Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why I Stopped Blogging


There was a time when I really enjoyed blogging. I had been quilting for several years before I discovered blogging, but only a handful of people ever got to see the quilts I made. So it was pretty exciting for me to be able to take pictures of a quilt, write a little something about it and post it for the world to see. (And of course by "world" I mean the 5 people who knew about my blog back then). I thought every quilt I made was amazing and beautiful, and I couldn't wait to show them off. Once I did, I really enjoyed getting feedback from family and friends and a few random strangers. I would read the comments they left, get a warm fuzzy feeling, shoot them a thank you email, then get back to quilting. Oh, that it could have continued like that forever. But it was not to be.

 

I think the beginning of the end was the day I discovered the "stats" tab, a few months in. Previous to blogging, I would judge the worth of a quilt by how much I liked it, and the reaction of the person who ended up receiving it. Upon discovering that I could tell how many people were visiting my blog and looking at my quilts on any given day, that started to change. I became more concerned with what I thought other people thought of my quilts (and by extension, me.) Stats and comments became a measuring stick for my success (or failure) as a quilter and it began affecting the way I felt about myself.


The online quilting world then became this competitive place where I felt I had to prove myself. I started comparing my stuff to everyone else's. I began being judgmental, jealous, critical and withholding praise. I didn't allow myself to comment too much or get too involved - I became less and less concerned with forming relationships and more concerned with gaining followers.


I started making rules. Lots of strict rules for myself to follow. I couldn't make the same quilt twice or use the same fabric twice. Every quilt had to be new and different and my own design. I couldn't use patterns or make quilts that others had designed. I could only post finished quilts. Publicly admitting I liked comments was a no no. Inviting people to become followers, hosting giveaways, random blog buttons, advertising -- all not allowed. Keep in mind, I wasn't writing these down...they were almost like mental notes that I barely knew I was taking. Some of the rules were in response to things I saw other bloggers doing. Others were a way to handle to insecurities or the slightest hint of criticism. But most, I have no idea when or how or why I came up with them. I just knew they must be followed. They were necessary to maintaining the illusion of perfection I had created. I couldn't break the rules without being harshly critical of myself so I followed most of them to a T.


And it all happened so gradually, I didn't even realize what was happening. I let something I really enjoyed turn into something I needed to feel good about myself. And that turned into something I didn't love but felt obligated to do, until it turned into something I could barely stand to think about. I didn't stop making quilts, but there were times I thought, do I even like quilting? So eventually I just stopped posting things on my blog. I told myself it was because I was too busy. I had a bunch of kids now. I had a life. Nobody else was blogging anymore- it was just the natural progression of things. Yeah...those were the reasons I had stopped. But at that point, I really had no idea why.


The past couple of months I have been doing a lot of thinking. I have found a way of changing a lot of my thoughts that I didn't realize were affecting me so much. And as a result, I've been having a lot of success at changing old habits and beliefs and starting to fix things I thought couldn't be fixed. One of those things was my enjoyment of sharing myself and talents. So I have decided to start over. I'm getting a new website. I'm changing the way I do things. And I will be throwing out every single one of my old rules. And I will be making up for lost time...since I have about 20 quilts I have not yet shared! I am pretty excited! More details coming...hope to see you again soon!


P.S. I don't share any of these things so you will excuse me or try to make me feel better...I am ok...not proud of some of this stuff...but I am really ok with it. I have learned a lot from these experiences and I now feel like there is value in sharing some of my struggles along with the pretty things I make. Maybe it will help someone to be more wise than I have been. :) 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Valentine's Mini Circle Quilt


Here is another Valentine's Day quilt! This was another fun and fast one to make! I am loving these smaller quilts! They come together so quickly it's hard to get distracted by other projects before I get them finished!


When I designed this one I was thinking that it's been a little while since I made a circle quilt. Too long, in fact! And in my quilt inspiration search I noticed that lots of Valentine's quilts have hearts set in a square...so I decided to put them in circles. I added a couple of rings and the stars just to break it up a bit. My husband tried to talk me out of the stars...probably because I keep trying to put them in quilts...but I just love them so much! I can't help myself! I think they give this quilt a funky and fun little twist!


I always have such fun picking out the fabrics for quilts...especially when I can find what I have in mind! The black grid fabric is from an older line - Spin by Whistler Studios for Windham Fabrics - it is exactly what I wanted for the black so I was thrilled to find it on Etsy. I used almost all I bought and now I am thinking I should probably buy a bunch more and stash it! 


I wasn't sure exactly what fabrics I wanted to use for the hearts. I had originally mocked this up using dark, medium and light pinks. I bought a couple of different Valentine themed charm packs and some random pinks and reds and black/white prints so I would have lots of choices. In the end, First Crush by Sweetwater for Moda won out. I like pink better than red, but since I just made a Valentine's quilt using pink, I figured I'd mix it up and go with reds. Also, I really loved the text prints it the First Crush line...so that clinched it. There were some really great grays in the line that I thought would be cute too, but no matter how I rearranged them, I couldn't make it work. So I went with all reds and whites instead. I am pretty happy with how it turned out! 


And...the quilting. I had different plans for this than how it turned out. I really wanted to put some kind of crazy grid or crosshatching in the back ground, but of course I wanted to do it using the automatic mode on the quilting machine (for precision and to save my back some pain...it's getting harder to quilt being this pregnant, so that automatic quilting mode is saving me!) But unfortunately, I don't know enough yet to make it work how I wanted. So instead I chose this pretty frilly pattern that fit nicely between the circles and then I just stitched around all the rest of the shapes. 


I used the same black grid fabric for the binding - I had some of the black and white text print from the First Crush line that I was planning on using, but it didn't match the other black in the quilt well enough, so I couldn't do it.


I took my cute little two-year-old with me out in the crazy, threatening to rain, windy weather this morning to snap a few pictures. She is such a good little side-kick - she brought her baby in her stroller and she helped me hold the quilt so it wouldn't blow away! Gotta train 'em young! ;) Now I'm going to find a nice little spot in my house to hang this little gem! Then I'm going to finish a few other little Valentine's decor projects I've got planned - you can see some of those on instagram if you like - you can find me here (@ahhhquilting)


And...once again, I have performed a miraculous feat and made a pattern for this little quilt. You can find it in my Craftsy shop or my Etsy shop! Happy Valentine's quilting and decorating! 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Valentine's Table Runner Quilt




Here's the quilt I've been working on this week. After months of not feeling like doing much of anything, I am now back to quilting with a vengeance! It feels good! Quilting is such a good distraction for the end of pregnancy! And boy am I gonna need a good distraction or two (or five) in the next few weeks!


I have never been much of a seasonal decorator so my house usually looks kinda bare. Lately though, I keep wanting to buy all this stuff to decorate for the different holidays! Let's blame it on my craft group. Yes, I have craft group...it's a group of girls that get together once a month and make some kind of decorative craft. It costs 10 bucks and we take turns hosting and coming up with the craft and getting all the supplies for it. Super fun! Here is this months little gem:


Ok, so usually my finished product looks different than everyone elses...it was supposed to be a dark wood stained background with a plain glitter heart...but I couldn't stay to work on it this month-I accidentally booked a Drs. appointment at the same time-so I just brought it home to make it. And then I got a little crazy with the paint and the silhouette cutter...yeah...I can't help it. Anyway...back to the quilt. So while on this little decorating spree, I realized that I didn't have any Valentine's quilts! So last weekend I spent some time designing a few quilts. I came up with two that I really liked, so I decided to make them both (just got the fabric for the 2nd one yesterday)!


If you're thinking you have seen something similar to this quilt, you are right! It is close to this quilt I made a couple years ago:


This is still one of my favorite quilts, so I decided to make this new quilt similar, but a table runner with hearts and swirls instead of circles and rings, and I changed the star a bit too. I couldn't resist using the same black and white polka dot for the stars and binding...I love it so much! I am going to cry when I finally run out of that Alexander Henry June Dot! All of the fabrics for the hearts came from my stash or scrap bags...good reminder of why I keep those scrap bags!


This quilt is completely raw edge appliqued...my favorite! The quilt top took me just a few hours to make...pretty fast! The quilting on the other hand...well it took me 3 days! And I am talking quilting-all-day days. No, I have not gotten slower...but I did get a new quilting machine a couple months ago, and let's just say there is a learning curve! The thing quilts all by itself (which I totally love) but if you don't know exactly how to make it do what you want, then it definitely takes forever. So I just kept reminding myself that this was a "learning quilt." And I am happy to report that by the end, I finally figured out how I could have made it take a few hours instead of a few days! And even though it took me forever...it was a really fun quilt to work on. I had way too much fun picking patterns to put inside the hearts! Here are a few close ups:


And I also whipped up a quick pattern in case anyone else needs some quilty and fast (if you don't take forever to quilt it) Valentine's Day decor! It's in my craftsy shop or my etsy shop! Happy seasonal quilting!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Geometric Bliss Quilt


Here's another quilt finally! I know it has been a while...this poor, neglected blog! You may as well know that it's because I am pregnant (with girl #4), and I get weird when I'm pregnant. I go thru phases of fabric aversion, idea drought, quilt neglect and this time...blog apathy. Like I said, weird. I have somehow managed to still finish several quilts, but have had no desire to blog about them. So here we are...with about 7 weeks to go and I finally feel like getting caught up! On to the quilt!


I made this quilt for my friend Maren. I hardly need an excuse to make quilts for my friends so pretty much any occasion will do. This was for her 35th birthday. It was one of those last minute quilts that I planned and executed in a week or so...have I mentioned that I love deadlines? Yes! Deadlines make the world go round! 


The fabric for this one is mostly Geometric Bliss by Jeni Baker for Art Gallery - plus a couple of other fabrics I had that matched. I love the blue-greens and purples in this line- and they're such fun prints! I bought this with no specific purpose in mind, but decided it would be perfect once I decided on the design. 


The design came from an art piece I saw while walking through a model home last year. Model homes are full of quilty inspiration, so on this particular day I was snapping away at shower walls and ceilings...and when I saw this piece I knew it would become a quilt. Sadly I have no idea what the art piece is called or who the artist is- all I have is this quick snap shot:


This type of design is perfect for my favorite type of quilt lately: applique on a single piece of fabric. A design like this could probably be pieced...but the lazy girl in me just can't be bothered to figure out how. So this is all fusible web applique, finished with a blanket stitch in matching thread. I made the shape in Inkscape, traced onto fusible web, ironed to the fabric and cut it all out. Then I figured out all the spacing and marked it on the fabric with a water-soluble marking pen. 


I quilted it with a quick and swirly pantograph called Heraldry. Wish you could see it better!


I had originally bought a different backing for this quilt, but at the last minute decided to get this great black and white print from the Geometric Bliss line and I am so happy I did! I love it so much!


I bound it in the smaller black and white print from the line...
And then I thought it would be fun to make a label...


To make the label I used the same method as usual: made the design in Inkscape, printed it, traced it with a fine point sharpie marker onto fabric backed with fusible web, added fabric embellishments, etc. Sometimes I have a little too much fun with the labels. :) 


I rolled it up and tied it with a bow and gifted it to Maren...and I'm pretty sure she liked it. 


I'll be back real soon! Hopefully. :) 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Beach Huts Wall Hanging


Back in June my little sister Kaeli came to town for a visit. She's such a fun sidekick. And she's good at decorating too. Since I had just moved into a new house with no decor to speak of, that's what we decided to do...decorate the kids rooms and their bathroom. We planned projects galore. We shopped a LOT. I seriously think the cashiers at TJMaxx were like, "You're here again???" Anyway...we decided on a beach theme for the kids bathroom and we scored lots of great stuff. We found cute coral and white polka dot towels, darling coral and white geo rugs, and some great stuff for this random shelf on one side of the mirror:


Kaeli and I were so proud of this shelf. (The clock is from Hobby Lobby, glass jars from Michael's and the shells and sign from TJ). But after putting everything in its place, we still had one bare wall. So I looked around online a bunch for a cool beach themed sign -- I was actually thinking beach huts, but I couldn't find anything in the right colors. So, that's about the time when I remembered that I was a quilter, and I could just whip up a cute quilted wall hanging. I know, why didn't it occur to me sooner? So I pulled some fabric from the stash and whipped up this little wall hanging! 


I looked at a lot of beach hut themed fabric and art for ideas and then mocked these up in Inkscape. 


I decided on solids for the huts and random prints for the doors and embellishments. That made it fun to give the huts some texture with thread. I made all the huts first and then attached them to the quilted background. I used lots of zig-zag stitches rather than my usual blanket stitch because I wanted it to feel a tiny bit more shabby. Not sure that I accomplished that. 

 

This is the second background I made for the quilt. The first had a solid blue for the sky and the same for the sand, but once I quilted it, I was not in love with the quilting I had chosen. So, I scrapped the first one and tried again. The clouds were made from a pantograph, and the grid was drawn on first with a water soluble marker and then quilted using a ruler. Luckily the second attempt was better. 


For the second one, I also decided to add this little sand castle and shells. I kind of love it. I thought about adding a bucket and shovel too, but I didn't want to get too crazy :) I found a picture online that I liked, printed it the right size, and traced it onto the fabric with a water-soluble marker. Quilting it was interesting because those little shells are tiny and I had to go over almost everything twice so it would show up! 


Also added some seagulls. I think I did that lower one like 3 times and I kept messing it up, so finally I just left it. ;)


And here it is in it's place of honor in the girls bathroom! Kinda fun! And the girls like it. :) I may eventually get a cute hanger for it, but I think it's good for now.