Monday, December 8, 2014

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

To all of you who are here for the Giveaway Day - Welcome!!
If you're new here feel free to poke about. My favorite things are tiny piecing, precision foundation paper piecing, dense free motion quilting, and pouch making! You can see my finished quilts in the tabs at the top of the page, sorted by year. My pouches are here

I sell these pouches on an order by order basis (no etsy shop yet), so if you love them just contact me!

Now for the giveaway! 

I'm offering one medium boxed pouch made out of your favorite color of sparkle vinyl (chosen from my vinyl stash). The medium boxed pouch measures 7" x 3" x 3" and it is great for storing sewing notions, make up, or really anything. 

To enter the giveaway leave a comment below telling me what you'd put in this pouch (you can make up anything- really, amuse me). 

The giveaway will be open until Friday 12/12, and the winner will be  chosen by mr, and notified by 12/12. USA shipping only please.

Check out more giveaways on Sew Mama Sew!

This giveaway is now close. Mr chose comment #122 as the winner. Congrats Carmen! Please reply to the email I sent promptly so I can get your pouch on it's way to you!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sabrina's Quilt

Today I woke up with the inkling to finish Sabrina's quilt, but I hesitated. Quilting shouldn't be like this - hesitation. I hesitated because my brother is expecting HIS quilt. He mentions it. He asks when his is coming. The fact that Sabrina's quilt top has been finished and ready for more than a year doesn't seem to matter. The fact that I don't have the money to buy fabric to make a (big) fantastic quilt for my brother and his new wife doesn't matter. I feel the expectancy of it. I don't like it.

See, I never expected to make Sabrina a quilt. From the very beginning of my cousin Lindsay's pregnancy there was no expectation. I have struggled with infertility for years. Pregnant people piss me off. Lindsay totally understands that (as a young woman, unexpectedly pregnant, she was worried about how I'd be pissed - I admire that sensitivity). I don't make baby quilts. Some people do - you have a baby, you get a quilt. Not from me. But when Sabrina was born I felt a need to process feelings, feelings about how I don't have a newborn. So I quilted. 

Sabrina's quilt top was finished very quickly. I had the desire to use it as a practice for renting out time on a longarm. I have a super intense quilt that I want to longarm myself - but first I'd need practice. So, Sabrina's quilt was set aside for a while while I sorted out how to do all that. At this point I don't think it's entirely necessary to do a whole quilt in practice. I don't need to seek the perfection that I had once intended. I need real and raw. So there is no need for me to wait to finish Sabrina's quilt (and for God's sake, she's two years old already!).

But. If I finish this quilt what will my brother say. His sweet wife won't say anything, but it seems that Dan is expecting this. I don't blame him, I just don't think he gets what making a quilt is all about - he doesn't get the creative process. I don't think he understands the difference between just whipping out a fun / easy quilt (like Sabrina's), and making a work of art - tailored to the recipient (like his will be).

I feel like quilters are always trying to express this. Quilts are a lot of work, fun, exciting, beautiful work. But to put an expectation on finishing a quilt for a specific purpose - to carry the feelings and love that I feel for my little brother - I just can't get there right now.

So do I finish Sabrina's quilt? Time will tell. Maybe I will. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sparkle Zip Pouches

Medium pouch holds all necessary hearing aid, cochlear implant supplies shown. Drying beaker, Phonak case, air blower, battery tester, listening tube, and extra batteries.
I'm making pouches to sell -- no Etsy shop just yet, but if any of my blog friends want to order one (or more), drop me a line here or by email.

My standard prices are as follows:
Large: 10" x 4" x 5" - ($17) holds toiletries, shampoo, hair & makeup supplies.
Medium : 7" x 3" x 3" - ($17) holds sewing notions, makeup, meds, hearing aid supplies, etc.
Small: 5" x 2.5" x 2.5" - ($12) holds cell phone accessories, meds, daily hearing aid supplies (case, extra batteries, FM necessities, etc).
Chapstick: 3" x 1" x 1" - ($12) holds chapstick, tampons, or change.

Price includes shipping to USA. International shipping available at cost.

Color availability changes from time to time. Most sizes available in most colors. Purple and white are available in small or chapstick size only.

Custom sizes available.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Small projects -- Yep, I'm still sewing!

Some of my projects for the #HogwartsSwap I love all of these things so much!
I'm not one to mention how absent from my blog I've been -- I have been -- but I try not to spend time whining about it. I blog for myself... and I wish I had more time to devote to it. If you're wondering though, I HAVE been blogging an awful lot recently... over on the Chicago MQG blog. I've been the tech/blog/forum officer for the past two years, and it's been a time hog here recently. I love helping with my guild, but I'm looking forward to next spring when I'll be back to just managing my own blog! 

A little binding action. 
Another factor in my lack of blogging, has been that I have been working on some projects I can't share just yet. These are mostly projects for magazines. It is still pretty unreal to be preparing projects for a publication. I'm really happy about this step in my professional sewing. I really love writing up patterns and I'm hoping to branch into publishing a couple quilt patterns. I'm pressing myself to grow. I don't want to play it safe all the time. It's fun and exhilarating to try something new and challenging! 

Happy Halloween! Simple raw edge applique pillow using Pellon Wonder Under! - This fabric glows in the dark!
So though, many of my recent projects are not ready to be shared just yet, there are some fun sewn items I've been working on here and there. 

A tiny finish. Voile is amazing. Machine binding is my friend.
For the most part these smaller projects are getting posted to Instagram (@mommysnaptime) - but for the less tech savvy I'll share them here too. 

In case you wondered, the best two books I've found about Cochlear Implants (and I've read a ton of them): "The Parents' Guide to Cochlear Implants" by Patricia Chute, and "Let's Hear It For Almigal"by Wendy Kupfer.

Oh yeah. This is happening too -- Allie is getting a Cochlear Implant soon! We're super excited / a little nervous. I think it's going to be a great thing for her. Also, she is EXCITED that her processor will be waterproof. She can't wait to be able to hear while at the pool!!!!! 

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!