Looking Back: Exploring Texas

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Ahh, Texas. I had such a lovely time visiting Houston, Galveston Island and Austin last month as part of my QuiltCon vacation. Hosted by my lovely, wonderful best pal Rachel, we got to explore all-things space, favorite vacation spots and the state’s capitol city. Take a look at some of my favorite moments from our trip.

Arriving in Houston. They like space stuff a LOT here.

Arriving in Houston. They like space stuff a LOT here.

Welcome to Galveston Island, where it's warm enough to hang out at the beach in February.

Welcome to Galveston Island, where it’s warm enough to hang out at the beach in February.

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Review: Julie Jackson’s “Subversive Cross Stitch”

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It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Julie Jackson debuted her first book, “Subversive Cross Stitch.” Packed with cross stitch sampler patterns suited to give to your snarkiest of friends for any occasion, the book arrived just as the indie craft world was taking center stage. I poured over my copy, not just laughing at the designs packed with F-bomb after F-bomb, but using it as my go-to reference for classic cross stitch alphabets.

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Today my copy has been written on, marked up, dog-eared… you name it. When I saw that Julie was releasing an anniversary edition with 17 new patterns to enjoy, I wasn’t sure how different it would be from the original and whether I needed the new copy. After having spent time with the book the past few days the heart and guts of the have remained true – and that’s the most important part.

Over the years I’ve frequently found myself lending out my copy of the book to friends curious to try their hands at cross stitch, but eventually turned away from it due to the lack of modern patterns for them to practice with. Julie’s samplers aren’t for the faint of heart, but that’s part of why it makes them so funny. Most of us had at least one cross stitch sampler in our house growing up and I can guarantee you there wasn’t one four-letter word to be found it it. It’s not making fun of an art, it’s poking fun at ourselves. Thanks to the new book I feel confident loaning my older copy out from time to time knowing I’ve got the latest and greatest in my craft book library whenever I need it.

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The latest copy of the book has revised stitch counts and larger diagrams to use. It didn’t take me long to make my first new piece, “It’s not mean if it’s hilarious.” I used some of Sublime Stitching’s embroidery floss on a piece of bright aqua Aida cloth. A glass of wine and some time after work was all I needed to get stitching the subversive way.

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If you’re a fan of Julie’s like I am, her new book is worth adding to your collection; you can purchase it from her website. Don’t forget to check out her site for additional PDF patterns and project ideas. Looking for even more patterns? Check out this collection for DIY Network.

Subversive Cross Stitch: 50 F*cking Clever Designs For Your Sassy Side
By Julie Jackson
powerHouse Books, $15.95

On Tour: Pretty Birds

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Well, hello! I report to you today on official blog tour duty. I’m one of the final stops on the blog tour for Virginia Lindsay’s, AKA Gingercake, new book, Pretty Birds. Available from Running Press, this charming book features 18 quick sewing projects that all have the same thing in common: it’s all about the birds.

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Virginia focuses on simple and fun in this book. The small stuffed creatures you can create don’t take all that long to put together, making them ideal for a last-minute gift or as a way to introduce a wannabe sewer to sewing. It’s a mix of hand sewing and sitting down at your machine.

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What caught my eye right away about the book is how you can access Virginia’s patterns. Each project comes with a QR code and Bit.Ly link so you can print them right at home. No need to cut out a page from your book; Virginia has you covered.

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I tried my hand at the Owl project. It took no time at all and I’m proud to stay I used some favorite pieces from my stash to complete him! I like how he has just a hint of wise-owl look to him. I’m making more to present to my 7-month-old niece and nephew as gifts. Without the button eyes, of course.

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At the end of each project Virginia gives you ideas on how to take the project a step or two further. For the owl, one of her suggestions was to add a small pocket to his back and store a mobile phone cord in it. Brilliant! I’m always hunting for the extra cord I keep in my crafting studio, so my new owl will sit on my desk and play a very important role.

Curious to see who else has been on the tour and who’s up next? Take a look!

2/25 You Go Girl!
2/26 Erica B. DIY Style
2/27 CraftSanity
2/28 Recycled Crafts
3/1 Sew Mama Sew
3/2 Lorelei’s Blog
3/3 FaveCrafts
3/4 S is for Sewing
3/5 Lori Greenberg
3/6 Killing It As A Grown Up – Hey, that’s me!
3/8 Pretty Things Blog
3/10 Sweet KM
3/11 Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts
3/12 Buzzmills
3/13 Girl Like the Sea
3/15 Cut Out + Keep

And there’s more! The fine folks at Running Press have been hosting a raffle to give away away a bird fabric kit, including a copy of the book, to five winners. You’ve got until March 17, 12 am EST, to enter. (Winners will be contacted by email and must notify us within 48 hours of the notification email with address and acceptance.) Enter the contest here.

If you’ve had the chance to check out Pretty Birds for yourself, I’d love to hear what you think! It’s a great addition to any sewer’s library.

How-To: Barkcloth Needle Case

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I’m back from an amazing few days in Texas enjoying some vacation time with good friends and, of course, several days as an attendee at the now-annual Quilt Con, presented by The Modern Quilt Guild. My attention the past few weeks has been getting ready for the conference, from making DIY accessories to packing up all of our goodies to take on the road. Over the next few days I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the conference, so look out for that!

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I saw so many wonderful vendors and fabrics at Quilt Con. My suitcases weighed A LOT MORE leaving Austin – I’ll leave it at that. One of my favorite vendors at the show was Cloud 9 Fabrics. Their soft, organic-offering cottons always catch my eye, but at the show last week they offered ready-to-go fat quarters and a look at some of their coming-to-us-soon fabrics that really caught my attention. My favorite had to be the new barkcloth “Time Warp” options coming from Jessica Jones. (more…)

I’m a Fan Of: Minted

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Oh, Minted. I am such a devoted fan of Minted.com. There are a lot of fantastic stationery options online right now, but me I always select Minted. From Valentines to your own business cards, Minted has a paper offering for the occasion. Here are some of my recent purchases from them.

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The very first purchase I made on Minted was actually last year! I bought these adorable school-ready Valentines that I gave to my co-workers at the museum. Part retro, part plain silly, these were perfect to surprise my colleagues with.

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Minted artwork proudly hangs in our home. I love their collaboration with independent artists in their artist marketplace. I’ve been turned onto so many new individuals this way. And there’s great representation from Michigan makers, too!

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My business cards are from Minted, too. Recipients of these cards always have fantastic things to say about them, which is a-ok by me.

The Minted team reached out to me and asked if I’d share my thoughts on their offering of save-the-date cards. Of course, I was happy to oblige. As someone who had a VERY DIY wedding, finding just the right save the date is a huge first step in showing off your wedding to your guests. If you’re hosting a DIY event in the future, take my advice – make as much of the goods as you can, but save a few items to purchase, like these save-the-date cards. You’ll still be representing your DIY spirit, but saving a little bit of your sanity, too.

Minted offers more than 700 options/variations when it comes to save-the-date cards. While that might seem overwhelming, you can filter your search by format, price, style, etc. You’ll find that once you know the look you’re going for, the card will come to you quickly.

Your save the date doesn’t have to be just a flat card. Minted offers postcards, magnets… you name it. And the color palettes available can match just about any event color scheme. They’re fresh and modern.

Once again, Minted has done a great job offering state pride options for folks looking to plan a destination wedding or use a hometown theme for their event. This California-themed save the date is not only reflective of a couple’s love for their home, it also doubles as oversized hang tag. Great idea!

Gold foil is HOT right now! I’m seeing everywhere, from my favorite craft shops to big-box retailers. Minted knows a good thing and has a whole selection of foil-pressed save-the-date cards, like this one. The gold is subtle and perfect – just a hint of shine to add to your finished product. (For us Michigan lovers out there, check out this amazing foil-pressed Michigan mitten print!)

A save the date doesn’t HAVE to have a photo on it. Mine didn’t and I loved it. This watercolor-inspired save “our” date doesn’t have a photo on the front and it’s totally elegant.

Here are a few more of my favorites to help you with your search:

Give yourself lots of time to search Minted’s website so that you can find the save-the-date card that’s perfect for your event. There’s nothing more exciting than the feeling of knowing you’ve picked the most perfect card possible for you!

Make sure to keep an eye on Minted’s blog, Julep. (I’ve even written about the blog for The Henry Ford magazine!) It’s one of my favorite and always provides with so much inspiration. Example? These fill-in-the-blank Valentine’s Day cards!

Are you a fan of Minted? If so, tell me what you love about it!

Lish’s Note: Minted asked me to review their products for my blog. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Make Your Printable Calendar Long-Lasting

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I love calendars! I love mini calendars and big calendars. I love desk calendars and pocket calendars. If it’s a calendar, I’ll probably love it. I have three calendars in my office at any given time. Why so many?

  • One is a desk calendar that I keep close to my computer.
  • One is a pretty monthly calendar, like this paint chip calendar from Paper Source, that’s currently on display behind my desk.
  • And one is a printable calendar that shows all the months of the year at once for quick glances.

My all-year calendar is always a printable calendar from a blogger or Etsy seller I admire. It’s a tough choice picking THE calendar for the year, but this design from Sacred and Profane is the 2015 printable winner for me.

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To make my calendar friendly for constant use all year long, I do a few things to ensure it’s long-lasting. If you’ve found a printable calendar you love, try these ideas to make it ready for daily use.

  • Mount it: I printed my calendar on regular copier paper, so I mounted it to a cover-weight sheet of paper to give it more strength. This year’s calendar is mounted on Paper Source’s Antique Gold 8.5 x 11″ cover weight paper. I trimmed it a bit to better fit within the gold paper and rounded the corners.
  • Laminate it: I laminate my calendars so that they’re ready for action. I’m frequently grabbing my calendar and poring over dates as I work on editorial plans. Having a covering like this keeps the calendar safe and looking great. I have a Scotch Thermal Laminator in my craft studio and it’s perfect for a task like this.
  • Punch it: With a screw punch or hole punch, add holes to the laminated calendar for easy display. I offset the actual calendar on the gold paper so that the holes wouldn’t interfere with actual dates on the calendar.
  • Dress it up: I added a piece of satin black ribbon as the finishing touch so that it can hang gracefully on my office wall.

Still on the hunt for a printable calendar to call your own? Here are some of my favorites for 2015 that are available for free to download.