Wednesday, April 6, 2016

maker slump, turned making spree, and Gee's Bend

I am not sure what started it exactly, or where it was I lost my desire to make things, but it happened. About a month ago. I am pretty sure it was a combination of my personality and our busyness/stress that spurred it on.

I am a little bit of a control freak. And unfortunately, not the kind that typically results in something wonderful. More like, if I don't feel like I have control and it's what I really want, I rapidly lose interest. For example, I will see patterns or designs and think "I need to make that, it looks so good." I will start cutting and piecing, and then I lose interest. If it doesn't totally pull me in, I'm out. So making just to make is completely unfulfilling for me. The projects that I start and finish within a few days-- that is where my heart is. The ones I put down and set aside half way through, not as much. --However, there have been occasions where I go back to the works in progress renewed, or sometimes I tackle it in a different way. Like my mother-in-law's quilt... I started quilting it with purple thread because I saw (and really liked) how other people were using colored thread to make their quilting pop. I did it and did not like it. At all. So I put that quilt down and it sat and sat and SAT.....until I finally decided to rip out all my quilting and start anew with white thread. Ahhhhh. Much better. When something feels like me and really interests me, I am all about it.
--all of that is the exact reason why I don't do custom orders. the second it starts feeling NOT like me or like something I would make, it becomes not fun and feels like work. bleh. If I am taking time away from my family and my job, I want it to only be for what really drives me.--

I have totally stepped off course. Whoops. My bad. Okay, so basically I had started to make a few quilts for my little etsy shop, but they weren't doing anything for me. And stuff going on personally had really drained me, so I fell right into a creative slump. Nothing.

And then I saw a picture of fresh spring flowers and the color palette made me the feel the need to MAKE SOMETHING. So I did. This quilt below. 

I didn't want to overthink it, so I just grabbed fabric and cut, and then pieced it all together. Ahhhhhhh. It was just what I needed to get me back in the saddle. 

I have been wanting to make a quilt where the color lavender was the focus for some time, but again, I didn't want to overthink it. (Is it just me, or has anyone else found that pinterest- while great inspiration-- can HURT creative drive? I see SOOOOO many amazing quilts and patterns and color schemes, that I feel overwhelmed and don't have any clue where to start.) 

I searched through my stash and remembered I had hoarded a Brambleberry Ridge bundle. I pulled the lavenders from that as my starting point and incorporated a couple more. I went back and forth between adding ONLY gray and white, but then grabbed a piece of icy blue and loved it. And then it totally evolved as I was pulling but I really like the end result of the colors together. It feels wintery to me. 

I used a different pinky than my normal to back it, and it ended up being heavier and a little more difficult to quilt with. But the end result is a super warm and cozy quilt. It's available in my etsy shop if you want to check out some more pictures :) 

Now that these two are finished, I am plotting my next one. I have been reading a lot of about the Quilts of Gee's Bend and I am just completely pulled in. The history, the women, the very utilitarian nature of the quilts, and how unbelievably amazing they are. I am blown away. I love history and looking back and imagining life, and seeing what these women made with their hands, using pieces of sheets and's just all the good stuff. The impact that they had. Y'all need to read all about the women of Gee's Bend-- here is a good place to start. It's all so inspiring and amazing.

Monday, March 7, 2016

march on

hey friends! I am basically putting off work right now, so I guess you could call this avoidance blogging.

about work.....working from home is one of those weird things. I don't feel like a stay-at-home-mom but I also don't feel like a legit 'worker'. haha. But honestly, when people ask if I work, and I say 'yes, I am a marketing coordinator, I work from home,' I feel like the "from home" takes away any validity. Which is ironic because I think it would be MUCH MUCH MUCH easier if I actually worked in an office where my sole focus was work. Anyway, I never really feel like I am taken seriously about the whole 'yes, I work' thing-- even in my own mind, I'm kinda like 'yeah, from home, barefoot, sometimes with a baby on my lap, so not reallllllllyyyyy'. You know what? All that changed the moment we did our taxes. Because I am a contract employee, taxes are not taken out of my paycheck so we pay at the end. And holy moly, did I have no clue how much I actually worked until I saw it on paper. So people, I FOR REAL, TOTAL LEGIT, have a job that I worked 2236 hours last year, which boils down to about 43 hours a week. (p.s., I am not saying this to be holier than thou, like YEAH I HAVE A JOB- IN YO FACE!!! mostly just for my own benefit, and to also mourn the fact that we just had to pay out the rear in taxes. seriously, how important are roads and education REALLYYYY?) ((that was a total joke))

okay, so because of that job and the fact that I am raising 5 kids, my quilting time is relegated to the -when I can squeeze it in, or -when I can avoid housework or cooking part of my days. You'd be surprised (or not) how AMAZING I am at avoiding housework. I'm actually pretty proud of that.

So, here are some quilty things I've just finished up, and things I am still working on.

I have actually got a few more blocks done of this lavender and pale aqua ninja star quilt done, but I forgot to write down what size I was cutting the HSTs to, so I need to figure that out before I continue. I think this one will finish at crib/toddler size.

This one I was pretty proud of because it was the first time I had a picture of it in my head, I drew out it out, and played with measurement, and created it all by myself. It's not like it was difficult, it was just very gratifying to make an idea real. I named her the Watercolor Josi, and very appropriately, my cousin Josi took her home. --that almost sounds scandalous. leave it to me.--

And because Josi has been such a great supporter of me, I added this little rainbow basket to go along with her rainbow quilt. And then people liked it so I made a few more to add to the shop. That text print is so perfect, and unfortunately, I am all out of it. :(

So when Josi got her basket, she decided she needed another and went to purchase one from my shop. So naturally that led to me making her another rainbowy surprise. This bag. I will probably be adding a few of these linen totes to me shop soon, I just need to order more linen.

This is my mini quilt for the #rainbowminiswapR2 #rainbowminiteamred put on by @katebasti I really stepped out of my comfort zone on this because it is completely paper pieced-- a skill that is new to me. I did a little bit of outline quilting and then filled in the voids with pebble quilting-- another thing that is very very new to me. I hope my girl likes it. It was fun and challenging to make, but-- even if it is not even close to perfect- I had fun learning new things.

And lastly, this. I am trying to get her quilted today. There is something I love about simple patchwork- both classic and modern in the colors and white space. 

Okay, I better get to work before my inbox gets insane. Happy Monday, friends!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

on starting

Hi friends. It's a slow work day (oh my gosh do I love slow work days) and my sewing table is a hot mess of various piles of quilts waiting to be put together, so rather than clean it off, I am here.

I am not sure where it happened, exactly, that blogging lost it's luster for me. Typically, I would say that life "got busy" but all that really means is that in the busy-ness, I chose something else over writing. Because life with 5 kids is always pretty busy, but we make the time for the things that feel good to do.

So today it feels good to write. I know I typically talk about family stuff and just life, but today I am switching gears. If you have read anything I have written, you probably know I like to quilt. For nine thousand reasons, but seeing the end result of fabrics I have pieced together to create something useful is the at the top of the list.

I have had a few friends express interest in quilting lately, and while I am not a great teacher (I lack the patience-- just ask my daughters), I feel like I can handle tips and thoughts. Something I have been asked frequently is about starting. How do I start, what is my first step?

I had to really think about that because I don't know that I really have a method or a system. I think, for me, every step of the quilting process is organic. {I know this term is so overused, but I really cannot think of any other way to describe it}. I generally start with one of 2 things- a color palette or fabric bundle that I want to turn into something, or a pattern idea that I want to make. I could go on for days about where I get inspiration for both, but the short answer is it usually just hits. For example, this quilt above. I wanted to make a simple patchwork. I have been working on a mini quilt for a swap I am participating in and since I don't usually do super well with following a pattern, this one was leaving me mentally exhausted- mostly because I decided to alter the pattern which meant math and angles, all the things that are not very fun for me. (You can see the mini in the picture below). 

I needed something I knew I could do, and do well,  without making me wrinkly and stressed. Also, I will never tire of simple patchwork quilts. I feel like they are vintagey in their classic appeal, but the patterns of the fabric and the color schemes gives you freedom to turn them into more. 

So I started grabbing fabrics. When I make a quilt around a design/pattern first, choosing fabric comes second. I started with just whites and grays and blues, and 2 squares of that dusty rose you see in the top row and in the middle. As I was cutting I realized I wanted to play off that a little more and added in a brighter pink and a soft pink (the pearl bracelet fabric). I threw in the lavender just because. 

I like to lay out my blocks to make sure that no like blocks are touching each other and try and balance color and pattern, but sometimes I just grab and sew. -- my husband is working on a design wall for me and I know this will be super helpful so I am not laying things on the floor and constantly bending down to grab them or hollering at the kids not to walk across my squares ;)--

I don't usually choose a backing or a binding until I am all done. I wanted to back this with minky but the ones I had on hand weren't big enough and I didn't want to cut this down. My husband has been urging me to make throw sized quilts instead of just baby quilts, and this one was measuring 48 by about 60. (59 3/4 inches, to be exact). So I ended up piecing the back in a stripe pattern, and I love it. It's funny how it happens that my plan B tends to make me happier than I think plan A would have. 

I am sure it would be so much more helpful if I was to say that I develop a plan and draw it out and have each fabric chosen and ready to go before I ever sit down. That isn't how my brain works, though. I think I need to see things as they are starting to take shape and then develop from there. 

I just finished a quilt-as-you-go style of quilt last week, and that method also really lends itself to grabbing and piecing as you go. For me, it feels a lot more open and creative for me when I allow myself to have freedom as i move throughout the process of making a quilt.

For the quilt pictured above and below, I decided to do just make each block as I chose. For this one, I knew I wanted pinks and blues with little touches of yellow. I did sort of adjust as I went to incorporate different shades of blue....I originally only wanted aqua but then used the brighter, darker mushroom print and thought I should incorporate some teal-ish blue, as well, to tie it together. 

That is the beauty of creating, and it took me a long time to grasp this one simple concept-- there aren't any rules, and you can't really be WRONG about how you create. When I started quilting, I think I got hung up on how you are supposed to do it. And for me, it put me off. It's not super fun to start a creative venture when you are worried about breaking rules before you ever even start. My Aunt Polly told me on more than one occasion that whatever I did wasn't going to be wrong because it was my creation. ....and, gosh forbid, if you don't like something or make a mistake in piecing, that is why God created the seam ripper ;) 

So, there you have it friends. Or should I say, Jeremiah. Actually, I don't even know if my husband even reads my blog anymore. haha. That's pretty pitiful.  

Happy Wednesday, friends!  

Friday, January 22, 2016

the one where I decide to be brave

2016 just rolled in, in case you've been sleeping and missed it. Two Thousand and SIXTEEN!! I am going to focus on all the promise and opportunity a new year offers, rather than dwelling on the fact that time is just a passing me by.

So on that sentiment, I decided to dig deep and find whatever courage I can muster and embark on something new. I haven't shared it much on here, but the past couple years I have grown to love quilting. Like LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Putting fabrics together, stitching them into pieces to tell a story, challenging myself by learning new techniques, new patterns. I sew between working, when the kids are playing, when they have gone to bed, when I need to just busy my hands to let me head have a little downtime. It has become both passion and therapy for me. 

Here is a look at some things I made over the past year.

I have a handful of quilts that I am still working on, as well, these are just the finished ones, with the exception of that bottom one. So far, every quilt I have made has been gifted.....I have yet to keep a single one. But that the quilt in the picture above has not been bound yet, and I am thinking when I do bind it, I will be keeping it :)

Along my little quilting journey, I have felt a push to start my own little quilt shop through etsy, but I always came up with a million reasons not to do it. 1- People won't be willing to pay for a handmade quilt when Target offers little quilts for $35. 2- Do I really want to commit to something because as far as time goes, between 5 kids and full time job, free time is in very short supply. 3- What if no one buys my things? 4- Worse yet, what if someone buys a quilt and really doesn't like it?

Lots of reasons, all of them centered around some kind of fear. Well guess what? I have declared 2016 the year I throw worry into the wind and just go for it!!! (HUGE GULPS HERE). I have been making some baby and children sized quilts to add to my little shop and once I finish all the background stuff, it will be up and running. (STILL GULPING). Why is it so easy for me to see the value in others but completely be blinded to what is within myself? Each quilt will be made with love and care and attention to every little detail, and pieced together in a way meant to tell a story in their new homes, meant to be used and cuddled in and played on and maybe even passed down. So rather than focus on the reasons not to, I'm just going to center myself around all the reasons I should. I love to sew and quilt. When I see pictures of friends and family bundled in my quilts, I feel so humbled and grateful and just happy to have made something that is wrapping those I care about in love.

So, friends, here I GO!!! Taking a little (BIG) leap and finding some courage to start something new that I've been dreaming about for a while! 

hugs and kisses,
shannon, future etsy shop girl


I was brave. I did it!!!!!! I am no longer "future etsy shop girl", rather, I am "FULL ON ETSY SHOP GIRL"!!!!!! In case you want to have a peek :

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Margarita Lips

This past week of handling issues and having to be a grown up has KICKED MY A$$. If my mom were still here, I’d have western unioned (is this still a thing?) her some dollars to have her fly out to save me. I'd pass the baton of being an adult on to her so I could crawl into my closet with ice cream and fuzzy blankets and just pretend it all isn’t happening. (And, for the record, she’d have totally taken that dang baton and then still found me in the closet to give me a neck massage.She was so FANFREAKINGTASTIC) I literally closed my eyes several times over the past 7 days and whispered “find your happy place,” “this will be over soon,” and “just do the next right thing here.” At some point as I sank firmly into defeat, I got on to Facebook and saw someone had posted that little inspirational quote that basically said something about how God has created us to be JUST the person our own children need. Lord, please let that be true. Because I worry often that my children got really screwed.

I feel like we are just stepping out of the muck now, and it’s weird how badly, how instinctually, I want to return to Shannon and Jeremiah of 2002. As in, go out, drink and eat and drink some more, laugh with friends— like throw my head back and laugh my size 8,husband-getting bootie off, play shuffle board, come home whenever and only have to be responsible for myself. Back in the day of having time to put on liquid eyeliner, going grocery shopping and ignoring the prices, and having a shoe selection that included more than flip flops.  No drama over nasty child-driven illnesses, no worrying about whether my child is is struggling, no feeling like an incompetent mess of a mother because I keep forgetting to sign forms and return them promptly, no stressing over an electric bill. NONE. OF. THAT. Just endless buckets of chips and salsa and lips that are speckled with sugar from a margarita glass and jeans that fit perfect and dancing to Ja Rule with my girls in a questionable little place until the lights came on and laughing and smiling that came so dang easy it resulted in permanent lip and forehead wrinkles. (That I am now stressing about. How flipping ironic.)

—Y’all know I love my babies fiercely. They are, without a doubt, my heartbeat and my purpose, and the reason I try to be better every single day.  It’s just every now and again, I miss that carefree, figure it out minute by minute, worry about the consequences later girl I was B.B. (before babies). I firmly believe that God lays out every season (some longer than others) before us to teach us, to grow us, to have us hunker down into His Peace, His Promise, His Mercy. My husband can attest to this— when things (little or big) pile on top of me, I always say “what is HE showing me here? I am supposed to be learning something here, I am sure of it…” It’s sort of funny, actually, because often I wish God was just a little more obvious and quick about these lessons. Like, a billboard that says “YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL SHANNON AND YOU NEED TO LET GO. NOW.” Which is obvs exactly why He isn’t like that. It would be too easy. 

I am still digging to find the purpose of this past week. It could be as deep as giving myself more to Him, or maybe as heart-stirring as reminding me how blessed I am to be surrounded by such a loving bunch of people who were on standby this week, ready to help. 

Or maybe I just need a margarita-fueled night with my cute husband.

I will let you know if I figure it out.

p.s we are okay and the issues were totally minor. but you know how sometimes the small things feel like mountains. that. 

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