Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sew Thinky Thursday

There are a few blogs I read regularly - like, every time they post, I'm reading. Sew Sweetness is one of them. Sara is an inspiration!  Today she put out the word for a new link party at Mommy's Nap Time called Sew Thinky Thursday.  Each Thursday, there will be a sewing/quilting question to write about.  I LIKE this and I'll tell you why!  I do the link parties. I do.  Not as much as I used to, but I do them.  But I get a little tired of having to "compete" with my photos to get noticed.  It's tiring and time consuming, and I don't always (er...ever?) have awesome photos to post of my projects.  So something I can do without "feeling the pressure."  

The question of the week is...
When did you start sewing? Tell us a bit about your sewing history. When did you realize you were really hooked? 

I grew up with a mom who sewed all the time.  She made a lot of our clothes as little kids, she made our family of 4 some matching Christmas outfits one year (picture red plaid in the 80's!), she made one of my prom dresses, which was awesome btw...she could whip anything up at pretty much a moment's notice.  She actually had a craft business for many years, where she would work all year sewing things, and go to about a million craft shows each fall and make a boatload selling her things.  

So you would THINK that obviously, that's how I learned to sew!  Wrong!  I mean, I think I owe big thanks to my mom for giving me the following: my "sewing gene," and my first two sewing machines.  Those things alone are huge.  Huge!  And some help over the phone here and there.  But as far as how I learned...I pretty much taught myself.  

My first project was a valance for my bedroom in college.  I made it out of red ticking on the Green Kenmore, my first machine.  I loved the smell of that machine.  I had very little clue what to do with it, but I knew how to sew a straight line!   So on & off, when I had something I wanted to sew, I'd do it ONLY if I only had to sew straight lines.  No clothing, no complicated-looking things.  Basically, pillowcases and straight-line curtains.  TRY to contain your excitement!  

Fast-forward about a decade after college, into married life.  Still occasionally sewing curtains and pillowcases.  Woo-woo.  I wanted to sew more interesting things, but was afraid to.  Then one day I realized that if I messed something up...who cares?  What's to be afraid of?  So I started to branch out.

This was one of the first things I made:
That's my girl in her preschool graduation dress.  4-5 years ago?
I was so proud of this dress.  It did not look pretty on the inside, and there were some problems with the outside, come to think of it, but I was so proud because 1. I actually did ruffles, and 2.SHE loved it!  And it went on from there...

Possibly my favorite picture EVER

OK I have to stop myself!  It's fun to go through all my picasa pictures and see all these things, some of them from a long time ago it seems!  These are actually just a few things that I've really liked from the past several years.  

This year I am branching out a little more.  In addition to learning to quilt, I have also decided that I'm going to "up" the level of my sewing - I want it to be a lot more finished-looking, and I want to use nicer fabrics in projects to come.  SO looking forward to that!   

Sunday, January 20, 2013

This foot was made for walking...out of the store

One of my goals this year is to quilt more. Which means, just quilt...because I technically made my one and only quilt last year (in December)!

I thought to myself, "self," you need a walking foot! Yes, I did use one when I made Abby's quilt...long story. Basically, I wasn't happy with the quilting part and I have a very strong suspicion that it wasn't my fault...!  DH would tell me, "it's a poor carpenter who blames his tools."  But I'm blaming my tools, deal with it! 

After reading what I could find and researching the options, I decided to bite the bullet and get an actual Bernina walking foot as opposed to a generic one. It was a HARD decision, as we're talking about a significant difference in price. But from what I understand, it really does make a difference. And this is something that I'm planning on using for many years. And if I don't...if something goes horribly, horribly wrong and I end up swearing off quilting forever...I can at least resell it at a decent price. Not that I'm expecting to do that or anything.

So I looked on the internet, where I generally assume things will be less expensive. The best price I could find was almost $200. Ugh. The generic version can be found on ebay for $67 - tempting... But after calling around to "local" dealers (the nearest one being 40 miles away!), I found prices of $159 (on sale) and $136 (all the time). Bingo! I was all set to do the $136 option (at this point that actually seemed like a reasonable price - still outrageous, though, if you ask me), and a crazy thought popped into my head: why not call the local repair shop? They're not a Bernina dealer, but I've dealt with them before for other machines here and there, and maybe they'd be able to order was worth a try.

So I called, gave the lady the part number...and she came back with a price of $99.  I was like, "Really?  The Bernina one?  #50?"  She was like, "yes that's the one!"  I was thrilled (again, relative thinking here), and ordered it!

So I got there the other day to pick it up, and the store owner (not the lady I had been dealing with) came out.  She got the foot out for me, and I could not believe it when she pulled out a generic foot.  (Cue the screeching record here!)

I said wait a minute, this is supposed to be an actual Bernina foot, not a generic one.  Immediately the room temperature dropped about 50 degrees.  She gave me the stink eye and indignantly informed me that she is not a Bernina dealer, and if I wanted a genuine foot, I'd have to pay at least twice what I paid for that one.  I told her that I was aware of that, which is why I was so happy that they could order it for me for so (relatively) little.  *I promise you, I was being as pleasant as humanly possible here!  I'm not trying to paint myself as the "nice" one and her as the "mean" one - promise!* I said that if I'd wanted a generic one, I'd have paid $70 for it on ebay and saved myself the $30.  I also told her that I gave the part number to the person who ordered it for me, and was under the distinct impression that this was a genuine part that I was buying. 

She motioned to the wall behind her and said, "I sell generic walking feet ALL DAY LONG.  I'm not an EBAY seller, I have WALLS.  And COSTS." 

At this point I was regretting ever being born.

She said, "LOOK. This was a special order and I can't return it.  NOW I'm just going to have to EAT it.  Just give me your [debit card]."  And no lie, she held out her hand and looked away from me. 

How crazy is that???  If I owned a struggling business that gets precious few customers as it is, you can bet I'd be kissing the butt of every single person who walked through my door.  Or at the very least, not being outright rude to them!

She didn't lose potential business from me, she lost actual business.  I was almost ready to leave the store with that foot and take my chances, because I know the store is struggling and I felt badly (not that it was my fault...that's just me I guess).  I had been planning on bring in machines to get serviced there.  But from the way she treated me, I can definitely see why she may not be getting the business that she wishes she was getting. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Do-Re-Mi

Cold, yucky day + newly cleaned sewing room (and I use the word "room" loosely) = great day for sewing!

I was asked to help with costumes for a local high school production of the Sound of Music this year.  I LOVE that musical.  For obvious reasons, I mean, what's not to love?  Especially the Captain.  Rrroooowww.    But I also love it because I was in it in high school.  That musical was a big turning point in my life, when I went from shy and mousy and afraid of my own shadow, to the outgoing good-time gal I am today!  A teacher encouraged me to try out, and while I didn't get the part I wanted (Leisl...16 going on 17...), I did get to be one of the children (Lousia, the blonde one who can make it up the tree with a whole jar of spiders, anyone?)  What FUN that was!  I met all sorts of people and just had the best time. 

So anyway, I am super excited to be making costumes for other kids to put this on.  I'll be working on the "curtain playclothes" and some nun habits.  Today I decided to do the younger 3 girls' play dresses.  Behold:

Not too exciting, but that's why it's called "WIP" and not "DONE" ;)
In one short afternoon, I realized what a control freak I can be!  The person in charge of ALL the costumes took the liberty of cutting all the pattern pieces for me.  At first I thought, what luxury!  But then I laid out the pieces and there wasn't a straight line to be found.  I spent an hour just "fixing" them to get them ready for sewing.  After that it was pretty smooth sailing...I was very thankful for my ruffling foot - it turns a 30 minute job into a 5-minute one.  LOVE IT!

I made some more progress on my Downton Abbey Knitalong...

Check out that thumb gusset!  Are you impressed?  :)  You shouldn't be; it's not hard.  It just looks cool.  And may I say, I LOVE this yarn.  It's Knitpicks Felici, which is part merino wool and part nylon.  It is so soft and smooth and I love the stripes - definitely my new favorite yarn right now!  I got this blue/brown colorway, and also one that has more pastels - pink/yellow/aqua.  I wonder what I will knit with that...?

No progress at ALL on my scrappy tripalong quilt, but I hope to get some work done on that this weekend.  I did finish the clutch I was working on last week; more on that soon! WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WIP Wednesday

(WIP = work in progress)

Good morning everyone!  I have SO many irons in the fire right now...but it doesn't feel overwhelming yet, so that's a good thing!

1. I've been slowly working on a "Scrappy Trip Around the World" quilt.  PRAY TELL, what is that, you ask? all started with Instagram.  (Are you confused yet?  I'm sure my mom can follow along; our minds work the same way. Right mom? :)  Long story short, there's a big huge unofficial "quiltalong" going on the blog/flickr/instagram world.  Here's where it started, and I thought I'd try it!

I will make 20 blocks; I have 7 done so far.  That seems humongous to me, but there are many who are making 36, 42, and even more blocks. 

This is going to be a(nother) cozy "tv blanket" for our family.  The blocks come together pretty quickly, actually, and I've learned new things here and there.  I have a quilter friend "in real life" and she gave me the tip to sew the strips together NOT all in a row, but on every other side.  I'm sure that makes no sense.  But some of mine were coming out like parallelograms instead of squares, and apparently I was sewing them together wrong!  I'm definitely trying this on the next few squares!

Want to keep up with my progress?  (Oh, who wouldn't want to do that???  You've got nothing better to do, right?)  I'm RACHELHAV on Instagram.  :)

2. Downton Abbey Mystery Knitalong
OK, more proof that I spend a leeeeetle maybe too much time online.  On Ravelry (I'm applecake33, don't ask me why), Jimmy Beans Wool is hosting a Downton Abbey knitalong.  It's supposed to be a mystery KAL, but with the first clue they told us what we were making.  So...not such a mystery.  But they only give us one clue per week, on Sundays, and the idea is that we all knit while watching DA.  I personally have to have eyes on the screen at all times during that show, so unless the pattern is to just knit all the way around, I'm pretty much sipping wine and intently watching and not really knitting.  But here is what I have so far, I'm loving it! (Oh - the project is "Dowager Countess Dinner Gauntlets" - basically fingerless mitts of some kind.)  Instead of the (gorgeous) suggested yarn, I'm using Knitpicks Felici - the same weight & fiber content, but more "Rachel-budget-friendly." 

I really hope that's right.  It doesn't seem right...

3. I just started this yesterday, and stopped when it came time to sew in the lining.  I'm making the Fabiola Clutch from I Think Sew - if it all goes well, I will put some in my shop (which is "on vacation" at the moment). 

So that's pretty much it, not that it's not MORE than enough for now!

What are you working on?  I'd love to hear!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What to read this year?

Here is the big list of books I read last year!  I tracked them all on Goodreads, a great place to find "what to read next" and be kinda social with your reading.  You can see what your friends are reading and read reviews and everything.  Go ahead and "friend" me if you want to; I always like to see what everyone else is reading!

My rather lofty goal for last year was 36; I read 32.  Not too shabby.   I went from being an occasional reader, to an every-day reader.  And DH started reading every day, too.  We're both still resisting getting Kindles/Nooks, but I can see the day is coming...maybe next Christmas.  :) 2012 reading list! 

Quitter, Jon Acuff
90 Minutes in Heaven: A true story of death & life, Don Piper
48 Days to the work you love, Dan Miller
Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream, David Platt
Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl, Lysa Teurkeurst
The Bishop of Rwanda: Finding Forgiveness amidst a pile of bones, John Rucyahana
The New Hide or Seek, James Dobson
Stormie: A story of forgiveness and healing, Stormie Omartian
In Harm's Way, Doug Stanton
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
Another Man's War, Sam Childers
Happy Accidents, Jane Lynch

Family Tree, Barbara Delinsky
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
The Magician's Nephew, C.S. Lewis
The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
Beezus and Ramona, Beverly Cleary
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis
The Giver, Lois Lowry
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
Gentlemen and Players, Joanne Harris
The Last Town on Earth, Thomas Mullen
The Parting, Beverly Lewis
A Voice in the Wind, Francine Rivers
An Echo in the Darkness, Francine Rivers
As Sure as the Dawn, Francine Rivers
Fire by Night, Lynn Austin
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Best Fiction: A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers.  Actually, the whole 3-book series.  It is not put-downable.  Seriously.  And when I finished the series, I actually felt lonely because my characters were gone! 
Runner-up: The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Best Nonfiction: Radical by David Platt.  Whether you agree or disagree with the guy, everyone should read this book.  It is SO thought-provoking and really made me change the way I view my life.
Runner-up:  Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand

Worst Fiction: The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen.  What a snooze-fest! 
Runner-up: The Parting, Beverly Lewis.  Amish fiction is not for me.  zzzzzzzz.......

Worst Nonfiction: Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch.  I picked it up because I think she's hilarious and I thought it would be a funny & entertaining read.  WRONG.  Just a big lot of "who-cares!"
Runner-up: Another Man's War, Sam Childers.  Interesting note: 1. Sam Childers lives about a town over from me.  DH has met him a few times.  2. The movie "Machine Gun Preacher" is about that guy.  3. This book could have been amazing, but I don't know if the author actually had an editor or not.  I'm guessing "not."  BUT, the subject matter covers up for the horrendous writing style & lack of organization. 


In 2013, my goal again is to shoot for 36 books.  Among those, I want to read:
- The Harry Potter series, or at least the first one.  If I like it, I'll read more.  Nothing like jumping on a bandwagon about 10 years later, right?

- The second series in the Baxter family saga by Karen Kingsbury.  I think they're the ones that start with F.  I love KK; every single book I've ever read of hers makes me cry like a baby!  I have already read the first series (Redepmtion), I want to pick it up again this year. 

I don't really know what else...I want to get some current books on my list, too.  Suggestions?

Currently I'm reading a self-help book; I can't resist a good self-help book every once in a while.  But I should be done in a day or two and then...what do I start with?

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Resolutions

Hello everyone!  Did you all survive the holidays?

I always love this time of year - the very BEGINNING.  The January issue of my magazines - my favorite issue of the year.  Although, wasn't BHG a little skinny this year?  I nearly threw it away because I thought it was a sales flyer at first.  (Does anyone get magazines in the mail anymore, besides me, my mom & my sister?)

Anyway, I'm always all about the new years' resolutions.  I actually did really well with them last year!  I figured out that they key to actually keeping them, is to make them realistic.  In 2012, I...

1. learned to crochet
2. read a ton of books

That's it.  Just two official resolutions.  Learning to crochet was great, I'm happy I know now.  I'm still working on that african flower afghan.  I need to finish up about 10 flowers (out of 120), and then join them all together.  I definitely should have done something simpler.  Why do I do this to myself?

And the books - what a difference.  I hardly read anything prior to last year.  I would read a book every now and then, but it always took me so long to get through one.  So last year I made a resolution to read at least 24 books - 2 a month.  I was on such a roll, that I changed my goal to 36.  By the end of the year, I had read 32 books!  That is amazing for me!  And it wasn't the monumental effort that I thought it would be.  I started going to bed earlier so that I could read a little before turning out the light.  Just that 30 minutes or so each night, plus an hour here or there while sitting at one of the kids' practices...32 books this year. 

So for 2013, I went a little crazy with the resolutions.  As I looked at my list, I realized that some are resolutions (things I can definitely make happen) and some are goals (things I work toward and HOPE they happen).  That shortened the list quite a bit!

1. QUILT!  I will make at least 3 finished quilts this year.  Part of this is also that I will use "good" fabric for at least one of them.  I'm a Jo-Ann's kind of gal - and by that I mean Joann's red tag, on sale, or I have a coupon and don't like to pay more than $3/yard.  This year I will step out a little, pry open my wallet and see what the fuss is all about with the designer fabrics.

2. READ the Bible every day.  Every Day.  This is not to be mistaken for reading "through" the Bible in a year or anything like that.  I have tried that a ridiculous number of times.  What happens is, if I'm doing WELL, I'll get to the minor prophets (that's the farthest I've ever made it), and start to fall behind.  Once I'm  behind, I start to feel totally overwhelmed and eventually give up.

No thank you!  I need NO MORE STRESS in my life!  And no more unnecessary self-imposed expectations or deadlines. 

What I am talking about is just reading something, from the Bible, every day.  I read a book that put it in such a great perspective.  Think about your food.  Do you remember what you ate for dinner last Tuesday night?  Do you remember what you had for lunch 3 days ago?  Probably not.  It may not have even been the most delicious, memorable meal of your life.  But it fed you.  Your body needed that food for that day.
When we read the Bible, that is food for our souls.  It does not have to be an earth-shattering revelation or mega spiritual experience every time.  But we need to feed our souls every day, just like we need to eat every day.  

3. BLOG.  My blog is super lame right now because I hardly ever write anything!  And because I don't write very often, there are very few comments (if any!) and there's not much "community" going on here.  I'd like to either change that, or give it up altogether.  Because limbo is such a pointless place to be.  So for the next 3 months, my resolution is to blog consistently and see what happens.  By consistently, I mean 3x/week or more.  I'm not expecting anything major, but as long as I can see some sign of life by the end of those 3 months (by the end of March), I'll stick with it.  :) 

There you have it, the narrowed-down list!   What about YOUR list for this year?