You Can Do Hard Things

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At a summer party today, I sat down and started talking to a friend expecting her first babe. And I realized that some things are never talked about, but should be. Because pregnancy is such a beautiful time for some people. But for others it is not. The combination of morning sickness and hormones can turn into a recipe for disaster. 

My husband and I desperately wanted this baby. We didn’t know overwhelming depression would take over my body as soon as those baby hormones arrived. I found myself regretting the pregnancy. A feeling of intense guilt followed because we had tried for this child for YEARS. Sad seems like such a benign word compared to the actual feeling. I could barely force myself through my daily routine. Some days I couldn’t even do that much.  

At twenty weeks pregnant, I sat in my little girl’s future nursery, slumped against the wall, and felt absolutely hopeless. The laundry and dishes had piled up, my business felt overwhelming, my children were unwashed and unhappy and I couldn’t stop crying. My sweet husband, while trying to calm me down, asked what I thought would help. All I could think was I wanted to be happy. 

We ended up going to ’the happiest place on Earth’ the next week. Planning the trip, surprising my little children, taking lots of pictures and coming home with even more memories, really happy memories,carried me through the next few months. Disneyland didn’t cure my depression, but it gave me hope. For the next several months, I planned imaginary trips. I focused on the future (and taking care of myself!) and on the hope of being happy again. In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, the depression disappeared and soon the little bundle in my tummy arrived. Now I’m crying again, but it’s mostly happy tears. 

I just want to share this because there aren’t many resources on antepartum depression, but it is a hard thing to tackle on your own. Depression during pregnancy doesn’t feel normal, it is intense, overwhelming, and destructive. And while this isn’t a happy post, it is. Because after the pregnancy is over, you have a beautiful baby. And I would do it all over again to get back to this. 

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The Best of Times

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Welcome to the world, little girl! Our little Elliott Estelle (Ella) has arrived and we couldn’t be happier. She is healthy, sweet, and loves to be tucked up under your chin. And she smells amazing 😉 We are enjoying every minute we get with her. It’s hard to tell yet whether she looks like her brother or her sister, but you can tell she is her daddy’s little girl. How can so much love come wrapped in such a small package? I think I’ll snuggle her a bit more while I ponder that question.

Thank you all for reading! I’ve finally found my creativity again and I am so glad it’s back! I missed enjoying sewing. Sometimes, a break helps you rediscover your love for making. I’ve cut out two quilts and pieced one. I can’t wait to share them with you! 

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Friday Flowers

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For the first time, I feel pretty while expecting. My due date is just around the corner and while I am so excited to meet this little girl, (and I won’t mind not being elbowed from the inside), I think I’ll feel just a little bit sad when this experience is over. I don’t believe in saying never, but I’m fairly sure this will be our last baby and I’m trying to soak it up. Perhaps that’s why we’ve been spoiling ourselves with flowers on friday for the last few weeks, using them to make this time even more special. They are a bright, visual reminder of the beauty of this transition period. I think it may be a tradition that I keep. Some weeks my husband stops by the florist*, some weeks I grab a bunch or two at Costco, and some weeks our garden produces enough to share.

Hopefully, I’ll be back in this space next week, after our little shop’s sale is over to share how I put together my sewing room. Some of the projects turned out so great, and I want to remember them in case we ever have need of them again!

*This lovely bundle was created by the amazing artists at Foxglove Floral.

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Organizing! My New Sewing Space

I’ve posted a few pictures of my sewing space on Instagram lately and I’ve had requests for a tour of the little space I create in.
Sewing Room Makeover at A Crafty Fox Blog
My favorite feature of our new house was this quirky little room that is located right off of the family room. In my previous space, I used a wall in the laundry room that was pretty far away from the rest of the family, but had quite a bit of built in wire shelving. The new space was pretty empty and while it didn’t really have furniture or storage, I loved that I could still be a part of my family while I sew!
Craft Room Before picture on A Crafty Fox Blog
I still miss my pretty, aqua walls, but I am thrilled with how this space turned out after chipping away at my to-do list for the last year. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the projects that we created to make this room functional, pretty, and comfortable.
Craft Room Shelves at A Crafty Fox Blog
The biggest project by far is this wall of shelves. I LOVE these so much. I love that they look built in, I love how much storage they give me, and I really love that they were affordable. I actually destashed a few of my out of print fabrics to pay for this trip to ikea.
Craft Room Makeover at A Crafty Fox Blog
I’ve been piecing together storage from favorite wire baskets and a few little diy projects.
Fabric Storage Makeover at A Crafty Fox Blog
And I’m pretty happy with some of the little projects on the other side, too.
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In fact, looking at that wall makes me think I should stop typing and get sewing!
Sewing Space Wall at A Crafty Fox Blog
If there’s something specific you have a question on, definitely feel free to ask in the comments! I’ll do my best to answer! Thank you so much for stopping by!

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Think Pink! A Gender Reveal Photo Shoot How-To

Family pictures are one of my favorite things. My husband, not so much. My kids are definitely not fans, but they occasionally smile for the camera. But I got an idea to do this photo shoot and I couldn’t NOT take them. So after our ultrasound showed us a healthy (wiggly!) baby, we had our technician write the gender and put it in an envelope.
It's A Girl! Baby Announcement Photo Shoot

After picking out outfits that seemed gender neutral and a few fun accessories for my little people, I found the biggest box I could locate (check with your local appliance store! an oven box would be perfect!) and took it to the local party store and handed them the envelope. They stuffed the box full of balloons . I asked them to use a few different shades of pink or blue to add some interest to the pictures. Then I hid on the other side of the store. They filled the box, and taped it shut. And then I wrapped it. (Ha! but only on the side that was showing and the top. This used a LOT of wrapping paper!

Our little people were SO excited!
It's a GIRL! Photo shoot at acraftyfox.net

No, really, they were excited!
IT'S A GIRL! Photo shoot.

And then we let them open the box. It was SO SO much fun to see their faces. Getting ready for pictures is always a bit stressful, but in this case it was completely worth it. The timing on this shot was super important. If you are using a remote, you’ll want to set your camera to burst. We got several pictures where a balloon was blocking someone’s face and it all happened REALLY quick!
It's a girl! photo shoot at acraftyfox.net
And we are so excited for this little girl. But we are really struggling with names. Suggestions? Anyone?
It's A Girl! Baby Announcement photo shoot
I should put together my best ‘how to get ready for pictures without causing a family meltdown’ post. This time wasn’t perfect, but I was really happy with how it went. I think my best tip would be plan, plan, plan! And then make the most of the moments. My little guy got a bit sad when his balloon flew away. But we got a few really amazing shots. And I got the BEST cuddles. Worth it. Roll with the challenges and you may get a few favorite shots!
Make the Most of the moments you get

It's A Girl! Baby Announcement Photography
And now we are speeding towards my due date and I haven’t started the nursery! I guess I better start getting things together because ready or not, here she comes!
It's a girl! Photo shoot at acraftyfox.net
View More: http://followyourartphotography.pass.us/amanda-maternity-final

Thanks for letting me share this moment with you! If you are looking for other really fun ways to announce your new little one, I love these posts:
Cut the Cake Party (this is what we did the first two times! SO FUN!)
Or a pull string pinata?! My kids would be thrilled (until they found out there wasn’t candy inside ;))
Shoes are ADORABLE if you aren’t into taking pictures of yourself 32 weeks pregnant. (But you should! You’ll wish you had pictures someday. At least, that’s what I told myself)

I guess I better go start gathering up tiny little adorable things and making a place for this sweet, little lady!

Thanks for reading along! And thank you to Tiffany at Follow Your Art Photography for humoring a crazy pregnant lady and taking these amazing shots!

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Three Little Finishes (and a work in progress!)

Quilts on my Yellow Chair - A Crafty Fox Blog

Getting that sweet little baby quilt finished made me take a second look at my work in progress pile. I don’t want to air all my faults, but I have a tendency to start gorgeous quilts and put them away when they are THISCLOSE to finished. For instance, These three quilts were either basted or quilted with binding attached, but not actually finished. Why do I do this to myself?!
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Summer House Quilt with Binding Attached
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So I decided to just finish them. It feels so good! I finished the first one on Thursday night and immediately gifted it to a sweet lady at our church who has put so much effort into serving others. She is moving on to other things, and a few ladies really wanted to give her something she could take to remember her time and experiences with us.
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I had basted this one and set it aside because I couldn’t decide how to quilt it. With just a day to finish it, I just decided stippling was the best option and got it done. It feels amazing to check this one off!
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With that as my second finish for 2015, I pulled out another basted-but-not-quilted project and went right back to stippling. I think I will be stippling a few more before I’m done. I LOVE the feel of finishing these pretty projects!

This pattern is designed by Megan at City Stitches and makes for a fun, quick, and super easy baby quilt.
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I’m pretty impressed that I was able to use a length of extra binding from my Dazzle quilt to bind this little guy. And I’m completely sold on machine binding. I know I’m not a purist, but I LOVE the quick finish of machine binding. And my fingers appreciate it, too!
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My last finish for the week almost deserves it’s own post.This quilt is stunning. It had been sitting, with gorgeous custom quilting from Sew Shabby Quilting and binding attached for months. So, I just stitched it down. I can’t believe it took this long. The pattern is Summer House by Judy Newman (We have a few in our little shop!)Summer House Quilt - Finished! Pattern in the Westwood Acres Shop
Summer House Block. Love the quilting by Melissa at Sew Shabby!
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SO Pretty! I’m not sure where it’s going to live in my home, yet, but it’s going to have to find somewhere that I can show it off.

Last but not least, here’s what 32 weeks looks like in our little family. I can’t wait to meet this little girl. And fit into my regular clothes again! Let’s see what I can get accomplished in the next eight weeks!
Expecting Baby number 3!

Thank you bunches for reading along!
Amanda

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Hot Cross Buns Quilt Tutorial: Liberty Blog Hop!

There have been so many great projects in this Liberty blog hop, and I’ve loved seeing what everyone has come up with! Today, I’m sharing my little tutorial for a block I call Hot Cross Buns.

Hot Cross Buns

It’s one of my favorite blocks and I’ve worked out the math so that you can make it with no waste. Because fabric is expensive! That’s one of the reasons we created our little Give Me Liberty! Club in our shop. It made collecting Liberty Tana Lawn more affordable and less intimidating! If you are interested in starting your own Liberty collection, we’d love to have you join us!

Now, on to the tutorial!

So, let’s get started!
Fabric Requirements for a baby quilt (roughly 48 x 56):
25-30 Fat Sixteenths of Liberty Lawn (I chose Cotton and Steel Bespoke Double Gauze – more on that later!)
2-1/4 Yards of Background Fabric

Cutting Instructions:
150 3″ Squares of Liberty Lawn (or prints of your choice)
20 2″ Squares of Liberty Lawn
60 3-3/8″ Squares of Background – Cut In Half Diagonally
30 3-3/4″ Squares of Background – Cut In Quarters Diagonally
44 2″ x 7.5″ Rectangles of Background

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Lay your block out. I like to vary the inside and outside  squares for a little bit of contrast.
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Sew Into Rows Diagonally and Press Seams so that they will lock :)
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Stitch your rows together and add the triangles to the ends. You should have a 7.5″ square. I’ve also posted a picture of the back so you can see how the seams press together.
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Lay out your blocks and begin adding your sashing.
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Sew the sashing rows together alternating background, liberty square, background, liberty square, etc.
Hot Cross Buns Block Tutorial by Amanda of A Crafty Fox
Stitch all your rows together. Measure your quilt top and bottom and cut your border 3″ by your measurement. If you used Double Gauze (it’s so soft!) make sure not to stretch it when you measure! Sew Borders to top & bottom. Now measure your sides and cut background pieces 3″ x your measurement. You may need to sew more than one strip together.
Hot Cross Buns Quilt Tutorial by Amanda at A Crafty Fox Blog

Ta Da! You should have a gorgeous finished top! I made mine for our new little addition and it was quilted by the amazing Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting. She does the most amazing custom work! Thank you, Melissa!
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The batting is a wool quilters dream and it adds loft without too much puffiness. LOVE!
Give Me Liberty! Fabric Club Blog Hop Hosted By Westwood Acres
Thank you so much for following along on our little blog hop! If you haven’t already, you’ll want to stop by all of the amazing blogs that created some fabulous quilts!
February 24th: A Crafty Fox (here!)<a
February 25th: Astrid at Red, Red Completely Red
February 26th: Svetlana at Sotak Handmade
February 26th: Andy at A Bright Corner
February 27th: Chase at Quarter Inch Mark
March 1st: Emily at Simple Girl Simple Life
March 2nd: Ashley at Film In The Fridge
March 3rd: Lee at Freshly Pieced
March 4th: Audrie at Blue is Bleu
March 5th: Amanda at A Crafty Fox

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Give Me Liberty Club Inspiration Blog Hop!

Welcome to the kickoff for our fun, inspiring Liberty of London Tana Lawn blog hop! Over the last 14 months, we have sent hundreds of parcels filled with Liberty Lawn around the world for our Give Me Liberty! Fabric Club. And while sending it off to new homes is fun, I LOVE seeing what it becomes! If you have a pretty pile of Liberty lawn and are searching for inspiration, look no further!

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I’m so excited to visit these amazing bloggers over the next two weeks to see what they have come up with! Today, I’m going to kick things off with some of my favorite tips for quilting with Liberty Lawn, and then I’ll see you back here on the last day of the blog hop for a new tutorial for an heirloom-worthy Liberty Quilt I’ve designed for the new little person who will be joining our family this spring!

I’ve been stitching with a lot of Liberty Lawn this year, mixing it in to my stash and my projects with wild abandon. I love how saturated these prints are and how incredibly precise the printing is, especially on tiny prints. I’ve used Liberty in my Weekender from last summer.

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And lots of little Liberty pieces have slipped into my Green Tea and Sweet Beans Quilt (which I need to finish ASAP! These little blocks deserve a final home!)

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And so I’d like to share a quick list of tips I’ve found that help when working with Liberty pieces and hopefully you’ll find these useful, too!

*Use a smaller universal needle than you would use with quilting cotton. I found that a 70/10 needle size is perfect for stitching with lawn. Larger needles tend to push the fabric down into my machine.

**For Hand stitching and applique, I have loved using Straw needles in a size 10. I found these to slip in and out of the fabric very nicely and left a lovely stitch

*When choosing thread, choose a good quality, 100% cotton thread. I use Gutterman, but I know many people who have good luck with Aurifil. Avoid polyester threads (or polyester core threads), especially when piecing as they will shrink differently than the fabric and leave seams that do not look straight.

** For longer seams, use pins. The fabric is not as slippery as voile (or minky! Yikes!) but it is smoother and it has a lot more stretch in the bias than normal quilting cottons. If you are concerned with stretching, starch pieces prior to stitching. (I rarely starch until seams are all sewn and I need to press the block flat)

*I do not prewash and I have not had any issues with absurd shrinkage.

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*Mix unusual color combinations and have fun with the variety of colors of prints. Many of these hues are not found often in quilting cottons and it is very difficult to find the
detailed, small scale prints that Liberty seems to specialize in. Enjoy the process of mixing light, dark, tiny and large and even adding a few I-Spy pieces here and there for whimsy. Liberty prints are fun for any age, and their tighter weave make them pretty durable, despite their delicate feel.

Any other questions? I would be happy to share answers I know in the comments!

If you’d like to follow along, you will find two weeks of inspiration by clicking the links below :)
February 24th: A Crafty Fox (here!)<a
February 25th: Astrid at Red, Red Completely Red
February 26th: Svetlana at Sotak Handmade
February 26th: Andy at A Bright Corner
February 27th: Chase at Quarter Inch Mark
March 1st: Emily at Simple Girl Simple Life
March 2nd: Ashley at Film In The Fridge
March 3rd: Lee at Freshly Pieced
March 4th: Audrie at Blue is Bleu
March 5th: Amanda at A Crafty Fox

Liberty Blog Hop Button

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Razzle Dazzle ‘Em: Sewvivor Challenge Three

 

Can I introduce you to Razzle Dazzle? I’ve decided to just call her Dazzle for short. Sewvivor King Quilt-3

I may have just finished my favorite quilt. The theme for this week’s Sewvivor challenge was hexagons. I love 60 degree angles. I’ve made quite a few hexagon quilts. This one has jumped to the top of my list of favorites. (If it’s one of your favorites, too, would you mind popping over to family ever after and voting for me? I promise it will be the last time I beg ask)

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I was inspired by a few antique quilts I had seen pop up on pinterest. I started working on drawing up this pattern on Tuesday thinking I had 12 days to work on it. Imagine my surprise when I realized I only had 5! Yikes! I picked some favorite fabrics (quite a lot of Miss Kate mixed with Cotton and Steel’s Splash basics bundle and a dash of yellow), and reworked the gorgeous base block into a king sized quilt that I’m excited to put into rotation on our bed.
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The corners of this quilt are rounded and I love this little finishing touch. I think that the slight curve balances out all of the pointy points and straight lines to give this quilt some flirty personality. And that minty binding makes my heart sing.

I quilted this on a neighbor’s long arm with double loops all over. I had originally planned to do straight lines, but I was gently prodded by a friend to try something loopy and I think it turned out better than my imagination!

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One of my goals for this quilt was to not let a singly block be made with fabric from one designer. So each block is a mix of at least two different artists.

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I’ve loved every minute of this journey.  And starting a quilt and finishing it right away has been such a great experience for me. I think I’ll make it my ‘thing’ to not have a million works in progress laying around. Hopefully I’ll make it through to the next round and get one more finish in September!

Sewvivor King Quilt-2Thank you bunches for reading along!

Amanda

 

Posted in Finished Projects!, Sewvivor | 17 Comments

Another Weekender and a Few Tips on Making Them and Keeping Your Sanity

For Sewvivor Challenge 2, I made {another} Weekender from Amy Butler’s pattern.  And once again i would LOVE to make it into the next round. If you have a second, would mind popping over to the Family Ever After blog and voting for me?

Weekender - Amanda-9This was not an easy bag to put together. Weekenders never are. But they are completely worth it. I usually touch up by hand once its all put together, and this bag will be no exception. But all the little fussy cuts make it work!
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If I were telling my best friend my tricks on how to make this bag, they would be:

  • Use different needles for different tasks. Denim needles work well for sewing through a lot of layers, but using a microtex sharp needle on the bottom corners will keep you from ripping your seams (and your hair) out.
  • Quilt your pieces BEFORE you cut out the pattern shapes. Otherwise, there will be a lot of distortion.
  • Sew your handles down about a million times to the body of the weekender. On my first weekender, this is the only piece that came apart and it is a pain to try and go back and fix.
  • When sewing the zipper panel to the body panel, sew body side up so you can see the seam that attaches the piping to the panel. Sew your new seam to the inside of that existing seam to make your piping nice and tight.
  • Change your needles frequently. If they are just slightly dull or slightly bent, this bag will cause them to break. Repeatedly. Ask me how I know.
  • Give the zipper plenty of space. There is no reason to hug it really close with this bag. In fact, I prefer it if there is about 1/4″ space between the zipper and the seam.


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This weekender has some very special pieces of fabric in it, including a tiny scrap of Daysail from the upcoming Bonnie and Camille collection that was shared with my by a friend. Friends are the best part of sewing, I think.Weekender - Amanda-22

This bag just reinforced my love of low volume patchwork. I think I might make an entire quilt of low volume patchwork. Someday. You know, when things aren’t busy. Will that day ever come?
Weekender - Amanda-6I used my favorite shape of a patchwork block on the side pockets. I call it hot cross buns, but I’m sure it has a real name. Either way, this is another bucket list block. I need an entire quilt (maybe pillow) of these simple little beauties.

I made a few adjustments, mainly for the handles. The ones in the pattern are longer and narrower and this bag gets HEAVY and therefore uncomfortable. These wide, padded straps should make it easier to haul home goodies from Sample Spree.

Weekender - Amanda-9So, now that i’m packed, i just need somewhere to go. Perhaps the upcoming Labor Day weekend will give me the opportunity to test my new bag out. I’m hoping to talk my little family into a getaway here.

Thank you for reading along! And you can vote for your favorite quilted bag here once from each internet capable device in your home. You know, just in case you feel passionately about a certain patchwork quilted weekender 😉

 

Posted in Finished Projects!, Sewvivor | 17 Comments