Sewtopia Chicago

Sewtopia Chicago

Last weekend I spent my time in downtown Chicago at the Sewtopia retreat. It was super fun / exhausting! Organizers Amy Newbold and Jemellia Hilfiger and class assistants Rossie Hutchinson and Jen Carlton Bailly did an awesome job putting together a smooth running and really enjoyable weekend. The getaway was located at The Drake which is right at Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan. It was really the perfect spot and I just loved the historic hotel. I feel like I’ve driven by it a thousand times but never gone inside.

I arrived Thursday around lunch time. Most people were out on the shop hop so I did a bit of relaxing, walking around Michigan Avenue to pick up a couple surprises for my kids, and (of course) eating! Thursday evening was the Welcome Reception and open sew time. I stayed with two of my favorite sewing friends, Lee and Angela. They both live less than 2 hours from me but we don’t get together nearly enough! It was so good to see them. :)

Sewtopia Chicago

Friday and Saturday were filled with class time and open sew. Rita Hodge of Red Pepper Quilts taught her Kansas Dugout block (HELLO y-seams!) Yep, I am going to brag for a moment. I-GOT-TO-TAKE-A-CLASS-FROM-RITA-OF-RED-PEPPER-QUILTS. I never thought I would even get to meet her, let alone take a class from her. Oh, and see her quality work in person. Just as amazing as it looks on her blog. She was just the kindest person as well. What a great experience!

Latifah of Latifah Saafir Studios (you may also know her as The Quilt Engineer) taught her Molehill pattern – lots of curves which she made non-scary and achievable! Latifah is not only crazy talented, but a born teacher. She just has this way of explaining techniques and the reasoning behind them that makes it look so easy.

Sewtopia Chicago

Between sewing time, we were able to go out and take in the (mostly) crazy beautiful weather for Chicago this time of year. I ate great good, had a lot of goofy laughs with friends, and just really recharged. I’m completely exhausted now…but it was totally worth it!

Sewtopia is a traveling retreat. The next event is in Portland and sold out, but they just announced the following city on their Facebook page. I definitely recommended attending!

Merry Christmas

From my family to yours, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Here’s to a bright and creative 2015!

Change

Fresh Lemons Quilts blog

This past weekend, I was busy with change ~ a big change. Changes that have been on my mind for at least a year. And if you are reading this on my blog, you probably know what I am talking about! Yesterday, I went live with a big website redesign.

Over the last year, I’ve really felt that I’ve outgrown my old WordPress template, colors, design, and layout. Yep, pretty much everything! Twelve months ago, I set up a test blog on my server and started brainstorming and testing changes. It was so overwhelming and time consuming that I sort of gave up.

Well pretty recently, I decided to revisit the idea. I felt a strong desire to create a more mature, cleaner look. I also wanted specific features, like a menu system in the top header. I had just really outgrown the capabilities of the old set up and my list of pages was just getting out of control!

Fresh Lemons Quilts blog

I purchased a template on Etsy as my foundation and started digging into the code and making changes that aligned with my vision. (These are the times I’m very happy to have a background in computer programming!)

Fresh Lemons Quilts blog

I’m so excited about the new look, I actually couldn’t sleep last week as I was thinking about it. I also know change is hard. Every time the Chicago Tribune or CNN redesign their websites, I am the first person to think “WHY!?!?!” Well, I hope not all of you think that when you see this new site.

** Oh, side note: the first time you load images, it will take longer than usual. It will speed up as they cache in your browser. **

All the blog content is still here. My biggest fear was somehow losing something important – or, you know, everything. The tabs that you used to see in the header are now listed in the blog menu up there. I’ve also made some (hopefully) helpful changes, like organizing my tutorials by category, listing my finished projects by year, creating a page with wholesale information, and giving my shop an easier to remember name.

Really, the best part about this new design though is it’s ability to grow with me. As I offer more tutorials, patterns, quilt alongs, and whatever else might come along over the next years. I hope you will take some time to look around. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking things over the next few days, but it’s mostly here!

Halloween and the Art Institute

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I can’t believe it, but I finished my daughters Halloween costume way early! I don’t think I’ve ever made her a costume for Halloween in all 8 years. But not long ago I pinned some costume ideas on Pinterest and she really loved these bird wings.

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I followed the general idea on both this website and this website (this second link for the headpiece as well). I didn’t worry about making each wing a perfect 1/4 circle. I measured the length of her arm and the length down her back. I cut a rectangle that size and then just eyeballed a curved line between the two.

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I want her to be able to put the costume on by herself for her school party, so I used some sparkly black elastic about 3/4″ thick that I found at JoAnns for the arm holds. It’s not too tight for her and there is nothing for her to tie (or really, for her teacher to tie).

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

For the headpiece, I followed the general instructions here. (But again, I didn’t make it tie, just sized it to her head.) The ribbon is Renaissance Ribbons by Anna Maria Horner. I’ve had them forever! Happy to finally use them.

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

The wings at headpiece use a variety of fabrics (handpicked by my daughter) and wool felt. I love wool felt, it is such good quality compared to craft felt from big box craft stores. It comes in so handy for craft projects. One of my sponsors even carries some in her shop – Fabric Spark!

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

My daughter love, love, loves it. **I know I generally ask you not to Pin pictures with my kids on Pinterest, but feel free to Pin any of these Halloween costume photos.** Now to finish my son’s costume. He has a much simpler request – a skeleton.

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Not quilting related, but my kids had off school Thursday and Friday so we decided to have a little fun in Chicago. We took a day trip Friday to the Art Institute. I had my kids bring sketchpads and colored pencils, and they spent the day finding their favorite artwork and recreating it themselves.

Art Institute of Chicago : Fresh Lemons Quilts

This is such a fun way for kids to experience art museums. It makes them really look at the artwork and not just walk on by, bored after a couple rooms. It doesn’t matter AT ALL if they are artistically gifted. It makes them notice details in the paintings that they would have missed otherwise. The staff in each room allowed them to sit on the floor if benches weren’t around. I think the only time in the past we were not allowed to do this was in special exhibit areas (too crowded).

Art Institute of Chicago : Fresh Lemons Quilts

We are so spoiled to have all these awesome works of art practically in our backyard. The fact that we can drive 45 minutes and then spend our day surrounded by Monet and Picasso and Matisse…just incredibly lucky. I knew my daughter would have fun (we’ve done this before), but this is the first time I’ve brought my 5 year old – very active – son. He LOVED it. He wanted to draw everything he saw. He was so calm and concentrated so hard, he did not want to leave at the end of our time there.

Art Institute of Chicago : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I definitely recommend checking out the Art Institute, even with young kids, if you are ever in Chicago. We only made it through 3 sections – Impressionism, Modern American Art 1900-1950 and Modern Art (3rd floor in the modern wing) so we will be back to explore more soon.