Friday, December 29, 2017

Americana Quilt

About a year ago, I was graciously given an entire car full of a friend's grandmother's quilting supplies. Her name was Charlotte and she passed away leaving a loving family with some beautiful quilts and SO. MUCH. FABRIC. A few family members took a few things like the nicer machines and I was given everything that was left. It filled my car from floor to ceiling everywhere except the drivers seat. It took several weeks to go through everything. There were patterns and partially finished blocks and lots of scraps and quilting catalogues from the 90s and so much other stuff. 

In the pile I found a photo of this Texas quilt layout as well as some of fabric and a few partially completed blocks. I'm not sure if Charlotte made this quilt and took it apart or made some blocks inspired by someone else's quilt, but I knew I wanted to do something Americana and similar to it.

I spent a long time rearranging what was partially made, figuring out how to replicate more of what she has made to complete patterns and doing a lot of research on traditional quilts. It was super fun and definitely a huge learning experience. Also, because I was making it sort of freestyle, figuring out how to fit it altogether was a challenge. 

I finished the quilt top in December of 2016, but ended up packing it up not long after because we were planning on moving to California. It was a little wonky and uneven in some parts where I tried to recreate certain blocks, but I still loved it. A few of the block were signed by what I'm assuming where Charlotte's friends who gave or swapped a few quilt blocks with her. It made me a little teary to hope that I was carrying on someone else's work!

 Once we got settled in San Francisco, I started working on this quilt again in the hopes that I could get it done as a Christmas gift for it's intended recipient. I did the back using only scraps of fabric in a similar color scheme. This is about the time where this quilt started to be the bane of my existence! So many pieces and details and so much stress about how to quilt it and basting it was a workout in itself.

I decided it was so big and heavy that I wasn't going to quilt the entire thing and that I would only do segments. Essentially any area that was blue, green, purple, or black was quilted with dark blue, a few red areas were quilted in red, and then a few white or beige areas were quilted with white. One can only do so much with no long arm machine! One of this days I'll pay for professional quilting services, but this was not that day!

I was so pleased when it was finished! The only thing that really bothers me is the one super crooked row of small flying geese, but this is the first quilt that I've done flying keeps so I guess I won't beat myself of too bad! All I could think about is that I hope Charlotte would be happy with what I've done with her work.

I actually made quite a few quilts this year for Chanukah and Christmas and will be sharing them slowly over the course of the next week or so. Man oh man did my post office bill start to rack up! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and has a wonderful New Years!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

The more time goes on, the more serious I get about trying to find ways to be more friendly to our environment. I'm constantly trying to make what changes I can to minimize my own environmental impact on this weird and do what I can to help those around do the same. As a maker this can be difficult. The very goal of what I do is consume materials to make more STUFF. This is even more true around Christmas time when we are all buying and making and consuming and stressing out and not always taking the time to stop and think about the choices we are making. These are a few things I'm doing this year to try and make Christmas a little more green and I hope you'll take a moment to think about your own holiday habits.

1. Ditch the traditional Christmas tree
Okay so this first one might be the hardest for me to write about. I LOVE Christmas trees! But in an effort to cut down on my own consumerism, I decided to try something different. I have read mixed articles on Christmas tree farming (would love to see more information on the subject) and fake trees are plastic. You could try to make the argument on reusing the fake tree again and again, but they're still made out plastic which is objectively not great for the environment even after reuse. This year I  purchased an umbrella tree a few weeks ago to decorate as our Christmas tree. I liked the idea of having a house plant that serves a purpose all year long and could still be dressed up to be a "Christmas tree." I selected this plant because they do well indoors, are easy to trim, and have lots of little branches to hang ornaments on. I only put up about half of my ornaments so I could see how the tree held up for a few days before weighing it down too much.  I also need to make a new tree skirt to cover the pot, but I think this little guy came out pretty cute.

2. Shop second-hand for your holiday parties
This year I had a December wedding to attend, an office Christmas party with my husband, and who knows what else might pop up in the coming weeks. It's so easy to rush to the mall and buy something quick to look respectable for these events, but I'm trying something new by only buying used clothing for myself from here on out. I found this green sequin dress on ThredUp for only $11(!!!) originally priced for $70 and in perfect condition. ThredUp is an awesome resource for gently used clothing, but there are plent of other sources like PoshMark, vintage on Etsy, consignment stores, etc, etc, etc. I feel like formal or cocktail attire, people often wear to one or two events and then toss so it's super easy to find stuff in great condition! I borrowed a purse and pair of earrings (because how often am I going to need giant glittery earrings?) and I was good to go!

You can see a preview about the wastefulness of the fashion industry HERE or learn more on ways to cut down on your own textile footprint HERE from Trash is for Tossers.

3. Make gifts out of scraps
I have been saving every little scrap and shred of fabric pretty much since I started sewing. I know it's not the most space efficient, but I truly believe I can find a use for everything! It's really just a battle against time. As an extension of my desire to cut down on textile waste in my clothing choice, I've been trying to examine how I purchase and consume fabric for sewing as well. I've been lucky in that I've been able to acquire used materials from different people, but still occasionally have to buy new fabric as well. For the last few years I've been working on using every single bit of my materials and you can see ideas for items I've made out of scraps...
1. Scrap Coasters

4. Create an Alternative Advent Calendar
I know it's a little late for advent calendars as most people start them December 1st, but I think this next year could be done over the 8 nights of Hanukkah or translated to in other ways that don't need to start on a specific date! This next idea comes from Lizette from CreativityLizette, but I just LOVED IT SO MUCH I had to include it in my list! Lizette explains:
I'm doing our advent Christmas calendar a little bit differently this year. We know Christmas time can be stressful and adding a newborn to the mix...ahhh! So I decided to check out Christmas theme books from the library as we count down to Christmas day. I'm keeping it simple this year without throwing all our holiday traditions out the window. I won't be wrapping the books. I'm putting a book under the Christmas tree each morning. I love this idea! Supporting the library, creating beautiful memories with your kids, and giving them something that has to be given back to show that Christmas isn't all about STUFF.

What ideas do you have for being a little kinder to our planet this holiday season?

P.S. Go check out @BeeCreativeSwaps on IG for some swap updates for 2018!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Getting Away to Get Inspired

I've been wanting to talk about how inspiring my recent vacation was, but I've hesitated out of fear of coming off as super elitist or showy because I know not everyone is able to go on vacations. We recently went on a really incredible trip to Barcelona, London, and Paris, but it's one that took a lot of struggle and was more or less 8 years in the making. Ultimately, I think the inspiration that can be gained from travel doesn't require flying to another continent and, also, this my space to talk about my own creative life. So...I'm talking about my trip and creative inspiration I gained from it. Here goes..

Stepping Away to Evaluate
It's not really a revelation that taking a vacation can help get you inspired and recharged. Breaking away from your everyday life and out of your physical routine can really shake up your mental routine. For me, I've been in a weird place with where to go next. Do I want to go back to selling more on Etsy? Do I want to jump headfirst back into craft shows? Do I want to start a completely new business? How soon do I want to have a brick and mortar again? All of these questions have been rattling around in my brain for weeks! While on trips, I take a lot of time to read, listen to PodCasts, and reflect. Things I don't really do in my day to day life and things that can be done regardless of what your destination is. I listened to some really great episodes of Dear Handmade Life while on vacation including episode 34: Awesome Visual Design and episode 35: Perfection & Passion Projects.  I can't remember which episode it was, but one of them talked about the concept of Past Lives. Essentially, the things you did in previous passions or hobbies still have value and impact your creativity today even if those passions are over. It was so critical for me to hear that at this point in my journey. Having previously owned other businesses and having moved a bunch, you can't help but feel like maybe you stepped away too soon or that those years were a "waste." Those thoughts can really eat away at me or negatively impact the things I choose to do going forward if I let it. I feel like all of these thoughts culminated during the course of my trip and gave me a better path with which to push forward. Surprisingly, what I ended up with was the decision to do less. I want to keep doing what's fun, enjoy the process of The Morose Bee, increase sales if I can but don't try and force it into a "quit my day job" situation, and just dig back into loving to MAKE. I feel like the shift in my goals is visible on my annual birthday post as far as the things I've decided to prioritize. 

Feeling AuthenticI hear a lot of chatter about the downsides of social media and, in general, I try not to be on my phone ALL the time. The truth is, I like social media. It keeps me in touch with my friends in other cities or countries, it's how Lizette and I are able to host such large swaps, and it's how I'm able to manage getting the resources I need for a lot of the crafts I've made. I no longer fall into the trap of needing to mimic other people or things I see on social media. My feed being full of happy people doing cool stuff doesn't make me jealous. It makes me feel excited for them and want to do better in my own life and in my own way. I know that not everyone is wired that way, but I like it. That doesn't mean that I don't get totally overwhelmed! I think the hardest part as a maker is wanting to come up with original work or even just original online content. What's left to make or do? Thirty seconds on Pinterest can send you down a rabbit hole of blog posts and ideas already done by other people. While on this trip, we had terrible cell service and I could only browse on my phone so often. Usually, whenever I want to make something new my first step is a Pinterest board of ideas and inspiration. During my down time on vacation, I doodled quite a few quilt ideas ALL WITHOUT CONSULTING THE INTERNET FIRST. Instead of worrying what's already been done or what tips I can use from other's to make my ideas better or how to avoid things that other people have done, I just came up with ideas. I didn't worry about it and I just sketched and jotted down notes and enjoyed myself. I had this realization that I don't really care if someone else has done something similar or had the same idea as me. I want to make things that feel authentic to my own process and if other awesome makers are making similarly awesome things than that's awesome too. I understand that there's a whole other legal side to this, but I'm not trying to find a niche market to fill. I'm just making things to have fun. When I first start The Morose Bee, my original idea was sculpting mustache necklaces. I didn't look to see if it was a "thing" yet. I just made them and posted it and they sold well. Turns out, at the time, there weren't many (if any) mustache necklaces on Etsy and it wasn't until a few years later than the mustache craze became huge. That was almost 10 years ago and I think I need to lean into those gut feelings a little more often.

Irrational Decisions
So here's the thing, often times when I am feeling on fire, I leap head first into whatever my new amazing idea happens to be. Sometimes I make huge decisions impulsively because I like to be an ALL IN kind of person. I have a tendency to wayyyyy over analyze everything and not always in a way that is productive or constructive. Once a decision is made I am usually ready to go! At one point on my trip, I was having so many ideas I straight up wanted to dissolve my Etsy shops and start and entirely different kind of business. I had this idea in my head for about 3-5 days and I was going to do it when I got home. I'm so glad I didn't do it! The 180 degree spin of my thought process during this trip took me down a lot of different paths, but being away from the internet didn't allow me the ability to act on any of them. I just had to keep reflecting and enjoying the trip. The end result was a completely different plan by the time I got on the plane to come home and I'm so glad I didn't cut The Morose Bee out of my life!

Realizing What You're Excited To Come Home To
Ultimately, it all came down to that plane ride home and all the things I couldn't wait to get home and do. I read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and was ready to start decluttering our apartment, I sketched 5 quilt ideas and I am really exciting about 2 of them, I evaluated all my goals and ideas, and came home ready to make! I think if I were to come home and think "Well crap. I have to finish this damn quilt" then I'd have a serious problem. My only issue now is I'm too excited! So I came home and started on 4 different projects at the same time. I realize this post is starting to sound like I spent a 2 week trip thinking about all of this. There were shows, museums, friends to visit, good food, and lots and lots and lots and lots of walking. But those are the times where ideas strike me. As a maker and someone who is entrepreneurially oriented, these thoughts are always just below the surface. For example, I suddenly had the most amazing idea for a quilt while in the middle of a tour of La Sagrada Familia! I just won't be able to make it until after Christmas gift making is over. I feel like much of these same ideas could've come from getting a hotel on the beach 2 towns over. The point is stepping away from your life for a short time when at a crossroads. When you come back, the decision that needs to be made will still be there and in clearer focus.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My Birthday: My Annual Reflection & My 28 Before 29 list

photo source
My birthday was over a week ago at this point, but I was out of town and not able to do my annual Birthday Goals post! The annual process of reflection on my own self care and goals for the upcoming year have always been something I've loved doing and you can see my post from last year. The funny thing about that list is I only accomplished 5 of the 27 goals. It amazing how many things can change in a year. When I wrote my list last year, I never imagined I would be living in San Francisco or that I would have dissolved Made With Moxie. Usually I take time to review and reflect on each goal, but it felt silly to go back through and talk about all the things I hadn't done considering it's not really fair to myself when I've had this huge life change.

I started working on this list about one week before my birthday as I usually like to have my list in place on the actual date of my birthday. After tinkering with my list a bit and realizing how much had changed from the year before, I decided doing it with a clear mind after my vacation was a better choice. I'm glad I waited because I feel like my list is more realistic after having time to reflect.

Every year I say that my birthday feels more like New Year's Day than January 1st and I still 100% agree with that. I'm excited about my list and have already started working on a few of them! What's crazy is that not a single goal on this list is roller derby related. I have no intention of retiring from derby, but it's refreshing to put some things on the back burner and not stress to push myself in every single aspect of my life.

SO! Here's the list! Happy Birthday and Happy New Year to me!

1.  Read 12 books

2. Watch 52 new movies

3. Visit 5 new museums

4. Draw or doodle everyday

5. Catch up on scrapbooking

6. Make a pair of pants- Most of my garment making has been dresses or baby clothes mean looser fitting articles of clothing that aren't super complicated to make. I have a few pants patterns, but have never made any. It's a sewing challenge I really want to try both for my creative exercise and also for some cute custom pants!

7. Make a t-shirt quilt- I think this has been on my list 3 years in a row? Maybe this year is the final year!

8. Make a few quilts to sell- Every time I make a quilt as a gift and post it on social media, someone comments to ask if I can make them one or how much it would cost for me to make one. I love making quilts, but I feel like no one would be willing to pay what I would need to charge for them. So I've decided why not at least try? Worst that happens is it never sells and I have a gift ready to give to someone else.

9. Join the San Francisco Etsy team

10. Participate in a craft show or marketplace with The Morose Bee- my last craft show with TMB was all the way back in 2013!

11. Host more craft swaps with Bee Creative Swaps- this past year has been so great and we're getting better and better and streamlining things with each swap! Our last swap, the Animation Celebration Swap, had participants who sent out such great swap items. I can't wait for this amazing group of creative people we've been cultivating to continue to grow!

12. Attend Craftcation- Have you heard of it? It's a makers and business conference that takes place every year in Ventura, CA. It's put on by the gals who do the This Handmade Life podcast which I started listening to after the Bee Creative Swaps 30 Days of Creativity Challenge at the beginning of 2017. I think Craftcation looks like such an inspiring weekend! You can check out the schedule here and it looks a dream.

13. Write at least 52 blog posts

14. Try vlogging and/or video tutorials

15. Start taking classes at City College- In general, the idea of going back to college has never really been something I've wanted to do, but San Francisco residents can take classes at City College for free! AND they offer sewing, quilting, fashion design, and other maker related classes. Even if this doesn't result in full time going back to school, I definitely want to take a few classes.

16. Get a new tattoo

17. Go camping- I don't think I've been in over 4 years!

18. Try doing yoga for at least 30 days- Okay so I have a confession... I signed up for a free intro to yoga class and ended up cancelling it a few hours before because I had so much anxiety about going. I really want to start doing yoga, but I think I'm going to try doing it at home with some online videos before I'll feel ready to do it in a big room full of people.

19. Continue Spanish lessons on Duo Lingo- this was super helpful to me to brush up before we went to Spain and being multi lingual is something I've always wanted.

20. Start French lessons on Duo Lingo

21. Bake a loaf of bread every week

22. Bake a dessert once a week- I love baking, but I only make desserts or pastries maybe 4 or 5 times a year. I cook often enough and have several dessert cookbooks, I just never get around to it. My new bread maker has made baking bread super easy, but I want to try to make more sweets as well.

23. Pack my lunch for work every day

24. Cook dinner at home at least 4 days per week- so I signed up for the vegetarian option for Blue Apron! I know they sponsor like every PodCast of all time, but everyone I talk to says it's amazing and I appreciate their effort to eliminate waste in the food industry. I'll have to buy other ingredients to make my food vegan and the regular vegetarian version will be made for m husband. I'm not sure if having to veganize it will override the ease it's supposed to provide, but I'm going to give it a shot in the hopes that it will help us order less take out.

25.  Eliminate single use products- I feel like this is my really big goal of the year. Several videos have gone around on BuzzFeed or other places about people who live waste free and there are websites like Trash is for Tossers where you can get tips and resources for living waste free. With the inevitable threat of climate change, I've been thinking about my lifestyle how I live less wastefully and more environmentally responsible. Seeing those videos and resources has really inspired me so I'm going to do my best to rid myself of he habit of using single use products like plastic water bottles, coffee cups, cotton balls, disposable wipes, etc.

26. Take photos of all of my trash- This one is related to the last goal. I don't want to carry all my trash around in a jar or some of the other extreme things that zero waste proponents do to as part of their lifestyle, but I do want to hold myself accountable for the amount of waste I produce. Starting in November, I'm going to take a picture of each item I throw away before it goes in the trash can. This is only for items specifically being thrown in a trash can headed for a landfill and not for anything that I compost or recycle. I'm hoping this exercise will make me think more carefully about the choices I make.

27. Be on my phone less- I love social media, texting with friends, looking at inspiring things, and all the other reasons we cling to our phones and I have no intention of feeling guilty about any of it. However, there are a lot of times where I'm just looking at the same crap on Facebook over and over again or just mindlessly using my phone for no reason that is remotely productive or fun. If you took all the times during the day that I'm doing nothing on my phone, I could have accomplished so many other things!

28. Organize my house using the KonMari Method- Okay so I know it's like the most overly talked about book these days, but I finally read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo as per my book goal. I didn't buy into everything she talked about in the book, but I am constantly trying to figure out how to make our small apartment better organized and have made some pretty good progress so far. I'm willing to give a shot in the hopes that trying a more specific method might be the final step I need to take. Being a crafter and a maker means I can find an excuse to hold onto basically everything! I think my craft supplies will definitely be the biggest hurdle, but the method doesn't have be completed all in one day.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Stuff I've Made: Another Baby Quilt

Normally I photograph the whole process from start to finish, but this time I just enjoyed making something cute and colorful for a new babe. I made this before going out of town and the little guy was born while I was away. Now that Im home I can't wait to keep making new things!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Spooky Saturdays: My Top 5 Favorite Halloween Movies

Hi Friends! I've just returned from vacation and I'll have a lot to share about it soon! For now, I'm recovering from jet lag with a few of my favorite Halloween movies! I tend to watch these only around this time of the year because I feel like it keeps them more special and exciting to watch again.
The Nightmare Before ChristmasAvailable on Netflix

The Addams FamilyAvailable on Netflix

Hocus Pocus
Available for rent on Amazon

CoralineAvailable on Netlifx

Available for rent on Amazon

What spooky movies are your favorites? More creativity related posts and progress coming soon. Have a spooky weekend!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Spooky Saturday: A Spooky Playlist

Happy Saturday Friends! As I write this I'm preparing to leave town, but I've been soaking up as much Halloween goodness before my trip as I can. I love things that are straight up Halloweenie, but sometimes I just want to enjoy things that feel only slighty spooky. I made a playlist for Halloween tunes that's more than just Monster Mash. Although it most definitely is still on the playlist! I'll be listening to spooky tunes as I pack for my trip and it may mean I don't post anything next Saturday, but I hope everyone is excited for the season!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Spooky Saturday: Etsy Favorites

This is the hardest time of year for me when it comes to shopping as I love ALL THINGS HALLOWEEN ALL THE TIME! So when shops are going full out with their spooky wares, I can't contain myself! For this weekend, I wanted to share some of my favorites from other independent makers on Etsy. Have a lovely weekend on this last day of September!

Always Anchors

I'm Your Present

Janine Basil

DC Visual Arts

Culture Flock Clothing 


A Little Tinsel

Friday, September 29, 2017

Shop Sale

We're going out of town for 2 weeks next Saturday and I'll need to put my Etsy shops on "vacation mode" while I'm away. To make up for it, I'm doing a huge 40% off sale in The Morose Bee shop until October 5th! CLICK HERE to check out the shop and browse for some goodies. All items will be shipped no later than October 6th before I close the shop for vacation. Happy Friday, y'all!