Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Take comfort, give comfort


I have finally managed to put together this little treat for you and for yours (and for me!). With all the wonderful soup recipes that I've been gathering, and all those that I'm sure you'll come across in these most yummiful weeks of the year, I think we should store them in a lovely way. And even more, I think these would make fabulous gifts. So here is a simple little recipe card holder that I whipped up. I chose to first embroider some simple cream linen after I composed the design on the computer. You can click on the little graphic there to bring up the jpg, download it, print one out for yourself, then trace in a window and embroider. Obviously you don't have to embroider this project if you're short on time, just use a favorite fabric. Oh, and big news, this can be accomplished with just 2 fat quarters. I don't know why, but knowing a project can be accomplished in a matter of fat quarters makes me giddy.


So here is a brief synopsis of how the project goes, hope this helps:
1. Cut two fabrics, and one lightweight interfacing in 10.5 x 22.25" rectangles.
2. Embroider on the outside piece first (keep the pocket fold in mind when you are placing the embroidery where you want it) The embroidery is just a simple chain stitch on the text, then some fill stitching on the flower.
3. Layer the lining fabric right side facing up, then the outer fabric wrong side facing up, then the interfacing.
4. Stitch all around the perimeter with a 1/4" seam allowance leaving an opening big enough to fit your hand in.
5. Clip off the seam allowance corners with a 45 degree cut, turn right side out, poke corners, and press.
6. Press in the seam opening 1/4" towards inside. Slipstitch the opening shut.
7. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise and press a crease.
8. Open with the inside facing up, then fold in each end towards the inside center so that the pockets are 4" deep. Press creases in these folds.
9. Open folds and from the outside, sew ribbon or twill tape in place with a button over top, just above the pocket crease lines. This placement should put your buttons on the outer edge of the holder after the pockets are folded in again.
10. After buttons and ties are sewn on, pin the pockets in their folded-in positions and take a 1/4" topstitch down both long sides of the holder. Finished!

Simple, right? And while any large size index cards would do, I had to make you some pretty printable ones. There's a Cooking Comfort Cards pdf over there in the "Printable Playthings" section of the sidebar that you can download and print out. They're already set 2-up for 8.5x11. The folk-y floral design is a little slice of my upcoming fabric collection. Enjoy!

Okay, back to comfort...erhhh cooking. I was hoping to have my new aprons in hand for the giveaway before Thanksgiving, alas, it looks like they won't be here till next week. But please don't cook naked in protest, I promise I'll be sharing the aprons and the winner asap!

Enjoy your family and home and all that you are thankful for. Be back here soon. xo,AM

Friday, November 21, 2008

Variation on a theme: Winter Bag


The number 6 must be on the mind as everything I patchwork or crochet these days only seems interesting to me if a hexagon is involved. I think it started with the Patchwork Ball in my book, and then was only driven further home when I came across these Granny-style crocheted hexagons. Well I have started some crocheted hexagons that are slipknotting right along on the couch nearly every night. And now this. My winter bag. Hello winter bag, I love you.


This is the Taxi Tote pattern, also from my book, but with a patchwork variation on the front side. I should say that with such a simple pattern shape, it is the perfect opportunity to get creative with variations. The hexagon is also the exact hexagon pattern borrowed from the Patchwork Ball pattern, and I think I cut around 4 dozen of them. I fussy cut all the hexagons, somewhat centered on florals from the Drawing Room and Garden Party collections. I wanted the centralized positions to sort of emulate the radiating concentrics of a Granny Square/hexagon. I am really happy with how it turned out. And also exercised a bit of restraint by choosing a solid tweedy gray for the back and lining. The trim is that same fine wale corduroy that was used here, and I love the cozy softness of it.


To join the hexagons, I just attached one on top of another to join rows first, and then interlocked each row side by side and joined them with a seam that sort of zigs and zags. (Not to be confused of course with a zigzag stich-it's just that the seam continues to turn corners as you go.) I compared the growing piecework to the bag pattern every now and then until the patchwork would accommodate the size of the pattern piece. Then I top stitched long vertical passes (in that same vertical zig and zag line) of the hexagon patchwork to the interfacing before moving on the follow the rest of the pattern steps.

Have fun if you try it!

Oh and in the-world-is-never-quite-perfect-news, a small amount of book boo-boos have been found here and there, and I am trying to make mention of them as they show up and respond to any questions here at the newly formed Seams To Me flickr group. So before you get frustrated with what you may think to be a typo in the book, scan some of the topics and maybe it'll help you. If not by all means post a question! I will soon have a fancy corrections page to point you to as well.

enjoy your weekend pals, and still (gladly) accepting your soup recipes! xo,Anna

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Anything + Honey


At the risk of my cravings and your generous outpouring of soup recipes deeming this a food blog, I shall point you to a new favorite breakfast. Mint tea, with honey. Toast with butter and honey. Pretty much anything with honey. But particularly this bread which is the Organic Seduction (really?) Bread from Whole Foods. I did not name that bread. And I did not eat said bread prior to arriving in my current condition. But I do think that with my fav owl mugs and the clover honey that we could aptly name this sweet meal the Birds & Bees Breakfast, no? Yes, lets. And don't let this shot of one slice fool you into thinking you know what goes on over here.

And those soup recipes! I need a keyboard wet-vac to clean off all the salivating that I've done for the past week. And Jeff (and anyone within a 6 mile radius) needs ear plugs to manage my constant rambling on over this or that soup recipe. Man. Not allowed to say soup again. Ever. Though I shall be announcing a random winner the moment my new kitchen goods arrive (hopefully this week ~ as well as the restocking of current goods-so sorry for the long wait to all you customers who've been asking!), I am thinking I made out pretty cheaply on paying for soup recipes. So I am working on a little gift for all of you that might help you work some of these wonderful recipes into a homemade gift for loved ones. I am mostly glad that we can all feast on these delicious offerings!

More soon, good Wednesday, xoxox, Anna

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I want soup and I'm willing to pay for it


All I ever really wanted was to spend my days making homemade soup. Definitely one of my favorite things to make because it is so improvisational, and is a slow simmer all day kinda thing. Not too much pressure. Unfortunately today's lunch was simply one of these, improved by a local bakery's rustic sourdough and some fresh grated parmesan. I need homemade soup, stat! I've been hoarding ingredients in the pantry for some of my favorites, waiting for a good day. Everyday for a few days has been perfect weather-wise, but today with freezing feet in the studio, I can't take it anymore! Soup time. However. I really want some new recipes....and was thinking that maybe you and your wonderfulness wouldn't mind sharing yours.


Now typically when I have a new product launch I try to think of clever ways to do a giveaway that has an appropriate theme. Yet, really this time I am just crafting a clever way to get YOU to give something to ME. I want your soup! And I'm willing to pay! Above is a glimpse of my newest kitchen textile collection that is set to launch in about a week. It's the Cookbook Apron in blue and I think that you would look so good in it! Really! Totally your colors and would look great in your kitchen. And I'll bet that you would also like a set of four new dish towels to go with it, wouldn't you? Of course you would.

Now. Give me your favorite soup recipes, or at least a link to your favorite soup recipe and you'll enter a chance to win some fun new kitchen linen goodies! Take your time, I'll continue to accept comments until I receive my first shipment of goods, which should be next week. I hope that'll give me plenty of time to send the prizes to one randomly selected winner just in time for basting that turkey (or tofurkey, whatever the case may be). And the selection will truly be random as I don't have time to make ALL your soups to determine whether its scrumptious or sucky, so don't worry. (But if its sucky I may know eventually, and you wouldn't want that.)

So its a win, win, win that we can all share in. But mostly I get soup. Oh and I love vegan~but eat everything.

Okay start cookin'...erhhh commenting!


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Oh, yes, the booth!


So above was my special little booknook where I sat happily on my duff for 3 days welcoming book buyers with a chat and a signature. Not one poor soul got away from me without a serious amount of giddy chatter risking overzealousness, I am quite certain. You may recognize the chair from my dining room, which literally had me feeling very at home. The dressform is wearing a dress length version of the Smashing Smock pattern from my book. The fabrics are from an upcoming quilt cotton collection, Good Folks, expected to deliver in January. More on that soon, naturally.


Here's a zoom out from that end of the booth (except without the flowers, dang). My pictures are somewhat stinky, and these are the best of them + some of them (the good ones) are courtesy of my pal Eva from my publisher. I have a really hard time concentrating on getting good photos once the whole shebang is put together. The final putogether always seems like seconds before the incessant chatter ensues. And there's practically no stopping me from that once it starts, for anything. If I met you, you know this.


Oh, look here I am doing just that! See, my European talking hands are a blur and even my earrings fell prey to swinging around dizzily at my ears. I know there's a picture around here somewhere in which my hands aren't moving or my mouth isn't open, but I can't seem to find it. That's husband Jeff talking to Westminster Jeff. I love my Jeff a whole lot, but I really like it when Westminster Jeff hangs out with us, cause he's taller than my Jeff, which I point out every time. Its just that at 6'5", every now and then someone should be taller than you, its healthy. And how about that gorgeous couch from Miss Caroline. I almost stole it and shoved it in the trailer but I am cursed with a small amount of decency.


The frame wall was a default project that was planned somewhat last minute due to assuming I would only have prints of the new fabrics and not actual fabrics. So this modular frame thing was like a conceptual quilt. I was relieved however that 3 days before we left, the fabrics indeed arrived, saving me some printing, and also providing lots and lots of last minute sewing chaos. Wouldn't be market without that.


I had lots of fun with flowers against this teal wall color, and naturally I wanted to echo the new collection's palette. A detail about booth planning which practically renders me psychotherapy worthy, however is how I labor over the candy decision. The color and the flavor and the wrapper and the taste and the mood have to be right. I went with butterscotch. It was warm and aromatic and glowed from the antique alabaster compote. (Free mind analysis anyone?)


Bloomy. Oh and a big thank you to my pal Val for helping me arrange the bouquets with minutes to spare on the bathroom floor. Good clean fun.


Oh blurry loveliness. This is the other end, where the concentration was on the upcoming line of sewing patterns. Lots of excitement generated for the patterns, almost enough to make me actually finish the final development and printing. Marketing your products is good for that, you should try it! Seriously, though, I will show you the actual pattern covers later this week, non-blurry-like.


Slightly closer up, the poster here shows the back detail of the Socialite Dress sewing pattern. This is my favorite shot of all the images I've worked on for the sewing patterns. I drove up and down every downtown Nashville street (3x) looking for a charming architectural relief detail of some sort. And wouldn't you know I ended up next to a Greek restaurant that I'd never heard of. It was serendipitous how much the building detail answered the fabric design details and made for a great shoot. Hm.

So that's mostly it, I suppose. I owe so many of you a huge amount of thanks for stopping by the booth and spending time with me, sharing the excitement of current and upcoming projects. But most importantly, sharing in our joy as we prepare to increase the love in this house. Through hugs, squeals, emails, letters, calls and comments, I am so honored that my happiness is also yours.

Thank you, thank you. From every last little one of us.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Taking my time


These past few weeks I have been so conscious of the time that things take, to the point of wanting time to go away a little, or just retreat. I've been wanting it to not have any bearing on reality for a bit so that I can absorb what I feel needs to be absorbed and leave the rest. Even the extra hour this weekend didn't give me enough, as I'm still holding a grudge from Springing forward. Alas, it passes anyway, without permission.

There were many many hours spent preparing for market, obviously, which accounts for most of my absence from here. And sorry about that. But Fall Quilt Market could not have gone better. I am so thankful. Jeff and I drove all the way to Houston and back (28 hours round trip) with the only hitch being the one pulling a trailer containing my booth display. A booth display, in fact, that won first place (again!) in the double booth category. I couldn't tell you what the award criteria is, but I am very honored, of course, to be recognized. And it certainly doesn't hurt in patting the strong back of my husband who labored tirelessly on the construction details. Good man. I will share all the goodies with you that all the attendees got to see as this week rolls on, promise.


As wonderful and enjoyable as it was to meet up with all my pals in the sewing circle, and have some time away, there is never anything quite like the return. We both miss the kids an awful lot when gone. All the monotonous details of family care suddenly take on more appeal from afar and we miss the little things, like Eleni skipping out of a room.

The first full day back, Allie and I spent hours and hours catching up on orders and I am happy to say that we are caught up. All the books ordered thus far have been shipped! And that's sayin' something. Whew. I'm glad to be back in a more normal flow with the shop and can't wait to share new stuff coming soon. Thursday my parents came in to celebrate Joseph's birthday which we concisely took care of with a skate, a steak and a cake. All to his choosing. The kindest boy ever is 9 years old.


Having Mom and Dad here for those few days forced me to take it easier than I might have, which I'm mighty glad for. Mom worked on embroidering one of her quilts interspersed with baking and handwashing my dishes. She is so easy to love. Dad pondered the beginnings of what will be the first painting he's made in about 25 years. He is a beautiful painter, and I'm relieved to see him stir up the brushes again. He has saved the above picture from a summer spent in Greece for more than 30 years with wavering thoughts of someday making a painting from it. I'm the healthiest looking one between my sister Eleni and my brother George. My cousin Eleni is the one keeping that poor donkey humble by sitting on his neck. Anyway, his current plan is to rather paint a landscape of the gorgeous terrain and olive grove surrounding his home in Greece. So, I managed to get Mom to the local needlework shop to get her all the colors she needs to finish her quilt, and Dad to the local art supply store to stock up on all the colors of paint he'll need to get started, provided he doesn't spend another few years recomposing the plan.

I suppose worthwhile endeavors do take time. I've certainly managed to take enough of yours with all this catching up! So I might as well let you know that I'll be spending 29 1/2 more weeks bringing our little #6 into the world. Time well spent.

are we caught up a bit? best to you! xoxo, Anna