Sewing updates, life updates

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

I have SO many ideas on my Evernote list of possible blog posts. So many ideas, so little time. To give you a short life update: my husband deployed, we have started our homeschool year, the extracurriculars have started back up after Summer break and I myself am in charge of the yard work and house fixes and other various things that usually the man of the house takes care of. We're doing well, but sheesh, I'm tired at the end of every day! It also took running out of clean kitchen towels to realize it's Casey who stays on top of the laundry situation better than I do, ha! 

ACS_0111.JPG

A few months ago, I had the foresight to know that teaching sewing this year was off the table and have decided that it's probably off the table until my homeschooling years are over. I will miss teaching and miss seeing my students regularly, but I am also very relieved, now that we're in the thick of things, that I made this decision! Luckily, I still have my blog and YouTube channel as outlets to create sewing tutorials and teach others. 

Despite the busyness, I still squeeze in time for sewing therapy! Right now I'm working on a quilt for Natalie. The one I made her when she was five (!!) is still beautiful, but she has outgrown the young style of it. Still, that quilt will always be special to her, and to me, as it's the only one I ever hand quilted! The pattern is from this book, one of my favorites ever. Here's a photo of it when it was still unfinished: 

 quilt by Nikki Schreiner of Pin, Cut, Sew Studio from the book, Material Obsession

The pattern I'm using for her new one is the Warrior quilt pattern by Suzy Williams and it's free! We chose all the fabrics together. I've had this quilt on my Pinterest board for quite awhile, so I was thrilled she chose it. It seems like today's modern quilting consist of many solid colors and less prints. 

 Warrior Quilt Pattern, free on fabricworm

I've also made a couple of baby quilts, they just need batting and backing. I made them without anyone in mind to gift them to, I just had a free weekend and the itch to quilt. I thought about selling them, but I actually think I know who to gift them to now that they've been made. I absolutely love the boy one! For the girl one, I used this free pattern

 baby quilts by Nikki of Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

I've had adventures in dancewear sewing recently too. More on that in it's own separate post coming soon. Sewing dancewear was my sewing goal for this year and having two ballerinas in the house has made this more of a necessity for financial reasons (dance moms know, those leotards can be soooo expensive as they get older!) While I gather supplies, I started by altering and embellishing three plain solid leotards found in the $5 bin at the dance store, with stretch lace and mesh. They turned out amazing and Natalie is thrilled! 

 Sewing Dancewear by Nikki at Pin, Cut, Sew studio

I almost forgot, I made a dress too! I'm not really sure I'm in love with it, though. I may shorten it an inch or two? I do love that neckline, but I feel like it's a bit dowdy. I kinda wish I'd made a lightweight cardigan with this fabric instead. It's from Hobby Lobby's Fall line and it's a beautiful rayon spandex, so I could get some more and make the cardigan happen. We'll see. 

 McCall's 7591

Lastly, I do have a new YouTube tutorial in the works! I'm hoping to film that on Saturday, so stay tuned for that next week. Here's  a sneak peak! 

 Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Oh, wait, I almost forgot! Since I'm not teaching sewing now, I turned half the sewing studio into a school space! I can't believe how much we love it. It's so nice to have a space where the dirty dishes are not staring me in the face while we do school, haha! I also really like it because it's a space for me to sit and write or take care of the administrative details of life and homeschool co op, etc ... But anyway, I needed some chairs for our school table. I didn't have a lot to spend and I wanted rolling chairs and chairs with cushions. I found a set of four of these 80's gems on a used site and recovered them with duck cloth from Hobby Lobby. They look completely different and we love them! 

 80's chair makeover 

I took them apart, which was pretty straightforward, recovered the seats with a staple gun, then made a pattern to simply slipcover the backs. It worked great, and the whole thing cost me about $80, definitely cheaper than the cheapest chairs I could have afforded at Ikea! Now the problem is that the kids are lazy and just roll over to get a drink or a pencil instead of using their legs ;)

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How to make time for hobbies

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

 How to make time for hobbies by Nikki Schreiner

One of the things I have been most often asked throughout my entire adult life, is, "How do you have time for all that sewing?" I usually kind of shrug and laugh it off, feeling a little bit like maybe a grown woman with kids who home schools ought to be too busy for hobbies, or worried that people think I neglect my home and family and sit in front of the TV with knitting needles all day (I was literally accused of that once), but I actually do strategically fit my hobbies into my life on purpose and I'm going to share some of the ways I do that here today. 

First, though, let me just say that there is a season for everything and while I do have a busy life as a home school mom, I am home quite a bit and I do not work outside of my home. You may truly be in a season of life that is just too full to squeeze in one more thing, even if it's something you enjoy, so if that's you, please don't read this and find any guilt for not getting the watercolors out with your kids in the evenings or not reading more theology books, okay? No guilt! Second, we all must find a balance between using hobbies as self-care as we can fit them in and idolizing that "me-time" that hobbies can provide. If I'm yelling at my children to leave me alone because I'm immersed in a sewing project, my priorities are out of whack.

So now that we have those caveats out of the way, these are simply ways I have managed to squeeze in things I love to do and that keep me sane throughout various seasons and life changes.

1. Make your hobbies convenient.  

I had a neighbor growing up who kept a sewing machine in her hall closet way up high and would get it out to fix a hem or something. Because my mom had a designated sewing space, I thought this was totally weird, ha! If your sewing machine is up in a closet somewhere and all your tools put away, you'll probably never get it out to sew. Making your hobbies easily accessible will go a long way in how much you get to enjoy them. At our house, I keep a pretty vintage magazine holder next to my favorite chair full of the books I'm currently reading, so they're easy to grab when I have a minute to sit. I have a mug of paint brushes on a shelf over my dining room table and the bin of watercolor supplies nearby so it's easy for us to get out and paint without searching for supplies. My sewing space has migrated as my seasons of childrearing have changed. When the kids were younger, I made space in our various living rooms, so I could sew while also being where the kids were. Right now I have a large space to sew in, but in Hawaii, I only had a hallway desk. When we go out and I take my big camera, I don't even bring it in a case, I just sling it over my shoulder so it's easily accessible to me, knowing that if I had it in a backpack with several choices of lenses, it would feel like a chore to even get it out. 

 how to make time for hobbies

2. Find small pockets of time to work on your hobbies

I sometimes sit down to play the piano while dinner is in the oven, or while waiting on friends to arrive. I read in between dance drop off/pick ups. I know many sewists who complete projects one seam at a time, in ten minute increments. This is another perk to having your hobbies out and accessible to you. Especially if you have small children at home, using those 10 or 20 minutes to enjoy your hobby is a good strategy. 

 Making time for hobbies

3. Take your hobby with you

If you're anything like me, you have more than one thing you love to do and at least one of those things is portable. Hand sewing projects, crochet, knitting, photography, reading, embroidery; these are all things that I've brought along in the past. Use those hours sitting at basketball or dress rehearsals to your advantage!

 How to make time for hobbies

4. Realize that hobbies can come and go

There were many years that I was a scrapbooker. I loved to do it, I loved to go to crop nights with friends and I found a lot of satisfaction in that. There came a time, though, when I just didn't have time to keep up with it and I did not need a hobby that made me feel behind in something! So I put it aside. When we were moving here to Utah from Hawaii, we didn't have our belongings for a few months and my hands were itching to create something, so I brought an Amigurumi crochet book, a hook and some yarn and it gave me something to put my hands to in that season, even though crochet isn't something I make time for ordinarily. Even in sewing, there were seasons I enjoyed quilting more and others when I preferred garment sewing. It's ok to pick up hobbies as you go and put others aside. There can be guilt in knowing how to do something or knowing you're good at something and not putting those skills to use, but that's just silly, isn't it? 

 How to make time for hobbies

5. Find buddies to enjoy your hobbies with you

I love talking books with my mom and show-and-telling sewing projects over FaceTime. I enjoy teaching my friends to sew. I love sharing and commenting on sewing projects through social media. My girls and I have a blast coming up with photo shoot ideas, they are definitely my best photography buddies! There are tons of ways to find people who love the same things you love and that kind of community makes hobbies so much more fun. 

 When dancers play baseball

When dancers play baseball

6. Think twice before offering up your skills to others

Just because you're good at something doesn't mean you should do it for money, or even as a favor, to others. There have been many times I have taken on sewing work that I did not want to do and that I did not need the money for, just because a friend asked and I knew I could do it, so I said yes. Find a way to say no that is gracious and then SAY IT! I usually say something like, "I don't take on custom work, I just don't have time". I should add that there are times I am asked that I actually do want to take on projects, such as costumes for the Narnia play our home school co op put on last year, but I weigh those decisions carefully before volunteering. That's sewing, though. Photography I actually LOVE to do for my friends, but I cannot do it for money, it's just too much pressure and I don't have time to deal with the administrative part of trying to make a go of photography as a business. So I usually say I work for coffee, ha! My point it, as with all things in life, you have to figure out what your boundaries are and stick to them. If you don't, before you know it, the precious time you have to work on your hobby will be eaten up by projects you really didn't want to do in the first place. 

 Mr. Tumnus 

Mr. Tumnus 

7. Last, but not least, stop wasting time

Dare I say it? Put down your phone!! While a few of us may really, truly not have moments to spare for enjoyment throughout the day, I'd be willing to bet the majority of people who say they don't have time to fit in hobbies are wasting large chunks of time on mindless activities that produce nothing. How do I have time for "all that sewing?" I do not watch TV in the middle of the day. It feels rude to say that to people when they ask me that questions, but it's what I really want to tell them! (When I do watch something in the evenings, I use that time for yet another hobby: I do the New York Times crossword every night, like a grandpa, ha!). Furthermore, around Christmastime last year, I decided I really wanted to read more. I have always loved to read and while I had a good excuse why I didn't get many books read in a year when my kids were little, I can't use that excuse now that they're preteens. I decided that if I had a few minutes, where I would almost always pick up my phone and fritter the time away, I'd pick up a book instead. You guys, I have read 32 books so far this year!! What!? Theology, history, biography, so many good books. That is a LOT of hours I was spending mindlessly on social media. Use your time wisely. 

 My living room sewing space in our Colorado house.

My living room sewing space in our Colorado house.

If you have anything to add to these ideas, I would love to hear them! Please share in the comments. 

Cheers! 

 

 

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Sewing Inspo

This post my contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy. 

My girls are ballet dancers and we are smack in the middle of recital week and since there has been zero time for actual sewing, I'm enjoying some virtual sewing instead! Here are some great ideas and inspiring projects I've spotted around the web recently. I hope you enjoy! 

 Sewing Inspiration Spring 2018

First up, I absolutely love these tote bag panels by Hawthorne Threads. All the choices are right on trend and easy for new or experienced sewists. What a great idea! I love this "Take a Hike" one, but they are all seriously cool. If you're not familiar with panel projects, this means that you purchase a panel and the pieces you need are printed directly onto the fabric. So you cut out the pieces and sew it together, no pattern needed! (See the photo on the left). 

 Tote bag fabric panels

Next, Handmade Charlotte has this ADORABLE Ice Cream Necklace tutorial. My kids and their friends would absolutely love these and so would my sewing students. Sometimes I plan small craft projects for when we have extra time and these are perfect for that. 

 Ice Cream Necklace craft

A Beautiful Mess has instructions for making a duvet cover out of flat sheets. I love this idea because my girls are both tired of their comforters and this is such an easy way to make them new! 

 Make a duvet from flat sheets

Oh my goodness, these Tartan-inspired quilts on C&T Publishing are so beautiful! I've been wanting a new quilt project and love so many of the plaid ones I'm seeing. I may pull some fabrics out to start on one of these (after recital week, of course!)

 Tartan Quilt

Here is a cute and easy knotted hair bow tutorial by makeit-loveit. Even if you don't make some, be sure and check out her cute post with hair styling ideas. 

 Knotted Hair bow tutorial

I don't own a Cricut and wasn't really interested in them until I spotted this adorable kids backpack on SewMuchAdo and was surprised to read that it was a pattern by Simplicity for Cricut. Apparently the two have teamed up and I'm intrigued to look more into this partnership and all that they offer as far as sewing patterns. I sure can imagine the possibilities! 

 Kids backpack: Cricut + Simplicity

I have a soft spot (pun intended) for sock animals and I cannot get over this amazing sock "Narwhal the Unicorn Whale" pattern by Craft Passion. 

 Sock Narwhal

And if you're into sock animals, don't forget I made a video on how to make a sock monkey (it's really not hard at all!) and it's my second most popular video, so check it out! I recently made my husband a monkey out of some Star Wars socks he found. He's pretty awesome. 

Wish me luck for the rest of recital week and hopefully I can squeeze some sewing time in soon! In the meantime, I'll keep admiring and sharing the work of others. 

Cheers and Happy Sewing! 

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Whole Cloth Quilt from a Tapestry

A few months ago, I spotted a cool cactus textile at Target that was folded up in a package and labeled a "tapestry". Tapestries like these are kind of a hipster thing, in my most humble opinion, seeing as before this, I'd only ever seen them at Urban Outfitters. Other places just called them table cloths ... or curtains ... or bed spreads ... or fabric that's hemmed, ha! But, this said tapestry, so that's what I'll go with. 

I bought it, thinking I could make something cool with it. Succulents are so in right now, after all.

Meet my new cactus quilt! 

Basically, I knew I could make a simple whole cloth quilt and it would be quick and make a statement in my home. A whole cloth quilt is just what it sounds like: an entire piece of fabric, quilted. No piecing. I backed it with a piece of muslin backing I had on hand and just quilted it with straight vertical lines. So easy! 

I really like how it looks on my bed, but it would look cool on my couch too. I just love the huge succulents, it's awesome. And the colors are right up my alley. 

The reason a tapestry works well for a quilt like this is because it comes so large. While fabric yardage only comes in smaller widths, the tapestry is already big and can often be ordered in several sizes. 

I haven't seen this one at Target again, but they do have them online and they're on sale! They have some other cool ones too, it looks like. Like this awesome pineapple one! 

There are lots on Amazon too, it looks like! There are several Mandala ones, which are beautiful, but this map one has my swooning. I love maps like I love pineapples. 

Oh my, or this one! All the heart eyes for this one. 

This flag one is pretty fun and would make a bold statement in a bland room! 

Or how about this one. Every room needs a bit of whimsy right?? Haha. 

There are some beautiful nature ones too that I can see making pretty quilts. And even if you don't want to quilt a tapestry, they're such a great way to decorate walls. Especially if you live in a rental, or military housing like me, where you can't paint your white walls. 

Do you use tapestries?? I've backed a picnic quilt with one. It was a sturdy one, so it worked so well. I'd love to hear what you've done with them! 

Cheers and happy sewing! 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on them and purchase, I earn a small amount to help keep my local sewing class business going :) 

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Three Essential Tools for Quilting

I have a mini quilt class coming up this weekend, so I have quilting on the brain! Plus, whenever I go awhile without doing any quilting at all, I start to get the itch to sit down and make some blocks, do some paper piecing, or plan a big quilt project. There's just something about it that pulls me in when I've been away too long ... like the ocean, ha!  

There are lots women who want to quilt, but feel super intimidated, this I have certainly learned as I've chatted with new sewists at my classes these past few months. But I say, if you can sew a straight line, you can make a quilt! It's easy and it's actually a great way to learn to sew because it's pretty straightforward (obviously it can be very intricate and complicated too, but a beginner wouldn't chose those kinds of patterns, right?)

To get started, you really only need a few extra tools above and beyond your sewing machine and regular sewing tools and fabrics. And, while there are plenty of quilting toys that are fun or nice to have, these are the ones you really need

#1. A Rotary cutting set: mat, ruler and rotary cutter.

Ok, this may sound like three things and I guess it is, but you can buy them in a set and you definitely save money that way. I'm not sure how anyone had the patience to quilt before rotary cutters were invented. The cutting alone must have taken an absolute eternity. A rotary cutter is essential. Trust me. For my class attendees, I ordered these sets. They've arrived and I've played with them and they're great! A really good deal on Amazon too, this is the best price I've seen for all three things together. 

In case you're unsure what this handy tool set is for, I found this video for you. 

#2. A walking foot. 

This is a special attachment for your machine foot that is necessary for the final steps, the actual quilting part. Since by this point you'll have a few layers pinned together (your quilt top, batting and backing, what we call the "quilt sandwich"), this foot helps keep the top layer moving at the same speed as the bottom layer so you don't have ugly tucks and puckers. 

If you have a really fancy machine, or a Pfaff, you may have a built in walking foot, but for most machines you'll need to purchase it separately. I use basic Brother machines for my sewing students and ordered this walking foot for all four of them. 

It looks like this: 

If you have a Singer machine, try this one. If you have a different brand, just search Amazon for the right walking foot for you, or order through the manufacturer. 

Here's a little video on how to use your new walking foot: 

A walking foot is also very handy for sewing knit (stretchy) fabrics or to get over bulky seams or when you're sewing lots of layers. Just a good thing to have if you'll be sewing a lot. 

#3. Quilting Pins

I almost did a post with only two quilting essentials, but as I thought through the process, I decided quilting pins needed a mention as a number three. These aren't your average straight pins, they're actually safety pins. Remember my mention of the "quilt sandwich?" These pins keep your quilt layers together while you quilt and you remove them as you go. I use the large size like these. Don't be tempted to just buy cheap safety pins from the office store, those aren't nickel-plaited steel like these are and you'll risk them leaving gray marks or rusting onto your quilt, eek!

You'll need more than comes in that package for large quilts, I'd have about 100 on hand to be safe. Using pins like this keeps you from poking yourself while you top stitch your quilt, obviously. I would post a video on how to make the quilt sandwich, but that's one of the last steps and I feel like watching a video on that before ever starting a quilt would make a beginner want to give up the idea totally, hahaha. But don't worry, there is plenty of help on YouTube when you're ready to make your quilt sandwich! 

That's all! My three must-have, don't-attempt-without-them tools for quilting. 

Seasoned quilters, what do you find essential for quilting? 

Cheers and happy sewing! :)

P.S. This post contains affiliate links. This means that while I was not contacted, asked or paid to promote the products linked to here, I do personally use and like them and your clicking through and purchasing them would earn me a small commission to help me keep this side gig of teaching sewing to kiddos going :)

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