Busy Book #2

Remember the Busy Book I made for the boy last year? I mentioned I might write a pattern for it, and guess what? Fat Quarterly has added it to their Issue #9 which is all about sewing with and for babies and kids!

I hope you’ll go check it out. The issue is already being sent to subscribers, and will be available to everyone else starting April 30. I read through the whole issue and there are so many great patterns and tips in it. I’m really excited to show it to Alexis. Time for some mommy & daughter sewing time!

I was going to write a big post about all that I’ve accomplished this year from a sewing perspective, but I’m afraid I’ll look back and realize that I didn’t do nearly what I had planned. Instead, I’ll look to Sew Mama Sew’s Reflections and Predictions challenge, and try to answer their questions for 2011 and 2012 here.

Looking back at the 2011 sewing scene, what trends stand out in your mind?

Owls. Definitely owls. And less so, hedgies. Hedgies are the new owls. I predicted it on facebook a while back. I stand by that. I think they will stand out more in 2012. I’ve already got my first charm pack featuring hedgies… from quilt market no less.

Another trend seemed to be a fascination with hand sewing projects like hexies and big stitch quilting. Hand sewing is something I love and have done a lot of over the years, and so while I was glad to see other sewers taking it up, I wasn’t sure where that left me. I can’t decide if that makes me an individual, a rebel or just someone who needs a clue.

What were some of your favorite things related to sewing this past year?

This is the easiest question of all. Sewing Summit stands out foremost in my mind. What a wonderful event for all of us bloggers and sewists. Some famous and others (most) not so famous. As you’ll remember, I signed up at the eleventh hour and flew to Salt Lake City on a bit of a whim. What a fabulous weekend. I can’t wait for 2012′s Summit. Thanks so much to both Erin and Amy for putting on such a great show.

What did you make that you’re most proud of? (Share a photo in your post!)

I don’t feel like I finished that many things this year. I’m certainly no quilt-a-week quilter. I’m very glad (and I guess you could say proud) to have finished Alexis’ quilt. I do really really love how it came out. (I even sort of wish it were mine to keep… hehehe.) But, I think my favorite project is the Busy Book. I feel like it was solely my creation and my son is absolutely crazy about it. I hope to get a pattern written up soon.

I’m also very excited that I managed to make a few articles of clothing for myself this year. I’ve made countless dresses and pairs of PJs for the kids in my life, but have never really been successful in making any kind of garment for myself. I have only Simplicity 3835 to thank… and the sewing community that showed me the path to its greatness.

Aside from sewing projects themselves, I’m proud of myself for restarting the blog in May, keeping up with it, and also for writing a few new tutorials. I hope I can keep up the momentum in the new year.

What sewn projects have you seen this year that you absolutely love?

This question is almost impossible to answer because there are just so many answers. Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts is a big favorite of mine, and has made many quilts that I love this year. I particularly love her Prism quilt and her Wonky Wonky Little Star Mini-quilt.

Rachel of Stitched In Color is another of my favorite bloggers. Like Faith, I got to meet her in person at Sewing Summit and she is just as sweet and genuine in person as she comes across on her blog. I love her Retro Flowers, and I’m absolutely looking forward to her curves class in the new year.

But my favorite quilt that I’ve seen this year, is by Amanda of MrsMcPorkchop Quilts. Her mermaid Oregon Star is to die for. I can’t believe I got to see it in person at Sewing Summit. I think I might have stood in front of it drooling in fascination that fussy cuts could look so. damn. awesome. Seriously.

Besides all that, during Amanda’s class at Sewing Summit (Marvelous Minis, if you’ve forgotten) she actually inspired me to give paper foundation piecing a try. OMG. What the hell have I been waiting for? Talk about an awesome tool! My first paper pieced block was the block I contributed to the Beebolt charity quilt.

Are there any trends you’re over and done with?

I’m so un-trendy that I’m not sure I could ever be “over” a trend. But if I had to choose, I’d pick red and turquoise. Or owls (despite my recent stashing of some owl fabric — it was on sale!) or hedgehogs. I think I just don’t get it. I also don’t really get the Japanese fabric trend. Not that I don’t like the fabrics, but I just can’t see the need to import (at a great cost) fabrics from Japan when there are such great designers and manufacturers here in the states. But that’s just me.

What are your thoughts about social media? How is it going for you? What do you love or hate?

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, so we’d better get with the times. I hesitated and hesitated to start tweeting, but at Sewing Summit, I decided to jump on the band wagon and tweet away. I’m also trying desperately to keep up with my flickr account, and keep my photos up to date, but I still seem to forget about it regularly. (On the other hand, flickr is how I found do. Good Stitches. And I’m loving being a part of such a great cause.)

I also am enjoying Pinterest. It’s just completely porn for crafters. Admit it. You know it’s true. I love seeing what my friends (and idols) find fascinating or beautiful or just plain genius. I’ve gotten more selective with my pins recently. I’m not completely sure why. At any rate, pinterest is the social media forum where I have the most followers. (Which is still a paltry amount I admit. :) )

Did you have a favorite fabric collection or print in 2011?

Again, I’m so behind I don’t think I even realized there was a whole movement of fabric lines behind the scenes. I’ve almost always bought fabric from brick and mortar stores, and so I was limited to what they carried. Which I’m now finding out is extraordinarily limited. I had no idea that Anna Maria Horner even existed until this summer, and now some of her voiles are on my favorites list. (Not to mention that she is a super fun blogger who really allows you to get to know her in her posts.)

But, then again, because of my past experience in buying fabric from my LQS, I’ve never really been drawn to create whole quilts from a single line of fabric. For me, this is a new concept, and in 2012, I hope I’ll get a couple of these “mono-line” quilts finished.

I guess if I had to choose a favorite line, it wouldn’t be a spectacular print line, but rather Robert Kaufman’s Kona Solids. This year, my love of solids has just bloomed. I’ve worked with the Moda Bella solids, and while I think they are perfectly adequate, I just prefer the feel and the color selection available from the Kona. And I recently found that both JoAnn and Hobby Lobby carry some of the more popular colors… so that makes it even more appealing!

What do you predict for 2012 in the sewing industry?

We’ve talked (and talked and talked) about how absolutely oblivious I am to the entire movement of the sewing industry as a whole. I’m probably the last person to make any kind of predictions for the coming year. However, I suppose I can play it safe and say that I think the bright colors we saw this year will continue. I suspect that turquoise and lime green and hot pink will have an even bigger role in the fabric lines to come. I also think there will be even more organic yet primary shape patterns will come into play.

Will I keep up with it? I can’t tell you that. I go where my heart sends me. I love to make beautiful things, and I rarely let others define beautiful for me. So we will just have to wait and see if I can keep up with the trends or become decidedly more “unique”.

Can you tell us what to expect from you in 2012? Any big projects or life-changing goals?

My big goal this year is to get published in a sewing type publication or forum. (We can just all ignore my geekdom publications, can’t we?) So look for my name in print and let me know if you find it, kay? Because as I’ve already pointed out numerous times, I’m oblivious to these things.

Other than that, as I mentioned before I really want to keep up with the blogging and creating. I’m also trying very hard to remain true to myself and not get sucked down a path that is too similar to my bloggy idols because I want to attract more readers. Really, while a larger audience would be nice, I really just want to share what I learn and what I love with whomever is interested at the time.

Whew. I would say I can’t believe how long that got, but I know rather well my penchant for being rather verbose. At any rate, I hope that anyone reading this at least got a little insight into my 2011, and maybe a little foresight to what might happen in 2012. But as we all know, no one can predict the future. That’s what’s fun about it, right?

The following is an account of the events of September 11, 2001 from my experience. I wrote this ages ago, and have always meant to publish it near the anniversary of 911, but have always been held back by that nagging feeling that my story wasn’t important enough. I know that what happened to me is trivial compared to those who lost their loved ones on that day. However, the entire day was so emotionally draining, that I doubt I will ever forget even one second of it.

She badged into the closed office and plunked her stuff down on her desk. Awaiting her was a list of things to do. Apparently the new boss didn’t really trust her to come in early and not fuck off.

With a sigh she leaned over and scrawled “Wish Grandma a Happy Birthday” at the bottom of the list.

She scanned the office, if you could call it that. The room was more of a passthrough with four desks set up in a square. Everyone had to walk through this office to get to the other offices. No notes or lists on anyone else’s desk. She supposed that was the curse of being the new girl.
Humph, “the new girl”, she was the only girl and that’s usually how she liked it, but she suspected it would not be an asset at this company. Something about the way management was structured was a bit stiff. Even the other men in her office who had been around for years seemed to avoid speaking their minds about anything. And yet, she couldn’t put her finger on it.

She sat and reminded herself again to get a rear view mirror for her computer monitor. Having her back to the hallway traffic and the boss’s office was disconcerting. The whole place and team was disconcerting. As her computer booted she counted the days she had been working here. Twelve. Two weeks and two days. Today was Tuesday, only 4 days until the weekend and the beginning of her (unpaid) vacation.

That first day had been especially difficult. Her manager mentioned to her that he had never managed a woman before. She secretly believed he never managed much of anyone before. His baby-face gave him away. Apparently none of her other team members had worked with a woman before either. No one had even shown her where the restroom was. By lunchtime she was about to burst and went searching for it herself. There it was, just down the hall and around the corner. Once inside she sat in one of the stalls thinking this job was a huge mistake. She didn’t fit in.

She had only taken this job because the start-up company she worked for previously was going under. There wasn’t even an increase in pay to come work here. In fact, she’d had to fight to get them to match her salary. Just another little oddity about this place. They were unusually frugal. And yet, they were paying what was surely an outrageous rent for prime office space downtown.

Just after she finished reading her email, the guy who sat kitty corner from her arrived. With his long brown hair pulled into a low pony tail, and his baggy jeans and grungy tee-shirt he looked like the stereotypical computer geek, which he was. He was, however, the friendliest of the three men in this office.

“Good morning,” he said.

“Hi.” she said, and then turned to check the list for the next item of business.

“Happy Tuesday.” he said.

She grunted. Happy. Right.

Noises came from behind her. Her boss was here. He didn’t say hello to anyone, but rather entered his glass walled office and sat staring out over downtown Austin.

The boy who sat across from her had come in with the boss and moved toward his desk. He was supposed to be her team lead. She figured him for about 22, several years her junior. And he was arrogant, always proclaiming to the office how beautiful his work was, but always criticizing everyone else, especially her. It didn’t matter that her work was more efficient, the boss always took his side anyway.

She nodded and said hello, and as she turned back to her work saw the ponytailed man glance at her and winked. She grinned. She wondered again why he was so different from the others.He looked up from his monitor with a start and said, “A plane just crashed into the world trade center.”

“Nice.” she sad and pictured a small biplane bouncing off the building. It would be interesting to  hear this story from her step-brother, who lived in the city. She went back to work until a few minutes later when he announced a second plane crashing into the other tower.

They all stood up and were called to the conference room where a tiny TV was tuned to CNN. As a Third plane crash landed at the pentagon, everyone looked out the conference room window at the back of the pink capitol building next door, and wondered the same thing.  Is it next?

The TV played the same clips over and over. One plane hit and then the next. Suddenly the picture shifted to show the first tower imploding. They were all staring drop jawed when an enormous man walked into the room. He loomed over them and commanded “Get back to work, this is a waste of time.”

Silently, they headed back to their desks. She sat down and stared at her computer, utterly confounded by the plane crashes, but appalled by the complete lack of empathy from the big blonde man.

She opened a chat window and typed a message to her coworker across the desk.

“Was that the CEO?” She’d heard stories that he was not a man to be reckoned with. Known for being a slave driver and a scrooge, he didn’t even cut his own mother any slack. Never mind that it was her money that started this company.

“Yes.” he answered. “You should introduce yourself.”

Her thoughts turned back to her step brother in New York. What if he was trapped in the World Trade Center? She couldn’t believe that earlier she was wondering how he would tell this story. Now she wondered if he would be alive to tell the story. She also wondered who else in the office had relatives or friends at one of the crash sites.

“I have to say,” she typed, “That was a little harsh.”

He looked up and whispered “That’s not private.”

She shrugged.

A few clicks later the morning’s work was in front of her again. With a sigh, she began typing. More slowly than usual, as she was  still distracted by the mornings events.

“A plane just crash landed in a field. They think the passengers took over.” She was smiling and was thinking about what heroes those passengers would be when the big man tapped her roughly on the shoulder.

She looked up startled. “Yes?”

“Come with me.”

She stood and followed him back into the conference room where the TV was replaying footage of the towers before their collapse. There were tiny spots falling from each one, and she realized they must be people jumping from windows. A new feeling of horror engulfed her, she could not even imagine what those people’s families must be going through, much less the emotions and terror of the people trapped in the building.

She was barely listening when he snapped the TV off and told her to sit.

Good dog, she thought as she took a chair. He remained standing. Towering was more like it.

Again she looked out the 4th floor window at the sun bouncing off the stone dome of the capitol building. The parking lot was a lot less full now.

“How dare you?!” he seethed. She was startled back to reality by the sheer loathing in his voice.


His face changed color from the pale skin of the Irish, to red and then on to purple and he leaned over her chair in front of her face. She shrank into her chair and thought that this must be what a person would feel like just before a bear ate them.

“I do not tolerate insubordination! How dare you call me names to my other employees!”

Names? She blinked. He was kidding, right? “Um… I’m sorry. I just..?”

He interrupted her and in a mocking voice said, “You are about to learn that sometimes ‘Sorry’ just doesn’t cut it!” And before she could say anything in her own defense he roared “You’re Fired!”

“But… I…”

“No. You have five minutes.”


“Shut UP!” he screamed at her. Now she was sure that the entire company could hear him through the glass walls of the conference room. She looked out into the hall to see everyone heads down working. Or rather pretending to work.

He opened the door and waited for her to pass through it.

“I… I’m sorry…” she stammered, but she wasn’t even sure why she was bothering to apologize. She wasn’t sorry. He had been rather harsh when he ordered them all back to their desks. She was just the only one dumb enough to point it out. But then, how was she supposed to know he was reading her private message to the boy across the desk? What kind of loser sat around reading instant messaging traffic between his employees?

The four steps to her desk seemed to take an eternity. And somewhere in that four steps a dam broke and the tears spilled from her eyes. Her boss and coworkers were all peering over their computer monitors and pretending not to watch as she sobbed and packed up her few belongings. How humiliating.

She looked up at the CEO about to say “I’m sorry” again, but saw on his face a smug, self-satisfied grin, swallowed her words and zipped up her bag.

And that was when she realized that she wasn’t crying tears for the loss of her job or the humiliation of crying in front of her coworkers. No, they were tears of grief for the lives that had been lost. They were tears of anger for an attack on American soil. They were tears of sorrow because nothing was ever going to be the same.

As these thoughts sunk in, she decided it didn’t matter that he had fired her. Who would want to work for someone so egotistical and insensitive anyway? One last look around the office gave her the answer. Not one of her coworkers — not even her boss — had said one word since she had returned to her desk.

Cowards. All of them. Where was their integrity? Their sense of self worth? What was their idea of right and wrong? These were not the people she wanted to work with.

She turned toward the door and left.

So that’s my 911 story. What’s yours? Where were you when America was turned upside down and then united with a fervor unequaled since? How did the day affect you?

Ever since Chris showed me this:

I can’t do a google search and go past page one without feeling that I am somehow offending the gods. This had led to all manner of rearranging and redefining search terms in hopes that what I’m looking for will show up in the first 10 entries and therefore be legit.

Did I mention I’m not a geek?

Anyway, what reminded me of this image? I was viewing my pathetic website stats (really? 20 some hits yesterday… yip. ee.) and one of my favorite parts is checking out the search terms that people use to find me. Yeah, top terms? “Ribbon Storage Box“. Followed closely by any manner of those three words with the word “tutorial”. Second? “Simplicity 3835“. There are lots more. Several have had me raising my eyebrows. Seriously, who googles “www.jmday.com” instead of just going there? And I’m not sure who this other “Alexis in Texas” is, but I’m willing to bet the persons searching for that are not looking for pie.

But today… Today I got the weirdest search yet. “A”. Yeah, just the letter all by itself. No wait, it was actually “a”. Ok, I had to go try that one for myself. I clicked through 50 search result pages without finding even a hint of this blog. I mean, I knew I wasn’t going to be at the top of the list… or even near the middle, but how desperate was the guy who was doing that search? And what the hell was he looking for?*

And** just because we’re talking letters (ok, we’re not, I’m just rambling on as usual) I have to mention this awesome quilt over at Stitched In Color. This picture in particular just speaks to me. What does it say, you ask?

R is for Argyle“, of course.

*By the way, if you were the one who did this search, I’d love to hear about it… And if you aren’t a guy, my apologies.

**And don’t I start a lot of my sentences with “and”? I wonder what would happen if you googled “and”… Hmmm. Someone do it and report back. I don’t have time to click through 99 pages of search results.

I’m not sure what’s gotten into me lately. I’ve never been the kind to have a bunch of UFOs (that’s Unfinished Objects for my non-crafty readers) sitting around. In fact, I rarely have more than a couple of projects going at once. But as I was looking around the loft recently, I realized that I have no less than 5 projects on the blocks right now. And if that isn’t bad enough, I have at least another 4 waiting patiently for me to start them. And that doesn’t even include all the ones that I’ve sort of abandoned (socks, cross-stitch projects, etc).

The new quilt for Alex’s bed has been sitting in this state for weeks. I think such a large stack of squares is putting me off as far too daunting. How long exactly is that going to take me to not only make all those HSTs, but also then piece them together into blocks and then a twin sized quilt? Yikes. She’ll probably be 14 before I finish.

Another project sitting neglected in a pile on my chair. I started the quilting on the firebird quilt — I really like how it’s coming out — and it was going pretty quickly, so I told myself that I could put it aside as I have months before I would even need to think about finishing it for the spring auction.

Here’s one I haven’t showed you. I’ve been working on a busy book for the baby. He’s way into hooks and latches at the moment, but by the time I finish this project he may well be a world class lock picker… and I’m only slightly exaggerating. This is a project that I spend tons of time daydreaming about while rocking the boy to sleep, but then don’t have the energy to tackle it once he’s down.

Then there are the clothing projects. Chris and I got rather ruthless a couple of weeks ago and cleaned out our closet of most everything. So now, I have even less stuff to never wear. He was going to pitch these two shirts, and I snagged them with the hope of applying Simplicity 3835 to them.

I’ve cut the seersucker with no abandon, and now I might have a few issues on my hand…. like the sleeves are too small, and the hemlines don’t match up. Ahem, maybe I should have planned before wielding the scissors. Has anyone else successfully altered an old mens shirt in a similar fashion? What is the correct way to approach such a project?

Not shown are the first quilt, and the collage for Sean’s room. Both of those are collecting dust as well. Never mind that I haven’t touched ANY of my works in progress since, oh, hmmmm… last Friday. I suppose if I quit blabbing blogging about them, I could actually work on one or more of them… There’s a novel idea.

Oh who am I kidding? Is it time for bed yet?

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