Last weekend, I attended the Cotton and Steel Patchwork Weekend Workshop hosted by Anna Maria Horner at her new (and fabulous!) shop, Craft South, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Craft South is so insanely beautiful and inspiring. You can’t walk into this space and not be inspired to create. How I wish this space existed in New Orleans (or that I lived closer to Nashville!).

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yarn

craftsouth shop

I love the workshops that Craft South is putting together. So many great things happening there! (see upcoming workshops and classes here).

As you all already know, Anna Maria Horner and her fabulous fabric design skills have been an inspiration to me for quite a while (read more about that, here), so I’ve been dying to get to Craft South and take a workshop ever since she announced that it was happening (she started Craft South workshops last summer in another location and then opened Craft South the store this past May).

When I saw that she had put together a weekend workshop with all five of the founding designers of the fabulous Cotton and Steel, I jumped at the opportunity! Six amazing fabric designers all under one roof teaching me how to quilt and chatting about the industry? YES!!

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cotton and steel ladies

My older sister lives right outside Nashville, and we love the area, so it is always nice to have an excuse to make a visit up there. It is only a few hours from my hometown, so my parents and sisters also came down to visit while we were in town for the workshop (we had a tie-dye birthday party for my niece, Evie, while I was there too!).

I loved getting to explore the 12 South neighborhood of Nashville that Craft South is in. I hadn’t spent much time in that area before, but it is a great little area! Lots of cool restaurants and shops.

quilt

cait quilt

I was a little nervous to take the workshop considering I’ve never actually made a quilt before. But I have a sewing background and I’d done some other quilting-type projects before (I made a quilt top and stretched it like a canvas to paint on in college and when I was younger I did some paper piecing), so I was prepared enough. If you remember from my goals for 2015, quilting was one of them!

I really love the way my quilt is starting out! LOVE those little paper airplanes! The quilt pattern we worked from for the workshop is the Mod Hexagon Quilt by Rashida Coleman-Hale (one of the designers for Cotton and Steel). The patterned fabrics I’m using are fat quarters of different prints from Cotton and Steel and Anna Maria Horner. For the background fabric, I’m using a metallic woven from Anna Maria’s Loominous fabric line (it is so pretty and sparkly – I wish you could see that better in the photos).

cotton and steel working

cait anna cotton and steel

We also learned how to make fabric yo-yos and patchwork zip and Gamaguchi pouches, but I mostly stuck to working on my quilt. I wanted to get as much as I could done while I was there. I still have quite a bit left to do. I enjoyed getting to sew on the Janome machines while I was there. Craft South is also a Janome dealer if you are in the area and looking for a new machine. If I decide to keep quilting, I will probably have to eventually upgrade my basic Singer machine, but for now I can make it work.

Here are some other photos of the workshop posted on Instagram by the Cotton and Steel designers or other workshop attendees:

cait sewing

sewing

working

It really was such a great weekend and I’m so glad I went! All the other workshop attendees were the best and I enjoyed hanging out and sewing with them for the weekend (and learning from them!). All the designers of Cotton and Steel (Melody Miller, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Alexia Abegg, Sarah Watts, and Kim Kight) are seriously some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It was such a treat learning from them about sewing, quilting, and the fabric design industry. I especially chatted with Melody and Alexia at dinner both nights and loved hearing about their stories, successes, and advice they had for others wanting to explore the fabric design and manufacturing industry.

If you get the opportunity to meet these amazing ladies or take a class at Craft South, do it!!

This weekend I finally finished a project (in under an hour) that I’d been talking about for the last 6 months! If you remember from several of my previous “Life Right Now” posts, I’d mentioned buying these cloth napkins from West Elm:

cloth napkins1

They are beautiful as napkins, but I had plans to use them to make pillowcases for throw pillows in my living room. I bought them last Thanksgiving, seam ripped out the seams, washed them, and then they sat for months just waiting for me to iron them and sew into pillowcases. The hold up was with pillow forms. All the pillows that we had in the living room had poly-fill inserts. Poly-fill inserts are cheap, but over time they get flat and I feel like in general they just don’t look as nice. For these, I wanted to use down/feather pillow inserts. They are more plush, cooler to the touch, and hold their shape better (you can also give them the “chopped” look if you are into that). I found some in the size I wanted on Amazon, but when I ordered them, they sent me the wrong size. I had to return those and when I went to buy more, the price had gone up. Eventually I ended up buying some from a different seller at a great price for two 22″ pillow forms (these ones at $35 for two).

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I just love how they turned out! I love the bit of shimmer the gold sparkle adds and the way that it ties in with the gold frames on the wall. They even look fine with our green couches (that will hopefully one day be replaced with something more neutral).

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With these, I sewed a zipper in the bottom so that I can easily change them out or wash them. I wish I’d done that with those patterned teal ones I made. It was quicker to sew in the zipper than it was to hand sew that opening shut and so much more convenient! (here is an easy tutorial if you don’t know how to sew in a zipper).

You could buy enough fabric to make these for the same price or cheaper than the cloth napkins, but this is a great option if you come across a napkin fabric that you really like! Love these!

Ceramics Class

April 30, 2015

My senior year of college, I took a hand-building ceramics class because I was required to take a 3-dimensional art class for my art major. That class made me fall in love with ceramics. Don’t get me wrong, I love painting and I love digital design, but there is something so nice and rewarding about creating a 3D object with your own two hands, whether for art or function. The fact that it can often be functional is also really nice. I only have so much wall space for paintings, but can always use cups, bowls, mugs, vases, and platters (or gift them!).

Anyway, the class I took in college was a hand-building class (not wheel-throwing), so I made several platters, but mostly art pieces instead of functional ones. I made a giant artichoke (you can see it on my living room bookshelves in our house tour, here), a miniature replica of my childhood home, and a few other pieces. Unfortunately, I took the class my senior year and didn’t have a chance to continue into ceramics more than that.

Signing up for another ceramics class has been on my list of things to do for several years and this year I finally made it happen. Well actually, a friend of mine, Christina, who has an extensive ceramics background, made it happen. She wanted to get back into ceramics again and asked if I wanted to join her.

We signed up at a local studio (Earth and Fire Studio) for two hours one night a week, for two months.

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During this studio time, I decided to learn how to work on the wheel. It takes a while to get it down, but I’m so happy with the 11 pieces I made in the last couple months!

None of them are perfect (which I kind-of love), but they are all functional! The first pieces I threw are the short, fat ones (that light pink one in the back and the white speckled one in front) and then as I got better I was able to make bigger, thinner, pieces like the mugs and bowls.

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Ceramics is such a process. Cutting and wedging the clay, working on the wheel, letting things set-up and get leather-hard, carving, trimming, making and attaching handles, bisque firing, glazing, final firing. I think it is really neat how ceramics relies on all the elements – earth, water, air, and fire.

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I’m so glad I took the time to learn this new skill and to spend time with a friend while doing it. I wish I had more time and energy to keep doing it! I’ll be back again sometime!  In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying drinking my morning tea out of a nice ceramic mug I made myself!

Crochet Snowflake Ornaments

December 14, 2014

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Last Christmas I started crocheting these little white snowflakes to put on our Christmas tree. I only did a few last year (you can see a shot of me working on them here), so this year I made a few more and turned them into ornaments for our tree. I love the way they turned out!

Crochet Snowflakes
Pattern adapted from this one.
Hook: 3.75 mm [US F-5]
Yarn: I used white cotton yarn, but any normal thickness yarn will work.

To start: Ch 5; join with a slip st to form a ring.
Round 1: Ch 1, [2 sc in ring, ch 3] 6 times; join with a slip st
in first sc – 6 ch-3 loops.
Round 2: Slip st in next sc, ch 1, [(2 sc, ch 3, 2 sc) all in ch-3
loop] 6 times; join.
Round 3: Slip st in next sc, ch 1, [(sc, ch 3, sc, ch 5, sc, ch 3,
sc) all in ch-3 loop, ch 2] 6 times; join. Fasten off.
Finish: Weave in ends.

ABBREVIATIONS: Ch = chain; mm = millimeters; sc = single crochet; st(s) = stitch (es); [ ] = work directions in brackets the number of times specified.

To turn into ornaments, lay them out on cardboard and pin the six points out with straight pins. Spray them with a couple coats of fabric stiffener/spray starch (according to bottle directions) to help them hold their shape. Once dry, loop an ornament hook through one of the points and hang them on the tree!

Quilt Market

October 30, 2014

Last weekend, a dream of mine came true. I was able to attend Quilt Market!

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For those of you that don’t know, Quilt Market is an international trade show for the fabric industry. Manufacturers, Fabric Designers, Pattern Makers, etc. are all there with their booths decked out displaying their newest collections for shop owners to see and order fabrics for their stores. This market was in Houston, TX.

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If you’ve followed my blog or known me for a while, you might know the obsession I have with fabric, the fabric designers that I adore and have mentioned on here before, and more importantly, my dream of becoming a fabric designer one day (or more broadly, a surface pattern designer). I work full-time as a graphic designer now, and between that and my art background, it has been a long-time dream of mine to gradually move in the direction of surface pattern design. I’ve been so busy working since I finished college that I haven’t had a lot of time to put towards that dream, but lately that dream has been invigorated as I’ve taken Bonnie Christine‘s Design Surface Patterns from Scratch Course on CreativeLive. (I highly recommend her course and her Roost Tribe!)

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Bonnie Christine (above) is one of the sweetest people that I’ve ever met and I was so happy to be able to chat with her in person this weekend! She immediately felt like an old friend that I’d known forever! (Although I guess I have followed her blog for almost 5 years!) Her story is so inspirational to me as her background and goals are very similar to mine. I also just love her work (and her passion for sharing with others to help make their dreams come true too!).

morning walk leah duncan1

The entire market was full of inspiration everywhere. I love Leah Duncan‘s patterns and style (above). I also loved seeing Katarina Roccella‘s patterns in person as well (I didn’t get a good shot of her booth, but you can see part of it in the second picture, above). I also saw Elizabeth Olwen‘s fabrics in person for the first time here as well (I thought I got a picture of her booth, but can’t find it, so it must not have taken!). All three of those designers are pretty new to me, but I loved seeing and being inspired by their work!

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One of the highlights of my visit was getting to meet and chat with Amy Butler (probably one of the most well-known fabric designers!) and her husband. They were both so incredibly sweet and were more than happy to answer my questions about the industry and what inspires them. Amy Butler was so encouraging of my dream, she told me to work towards my passion and great things will happen!

me and amy butler1

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amh colors1

Anna Maria Horner (along with Heather Bailey and Sandi Henderson) was one of the first fabric designers that really caught my eye. I started following their blogs years ago and they are a good part of the reason that I also want to design fabric. It was awesome to meet Anna Maria Horner in person after all these years of being inspired by her work!

me and anna maria horner1

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I saw Heather Bailey‘s booth, but didn’t see her. Next time!

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Many of my favorite designers have also come out with ribbon collections. These are seriously so beautiful and I was so glad to see them in person since I don’t think they are sold in any stores around where I live.

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quilt1

Aside from meeting and chatting with designers, I walked around, checking out booths of designers I’d never heard of before and just admiring all the beautiful colors and patterns. The quilts were so gorgeous, as were all the other cool things designers had made with their fabrics.

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I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity. It gave me great insight into the fabric design industry, into how quilt market works, and the chats I had with the designers were so helpful and encouraging (and also had a good dose of reality too). It really has started to make something that always seemed like a long lost dream a truly achievable reality!

Thank you Bonnie for making it happen!

 

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