Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Swing it, Girl!

Hey everyone! I have a new project I want to share with you all! I am getting ready for Dallas and like I've said before, I am kitting EVERYTHING! I wanted to make sure that all of my kits are easy patterns to follow so my booth will be friendly for all levels of sewers! Have I found the best pattern ever for this! Now, I have sold Amy Butler patterns in my store for a while and yes, I have made a lot of them but for some reason, I never have tried the Swing Bag. Until now! Love, love, LOVE this pattern! Super easy and quick with not a huge amount of yardage requirements. It uses cotton duck cloth canvas interfacing which I have never used before but it works so well. Go figure! Those smart people in Amy's studio really know what they are doing!

I usually model my stuff myself but today is a snow day and all of us Mom's know that when you don't have to leave the house, their really is no reason to do hair and make-up. Such a waste, so, meet Abby! She travels with us to our shows and is part of the family! (Kind of creepy, I know.)

This is a reversible bag so no pockets. Some people will love that (less hassle) and some, not so much (me! I need a place to put my cell phone or it will be lost in the black hole!). It would be incredibly easy to add pockets to this if you so choose. It won't be reversible anymore but hey, let's face it, who hasn't had a lifesaver stuck to the bottom of their purse. Kind of ruins the whole reversible thing, right? (Okay, I may be alone there.)

This pattern calls for 5/8 of a yard each for the exterior and the reversible side panels and straps plus 5/8 yard of canvas duck cloth which you use as a sew-in interfacing. Then you have the option to add this sash which I love but need to be honest with you, I am not a huge bow person. When I carry this purse, it will be knotted! Or tied around my waste as a cute coordinating belt (depending on how bad a muffin top I am sporting that day, after all, we'd like to actually see the sash). The sash is super easy but requires 1 1/4 yards of fabric due to the sash being cut on the bias. You will have a lot of fabric left over to add to another project or maybe make a little wallet to match your purse!

Now, I need to ask you all a question. I was thinking of trying to do a class on one of Amy's patterns over my blog. I have no idea how this would work but I figure, with pictures and video, it might be a fun way to have a virtual purse class. What do you think? Is there a pattern that you've been wanting to try but your confidence isn't there yet? Maybe the Birdie Sling? The Swing Bag? The In Town Handbag or Frenchy? These are all really simple patterns. I carry them all and I have free shipping on my patterns right now. You would just need to buy the pattern (from me or someone else!) and use whatever fabric you want (Amy Butler fabric is just gorgeous! Check out my website, I have it all)! Let me know what you think! It would be fun!

Keep warm everyone!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's in the Bag!

So, those of you who know me know that I am referred to in these parts as "The Bag Lady". No, I don't look like a hobo and wander the streets with my belongings in old shopping bags and drink wine from the bottle in a paper sack (I use a glass). I make handbags. Everyone knows that. I design my own or I find great patterns and if I see a cool handbag in a store or on the internet, I can usually reproduce it pretty well in my Amy Butler fabric. (Once I saw a Prada bag online and I did my own version of it in Pink Tree Peony! One of my favorites!)

Since I decided to branch out in what I offered in patterns, I had so much fun researching who I was going to go with. I know I've talked about Kay Whitt of Serendipity Studios before. Well, "talk" isn't the word. I sing her praises! What fabulous patterns! (She was the one who designed the Sophia Trench Coat you've read about before!) I didn't have any samples to hang in my booth so I decided to complete one of her patterns over the weekend. She has a pattern called the Dharma Eco-Bag. This has been pretty popular in my online store. I figure these people knew something I didn't! Boy, was I right! Okay, you know how all of the grocery stores are offering those reusable bags for $1.00 or whatever? They are so ugly but I get it. Well, what Kay did is take the basic construction of your plastic stay-in-a-landfill-forever bags and turn it into the coolest "green" grocery sack pattern ever! Kay has created this awesome pattern with innovative techniques to make this bag fully lined and uses an enclosed seam across the bottom. It is pleated on each side just like a plastic sack. It also folds down into the little pocket on the outside so you can carry about 8 of them in your regular purse (well, okay, I carry a big purse but the point is, they fold down smaller).

This was a really fun project but it wasn't just the construction that was fun. When I took them to the grocery store, I had 3 people ask me where I got them! AND, THE BEST PART, did you know that if you bring your own reusable sacks to the grocery store, they give you money off your grocery bill?? Save the planet and earn $.10 in the process! I was so excited! (Listen, I'm glued to a computer all day long! Let me have my excitement where I can get it!)

Now, I realize that just buying the reusable sacks at the store is easier but think about all of that glorious fabric you bought and still have no idea what you are going to do with it. I had this fabric sitting in my stash closet with no plans to speak of. Now look at it! And the funniest thing is making your local bag boy carry your frilly, floral sacks to your car....teehee! (I am so evil!)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Autumn Splendor

I had a customer in my booth in OKC that had the Judy Neimeyer pattern Autumn Splendor in her bag. I, of course, ooed and awed because I just received my Autumn Splendor back from my very good friend/quilting extraordinaire Lori of Texas Twister Quilts. She did a fabulous job custom quilting the whole thing God Bless her! I told my customer that I would post pictures of it because if I can do this pattern...ANYONE can!!

I really just made this to throw on the leather sofa but my husband found out how much I spent on the thing and decided it was better to hang it on the wall like an expensive piece of art!! (He also called our insurance agent to see if we could get another policy to cover it...just kidding but it was an expensive quilt to make with nearly 20 yards of batiks in there.)

Check out Lori's quilting! She did all of this custom on her long-arm. Cool flames come out of the center spikes and down the background fabric. It's just what I was hoping for!

Now, for my customer...take a good look at your placement of your spikes. I really wish I would have before sewing it all together. I wanted more red in it and had I known, I would have placed the red batik as the center spike. I solved the problem by adding some red Swarovski crystals to the brown center spikes but still...it would have looked much better with the red batik in the center. Also, CHAIN PIECE THIS SUCKER!! It will save time and your knees! There is a lot of getting up and pressing so if you organize yourself and chain piece everything, it will go together smoothly and you will be less frustrated and less apt to throw the whole thing in the bottom of your stash closet!! It took me about 2 weeks to piece this. If you have a sewing room where you can keep everything out, you are already ahead of the game! My sewing room was my kitchen and I had a very patient husband and daughter who carefully moved around my mess!

Good luck with this! A lot of hard work and patience is required but once you have it completed...WOW! The sense of accomplishment is out of this world!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


We are back from the Oklahoma City Winter Quilt and Embroidery Show. I have tons of pictures so please humor me and take a look!! It was SO much work but SO rewarding! This was our first "big" show and when I say big I mean there were about 70 vendors, Judy Neimeyer was there teaching, and I'm pretty sure we had upwards of 3,000 people in attendance all three days combined. All of this in my book equals BIG SHOW. We only had a 10' x 10' booth which we maximized with all things Amy Butler! We quickly realized that 10' x 10' is a very small space! The show producer was just the nicest person ever and let us spread out a bit so our customers could come into our booth without having to be surgically removed. I was pretty nervous about how our little business model would be received but I was so pleasantly surprised. It seems there aren't many people who pick a designer and specialize in that one person. I wasn't sure it was going to be enough to carry us but let me tell you! We were so busy, I could barely breathe! Mostly, I had a blast visiting with my fellow AB groupies! It was so funny seeing them when they noticed my booth.

Picture this:

Said groupie walks around the corner, she notices the rack of bolts from Amy's Midwest Modern 2 line, she slows down, confused at first because she has never seen so much Amy Butler in one place. She slowly looks up and sees a glowing booth full of Amy's fabrics and patterns. Birdie Slings hanging everywhere! The new Daisy Chain quilt hanging on one wall, Midwest Modern Quilt on the other. She slowly walks into my booth with a dazzling sparkle in her eye. She looks over at me and with a smile I let her know that I am A Joyful Soul Fabrics and I only carry Amy Butler fabrics, all of her patterns and other designers patterns that look great in her fabrics. Honestly, I was so tickled!! It made me feel normal, that I am not the only one that gets goose bumps when I look at these gorgeous fabrics and the creative flood gates are opened wide!

Woohoo! I love what I do!!

It really makes all of the hard work, run-ins with Oklahoma City's finest (honestly, where am I supposed to park a van with a U-haul trailer attached??) and the 4 nights in a truck stop hotel (the name had Hotel and Convention Center in it so who knew?? The pictures were gorgeous! Apparently, they only have one room that looks like that and it was already booked....how convenient.) I must be CRAZY to want to do this!! I almost feel like a traveling carny with all the craziness we encountered but honestly...it is so worth it! I had a wonderful time at the show! Everyone was so nice! The vendors, the customers, everyone! My mom flew out from San Diego to stay with Em while John and I ran the booth (that Navy Chief can sure sell some fabric). I had a bunch of friends drive over 100 miles to come see me! I met some of my customers who live in the area face to face which was AWESOME! I just have the best job in the world!

So, here are some pictures of our booth:

This was day three and I forgot lipstick!

That Weekender Travel Bag was finished a few days before we left. I had a ton of compliments. Thank goodness very few people asked to see it up close as the lining was still sitting on my sewing table at home!

Everyone loved my apron! I wish I would have come with more patterns but I sold out on Day 2!

Mine...my quilt! Love this! Finished sewing the binding on this one at 11PM the night before we left and the back of it is still pinned! (I actually received it from Russ that day, he was kind enough to overnight it to me. I just had to have it for the show!) My quilting group gets together tomorrow so I'll bring it to finish up!

The Pink Bliss Quilt was extremely popular!

My Ellie's! I had so many little people take these and walk around while petting the Minky ears!

Okay, thanks for looking! I am just so proud of our hard work and how many compliments we got on our booth! John has already drawn up our new and improved plans for our next show. I have taken the requests of my customers and am going to be kitting up the Abbey Bag as well as the Four Corners Apron Pattern. I'll be sewing more samples as well. The Swing Bag and the Nappy Bag are next and then the Sophia to match my Weekender Travel Bag! I'll be designing my own pattern for the 2.5" strips and 5" squares, it's swirling around in my head and will most likely make it's arrival at 2 in the morning so I'll be going to bed with my journal on the nightstand!

What do you think? Am I crazy??

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Holidays are OVER!?!

What? Was it Christmas? I can't remember! It was a complete and total blur. I know there was a Nintendo Wii somewhere in the mix. I am so tired of hearing "Can I play Wii Mom? Mom? Can I? Mom?" I think I will have the first 8 year old with carpal tunnel the way she's been attached to that Wii remote. It's fun though. I did manage to find some time in between sewing and folding fat quarters to ROCK OUT the drums on Rock Band!! Who knew? If this fabric business thing doesn't work out, I'm starting my own band! I can for sure make a career of that!

Back to reality. Now that all of the presents have been opened, I can safely post pictures of the gifts that were made for my family this year. First, I made a quilt for my sister who I have promised a quilt for I can't tell you how many months.

This is of course Amy Butler fabric and is a free pattern on her website. I added a few touches of my own. I really like this one. The pattern is simple and it allows the beautiful fabrics to create the drama. I know my sister liked it too.

Next is a small lap quilt I made for John's Mom. This was a really fun quilt. The pattern is from the book Strip Happy, which I carry in the store now because this pattern was great! I can't wait to try out the other patterns. It is made for 2.5" strips (which we now carry in Amy Butler fabrics!!) and was a breeze to put together. The fabrics I used are from the Moda Chez Moi Fresh Air line. I bought these from my friend Ann in Thornberry, TX. She owns Mr. Sweeney's Country Quilt Shop.

I also made a cute little pillow for Emme's Papa. She is desperately trying to get him to stop shooting deer so she thought making him a deer pillow would help change his mind. I love my little Wildlife Warrior!!

I doubt that it worked but I know he loves it and it is in his chair as we speak. He says it's perfect for when he is feeding the babies in his chair. What can be better than that!

Also part of the sewing agenda was the block for the Friendship Display of Quilts Raffle Quilt for October 2009. I decided to be an over-achiever, as usual, and pick one of the most difficult blocks there. I chose the foundation pieced Feathered Star. Not abnormally difficult but time consuming and little itty-bitty pieces of fabric. Yuck! Thank goodness it was only one block. Next year, I'm doing a nine patch!

Yeah, yeah, my points aren't perfect. But I was pretty proud of it! Any block like this that doesn't end up in the bottom of my stash closet is a winner in my book!

Let me think, that is about all I have pictures of. I made a beautiful gift bag out of fabric for my Mom's Christmas present and of course, didn't take a picture. I did get the Quilters' Tool Box for my Pfaff for Christmas from my husband! I am so excited to start messing with that when I have a free moment which will be sometime in 2010. Looking forward to that. More to come later. I finished the Weekender Travel Bag last night. I have quite a bit to say about that one so I'll save it for another time!