Friday, December 19, 2014

This is 25.

This week was my 25th birthday! Woohoo! Not only am I a quarter of a century old, but I can change my age bracket on surveys (no more feeling like a baby in the 18-24 category) and rent a car. Though, that's about it. :D I've seen other bloggers write about birthdays, and this seems to be an important enough one for me to reflect on. I haven't really talked in depth about my life outside of quilting on the blog, so here's the scoop.

Self worth is an important topic to talk about. It's a bit unusual to blog about, I think, because it could come off as sounding whiny, or, on the other end of the spectrum, overconfident. However you end up taking this in, I feel like I just need to talk about it. So, thank you in advance for reading. :)

My current long-term project in timeout: the epic Anna Maria Horner medallion quilt (original design)

My husband, family, friends, and this crazy awesome quilting thing have been holding me together these last two and a half years. When I graduated from college in May 2012, I was completely confident (and naive), believing I would soon be living my dream job as a teacher. I was a top ten student in high school, I graduated magna cum laude with History Department Honors in college, I was praised for the excellent job I had done in student teaching, I'd worked my butt off, I went on many, many interviews and some second and third interviews, and then... nothing. I try to convince myself that it isn't all me - the New Jersey teaching job market is so competitive and thin right now, and it's only gotten worse since 2012 (in my opinion).

The first September after graduation was the hardest. Several teachers in my graduating class did find teaching jobs and talked/posted pictures of their new classrooms, their back-to-school shopping, their excitement... and there I was with a very part time job and substitute teaching, sitting at my sewing machine at night. I was happy for them but it still hurt in an awkward way. It's really hard to train and pour tons of money into something that you feel is your life's calling, only not to get that chance. It beats you up inside. You wonder: "Am I not good enough for this?" "What was I thinking?" "What could I have done differently?"  and worst of all, "What do I do next?" I know these thoughts are pervasive amongst my generation as we travel the murky waters of our first years of employment.


I didn't stop trying. I worked a few maternity leave/summer school/after school teaching positions. I've gained a lot of experience teaching and helping many kids PreK-12 that I never would have met if I was a full time teacher. I'm so grateful for all those wonderfully unique, funny, brilliant students. The downside is the whole we-need-to-make-money part. I've been yearning to go back to school to earn more certifications and/or a master's degree, but that requires money that I especially don't have because I'm paying off the loans from my BA. Up until last week, I was working several part time education jobs (paraprofessional/aide, private tutor, tutor at a center, babysitting, substitute teaching), but now, I've acquired a full time paraprofessional position. This job allows me to work with kids all over the middle school (my favorite level), and that makes me so happy. So, for now, at least until school hiring season (around March), I can stop worrying about some things and wear less hats. My self worth is on the mend. I'll be okay. I realize that everything will work out at some point and that I need to be a bit more patient. "Good thing come to those who wait," right?

Now: sewing. In Fall 2012, quilting was already in my life, but not in a way that I needed it. Over the last couple of years, it has morphed into much, much more than a hobby; it's more like a necessity and a lifeline. I realize that it's unusual for a twenty-something to sew as much as I do. I am on a mission to get as many people sewing as I can, no matter what age!


Back to the lifeline part: Sometimes, I wonder what I'd be doing without sewing (probably sitting around reading, but I make time for that anyway. Really, what would I be doing???). I get extremely antsy when I haven't sewn much in a week (ask Mike!) and/or when I have too many responsibilities and not enough free sewing time. That's why, next year, I'm going to try to focus on what I want to sew. I did a much better job of this overall in 2014, but there's always room for improvement. Now, I'll quote my brilliant friend, Renee:

"Dear Self, I promise never again to sign up for a fabric challenge I am not completely inspired by. I promise not to agree to use an advanced sewing pattern that I've never heard of before, know nothing about the pattern writer, or can find any additional resources for online. I promise not to try and make a style of quilt I'm not drawn to. I promise to try to be content, if not happy with the machine, fabric, thread, etc that I have now. And I'm sorry about all the headaches I've caused you recently by not doing all these things. XOXOX -Me." 

Because sewing is too much fun and too much of a blessing to be stressed about it. Say it with me and repeat!


Quilting and blogging as therapy has stretched me in other ways I couldn't have imagined a few years ago. As many of you know, I just completed my first year as President of the Central Jersey MQG, and I'm running for a second term in January. I've been acting as webmaster for going on 3 years, and I was VP before that. I've also become a teacher of quilting and a public speaker. I seriously can't wait to see what 2015 holds! Quilting has healed me and reinvigorated me to follow my dreams (corny as that sounds), whatever they end up becoming.


Here's my last thought: when people reach out to me through email, when people comment on this blog or on Instagram, when we start having funny conversations or drooling over fabric together or planning new quilts that many never even come to fruition... that puts the cherry on top of this quilting life.  Sometimes, it's like you've stuck your hand in my self-worth jar and succeeded in scraping some out. So, I'm thankful for all of you, and especially my guild members, for making all of this worth it!


So, this is 25. It will be a good one. I can feel it!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Scrap Happy

 

My scrap bins have been getting overwhelming. Seriously. I save the craziest pieces, and unless it's a particularly beloved fabric, the weird ones go into the trash now. I love using scraps, though. I don't know any other way to get rid of good scraps except to use them; I just can't part with them otherwise.


Making a quilt for one of my little nieces has been an adventure so far. I started with triangles of Utopia fabric, surrounded them with solids, and started to make "waves" of color. Basically, I started piecing like-sized strips of scraps together in the same color (different shades), and it just evolved. It's easy enough piecing that I was also able to watch Love, Actually over a couple of days (best Christmas movie) (okay, not really the best - I'm a Muppet Christmas Carol kind of girl). I can't wait to quilt this top and give it to my niece! There are a lot of cute fabrics to find - kind of like a modern I-Spy quilt.


You can see the waves better in this picture that Jessica took at our Tuesday guild meeting!

I've been a bit quiet on the blog lately, but it's mostly because I'm hammering away at Christmas projects and working on guild stuff (planned the meeting this week, updated the website, and currently organizing voting for our upcoming exhibit). I also started working full-time at school this week (!!). Winter break is oh-so-close, though, which means LOTS of sewing. :)


 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Positive thoughts on QuiltCon Rejection

All three of my quilts were rejected from QuiltCon, and that's alright.


I really wasn't upset about it when I got the emails. I am an emotional (read: high energy) person, so I do take things like this very seriously! However, I was only entering quilts from the year that I was proud of - none that I had specifically made for QuiltCon. I could imagine being upset if I had tried specifically to make for one of the show's challenges...

Do you see the problem, though? The problem is that we are all so awesome, and there are so many interpretations of modern that there's NO WAY we could all be able to show off our quilts at QuiltCon. There were over 1,300 entries!  That's AMAZING! Look what's happening to our modern movement! It's not so much a movement anymore. It's here to stay. It's not moving anywhere. ;)

 Home

Sure, it would have been nice to limit individual submissions and let more people in, which would reduce the amount of people who were accepted multiple times. I also see the value of the judges choosing the "best quilts" for their vision and aesthetic. Our guild has another modern quilt exhibit in this year's Quilt Fest of New Jersey, and we are choosing quilts in the same way. It's hard not to take it personally.


Rejection happens to all of us, right? We should make even more of an effort to enter local shows and let people know how awesome modern quilting is on that level. Then, we can just try again next year. There's also the Texas Quilt Museum exhibit. And when all else fails, you can attend your local guild meeting or your favorite Instagram hashtag and revel in the beauty of quilts anyway. Because really, that's what it comes down to: that quilting is good for your soul, and you're going to do it no matter what the competition.


So, I'm not trying to be a hypocrite here - my individual entries were rejected, yes. That's what this post is about. :) I am excited that our guild's banner was accepted. It was a huge, group effort to make this quilt, and I can't wait to see it hanging there. Our charity quilt will also be there!

 
So keep on quilting on, modern quilting friends. There's a lot for us to look forward to, and a lot for us to be proud of!


Monday, December 8, 2014

FQ Bundle Giveaway from The Intrepid Thread!

*This giveaway is now closed. Brenda is the winner and she has been emailed!*
 
Today, I'm celebrating many things! I've started booking speaking and teaching engagements for 2015, and I recently gained 1000+ Instagram followers. Plus, it's Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day and my 25th birthday is next week (I've got a post started already about that). So, woohoo for happy things!


I'm teaming up with The Intrepid Thread to offer one winner a 12-fat quarter bundle of these wintery fabrics, curated by yours truly. Thank you so much to Julie for offering this amazing prize! I've been happily shopping at The Intrepid Thread for years. I'm always impressed with their customer service and selection, in case you want to stop by and thank them yourself!

The Intrepid Thread

I based the colors of the bundle off of this gorgeous print from Anna Maria Horner's new Honor Roll (love the purple!). I balanced the brights out with blacks, grays, and two similar-but-different-enough-to-look-cool-together low volume prints. Finally, I added in the Pearl Bracelets as an extra "pop." Now, the exciting part: for every month of 2015, I'll be sharing a month-inspired bundle from my fabric stash and how I put it together (I might make it a linky party every month, with prizes, if you're interested... so let me know!). Curating fabric bundles is so fun, right?


Here's all the fabrics in the bundle - some of these are favorites of mine that just happen to go together! I seriously think a quilt with these fabrics would be so pretty! I might just have to make one myself...





Cuboid in Cobalto (Geometric Bliss) 
Atomic Influx in Perse (Utopia)
Pearl Bracelet in Red

http://www.sewmamasew.com/2014/12/giveaway-day-sewing-craft-supplies-fabric-patterns-etc/

So, if you'd like to be in the running to win these amazing fabrics:
  • Please leave a comment answering the following: What sewing-related things are you looking forward to in 2015? (It could be a guild event, quilt finish, retreat, BOM, fabric line... anything - you only need one to enter!) I have a list, besides what I already mentioned: QuiltCon/meeting my IG friends IRL/meeting Anna Maria Horner and taking her class, finishing my medallion quilt, and guild swaps! Oh, and AMH's new fabric line, of course.

  • My followers get an extra entry (Instagram, Bloglovin, Feedly, email, etc. - just leave a second comment about how you follow).
The giveaway will end on Friday, December 12 at 8 PM EST. It is open to anyone in the whole wide quilty world. I'll choose a winner using the Random Number Generator and I will email them. Please understand I will not be able to respond to all comments during giveaway week. Thanks and have so much fun browsing/entering giveaways! And thank you, as always, for all of your support!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Stash

I took advantage of two of my favorite fabric shops on Black Friday. I tried to shop homemade/small business as much as possible so far for the holidays!


First up: I bought a wide range of pretty fabrics from my sponsor, Sew Me a Song. I'm so glad to have a partnership with Becca. She carries some unique prints - my favorites being these Route 66 First of Infinity Lecien fabrics (I had to get the purple one to start my collection!). Plus, I always shop her low volumes - she has some of the best around. Since I recently finished making Breeze, I really need to start building up my low volumes again! Anyway, I started filling my cart with some fabrics I liked, and only afterwards did I look at them and think that they would make a great quilt all on their own. Yum.


I also purchased some drool-worthy prints from Hawthorne Threads. That crane print from Tsuru by Rashida Coleman Hale has been all but extinct for a while, and when I saw it, I just had to buy it and stash it for the perfect project. Can you relate? I originally ventured over there to purchase 5 yards of that beautiful Joel Dewberry Herringbone print for the backing/binding of my star quilt. And then, some of these previously-unpurchased AMH fabrics just *fell* into my cart, and they were on sale... so there you go.

I'll also be shopping at my LQS, Pennington Quilt Works, on Tuesday during our December guild meeting. This girl has a 20% off birthday coupon... and needs some Aurifil to finish these holiday gifts!

Finally, check back tomorrow for an exciting giveaway to celebrate a whole bunch of things. I'm giving away a bundle of fabrics from the Intrepid Thread, and you won't want to miss it! Plus, I'll be announcing a new segment on the blog for the new year.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WIP Wednesday: The Holidays, Part 1

It's gift central around here, and my list of to-dos just keeps getting longer. You know, a table runner here, a set of coasters there...! I have to admit, though, holiday sewing can be so worthwhile. It's so much more fun to gift something I've made to people who really appreciate it (my family and friends!).

My only qualm: I remember how totally drained I felt last January after making until the very last second of December (plus we went away for Christmas, so that increased my speed...). I worry that I'll end up feeling like that again. As a result, I'm trying to get as much done as possible in the early days of December.


After I nearly finished the top of my Utopia girl quilt for one of my little nieces, I moved on to plotting a star quilt. I've never made an all-solids quilt, and it's going to a special person. I'm using one of the American Made Brand solids as the blue (I'm pretty sure it's Dark Indigo) with Kona White. Basically, I'm combining a bunch of different stars from blogland. The top two are Ribbon Stars from Fresh Lemons Quilts, and the bottom star is a fragmented star featured at Night Owl Quilting. I made a Pinterest board of other star possibilities. There will be plenty of negative space, too. Hopefully this obsession with traditional-ish piecing continues... at least, until I piece them all together in a non-traditional format. :) This quilt is my December goal for ALYoF!


Then, on Sunday, I spent almost 6 hours straight putting together this t-shirt quilt top (about queen size) for my brother for Christmas. He insisted on coming over to our apartment on Saturday night to lay out the already-cut shirts (eventually, he admitted that I knew was I was doing! :) ). I decided to log all the time (and $) I spend on this laborious t-shirt quilt, so I'm keeping track on Instagram (I'm @quiltyhabit) with the hashtag #tshirtquilttimelog. I'll write a big blog post at the end of the process. So far, I'm up to 7.5 hours of labor, which comes out to $112.50 if I'm paying myself an hourly fee of $15! I'm hoping this experiment will force me to really consider all the costs of making a t-shirt quilt and to consider commissions more carefully in the future.

The best part is that none of these projects feels like a chore so far (not even the t-shirt quilt). So far, so good for my quilty well-being.

Are you sewing for the holidays, too? If not, I don't blame you. :D



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