Friday, October 24, 2014

Chicago Flag Pillows

Check it out -- I finished a whole set of ten Chicago flag pillows!!


This has been an exciting project. I was asked if I would consider making some of these pillows as a custom order, and this is the first time I've done such a thing on such a large scale. I think it was totally worthwhile. While these pillows aren't the most glamorous sewing, they certainly are cute! There's nothing quite like mass producing appliqued stars though! lol. 


At the beginning of this project I decided to make a couple extra pillows, knowing a few people who would like them, and I'm happy to say that the two extras have also already sold! I think I'll probably make a few more of these in the next couple months. Thankfully Chicago has a pretty flag. :)



Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to run a successful swap

I'm not going to claim to be an expert swap mama, but sometimes it's good to know a few things before deciding to host a sewing swap. Here's a little post about what I know (29 swaps worth of experience!). Please feel free to add comments at the end with any additional suggestions!

Before starting a swap you'll want to think about a few things, what sort of swap will it be? Is this for anyone to join, or just people you know and trust? Is it going to be a quick swap, or one that spans several months?

At the bare minimum you'll want to have the basic info covered BEFORE posting a signup.

  1. Who - will the swap be limited to Instagram people, limited to flickr users, limited to people you know locally? Be sure to be clear - if you don't want Suzie who is not a regular internet user - then say so in the beginning. If you want active swappers you might consider limiting it to one site - IG or Flickr.
  2. What - What will you swap? Be as specific as possible (for example: One medium pouch, no extras required). Be upfront if you're expecting people to send a bunch of extras - some people prefer to send just handmade things.
  3. Where - Will the swap be hosted on flickr or Instagram or both? Can I sign up if I don't regularly visit any social media? Do I need to be active? You can request swappers to check in / comment on photos once a week - encourage them to encourage each other. Everyone loves a chatty swap partner.
  4. When - Give us a timeline. When will the signups start/end. When will you send out partner info, what is the deadline for mailing. For longer swaps you may want to set a "don't mail before" date too.
The above info should be posted when signups are opened. Include this info in the important "partner email" too for easy reference.

Some additional things to keep in mind:
  • Swap mamas - You'll want some help with this. Ask a couple people you trust (hopefully ones who have previous swapping experience). Communicate either by private flickr group, google docs, or a group email. 
  • How many swappers to allow? This is all up to you, but in my experience having no more than 10 swappers per swap mama is ideal. For a quick matched swap maybe 15 swappers per swap mama. Most swaps would be good to be capped at 100 swappers... it gets awfully hard to keep track of everyone once the swap grows so huge. If you're an expert swap mama then trust your judgement. If you're a newbie swap mama, then try for 30 - 50 swappers. Smaller is easier.
  • Quick and easy vs partners matched carefully. Many swaps are more of a "you get what you get" when it comes to partner pairing. I find that swaps are a lot more fun if I know the person I'm swapping with, or if I share similar style / likes with my partner. This takes more time for the swap mamas to pair up partners, but it's worth it. It is especially helpful to pair people up by their style for longer running swaps. By pairing by style it helps swappers to feel confident in their end product - they can stay closer to their own comfort zone. (insiders' info: when I sit down to pair up partners for Doll Quilt Swap, it takes a couple hours of pouring over my group's feeds, and taking notes about skill, color style, and modern vs traditional). For shorter swaps (or swaps that are for a small item / quick item) it's just as well to pair randomly. 
  • Communication - it is important for swappers to know that they are expected to reply to all emails from their swap mama. Being open and upfront about these thing will help swappers stay on track (and it'll keep you from having people flake out at the last minute). For longer swaps it's good to have the swap mamas communicate with their swappers once a month (at least once in the middle of the swap for shorter swaps). This gives the swapper the comfort of being able to say that they need more time / will send late / can't follow through on the commitment. It's easier to handle these things mid-swap. Swap mamas should keep track of this communication - if you notice one swapper who doesn't reply keep hounding them - nothing is worse than a swapper going AWOL and leaving their partner with nothing. 
  • Deadlines are to be broken? Be clear about what is expected. Generally it's a good rule to say that if you mail late this time, you can't swap next time. A late sender will have to sit the next round out. There is always an exception to the rule, but be clear that it's better to be in contact with your swap mama about sending late. 
  • The swapper who refuses to communicate - there's always one. You email, they don't email back. It takes them ages to post a progress pic, etc. Beware. Sometimes this is just a case of being busy, but a swapper who doesn't communicate is much more likely to flake on the swap. Be persistent. 
  • Timelines - Small swaps (one item, small item, holiday themed, color themed) are great for 4-6 week swaps. No big commitment. For larger swaps (doll quilt, purse/bag, multiple item, more personal) 2-3 months is good.
  • Lottery - The lottery system is good for larger swaps. Here's how that works: everyone signs up via google forms - the swap mama's look at each signup and OK each swapper (no late sending last time, regular posting on their IG/flickr, etc). If signups surpass the number of swappers allowed then you'll pull names from the list of signups who have been OK'd. This allows you to gently decline a swapper who just isn't ready for a big swap / who has burned the group before by not sending / who is negative in the group / etc. I wish this method weren't necessary, but it's a good protection should you need to say "no thanks" to someone who signs up. 
  • International swapping - International swapping is so much fun! Who doesn't love to receive international mail? But - international mailing is EXPENSIVE. Please please please give swappers a spot on your signup list to request a USA only partner. I personally have to edit what I can send because I'm not willing to spend more than $20 on postage. Take a look, anything more than a flat rate envelope is more than $20 out of country. In my experience it doesn't add much work for the swap mamas to match partners to those of their own country when necessary. For swappers outside of the US, they have less chance of getting a partner in their country - I think they're aware of that. I offer "USA only", and "I'll ship anywhere" for swaps I run.
  • Extras - even if you tell people that extras aren't required, you'll still have people who send them. If you require people to send extras give them an idea of what is expected "one small handmade item (pincushion, needlebook, etc), and a treat" or "a favorite notion and two FQ's." People will still go way above and beyond, but they will not feel required to do so. 
  • Angels - even the best run swaps have some flakes. If someone flakes out and doesn't send their swap package, have a couple people on hand who are willing to be "angel quilters" - to make a swap package for the person who's partner flaked out. If it's a quick / smaller swap you can announce at the beginning that there will be no angels - meaning that if someone flakes out you aren't responsible for finding an angel. For larger / longer swaps it's good to have a couple people ready for this task. If you don't know of anyone willing, announce it to the group - usually someone will step forward and be willing to help. 
Swap mama tools
  • google forms / google spreadsheet - poke around on google drive. There is an option to "create form" That is the questionaire. Include all your required questions. Then click on "Responses" on the top task bar -- that's how you'll set it to send all the responses into a google spreadsheet. Easy. If you have trouble setting this up let me know... I'll do my best to answer any specific questions. Example of a swap signup google form is below (feel free to enter random stuff into the categories and hit send - then I can show you the spreadsheet too).
  • Swap List - (pictured below) this is used to keep track of one swap mama's bebe's. It's a quick at-a-glance way to keep track of the important stuff.
  • sample emails - I have sample emails saved for basic "swap partner email" emails - if you need some help formulating I can send you a sample. 


Swap List

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My First Aeroplane Bag

You read that right, my first, as in I can't wait to make another!


Clearly I love Sara's patterns, and this pattern has been on my "I want to sew that" list since it was in the pattern testing phase. I was pretty excited when Sara asked if I would like to make a bag for her booth at market - out of her new fabric Fantasia - I knew it would have to be an Aeroplane Bag. Here it is in Krokos Sprites Teal, with Canary yellow. Perfection! 

This bag came together so quickly - I can hardly believe it. I loved the process since it's so much like making a zip pouch -- perfect for me! I would recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to make an overnight bag that they don't have to spend a year planning and gearing up for (Weekender anyone?). This one is much more attainable and fun! 


If you're at Quilt Market this weekend, stop by Sara's Art Gallery booth and check out this bag and all her other fab projects. I can't wait to stalk all the designer's Instagram feeds for all the beautiful pics! Maybe someday I will make it to Market, but until then I'll live through everyone else's pretty pics!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Birthday Emily B!

Last week was my best quilt buddy's birthday. So what did I do? I secretly made her a gift. 


I had made a project pouch for Emily when we first met - using my favorite (Kona Curry), and she uses it all the time, so I thought she might like a new one. 

I had a bit of Kona Papaya stashed just for the occasion, and I paired it with a good Tula Pink Fuschia. I'm pretty happy with the fabrics I came up with here. Emily likes a more vibrant yellow than I usually use, so it was fun to work with such bright colors! 

I'm happy to say I even remembered my label and my prairie points on the inside!
I'm hoping to share the details about this pouch at a later date - but for now you can see the front and the inside. :) 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

#CitrusSwap Sent and Received


I joined a little swap on Instagram called #citrusswap. It was a lot of fun... short and sweet. We all made the medium Open Wide Pouch by Anna / Noodlehead using citrus themed colors, and we filled them with citrus themed goodies. 


My partner hasn't received hers yet, so I won't share who this one is for. I did start off making these tiny little blocks (above), but in the end I didn't like them as much as I liked the back - Anna Maria Horner fabric slays me every time!

I tried something new and added my signature prairie points in at the zipper - It's an okay look, but I will probably stick to putting them in the side seam or the inside seams from now on.


I used Erin / Dog Under My Desk's tutorial for the little zipper end. It turned out just perfect! I'm so proud of that perfect little zip end!


I also received my swap! I received this from @courtiepie Look at all the cute stuff she sent! Thanks so much!! This swap was a lot of fun!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sewing and Swapping

Tag me in any sewing swap you see - I'll help everyone stay in the loop. #sewingandswapping

I've decided to start a regular blog post sharing the swaps that are starting soon on Instagram.

So many great friendships can be made through online swaps and it's so much fun to get happy mail.

Here's what I need you to do: If you see a swap announced (or if you're hosting a swap) let me know! I'll post a "List your swaps here" post on Instagram, leave the # for the swap, and tag the swap host. You can tag me on the instagram swap announcement pic too -- but it's hard to keep up with them all! Alternately you can email me (emedoodle at Yahoo dot com). I'll try to keep up with this as much as possible.

Often swaps will fill up really quickly - so I'll try to post the full swaps separately -- follow the host of the swap to get notices of the next rounds!

If you don't see a swap that fits your needs, start one! (Maybe I'll write a separate blog post for tips on running a successful swap).

Here we go the first edition of #SewingAndSwapping

#Kawaiihalloweenswap is being hosted by @shaunajared75 signups end Mon 8/25
#IGminiswap hosted by @curly_boy1
#dumplingswap hosted by @rockislander (signups open 8/15)
(Flickr) the Fox_Swap hosted by (signups open until 8/17)
(Flickr) The Fabric Scrap Swap (signups open until 8/15)

Signups closed (watch the hashtags and swap hosts for possible future swaps!)
#citrusswap hosted by @rockislander
#icecreampencilcaseswap hosted by @lillaluise
#starbucksmugrugswap hosted by @yvcampbell77 (flickr only?)
#verycherryswap hosted by @emilyannskloset
#thestrawberryswap hosted by @frampuna
#schnitzelandboominiquiltswap hosted by @schnitzelandboo
#kittyminiquiltswap hosted by @iamlunasol





Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WIP - AMH Love Quilt

Untitled

I have an obsession, and it's nothing new. I am in LOVE with Anna Maria Horner's fabric designs. 

Way back when I started quilting the first designer fabric I ever purchased was from her Chocolate Lollipop line. I was hooked immediately, and I've been hoarding bits of her fabrics ever since.

A bit of shadow piecing.  #tinypiecing #miniquilt #freepieced #konacharcoal #konacotton #aurifil #annamariahorner

For the past few months I've been (intermittently) working on a quilt I call AMH Love. It's all my tiny bits of AMH fabric, and I'm hoping it comes together just as I envision it. 

To ensure that I don't screw it up - I made a maquette - a practice mini. (I learned this term from Jacquie Gering, what an inspiration!) So while I'm not sharing my full project just yet, here are some snaps of the Maquette.

Playing along with #whatsonyourdesignwall ... this guy is on the design ironing board (not even floor space to spare lol)... since this pic was taken its been quilted, but needs some thread burying and binding to happen soon. Wanna play along #chicagomqg

I'm loving the dense quilting (what? I haven't taken pics of the quilting yet). I'm loving the paper pieced letters ("my first alphabet" pattern by Diane Bohn)