My big fat Quilt Market post

It’s been a few weeks since I got back from Fall Quilt Market in Houston, and I thought I’d round up a few of the things I enjoyed this time around. Sadly, I did miss a bunch of great stuff since I only had my phone (this was the first year I left my camera at home), so please don’t be offended if I didn’t include your stuff, awesome designers who I missed!!! I always enjoy seeing the booths and the new fabrics at Quilt Market, at least in the handful of booths that are modern, and it’s always fun to catch up with other designers and fabric shop owners. My new line Small World was also debuting on strike-offs at the Cloud9 booth, so of course I was also shamelessly showing those off. They have their own post right here if you want to see them. Also, please note that I’m not going to link to all the lines/designers in this post, because otherwise I’d never get this post published. You understand.

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Ok, so what did I love? Carolyn Friedlander’s stuff was amazeballs as usual:

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The Kokka booth is always a little overwhelming but I loved the dress on the right:

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Ellen Luckett Baker’s Charms line for Kokka is really great. Metallics and voile and canvas!! Love the persimmon and sheep prints the mostest.

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Cotton+Steel had a fantastic follow-up to their debut lines earlier this year, including my absolute fave, the double gauzes. Which had their own booth, complete with some Made By Rae samples (can you spot them??). The samples I made for Stylo ended up in the booth so that was very fun.

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Dying over this octopus lawn designed by Sarah Watts for Cotton+Steel:

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One of my favorite Melody Miller prints is back (so are the viewmasters!!):

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I wish I had gotten better photos of Alison Glass’ Handprinted collection; I’m dying over the plus prints. Her entire booth was gorgeous.

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Some great organic knits from Monaluna:

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Birch also had some fantastic new organic knits, including another line of Charley Harper (yay!!), but I didn’t get any good photos.

Katy Jones has a new line, Priory Square, with Art Gallery and was autographing books like a boss. Also: fun quilt!

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April Rhode’s new line, Wanderer, is fantastic. I loved the faux camper look she had over in the Art Gallery booth.

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Also from AGF, Leah Duncan’s new line Morning Walk is so great. She makes some of my very favorite designs.

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I really need to make one of these yarn fabric thingys:

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I can’t stop thinking about this new baby layette sewing pattern set from Green Bee Patterns:

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Fun GeoPop canvas prints from Emmie K for Robert Kaufman, one print was even made up in my square floor pillow tutorial!

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I also loved a bunch of lines at Cloud9; I know this is going to sound biased, but they’ve really gotten some amazing designers this year. One is Elizabeth Olwen, and I wish I had managed to get a good photo of her stuff because it is really great. Another fave is Jessica Jones; her line Time Warp is coming out soon on barkcloth, which is perhaps my new favorite substrate:

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This Butterick coat in Time Warp (sewn by my friend Karen LePage woot!) is crazy cool:

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and Biology from Sarah Watson.

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And of course it’s always a thrill to see my own lines still going strong over in the Cloud 9 booth. Yay!!

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OK, now for my thoughts on Quilt Market in general: The first time I attended Quilt Market in Kansas City in the spring of hmmm can’t remember now (2012?), I found it to be immensely fun and exciting; I find that the more I attend, the less this is true. I’m pretty sure the big reason this time was having a baby attached to me at all times — there are no strollers allowed on the QM floor, which is another rant for another time — so I wore him the whole time and got pretty tired, much as I love my little guy. It’s also getting harder for me to justify the cost of flying out and staying in a hotel for a few days. Showing up to see all of the samples we’ve sewn at the studio for various booths is fun; but that alone definitely does not justify the trip.

In the beginning, I attended because I needed a printer for my print patterns, to bring my fabric design portfolio to various manufacturers, and because as a blogger I felt that I had the ability to draw more attention to modern fabric designers with my blog, and I wanted to support those designers as much as I could. The trip had the added benefit of allowing me to meet shop owners who I could connect with.

As time passes, though, the benefit of attending decreases as it becomes less likely that I will make new connections, if that makes sense. I know that may sound blunt, but I want to mention these things because I’m becoming more convinced of how important it is for creatives who are in business to talk about the costs of things, and not just do things for free or for fun, or just because they “love it.” While I do love being a creative business-person, I want to encourage those who are thinking of trying to make a living through design to be realistic about the numbers. Recent blog posts by Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps (“An Inside Look at What Fabric Designers Earn“) and Kristin Link of Sew Mama Sew (“Let’s Talk about this: Do what you love and the money will follow“) about the creative industry are REALLY good reads if you find these topics interesting.

Anyway, I want to outline some of the reasons I go because I think in the past I’ve made it sound like I go just to go — that’s not exactly true; it’s always been a business decision in one way or another. It’s not always the *best* business decision for me, but sometimes you learn that kind of thing the hard way.

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if you need me I’m the one curled up in a ball under the bed

I found the past couple weeks to be pretty overwhelming for many reasons, most of which were predictable when you have a busy life with three kids (traveling with an infant, sick kids, husband with a start-up), but one or two things in particular threw off my orbit and it began to feel like I’d bit off more than I could chew with this whole working-mom-of-three gig. I posted this photo earlier this week on Instagram with a caption that pretty much summed it up:

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“Toothbrushing with my babies, who both got haircuts today. Tomorrow I will clip their fingernails. Lately I feel like I can’t quite stay on top of things with three kids. Appointments, homework, travel, sickness, solid foods, laundry, weight checks…feels like I’m on the brink of chaos. Guess I just have to try to keep it together, one day at a time.

I thought I should share it here too, just gotta keep it real. I still haven’t clipped their fingernails. I too only have 24 hours in my day just like everyone else and surprise surprise there’s really only so many plates I can keep in the air at any given time. It’s fine; the fact that I’m posting today is probably evidence of that, I’m not really on the floor in the fetal position. And honestly I knew it was going to be like this when I decided to have a third child, and it will probably be this way for a while yet, and that is going to have to be OK. But still. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t sometimes frustrating.

Occasionally when I meet people who have been following my blog for awhile they’ll say things like “I just wonder how you do it all” or “wow you’ve really been busy lately!” when I feel like I’ve been doing zilch. It’s a good reminder to me that people both see ALL of my collective work at the same time here AND see only a very small glimpse into my real life at any given time. So if I only ever share awesome projects! new fabric lines! and wowee zowee stuff, it can look (unintentionally) like I’ve somehow got my shit more together than anyone else. I’ve tried to blog about  balancing work life and home life at various times in the past, so I hope I’ve been somewhat transparent about how I fit everything in, but my kids are young and things change all the time, so I’m constantly readjusting my priorities and how I spend my time. And sometimes it just feels crazy no matter how hard I try.

Also: the feeling of “I just can’t keep it together” isn’t exactly unique to this phase of my life; it has been something I’ve felt on and off all of my life, it’s just that now instead of comparing myself to those annoying classmates in high school who seemed to be good at everything and feeling a sense of despair, or getting frustrated when I bounced a check or forgot to pay my bills back when I was first working after college, it’s now all about figuring out what things I need to focus on and what things to let slide. Like for instance right now there are three little people who need most of my attention most of the time, so that’s really priority numero uno. Jess runs the MBR show work-wise, just in case you were wondering, and THANK GOODNESS for that because otherwise I would really go off the deep end. I’m lucky to have someone so capable.

Anyway, it’s no bigs, just wanted to share. So many of you are also “in the trenches” — whatever that may mean for you — and I reckon many of you know how that feels. I hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend!!!

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STYLO 3 is here!

Have you heard of Stylo?

Stylo is a new fashion-forward online eMagazine centered around children’s sewing patterns and style. Comprised of gorgeous spreads and compiled by Jessica Abbott and Celina Bailey, it’s become THE place to showcase your work if you’re a sewing blogger. So I’m really excited that I was able to contribute to the third issue, which just launched today! If you want to see the previous two issues, you can access them here.

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For me, there’s something really nifty about the online magazine format (as opposed to a blog): the photographs are bigger, brighter, and everything packs a bigger punch. So when I had the opportunity to sew some Made By Rae samples in the new Fall 2014 Cotton and Steel lines a couple of months ago, I though that Stylo would be the perfect place to show off the designs online!

I want to talk about each of the garments individually — they were so fun to make and photograph, and I even designed a NEW children’s garment for the spread that I’m SUPER excited to introduce — but first, I really just want you to click over and enjoy the spreads! So much work and talent went into this issue, and you really need to take a look. Click here to see Stylo3!

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Small World

I attended Quilt Market in Houston this past weekend with Hugo. One treat was that I got to see the first set of strikeoffs (test swatches to check color) for my next fabric collection, Small World, so it was almost like Christmas. I really love this one!! Here’s a look at the samples:

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With its crayon box of bold colors and stripes, this collection of large-scale prints on colorful corduroy was inspired by bold Scandinavian style. Small World uses simple imagery and and everyday objects to depict childhood and the world of play. A playful follow-up to the youthful prints found in Fanfare and Lotus Pond in this third collection from designer Rae Hoekstra”  

CORDUROY! Organic corduroy. Woot! Shipping in February, allegedly.

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CLEMENTINES!! My dream of dressing Clementine in clementines will finally come to fruition.

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There will be a few minor changes yet — for example, on the balloon print, the background needs to be darker so the clouds will stand out more — but you get the general idea…which is that they are going to be AWESOME!!!!

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My little art director approves.

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Reversible First Day Top

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Waaaaay back last spring, when I was still in a post-baby fog, I asked my friend Dana of MADE if I could help test her First Day Dress and Top pattern with some Lotus Pond, hoping to include it in the Lotus Pond Extravaganza. It’s taken me this long to finally post about it, which is somewhat embarrassing, but on the other hand is a great example of why blogging when you have a baby is tough.

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I love Dana’s design because it has a great fit and can be made super simple (or with sleeves and a peplum skirt, which is also super cute) — in this case I wanted to make a simple A-line top with no sleeves that could be reversible. The top came together like a breeze and fits like a glove (Dana actually addresses the fit in the pattern — in order to get this fantastic fit, you do have to put your arms over your head to get it on because it’s not designed with a ton of ease, but Clementine doesn’t seem to mind at all).

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I made one side with the blue diamond print, and the other side with the yellow snails from my line of quilting cottons, Lotus Pond.

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It wasn’t the actual construction of the top that held up the entire make-photograph-post process. It was Clementine (is anyone surprised??). First, she refused to wear it as anything other than pajamas, which made it difficult to photograph. Then, when she finally agreed to put it on for photos, she would only wear it with the diamond-side out. So I got photos of one side in July, but not the other. Finally, last month — IN SEPTEMBER — after I bribed her with a marshmallow, she put it on snail-side-out. And here we are, nearly five months after it was completed, with a blog post about it. OY.

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One thing I do want to mention that you can see in the photo below is that if you leave clothing made with quilting cotton in a heap of clean laundry, they will get wrinkly. However, I’ve found that if you yank them out of the dryer right after they are washed and hang them up, they look nice and smooth. Little tip there for ya if you make garments with quilting cotton (thanks, Karen, for teaching me that one!!). This wouldn’t be a post about Clementine without a few zany photos, so here ya go:

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Fabric: Lotus Pond is still available in shops if you look around — as of this writing, a few of my sponsors have it in stock (Fat Quarter Shop and HoneyBeGood both have nice selections yet, and Fabricworm has a couple prints left, including the blue diamonds).

Pattern: The First Day Dress and Top Sewing Pattern is available from Dana as a PDF, and comes in sizes 2-10.

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Please do not pin or reuse photos of Clementine that show her face — I’ve included some cropped photos without her face in this post and you are welcome to pin or reuse those. Thanks!

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