Monday, August 12, 2013

Smart Messenger Bag... The Pattern is Released!!

So I'm super excited, I got an email today from Anna who has her own store and blog here.  I tested a pattern for her a few weeks ago and I just love it!  It's titled Smart Messenger Bag.  It really is very simple but can hold a lot of stuff.  So far I've just made the one but there's a plan to make more in the future.  Take a look at my pictures.  If you're feeling up to it, visit Anna's page and take a look at the other bags made by her pattern testers.  Each bag has a life and personality of its own, which I love.  Enjoy the pictures and happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This really never gets any easier...

Saying goodbye is undoubtedly one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I always like to put up the front that because I lived my whole life as a Military BRAT and now that I'm Active Duty I'm used to saying goodbye, it's just part of the lifestyle and you will get used to it.  That is absolute bull shit and not true in any way, shape or form.  Saying goodbye to someone who has taken root in your heart and in your life is never easy.  I cannot count the number of friends I've said goodbye to, or the amount of tears I've shed in sadness, but I can for sure tell you how times I have parted ways with someone who held that special place in my heart and we still keep in touch.  I tell you this because today that number grew by 5 (well technically 6).  I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends and her kids.

Saying goodbye in this day and age is a lot different than when I had to say goodbye as a kid.  Now we have cellphones and Skype... OMG Skype is so amazing.  When I was a kid it was will you write to me?? Now it's, ok we're on FaceBook, we have  Email, Skype and texting.

Part of what makes this goodbye especially hard is that I have a special role in this friendship.  I currently hold this role with 2 of my other friends who have kiddos.  I am "Momma Rachel," and these are the first children I ever held that particular role with.  I have been Momma Rachel since E was 18 months, D was still in utero.  E number 2 came along almost 2 years ago and he and I were just starting to bond, the stinker wanted to hold out on me.  Now that number will grow by 1 by the end of the year and I will be graduating from tech school when A is born.  I wanted nothing more than to be there when A is born, to give my friend comfort and strength and be Momma Rachel while she and her DH are in the hospital, but it is the way of life for military families, we have to say goodbye at the most in-opportune times and it is never a good feeling.  When you say goodbye to one of your best friends it's hard but when Momma Rachel has to say goodbye it's especially hard.  As we sat in the hotel room, that sinking feeling that one of us was going to have to go home and that one was me started to hit us.  I felt that semi park itself on my chest and that magic lump appeared in my throat, I knew it was time to go.  Otherwise I might have just found some room in her luggage and stowed away so I could go with.  The tears started to stream silently down our faces and we apologized for crying (why we do this I'll never know).  It was time to hug the kiddos so that they didn't see the complete mess we were about to become but alas one of them said "But I'm going to miss you!" and broke down in tears and we followed suit.  The biggest E says it perfectly, "No one we miss is ever truly gone, we carry them in our hearts with us wherever we go."  Seriously, the kid is 7, where he learned this stuff I'll never know but boy was he right.  Still it doesn't make the initial goodbye any easier.  We knew this day would come, we hadn't necessarily planned out this day but it was inevitable that She, her husband and 3 soon to be 4 kiddos would be heading to the airport on to their next adventure.  Honestly if I had a big enough vehicle and if I didn't have an appointment first thing in the morning I'd be taking them to the airport, but it's probably good that I'm not since driving 60 MPH down I-5 in morning traffic with tears in your eyes isn't the wisest choice in the world.

E was right, they are all in my heart and I will take them where ever I go.  Even in this moment of true sadness I know the kids are old enough to know what's going on but still young enough to not really know how to process it, we will be in each others hearts always and that when that longing to hear a voice or see a face is so great that we cannot stand it any longer a phone call or a Skype date will happen and it will be as if we are right next to each other again.

J, we've been through so much together over these past 6 years that words cannot describe what a huge place you have in my heart.   The only way I can say it is I love you.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Price of a Homemade Quilt

Today I spent the day with one of my dearest and best friends.  She said girls day and I jumped at the chance to spend some quality one-on-one time with her before she and her family picks up and moves to Hawaii.  We decided to spend the day perusing a favorite quilt shop of mine, doing lunch, going to JoAnn Fabrics and we even took a stroll around one of our local malls.  I hadn't been to the mall in forever, well I do go there to get my rings cleaned but it's a 5 minute trip, we actually went in and walked around, talked and had a marvelous time.

During our time together we had a conversation after seeing an item for sale that we both initially thought was slightly over priced.  I've been asked before if I really thought I'd sell an item if I priced it at what I wanted for it, and I've had this conversation many times before with other people.  The reason I decided to blog about it this particular time is it occurred to me that in this day and age we're so used to mass produced items that we can get at Wal-Mart for dirt cheap that we may have lost sight of what it really costs to make something that you can't get in mass quantities.

So let's break this down shall we :)
Let's say you are making a bag and this bag requires 2 yards of fabric for the lining and the outside, then you need a yard of interfacing and a yard heavy duty Pelltex lining to give said bag stability.  Let's say that's all the bag calls for, no special zippers or snaps, we'll make this one really plain.

If you purchase your fabric at a quilt shop, you're probably paying between $9-$11 per yard.  If you're paying $9 a yard, your bag will automatically cost $18, the interfacing runs about $5/yard and the heavy duty Pelltex runs about $9/yard.  Adding that all up, your bag now costs roughly $32 in materials alone.  Now what would you like to be paid per hour of work on said bag??  When you see something for sale that's made by someone not in the business of mass producing items, a lot of blood, sweat and tears may have gone into that.  I say blood because we've all been pricked by that damn needle while we're trying to bury threads or whipstitch something closed, at least I hope that's not just me :)    So let's say I spend 4 hours putting this bag together, minimum wage for my state is $9.19/hour, at this rate my bag that I made should be able to be sold for $68.76.  In reality, I don't know many people who would sell a bag they made for that price, let alone anyone who would buy it.  A lot of us who craft items sell our selves short on the price we sell things for, we just know that if our prices aren't competitive with big chain stores the chances of our items selling are slim.  I however think that the quality of an item made by a home crafter is much higher than something that came off an assembly line in China.

I am in no way trying to slam the big chains, we all have to make a living some how and I have been known to frequent my local Wal-mart for groceries or things I need around the house.  I feel like we as a society do those who craft a disservice by assuming that their work isn't deserving of a price tag, that someone who is unknown shouldn't be able to sell a bag for $68.76, only a brand name can do that.  Honestly, if you took all the purses or bags from all the top designers and ripped them apart you'd probably find they're made of some of the same stuff and what you're really paying for is a name.

I know that in the past I used to look at home made quilts and think, dang it's so expensive.  It wasn't until I started quilting myself that I learned what it took to put one together and how many hours of cutting, sewing, ironing and how much all the fabric really cost.  The quilts I make cannot be purchased at your local chain store because I made it, no matter how many I make, none will ever look the same or use all the same fabrics, they are unique and I love that about quilting.  I own things no one else does and that is special to me.

What are your thoughts?


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

To Starch or Not to Starch

Good Evening sewing enthusiasts!  Today I bring a question that can be very personal and can vary greatly for each individual.  To starch or not to starch??  Much like the age old question, to pre-wash or not? which also can get some heated debates going (but not tonight, that'll be a later post I promise).

I'm going to be honest, my first encounter with starch had nothing to do with sewing, it had everything to do with ironing my Dad's BDUs when he was in service.  I then used it in ironing my JROTC uniform when I was in high school.  After that it was for ironing my own BDUs when I entered the service, but because of a change in uniforms starch is no longer allowed touch our uniforms.  So you can see, never did sewing and starching ever happen in the same time period in our house hold.

It may come as no surprise then to learn that my first quilt was cut, pieced, ironed, and quilted without one drop of any starch product ever entering my home.  Oh the shame when after I had admitted that to a fellow quilter, she promptly scolded me and said I must ALWAYS use starch and not just any starch, I must use Best Press.  I think I had a fleeting "why?" in my head but it didn't last long as she rambled on about how amazing this stuff was and that I must purchase it.  Well, my arm had been twisted and I purchased it, and from then on you'd never see me without my Best Press, I certainly didn't want to be scolded again. So, before I go on, please let me say I don't get paid by anyone and these opinions are my own, no one who works for any starch company has any influence on this review/discussion.  So back to the Best Press; it comes in all sorts of different scents and sizes, from a squirt bottle all the way up to a gallon.  This stuff can be pricey depending on where you buy it, if you love it you know to shop around to see where you can get the best deal.  Hey, I'm all about saving money here.  I used Best Press exclusively for about 2-3 years, until I found and used some regular old Fautless Premium Starch in the big spray can that I found in the house.  This is the very same brand of starch that I used to use on uniforms, and I was now using on my quilt blocks.

Why, you ask?? Well, I enrolled in the Craftsy BOM for 2012 last year and then earlier this year I enrolled in another class taught by Anita Grossman Solomon called Traditional Blocks Made Simple.  It was Anita's class that re-introduced me to old fashioned starch.  I realized that as I was still working on my 2012 BOM, that the regular starch worked phenomenally well on my paper pieced blocks.  I fell in love with regular starch but I kind of felt guilty not using my Best Press.  The regular starch just gave me a crispness and stability that Best Press didn't.  There are some who would say regular starch is too heavy to use on quilts but if you wash your quilt most of that stiffness from the starch should wash out and the quilted project will become softer.  Nothing drives me more batty then when my fabric isn't holding when I'm paper piecing or something has bubbled because the fabric didn't have that crispness to it.

Now, the difference between Best Press and regular starch is that Best Press doesn't have that heavy crispness that regular starch offers.  Many quilters love Best Press for that fact alone, I really just use it on blocks that don't require lots of cutting, bias edges and are more simple in construction.  They also love it because of the different scents it comes in, that can also be a huge turn off if you have allergies but no worries, they make an unscented flavor.  I've used the lavender and rose scented ones (I re-use the squirt bottle) they are fine and the smell isn't over powering but I haven't found one that really floats my boat just yet.  When I use Best Press on any fabric, 99% of the time it's on fabric that is going through it's first ironing after it's come from the store.  I use it to soften the fabric and get the wrinkles out, but if I know that the fabric I'm ironing will be cut and have bias edges exposed at some point I start with straight starch, I have to hit the ground running with those bias edges because I'm the one at the end of a block pulling my hair out because the block went wonky after I ironed it and I didn't use starch from the beginning.  I've learned my lesson on those bias edges.

So, by this time you've guessed it, I'm a starch girl through and through.  Well both starch and Best Press will always be in my sewing room because I will always have a need for both.  I would love to hear what you use for starch if you use any at all.  Thanks for stopping by, catch you all later.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Woot! I'm on Facebook!!

Woohoo!  Seamingly Beautiful Quilts is live on FaceBook.  Bet you thought I was talking about a personal profile huh??  Just kidding, I've had a personal FaceBook for years, it may not be the same one I started with but I've been linked up with social media since the MySpace days.  I decided that it was high time this blog get some better visibility and hopefully get my name out there.  I'm not the most magnificent quilter in the world but if I want to make this passion of mine a real job, I have to start now.  As I'm still relatively new to the whole website and blogger layout thing, my blog still isn't where I want it to look, hopefully I'll be able to fix that minor detail but for now I'm putting myself out into the world and hoping someone will take notice.  

I hope that everyone had a wonderful 4th of July weekend.  I know we did, we threw a BBQ at our house and celebrated a birthday in conjunction.  I had way to much to drink and came out of the night with a dislocated toe... yea I have no idea how that happened but it's a story for our future kids (when they happen, and no that was not an announcement).  This weekend has flown by entirely too quickly and neither one of us is ready to go to work tomorrow.

Now that it's cooled down a bit, I've finally busted out the fabric my sister sent me and I started starching, ironing and cutting the base squares for her chevron quilt.  With some of the tips and tricks I picked up from my Craftsy classes, I will have this quilt put together in no time flat.  Hopefully most of the top will be done by the time I get to San Antonio next month... EEK, next month, I can't believe that my trip is almost here.  I have so much to do still, but at least I'll be able to work on projects while I'm gone to school.  

I hope your weekend was fun and productive.  


Find me on FB here

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Yaay for Air Conditioning!

Whew, it's been a HOT few days, and when I say hot I mean hot in every sense of the word.  One of the downsides to living in WA is that almost no one has A/C, except for businesses.  It makes life a little challenging when it's hotter in the house than out and I just don't know how people did it before A/C was invented.  Call me spoiled but boy do I need and thoroughly enjoy somewhere cool to rest my body after a hard days work.  I know, I know, I should be grateful for being home and not deployed in the heat and that I need to remember there are brothers and sisters in arms holding down the fort in some pretty nasty and horribly hot places.  Believe you, me, I do know and I think of them often.

So we acquired this portable A/C unit last night since every store is sold out of affordable A/C units.  When I got home with the A/C unit last night it was nearly 90ยบ inside the house!  I couldn't believe it, we were suffocating inside the house and our dogs were none to comfortable anywhere.  We were unable to cool the house before it became cooler outside than in so we opted to open the doors again and suck the cool air in with our floor fans and wait until early morning when my dear hubby went to work, he would then close up the house and turn the A/C unit on full blast and keep it going all day.  I came home to an amazingly comfortable home today, except for the fact that this A/C unit creates condensation in a catch pan somewhere in the unit that isn't removable!!  I got home and my hubby had gone through 4 towels trying to soak up the water that had been drained onto the carpet in our living room.  I don't care so much about the water, that's totally fixable and we can get a small carpet cleaner to suck the water out of the carpet but I was just flabbergasted at how much water had been soaked into the carpet.  Needless to say we moved the A/C unit to the hardwood dining room to continue to pump in cold air to keep us comfortable and thank goodness we did.  Not 15 minutes into dinner do I hear this gushing water sound, and I panic and when I get to the A/C unit I see it just shooting all this water out the back of it onto the floor.  I couldn't believe what I saw, it was just crazy!  Well the A/C unit is off for the night and we've decided that we won't run it tomorrow while we're at work because it's a short day.  Nick will go and get some tubing so the water can be pumped outside and we won't have to worry about a flood in the house anytime soon.

The last few days, even though it's been terribly hot I was able to get some sewing done.  I stopped by the Wild Rose quilt shop the other day and I purchased Carol Doaks 300 Paper Piece Pattern book and it came with a CD.  It's so awesome to have the CD because I can take blocks in the program and re size them to work for a particular project.  I was able to get 3 of my cornerstones done out of 12 I need for my Craftsy BOM quilt.  I'll post pictures soon but I don't have any as of yet.  I really enjoy paper piecing, it's fun and there's no reason to be precise when cutting fabric.  It's a good way to let loose with your design and have it flow from your project.

Well, I better head off to bed.  I can feel my eyelids growing heavy.  I'm excited to be working out at Stadium HS tomorrow morning for PT with some really great people, I'll need my rest cause I have a feeling tomorrow might be slightly exhausting.  In the coming weeks look for a Facebook page from me, I have to get all my ducks in a row for the page but I haven't had time to really sit down and play with what I want.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to chat soon!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Oh Boy this Heat!

Well, I haven't been hiding under a rock but between the rain and now the heat I just haven't gotten much done.  It seemed like monsoon season was in full swing here in good old Washington state the last few weeks and during that time I was able to crank out a QAYG tinker tote.  The tote is courtesy of the Quilt As You Go class through Craftsy.  It was tedious and so much fun.  It turned out great but the only thing I dislike about it is the binding.  It was awkward and instead of machine finishing the binding next time, I'll go old school and hand finish it.   Any who, here's the pictures of the bag, you can also follow the project and any others that I do here.

So on to this heat issue.  Most homes on the western side of WA don't come with AC, more specifically older homes and almost all apartments are void of this perk.  It traditionally only gets hot here for a few weeks or so and then it's back down to bearable levels but this Texas girl still thinks that AC is a necessity. All the stores that sell portable AC units are sold out now and we don't want to put one in the window of our rental.  Nick and I stocked up on floor fans and have been sweating out the heat with our dogs.  Well they don't sweat so much as lay on the floor, panting heavily because the only place they can really go with AC is PetCo or PetSmart.

I really wanted to sew this weekend, Betty (my 1958 Singer 404) just came back from being serviced and I wanted to really get some projects going on her.  I'm waiting for a FMQ foot I ordered just for Betty, none of Veronica's (my Brother S400) feet fit Betty.  Ok, ok, yes I do in fact name my sewing machines, for goodness sake I named my car Snowball and call her Snow for short, but back to my sewing dilemma.  So I wanted to sew this weekend but with it being 80+ in the house I just can't focus enough to work any type of project.  All the chores have gone neglected, I tried to clean some today but it just gets too hot to move.  Even as I type this my eye lids are heavy, indicating it's nap time even though it's only 4pm.  I love Washington summers though, even through the heat and lack of AC, the summers are amazing.  It's a wonderful break from the dreary rain and a nice opportunity to get outside and do things before the weather gets nasty again.    I hope your summers are in full swing too and you are keeping cool where ever you are!

Thanks for stopping by :)