FQR Report

Hands down – my long weekend in London was amazingly fun! This will be pic heavy so I’ll probably break it up into a couple of posts.

I didn’t leave home until the late afternoon and even with the time difference (why is there an hour difference between France and the UK?!??), I arrived with plenty of time to get to the hotel before getting a good night’s rest before the hustle of the weekend. But since I rarely check the weather report I didn’t realize just how hot it was going to be! My hotel room was tiny and hot and there was just the smallest of breezes in the room – and by smallest I mean if I stood near the window I felt a touch of air. The lightest touch ever.

20140722-220412-79452856.jpgView from my window, I think I was on the top floor.

Friday morning I had breakfast and walked down the street to find something to do or see. I ran into a tourist shop and thought I fixed my phone so I had data but I never figured it out. At least they were able to tell me that Starbucks was across the street and a few doors down, so I used their wifi. I don’t obsessively love starbucks, but I do like a vanilla chai tea when I can have one.

I walked down to the V & A Museum, and admittedly I don’t know a lot about what is at a specific museum so this was a great stop for me. I walked the fashion exhibit (though I didn’t see the wedding dress exhibit) and took a few pictures. I passed the Museum of Natural History and the line was CRAZY long. I saw the fashion exhibit as well as a jewelry exhibit. I also stepped into the miniature portrait room, but my alarm went off for lunch so I had to get out of there and get ready for the afternoon.

20140722-220413-79453135.jpgMuseum of Natural History

20140722-222013-80413171.jpgHanging in the V&A

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20140722-222012-80412880.jpgClothing through the years

And so I grabbed lunch and my things for my first class and went to the Baden Powell House to register. I was greeted by Trash (who also made my nametag!) and registration was just a minute. We received amazing goody bags (pics to come!) and everyone was so happy and excited that the energy of it went to everyone. The main hall we were in was not very full and it was air conditioned which was such a nice break from the heat! My first class was Petals with Brioni and even if we took a mandatory break when the electricity blew, I finished as far as getting my petals down on the block!

20140722-220413-79453413.jpgBefore ironing them in place, I played with the placement a few times until I got what I wanted.

I love this and I’m thinking I’ll make this a panel of a tote bag. The method of doing the petals is quick and easy and I’m thinking my granddaughter (my niece’s daughter) needs one! The class was good and Brioni was a fun teacher. Here is a quilt she made, I admit one of my favorite things about this is that she quilted around the petals to keep them down and of course that is the quilting too. Oh and on top is the hat of happiness!

20140722-220413-79453678.jpgBrioni’s quilt

Friday evening I went to dinner with new friends and had a bacon cheeseburger for the first time in ten months. It was delicious. I can’t remember everyone I was with for dinner, but I am thankful that all (I think all, at least most) of us have connected on instagram! I met people I have been friends with on instagram and also new friends. The modern quilt guilds had a lot of people at the retreat so it was nice to hear about their groups and activities.

After dinner we went back to the BP House and worked on quilt tops for the Siblings Together donation that was made. I’m not sure how many quilts were donated (it was A LOT – over 20), but at the end of the night there were a handful of quilt tops that needed to be finished so someone volunteered to take them home to finish. I am hopefully going to participate in a ST bee that makes quilts to donate.

That’s just a day! It was so fun, a few of us visited in the hotel after the sewing was over for the night and once again I slept in a hot hotel room. Next year I need an air conditioner or a fan or a few of us did talk about renting a place closeby. I loved the energy and how welcoming everyone was. It was a little scary to go by myself but I figured I would just meet people. I had no problem finding someone to have lunch with or visit with at any time.

Whew, I’ll be back shortly with the rest of the weekend!

My first FQR

I leave today to attend the Fat  Quarterly Retreat in London!

I am very excited. I feel like I miss out on retreats and sewing with other people since we move so often and now are living overseas. I don’t know anyone here who sews, though I have found a couple of fabric shops, and a shop that teaches sewing. That shop seems to focus on clothing and bags, though they do have classes for kids. I am hoping to find others that sew, but I need to work on my french so I am able to communicate with people and at this point speaking the language is more of a priority between the two.

The classes I picked sound great – at first I signed up for familiar things and then I thought okay why take a class on something I am very familiar with! So I am taking screen printing, an applique class, a quilt math class (I’m hoping to learn a few tricks!), how to design with an ipad app, and a class called modern knots. I think I am most excited about the applique class in the hopes of learning something new to help me love this technique (or at least like it enough to make a few projects).

20140717-133310-48790272.jpgMug rugs for the swap!

20140717-133310-48790495.jpgStrips to swap

20140717-133310-48790712.jpgI can’t find my box of embroidery floss anywhere! Of course, who knows if it is good anymore (does embroidery floss get old and ruined?) because I admit I’ve had a lot of it since before I was a teenager, so over 20 years. Oops.

I fly in a few hours and I had a heck of a time reserving a taxi once I land. I’m just going to play it by ear and see what happens.

Aeroplane Bag Finish

I have been making so many quilt tops that I really wanted a good finish. I have a few bags that I want to make so I decided to just get to work. One of them is the Aeroplane bag. I mostly wanted this so I had something to carry my sewing machine in, even though I have only taken it to a couple of places and don’t see myself taking it anywhere else. I just jumped into my fabric and started cutting the pieces I needed. I ran into a problem because I didn’t have any thick stabilizer. I went to three stores here but none of them had any. Luckily for me, my husband happened to be in California when I was cutting my fabric so I sent him to JoAnn’s before his flight back here.

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I went from just that picture – the part of the main panel and the straps – to finished in a day. I sewed alllllll day long. It was awesome. I was tired by the end, it was after midnight.

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I still have a little bit of hand sewing to do, around the zippers. And then I am all done! I love this bag. It was very easy to sew. The hardest part for me was coming to the end and being sure that the outside main panels lined up correctly. I did have to take out the seams on one side of the zipper and resew to get it lined up a little better. This is a great bag, I can’t wait to need to take my machine somewhere, but I will probably use it on one of our vacations as well.

Long Weekend in Paris

We’ve been here for so long and I finally went somewhere! My daughter, my friend Jessie (and her boys), and another friend Leigh all had a long weekend in Paris. It was SO fun. You never know how much you need other adult conversation until you have it, until you get to have it.

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How we got there: flights within Paris are cheap! Okay, the train would have been SO much cheaper. But it was very last minute for my daughter to join the trip, and I already bought an airline ticket for myself. And when I say the train is cheap, it would be maybe 50 euros, if you pay attention to the times you are traveling. We were at the tail end of the train strike, but it wasn’t over yet, so I didn’t want to risk anything and thus the plane ticket.

Where we stayed: AirBNB apartment! It was tiny. There was a couch that turned into a bed, and a bunk bed with a trundle. The bathroom was very tiny. The kitchen had enough space for us to stand around and visit, or sit at the small table and visit. But really, probably almost all places in Paris are tiny. It was fine for us, but I couldn’t stay there with my family simply because of the bathroom.

What we did: stayed up all hours visiting. Okay, we also walked a lot, walked up a million steps to the Sacre Coeur, sat on the top of a big bus tour and saw many tourist sites, had dinner by the river, and of course enjoyed the wine. We started out late both days, the first day the latest, but I think overall it was a fun time.

I loved that we were able to get away for a few days. It did take a couple of days of napping for me to feel rested again, and I take that as a sign of a great visit.

20140710-163546-59746049.jpgWalking along the River Seine

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The Louvre, as seen from our tour bus

20140710-163546-59746337.jpgThe steps of the Sacre Coeur

Thinking of a Podcast

Recently I realized I’ve been blogging for almost ten years (in the fall it will be official). I started with quizzes and three or four sentence entries. I really cut back on blogging over the past few years, but after we moved overseas I realized how lucky we are to have connections online. Even with being very active on instagram, having a blog allows me to ‘talk’ to people. It at least allows me to get my words out. When you live in a country that you don’t know many people in and you don’t speak the native language very well, you soon feel the need to find someone to talk to.

I had a podcast once (the website redirects here now) and I loved it. I just binge-listened to Within A Quarter Inch and that spark to podcast lit back up. I loved podcasting, even if I listen to the episodes and feel like I was awkward. I would love to podcast again, and so I am thinking about it. I am thinking about how different my life is here and what fun a podcast could be. I love a conversational podcast, I watch a couple of video podcasts that are interviews and they are so great.

I think I’d like to find someone to podcast with me. The time difference that I’m in makes that harder for my friends in the US though. I have the desire to get all of my ideas out and to do something with them.

And just for the enjoyment of it, a picture of macarons that a friend taught me to make.

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Planning A Vacation

I have SO much respect for travel agents! We can do so much online, we can make all the reservations for ourselves, we can compare prices, and check availability. But when it comes to arranging a lot of travel, whew, it can be exhausting. Europeans take their holidays serious, the month of August has just about everyone on vacation. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like because I’m sure grocery stores will be open, but will some of the smaller stores close?

Europe, France & Languedoc
Photo by Heidi and Matt

 We have been talking about our holiday plans for a few months, but only just started the serious planning. Everything is expensive. We are a large family, three kids doesn’t seem like a lot but try booking a hotel room and you will find that it’s difficult. I did find one hotel that has a family policy (the Hilton) which stated that a second room for kids would be 50% of the first room. But the problem with that is the hotel only allows two people in each room. I get that there are concerns over fires and safety, but sheesh, it’s a hassle. As a result, we are staying in airbnb rentals or city apartments. I am glad we have this option otherwise travel might be out of reach for us because of the difficulties.

And so we have a busy summer ahead! I’m excited! We are going camping (more on this later because it is not the way we think of camping in the US), and also going to Ireland and the UK. We have more plans for the fall and next year, but one step at a time. The hours I’ve spent planning this has been tiring. We plan on using a travel agent for a trip we are planning for next year and I can’t wait! The time I spent comparing taking a flight from our home to our destination vs a train to a larger city and then a flight from that city to our destination was ridiculous. Ridiculous in the sense of “isn’t there a better way to figure this out.” I still haven’t figured that particular issue out, but I still have some time. As it stands, next week I am meeting friends in Paris and so I am off to double check the carry on luggage rules.

Fabric Stash in France

I think I really started building a fabric stash about six years ago. We lived in Texas and up until that point I had made a handful of baby quilts, and sewn other things like a baby sling for a doll or a doll pillow and quilt. But I wasn’t really, fully, immersed in quilting the way I feel that I am now. I chalk it up to the frequency of our moves and not having friends with similar interests as me. Sure it’s nice to have friends with little kids so your little kids have someone to play with, but it has always been a bit of a search to find someone who also likes sewing or quilting.

When we got to Texas, I met someone who was (in my eyes) a hardcore quilter. She had a bedroom devoted to her sewing! Sewing table, fabric stash, lots of block of the month fabrics, projects bagged up and separated, ready to sew. I found my person. Thanks to her I got “into” quilting a lot more.

We went to the Houston Quilt Show, and we had a blast! She had favorite quilt shops already and they were there. I was introduced to patterns specifically for fat quarters. Boom, I was done. That started my fabric stash buying – fat quarters and fq bundles.

We lived near my Mom soon after, and she recommended I buy more fabric. I started buying half yard but still bought bundles of fq’s. And the more I sewed, the more I realized I needed more fabric. I quit buying fq’s. I moved on to only buying half yards. I joined a couple of monthly fabric clubs and picked the half yard option and enjoyed building up my stash. After all those years, I am starting to wander into buying yards. I’ve moved past buying an entire collection of fabric, one half yard of each print please, and am moving to buying a yard or two of my favorite from the collection. It certainly cuts down on the spending. I am lucky to be able to order fabric from the US and have it shipped to a US address, have you seen the price of international shipping lately! Yikes!

The cotton + steel fabrics are on my radar as something I need to have. I have been looking at shops and trying to decide which I will buy. I don’t feel the pull of having an entire collection, but they are super popular and I know to buy now versus waiting while I decide. And so a few years later and I have a healthy stash.

This post by Debbie is a few months old, but in my browsing blogs and catching up I thought it was a good one for this topic of how we evolve in our fabric buying.