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Holy Heck. It’s 2016 now??!

Where the crap has time gone, guys?? 2015 was a good year in a lot of ways, but so many things got away from me, including my blogging schedule. I absolutely hate reading blogger apologies because I kinda think, if it’s hard to write posts, why are you doing this to yourself? You honestly don’t have to. But I love my blog. I love writing to you guys. Between adjusting to a new, post-grief (or, maybe more accurate, middle-grief) life, and a new job (the first one I’ve had in a long time that wasn’t for myself / at home / freelance), it did simply get away from me. Not to mention the last nearly two months with no blogging capability, while my formerly trusty laptop needed medical attention.

So. Yeah. I missed you guys. Is anyone still out there?! I wouldn’t blame you for jumping ship, if you were sick of waiting for me to get my crap together, but I’d be overjoyed to hear from anyone still reading along. Leave me a comment! You’ll make my day AWESOME.

In order to help catch up quickly and get back to business, let’s look at some fabric-y / stitchy stuff that was great about 2015:

Best of 2015

That stuff was pretty good, it makes me happy to see all those pretty things all in a row like that. Stuff I made with my hands. ‘Snice.

But what was missing? Well, there are some things I’d like to do better in 2016:

– Keep to a better balance between my various activities. I’m taking a month or so out of doing anything social (so sorry, real-life friends, I really hope you understand) and try to get my rest / work / sewing / life balance back to something a bit more normal. I miss not being exhausted all the time.

– Get more patterns out there, in the world, published. I’m sure I’ve made this resolution before, but something always comes up that changes how the year goes. That’s just how life rolls, that tricksy jerk, but I can still keep making it a goal. I have some ideas that I can’t wait to work on, so hopefully I’ll be on this resolution’s ass pretty much from the start.

– Sew from my stash more. Everyone says this at the beginning of a year – for most, it’s part of being determined to spend less. Actually, that’s not why I want to it. I like spending money on fabric. It’s pretty. And fun. But then I stick all that beautifulness in the cupboard and it sits there. It wants to be loved! I will use some of those special cuts of fabric in the cupboard and let it get the attention it deserves.

– I also have two secret goals, things that seem a little out-there that I want to try. But I’m not gonna tell you. I’ll keep these ones close to my chest for now, but I promise I’ll tell you once I’ve tried, whether I succeed or fail. Promise.

So 2016. I’m ready, yo. I really hope you’re still with me, and I thank you most sincerely if you are – what are you going to get up to this year??

Dude. Where the heck you been??

Oh dear! How did my ‘little hiatus’ turn into a two-month absence?? I honestly couldn’t say, except that I started a new job, and approximately thirty-thousand little projects, and the house was flooded (just a bit, but exactly enough to do enough damage to be a giant pain), and somehow what was planned as a three-week break to refresh the brain became an accidental disappearance.

But don’t worry, I’m back! ‘Cause I know you were worried. I know you’d be doing something ordinary, like tucking in your kids for the night, and then all of a sudden you’d be like, dude, where’s Julie been??? I know.

At first my little break was nice – I did a lot of just-for-fun-sewing, a bit of loafing, some lacemaking and knitting (which I haven’t done for ages and ages) – and it was absolutely delicious. But I did miss you crazy kids after a while, which is exactly when life got a bit zany. The last few weeks have been truly ridiculous, but I’m determined to get back to business. Over the next week or two, I’ll show you what I’ve been up to lately!

Whatchu been doin’, friends?

Christmas In July-along Starts Today!

Retro Christmas Tree Mug Rug Tutorial!

Ho Ho Ho! On this most-heat-wavest of days, I welcome you to Christmas in July at button button! This was Mom’s idea last year and it was a great one – whether you’re joining in the Merry Medallion quilt-along or stitching up some Christmas patterns from Little Dorrit & Co. — or working on something not designed by me at all :) — I hope you’ll join in the festive summer fun!

Over the last handful of years, I’ve really turned into a Christmas Grump – grouchy and resenting the whole thing, just counting the days until it went away. Until I realized that my grinchy outlook started right around when I started making tons of stuff during the holiday season – gifts for friends and family, gifts from friends and family to others, decorations, quilts, new patterns … the holidays went from being a cozy, flannel bubble to a sleepless panic. Ho Ho Ho?

Mom’s idea was to use Christmas in July to get a head start – to minimize December’s to-do list, leaving more time around the actual holidays for snuggling under quilts and drinking hot chocolate. And it’s fun to do these projects together, when we can just enjoy them and not be freaking out about how many days left until Christmas! So no matter what projects or gifts you’re working on, join in! Whatever you want to be done for this year’s holiday season – pull it out and let’s craft together this month!

If anyone out there is with me, be sure to share your projects in the comments or tag photos with #xmasinjulyalong so we can all cheer each other on!

(The photo above is detail from my free Retro Christmas Tree Mug Rug Tutorial!)

For My Chrissy.

For Chrissy.

I’ve been trying to work up the, well, courage to write this post for many weeks, and I really don’t think I even have it now. Maybe I never fully will. But although this has never been an especially personal blog, it has always been an unofficially shared blog – as half of Little Dorrit & Co., my mentor in everything related to art in every way, and the co-maker of many of the projects shared here, my mother is a huge part of this site. It would seem wrong somehow not to write this post, as difficult as it is.

After a long, unspeakably difficult, and terribly unfair year and a half, my little Mommy passed away at the end of August. I can’t believe it’s been so long now – I feel just as raw now as the day it happened – and I miss her more every day that goes by. So much for things getting easier with time.

For Chrissy.

I’m sorry that I just disappeared for a while, that my sampler project – and the Crazy Quilting posts – simply stopped in their tracks, and that I haven’t posted anything but Orange Peel Quilt-Along updates for ages now. I just can’t seem to muster up the enthusiasm for anything else. If you’re one of my Instagram pals, you’ll already know this happened, and that I’ve been comforting myself with the peels and distracting myself with a Halloween quilt – but really, that’s all I seem to want to do at the moment.

For Chrissy.

I don’t want to simply gush at you about how sad I am that Mom and I will not finish so much of what we had planned together, and how heartbroken I am that I won’t ever see her again (how can that possibly be true?!) – again, this has never really been that kind of blog. But I did want to share with you – as readers who have seen so much of her work and influence on these pages – some of her beautiful artwork, because it deserves to be admired. We had our moments, but I would do anything to continue working with her and her amazing drawings.

For Chrissy.

There are more Little Dorrit & Co. patterns to be released, eventually, when they don’t make me so incredibly sad to think about – and there are more embroideries that we planned, which I will stitch one day soon. Not just yet, but soon. I appreciate all of you Orange Peel-alongers for unknowingly providing me with the perfect comfort project, right when I needed it, and I will return to those projects I abandoned as soon as I feel able. I hope you’ll stick with me and be patient until I’m able to make a proper return here.

One of Mom's paintings, rehung in the bathroom. This one was for my brother, who is named Atticus - the quote is, "Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts." (from To Kill A Mockingbird)

And in the meantime, I’ll share my favorite photo of my Chrissy and I, which I have framed in my bedroom and was taken just before she got sick – the two of us and the amazing Jane Austen quilt, in a quiet moment.

For Chrissy.

Love you, Mommy.

FQR Recap (aka Best Time EVER.)

Fat Quarterly Retreat Fun!

I still can’t quite get over the fact that I was able to go to the Fat Quarterly Retreat this year – I’d absolutely ruled it out because of other real-life stuff going on with my family, but some wonderful magic happened and it somehow worked out. I’ve never been before, but watched jealously in previous years as retreaters posted photos of all the fun they were having – while I was sobbing on the inside.

Fat Quarterly Retreat Fun!
Fat Quarterly Retreat Fun!

So huzzah! I was so excited to join in the fun – and although I’m normally a little nervous meeting new people, I knew these peeps would be good to me. Ain’t nobody so nice and welcoming as crafty peeps, am I right or am I right?!

Fat Quarterly Retreat Fun!

I don’t have tons of pictures, because seriously, I was too damn busy having an awesome time! I did manage some photos of my classwork, but at the end, I realized I hadn’t gotten any photos with my new friends or anything. D’oh! I don’t even have photos of my goodies – beautiful treats from Aurifil, Robert Kaufman, Dashwood Studios, Moda Fabrics, Oakshott, and I’m sure there were others that I’ve forgotten. Really, the sponsors were so awesome and generous – they rock the most!

Fat Quarterly Retreat Fun!
Fat Quarterly Retreat Fun!

Most of my workshops were non-machine based – I do tend to like hand-work more than machine-based sewing. I learned about hand-quilting with the very wise and kind Jen Kingwell, and learned about screenprinting and lampshade making (and foundation piecing!) with the always-lovely and inspiring Karen Lewis, and got nerdy about designing quilts in Touchdraw with Lynne Goldsworthy, whose quilt designs are always so ridiculously spectacular! Holy luckiness, Batman!

Fat Quarterly Retreat Fun!
Fat Quarterly Retreat Fun!

Honestly though, as amazing as the toys and classes were, for me, the whole weekend was about getting out and about amongst the people. It’s rare that I get to be around so many like-minded crafters, who all have such different and interesting perspectives on our mutual interest! I like to hand-stitch and embroider, old-school style, others are committed to modern quilt design, some are published authors, some are brand new to the craft altogether. But we’re all nerds, and we all love to share and learn new stuff, and what could possibly be better than hanging out with a bunch of us for a weekend?!

Fat Quarterly Retreat Fun!

Bring on 2015, yo!

(I’ll show you more about each of my FQR projects as I continue to work on them!)

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