Friday, January 20, 2017

Fiber Arts Fiction Friday #1 - A Single Thread by Marie Boswick

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter



Today we're kicking off our new series, Fiber Arts Fiction Friday (FAFF) with one of my absolute favorite works of Fiber Arts Fiction: A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick. This is the first book in the Cobbled Court Quilt series.

A Single Thread

Summary:


This novel is the first in the Cobbled Court Quilts series, which follows a fun and personable cast of characters who live in the quaint New England town of New Bern. We're introduced to New Bern and its residents through the eyes of Evelyn Dixon, a longtime quilter who is looking for a fresh start and decides to open her own quilt shop, Cobbled Court Quilts.

Through her experience as a new business owner and a quilter, Evelyn builds a life for herself in New Bern, facing hardships and triumph along the way. Each chapter allows a peek into the world of her new friends, demonstrating that life can be both hard and wonderful for each and every person, despite their social stature or life circumstances. By the time you've finished the book you'll wish you could go visit New Bern and stitch away an afternoon with Evelyn and her friends.

My Thoughts on This Book:

Reading this book was a major turning point in my life when I first read it in 2008. I had a lot of difficult things going on in my life, including a recent move and new job, plus a very seriously ill family member. I felt like everything was going wrong, and that I was pretty much failing at life. This book gave me hope that even when things are hard, they will get better. It can be easy to feel like we're stuck, without any hope of a better future; this book helped me move past that mentality. I actually own this book both on my Kindle and as a paper book and it's my go-to novel whenever life feels like its getting me down. 

In 2009, Mom and I went to our very first American Quilter's Society Paducah Quilt Show and discovered that Marie was on the schedule. She gave a great talk about how her quilting helped her get through some tough times, and was incredibly generous with her time. Mom and I have been fortunate enough to connect with her several other times at quilt shows, and each time it's a reminder of what a genuine, talented and support person Marie is.

Marie's brought a bit of the Cobbled Court community and her own passion for quilting online with her Cobbled Court Quilt Circle Facebook group!



And now for the giveaway.

I truly do love this book. So much that I have a (gently used) copy to give away to one of our readers. Just complete the form below to enter the giveaway and sign up for the Prairie Sewn Studios newsletter. 


Enter the giveaway for "A Single Thread" and subscribe to our newsletter

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The Fine Print 

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents aged 18 years or older. This giveaway is for a gently used copy of A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick. Neither Marie Bostwick nor her publisher are sponsoring this giveaway; I just loved this book so much that I want to spread the quilty cheer. This giveaway will be open from January 20, 2017, through 12pm midnight Pacific Time on January 24, 2017.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Track your UFOs

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

UFO Buster Challenge

You’ve gathered up your UFOs and narrowed your pile down to the ones that you want to finish in some way, either as the original project or with a creative transformation. Depending on how many are in your pile (and there’s no judging here!), you might be feeling overwhelmed with all of the work ahead of you. These next posts will help you organize your UFOs and make a plan of attack for choosing the next project to focus on and getting some sewing done!


There are two kinds of tracking that are important to our UFOs: tracking all of the projects that you’re working on and tracking the progress on each individual project.


Tracking All the Projects


Here at Prairie Sewn Studios, we are list making people. Making lists of things helps you feel more organized and creates a sense of order from what may feel like a void of chaos. While this is slightly melodramatic, we truly do make lists to help us keep our lives organized. You have your UFOs in a pile and all you need to do is write them all down in a list. There’s no right or wrong method to do this, just find one that works for you.


Some ideas:

  • Our UFO Buster Challenge Workbook (get it for free below!)
  • Excel or Google Sheet
  • Paper and pen
  • Printable Planner Pages
  • White Board
  • Post-It note stuck to the side of your sewing machine
  • Project management software, such as Trello
  • A notebook or journal that you’ve been “saving” for a special occasion
  • Send yourself an email



Tracking Individual Progress on a Project


Tracking your progress on individual projects isn’t something that you necessarily have to do, but something that we think is a good idea. You can track this information either on an individual project page, or on a single spreadsheet listing all of your projects and the steps to complete each one. Really want to be organized? Use a single spreadsheet to track where you are for the basic steps for all of your projects in one place, then use an individual project page/printout for each individual project for all of the more specialized information and any notes you make about the project. Think of this step like a project notebook, instead of just a tracker.


While every project may not have the exact same steps, many will have steps that are similar regardless of the project type. Here are a few steps and pieces of information to consider tracking. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to do this, but instead an opportunity to explore and figure out what works best for you.

  • Project name
  • Intended recipient
  • Pattern name
  • Pattern location, if it’s in a magazine or book
  • Dimensions
  • Date started
  • Project stages
    • Designing
    • Cutting
    • Piecing
    • Preparing for finishing
    • Quilting
    • Binding/Hanging sleeve
    • Label
    • Photograph
  • Fabric swatches
  • Project notes


UFO Buster Challenge Assignment 

Create a list of all of the UFOs that you’re going to finish in some capacity, either as the original project or a creative transformation.


Extra Credit: Track your various stages for the projects on an excel sheet or project sheet!




Have you downloaded our UFO Challenge Workbook? If not, sign up below to get instant access to this printable workbook that can help you attack your UFOs!


Request your free copy of our UFO Buster Challenge Workbook!

* indicates required


Looking for other posts in the UFO Buster Challenge?


Here is the schedule for this series:
January 2: Know your UFOs
January 16: UFO Tracking
January 23: Organize Your UFOs
January 30: Make a Plan of Attack for your UFOs
February 6: Find Time for your UFOs
February 13: Don’t UFO alone!
February 20: UFO Buster Challenge Link-Up and Drawing

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fiber Arts Fiction Friday - A New Series

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter


Fiber Arts Fiction Friday

Today we're super excited to share a new series that we'll kick off next Friday.

As a child, my parents had to implement a "No reading before school" policy, after a few too many times of me not being ready to head off to school because I'd had my nose buried in a book for too long! Reading was a big deal in our household growing up, and it's a pleasure that's stuck with me through the years.

As an adult, I was super excited when I discovered that there was a whole literary world of fiction books that have a fiber arts bent to them. Quilting fiction! Knitting fiction! Embroidery fiction! I'm always on the lookout for a new author or book who sees the fiber art community as the perfect setting for a narrative.

Fiber Arts Fiction Friday will feature a fiction book that has any kind of fiber or textile arts as an integral part or setting for the book. We'll give a brief synopsis (no spoilers!), a link to the book on Amazon (<--affiliate links help support Prairie Sewn Studios) and information on how to find out more about the author and their work.

Additionally, a curated list will be maintained on our Fiber Arts Fiction page so you can easily find and explore other fiber arts fiction. Although we've read most of the books on this list, the only ones we'll pinky swear to are the ones we feature on Fiber Arts Fiction Friday.

Next Friday we'll feature our first book, A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick! This book holds a special place in my heart, as I read the book and then got to meet the author during a really difficult time in my life. I love it so much that I grabbed another copy to give away to one of our readers, so be sure to come back next Friday to enter the giveaway.

Have a book that we need to add to our list? Leave your suggestions for other books and authors in the comments or email them to contact@prairiesewnstudios.com.

Monday, January 9, 2017

UFOs-Knowing When to Surrender

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter


We all have those projects. The ones that seemed like a really good idea at the time, but after that initial burst of “New Project Energy” they’ve been languishing in a bag at the bottom of your closet. While there might be some that you want finish, there are probably more that you won’t. To help you figure that out, here are seven signs that it might be time to surrender on that UFO.


UFO Buster Challenge

Seven Signs It's Time to Move On from a UFO


1. You were learning a new technique. These projects are sometimes associated with classes you took with the singular goal of learning a new-to-you technique. You took the class, practiced the skill and have mastered it to the level you wanted. You’ve already applied the technique to a project that you love (and maybe even one that you’ve finished!), and there’s no real reason to go back and finish your beginner project.
A project we’ve had this problem with: hand sewing pieced blocks.
2. You knew that you didn’t like a certain technique, but you loved the final look of a project so much you decided to give it just one more try. You might actually discover several of these projects, sometimes all with the same technique. A project we’ve had this problem with: machine applique. As much as we love the finished look, it’s just not a technique either of us currently enjoy.
3. You started a project years ago, and now your style and tastes have changed. These might be the ones that feel the most cringeworthy, as you realize that you didn’t quite have the eye for design you thought you did in your 20s. Maybe you went through a “pastel period,” but now you’ve digging bright Kona solids. A project we’ve had this problem with: any project where the fabric was pulled together over five years ago. 4. A project that you felt pressured into starting. Examples might include that baby blanket you started sewing for you coworker two jobs ago, or the matching placemats your mother in law asked for three Christmases ago. Your heart may have been in the right place when you started the project, but now it’s time to put it aside and move on. Give yourself permission to surrender on these projects. If you’re having a hard time emotionally letting go, try repurposing them into smaller project that you could finish quickly, or give them to a charity organization that could use them. A project we’ve had this problem with: a wallhanging for an online Christmas swap partner--from 7 years ago. 5. A project that matched your previous home, but doesn’t jive with the decor in your new place. These are the projects that you started on when you were wandering through the fabric store and were suddenly overcome by the need to make new curtains with a valence for your kitchen. You never finished (or maybe even started) the project, and now you’ve moved into a new home where the curtains just won’t work. Repurpose the fabric if you can, but don’t put any more time into a project that no longer matches your life. A project that we’ve had this problem with: A set of owl curtains for my old house in Indiana. 6. A project from class you took that was cool, but you’re not going to finish the whole project. Some of these projects might be salvageable to turn into a smaller project. Treat the individual blocks you finished like orphan blocks and focus on what you can do only with the parts you’ve already completed. If you have enough orphan blocks, can you combine them all together in a fun way to make an orphan quilt? Don’t try to finish these projects if they no longer hold you attention, but move onto the next thing. A project that we’ve had this problem with: A paper piecing quilt from a class at the AQS Paducah Show. 7. The project makes you sad. This category is another tough one in terms of emotional attachment, as these tend to be projects that you were happy to start, and then that thing called “life” happened and now it just reminds you of sad times. Don’t let these projects become energy vampires. If a project makes you sad, politely ask it to move along. A project we’ve had this problem with: Snoopy, Charlie Brown and other Peanuts fabric that I collected to make a quilt for my now-ex-husband.

UFO Buster Challenge Assignment


Take another look at the projects in your “keep” pile. Do any of them fall into one of these seven categories? Evaluate each project while keeping these seven points in mind to see if any of them might really belong in the donate or surrender piles. It might be hard, but be as brutally honest as you can be so that your final “keep” pile really and truly only has projects that you WANT to finish.

Have you downloaded our UFO Challenge Workbook? If not, sign up below to get instant access to this printable workbook that can help you attack your UFOs!


Request your free copy of our UFO Buster Challenge Workbook!

* indicates required


Looking for other posts in the UFO Buster Challenge?


Here is the schedule for this series:
January 2: Know your UFOs
January 16: UFO Tracking
January 23: Organize Your UFOs
January 30: Make a Plan of Attack for your UFOs
February 6: Find Time for your UFOs
February 13: Don’t UFO alone!
February 20: UFO Buster Challenge Link-Up and Drawing

Monday, January 2, 2017

Know Your UFOs

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

If you’re anything like us, you probably have a  few (dozen) Unfinished Fabric Objects (UFOs) sitting around your sewing space. Our projects range from small to large, from unfinished purses to incomplete quilts. The time has come to take action on these projects, so today we kick off a series of posts that will walk us through the sorting, tracking, organizing, and making progress on all of your UFOs!

Finish Your Projects

Here is the schedule for this series:
January 2: Know your UFOs
January 9: UFOs-Knowing when to Surrender
January 16: UFO Tracking
January 23: Organize Your UFOs
January 30: Make a Plan of Attack for your UFOs
February 6: Find Time for your UFOs
February 13: Don’t UFO alone!
February 20: UFO Buster Challenge Link-Up and Drawing

Ready to go? Let's get started!


UFO Buster Challenge


So you’ve committed to working on your UFOs. Yay! Before you dive head first into stitching on the very first project you come across in your stash, it’s a good idea to gather them all into one space and evaluate each one individually. We’ve identified four potential action steps you can take with each UFO you have. Read through this list, then gather your UFOs and sort them out so that you have a plan of action for each project!

Projects you want to finish


This is the easiest category of projects to identify. It’s a project that you loved when you started it, and it still brings joy to your heart when you look at it now. But be careful with this category of projects; make sure that this isn’t your automatic default pile where you put projects to avoid expending the mental energy to evaluate them. Evaluate each project carefully and be discerning with the projects you want to finish, especially if you have limited time available to sew.

Projects you want to salvage and transform into a new project


This can be a rather fun category of projects, as these are the ones where you still like something, but maybe not quite enough to want to finish the whole thing. Instead of throwing it away, take what you have finished and think about how you can pivot the materials to a new project. This is an especially great way to use orphan blocks from quilts that you just don’t want to finish, but you still love the blocks themselves.

A few ideas for transformation include:
  • Pillow
  • Handbag
  • Checkbook cover
  • Wall hanging
  • Table Runner
  • Container from Contain It! English Paper-Pieced Style Accessories


Projects you want to surrender


It can be challenging to discern which projects belong in this category. We tend to have an emotional attachment to projects that we’ve already put sweat equity (and possibly blood and tears!) into, and this can make it hard to set projects aside. Next week we’ll have a whole post dedicated to knowing when to surrender on a UFO, but in the meantime just remember that if a project no longer prints you joy it’s perfectly fine to remove it from your mind and your home.

Projects you want to donate


This category is really a subcategory of surrender, and might provide a less emotionally draining way to remove projects that you no longer love from your home. If you’ve decided you’re not going to finish a project but can’t bear to throw it away consider donating it to an organization that can use it for charitable purposes. Many quilt guilds make charity quilts for both adults and children in need of a little comfort and warmth, and your UFO quilts might be ideal for helping them produce more of these items in less time. Sometimes these organizations have a hard time creating quilts that are more “adult,” so your unfinished quilts might help to fill a desperate need for them.

A second place to consider donating your UFOs to is to an organization that puts on fundraising boutiques for special causes. As an example, my partner’s mother is the head of the auxiliary guild for a local hospital. The guild puts on a holiday boutique each year with the profits going directly back to the hospital to help with a specific project. They raise thousands of dollars each year towards expensive and life-saving hospital equipment such as dialysis units and ultrasound machines. They’re always looking for fabric and crafting items to add to their stash of materials so that guild members can “shop” the supply closet for projects to create for sale in the next boutique.

UFO Buster Challenge Assignment


Gather all of your UFOs into one place and sort them into four piles.

  • Finish
  • Transform
  • Surrender
  • Donate

Track your progress throughout the UFO Buster Challenge using our free printable tracking worksheets and our UFO Buster Challenge Workbook! Sign up below to get instant access to these worksheets.



Request your free copy of our UFO Buster Challenge Workbook!

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Don't forget to head over here to sign up for our giveaway of a 2017 Quilt Art Engagement Calendar!