may not work out
    • If teaching your child to sew is too stressful for both of you, check around for classes. Often places like the local YMCA will offer sewing classes for kids.
Sewing Room Organization Tips and Projects

Sewing Room Organization Tips and Projects

Organization and layout are important factors for any sewing room. In my own small room, I have tried many things that didn’t work well, and I have found many things that do.

What are the most important factors to consider in any sewing room?

I think it boils down to these major factors:

  • Machines
  • Workspaces
  • Storage- of tools, instructional materials, and the “stash.”

Sewing Room Machines

We must keep our machines at the top of this list because neglecting to consider them can be disastrous.

One cannot sew without a trusty machine- and some sewing machines are anything but! You need reliable machines. Have both a trusty mechanical model for backup and an electronic or computerized model. If you want to sew like a pro, you need a serger as well.

You may also like to have a quality embroidery machine, a cover stitch machine, or a long arm quilter.

I listed machines at the top of the sewing room considerations based on my own experience. No mess is as important to clean up and take care of as the machine itself. Do not ever neglect to clean inside your machine! Your sewing machine will break if you do not clean under the bobbin case. And you must clean inside your serger often, for the same reason.

Avoid unnecessary repair bills by cleaning machines with a brush after every project. You must also oil your mechanical machines and sergers. Electronic machines will need oiling at Sewing Machines Plus or your local repair shop. Do not try to oil these at home. Your mechanical machine will serve you during these times.

Sewing Room Workspaces

You need ample workspaces for various tasks:

  • Machines and Sewing
  • Cutting
  • Pressing
  • Layout/ Design

You can save space by creating a design wall for layout, rather than relying on table space for this. Consider ease of moving between the workspaces to create an efficient room.

What I have found to work best in my space is to have both a large table and a counter-top style desk. These are both best kept clear. My machines are covered on shelves and it is easy to take them down and set up on the sewing desk or the table. Sewing Machines Plus has a huge selection of sewing desks and tables to choose from; click here to see these now.

I like to set up in a few different configurations, depending on what I am sewing. I place the sewing machine and serger both on the long desk when making patchwork or small projects. Or, for larger projects, I place one on the table and one on the desk, with my chair rolling back and forth between the two. If I am sewing a quilt, I set my machine on the edge of the table so that the entire table is able to support the quilt. Otherwise, I prefer the machine to be on the desk and to keep the table clear for cutting.

The iron and board or space for ironing needs to be nearby as well. I keep my large ironing board set up in the laundry room and have a folding board mounted on the wall in my sewing room.

Sewing Room Storage

You can break storage in your sewing studio down into a few categories:

  • Tools
  • Information- patterns, books
  • Stash- Fabric and supplies

    For tools, what is most important is that what you need is at hand when you need it.

    For tools, what is most important is that what you need is at hand when you need it.

Storage is where your options are endless and creativity comes into play.

Tools

For tools, what is most important is that what you need is at hand when you need it. This issue was problematic for me in the past because of grabby toddlers. So I designed this custom solution to keep my tools neat, in my reach, and away from kids.

You can also use drawers, boxes, or bins for storing tools.

Info – Patterns, Books, Magazines

This was made from a spare leftover patchwork block.

I store packets of patterns organized by type in banker boxes, some of these contained in Ziploc bags. I keep favorite and often used patterns in this oversized pocket for ease of reach. This was made from a spare leftover patchwork block.

I store books and magazines on shelves.

The “Stash”

Fabric

Fabric storage has been covered before on this blog. I won’t repeat the excellent points made in that post. But, as she said, fabric left in the open collects dust. And in the case of my sunny sewing room, colors can fade. Design your space for utility rather than aesthetic considerations only. For example, I once experimented with a rainbow of sorted stacks of fabric on a shelf. This looked lovely, but I don’t recommend this method! Those stacks were not easy to pull from without making a mess.

So I have settled on storing my fabric in covered boxes. I store quilting cottons by color, and other fabrics according to type. Dress weights are together, and knits are in a box of their own, for example. Here is the most helpful tip I have with regard to fabric storage: for the most part, let the fabric live at the store! No longer do I browse sale tables or buy yards of fabric with no particular project in mind. Quilter cottons are the only exception. But I never buy more than a yard of any fabric except as needed for particular projects.

Notions and Other Supplies

Reduce visual clutter & beautify your creative space with a creative shelving cover!

Reduce visual clutter & beautify your creative space with a creative shelving cover!

I do find it helpful to keep a good stash other supplies. I use a chest of drawers and small bins. These sort and store elastics, trims, ribbons, bias bindings, lace, velcro, and buttons. I also keep serger threads and tools sorted in a smaller, plastic drawer unit in reach of that machine. Sewing spools hang on a wall mount rack with a clear dust cover for protection.

I hate having dust land on fabrics and supplies, so I made a cover for one of my shelving units. I have enjoyed having my books, magazines, and other items shielded by this. It is easy to pull the cover back and find needed supplies. And it reduces visual clutter and beautifies my creative space.

Trusty machines, ample workspaces, and easy storage contribute to a well-ordered sewing room. The most important factor in your sewing room, though, is you! Create a space that works and that you love and then go there and make stuff as often as you can!

Beginner's Guide to Bed Runners

Beginner’s Guide to Bed Runners

Mystic Connecticut on a Saturday Afternoon

Good morning from Connecticut.

Good morning from Connecticut.

Good morning from Connecticut;

I am so enjoying cool and sometimes rainy weather in this beautiful forest laden state! The history and rolling scenery and fine Colonial homes makes me think of the coziness of fall as the leaves will change color soon.

As I think of the weather change, I wanted to share with you a great way to add style and elegance to your bedroom by making a quilt to cover the bottom of your bed. When it’s not cold enough for a blanket, and a smaller cover may take off the chill, a bed runner is a great idea.

When it’s not cold enough for a blanket, and a smaller cover may take off the chill, a bed runner is a great idea.

When it’s not cold enough for a blanket, and a smaller cover may take off the chill, a bed runner is a great idea.

I have noticed a new wave of interest for bed runners has appeared in high end boutique hotels, and staging properties for sale. The look can be casual or classic depending on your style.

They are also good to change the look of the time of year using neutral spreads and decors.

They are also good to change the look of the time of year using neutral spreads and decors.

They are also good to change the look of the time of year using neutral spreads and decors.

HOWEVER, I have always enjoyed picking out fabric to coordinate with my décor, so I prefer to be inspired by personally designed articles. So to start, measure the top of the bed width-wise.

Then add 24 to 26 inches for the drop on the sides. Then measure 18 to 24 inches for the width plus seam allowances. View many options from patterns to discern your favorites so your bed runner is uniquely YOU. Proceed using the piecing method, batting and backing and of course binding to complete the project.

Pre-cuts are great for patchwork projects or take yardage where you make a one piece cover and perhaps make coordinating pillows for a classic look.

Bed runners also add protection against soil or hair from our 4 legged family members that occupy that space at the end of our beds.

Bed runners also add protection against soil or hair from our 4 legged family members that occupy that space at the end of our beds.

Another idea is make a headboard from your bed runner to add comfort and warmth to your tranquil area for rest and relaxation.

The size of a bed runner quilt can be a versatile addition to your décor. It could be used as a wall hanging, a sofa throw or a sophisticated mantle drape. Also for quick and the more casual type, a method of protection from soil or hair from our 4 legged family members that occupy space at the end of the bed.

One final thought is that I can use my Husquvarna Opal 670 machine, as well as the new Japanese Juki machines. A great addition to any quilters workroom is a machine designed for quilting as well as sewing. Quilting machines that have extended tables make quilting so enjoyable.

SEWINGMACHINESPLUS.com features these as well as other machines that will fit your sewing and quilting needs as well as your budget.

Think of it! You can have a beautiful bed runner ready for those chilly days before the leaves fall!

I would love to hear your comments as soon as I get back from the Fabric store. COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME on my blog, HAPPY SEWING UNTIL next time!

The quilts pictured above come as kits from Annie’s E-patternsCentral.com where patterns can be purchased and sewn. So many beautiful options to choose.
Let's Make Some Goals!

Let’s Make Some Goals!

Once upon a time, I attempted the 101 goals in 1001 days challenge. Ever heard of it? Basically, you come up with 101 goals (at least, that’s the goal—you can decide whether or not that pun was intended!) and you give yourself 1001 days to finish up said goals. It’s a fairly simple idea, and I was intrigued enough to come up with that many things and start on working toward success for the list.

I think I finished writing the list. But I did not finish accomplishing the goals on that list.

I later tried again. Some of the goals might’ve been new. Some might’ve been on the earlier list. Still, I made a list (I think it was full!) and started over.

Again, I didn’t finish with that whole accomplishing-thing.

Even though I might loooove making lists (Nerd? Probably!), I don’t think I’ll ever make a 101-in-1001 list and see the process through. Why? A couple of things are worth mentioning for reasons.

One is that I don’t know what I’ll want to do in over two years. I might know big things, maybe even *some* small things, but to commit myself to 101 things that’ll fit my plans approximately 2.74 years from now? Doubts are reasonable!

Congratulations graduate!

Congratulations graduate!

Also, while going through the process earlier, I found that my goals changed, and my beginning list didn’t really fit at a certain point. Possible example: I think I was working on my MA in Ancient & Classical History for the beginning of one list, maybe both. I never got that degree, but I did end up getting a fancy MA in English and Creative Writing. The school I graduated from even sent me this little guy for social media potential. Lucky me!

The point? I accomplished something, but not what I named if I specified what I wanted an advanced degree in. Things change, and my lists might not have kept up with those things.

And even if the changing goals wasn’t an issue, who actually has 101 things they want to do at any given moment? I might have to make a few things up or stretch my imagination to come up with that many goals—which could heighten the chance that I won’t want to continue with said goals. A scrambled-after goal isn’t necessarily the strongest one. I mean, if I didn’t *seriously* want to do something in the first place and had to think waaaaay outside of the box to come up with it, why make an extended effort to accomplish it? Am I right?

I bring this up because, while I don’t feel like I’m overly good at committing tiny goals to myself for the so-distant future, I do still have goals. Beyond that detail, I also like the idea of giving myself a cut-off for those goals. And, as I said, I like making lists like this!

So… I’m going to do another one! This time though, instead of having such an extended time period of a 101-list of potentially made-up goals, I’m going to focus on something more foreseeable and sizable. The smaller the time span, the less time there is for goals to change. The smaller the number or goals, the higher priority they have to be before they make the list (and the smaller the chance that I made them up as fillers!). Combined, the scenario could make my list more doable and successful. Maybe. Possibly. Hopefully? 🙂

An early step of this process is clearly to come up with that list. And no, I don’t have a finished list to hand to you. Instead, I’m announcing that this will be a concept that will likely pop up on blog posts in the future. This list and these goals won’t be the focus of all future posts, but they might show up as casual “Hey! New Goal!” mentions. If you see one of those at some point, reading this post will have given you a warning about what’s going on!

In early 2017, I plan to have a specific, finished list of quilting/sewing goals to tend to during the year. One year at a time, maybe a dozen goals at a time, seems more like a potential recipe for success than scrambling for something to list and pretending what I want will stay what I want for a long time. I can focus on what I do want to do, and take it in small enough batches that could lessen the likelihood that my interests will do a one-eighty!

But I do have a goal or six to start off with, so my list has already begun! Want to read the goals so far? Here you go!

  • Make a rag quilt – Why do I adore these things soooo much? I’ve never even owned one that I specifically remember, but I’m so interested in making my own. I’m thinking of a conversation-heart design for sentimental reasons, but I guess I can work out the ends and outs of specifics at a later time!

    Behold! The Christmas purse I bought. Isn't it fun?

    Behold! The Christmas purse I bought. Isn’t it fun?

  • Make a Halloween purse – It can be a pretty big holiday person (I already have a Christmas purse I bought!), and I’d love something that I made myself to carry around during the month of October. I don’t know that I’ve ever made any kind of purse, so the whole experience could be new—maybe challenging. Even if I make one this year, I could make a more challenging one next year.
  • Make quilts or blankets for all who know me as an aunt – This goal in itself could be handful, but I think it might be worth the effort. They’re pretty awesome kids, after all!
  • Make a patchwork piece of clothing – Like with the rag quilt, it might be hard to tell why this idea intrigues me like it does. I do like patchwork things though, so why not make a patchwork design I can wear to the store for people to see? Easier to show off that way! 🙂
  • Go through all of the free Craftsy classes for quilts and sewing – I’ve already improved my technique because of the video I watched, so browsing the rest of them might be a good idea. Who knows how much I could learn from them, or how much better my sewing/quilting could become because of them? Let’s find out!A pre-assembled sewing kit and a Muppet tote with fabric in it.
  • Improve my sewing tools collection and organization – Not saying this is all I have in the way of tools and organization, but this is a pretty decent percentage: A pre-assembled sewing kit and a Muppet tote with fabric in it. Even when added to the other things I have, I could use an upgrade! Why not tend to that next year, too!

Six goals to start off, and months left to build! Hopefully, the months leading up to 2017 can help me gain ideas through projects and posts.

Any ideas from you guys? If so, post a comment!

Sew Calm

Sew Calm

Like many hobbies, sewing can help you relax and put aside the stress of daily life. Depending on the hobby, there can be many reasons for this. For me, sewing is relaxing because it requires intense concentration, which means there’s no room left in my brain for worrying about life stressors. And then there’s the rhythms – they call to something deeper much the way drum beats do in Native American rituals.

Snip Snip Snip

Next time you’re sitting down to cut some fabric really listen.

Next time you’re sitting down to cut some fabric really listen.

Have you ever noticed the sound scissors make when cutting fabric? There’s something almost melodic about it. Try it out next time you’re sitting down to cut some fabric really listen. If you can safely close your eyes for a moment to tune into the sound, do so. The crunch, snip, clip is mesmerizing. I allow it to become like a mantra – if there’s something I’m working through, the rhythm of the scissors can help me hone my focus and energy. Try it – you’ll see.

Whirr Whirr Whirr

I don’t have a lot of experience with modern machines; I’m still using the old Singer my mom taught me on, so I’m not sure if newer machines have the same wonderful whirring sound. When doing a long straight row of stitches and keeping steady pressure on the pedal, that whirr is as rhythmic as train speeding down the tracks. The whirring helps organize my thoughts and creates a space where my only focus is the machine, the fabric, and the whirr. As my problems and stressors take a back seat, they also subconsciously begin to resolve.

As with the snip and whirr sounds, my anxious thoughts fall away and my focus hones in on the task at hand.

Motions

Sewing also has a lot of repetitive, and thus soothing, motions. The body and brain disconnect during these moments and the subconscious takes over. Just as our brains are able to work out problems as we sleep, so too can they work out problems while our conscious brain is disconnected during waking hours.

Pin and Unpin

The motion and concentration needed to properly pin a sewing project are often all consuming. I find this quite soothing. As with the snip and whirr sounds, my anxious thoughts fall away and my focus hones in on the task at hand. When I’m done, the thoughts and anxieties plaguing me don’t seem so all-encompassing.

Joy of Completion

I’m sure you know the feeling. That moment of elation when the hours of snipping, pinning, and sewing come to fruition with the final product. For me, the only thing that tops it is when I’m wearing something I made and someone compliments it, giving me the opportunity to say that I made it. Oh man! Is there anything else like that? I don’t think so.

How about you? What part of sewing speaks to your inner being and helps you relax and release the stressors of daily life?