Friday, May 29, 2009

Liza and Olivia-Jane

... they frequent our shop quite a little bit.

It's about time they put in an appearance on the blog.

Are they not a well-dressed duo?

Hey Liza, whered'ya get that great fabric?

We love the local gals...

...especially these two.



Keep on doing your thang, ladies... you make us smile every time we see you!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Everything Tote

As promised, here is the tell-all of my experience with making the Everything Tote from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing book.

I have been writing about this book a lot, mostly because the projects in it are so fun and useful. If you haven't bought this book already resistance is futile: it will be yours someday. The Everyday Tote goes together quickly and I will probably be making lots more of them. I used a Denyse Schmidt home dec weight for the exterior and an Amy Butler for the interior. Both are available in our webstore which, by the way, is now up and running!

The book lists the fabric amounts needed for this bag at 1/2 yard exterior fabric and 1/2 yard lining fabric: almost as soon as the book was out the internet lit up saying that these amounts were incorrect: you actually need 1 yard of each fabric.


I am here to tell you that if you want to cut your handles out of fabric cut on the bias (as indicated in the book), you will need 1 1/4 yards of each fabric. I have cut out a pattern or two in my day but I was unable to get the handles on the bias as in Heather's illustration no matter what I did and I was using 54" wide fabric.

Now, I am also here to tell you that cutting the handles on the bias from 1 1/4 yards creates a lot of leftover fabric. There are two ways to look at this: you can look at this as "Wow, I have some great scraps leftover," or you can look at this as "Wow, I wasted a lot of fabric." I tend to be a glass half-full gal myself, but having said that, I decided to cut my handles on the straight of the grain and they turned out just fine.

If and when I make the Everything Tote again, I would probably use home-decorator weight fabric for the exterior and the lining. The book calls for a heavier-weight for the exterior and a lighter weight for the interior, but I think if you are going to use this bag for carrying around groceries and heavy stuff (sewing machine, anyone?) the tote would definitely benefit from a little extra heft.

If and when I make this bag again I would also pay MUCH more attention when sewing on my handles as I sewed not ONE but BOTH of them on with a twist and then spent many minutes of my life that I will (probably) never get back tearing out stitches while Mom sat next to me and said "Why don't you just cut them in the middle and tie them in a knot?" To which I replied "No, that's what YOU would do... I would tear out the stitches and complain about it the whole time."

And I did.

I'm pretty sure there is a second flub-dub in the directions. Heather tells you to make your binding and straps by sewing a strip of lining to a strip of exterior fabric with right sides together and then turn them right side out. You with me so far? Basically, you have a "tube" of fabric which you iron flat and then fold into quarters, horizontally.

Here's where my opinion and the book's directions differ: Heather wants you to treat this fabric tube like single fold bias tape and stitch your handles down accordingly, but if you do this you get really skinny, really thick handles and bindings and they don't look like the pictures in the book at all. They're also well-nigh impossible to stitch through (and I have a heavy-duty machine!).

If you look at other pictures of the Everything Tote on the internet you will see lots with skinny straps and lots with thicker straps. That's because some people (the ones with the skinny straps) followed the directions and some people (like myself and other gals with thicker straps) went renegade and disregarded the directions. I'm pretty sure that you are just supposed to fold your fabric tubes in half once, with the lining fabric on the inside, and sandwich the bags' raw edges inside the fold and stitch. That's what I did and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

It's seems crazy, I know, that if you follow the written directions, you will end up with something that looks drastically different from the bag in the book but if you don't follow directions, you will get the bag in the book. Let this be a lesson in thinking for yourself!

In my next tote I will probably do a little more gathering than the directions call for (just because I think it would be cute) and oh, yeah, I made my pockets a little differently, too.

Maybe this sounds like a lot of belly-aching about the discrepancies in the directions, and changes I made to the pattern, but I think Miss Heather would be the first to tell you that's what this book is all about: you have permission to change things around. She says it right there in the introduction.

Making this tote was really fun. I looove patterns that only have a couple of pieces to cut out and that don't take long to whip up and the Everything Tote falls into this category. Once you have made one you probably wouldn't even need to look at the directions again. You could easily make this bag with a younger child and re-size it for all kinds of goodies.

Let me know what you think and if you don't already have a copy of this book, as Mae West said "Why don't you come by and see me sometime?"



Monday, May 25, 2009

What a Doozy!

It has been a WEEKEND.

A looong weekend.

We painted many faces and saw many alewives.

We went out in the canoe and Reuben almost tipped us over in the weeds but we lived to tell the tale.

Ollie got over his cold just in time to pass it along to me and now it is my turn to be taken-care of.

And what would a long weekend be without a little Weekend Sewing?

I made one of the Everything Totes from the Weekend Sewing book by Heather Ross.

Unfortunately I made said bag towards the end of the long weekend and it took me way longer than it should have, but I kept repeating this mantra: I am smarter than this bag, I am smarter than this bag... and eventually I finished the thang.

Did I take a picture of this bag? Of course not. YET. That would make waaay too much sense.

I will do a nice little photo shoot tomorrow and give a full review of my "Everything Tote" experience.

I just love, love, LOVE the Weekend Sewing book.

Make no mistake, it is not without its faults and flub-dubs, but whom among us IS without faults and flub dubs?

(Besides me).

AND, I have decided that the next Craft Swap will be on Friday, August 14th.

More on both of these topics later.



Sorry for the lack of photos and links... did I mention that I was sick AGAIN?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Heather on Martha and... the new Webstore!

The internet is a beautiful thing.

Thank you, Al Gore, for "inventing" the internet.

(I don't usually make political jokes here but that was a little political joke.)

You can watch Heather Ross' segment on Martha Stewart by clicking here. It was a really good segment: I learned a lot and laughed a lot at Martha being soooo Martha-like.

Soooo Martha-like.

Aaand... the webstore is going live in just a few hours.

Have you ever heard that expression about life being a race to the finish line and you're supposed to be sweaty and exhausted and wild-eyed and going "woo-hoo!" when you cross it...possibly with a glass of wine in one hand, too, or something to that effect?

Anyways, that's how I feel about the new website. And today is the finish line. Sorta.

If you come in to see me at the store and I just kind of stare at you blankly or don't know what day it is or cut you a fat quarter instead of a regular quarter and you can actually see gray hairs sprouting from my head you will know it is because I have spent the last month uploading millions of thousands of teeny little numbers and pictures onto the website and my brain is now all mushy.

But I assure you: like the phoenix, my brain and I will rise again!!!

See you again soon,



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One of those times...

...when I wish there were more than one of me.

• One of me to draw and design fabric all day long
(you would buy this, right?)

• One of me to lie around and watch "Sex and the City"

• One of me to take Reuben for a walk, because it is such a nice day

• One of me to plant the garden and do my herb boxes and weed the Quince bush that is choking out the peonies

• One of me to finish Summer Blouse #5 (and then blog about it)

• One of me to watch Heather Ross on Martha Stewart this morning (and then blog about it)

• One of me to do my spring cleaning

• One of me to finish the Block of the Month (and then blog about it)

• One of me to go get a facial

• One of me to upload the bejesus out of the new webstore

• One of me to hang out and dish with my girlfriends

• One of me to make something fabulous for dinner

• And one of me to make a new duvet cover, new curtains and new pillows (and then blog about it)

Buuuutttt.... I guess I'll settle for 2 days off where I have vowed to not set foot in the store and not to do anything that involves driving more than fifteen minutes away from my house.

Do I know how to party of what?



P.S. I just read on Heather's blog that Liberty of London is coming out with a new low-priced cotton sheeting line for quilters. Score! (Fabric nerds I assure you that I am on TOP of this situation!)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

She's a little bit country, She's a little bit rock 'n roll (AKA the most funnest day ever)

This past Tuesday I was super-duper lucky to take place in a workshop with Sue Raban and Anne Gallo of Yankee Quilts. For those of you who don't know who these fabulous ladies are (and up until very recently I was one of those people, too), let me enlighten you...

Sue and Anne were both founding members of the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. That is a HUGE deal. They travel the country (and some other countries, too!) teaching precise machine piecing, having a heck of a time along the way and leaving a wake of inspiration, enthusiasm and happy memories in their trail. At least, that was the experience that I had.

On Monday night we were treated to a Trunk Show of Sue and Anne's quilts. I really didn't know what to expect. Meredith had described Sue and Anne as the "Lucy and Ethel" of the quilting world. Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of a founding member of the New England Quilt Museum, I do not think of a "Lucy" or an "Ethel" type. I was having a hard time picturing this combination of person. As I sat there watching them give their schpiel it was so obvious these ladies love quilting. All aspects of it. Anne describes herself as a "little bit country" and Susan describes herself as a "little bit rock 'n roll" so really they are more like the Donny and Marie of the quilting world. Except they're both women. And they're not brother and sister. But other than that they are the same. Their enthusiasm was infectious and their quilts were gorgeous. They had some new and exciting patterns I had never seen before and do you know what? They were sooo funny.

The next day we had a workshop on the Batik Wedding Quilt with Lucy and Ethel...I mean Sue and Anne... at the 1812 Farm in Bristol. Is that the most beautiful place I have ever seen! Everybody I knew was making up excuses to get inside and see what it looked like and it did not disappoint. It was so gorgeous and the perfect place for a workshop. There were thirty ladies participating in the class (of which I was one) and if you think quilters are boring you don't know nothing about nothing! Those ladies were cuh-razy and ready to rock'n roll.

Here are the ladies we affectionately refer to as "The Green Team." Somehow they all managed to wear green AND sit next to each other AND get to see Anne's cutting demo FIRST (which was okay because I got to go first, too, even though I was wearing blue). Front and center is Deb, who is Sue and Anne's "Teacher In Training," whom Meredith refers to as the "T.I.T." She ain't never living that one down.

See what I mean? Don't they have that look in their eye?

Here's a picture of Beverly Slye's shoe. Beverly is the coolest broad I know and she always has the best shoes. Always, always, always. I stitched at a table with Beverly all day long and I couldn't help but snap a photo of The Shoe.

Here's Susan with one side of the Batik Wedding Quilt top...

...and here's Anne with the other.

If you think that I have a glamorous life of sitting around and sewing all day long you also don't know nothing about nothing. My job at the store keeps me so busy with non-sewing stuff, like rearranging and unpacking and ordering and banking and making sure we don't run out of toilet paper it is actually very rare that I get to sit down and sew (unless I come in on my day off and then I always end up doing one or more of the above anyways). An entire day of sewing was a true luxury for me, and I reveled in it. The sandwiches from Zecchinos and the home-made cookies didn't hurt too much, either.

It was a great, great day. Thanks, Sue and Anne for a wonderful time. I hope you come back again very soon and impart some more of your own special brand of wisdom. As a teacher myself I learned A LOT. Not just about piecing and how to use my tools but I learned a lot about how to be an even better teacher.

And if we ARE so lucky as to snag these gals to teach a class again, do yourself a favor and DON'T miss it! I can guarantee you will get more than you bargain for.

That's all for now, be back again soon!



Sunday, May 10, 2009

A fabulous foursome

For those of you keeping count...

I give you... number four.
Vintage looking photos courtesy of my dirty mirror and Photoshop (I did have that fancy schoolin', ya know!), because Buddha says "A blog without lovely photos is like a cupcake without frosting"... or something like that. Point is, I figured I needed to step it up a little around here, photog-wise. Just don't get used to it, okay?

Next down the pike and in line for the washing machine...

...the future numbers eight and nine (you thought I was kidding about that "don't get used to it" thing, didn't you?)

Six and seven are cut and sitting patiently by my sewing machine.

They should be putting in an appearance soon.

Any day now, really.

And Happy Mother's Day to all you "Muthas" out there!

Have a great week... I'm off to have some Fiddleheads (yum!!!)



Friday, May 8, 2009

Denyse Schmidt has got it goin' ON!!!

Hello, hello!

Not ONLY is Denyse Schmidt coming to teach a workshop here at Alewives Fabrics this July,
but I just read on True-Up (always good for the latest fabric news) that she's got a new collection coming out this fall AND she's partnered up with Pottery Barn to produce her Single Girl quilt for the masses.

Now, I ask you... does she or does she not have it going on?

I'm so jazzed to make one of these babies for my house: it will really funkify my little maine-cottage-meets-contemporary-look that I so desperately wish I had going on.

Here's a pic I snagged from Denyse's website. It gives you a look at what we will all be doing in the Improv Patchwork workshop. There are still slots left in the class, but they are becoming increasingly rare.

If you're on the fence about this class, don't be. Remember it's open to quilters of ALL skill levels... from absolute beginner to advanced. And if the $250 price tag is a little frightening, just remember this: the fee includes almost all of the fabrics you will need for the class (provided by Denyse herself: you are only responsible for bringing 1/4 yard of "focus fabric") and a delicious lunch prepared by yours truly and yours truly's Mom. I assure you, you shant be disappointed with the libation situation, either, if you catch my meaning. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more...

See you again soon,

Have a great Spring day!!!



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Number Three

Number three in a series of... who knows???

Many, many, many.

Have I mentioned how much I love these Summer Blouses?

I made this one from some of the new(ish) rayon/linen blend that we have at the store. I trimmed the collar, placket and the bottom hem in a batik to give it that extra little "pop" and keep it from being too boring, but the truth is, I think it would be just as fabulous without the contrast, too.

That rayon/linen is great stuff, my friends. You heard it hear first: highly endorsed and two thumbs up and all for $7.50 a yard if memory serves. You could easily make the placket from your scraps OR if you want the contrasting hem and collar you will have to spring for a fat quarter.

So, worst case scenario this shirt is going to cost you all of fifteen bucks. Correct me if I am wrong, ladies and gentlemen, but I do NOT believe that even WAL-MART could make something similar for fifteen bucks. And it certainly wouldn't be as nice and stylish and well-made, either.

As you can see from the wrinkles, this one has already been worn sooo much that it has passed the point of "needing to be washed." But that's okay... I'll just crank out some more!!!

See you again soon,



Sunday, May 3, 2009

Summer Sewing Success

The first Summer Sew Along has come and gone and was very fun.

The hats were made and Jessie brought it to my attention that the Blue Sky Sun Hat by Amy Butler would make a great Mother's Day present and I heartily agreed, so my hat is going to be a gift for my Grandmother. She will love it, I think.

We had a great surprise at Sewing Lounge: Julie came back from a two week vacation to Hawaii very tan and very well-rested and very MARRIED. Boy can that gal keep a secret. Her ring is gorgeous, too. Congratulations, Julie!!! We are all so happy for you... it couldn't have happened to a nicer gal and guy.

The next Summer Sew Along will be June 5th and we will be making the Summer Blouse from the book Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. If you plan to attend, can I recommend the cutting of your pattern pieces before you arrive? That particular book has many patterns on one page, so you have to trace your pattern onto tissue paper (or some such thing) and THEN cut it out. From there on in it's pretty straight forward and I GUARANTEE you will be hooked and need to make more. I just cut out FOUR new Summer Blouses myself last night while Ollie was away camping.

What can I say? I like 'em. A LOT.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I shall return!