Is This the Year Of the WIP?

WIPs on trays for portability and easy access.

WIPs on trays for portability and easy access.

Lately, I’ve felt compelled to finish my piles of WIPs before I have a chance to add even one more to their numbers. Today, I’m sharing helpful tools for organizing WIPs, and I’m inviting you to share your best tips for completion in the comments below. I’ve also made a place for us to share our WIPs and cheer each other to the finish line: #finishedwips2019. Join in the fun!

If the sheer number of online quilters posing the challenge to finish their WIPs this year is any indication, this just might be the Year Of the WIP! We all have them, and I’ve seen some excellent organizing and planning tools. For printed pages to document and track your WIP progress, Patchwork Posse offers this free set. Also, there’s the Quilter’s Planner. (I’m not paid for endorsing these products, I just appreciate them and want to share.) You can also make your own chart to suit your needs. While I don’t use one, I have a feeling there’s probably an app for this, too!

Arrowhead quilt blocks, machine pieced

Arrowhead quilt blocks, machine pieced

Here are four of my WIPs to tackle this year. I’ve made my own tracking page, and I’ve tacked it to my design wall so that it’s always in plain sight. I store my WIPs on trays, uncovered, on a bench in my studio. The portable trays are stored in the open within easy reach of the sewing machine or to take up to my hand sewing nest. I also store the spool(s) of thread, bobbin(s) and any instructions, notes and templates on each tray. It’s all about removing hurdles that could slow my progress.

Any amount of success is going to depend on finding the right storage and organizing methods for you. For example, I know that if I cover my WIPs or store them under a bed, I’ll forget they even exist, let alone where I put them, so I know I need to see them. It’s the same reason why I tack up my progress chart on my design wall. It can’t get misplaced, and it’s in plain sight to remind me to make the most of my sewing time.

Postage Stamp blocks, individual 1” squares, machine pieced

Postage Stamp blocks, individual 1” squares, machine pieced

Antique Stars, hand pieced

Antique Stars, hand pieced

My WIPS are a mix of techniques, and these four are my personal quilt projects rather than for my business. They have no deadline, and each was started because I was curious about the technique and the construction process. I like to have a project under way for each sewing method I enjoy, that way, what ever my mood or energy level there’s a project at the ready. I suppose that’s a double-edged sword.

You can see that I have a few methods represented, including machine piecing, hand piecing and English Paper piecing. As far as how each quilt will be quilted, I’ve decided to wait and see what’s best for each as the tops are completed.

My own “Liberty” Stars, English Paper Piecing

My own “Liberty” Stars, English Paper Piecing

My goal for steadily working on these is to try to sew for 30 minutes each morning before my day really gets under way, and then to sew for any amount of time on either Saturdays or Sundays. They say it takes 30 day for a new habit to become routine, so hopefully at the end of the month I’ll have some real progress to share.

Having said that, life happens and I’m not going to beat myself up if any of these are still staring at me from across the room in December; however, in the spirit of the Year Of the WIP, newly organized and with a sewing plan in place, I’m committed to giving it my best shot! How about you?

I’ll share my WIP journey here and on Instagram. Join in: #finishedwips2019! Before you go, in the comments below tell me how many WIPs you have, how you plan to tackle them or what stops you from working on them…after all, there’s safety in numbers!

Winter, Papier Mache and Chocolate

January just outside our door.

January just outside our door.

Like many of us, I highly anticipate quality time in December and January for reflecting and planning, which is primarily why the blog has been quiet. Good things have been brewing.

This post shares my detailed approach to goal setting and planning, but this year, I discovered something new. Thanks to a special episode of The Radiance Project, a beautiful podcast by Heidi Rose Robbins, I’ve added a new step to my planning process. Following Heidi and Ellen’s suggestion, I wrote a letter to myself as if this entire year had passed and I was looking back at what I had accomplished, what I was most proud of and what I was most excited about.

Two things jumped off the page: my wish to continue making and designing quilts, and my need for community.

Writing this letter helped me to zero in on what matters most and to see what is realistic to achieve in the coming year. As you may be sensing, among other exciting things, I’m planning a few fun quilting adventures for anyone interested in stitching, fabric, color and storytelling. Details will be shared in the coming weeks. For me, this simple writing exercise proved to be a powerful, effective tool. Perhaps you’d like to write a letter to yourself, too.

Along with carving out time to organize and plan, I’m proud to say I carved out time for play.

If you saw this ship on my Instagram feed, @tierneybarden, you may recall that making it was quite possibly the happiest time I’ve had in a while! To work again with papier mâché, bits of worn old quilts, lace, wood and glue brought so much joy and wonder into the studio.

You can find Ann Wood’s well-written pattern on her beautiful website here. Be sure to have a look at the other charming patterns in her shop. There just may be a Mr. Boots in my future….

Sailing through winter winds!

Sailing through winter winds!

Homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows!

Homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows!

Making homemade hot cocoa and homemade marshmallows is a delicious way to endure our long winter months.

Recently, my homemade vanilla suddenly turned boozy (has that happened to anyone else?), and resulted in boozy marshmallows! In an effort to make another batch of marshmallows without vanilla extract, I experimented and came up with these even better chocolate almond marshmallows!

This chocolate marshmallow recipe from Saveur comes very close, and if you’d like almond flavor simply add a scant teaspoon of almond extract.

I use this hot cocoa mix recipe from Alton Brown and store it in a big glass container. Light the fire in the fireplace and bring on the board games. Enjoy!

If you have a friend who would enjoy my blog, please share it with them! Have a look at the FREE patterns in the right sidebar - something just might spark your creativity! As always, I love to hear from you in the comments below, and you can always find me on Instagram @tierneybarden!

The Race Is On

Today is Friday, October 19th, and probably our last day in the upper 50’s, which means my indigo vat has one last round before hibernating for the winter.

photo courtesy of Tracy Altieri.

photo courtesy of Tracy Altieri.

Fabrics are soaking, and the clock is ticking. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands in that big blue vat! If you’ve followed along on Instagram, you’ll have had a glimpse at an average dye day and how it moves from hour to hour throughout the day. Suffice it to say, with all of the dyeing these past few weeks, there will be a shop update very soon!

These action photos were taken by my very talented friend Tracy Altieri, and you can find her gorgeous blog here and on Instagram @myretiringlife. On this particular dye day, Tracy swiftly captured me gingerly shaking out the fabric immediately upon exiting the vat. The fabric transitions from a yellow-green to blue-green and then to a majestic blue, as seen below. The blue deepens with each dip in the vat. This process never ceases to delight and impress! With that, I’m off to the vat, tick tock!

Indigo dyed sateen drying among the dogwoods.

Indigo dyed sateen drying among the dogwoods.

A   shop   update is quickly approaching!

A shop update is quickly approaching!

photo courtesy of Tracy Altieri.

photo courtesy of Tracy Altieri.

Stay tuned for next week’s post!

Friday, October 26th is my day on the fun-filled blog hop for Karen Lewis’s chic new book, Wabi-Sabi Sewing! Meet the entire line up of talented, generous sewers and quilters on the blog hop which begins Wednesday, October 24th with Svetlana Sotak at http://www.sotakhandmade.blogspot.com. I’m thrilled to be a part of the blog hop celebrating Karen’s book. Follow along to see gorgeous examples several of us have made from the book. There will be giveaways, too, including one happening right here! You won’t want to miss it!

A hidden clue for next week’s exciting post. Can you spot it?

A hidden clue for next week’s exciting post. Can you spot it?

I hope this weekend brings you some of what you love most about fall! See you next week!

Satisfying Sewing

Beautiful OOAK drawstring bags in   the shop

Beautiful OOAK drawstring bags in the shop

When I'm meeting a deadline and my work table is piled high, I often find sneaking in a little satisfying sewing helps me keep calm. Lately, these reversible bags have been the project of choice.

I've slowly been adding these simple, elegant drawstring bags to the shop. Fun to make and easy to sew, they make stylish storage for knitting projects, portable sewing projects, gift wrapping or travel necessities. They're reversible, too! I learned how to make these bags in any size by watching this YouTube video.

The bag shown here uses one of my eco-dyed silk panels and naturally dyed muslin. The same muslin is used for the interior. Easy!

Al fresco lunch served on a placemat made from one of my   eco-dye panels  .

Al fresco lunch served on a placemat made from one of my eco-dye panels.

 This is my go-to bean salad with champagne vinaigrette. It's simple, healthy and tastes like summer. You can find the recipe here.

If you're looking for something specific in the shop that isn't there, please let me know in the comments below or by email. There's a chance I just might have it.