Sew Blog Inspiration

Final Sew Blog Inspiration

The Sew Blog project at Sewing Machines Plus ends today!  I have really enjoyed sharing projects, ideas, and inspiration with you here, but now it is time for us to move on to new things. And so we will no longer post updates on this sew blog.

If you have been a loyal or an occasional reader here, thank you. If you are just now finding us, please read on! We’ve worked hard to pack this sew blog full of both easy and challenging projects, information, inspiration, and more. If you have a sewing question, we hope you will find the answer here.

Keep in touch

Follow Sewing Machines Plus on Facebook and on YouTube for info on what’s new at SMP.

For more from me, please join my email list at Sewing and Growing. There will be new posts there and I will also be releasing several bag and patchwork skirt patterns soon. These patterns will be available on Craftsy and some will be free.  Sign up for the newsletter at my sew blog to be notified as soon as these patterns are released, and for more sewing info and inspiration from me. I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

You can also follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

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Printable patterns for my new projects will be at Craftsy soon

Final sew blog inspiration

I’d like to share a couple more fun and helpful ideas with you here before we go. These ideas are not my own, but I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with them lately, and one has been an absolute revolution in scrap management for me; I hope you’ll love these ideas as much as I do.

A scrap-busting revolution

Scrap management is always an issue for sewists and quilters. How do you manage yours?

I have to admit that I have tried many different ways, but mostly I end up stuffing scraps in boxes, bins,  baskets, or bags, and then dumping these out to pick through when I want to use them. This is messy for sure!

Recently I came across this post on Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s sew blog and tried her idea for “made fabric.” I fell in love with the idea, and now, instead of gathering my scraps from the floor and stuffing them somewhere, I sew them together at the end of the day and make patchwork fabric.

Sew Blog Inspiration

Start with your tiniest scraps and join them every which way.

I’ve been asked how this is different from crazy patchwork. Crazy patchwork uses a foundation fabric, and scraps are sewn down on top of this foundation. So, while crazy patch is a good way to use scraps, it is not “made fabric.” In this method of scrap busting, you sew the scraps to each other to make fabric. You don’t use any foundation behind them.

15 Minutes of Play

Victoria wrote a book, 15 Minutes of Play, which gives lots more inspiration for using her made fabric idea. This book has been on my wish list for a while now, but her sew blog also provides plenty of ways to work with made fabric. I find that it’s so much fun to make that I usually extend this playtime for more than just 15 minutes and make a few blocks, but you can complete one in just a quarter of an hour.

Sew Blog Inspiration

Finish one block in 15 minutes or work on 4 for an hour. I’ll use my square ruler to trim these.

I have a few ideas of my own for what to do with made fabric, too, and I’ll share some of them with you now:

Besides cutting it into blocks and making quilts, I plan to make different sizes of lined bags (with drawstrings) from them, to use as quilt and gift bags. I already made a lotus bag from a twelve-inch square—I’m sorry to say that I gave it away without snapping a picture. I might use several squares and make this kind of kinchaku bag.

I’ll also make a journal cover from some of my made fabric. I might even use the tiniest scraps to make small made fabric circles to cover Mason jar lids when I make bath salts or other gifts to give in a jar. And I think that a made fabric patchwork bear or bunny would be a ton of fun to create.

I bet you will come up with lots of ideas, too; this is such a fun thing to do that, like me, you might like to spend even more than 15 minutes each day playing with patchwork and scraps.

Scatterbrain quilts

You can incorporate both made fabric and leftover or UFO blocks in the fun quilts that Felice Regina calls scatterbrains. She says that she dislikes making the same block over and over, so she combines different blocks to make these gorgeous but informal sampler quilts. Check out Felice’s inspirational Scatterbrain quilts on her blog.

Whether you have a few random or leftover blocks taking up space in your sewing drawer, or a few blocks that you’d love to try without committing to making a whole quilt of them, you might like to make one of these fun quilts, too. I think all quilters will love to make at least one of these. I’ve just gotten started on my first one; if you’ll like to see photos of this when it’s complete, visit me at Sewing and Growing.

That’s all folks!

Thanks for reading this blog. Please follow us elsewhere for more info and inspiration, and shop SewingMachinesPlus.com for all your sewing machine and supply needs. Happy sewing!

Fabric Inspiration Autumn

Fabric Inspiration Autumn

September is almost over. I always say, “When the kids go back to school, it is almost Christmas!” Time just flies the last quarter of the year. Holiday planning starts now! It is time to design and find fabric for our holiday projects for our homes and thoughtful gifts for others during the last months of 2017.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. - Albert Camus

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
– Albert Camus

Personally, the earlier I order fabric for holiday projects, the more I enjoy doing them. Holiday sewing is a great way to show your creative side and the options are so many. Fond memories of handmade things are always fun. Someday all the decorations at my house will be hand made.

Fall brings cooler weather, sweaters, handmade comfy scarves and jackets and an occasional whiff of burning wood from neighboring houses (hopefully my own).

I love fall. I love warm, dark colors and a soft quilt or blanket to cuddle up in while watching those great football games. Especially if I can sit in the stadium! Cool weather and cinnamon colors beckons me to sew cozy things! How about you?

Today, I am offering inspiration for you to follow my passion for fabric. Its great news!! Trust me!

SewingMachinesPlus.com has begun providing fabric online and in their brick and mortar store in California. If you haven’t yet looked on their website, you need to!

Let’s get going!

First visit www.sewingmachinesplus.com & on the Search Bar at the top, enter “fabric”. You can also visit the fabric page here.

Since I enjoy shopping for sewing, my desire is to fly to California and visit this mega-store in person, to see their highly rated products and experience their friendly employees and customer service, but for now, I want to preview a few things with you that I really like! Hopefully, you will be inspired to place an order for sewing products for your stash or to get a head start on the season of giving!

The first fabric I saw, and promptly ordered was:

Stonehenge Gradations Chips – The color is Bright Iron Ore. A quality fabric made by Northcutt and has colorations like stone.

A beautiful package of (forty two) 10 x 10 inch precut squares in Browns, Golds, Cream and gradient neutral colors which look like different pieces of colored stone.

A beautiful package of (forty two) 10 x 10 inch precut squares in Browns, Golds, Cream and gradient neutral colors which look like different pieces of colored stone.

A beautiful package of (forty two) 10 x 10 inch precut squares in Browns, Golds, Cream and gradient neutral colors which look like different pieces of colored stone. This was a perfect choice for me as I have designed our new home in neutral browns, cream and beiges. This reminds of of swirling marble or granite and a harmonious accent to neutral décor.

I am thinking about a table runner or napkins for our dining room table right in time for autumn dinner guests or anytime of the year paired with the appropriate colors for that season.

Burgundy shades with the creams for late winter events.

Burgundy shades with the creams for late winter events.

Or pair with the same brand in Burgundy shades with the creams for late winter events. Drumroll! Picture please!

There are (forty two) five inch squares in this package. I suggest perhaps 2 or more packages depending on the size of the project. Look for the Brights- Amethyst and Lagoon Colors as well. Fabuloso!! Rich looking colors!

Precuts are done in different sizes by the manufacturer and sometimes the shop and work great in many applications. Since they are already cut, it helps considerably when putting together projects.

For a larger taste of these pre- cuts that can go together in perfect harmony, go ahead and visit the website. Take note of all the various cuts that are available in other fabric designs. Pick the ones you love! Ask the experts about yardage on the ones you really like (I have to ask that question myself). And then, comment on my blog and tell me what appeals to you. Make the project and send us a picture. We would love to see what you make!

I’m going full circle for a while. I have ordered the fabric, started designing and will hopefully share with you what turns out to be a great addition to my handmade collection! Dream, design, shop and create!

Having a creative life is: sew good!!

Speaking of tastes, I just received a call from my husband *who is upstairs organizing his man cave*. It’s the usual question at 5:00 p.m Friday night, i.e. what’s for dinner!

Take care dears. See you again soon!

Building Creative Confidence

Building Creative Confidence

Building Confidence

I have been away for awhile packing and moving into our new home. Unable to do any sewing with so many other things taking priority, I have missed my time with you.

The first thing I did is set up my office, so I can begin to feel productive again. Although I cannot offer an alternative method to sew a project this week, I want to create awareness of something we may take for granted. Its still about sewing, but sewing psychology!

I have gained a whole new respect for people who use their talents to produce window coverings. It is labor intensive and costly for the buyer. Naturally, today’s modern new builds will be designed differently than the earlier built homes. I always think of the difference between mid-century designs and what is popular today. Things you have to consider now are tall and narrow windows. Half arch windows above doors, double and triple wide windows in family rooms and bedrooms. I see French doors instead of sliding glass patio doors, and particularly windows to the floor versus horizontal windows high on the wall.

Times change

Times have changed and the fabric design and methods of making draperies have given us so many wonderful options. The awesome part is you can find companies that have talented people machine stitch and finish them by hand, stitching the hems and tacking the pleats, grommets, tabs, or other headers. Can you even comprehend what a huge job that is?

Shoot for the sun, the moon, and the stars, and then we will go from there.

1 panel 40” wide by 108” long, cutting the fabric perfectly straight and carefully sewing the seams by machine and stitching the header and hem by hand. I understand why it takes six weeks for the completed project.

1 panel 40” wide by 108” long, cutting the fabric perfectly straight and carefully sewing the seams by machine and stitching the header and hem by hand. I understand why it takes six weeks for the completed project.

Secondly, if you have been following my blog, you already know how much I love fabric. We have only been here a week, and my sewing studio is not operative yet, but I have been basking in my product samples from a few different shade and drapery companies. I thought, new home, new life, so I will make it exquisite by professionally made drapes and roller shades. A few weeks ago, I began order sample swatches to see quality and color to design a cohesive, interesting theme.

Overload

Overwhelm Overload!!

Overwhelm Overload!! I wasn’t even in the house yet and I was stressed about the overall look I wanted to achieve. I just knew I loved every color and sample I received. Does this sound like anyone else you know? I feel this same emotion when looking for fabric for sewing and quilting as well. (I imagine others do too.)

Similar to how I have described “improvisational” sewing in the past, you have to start somewhere to “dress” several windows in a newly built house. You just have jump in and play with the samples, and the colors, and find your taste. Take a break for awhile, read design magazines, think about how you live and what makes you happy. You are a designer, its your choice!

Okay, we are here, moved in and windows bare! Its decision time. Because I wanted our window treatments professionally measured and hung, I invited a design consultant who was very experienced and had exceptional reviews on her work. She only does window coverings and I had many options to consider. Even though I had a good idea what I wanted to accomplish, her comments and mostly her product knowledge opened new doors for an even greater creative experience.

She had very good advice when we started the process.

She said, “Shoot for the sun, the moon, and the stars, and then we will go from there.”

She said, “Shoot for the sun, the moon, and the stars, and then we will go from there.”

She said, “Shoot for the sun, the moon, and the stars, and then we will go from there.” Basically, she meant what is your ultimate vision of your home to suit the needs of your family? (That was an open door to all the ideas I had thought about all these months.) Of course, some ideas I knew were not obtainable, but also, the hope of a future goal was there. So, we went over the design, the samples, rods and finials. The roller shades, the Roman blinds, and the solars. But she reminded me, “Its about you not what others think you should do”.

Yes, I was almost to the moon when I saw the value of my dreams. Needless to say, with my financial advisor’s advice, (aka hubby), we came down to earth and comprised on a plan with the promise of continuing our dreams down the road. However, now, I have a vision of making panels myself for one or two of the smaller size windows. I know I can do it! My ulterior motive is to save that money for that crystal chandelier I have been admiring!

The moral of this story is not about sewing techniques, it is about the pleasure you get from coming out of your comfort zone, finding yourself and your tastes, and being courageous enough to feel confident in moving forward in your goals. Sewing is being creative!

Sewing is about making beautiful things, like silk draperies, and Roman blinds. Sewing and fabric in today’s world is earthy and organic. Sewing is also for fashion, and quilted blankets, warmth, and clothing. It is my therapy. It makes me happy!

SewingmachinesPlus.com has what you need to get started with your creations! Tell them your dream! They will help you get started.

Sewing Productivity Video: How to Make More Time to Sew Part 3

Sewing Productivity Video: How to Make More Time to Sew Part 3

We’ve been talking about sewing productivity and how to make more time to sew for the past few weeks. In case you missed them, here are links to part one and part two of this series.

Sewing Productivity Video: How to Make More Time to Sew Part 3

I have a few more tips and ideas to share today and I made a video to recap all these ideas for you.

Batch tasking

Batch tasking is a method you can employ in many systems to make more time.

Don’t run through the same series of steps many times; instead batch steps together and work on many items at once. Cut all those quilt or pattern pieces out at once. Load several bobbins at a time, since this will save you stopping to load another soon.

You can make more time for sewing when you free time from other tasks by batching, too. If you don’t already batch your errands, doing this will make more time for you.  Stop running daily errands, if you do, and run errands quickly on a designated day of the week. Or batch certain errands together more economically.

I usually batch task the bathing of children, baking, computer tasks, and lots of other things. In general, I find that making and doing things in batches helps me to make more time and do more things.

Chunking

Chunking is when you grab a chunk of time to focus on one project.

Flylady made the 15-minute time chunk a daily thing for millions by encouraging her followers to set a timer for 15 minutes and declutter.

While this is a good use of a time chunk, you can use this productivity trick to do anything you want. It’s a great option for getting started on a task you have been been procrastinating about; you can do anything for only 15 minutes.

Pomodoro

For tasks that require more work and focus than 15 minutes, try using pomodoro.

A pomodoro is a 25 minute time chunk. Set your timer for 25 minutes to focus on one specific task. When the timer rings, take a 5 minute break and follow with another pomodoro. You can do three or four rounds like this, and then follow with a longer break.

Pomodoro means tomato in Italian and was named after a kitchen timer like this one.

Pomodoro means tomato in Italian and was named after a kitchen timer like this one.

I have been amazed to find out just how much work I can get done on tough projects in only 25 minutes. I like pomodoros so much that my whole day is often made up of a long string of them.

Alternating between a 25 period or two at my desk and a 25 minute chunk for housework helps me to get everything done and fights burnout from sitting too long at my desk.

Resources and Inspiration

We’ve touched on a lot of topics in this sewing productivity series. Here are links to more information on some of the ideas and systems we have covered here:

Bullet Journal

Ryder Carroll created the bullet journal system, which is a fabulous way to organize your notebooks if you prefer to use pen and paper for your planning and lists. His quick video here is a great overview of the specifics for this easy system.

I use the bullet journal system like Ryder and scribble quick lists. But it is worth noting that the bujo can also be a creative outlet. Many people create beautiful notebooks with this system. You might like to check out Tiny Ray of Sunshine to see gorgeous examples of creative bullet journal layouts and lists.

Trello

If you would rather use kanban boards and a digital app to keep track of your great ideas and to do lists, Trello is an excellent option. I use free Trello boards for organizing and keeping track of lots of things. It definitely helps my sewing productivity by holding all my good ideas until I can find the time to get them done.

Eisenhower app

The Eisenhower matrix is easy to work with on paper. But if you prefer to go digital, now there is a free and easy-to-use application for making these four quadrant lists.

FlyLady and Kon Mari

If you are unable to achieve sewing productivity because of a messy house or too much clutter, I know a couple of ladies who may be able to help you.

Flylady has helped millions out of CHAOS (can’t have anyone over syndrome) and gently encourages better routines for keeping clean and organized. Just be aware that she will send you a LOT of emails if you sign up for her list.

While Flylady did help me, no one has helped me to create order in my home as much as Marie Kondo and her KonMari system. She wrote The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and its sequel, Spark Joy. I recommend these books to anyone who could use more order in their home.

Setting up this system will require significant time investment up front, but once you complete your konmari, you will save tons of time and trouble and your home will stay clean and organized with minimal maintenance. My own sewing productivity has increased at least tenfold since I invested the time to konmari my house.

Sewing productivity: make it a priority

Of course, dirty dishes and laundry are everyday things. It is easy to get caught up in all the things you have to do and never get around to sewing all the things you want to sew.

You can use these productivity tricks I have mentioned to minimize your work and make more time to sew. Or you can let the dishes and laundry pile up and make sewing your top priority. I have to admit that sometimes this is my favorite trick for better sewing productivity.

We all have lots to do and limited time. However you find the time, making is important and I encourage you to make more time to sew.

Seeking Inspiration

Seeking Inspiration

You ever have one of those moments when you want to sew something, but you’re not sure what to make? You don’t have anything on your “to make” list and there’s no upcoming events that inspire you to make something special for the occasion? Despite the lack of need, though, your fingers are tingling with desire to sew something. Here’s some suggestions to find some inspiration and fill your need to sew.

Think About Gifts

Is there a holiday, birthday or other occasion coming up? Would any of the people involved in the celebration appreciate and handmade gift? Even if the idea of what you’d like to make them isn’t something you’ve made before, give it a shot. Not only will you fill your urge to sew, you’ll have a unique, special gift to give to someone you care about – and you might learn something in the process.

Ponder Your Wardrobe

Perhaps it’s time to donate some items…

Seeking Inspiration

Seeking Inspiration

When you get dressed in the morning, do you feel like you simply “have nothing to wear?” Perhaps it’s time to donate some items you’re not as in love with as you once were and make yourself some new items? Donating clothing to make room for something you make not only fills your sewing urge, it helps those less fortunate fill out their wardrobes.

Learn a New Skill

Is there a new skill you’ve been wanting to learn? Something you’ve been afraid to take on for a project you can’t afford to mess up? Use this urge to sew without a specific outlet as your opportunity. Whether it’s a specific stitch style, a larger skill like making buttonholes or making something you’ve never attempted before this gap could be a great time to take on that challenge.

Have a Sewing Circle

Oftentimes, being in the presence of other sewers can lead to inspiration. The conversations that occur in a sewing group frequently lead to that “lightbulb” moment for your next project. In other cases, they can inspire you to pick up a project you’d given up on when you wouldn’t otherwise revisit working on it. Also, hosting a sewing circle gives you a chance to connect with like-minded crafters and maybe make some new friends.

Next time you’re struggling to fill a sewing urge, try one or more of these ideas. Then let us know how it went and what you wound up making.