Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Favorite Spot

Liberty Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

My girls and I were wandering around World Market yesterday when suddenly I saw it...the cutest little loveseat ever made. We've pretty much come to the end of furniture purchases for our new home, but I couldn't get this piece off my mind. Thankfully my husband was kind enough to not only send me off to the store this morning to buy the loveseat, but he even got it upstairs to our room and assembled it for me. What a guy...

Liberty Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

This beautiful piece is covered in natural colored linen and dotted with little buttons, each one covered in a different fabric print. They reminded me so much of Liberty prints that I decided it was time to finally break out my small stash and make a matching pillow. This was my first time working with Liberty, so I pulled out Alexia Abegg's beautiful book Liberty Love (now out of print and only available electronically unless you're lucky enough to find a hard copy) to read up on her tips for sewing with lawn. I found it very helpful, and the fabric was easier to work with than I had expected.

The pillow is made up of six blocks, each containing one 4 1/2" square and five 2 1/2" squares. Each block contains prints that feature a dominant color: red, yellow, green, blue, pink, and purple. It was such a treat to play with all those little squares until I got the layout I wanted.

Liberty Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I backed the pillow in leather yarn dyed Essex linen, binding the edge of the backing in a favorite Liberty print.

Liberty Scraps by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

And look at the beautiful bowl of scraps I had left over! I'm leaving these out on my cutting table to look at while I work. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed making this little pillow. There will definitely be more Liberty sewing in my future.

Liberty Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

But for now, I can't wait to get upstairs and curl up with a good book on that loveseat, my new favorite spot in the house.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Lovely

Patchwork Mug Rug by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

So far this summer I've only had the chance to sew one thing: the little mug rug you see above. It was a small project, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Give me rainbow patchwork and a whole lot of low volume text prints, and I'm always a happy woman.

I took the time to hand quilt this little piece with AuriFloss in a soft shade of raspberry. Quilting by hand is something I definitely need to do more often. It was a lovely, quiet pause in the middle of what has been one of the craziest times in my life. In this wild roller coaster called "settling in" we've experienced just about everything there is to see...

We've had the good times: scouting for fresh peaches in Fredericksburg, enjoying family meals at some great local eateries, playing tourist at the River Walk, having movie nights with the girls at home.

We've had the bad times: watching water pour out of the light in the kitchen ceiling due to an overflowing toilet upstairs, adjusting to the thriving Texas insect culture, and going three weeks straight with something in the house -- the dryer, the air conditioning, the plumbing -- breaking down

But then there are those magical moments, the ones so lovely that they don't seem real. Sitting in rocking chairs chatting with our neighbors as the sun goes down. Watching my daughters gasp in delight at their first encounters with deer, frogs, and all the other local wildlife that we didn't have in the suburbs of Southern California. Splashing in the pool -- our very first pool -- with the entire family while the girls hang around our necks and sing silly songs. Life has been going past me at warp speed for the last few months. I'm seeing my daughters grow up faster than ever before, and I know these golden weeks of summer won't last forever.

So I don't mind putting down the laptop -- and yes, even my hand quilting -- to catch these memories before they drift away...

Monday, July 6, 2015

A New Beginning

Sewing Table by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

It seemed appropriate to finish off the Busy Girl Sews Tour with a look at how I'm setting up my new sewing room in Texas. There's a part of me that wanted to wait until every piece was in place, but I knew that would mean holding off on showing you the room until some time this fall. I'm working slowly through everything, trying to take my time and really organize things instead of just stuffing them in baskets and cupboards. It's time consuming yet so worth it to do things this way. I'll spare you the photo of my unsorted fabrics, notions, and tools, but believe me when I say that there's quite a bit left to be organized before I'm through.

My new sewing space is, quite frankly, a dream come true. Our house has an enormous loft at the end of the upstairs hallway which is large enough to hold my husband's office, our home gym, playtime and library areas for the girls, and a sewing area that is at least twice the size of what I had in California. It gives me plenty of room to spread out as well as add a few new areas to my studio that make it even more friendly.

I'm probably most excited about my new cutting station. Being rather tall (almost 5'11"), it's been a painful thing to lean over my sewing desk and cut fabric over the past few years. The first thing I did after arriving in Texas was purchase a high square pub table from Amazon which is the perfect height for me to work without straining my back. I added an adjustable stool from Target so that I can sit at the desk too whenever I want. Bonus tip: most tabletop desk organizer units are absolutely perfect for storing your cutting tools. I've had this one for months, and I'm absolutely crazy about it!

The area that used to hold my cutting mat will now be my pressing station, and it will be so convenient to sew and press seams at opposite sides of the L-shaped desk that used to belong to my dad. I still have all my tools lined up along the edge in glass and wooden containers as you can see in the picture at the top of this post. Did I mention that this is part of the view outside my sewing room window? I tell you, it's been hard to get any work done since I arrived. All I want to do is gaze out the windows all day long...

Right now I have at least half of my fabric folded and sorted. I decided to go back to my old system of storing linen and canvas prints in this black wire drawer unit, and larger scraps are still being kept in my wooden Melody Miller drawer unit above that. The big plastic tubs to the right are waiting to hold quilt backings and works in progress.

I'm still using my great grandfather's old cabinet to store fabric, and I put my wooden cubbies and my antique scale and typewriter back on display above that where I love to see them. Sometimes I think the non-sewing things we keep in our rooms are just as inspiring as the fabric!

I saw this linen storage bench at Target over the weekend and immediately knew that it belonged in my sewing space. Batting, interfacing, and pillow forms fit perfectly inside, and my sewing files and some inspirational design books are in the baskets to the left. This bench makes a great spot for me and the girls to curl up with a good book or get together for a little mother-daughter chat during the day.

My scrap tins are now lined up along a table that also used to belong to my great grandfather. Having them out on display instead of tucked inside a cupboard makes it so much easier for them to be used. The girls can stand next the table or sit on the storage bench while they sort scraps for me.

Just to the right of my sewing space is the new library that I've set up for my girls. I've long been wanting to create a special reading area for them, and this spot next to a big window couldn't be more perfect. The large book display works as a natural divider between my space and theirs. One side holds their picture books and the other side shows off a good portion of my sewing library.

My husband teases me that I said I was buying it just for the kids, but seriously, how could I resist?!

I can't tell you what it's meant to me to put together this sewing space over the past week. Somehow it's both a new beginning and like coming home. The crazy schedule with our move meant that I had to pack up most of my sewing room back at the beginning of May. I've gone for two months without sewing a stitch, and it was so hard to lose that part of myself. While it's good to know that I can still exist without my sewing, I can honestly say that sewing continues to make my life a happier one. And really, that was the whole point of my book after all.

May you have the happiest of weeks ahead of you, my friends.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Busy Girl Sews: Sew Can She

If you're looking for a sewing tutorial, look no further than Sew Can She, Caroline's brilliant website which has links to just about every free tutorial under the sun. Caroline is a talented pattern writer herself and is the co-author of Just for You, a wonderful book full of clothing and accessory projects. I have loved following her blog over the years and am delighted to have her on the Busy Girl Sews Tour this week. She's sharing her own organizational progress report as well as the adorable caterpillar pillow you see above. Stop by her blog to read more!

Next week I'll be wrapping up the book tour with a look at my new sewing room here in Texas and how I'm working to get myself organized again after our move. It's all in progress now, and I can't wait to share the (hopefully!) finished product with you next Monday!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Busy Girl Sews: Quilty Habit

AMH Mini Quilt by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Back in 2012, I was partnered up with Jess of Quilty Habit for the Modernista Swap, and it was the start of a beautiful friendship. She was (and still is) crazy about all things Anna Maria Horner, so I made her the mini quilt and basket you see above, featuring AMH prints and a block from Elizabeth Hartman's Modern Patchwork book. It was hard to let go of my Perspective quilt, but thankfully Jess lets me get a peek at it on Instagram once in a while when she shares a shot of all the cute mini quilts on her sewing room wall! She is such a talented quilter, and her enthusiasm is always an inspiration to me. Today you must head over to her blog to see the Flutter quilt she made, which was inspired by a beautiful Design Seeds color board. I love this little butterfly baby quilt, and Jess's version couldn't be sweeter. Go take a look!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Busy Girl Sews: Plum & June

While I am spending my first night in our new home in Texas, my dear friend Beth from Plum & June is carrying on the Busy Girl Sews book tour this week. Beth and I have known each other since we both started blogging, and I was so happy to have her be a part of my book. She created the Advice for New Bloggers Blog Hop, which has helped so many new sewing bloggers over the past few years including me. She also recently co-wrote The Modern Medallion Workbook with Janice Zeller Ryan, an inspiring book full of beautiful medallion quilt patterns. Stop by her blog to see Beth's start on a Dotty Hexagon Pillow using stunning little scraps of Liberty fabric!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Long Goodbye

It was almost five years ago that our family first started talking about the idea of moving out of California to somewhere a bit less expensive and crowded. We weren't quite sure where exactly -- perhaps Texas -- but it wasn't really much more than talk back then. There were so many factors that made it impossible to consider a move at the time, and while we enjoyed dreaming about the possibilities, there wasn't anything we could do about it.

Maybe that's why I can hardly believe that this Saturday morning, we'll be piling everyone into two cars and heading down the 10 freeway toward San Antonio and our new home.

I know people who have moved three, four, even a dozen times in their lives, but for me this is all brand new. The truth is that I never thought I would leave California. When we moved from the little town of Sierra Madre to purchase a home with my parents in Rancho Cucamonga seven years ago, I thought that would be the one big move of our lives. I'd only been married for two years and my oldest daughter was barely walking. I had no idea what kind of lessons were coming my way in the years to come.

We've been slowly packing up this house for the past six months, and it feels like an eternity, the longest goodbye I've ever said. Over the last month we've checked off all the things we wanted to do before leaving: a last trip to the beach, visits to our favorite ice cream shop, dinner at the Japanese restaurant that my husband adores. James even took me back to my home town so that I could walk one more time past the house where I grew up in which five generations of my mother's family lived. On the way, I got to say farewell to old friends like the owner of the grocery store where I got my first job at 17 and the family who owns the Mexican restaurant where my parents used to take us for dinner every Friday night back when I was in junior high. It's amazing how important a part such people can play in the story of our lives.

There have been other partings, harder ones, with dear friends and family who have touched my heart with love and encouragement when I needed it desperately. You can't replace these kinds of people. It's just a matter of leaving little pieces of your heart with them as you go.

Tonight I sit on the floor in the empty upstairs loft while my family is sleeping, and I'm flooded with memories. This is the room where I was up all night for a good three years, feeding babies and watching Jane Austen movies on my computer at 3 in the morning. It's the room where my mom taught me how to use a sewing machine and where the guys talked and laughed in the evenings before bed. It's where Mom and I met in the middle of the night when we couldn't sleep, and I can't tell you how many times we wept and prayed together over sick children, my grandmother's dementia, our fears that we wouldn't be able to keep up with the mortgage payments. Somehow sharing the burdens made them easier to carry, and I always went back to bed thankful that I wasn't facing these things alone.

Looking back now, I realize that this is the house where I really grew up. I've learned so much within these walls about life and perseverance and yes, even myself. I'm so thankful for these experiences -- even the hard ones -- that made me who I am today and taught me to remember what's most important.

And maybe that's why, even though I'm excited about this new adventure our family is taking, it's a little hard to let go of these rooms that are now empty of things but still filled with so many precious memories...
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