Friday, June 25, 2010

Rainbow Makers


Kids really have the most enthusiasm. After the flooding happened here in May, there were endless local and national news stories detailing not just the tragedies involved, but also the countless, selfless acts of relief going on all over town. Compelled by all they saw and heard, Nicolas and Joseph particularly were ready to rip out drywall and tear up floors anywhere they could if they were just given the chance. They complained to me that we had to find a way to help people. I was moved by their inherent compassion and it helped inspire me to create Rainbow Around the Block. And because of their hearts, I've wanted to keep them involved as much as possible.

Just as naturally as the compassion came, so did the excitement to help me with the quilting efforts. I got out a few different quilt books for reference, a stack of graph paper, colored pencils, rulers and we all sat around the counter in the studio and had one of the best nights of the summer. After they knew what we were making and why, they were so inspired and had so much fun. We continually stressed that they could design their square however they wanted and not to worry about color or lines. I promised to work each of their colrings into a block design that we could sew from. And the icing on the cake for them (and me) was the idea to share our blocks with you! It was interesting to see that some of what they dreamed up on their own were already very basic and traditional block designs. It was also joy for me to watch how each expressed their individuality (what I know well and love about each of them) through the language of color and geometry.

So here is the first installment of the Horner Family Blocks: The Joseph Block. You can click on the link to download an instruction page. His was a very basic square in a square block. I love this block, and have been making lots of them. I'll continue to add more in the coming weeks, and also linking them over at the Rainbow page.

kisses, Anna

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One in a million

Out of a million things I could/should have done with the last hour or two I did this. I cross stitched and covered a button. I did not let the joy I took in doing this task distract me from how important it was that I did it at the very instant that I did. It. I had to. Do. It. There are certain endeavors that once you have the mind to do them, there is just no escaping it. Not sleep, not meals, not even 6 children and a design studio could keep me from this one today. If you have the mind and want to do: I used 14ct Aida cloth, Perle cotton-sz. 8, and one of the zillions of un-packaged not labeled or remembered needles sticking out of my pin cushion to be exact. The design was my own doodling on graph paper before starting. That part can help with the kids if you tear a sheet or two out for them to doodle too.

Oh- which reminds me! I will be back later this week with a Rainbow update, and some downloadable templates that I'm working from our own family block design time. We have been overwhelmed with gorgeous blocks & generosity over here so far!!

xoxo, AM

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dear Dad, I made you lunch!


Even though we're not together today, I thought I would make lunch for Jeff in your honor, so of course..... a tomato salad made the Dad way: fresh tomatoes (chopped in bite size pieces the way you like them, but sorry no one was patient enough for me to peel them first); chopped onion ; chopped cucumbers (the smell of which always reminds me of standing in the kitchen with you & a salt shaker, eating them fresh from the garden); Kalamata olives (the only kind of olives, as we know); a healthy dash of oregano; a heaping pour of the brightest, greenest olive oil (from your very own trees in Greece, naturally- I think we still have enough to get us through the year thanks to your winter oil visit); and plenty of salt (and even more when no one is looking, of course). Plus crusty bread and lots of people to help you eat it since you're not here. Thank you for teaching me the only way to make tomato salad and the only way to eat tomato salad (using the bread as a chewy, edible utensil).


I also decided that you would like some sardines straight out of the can with lemon, even though I could never personally manage to find that appetizing. I did however manage to find a very loving man to marry who happens to gobble this dish right up. He is a dream come true. (I can help with the cold beer, not a problem.)

I love you Dad! We're frying fish tonight and I'm about to start a blueberry pie......sure you don't want to take a little car ride west?

Happy Fathers Day! xoxo, chuffmuffin

Friday, June 18, 2010

Museum Tunic + instructions


Well I'm not sure what you were expecting. When I read my comments from the last post at dinner last night, I cracked up at the notion that some of you assumed that the flier image I showed in the post was the dress I was going for! SO funny! I guess you might think that at a glance. But come on, I only had about an hour! That would have taken at least an hour & 15 minutes (+ 2 days).


Anyway, I've had the thought to make this ultra simple tunic from the Square Dance fabric for a while, and decided at the last minute last night to give it a quick whirl. It is truly nothing but rectangles and 1/4" elastic. I have Here are some quick renderings of the simple process drawn up for you. but didn't have time to edit and upload today. I promise I will edit this post to add them this weekend. (Do I keep promising things?)


A few notes: I used what's considered a panel and a half of the Square Dance fabric (45" length). I started by cutting the panels apart into four pieces parallel with the selvages. In the sewing, I pressed open all seams, turned allowances under twice and topstitched them down on either side of the seam after step 2, step 3 and again after step 4. This way there are no raw edges anywhere, and you can catch the armhole and neckline openings in this step too. I used 3 rows of elastic about 1/2" apart from each other right under the bust for an empire silhouette. You just stretch the elastic as you zigzag it onto the wrong size. I find this so much quicker than the mock smocking technique with elastic bobbin. I also find it more reliable in terms of good stretch. And this fabric was so easy to follow a straight line because of the square print.


The front is exactly the same as the back, and equally flattering from the front and the back too! And oh my gravy so comfortable. Perfect worn over a nude colored slip, or really any slip. I was originally going to wear it with the belt, but I decided it was a little dressier without for the occasion.


The style could not be more simple, and it felt really appropriate to enter the amazing Golden Age of Couture show in something very simple. There is just no way to compete with the elaborate beauty that is on view now at the Frist Museum. Oh geez. SO gorgeous! I am gonna have to go over there several times this summer, to get a good look at everything. The hardest part for me was the urge to touch everything. Anyway, exciting news: the kind folks at the Frist have asked me to teach a workshop in conjunction with this amazing exhibit! I'll be teaching a sewing class at the museum at the end of the summer and all the info you need is here. They have a beautiful facility and it should be a wonderful inspiring time for me + 20 eager seamstresses!

Thanks for your enthusiasm yesterday about the dressmaking madness, and hope you try one too! xoxo, Anna

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cutting it Close

I am in rare but typical Anna form. Cutting and sewing something completely last minute for an event tonight here in Nashville. I think I just figured out why I rarely do my hair. I'm too busy making what I'm going to wear to any exciting event.


Anyway this is the tease. I have a few snips left and I think I will have myself a dress. Back tomorrow with the reveal (fingers triple crossed behind my back (impressive considering I'm also typing, right?)) and with more fun info about this amazing show that is here this summer!

Will she do it?

Will she be wearing a handmade dress to the museum tonight?

Check back tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel!!!

xo, Sew Girl

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sewing Secrets


Did you know that the Roundabout Dress & Slip pattern has a slip? You'd think it should be obvious from the title of the pattern, but so many people are like Oh there's a slip pattern too! Yes there is. And an option to make it a camisole too. Bias cut, both of them for a sweet fit. (Not to mention a blouse option for the dress. I know, its very generous of me.) And if you are super crafty you can add a panel of fabric around the bottom of the slip for this lovely number. Instant summer happiness. My favorite new go-to-gorgeous dress. And by far the most talked about piece of clothing in my Quilt Market booth a few weeks ago. It's always the thing that you did last minute and took you 1 hour, no? Today we launched a new Pattern Pack section in the store, and we'll be adding to it over the coming weeks to give you some more varieties.

And that is the mailing list news that I spoke of yesterday, just too pretty of a photo not to share here too. This is how you hang all your clothes at home, right? Right.
Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer inside & out


A long, challenging (because of all the humans here), loud, interrupted, rainy, busy day of work in the studio left me with these lovely slips and camisoles. (Mailing list subscribers will hear more about this tomorrow! The sewing, that is, not the chaos. Who would subscribe to that? Well if you're reading this then I guess you would.)


A simple walk out the front door at the end of day left me with even more beauty.

Of the two endeavors, walking outside was lots easier.

Just sayin. Anna
(who apologizes for the recent summer-length posts....I'll get wordier here soon, then you'll be sorry.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Today's Lesson

If at first you don't succeed, you can always find your sister and play Go Fish. I am certain that if my sister didn't live hours away, that an occasional hand of Go Fish with her would solve every kind of woe, big and little. In fact, just listening to the giggley rounds of these two playing seems to have done the trick on this rainy day.

summer advice from your pal (xo) Anna

Monday, June 07, 2010

A Managed Mess on Monday Morning


There are few sewing situations that put my studio in a bigger mess than spontaneous quilt block making. Its like painting and cooking. I am so very messy at both of those things too. I cannot stop to clean up while immersed in inspiration or the fear of screwing up (same thing?). But these mindless organic creative processes bring me so much joy. The mess is just part of what makes it feel comfortable and at home, and perhaps unfortunately also makes it feel very me. Ask my mom or my sister, they would agree with that. Me. Mess. BFFs.

But these processes of mine also reach a breaking point where I have to regain some order. And that's when I devote myself further in my relationship with color. I look, listen and answer each fabric with a position in a stack. Some are obvious, others joyously perplexing. All of them back in their place and my inspiration is saved once more from the edge of chaos. Just barely. (This collected chaos could likely describe so much about me if you are in the dark. In fact, refer to this post for all future questions about me.)

Now, to remake this mess into another. And another. And another.
More on all that soon.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Rainbow Around the Block


Off and running! After weeks of dreaming about it, it only took a few more days of planning, htmling, designing, phone calling, writing and editing, but we have our Rainbow Around the Block quilting effort ready for you to join us! And my favorite part now is the quilt block sewing!


In case you're not up to speed with the giddy-jabber-along, Rainbow Around the Block is a project that I dreamed up to have quilts made for as many families as possible who lost their homes and belongings during the flooding that happened here in May. I recounted my personal experience of those first days of flooding here. As more days passed, I felt compelled, like so many, to find a way to help. Our schools were canceled for a week due to roads and school buildings being too damaged and so rather than have some time to get out on the front lines of cleanup, I was mostly taking care of my brood. Just giving monetarily feels insufficient somehow when the devastation is quite actually in my backyard. While many have the means, the insurance or FEMA to help them rebuild a home or buy necessities, there was so much lost that can't be recovered. Items of great sentimental value washed away. That's so much harder to ever get back again.

I decided that I'm not alone. I know there are so many of you that are just exactly like me who have a little time, a little material, and a little know-how to make a small block of something beautiful. And if we put our pieces together we can rebuild a little bit of what was lost. The hopes and prayers that we stitch into these little blocks can help to restore some of those memories, sentiments, and warmth that drowned in the unbelievable rains those two days. Money can only replace money. But giving of our time and talents will replace much! I will be so honored if you help me!

All the knitty gritty details of the project are located here at my website and we have all summer to sew. You were going to do that anyway, right? (Not to mention there are ways to help even if you don't quilt.) From that webpage you can link to the Flickr group that we have set up, already sporting members and some pretty blocks too! This is a 200x200 icon that you can post in your sidebar if you choose, and link to either the webpage or the Flickr pool. We also have all the info written up in a simple one page pdf that you can print out, take to your quilting groups, local quilt shops, etc. And thank you, so, so, so much from the bottom of my heart for doing so!

lots of love from sunny, hot Tennessee! xoxo, Anna & family

(p.s. The whole family sat down with graph paper, rulers and colored pencils last night and each dreamed up his or her own 12" block. It was loads of fun, and I'll be sharing each of their designs in the coming weeks. Today I sewed up Joseph's square within a square block design. He is beaming. Now they feel part of the effort. I'm beaming too.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Year One


With Roman turning one the very day that he flew to Minneapolis with Jeff and I, you might imagine there was not too much fanfare. The night before we left, we went out for a family dinner and gave him all the bites of cheesecake that he wanted, which weren't too many. We gave him books, which he liked immensely. And on his actual birthday I took photos of him sitting in the plane looking out the window. While sweet, of course, the photos themselves felt insufficient somehow to capture his first birthday but more his first big adventure, I suppose. Right around the time that a baby turns one, the number itself seems to stand as a warning to you for the rest of the years that will come. Its the first time that you set this whole number to a child and not the fussy monthly marks. One. It is the first indication of the baby days dwindling. You can be certain now that they will not be babies forever, if you've disillusioned yourselves thus far. You can stop that now.


So clicking through many photos taken over the past few weeks, in search of a Roman-turns-one-photo I kept going back to these that I spontaneously took of Juliana and Roman on Mother's Day. It goes without say how much it reminds me of myself and a baby Juliana eighteen years ago exactly. But more, it marks in time the difference of their ages. Which is so often how your mind goes back in time to remember any of the children at a specific age, right? You think about the relative age of them to the rest too. And here they are together during a time while they are both settled in the family nest. One just getting to know the dwelling and the other getting her feathers all ruffled for a flight.

So this, with my oldest and my youngest, is the portrait of Roman being one. The year that his sister can just walk down the hallway from her room sweep him up for a giggley hug and kiss on her way to wherever she goes. And he can crawl after her, even attempt a few steps, once the door is closed behind her. She can teach him to say phrases like oh, wow. He is very good at knowing when to say oh, wow. And still being here, for a few more months, she can nibble his elbow whenever she wants. Because he is here too, and very edible at age One.

xoxox, Anna