Saturday, August 20, 2011

Europe or Bust: The Crafters Journey Begins

Born in the US to Portuguese immigrants, I was raised in the old world ways.  Fortunate enough to travel there several times with my family, I got to appreciate the lure of Europe and from whence my heritage came.  I have always loved it there.

Since marrying an "American" who isn't interested in seeing other countries, the only trip I've made out of the country was back in 99 to Brazil.  I took my Mom to visit a brother she had not seen in 36 years.  An incredible trip.

Then came the 2010 Family Reunion.  I was at my sister in law Mary's, who I love to create and craft with.  We were looking through books and she excitedly showed me "French General Home Sewn" by Kaari Meng.  I loved it instantly.
 Little did I know that one day in Mary's living room would be the catalyst for one of most amazing adventures of my life. 

About 4 months later, I picked up a book about successful career craftswomen.  Kaari was mentioned.  It encouraged people to challenge themselves and interact with other creative women when possible.  It referenced a fantastic trip: The French General Chateau Getaway.

A week in the south of France with Kaari & twelve friends in a 150 year old Chateau.  Within minutes I was Googling.  The trip was completely booked, I was too late.  I shot out an email asking them if there would be one in 2011.  Yes there would.

The next morning I called my sister in law, sharing my excitement and trying to plant the seed.  Why not go next year?  I know she thought I was crazy.  She placated me by telling me she'd think on it.  I wasn't going to miss out.  I was going.  After telling my husband I doubted she'd go but was prepared to go alone, he let me in on a secret about Mary, his baby sister. 

He said I should absolutely go regardless but that if I told Mary that I was going without her, she wouldn't be able to stand it.  She was never one to miss out on the fun.

I did and she called back the very next day, "I'm IN!".  We planned, figured out how we'd save for it and decided we would use this as a chance to see more of Europe.  Paris and Rome quickly made the list, then Venice was last to be added.  Could we do it?  Absolutely.  The year flew by!

The girl raised in Russell County, KY, never having been out of the country, and having only dreamed of going to France, was about to trust me to guide us across several countries to a far away place. 

Poor schmuck.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Pilgrimage to Prada

pil·grim·age[pil-gruh-mij] Show IPA noun, verb, -aged, -ag·ing.

1.a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion: a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
2.Islam .
a.the Pilgrimage, hajj.
3.any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or for a votive purpose, as to pay homage: a pilgrimage to the grave of Shakespeare.
That last one is ME.
Those who know me understand I have an obsession with handbags.  I've always really liked them.  Even though my husband has never quite grasped it, he's finally figured out that after 23 years...I'm NOT going to change. 

Boy, do I love a pretty purse.  I cut my teeth, so to speak (I would NEVER actually harm my handbag ) on Vera Bradley then Coach, but escalated.  I bet my husband has regretted buying me that first Vera for Christmas so long ago.

About 8 or 9 years ago I walked into a PRADA in Vegas and it was probably like what happens to a crack addict the first time...I was hooked.  Since then, it's been about "ALL PRADA all the time".

The leather is the most magically scrumptious and buttery feeling of any bag I've had (and that's quite a few).

Oh, I might take out one of my seasonal quickies for a month or so....but it's only to give my PRADA bags a little respite.

No surprise that when I made the plans for my dream trip to Europe, Italy made the list.  Any country that can design a handbag like that deserves a visit.

The Roman Coliseum?  Oh sure, of course that too, while I'm there anyway...and why not the David in Florence, I mean I should get in some culture, right?
But the first MUST DO I wrote on my list was a visit to PRADA!  No Sir, not even a hesitation: I was absolutely coming home with a new bag to add to my teeny but growing collection.  My own Personal Quest.

I did my research the minute we arrived in Rome.  The handy dandy Frommer's travel guide book Jerrica got me for Mother's Day even listed the street the it was on.  Right by the famous Spanish Steps. 

Cool.  Now all I had to do was convince my sister in law, Mary, that she absolutely wanted to visit the Spanish Steps. 

Couldn't look too obvious.

So the day after we had walked what felt like million miles through a guided tour in the insane heat, I gently nudged her to walk, AGAIN.  On our tired legs to make another 4 mile journey, but at a nice soft, leisurely pace.

She might become suspicious if I lassoed her legs and dragged her across the crazy intersections.  

The crowd was huge at the Spanish Steps, but I aggressively pushed our way down and made a beeline for the store front.

Oh WOW, I could swear the heavens parted when I pushed open the door.

It might have been the rush of frigid air conditioned coolness after being in the intense heat for hours. 

Ahh, the smell of leather and of very expensive perfume.  The clerks all looked like runway models.  It must be a policy or something. 

I, in my sweaty shirt, runny makeup and tired feet in Jesus sandals didn't have eyes for anything but the bags. 

Mary thought she saw a movie star.  I thought I found a new hobo style.  Yes, it was glorious!!!  =)

I narrowed it down to two a boxier one and a ruffled one.  They had to be tried on to ensure it didn't become too heavy with all my crap in it.  I contemplated.  Sweet Mary never once complained.  "Bless her heart".

After holding them both, it had to be the gussier ruffled looking one. The tag?  It read Gaufre, meaning "waffle" absolutely perfect!!! 

Can one have a religious experience in 45 minutes?

Uh, just one thing.  A tiny thing really, no biggie.  It's just that my little "Personal Quest" forced me to cash out all my Holiday Club money to pay for my delicious bag.

Are 99 cent reindeer socks still an acceptable gift for Christmas?  =/

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sewing Craft Organizer – Mod Podge Gets Some “Street Cred”

What do a yard sale diva, old sewing patterns and Mod Podge have in common?  We make cool stuff! =)
I found a small wooden chest with drawers at a yard sale for $3.  I didn’t like the color or the knobs, but for three bucks?  I can’t get a latte for that.  The pack rat in me felt it held promise.
It was the right size to hold a bunch of smalls in my sewing room, so I had to make it cute.  Creative powers….ACTIVATE!  
This idea would work on ANY organizer.  I started with buying some nice knobs at Hobby Lobby when they were 50% off.  (You might have some in your craft stash).  Then I grabbed a good old jar of Mod Podge.  It’s a product that doesn’t get enough credit for all the possibilities....  I heart Mod Podge!

It was off with the old knobs...with a pair of pliers I broke  off the cheap, glued on knobs.  Then I went to my stash and dug out an old book of vintage wallpaper reproductions.  I decided to mod podge the frame in a pretty print I liked.  
While that was drying I took the sewing instructions that come with patterns and cut out some busy areas and mod podged those to the drawer fronts.  I was heavy handed with the final coat to give it a good shine.  I drilled tiny holes in all the drawers to hold the new knobs.  I used my handy dandy screwdriver with a drill bit (Yes, I actually have one of my very own).  Put the new knobs and voila!  Almost done.
Then it was a matter of having my husband cut off the remainder of the bolts off so that they didn’t stick out so much in the drawers.  (I usually stay away from the really sharp electrical gizmoes).  
It’s now got a proud place in my creative space and it didn’t cost me very much!   What do you think?

Got any cool “repurpose” project ideas for your sewing or craft room?  Please share!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Scrap Quilt Instructions & Other Prison Secrets

Like any good sewer, I save A LOT of scraps. I keep two wooden boxes handy by my cutting table and sort them by patterns VS solids.  Then every few weeks I put them into two giant bags in my attic. 
I often wondered why I save so many?  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely dig in my scrap piles and they’ve saved me on more than one occasion, but would I ever use all those scraps?

Thanks to The Quilting Coop shop in my town of Asheboro, I KNOW I will!!!  A few weeks ago, I noticed in their newsletter a “Scrap Quilt” class.  By the picture, I thought it looked really nice and I had to sign up.
Last night was my first class.  The first thing that struck me is just how lovely the actual quilt was.  I never would have thought that those tiny scraggly pieces of willy-nilly fabrics would make an amazing piece of art worthy of any grand quilter’s home.
So off I went, slicing and dicing all those little pieces.  I asked Cindy, my instructor:
“Christmas scraps?”  Absolutely!!  Halloween?  Definitely.
In fact, she said that the ONLY rules to this quilt, is that there are positively NO rules.  As wide as I like, or as thin, the more varied, the better.
Should we stay in color families?  NO WAY!
Hmm. That seemed like fun!  No rules, no matching colors, no rhyme or reason.  Why can’t life be that easy?
It took me a little bit to embrace the concept.  The organized person in me was screaming to get out.  I had to shut her up.
I kept trying to cut every strip exactly 1.5 inches.  I noticed someone else cutting hers precisely 2 inches.  Some of us took to the idea right away.  Others, like me, struggled a little bit and had to consciously think: Wait!  Stop matching! 
A few just really couldn’t grasp it.  It felt WRONG in some way.  Like they were breaking all the great “quilting commandments”. 
Place Christmas beside polka dots?  It’s just not done.  No way, no how.
It gave me an “AHA” moment.  Why do we do that?  Struggle so hard against what feels wrong?  Many of us go through life coloring between the lines and always trying to do what’s right and living a peaceful life, not breaking rules or any laws.  A nice, calm, color-complimented and orderly existence. Yet here was something lovely that could come out of a total mess?
It got me thinking.  Criminals don’t worry about order.  They break all the rules.  They are completely oblivious to what “should” be or how it’s supposed to work.   They could care less if they fit in with society’s standards. 
That’s when it hit me:  maybe I’ve been missing out.  Just maybe, in the life of a quilter anyways,  sometimes it's good to be bad.  
Yes ma'am, when it comes to scrap quilting, I need to think like a hardened criminal on a road to the penitentiary.  Break more rules.  Worry less about right or wrong.  Don’t think too much.   Yeah, I like that idea.  
So I flung in a strip of Halloween right next to some red polka dots.
Threw in a scrap of snoopy and slapped some camo on there for good measure.
Oh Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Put the Easter floral next to the batik.
Then I chuckled to myself.  I’ll be ready for the prison yard in no time.