Sunday, August 17, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

My sweet and talented friend Sarah of Berry Barn Designs was kind enough to ask me to be one of the next stops on the Around the World Blog Hop, a chance for artists of all kinds to talk about how they approach the creative process. Consider this your own free backstage pass to what goes on here at Fabric Mutt...

Look for the Craft Book Month Blog Hop and Quilter's Mixology Blog Hop, both coming in September!

What am I working on?

I've been a busy girl lately, trying to stay ahead of upcoming deadlines. At the moment I'm scheduled to be in four different blog hops next month, and that means a lot of sewing! Two of my projects come from the brilliant books you see above, both of which I highly recommend to you. I'm planning to write up a tutorial for my Tiger Tracks Satchel, and I have a few fun little projects on my "when I have time" list. I've also put in a bit of work on my book which is heading into the final editing stages this fall before it's released in the spring. I can hardly wait to share it with you!

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I'm the queen of the quick finish! When I'm trying to juggle housework, homeschooling our three girls, sewing deadlines, family activities, and daily errands, there's nothing more valuable to me than a project that I can make in a day or two. When I can work on something a little more complex, it's always a treat, but I've learned to make peace with the reality of my time limits for now.

Inspiration is everywhere! Right now I'm loving the colors and graphic design elements in this row of old books that are sitting on the top shelf of my desk.

Why do I create what I do?

It's so interesting to look back on how my work has changed over the past few years. There are always going to be new patterns, designers, and color schemes that influence what I'm doing. I spend a good amount of time each month looking at design trends in a number of areas besides sewing -- fashion, graphic design, interior decorating -- and it's been a great learning process for me. I've seen my tastes swing back and forth between modern and traditional, landing somewhere in the middle. I've also really come to value simplicity in design.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- there's nothing more important than to make what you love. I think it's great to challenge yourself every now and again by trying something new, but it's a mistake to try to be something you aren't. The longer I sew, the more clearly I understand what I really love to make and the less likely I am to jump on a bandwagon that isn't for me. Of course, I can still appreciate the talent and thought that have gone into a project, even if it isn't something I would make myself. That's the beauty of this online creative community. Mostly I'm just incredibly grateful to have the chance to not only sew projects that make my heart sing, but to share them with people who care to hear about them. This blog has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

1. Patchwork Pouch, 2. Everyday Party Quilt, 3. Plain & Fancy Mini Quilt, 4. Katie Jump Rope Pillow, 5. Summer, 6. Nursery Versery Apron

How does my creative process work?

It depends on what I'm making. I've become really interested in how bags and other accessories are put together. I love to walk through the purse section of a department store and spend time looking at seams and taking photographs of interesting shapes. I'm sure the salespeople think I'm crazy, but I find it absolutely fascinating. I always get ideas for things I'd like to experiment with in bag patterns of my own.

I often sit down with graph paper and colored pencils to sketch out ideas before I start sewing, but sometimes I just throw all caution to the wind and start working without a definite plan in mind. I usually make notes when I'm creating a new pattern so that I can recreate the project if I want to write up a tutorial later on. Of course, once in a while -- say in the case of a certain previously mentioned satchel -- I get too excited and don't stop to write down measurements...

Heather Ross fabric is always a good idea...

When it comes to quilts, there are projects that I make to showcase fabric, and then there are fabrics I use because they let the pattern shine. I'm a stickler for getting things just right when it comes to design elements in any project I make. I'm not devastated if a pair of blocks don't match up perfectly or if my seams aren't pressed exactly right, but if I choose the wrong print for a quilt binding, it's going to haunt me every time I look at it. I probably spend more time on project design than on anything else, but I don't mind because it's definitely my favorite part of the process.

One of my current "little projects" in process -- a box bag featuring Denyse Schmidt's fantastic new Hadley collection

I hope you've enjoyed a little peek behind the curtain at how my creativity works. I've asked two of my oldest and dearest blogging friends to share with you next Monday. Beth is the amazing woman behind Plum and June, a blog which has done so much to promote and connect new sewing bloggers all over the world with her annual New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop. She always inspires me with her fearless sewing and her incredibly stunning photography (just look at this post to see what I mean). Becca writes a lovely, witty journal of her sewing adventures at Bryan House Quilts. She has a great eye for color and more patience with half square triangles than I will ever have. Mostly, though, I just desperately want her Nikki Tote Bag. Both of these ladies have been a huge encouragement to me in my own sewing journey, and I can't wait to see what the year ahead holds for them.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sewing School: Pillowcases

It's been a busy week of jumping back into a school schedule, which is both a tough adjustment (no more staying up until midnight watching Burn Notice with my husband) and a good one (little girls who are busy with classwork have less time to drive each other bonkers). Bunny has been begging me for another sewing lesson, and a special fabric package gave us the perfect opportunity for a new project. Illustrator Missy Kulik sent me a few of her cute designs on fabric this summer so that I could sew something up with them for my blog. Bunny immediately fell in love with the strawberry print, and we spent an afternoon making a new pillowcase for her bed. I even let her do a little sewing all by herself for this one, and I don't think I've ever seen her so proud.

Bear and Mouse were indignant to be left out, of course, but I still have this girly Diamonds & Rubies print left. I have no doubt that it will become a set of pillowcases before the month is over...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fabric Audition: Palm Springs

Palm Springs Fabric Audition Zipper Pouch by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

It's been a while since I've posted a fabric audition on the blog, but I'm hoping to share at least one or two of these each month from now on. Along with a curated stack of fabric, I'll be sharing a Pinterest board of photos to go along with the theme as well as a project made from the auditioned prints. I always enjoy auditioning fabrics, and adding these last two steps to the process has been so much fun!

Audition Stats (top to bottom): Barcelona City Map in Saffron by Zen Chic for Moda, Essential Dots Black on White by Moda, Modern Home Little Leaves by Monaluna, Nicey Jane Picnic Bouquet in Tangerine by Heather Bailey for Free Spirit, Sun Print Feathers in Onyx by Allison Glass for Andover, Botanics Foliage in Tangerine by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman

Today's stack is inspired by the sunny shades of Palm Springs, that famously lovely desert spot located just over an hour away from where I live. I've had some wonderful vacations there with family and friends over the years. The heat is intense, but beautiful views and great food make up for it. You'll find some fabulous examples of retro design there too, several of which you can see on my Palm Springs Fabric Audition Pinterest board.

I decided to make a simple striped pouch from this audition. These prints look great with yarn dyed Essex linen in leather, and I love the orange Aurifil thread that I used to quilt the front and back. The pouch is lined in the floral Heather Bailey print which is such a happy thing to see each time I open that zipper.

I have more fabric auditions in the works as we speak, but feel free to let me know in the comments below if you have any themes or color palettes that you'd like to see me tackle this year. If I put something together with your idea, I'll be sure to give you and your blog a mention in my post!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tiger Tracks Satchel

Cotton + Steel Tiger Tracks Satchel by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Three hours.

That's how long it took me from the moment I found a package from Hawthorne Threads in the mailbox all the way up until I put the finishing touches on this little satchel bag. When I laid eyes on Alexia Abegg's adorable linen tigers for Cotton + Steel, I just couldn't wait to start sewing.

Cotton + Steel Tiger Tracks Satchel by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I've had miniature satchel bags on the brain this month, dreaming up designs and wanting to try them out. This was my first effort, and I have to say, I'm completely smitten with the results. I kept this version very simple and relatively small -- about 9 1/2" x 11" x 2 1/2". The bag is lined in black and white linen Mochi Dots, and I used cotton webbing for the straps. All the stitching is done with Aurifil thread in my favorite shade of gold.

Cotton + Steel Tiger Tracks Satchel by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Several of you have asked me on Instagram if I'll be writing a pattern for this one. The answer is yes. Give me a week or two, and I'll have something up on the blog.

And thanks for the encouragement, my friends.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cotton + Steel Dorm Pillow

Cotton + Steel Patchwork Dorm Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Maybe it's because school starts up around here in about two weeks. Maybe it's because I was singing along to music from my college days while I folded laundry the other morning. For whatever reason, when I started putting together a patchwork pillow cover using prints by Cotton + Steel, it occurred to me that this cushion would have been right at home in my dorm room back in the 90's.

Cotton + Steel Patchwork Dorm Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

This pillow is made of 3" squares from the Hatbox, Mustang, and Moonlit collections. I raided a few Kona charm packs for some matching solids to mix things up a little. The cover is quilted in a variegated Aurifil thread that glows softly in shades of pink, yellow, and lavender, and I backed it in two different prints from Mustang by Melody Miller.

Cotton + Steel Patchwork Dorm Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Those colors and prints somehow find just the right balance between preppy and bohemian. And yes, my daughters are already fighting over it...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Butterfly Patch Baby Quilt Tutorial

Butterfly Patch Baby Quilt Tutorial by Fabric Mutt for Riley Blake Designs

I'm guest posting over at the Riley Blake Designs blog today with a Cutting Corners College tutorial for my Butterfly Patch Baby Quilt. If you're looking for a quick baby shower gift, this is it. My version features Zoe Pearn's sweet fabric collection, A Beautiful Thing, which has some perfectly darling prints in favorite obviously being the butterflies. Head on over to check it out!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Market Set

Melody Miller Market Set by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Yesterday was my mother-in-law's birthday, and we celebrated by spending several days in San Diego with her and my father-in-law. It was a great little vacation -- lots of fun activities and family time. Before we drove down there on Monday, I sewed up a little gift for her.

Melody Miller Market Set by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I'm a huge fan of anything by Rifle Paper Co., including this adorable shopping list pad which I picked up at Anthropologie. A few prints by Melody Miller, some twill tape and batting, a rubber band, and a wooden button all came together in about an hour to make a simple little carrier that fits nicely inside a purse. I love quick projects like these which can be easily pulled out when I need a nice gift in a hurry.

Happy Birthday, Grandma Mary. We love you!
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