Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

{Why} I Make My Own


Is it cheaper?  Is it prettier?  Is it just what I really wanted?

Sometimes, but there’s more.

It comes from me.  It’s an expression of who I am.  It’s a visible outpouring of my love for my family, my friends, for others who suffer, even for myself.  It stretches me to try something new.  I have to think for myself.  Judge for myself.  Keep going.  Press on.  Believe.

I believe that it matters that something is handmade rather than mass-produced.  It costs me plenty in time and in money, but the gain is more than an object.

I believe that what I make will be loved. Well, I will love it!  Or, at least appreciate it, if not for it’s loveliness than for what I learned in the process.

And, I believe that it brings people together.  Isn’t that more than clear?  But even outside of this bloggy-good place, it brings friends together to admire and encourage, to confess to that drive to create.  And the sparks of creativity fly between us.

Because everyone is creative.  Yes, absolutely.  Everyone.

So whether you stitch or knit or paint or cook or garden or sing, let’s keep it up.  Let’s make our own lives.


Care to join me in sharing your {Why}?  What got you started?  What keeps you going?  Why is it worth it?  Yes, Please!

Whether in poetry, prose or pictures post about it and include a link back to here.  I’ll be making a list of links to participating bloggers to keep the inspiration coming.  Just add a link to your post in the comments.


1.  jenn of all trades

2.  Noas’ Libellule

3.  Undercover Crafter

4.  Grey Cat Quilts

5.  Angie Padilla

6.  Gen X Quilters

7.  Crafty Gemini

8.  rockinbabies

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I’m a book junkie.  I’ve always loved reading and have a week spot for the smell of a brand new book.  I’m inordinately proud of my bookshelves.  Um, there’s even a pile of sewing books I leave out for decoration.

The thing is sewing books really are all that.  The inspiration is endless.  The directions are there.  And, when you borrow them from the library, it’s all free!  There’s little need for buying patterns, when books like these abound!

Learning to Sew

Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol.  This is the book that got me started actually sewing.  Very clear directions with Amy’s frank and casual vibe.  From sewing a seam to sewing a buttonhole.  Easy projects for the beginner.  Happy pictures.  Slight vintage flare.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

The Modern Quilt Workshop by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr.  My favorite overall learn-to-quilt book that was available at the library.  Discussions of technique were very straightforward with lots of “this is why we suggest you do it this way.”  I learned a lot!

Quilt Making Basics by Elizabeth Hartmon of Oh, Fransson!  So this is a link to a series of blog posts, not a book.  Elizabeth is an amazing quilter and a great teacher.  She’s coming out with her own how-to book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork, sometime in the near future.  Can’t wait.


Sew Liberated by Meg McElwee.  All the ins and outs of how to applique.  Meg covers many different methods with precision and helpful tips.  Projects are adorable, yet modern and range from beginner to complex.  Popular projects:  soft baby book, art smock, children’s animal bag, camera bag, apron.  I made curtains.   See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Alabama Stitch Book & Alabama Studio Style by Natalie Chanin.  It’s all by hand, but don’t let that stop you – you’ll love it!  Natalie’s unique, earthy style lends itself to gorgeously embellished clothing, tablecloths, bags and book covers.  I refashioned this skirt.   See what people have made at the Flickr group.


I Love Patchwork by Rashida Coleman-Hale.  Rashida has an amazing sense of style and color.  This book is total eye-candy!  Lots of linen with modern prints.  Projects range from simple to complex.  Nice, clear directions.  Popular projects (um, all of them!):  calendar, travel sewing book, coasters, sewing machine cover.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Patchwork Style by Suzuko Koseki.  Drool.  This book is not for beginners, as it features minimal directions and projects with lots of small piecing.  However,the projects are amazing!  Modern, Japanese style.  Popular projects:  patchwork rug, pot holders, log cabin blocks/quilts.  I made the patchwork rug. See what people have made at the Flickr group.


Last Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson.  Simply gorgeous.  My favorite collection of quilts with clear directions easy enough for the beginner.  Popular projects – quilted coasters, rainbow pencil roll, Color wheel quilt, Peanut the wee elephant, pin cushion.   See what people have made at the Flickr group.

The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking by Jane Brocket.  Jane shares her quilting process from inspiration to completion in detail, from color selection to borders to binding, on many beautiful quilts.  Her English cottage style is not my own, but I feel I learned a lot about color and scale.  See this review by The Sometimes Crafter.

Misc. Favorites

Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule.  A warm, eco-friendly book with a wide variety of practical and memory-keeping projects.  Not all sewing.  Directions are light, but the projects are easy enough for someone still new to sewing.  Definitely favors an earthy, homemaking type like myself.  My review here.  I made the word banner.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Seams to Me by Anna Maria Horner.  Lovely projects in Anna’s glowing fabrics.  A good intro-to-sewing section.  Popular projects – caddy pin cushion, hexagon patchwork baby ball, purses and aprons.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

Sewing Bits & Pieces by Sandi Henderson.  Small projects made with fabric scraps.  Many show how to embellish something to make it more special.  Lots of projects to make for kids!  Great directions.  See what I made here.  See what people have made at the Flickr group.

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy.  I have yet to find an embroidery book to love.  Crewel is much like embroidery, but more “chunky”.  This modern interpretation is packed with amazing designs.  Very easy to learn and the perfect way to get inspired for handwork.  I made this pillow and this one too.

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Today I discovered a common thread.  I’ve been loving quilts with a certain look… lots of color, contrast and an emerging design.  Turns out I love value quilts.

A value quilt is a design that plays on value – the lightness or darkness of a fabric, regardless of color.  Here’s one of my favorite examples.  It’s by Naptime Quilter:

values quilt top

Her quilt reminds me of my Colorbrick Quilt.  So much color and happiness!  But unlike Colorbrick, where I agonized about color placement for ages, a multi-colored value quilt usually goes together with little regard for color.  Basically, you separate your pieces into light and dark values and them piece them spontaneously, trusting the values to make the quilt shine.  Here are some more of my favorite value quilts in a smorgesboard of color.

1. Value quilt in progress, 2. Values quilt is finished

I’ve also seen some beautiful value quilts that use color and value.  This one is stunning.  See how each block is one color in many shades (or two complimentary colors) with values from light to dark?  Amazing, right?!?

Streifenblöcke - Blocks of stripes

And here’s a simple squares quilt, using half square triangles.  Jeni of In Color Order created her squares with mostly dark value warm colors set against mostly light value cool colors to create a lovely effect.  I think I’d like to see this done with all dark value warm colors vs. all light value cool colors.  Would it be more fabulous or less so because of the predictability?  Hmm….

DQS9 Top Finished!

Here are a few more value quilts where color is central to the design.

1. scrappy sunrise, finished, 2. the summer bling quilt

If you’re feeling the value quilt love, you should check out the Sew Katie Did tutorial.  It looks like she inspired a whole run of value quilts!  Now, I just need an excuse to make one?  Or do I?

Yes, I do.  Well, Liam’s birthday is in February….

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Months ago I made these curtains for my daughter’s room, inspired by a project in Meg McElwee’s “Sew Liberated“:

Love them!  But, as soon as I hung them up I was dying to complete the look with a custom quilt for her bed.  Aria had one request:  add some purple.  OK, but how to do that and still make the quilt match the curtains.  Hmmm…

A little browsing and we fell in love with the Far, Far Away collection by Heather Ross.  Princesses, wildflowers, frog prince and unicorns… a dream come true for little (and big) girls.  Here’s a collage of swatches from Heather’s blog that helped me see how her collection would work with the bold reds and oranges of the curtains, while bringing in the purple.  Sadly, they’re, um a little pricey.  At $17 a yard I didn’t see how I was going to get my hands on enough fabric for a twin sized quilt.

And, my friends, that’s where grandma comes in!  I mentioned my idea to make Aria a twin quilt and she was instantly interested in getting involved.  Not surprisingly, she fell in love with Far, Far Away too.  Surprisingly, she offered to buy the fabric if I would make the quilt!  It’s going to be a joint birthday gift from the two of us.  Hurray!

Last night I started cutting!  These fabrics are so soft and plush.  The Far, Far Away’s remind me of soft cotton gauze you’d use to wrap a wound.  Is that weird?  I’m quite frankly blown away by the silky soft hand of the Little Folks fabrics I also added to the mix.  Anna Maria Horner is the bomb, as always.  Aaaaaah… heaven.  Back to work now.

Far, Far Away - Purple Unicorn

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