Sew perfect.

Dear friends,

spoolsofthread

I finally finished up my sewing/quilting studio this weekend and it’s perfect. Perfect for me anyway.

It’s colorful. It’s light-drenched. It’s filled with some of my favorite things.

There’s a place for cutting. A place for sewing. A place for ironing. A place for all my fabric. An out-of-sight and spacious place for storing odds and ends.

I’m a bit of a voyeur when it comes to creative studios and I have studied many different kinds over the years. The custom ones. The makeshift ones. The sleek ones and the homey ones. The expensive ones and the budget friendly ones.

This one is improvised and patched together and as far from custom as you can get, but it has everything I need and suits me just fine.

Here’s what it looks like when you enter.

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See that huge window?

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Isn’t it a perfect spot to sew with all that natural light flooding in?

On my left is my ironing spot. I’ve had my large ironing board for more than 30 years. My mother spent countless hours ironing our clothes at that board when she was our nanny so I will never bring myself to buy a new one.  The small board is a recent acquisition from IKEA. It’s perfect set up right next to my machine when I’m constructing blocks.

iron

And on my right is my cutting spot.

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The upside to a tall and spacious cutting table is that there’s plenty of room underneath for storage. I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen a green table but I found it for a good price at a thrift shop. I don’t know what my life would be like without thrift shops.

By the way, this cart is perfect for corralling pending projects. With only three tiers, it keeps me from getting too far ahead of myself. It’s from IKEA too.

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This might be my favorite part.

scrapjars

These jars of colorful scraps remind me of jars of candy in the confectionary that I’ve always wanted to own. The shelves are from Target. I have to drive 90 miles for the nearest Target but that does not deter me. The jars are from Wal-Mart and cost $4.50 each. I’m prone to saying “I hate Wal-Mart” but I like their jars.

Here’s another favorite spot.

stackoffabric

I originally purchased the “love” sign for Mr. Mom for Father’s Day, but then I decided I wanted it. Mr. Mom wanted a bottle of Red Breast Whiskey so I figured it was an even trade. The owl mug is one of several owl themed items I own. I’ve been friends with owls ever since one took up residence in a large elm tree outside my home in Mayberry. I miss him.

The tv corner is essential. My favorite television chefs  and home improvement gurus like to keep me company while I sew.

tvcorner

When Mr. Mom hung my curtains, he had never heard of “puddled” drapes and he suggested I needed to hem the panels. But I snagged them for a mere $15 at Home Goods and part of the thrill of a bargain is no alterations necessary. I count the puddles as part of the charm.

Prior to claiming Kate’s former bedroom as my creative space, I had crafting supplies tucked away in several corners of the house. I’ve been able to consolidate everything into this room, which is handy and which I like to think encourages productivity. (We’ll see how many quilts and other projects I finish this summer as proof.)

This pitcher of paint brushes was too lovely to stash in the closet. I gave it an honored spot on my bookcase. It’s next to a heart-shaped box Mr. Mom gave me years ago.

paintbrushes

And I spent a good bit of time organizing fabric. Here’s the results.

fabricstorage

basketoffabric

By the way, the white spaceship-looking thing on top of the fabric cabinet is my sewing machine’s embroidery module. I’ve never used it. I’m kind of afraid of it. Now that I have a sewing room, I’ve vowed to watch the installation CD and learn how to use it.

This year.

I hope.

Maybe.

Mr. Mom spent a good bit of time installing shelves and baskets in the closet. As you can see I’ve got room to grow!

closet

Which, for a magpie, is essential.

With gratitude {for a happy new space to call my own},

Joan, who inaugurated her new space Sunday morning by making quilted placemats to coordinate with the bar stool cushions she recently sewed for Kate’s apartment

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Legit.

Dear friends,

I came home today to the best stack of mail, ever!

First, there was a sweet and thoughtful handwritten letter from my CupKate . . . the kind that makes a mother’s heart melt and that somebody will no doubt find after I die amongst my most treasured keepsakes.

Then, there was a typed form letter from the Missouri Department of Revenue. Magpie Quilts is legit! I have a tax ID number and am finally authorized to do bidness in the Show Me State.

<Picture me here doing a spot-on Steve Martin/Navin Johnson impression after the phone book arrives in The Jerk. “I”m somebody now! Things are going to start happening to me now!”>

As I have a habit of reading the mail over dinner, I very nearly did the happy dance over my plate of Mr. Mom’s homemade spaghetti. For a day of the week that normally produces little to cheer over, this Monday kicked boo-tay.

So here’s the deal: I finished a new quilt last week. And because it doesn’t make sense to mail my quilts one at a time to my cousin in Oklahoma, I’m going to post it for sale here. If none of my 47 faithful and 13 random readers are interested, I’ll ship it off to my bidness partner after I finish two or three more and the shipping cost is worth it. (Yes, I’m going to keep saying bidness through this entire post. I’m sorry. Chalk it up to Government-Stamp-of-Approval giddiness.)

By the way, I’m still thinking about opening an Etsy Shop for Magpie Quilts, as a friend suggested I might develop a Missouri following who will be disappointed that my creations are only available in Oklahoma. (I realize she was probably just being nice, but I’m willing to run with it.) Anyway, it’s going to be a while before I can make that happen for a variety of reasons mostly related to not enough time in the day.

So here it is folks . . . Listen hard and you can hear the drum roll reverberating in my head.

Sunday in the Park (Strawberry Jam, #2 in a series) — $125.

cherrystripe

A picnic basket. A shady spot under an oak tree. And a soft and colorful quilt on which to stretch out and spend a lazy afternoon with your sweetheart. These are the elements of a relaxing Sunday in the park, and Magpie Quilts’ latest design creates the perfect landing spot for your next outdoor excursion.

Strawberry Jam is the second in a series of Sunday in the Park quilts. It is made from 100% cotton fabric and features cheery and modern prints, with a touch of old-fashioned gingham. The front is an expanse of whole cloth featuring pink “berries,” punctuated by a column of multi-colored geometric and floral patterns.  The back features four large panels of pink gingham with window-frame sashing made from the primary print. The quilt is entirely hand-made — pieced, quilted and bound by a single artisan in her Missouri studio — and measures 58″ X 60″, making it suitable for covering your lap as well as your picnic spot.

All Magpie Quilts are safe for the washing machine if laundered in cold water with a gentle detergent and dried on a low-to-medium setting. The batting is an 80/20 cotton-polyester blend, which gives the quilt an exceptional drape and a light weight. The quilt was made in a smoke-free environment and has been pre-washed to give it the vintage appearance of well-loved linens.

If you’re interested in Strawberry Jam or have questions about Magpie Quilts, don’t hesitate to leave a comment here or email me at magpiequiltsbyjoan@gmail.com.

With gratitude {for a creative passion that is definitely lighting my fire},

Joan, who wishes to say one more time that Magpie Quilts is the brainchild of a woman who grew up in a heartland town she calls Mayberry, where catching fireflies on summer nights, sleeping under quilts hand-stitched by the local quilting bee, and sharing the bounty of a backyard vegetable patch never went out of vogue. Her quilt designs combine both vintage-inspired and contemporary fabrics in unfussy patterns that evoke a simpler time, a slower pace, and a love for the creature comforts of home.

Stained glass showoff.

Dear friends,

I have a dear friend who makes beautiful stained glass windows. Her home is a showcase of her work and I’ve long thought I should a commission a panel for my home. The supplies are expensive and her time is valuable so I’ve just never quite pulled the trigger, but I’ve always admired her talent and wished I could do the same.

For the record, my friend, Alisa, is multi-talented. She also cooks and gardens and sews and paints (fine art) and builds (cabins) and pretty much does anything she sets her mind to. She’s been a creative inspiration to me as long as I’ve known her, which is pushing 30 years.

Anyway, I spent Saturday fabricating my own stained glass window of sorts on — you guessed it — my sewing machine.

stainedglassfront

The colored panels are a fabric called “Squared Elements” and, up close, they remind me of little windows. Take a look:

stainedglasscu

The gray strips around the panels reminds me of the soldered lines in stained glass, which might be as close as I ever get to using an electric hand tool.

I got the idea for this quilt from a photo I saw on Pinterest, which I replicated. I know there’s a whole sub-culture of Pinterest haters, but I’m not one of them. I’ve gotten several good ideas from my favorite pinners. (And not all the recipes are worthless. I know several really good food bloggers whose recipes are regularly pinned so, as always, consider the source.)

Before Saturday, I had never made a quilt with sashing (strips of fabric surrounding a block or fabric panel) so I wasn’t quite sure how to do it without instructions. But I figured it out and only had to pull out my seam ripper once. These kinds of challenges are, for me, the “puzzle” of quilting and why I keep resisting patterns and going my own way.

By the way, another one of my longtime friends received this quilt in the mail last week and called to say she was thrilled. I was so happy to hear she liked it — and even happier to hear it had arrived on her doorstop at the conclusion of a very bad day, which turned around when she opened my box. Aren’t surprise greetings and packages the best?

Speaking of surprises, I was astonished to hear my friend say that her mother saw the quilt and exclaimed “Is there anything Joan can’t do?” It’s something I’ve said about my friend Alisa many times, and a description I never expected to hear about myself . . . which just goes to show: talent is in the eye of the beholder, so looking upon yourself with kinder (outside) eyes is a gift to be relished.

With gratitude {for unexpected gifts that go both ways},

Joan, who has decided instead of Crazy Quilt Lady, she shall be known as the Unaquilter and her manifesto shall be Fabric Happiness for Everyone!

Block by block.

Dear friends,

quilt

I enjoyed a quiet day alone yesterday. Kate went to a wedding while Mr. Mom and Parker took their dirt-bikes to a wilderness area for an afternoon ride.  So I took advantage of a long stretch of time to nearly finish Kate’s quilt top.

I still have some ric-rac and two borders to put around the blocks, but I’m awfully close. I just might finish it this weekend. Then all I have to do is to piece the backing before shipping it off to be quilted. I took this photo as daylight was fading so you can’t really see the fabrics very well. It looks better in person — bright and colorful but not garish. When it’s all finished, I’ll take photos in proper light so you can see the subtleties of the prints.

I chose this quilt pattern because it’s a little rustic and seems old-fashioned to me. While I’ve always appreciated the handiwork required of intricate and artistic quilts, my favorites have always leaned toward the folk art variety — something you  might have seen 70 years ago on an iron bed in a cabin in the woods. I like the contrast of the rustic pattern with the bright and modern fabrics I selected, especially since my girl is a big fan of bright colors. I think it will look terrific in her college apartment next fall.

You don’t have to look very close to notice my many mistakes. A friend’s mother is an expert quilter — expert, as in she’s had several quilts selected for the prestigious Paducah show. She’s been giving me encouragement and she recently told me every quilt has a “God” block — that one block in a quilt that’s imperfect. (Some quilters call it the “humility” block because when you leave it in, it shows your humility before God.)

That made me laugh when I heard it because I was pretty sure I would be making about 42 God blocks, which makes for one divine quilt.

With gratitude {for the light at the end of the tunnel on my first big sewing project},

Joan, who’s already itching to move on to quilt #2, a project she is excited to reveal soon

A king-sized makeover.

Dear friends,

photo[4]

Last week I made a quick business trip to St. Louis and, while I was there, I picked up a few things for Kate’s room. The results are shown in the Instagram photo above.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think there’s nothing that perks up a bedroom quite like new bedding. In addition to buying a white seersucker duvet, I purchased a bright paisley quilt, some new throw pillows, and three fun art canvasses, which we hung over her bed and then strung with twinkly lights.  All the items came from Target.

Kate had no idea I was planning a makeover and she was thrilled with the results.

Can I just say that’s something I absolutely LOVE about my daughter? She and I share similar tastes in home decor, fashion and jewelry, so I often shop spontaneously for her. I’m not sure if I always hit the mark, or she shares my commitment to gratitude and accepts my gifts graciously. Either way, it’s nice to have a daughter who doesn’t seem to have a picky bone in her body.

Why the sudden urge to re-make her bed? Well — it’s not so sudden. When we moved two years ago, she inherited the king-size bed from our guest bedroom. Because we were moving from a four-bedroom home to a three-bedroom home, we chose to discard her full-size bed rather than the spare king-size bed. Since she was leaving for college after a year, it made more sense to keep a bigger bed in her room for the occasional guest. The only problem was that by inheriting the bed, she also inherited the bedding, which neither of us really liked that much but which we made do.

I’ve been window shopping for bedding ever since — but just never pulled the trigger. Last week, I was so happy to have her home for the summer that I broke down and loaded up during a quick dash into Target. Besides, Target has great prices and the re-do met my affordability threshhold.

I think the bright oranges, yellows and pinks look terrific with her turquoise walls. And you can imagine how blank the wall above her bed looked before we hung the art. In the words of my favorite philosopher, popularly known as the Dude, the art “really tied the room together.”

If you’re interested in a closer look at some of the items, you can find the duvet here, a version of the Love pillow here, the quilt here, and the three canvasses here and here and here.

I’m delighted that Kate has a summer oasis to call her own with a true college-coed vibe, instead of the stuffy, old-lady vibe created by our former guest-room castoffs.

With gratitude {for a quick-fix and the opportunity to spread some love to my favorite college girl},

Joan, who bought the Eiffel Tower canvas because she studied French in college and still dreams of aller a Paris un beau jour