Tuesday, March 26, 2013

gettin' craftsy and some discount links

wowsers! this weekend i was introduced to the world of craftsy.com and i have been sucked right in ever since, practically living there the last few days. if, like me, you've never heard of craftsy, it's this fantastic on-line diy classroom platform that offers tons of on-line classes by many industry leaders. the array of topics and line up of teachers is impressive. and i discovered a few deals on classes, including free ones, that saved me money, too. (i've highlighted my savings tips in red through out the post.)

i found the classes on friday, signed up for a couple, and spent time on and off on saturday in my courtyard enjoying the extremely pleasant spring weather and watching classes. it was awesome because i could stop and start whenever i needed to do something or give my kids attention. what a perfect way to spend a saturday.

i got to go to class in a beautiful, comfortable setting without driving anywhere or doing more than showering and throwing on some comfy clothes. since i was adding new projects to my roster, i also dug out my quilt patterns to sort through in an attempt to organize all my projects i would like to do. that list is getting out of control.

 the classes are designed for you to work along side the teacher, pausing whenever you need to. however, i like to watch everything first to get an idea of how it's going to go and also picking up any tips offered along the way to put into immediate use on my current projects since i won't be doing the new quilts just yet.

just an atmospheric shot of how wonderful my courtyard is looking right now - heavenly!

i found my way to craftsy through camille roskelly's blog announcement of her new class, pre-cut piecing made simple. i was intrigued by her description of the class and all the quilts she promised to teach us to make, so i linked over to craftsy for a closer look. her link, by the way, includes a 25% discount for the class, so definitely link through her if you are interested (or try here).

when i found out her swoon quilt pattern (above) was included, i was sold. i've admired swoon ever since she introduced it, but figured it was well beyond my skill level. however, having recently taken on the half square triangle with my garden paths quilt, and discovering that swoon was composed of HSTs, with camille leading me through each step of the quilt, i knew i could do it. so i signed on. the reviews from other class members also helped encourage me. camille really does share a lot of information as she goes.

the classes are really well put together, making watching enjoyable and informative, too. also, the platform for the classes is awesome. i've never experienced anything like it on line. here's what craftsy includes and how it works:

  • unlimited, lifetime access to classes, 24/7, so you can watch and create at your own pace, whenever, wherever, over and over again, for as long as you want. years, even.
  • ability to take notes that are recorded on a timeline allowing you to sort of bookmark spots in the video that you can refer back to  - very cool.
  • you can ask questions of the teacher, which are recorded on a timeline of the class as the notes are. she answers them back pretty quickly, not always immediately, but in my experience so far, within a few hours or at least 24. i'm sure this will vary as time goes on.
  • 30 second repeat that allows you to keep repeating a video segment until you feel you have mastered the content
  • class projects photo gallery for sharing and viewing
  • downloadable class materials lists
  • 100% money back guarantee
i've found the classes quite easy to access and use. the only problem i've had is some pausing, but another student recommended turning off the HD button and it's been smooth sailing ever since.

craftsy offers many absolutely free classes that allow you to get a feel for how it works. you just create an account and put it in your cart. i picked up some classes on trouble-shooting with your sewing maching, quiltcon lectures, and some block of the month classes. all free!

a money-saving tip here, when i signed up for a craftsy account, my introductory welcome email gave me a link to get any class for $25, a nice savings since most classes are $40 or $50. i used it to get elizabeth hartman's, of oh, frannson! blog, class inspired modern quilts.

elizabeth also offers the free course, creative quilt backs, which i watched friday night. it was truly wonderful and got me so excited for how well the classes are put together and run. the free classes do not include instructor input, but they do still allow for input from other class members in case you have questions.

the last paid class i signed on for was free-motion quilting a sampler by leah day. and, another money saver: if you link from leah's site, day style designs, she offers a 50% discount on the class, making it only $20! (if you click on my 50% discount link, it might work for you - otherwise, try linking through leah.)

there were several free motion classes, but this looked like the best over all choice for a beginner. i am still desperate to learn stippling so i can complete taite. this looks like it's going to help. i also chose it because leah offers tips on how to quilt large quilts on a domestic machine.

yesterday, my husband took all the kids to the zoo, so i had some time to myself. i took the pins out of taite since it needs to be resandwiched and watched part of leah's class for ideas on how to get a better sandwich. leah explains herself very well. she has some very unique methods for quilting! she also has many special product recommendations that are supposed to help with your FMQ. i might invest in some of them but i'm not ready to go for everything she does just yet. so far, i don't think i'll be using her sandwiching and basting ideas. i have yet to decide if the class is really going to be helpful to me or not. the good news is that if i decide it really isn't for me, i can get a full refund from craftsy.

each of the teachers i have watched have been superb at delivering their lessons. and the line up of celebrity instructors is rather dazzling. some of my other favorite designers and crafters that teach are vanessa christenson of v and co, meg mcelwee of sew liberated, and master baker peter reinhart, author of artisan breads everyday and the bread baker's apprentice cookbooks. i'm totally drooling thinking of these classes, but i'm going to pace myself.

last but not least, craftsy also sells fabric, yarn, books, etc, at a discount in their shop.
and when you sign on for a class, it usually offers you related class materials at a significant discount.

craftsy, you are awesome.
i'm looking forward to a long and happy relationship here.

now i gotta go sign back into my class.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

soho, purl and makie

 the mr. and i took an 18th anniversary trip early this month to nyc. we've been there once before, nearly 15 years ago when i was 6 months pregnant with our first. we went on a whim for 2 nights with no real idea what we were doing. that was a fun trip and opened my eyes to why everyone loved new york so much, an affinity i could never fathom until i'd been there.

fast forward to this trip and we had lots and lots of ideas of what to do. one of my secret wishes was to visit purl soho in real life. i've ordered from them once or twice and dreamed of browsing through in person, but knew better than to suggest we spend any of our precious trip time in a fabric shop. especially since i didn't think we'd be anywhere close to it on our planned travels.

however, when the mr. said he wanted to check out soho's ironwork district and find lunch there, i saw my opportunity. "do you think maybe, if we happen by it, i could pop into this shop i've always wanted to see?" he actually said yes! when we exited the subway in soho, i googled purl and it was .3 miles away. after lunch (and a lot of reorienting ourselves with our phone maps) we managed to find purl.
as the name would indicate, it's primarily a knitting shop. however, they do have a selection of fabrics (wool felts, linens, liberty of london, organic and imported cottons, etc) that is nothing like what's available to me locally on the almost-west coast.
i am not, nor will i ever be, a knitter. but their cute little gal sitting at the counter by the door spinning yarn and their mouthwatering selection did sorely tempt me. even the mr. saw a sample or two that he deemed, "cute - very cute, actually," almost in a "why don't you make one of these?" way. he was such a good sport that he took the camera from me and unasked, photographed me in the shop.
oh, yes, i was walking around with that sappy smile on my face. these are totally candid shots he took. what a sweetheart! after taking a few snaps of me, he said he was going to check out the place next door. i was alone and free at last! no hubby hanging over my shoulder questioning what i might pick up or purchase. 

 i thought about how much daughter#1 would have loved these hand puppet kits, but at $18 a kit, i knew she could just as well make up her own original softie, probably even just by looking at the photos.
 box of shiny flosses and some lovely mixed-color mettzler threads unlike any i'd seen before.

there were even a few quilt samples on the wall. purl offers classes by the likes of heather ross and denyse schmidt. maybe next time we go (the mr. wants to make it an annual trip now) i can arrange for a class. that would be dreamy.

this basket of vintage-looking offerings caught my eye. i thought they must be finds from old linens. but when i turned one over, i thought, "of course!" liberty of london 1/2 yards. just gorgeous and soooo many choices. i selected only 3, due to the cost, then kept browsing. my picks: mirabelle f, poppy and daisy j, betsey a. i'd been inspired by some adorable softies i'd seen in another soho window while hunting down lunch and thought these might be perfect for softie bits.

 next i spied the scrap bags - another perfect softie find. i really loved that blue bag on the left, but decided on the reds because it had some neutrals in it that would make good softie faces or limbs. i was looking at that bag of oranges and yellows in the front when my mr. walked back in, completely surprising and flustering me. i'm not sure i meant to buy both scrap bags, but i was unnerved at seeing him again so soon. he'd been gone all of 5 minutes and i already had an armload of fabric. he was bored and i needed to get moving, so i made my way to the front to pay before he could object or look too closely at what i was holding. unfortunately, he also walked up to the register with me and heard the total. i had to remind him that i hadn't even hinted at wanting anything at tiffany's the day before and that i really would prefer fabric from soho. he got over it quickly enough.

a parting shot from purl: an adorable baby cardigan. sigh. oh, speaking of babies, the one other fabric purchase i made was a set of organic cotton 1/2yrds to make either a quilt or 4sq for the baby we're hoping to expect soon. i didn't photograph it yet: browns, ginghams, elephants, linens. baby but very soho.

the other shop i mentioned stumbling upon as we tried to get our bearings while searching for lunch was this tiny gem:
just an itty bitty storefront window display and a white door. but the dangling softies were what caught my eye. i am still a sucker for softies and these were as handmade charming as they come.
i was stopped dead in my tracks. the mr. was half a block ahead and turning the corner before he realized i wasn't keeping pace.
looking down below the softies, there were some lovely fresh flowers and a small but sophisticated selection of handmade baby items. the whole scene just oozed newborn softness and elegance.

 the bunny lady was my favorite. i think she might have liberty ears. see why i was inspired by those 1/2yds and scrap bags? i neither wanted to or needed to spend $85 for a softie when i could make my own souvenir from soho.

 the mr. backtracked to me and admired the 100% cotton fur booties while i drooled over the silver polka dotted bib. he offered to go inside but i knew that was pointless. i'd fall in love with some $100+ baby item and want it for our daughter. better just to dream from the window and photograph.

i stepped back to see the name of the boutique, then searched the front over a minute before finding this one small hint hanging from twine in the door window:
MAKIE. and nothing else but the address and website. oh, yes, a website. so now you can browse and drool, too. without hopping a plane to soho or even leaving your home screen. enjoy!

Friday, March 22, 2013

wip and a garden's back paths

 it's not wip wednesday, but i didn't complete anything new before wednesday, so wip comes on friday this week. on thursday, after getting a few morning necessities done with the kids, i bundled myself off to sew at ETC's open lab. in the four hours i was there, i managed to complete my back for "garden path," which is what i think i will call this one since it's so garden-y and looks like paths and directions in the design. "romance in the garden" is a bit too long.

anywho, the back is done now. taking almost 4 hours to complete was a bit irksome for such a simple-looking item, but there was a lot, a lot, a lot of pressing involved with those huge pieces of fabric and then some tricky cutting to get them squared. for some reason, the strawberry piece was super wrinkled (and is still rather, even after all the pressing).

originally, i planned on using the same 3 sashing strips from the front when piecing the two large aqua floral sections together, but then i realized one of the strips was the same as one of the large blocks (the strawberry). looking at the limited amount of choices i happened to have with me in the project box, i picked the snowflake print as a sashing instead.

my next improv came when i realized the strip of daisy fabric was 1/4" shorter than the quilt front, not leaving any room for shifting or slight shrinking when quilting the darn thing. maybe it would have been okay, but since the top has no outer border with the design carrying right up to the edge, i really needed the extra few inches. i did not want to have to shorten either the top or bottom if the back did come out smaller after quilting. so i decided to add three more strips of sashing in to lengthen the daisy panel.

once again, my choices were limited to what i had on hand. and i was running out of patience, wanting to be done. i just rummaged through the cut strips i already had. i used two of the prints from the vertical sashings: snowflake and butterfly. fortunately, the butterfly strip was cut on the correct horizontal orientation. unfortunately, it was going to be slightly short. so i pieced on a few inches to be safe. again, unfortunately, i added the piece to the wrong side. i put it on the right, where it is more obvious rather than on the left, where it would have been either swallowed up in the binding or virtually invisible. oh, well. another lesson learned, i guess.
i had a few bits of the large rose floral from the front that i wanted to incorporate. they were not as wide as the other sashings were, but i didn't care. i had to piece again and am pretty pleased with how closely i made the print match up (see above). i got it almost exactly dead on the very first time with only a little sloppy guess work!

in general, this quilt has been very fun to work on. and looking at the top right now, i have some ideas brewing for a similar but altered design of my own. those big 1/2 triangle chevrons were pretty easy to do. i happen to have a large stash of fabric that needs to be worked through, too.

wip report since last month's
completed: none

in progress:
"garden paths" - back completed
"limb" - finished more binding while in UT with my siblings last month, waiting on last 1/4 section of binding
"taite" - untouched, waiting on re-sandwiching
"twirl" - untouched, waiting on top to be fixed
baby quilt - untouched, needs binding completed

internet purchases: painful to admit, but i did buy some stuff!
quilted castle - some jennifer paganelli for upcoming class next month; stocked up on what's left of my favorite meadowsweet before it's gone; some EOB clearance of it's a hoot, ecole, odyssea, wonderland; and broke down and purchased sale stock of northcote range, jelly and backing.
fabric.com - some clearance jennifer paganelli (for that class) and amy butler i couldn't resist.

trips to the store:
purl soho while i was in NYC two weeks ago
one visit to ETC, just for open lab. no purchases!