Sewing today

I think I am finally settled into my sewing space…I was inspired by checking in on the lovely Camille Roskelley’s blog (sorry it’s been so long, Camille!) and seeing her lovely set up. She is one talented designer.

So I finished some last minute touches on my area and thought I would share:

As I was going through all of the tear sheets I collect from magazines, I came across an article from Elle Decor. They published a feature on the talented Cayce Zavaglia. These are just photos of my tear sheets, but you should go to her blog and see her amazing work. It’s all embroidery!

Her work is amazing.

Today I was just about to settle into a couple hours of sewing before I thought I would share a quick post with you. I am finishing up what must be my third birdie sling from Amy Butler Designs. I think this is one of the best bag designs out there. This one and Kathy’s mail sack are definitely my ‘go to’ bag designs.

All the pieces are cut out and the interfacing is ironed on. Now to the fun part of construction. Better get sewing! Hope you all are doing something fun today too.

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Wow, this July and August have flown by.  Heres what I have been up to…

We packed up our house in California

We drove down to Disneyland for a few days…

We camped the rest of the way across to Colorado…

We ate in some of the most obscure diners ever, including this place (did I mention I am a vegetarian?) blurg.

Then we arrived in Colorado where we celebrated this…

and started school…

and I found some time to make some things…

And I learned how to do this… (but now that I am at the end of the skein, I have no idea what to do next)

Three of the books I compiled were released

And I exchanged this kind of commute…

for this one…

And the company I work for was bought by another company and all of the difficult staffing decisions that go along with that have been made. I guess I have been lucky enough in my career not to ever have been in a situation where a company I have worked for has been the acquirer or the acquiree. Maybe you have and you know it is damn tough. Tough for the people who were asked to leave, and a lot less tough, but still plenty tough enough for the people who need to find their sea legs rather quickly and get on with the business of getting on. I have been lucky enough to ‘stay on the ship’. And I am trying to find my sea legs.

So I have suddenly found the need to read this…

It’s full of all the usual advice from some really accomplished people, but somehow it has been a real comfort to me to dip into and out of. Today, my favorite quote is from General Ray Odierno who is the US Commander in Iraq. He quotes William Arthur Ward and says:

Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character.

And the best part of the summer, the part that makes all of the other things happen, that keeps me sane and, more importantly, keeps me laughing every single day was celebrating 10 years since this…

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A Question About Book Prices?

So I am packing. Specifically I am packing books, today. My husband and I both began our careers in book publishing. In fact, that is how we met. We both have a love for the printed word and for the book as an object…so we have a lot of books. New. Old. Rare. Common. Illustrated. Fiction (mine).  Non-fiction (his). Children’s. Lots and lots.

Both my husband and I like to cook, so we have a lot of cookery books as well. Including one of my all-time favorites: Molly O’Neill’s New York Cookbook. I received this as a complimentary copy when I was working at my first post-college job at Workman Publishing. That Blackout Cake is my (grown up) go-to birthday cake recipe. My salary was $18,500 per year (which I was thrilled to get!) and I was sharing the top floor of a brownstone with two friends in Park Slope, Brooklyn (before it became what it is today).

The year was 1992 and even then, I needed to work weekends at the local bookstore, Community Bookstore on 7th Avenue, just to make my rent and meet my meager living expenses.

So, why the nostalgia?  Well, I was packing up my cookbooks and as I placed my well-used copy of New York Cookbook into a box, I stopped to reflect for a few minutes upon the apartments and houses this cookbook has resided in and the number of times I have packed this book (it has crossed the country and the Atlantic numerous times) and what this book has actually ‘cost me’ in moves alone.  In the year I acquired this book, it was worth $17.95. And I’ve come a long way, baby! But why haven’t you, New York Cookbook?

Today, this book is selling new on Amazon for…

$18.95 retail but $12.70 at Amazon’s discounted price. One dollar more 20 years later.

Part of what I do in my current job, is help decide on retail prices for our books, and as I pack up this book again to move for a wonderful opportunity to further my 20 year book publishing career, I paused before I put this New York Cookbook in the box. While this particular copy is worth a lot to me for reasons both practical and sentimental, I just cannot believe that today, this book is only worth one dollar more than it was 20 years ago.

Now, I am no finance expert, but I don’t think you would find any college graduate willing to work for $18,500 per year these days. I also don’t know a whole lot about the consumer price index, but I do know that over the past 20 years the cost of living has gone up a whole lot more that the 6ish% increase this book has seen reflected in its retail price.

What’s up with that?

While the book industry is experiencing enormous flux with exciting digital innovations and advancements being announced almost daily, I have to admit that my stomach sinks a little bit to see the stagnation (possibly even the erosion) of the value of the content (whether you read digitally on a Kindle, Nook, iPad etc. or read a physical book). Because content consists of ideas and ideas are important. They are invaluable. They have the power to change one moment, one life, one family, one community and more! And authors should be rewarded for that. Financially and otherwise.

I am sure that there are a lot of items that haven’t seen a huge increase in retail price over the years (certainly not gas, food, clothes and a bunch of other things that I have been buying weekly over the past 20 years…), but I just don’t get it.

Any retail price asks their consumer: How important is this to you compared to how much it cost to produce weighted against how many people might want it? Production costs for books have certainly gone up, so why not the price? Consumer resistance, industry reluctance to change, too many choices? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure.

But as I sealed the top of the box with tape and moved that box of much loved cookery books into my ‘ship’ pile, my answer has a lot to do with the quality of ideas this book holds within its pages. And as I go through all the objects in my house and decide whether they are ‘shipping worthy’ whether I want to pay again to ship this item or that, when I look at my bookshelves there is very little questioning.

Ideas are worth a lot to me. So is inspiration. Physical books make these ideas and inspirations tangible, as if the physical presence of them means that you are one step closer to the secrets, solace, and the power they hold within their pages. And you are. If you surround yourself with physical books, I think that you subconsciously surround yourself with possibility, you remind yourself of your potential to learn in a way that accessing digital information just cannot do. It is too easy to ignore and to forget and to disengage. Can’t you tell?

I literally, do not think I could live without them. Call me a dinosaur, but for me, my kids, my family I will gladly pay the price again and again to take those ideas and that inspiration with me wherever I that I can see them every day and remind myself, my kids, my family of the ideas and inspirations I/they/we were exposed to from reading those tangible…beautiful…valuable things.

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Book Giveaway!!

Yes indeed…this is the fun part of moving: boxes, boxes, boxes.  Well, more fun for one lucky reader anyhow! After leaving Stash Books, I ended up with some extra copies of their (*gulp* first time I have written ‘their’ but somehow they will always be ‘my’) books and as a thank you to all my readers, I am going to pack up all these books to give away.

I also found a couple of books that I just don’t look at as much as I thought I would when I bought them–maybe you will.   Just leave your name below and, if you like, share with me what you are most looking forward to this summer. Winner will be chosen at random, not based on the story, so no pressure!

The titles include:

Sockology by Brenna Maloney

Me and My Sewing Machine by Kate Haxel

The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman

Lunch Bags! compiled by me

Little Birds compiled by me

Countdown Calendars compiled by me

Modern Blocks compiled by me

Fanciful Felties by Sam Cotterill

Quilts Made Modern by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr

Inspired to Sew by Bari Ackerman

Little Girls, Big Style by Mary Abru

Sweetwater’s Simple Home by the Sweetwater trio

Linen, Wool, Cotton by Make Good Crafts

Free-Style Handmade Bags and Skirts

So leave a comment below by Sunday at 10 pm Pacific to win them all! Good luck!

(Sorry sorry-as I’m going to pay for shipping, this is limited to US residents only) :-(

p.s To all of ‘my’ authors, these were extra copies I had. Trust me, my personal copy of your book is safely tucked into one of those boxes to make the trip to Colorado with me!

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Garage Sale Jackpot!

I am not even sure that I can really speak about my jackpot find today…

Starts out innocently enough, right? Hmmm….wonder what is inside…..

* gulp *

You guys….look at this haul!

I know. I’m just staring at them too. I am a lucky, lucky girl!

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Garage-to-Studio Conversion D-O-N-E

When we moved into our tiny 1940s cottage two years ago, I had a vision of converting the detached garage into a dream studio space. However, we knew we had to tackle the kitchen first!

From this... this

With that task done, we were able to move on to the studio conversion! We began working on it in September. It began as this:

We removed the old garage door and installed french doors:

Painted the floor with some really toxic cement sealant tinted a blue/grey:

Insulated, installed drywall, painted, added wiring, installed a plank ceiling, and then I moved in!

before... window installed

...really really after

Ceiling before...

...ceiling after

drywall up

The view from outside…


Then everything in it’s place…

This is a store fixture than came into our shop a few months ago. I knew it would be the perfect fabric storage/cutting table solution because it is on wheels so when I need to baste a quilt, I can wheel it out of the way and use the whole floor.

Here are some detail shots of the inside…

I still have one or two areas I need to clean up, and with all that furniture in there it is a lot smaller now, but I officially started sewing in there last week so I call that D-O-N-E!

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I’ve got Big Plans, Big Plans, I say….



I am so thrilled to finally to be able to spill the beans! Now I know how so many of you feel about not being able to say that you are writing a book. I do not know how you manage to keep it to yourselves for months–I could hardly last a week! The full press release is here.  I will begin my role as the Editorial Director for Interweave Books at the end of this month. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this tremendous opportunity to work with the creative team at Interweave. It is going to mean big changes around here and we will begin a gradual move from the CA to CO over the coming months. I know. And just when we finished the garage-to-studio conversion. Typical.

Beginnings mean endings too, and I am sad to leave all of my colleagues at C&T Publishing.  I am very proud to have been a part of what the team at C&T have achieved in the past three years and am looking forward to buying copies of all of the great titles they will have coming out in the next few years.

I thought that I would want to take some time to relax, finish up some projects around the house….maybe even sew (gasp!). As my husband predicted, I’m no good with that and am eager to get started. So, I will be attending the TNNA event in Phoenix next weekend.  I hope to see my Phoenix friends there and to meet some new ones! I’ll be tweeting from my @craftyeditor account, so get in touch so I can say hello.  Looking forward to…well, everything!

p.s. the Big Plans quote is from one of our favorite books: Big Plans by Bob Shea, illustrated by Lane Smith

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What I know for sure

Back from Quilt Market! What a success! The Stash Books imprint has really gained huge momentum in the short time we have been in print, and our entire C&T list received a great response. And, the whole of market was (just about) all positive, as I had hoped. Which was the best part. I left feeling energized and massively optimistic about our future lists and hope to develop some new contacts into great authors!

Of course, I took no pictures. GAAA!

How could that be?

One of my favorite parts of going on trips is the flight home. I know I have done what I needed (two schoolhouse presentations and an early morning breakfast with some of our shops) and wanted to do (dinner with friends/authors/colleagues, seeing all of the exhibition quilts, and walking every aisle of the show floor), and I know that I am coming home to my family. So on the flight home, I usually just sit back and relax.  And I did…even though I was writing descriptions for the projects for our upcoming Hat Shop Design Collective (this one is going to be just wonderful!):

I got to thinking about all of the amazing work that is going on behind the scenes of The Modern Quilt Guild. That, and thinking about Bari Ackerman’s thoughtful post to her daughters about the word ‘just’. That, and I got to thinking about Denyse Schmidt’s new book coming out that she shared with us at dinner. That, and I got to thinking about one of the comments I hear alot,  (‘These girls think that they just invented sliced bread.”) and one of the comments I am hearing more and more (”Just because they have a blog doesn’t mean they deserve a book”).


Now, you all know that I am in the business of words. So I take them pretty seriously. I like words. I like them as labels and I like them as tags and I like them as keywords in search engines. And I’d like to share with you my thoughts…the things I know for sure:

1. I don’t really believe that ‘these gals’ think they invented sliced bread. I think they know they didn’t and, what’s more, I think we all know that ‘you’ didn’t either. But I sure do like bread.

2. I can’t really talk too much about who ‘deserves’ what. That sounds a lot like injustice collecting to me. There are many voices and I hope that what I do helps bring some new designers (who I think are really talented) to the conversation to give a voice to the work that only they are doing.

3. I love Denyse Schmidt. She is a wonderful ambassador for quilting and through her work, she has reached audiences from Pottery Barn to Joann Fabrics. In her upcoming book, she shares with us her love of the traditional quilts. It is an absolute must-have for all of our libraries.

4. Modern Quilting actually means something. It is not a social movement. It is a definition of a specific style of quilting that we have all been lucky enough to witness the formation of. It is a term that we should all get comfortable with, learn to identify correctly, and have well-informed opinions about. Check out wonderful examples at Heather’s blog: Modern Day Quilts.

5. I loved Bari’s blog post that I mentioned above. And I know this isn’t what she meant, but I have to say that I really am ‘just’ a quilter. I am not a Modern Quilter. In fact, my all-time favorite pattern is a double irish chain. I have made some modern quilts and hope to make many more, but to say that I am one takes away more from those designers who are Modern Quilters, than it would say about me.

And that is what I know for sure.

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Weekend Work

Mostly work this weeknd but we did get a break for a birthday Party for Anna who just turned one!

Finished off her quilt! I had fun designing this using the salvaged pieces of orange dot from Sandy Klopp and some Amy Butler green.

I found this great geometric pink flannel from David Textiles for the backing. Not too girlie, but just girlie enough, I thought. I hope she did too!

I designed this pattern and want to make this into a bigger size next. I was going to make this up into a pattern for Pattern Spot…may still if I can get my Illustrator training done so I can put some illustrations to it.

Also, finished up all of my blocks from the quilt I designed at the lake…but mostly, my weekend was full of drywall.  I have blisters and am exhausted. Here is the progress we made:

All the drywall is officially UP! Hope you all had a lovely/productive long weekend too!

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I’ve had a great week! Have you?

We settled the floor plan for the studio and began the drywall. That makes me happy.  My first-grader(!!!) sat on my lap and helped me design. He thought we should add in some plants, flowers and slippers into the floor plan too! Why didn’t I think of that?! It warms up the place, dontchathink?

You know what else makes me happy? All of your comments, both public and private, I received from my last post. They have been so encouraging, supportive and genuine! I feel happier already!

And you know what happened last week? I put that positive attitude into action. I smiled a lot more, I gave more people compliments, and made an effort  to tell people in my life how appreciative I am of them.  Not in a forced way, but in that way when you say in your head: ‘that was nice’, or ‘they did a great job’, or ‘I haven’t thanked them lately’. Instead of keeping it to myself, I spoke up or wrote it down and let them know. I even *gasp* sent two handwritten notes through the snail mail (and I can’t even remember the last time I did that when it wasn’t a ‘thank you’ card). Now I know that sometimes something will get the best of me, and that there will be good weeks and bad weeks….heck…good moments and bad moments. But this week, I had more than a handful of people tell me that something I said/did made their day!

That makes me happy.

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