Friday, February 17, 2017

Fiber Arts Fiction Friday #4 - The Basement Quilt by Ann Hazelwood

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter



Welcome to Week #4 of our Fiber Arts Fiction Friday (FAFF) series! This week we're reading The Basement Quilt by Ann Hazelwood.


Summary:

In this novel you'll be introduced to the people, places and goings-on of Colebridge, Missouri, through the eyes of Anne Brown. Anne is the proud owner of the local floral shop and is also very close with her expanded family in Colebridge. Anne and her family decide to set up their own little quilting bee, to finish the quilt of Anne's aunt. They set up the frame in the basement of the house that Anne and her mother live in, but each time they return to the project something strange has happened. They each accuse the others of playing tricks, but also wonder if it could be a ghostly presence!

As they make progress on the quilt (and the mysterious happenings continue), Anne and the others go through a number of life changing events. They learn to rely on themselves and each other to meet their challenges head on, and emerge as resilient citizens of the Colebridge Community. 


My Thoughts on This Book:

While this book is a nice addition to my collection of quilting fiction, but it's not my favorite novel. Like many FAFF books, this features a group of women who come together for a single purpose (quilting) and wind up supporting each other in ways far beyond the quilting frame.

However, I wish that the characters were more developed and showed a little bit more self-reliance and grit instead of always relying on the help of others. I also had difficulty believing the story itself with the rapid timelines for some of the significant life events in the novel, finding them both unlikely and unwise. While I know that it's a work of fiction, the setting is contemporary enough that my own life experiences and expectations are projected on the storyline, making it a challenge to suspend belief. Since I can sometimes take a while to warm up to a new series, I'm going to continue reading the novels see what happens next!

Want your own copy? Find it on Amazon here through our affiliate link. Affiliate links to things we love help support Prairie Sewn Studios! 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Never UFO Alone

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter


Never UFO Alone


Quilting and sewing can be a very solitary endeavor sometimes. Although many people do have bees, guilds or groups where they meet with other quilters in person, much of our craft takes place alone in whatever space we’ve managed to carve out for sewing in our home.

You’ve put a lot of work into finding, sorting, tracking, organizing and starting work on your UFOs, a process that can be emotionally (and even sometimes physically!) draining. It’s important that you keep up your momentum as you work on your UFOs, making steady, if slow, progress on the projects you’ve decided to keep. Don’t let these UFOs languish in your neat organized stacks. Instead, use your networks and community, whether online or in person, to keep your sewing spirits up and keep knocking out those UFOs! Here are a couple of ideas so you don’t have to UFO alone.

Join an in person quilting guild, bee, or sewing group. 


Guilds and other similar groups can be amazing for a number of reasons. Most guilds will have a “Show and Tell” time during a guild meeting where members can either share things that they’re working on or share a finished project. Set a goal to finish your first UFO by the next guild meeting so you can share your success with the other members.

Find an accountability buddy within your quilting friends. 


Maybe you need a little more individual accountability, or someone that you can share your goals and progress with. Ask one of your quilting or sewing friends (either someone you know in real life or online) if they’d be willing to help you with this. Decide on your goals, and then agree on how frequently you should check in about the progress you’re making. This often works best if both participants have goals that they’re working towards so that this accountability is mutually beneficial.

Join online quilting communities, such as Facebook groups, Reddit or My Quilt Place.


These groups can be an easy way to share your progress pics or completed projects. It’s easy to take and upload photos from your phone, especially for Facebook groups, and members tend to be very welcoming and supportive. Always remember-there are no quilt police! If you find a group to be negative or dismissive of your work you can always quit that group and find one that’s a better fit for you.

A few examples of online quilting communities:


Post a progress picture every day on Instagram.

Instagram is a great platform to share your visual works of creativity or art. It’s easy to upload pictures from your phone, and fun to play with the different filters and layouts. Try posting a picture of your current UFO each time you work on it. Don’t forget to use hashtags to help others find projects that they like. Having people ‘like’ your photo can be a huge ego booster, and it’s a fun way to discover new quilters online. When you have the project finished, you’ll also have a great record of progress pictures! (Don't forget to follow @PrairieSewn)

Join an online UFO challenge! 



These tend to pop up every year, usually around New Year when people are thinking about New Year Resolutions. While we certainly don’t think you need to wait until the New Year to work on your UFOs, this can be a great way to find an online community of quilters who are working towards a similar goal of finishing their UFOs and WIPs. Sometimes they’ll run contests or giveaways for challenge participants, too!

UFO Buster Challenge Assignment 

Think about what might work best for YOU and YOUR life and reach out to your real life and online support networks. You don't need to do all of these, but try and choose at least one. In addition to keeping you on track with your UFOs, you'll also grow your quilty community and find inspiration from others.


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
February 13: Don’t UFO alone!
February 20: UFO Buster Challenge Link-Up and Drawing

Monday, February 6, 2017

Find Time To Work on Your UFOs

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

Find Time for Your UFOs


So you’ve gone through your UFOs and WIPs and figured out exactly how many you’re working with. By this point you should have determined which projects you’re going to keep working on and have a basic idea of what work still remains to be done. You’ve chosen which project you’re going to tackle first so now it’s time to get to stitching!

Depending on how many projects you have it might feel overwhelming to think about making any progress, but it can be done. Still not sure? Here are three ways to make real progress on your UFOs!

1. Schedule it on your calendar like an appointment


This is a recommendation that I see all the time for making sure you find time to exercise. If you schedule it on your calendar just like a regular appointment you won’t skip it. And if we can apply this logic to hitting the gym, why can’t we also apply it to hunkering down in the sewing room. How often you’re able to put “UFO Sewing” on your calendar will depend on your schedule, but try to find at least one hour a week to hold sacred for making progress on your UFOs. Add it to your calendar and be sure your family knows that you’re unavailable during this time unless there is a legitimate emergency.


2. Work in small chunks of time, but do it consistently.


The 15 minutes a day trick is one I learned a long time ago from Marla Cilley, The Flylady. Although she writes primarily about clearing the cutter and having an organized home I’ve found that much of what she says can be applied to other parts of my life. The Flylady promotes taking baby steps each day to make progress on your projects. This, combined with one of her mantras, “ You can do anything for 15 minutes” is an ideal way to make consistent progress. Need a little extra inspiration? Buy yourself a packet of gold star stickers and put on a calendar each day that you work on your UFOs for at least 15 minutes. How many days can you get in a row?

3. Outsource


The idea of outsourcing part of a quilting project might make you feel a little bit weird. After all, it’s YOUR project so YOU need to do ALL of it. Wanting to complete a project all on your own is certainly a worthy goal, but sometimes it’s not worth the stress that it causes, especially if you’re not particularly fond of a certain step of the process.

Quilting

My favorite quote from Eleanor Burns from Quilt in a Day is “I quilt with my credit card.” Eleanor designs some pretty amazing patterns, most of which are intended to be quick to piece together. But she admits she has no interest in doing the quilting herself. This is an incredibly freeing concept; Eleanor can engage in the parts of the craft that she loves and outsource the part she doesn’t.

Cutting and Ironing

For some people the cutting and ironing are the bane of their quilting existence. It can be time consuming, dull, repetitive and hard on the wrists. But maybe you know a budding sewist who is looking to earn a little cash on the side and doesn’t mind the repetitive nature of this work. With proper training (and adequate supervision) this might be something that a responsible child or teenager could help with to earn a couple of extra dollars in their allowance.

Sewing

You might be thinking, “but sewing is the very essence of quilting! I can’t outsource that!” Of course you can! There are no quilt police and if you decide that your passion lies with designing, or machine quilting or hand quilting then by all means find a way to engage in that part and let someone else do the stitching. If you have project boxes full of cut pieces that you really want to sew into a top just so you can do the quilting maybe it’s time to see if someone else can help you with this part. Again, is there a budding quilter interested in a little practice? Or a teenager who is willing to chain-piece for a few hours for a couple of bucks? This is your sewing, your quilting, your crafting. You are the only person who can decide how to engage in your craft.

We’re always on the lookout for other ways to find time for our crafting, so please share your ideas in the comments!

UFO Buster Challenge

UFO Buster Challenge Homework Assignment 


Decide when you’re going to work on your UFO and get to it! Practice being consistent with dedicating time to your projects, even if you’re only able to work on something in short bursts.

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
February 6: Find Time for your UFOs
February 13: Don’t UFO alone!
February 20: UFO Buster Challenge Link-Up and Drawing

Friday, February 3, 2017

Fiber Arts Fiction Friday #3 - The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter



Welcome to Week #3 of our Fiber Arts Fiction Friday (FAFF) series! This week our novel focuses on a needlecraft that is more unusual nowadays: tapestry. Many of our readers will recognize the author, Tracy Chevalier, as the artist of The Girl with the Pearl Earring. This week's books The Lady and the Unicorn takes us back in time to Europe in the late 1400s.


Summary:

The Lady and the Unicorn  is set in Europe (Paris and Brussels) in 1490, and tells a fictionalized story of the inception, design and creation of the set of six tapestries on the theme of the Lady and the Unicorn. Told from various perspectives throughout the book, Chevalier gives the reader a glimpse into an esteemed household of France and the labor of love that went into creating these tapestries.


My Thoughts on This Book:

This novel reads slightly deeper and more complex than some of the other books on our Fiber Arts Fiction list, perhaps as it's written by an author well known for her historical fiction, as compared to works that are part of the cozy, chick lit or contemporary fiction genres.

Although slightly more risque than many other fiber arts fiction in the descriptions of secret assignations, it also does an outstanding job of demonstrating many of the restrictions and limitations that were placed on women at this time. Given that fiber arts are often though of as "women's work," this novel reminds us all that many fiber arts such as tapestry, wool work and weaving were originally created through tightly organized and male led artisan guilds. While the female characters in The Lady and the Unicorn certainly demonstrate their power and authority over the household and female children, it's also clear that their power is limited and subject to overruling by their male counter parts.

The Lady and the Unicorn


Want your own copy? Find it on Amazon here through our affiliate link. Affiliate links to things we love help support Prairie Sewn Studios! 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Make a Plan of Attack for your UFOs

Written by Laura Chaney, daughter

Are you ready to get sewing? The time to sit down and get to work is almost upon us!


Now it’s time to decide which UFO to work on first. As with anything in sewing or quilting, there’s no right or wrong way to do this but just finding what works for YOU. Here are a few ideas to help you pick which project to start on first.

Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball


Dave Ramsey is a prominent expert and author for financial responsibility and debt reduction. With credit card debt he suggests that you start by throwing all your extra money (beyond minimum payments) towards the smallest debt. Once you get that first one paid off you not only get to do a little victory dance, but you can then start putting all of that money towards the next debt in line. This technique helps to keep you motivated even when it feels like there isn’t an end in site.

Try applying this technique to your UFOs. Review your list of projects and determine which one you are the closest to finishing. Work on that one project until you get it completed! Once it’s done, celebrate your victory with a happy dance and immediately decide which one is next in line with the least amount to finish.

Emotional Baggage


Maybe one of your UFOs has some additional emotional baggage attached to it. A quilt you wanted to finish for a colleagues baby shower, and now the baby is a toddler. Or the wedding gift for the couple that is about to celebrate their 5th anniversary. Sometimes these projects take a huge toll on you emotionally, filling you with guilt and regret that you didn’t manage to complete it in time for the big event.

Pick the one project that is causing you the most inner turmoil and make that your number one UFO priority, even if there’s still quite a bit to finish on it. Keep pushing through until it’s in the hands of its intended recipient.  Remember, it’s about the love and joy that you infuse with each stitch you take that the recipient will value, not whether you finished a quilt by a specific date.

Top Down


The Top Down method is inspired by David Allen’s famous system of productivity called “Getting Things Done.” With the Getting Things Done (GTD) system, one of the steps is to gather all of your loose ends into one pile and to address them one a time, starting with the item on top and working down through the pile.

You’re not allowed to skip items, or defer them until later. What you pick up next is what you must do next. I’ve found this to be a useful mindset for lots of things outside of my inbox, and it’s perfect for an unemotional system to moving through your pile of UFOs.

UFO Buster Challenge Homework Assignment


Choose your first UFO to work on! Use one of these three ideas to figure out what project you want to start with, figure it out a different way. The important thing is to make the choice as to what you’re going to work on first.

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!

Download 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