Friday, December 20, 2013

What Makes Me Happy.

This is what I do. I make things. I make things from fabric, from scraps, from food, from random things you would never think of making things out of and I make it work. I have been a maker since the beginning.

I wish I had a picture of my childhood home, I can't believe I don't, but right beside my home was our landlord's junk yard. :) Not pretty but hey it wasn't our house so we didn't really have a choice. Most of the stuff there was crap, junk, not worth even a dime and half rusted away. But to me, this junk yard was a gold mine as a kid. I would scour the heaps of junk and find little wire baskets or a half broken chair and bring them home and fix them or rerig them as other objects and put them in my tree house. (It was more of a tree that I put boards in to sit in and then would place other random items like a broken propeller on a rope as a doorbell type tree house.)

NOT my tree house. :)

Needless to say, I have been doing this since the beginning of my time and I love it. I hate buying things, half because I'm cheap, half because I know I can make something similar or better and that what I would make would be unique and therefore way more special than a cool widget from a big box store.

All of this being said, at work the other day I went to a panel talk about a book called The Happiness Project. I haven't read the book but from what I heard, it sort of goes like this: "As tons of women juggle work and home some try to live up to what happiness should be, they fall short, and that's because they aren't actually recognizing what makes them happy as an individual, but trying to attain this happiness definition that the world has created and that definition might make most people happy, but not you."

One of the ladies on the panel put it perfectly. "Happiness is that state in which you are in when you look up at the clock and several hours just passed and you had no clue." This feeling might be accomplished with your family, your friends, your hobbies, etc. but being able to be in that happy place is very precious and a lot of people struggle to get there or don't have time to really spend in their happy place.

I am lucky to have several happy places.

1. Quilting
The first one is obviously quilting. Most of you can relate, if we didn't love it would we go away for several days at a time with other quilty ladies and just quilt to our hearts desire? No. This is probably the biggest area in my life that I can "lose" time, as in not realize that 5 hours just passed. Whether it is on the machine or hand quilting/piecing, I love to be able to have projects in each stage to work on that way if I get bored with one project I can bounce to another and never lose my quilty vigor. While I go through ups and downs in how much time I have to quilt or what types of projects I am wanting to work on, this is one of the only parts of my life that I keep coming back to and that hasn't fizzled out like so many other interests or hobbies in my life. I think quilting is here to stay.

2. Reading
I love reading because I love to learn. I read mostly non-fiction, or historical fiction, but sometimes delve into a popular set like The Hunger Games, which was AWESOME. I have a horrible memory but even if I can remember 5% of what I read, that's more than I knew before I started the book. The only thing I don't like about reading is that other than extra mind power, there's nothing at the end to show for it, aka no "making." But I am a sucker for books. My local library has quarterly book sales for $0.25 books, and oh man, do I get a little crazy. A dream of mine one day is to have a library in my home full of wonderful books. I always knew that my favorite princess was Belle from Beauty and the Beast, not only because she was the only Disney princess with brown hair, but she loved to read, just like me.

3. Snuggling/napping with my people/animals
This is one of those simple things in life but it is awesome and it is free and it makes me happy. I love snuggling. I do. I love curling up on the couch or in the bed with quilts and people/animals and watching a movie and falling asleep. I remember I told Alex once that I could go to the Olympics for napping and he responded with, "no you couldn't, you would be disqualified for performance enhancing animals." I love that warm heavy feeling of a dog or cat or person that is asleep and resting on you or vice versa. Just that time of being okay doing nothing, just happy being with you at this one moment type thing. I love it. :) (Queue the butterflies and rainbows now.)

With all that being said I am lucky to be able to do all three of these on a regular basis and have learned that no matter how busy I am, that I can always make time for one of these to put me in my happy place.

I'd like to know what your happy place is, everyone is different, what is yours?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tattoo Piece Finally Finished

So I moved to Minnesota and they have a big state fair every year. Not as big as Texas', just saying, but it is a big ordeal. There is a competition each year called, "Quilt on a Stick", which is modeled after the theme that everything at the fair is on a stick, sort of like at the Texas State Fair everything is "Deep Fried". You are supposed to make a 9x9ish mini quilt that fits on a paint stick and reflects the theme for that year. This year the them was Body Art.

I have a friend that I know through our therapy dog work and she is a tattoo artist here in Minneapolis at Saint Sabrina's. I asked her if she wouldn't mind sharing a couple of designs with me for me to recreate for this event. She was great and shared several beautiful designs with me. (If you want a tattoo, she is great... just saying) But I saw one that I just fell in love with. It was a gun that was wrapped in vines and flowers, just the right mix of edgy and pretty. But I had no idea how I was going to recreate it. All the better for a challenge, right? Here is my friend Taylor's original tattoo design that I wanted to recreate in fabric for the competition.

Tattoo Piece - Inspiration

I started with the outline of the gun, traced it on the fabric and then very carefully machine stitched the outline.

Tattoo Piece - Gun Outline

I then was trying to figure out how to make the flowers. I knew that I wanted them to be 3D so I played around with different concepts and came up with this one.

Tattoo Piece - Orchid's in Progress

Then I needed to add the vines. If they were flat then they wouldn't show up and the flowers would look weird, but then, if they were super 3D then the gun would look boring. So... I went somewhere in between. I took green fabric and shredded it, rolled it, and then tacked it to the fabric onto the lines of the vines.

Tattoo Piece - Vine Material
Tattoo Piece - Vines in Progress

I hand quilted it with a starburst pattern radiating from the center of the gun and binded it in a black solid to give a border look.Here is the finished Tattoo piece for my belated "Quilt on a Stick".

Finished Quilt on a Stick

Needless to say I did not finish it in time for the fair, I misread the date I needed to drop it off and couldn't enter. :( It's probably a good thing though because Minnesota is different than Texas and not everyone likes guns here.. While there were some tattoo pieces in the exhibit mine definitely would have been one of the more bold ones and I'm not sure the judges would've liked my literal approach. But I love it and I think it is a piece that hopefully lives up to the beautiful design I tried to recreate.

Thanks for stopping by!


WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Friday, December 6, 2013

October Bee Blocks

I am two months behind in showing my bee blocks!! Here are the October Bee Blocks that I had.

BeeJeebers: a fresh take on the traditional Boston Streets block

BeeJeebers October 2013 Block

Harmony. do. Good Stitches.: A pretty black and white pinwheel with purple, green and blue acccents

Harmony. do. Good. Stitches. October 2013 Blocks

Simply Solids: a jewel toned string block for my friend Charlotte back in Texas!!

Simply Solids Block - October 2013


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Online Quilting Communities

I became part of the online quilting community about 3 years ago. My best friends' grandmother showed me a couple of quilting blogs, a concept I never knew existed, and I've been stuck ever since. The only problem I found was that I wanted to follow lots of blogs but I kept having to visit each site each day to see if there was a new post and it was taking a lot of time. I found out about an RSS reader called Google Reader, and it made it unbelieveably easy to condense all the blogs I followed into one spot, it was fabulous.

Unfortunately Google Reader no longer exists, but if you are interesting in learning more about quilting, fabrics, techniques, and meeting new people, there are several websites that do a very similar job of compiling all your blogs and also helping you find new ones. My favorite two are:

1. Bloglovin

This is the website that I use to compile all the blogs I follow. You can search by subject, by blog, import friends, and easily follow/unfollow blogs. It makes it super simple to start compiling a whole list of great resources. Bloglovin also has iPhone/iPad/Android apps so that you can read your blogs on the go too. ;) Here is a link to my page and it shows the blogs I follow, mostly quilt-related, to get you started if you don't already have a good list.

Blogs Colby Follows


2. Feedly

Another good site to use is Feedly. This site work very similar to Bloglovin, has iPhone/iPad/Android apps as well, but has a different layout and a couple of different features. It's all personal preference so try both out and see which one works best for you.


I also use the site Flickr to join online groups. There are groups that do quilt-a-longs, swaps, bees, hand piecing, etc. Here is a list of a couple of my favorites:

1.Pillow Talk Swap
2.BeeJeebers Bee
3.Hand Pieced Quilt Along Good Stitches Bee

I am personally a fan of quilting bees, they are a great way to get to know a smaller group of people, and with a small block a month commitment you get a personal quilting community and a quilt out of the deal! If you are interested in learning more about or joining an online quilting bee, this flickr group is a great place to start.

Quilting Bee Group

Bee Block Group

Hopefully that gives you a quick rundown of how to become more involved in the online quilting community! Best of luck, it's addicting!

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