portfolio or laptop case

I put together a portfolio for my interior design work, but I had a hard time convincing myself to pay a ridiculous amount of money for an ugly case to put it in.  I decided to make my own case, and I'm happy with the results!  

I didn't want it to look too "crafty" and I wanted it to look modern and clean.  I chose to use Dritz snaps (I love these things, I need to post a tutorial about how to install them because it's just so darn easy and satisfying!). I used fabric that I had on hand -- a heathered gray shirting fabric for the outside, and a mustard linen cotton blend for the inside.  I made sure a bit of the mustard was peaking out from the inside to add a decorative element.

I could also see this design being used for a laptop case or IPad case, or even as a cover for a journal or sketchbook.

What do you say, would you like to see a tutorial?

embroidery project

I started this embroidery project back in December, when Chris and I began our 4 week long road trip through the southeast US.  The plan was that by the time we looped around Florida and headed back west towards Dallas to visit my brother, I would have three completed initial embroidery projects for each of my three little nephews.  Well, that didn't quite happen, and then my last semester of school started and school and quilt market became my priorities.  

I got to see the boys again a couple weeks ago during my family's triennial vacation in Arkansas (photos here).  I finally finished them!!  Care for a peak?  [ O is for Owen, E for Eli, G for Garrett ]


weekend in the prairie

Chris and I went northeast to the Pawnee National Grasslands for our first getaway together since moving to Denver.  It's funny to me that we went east to the plains instead of west to the mountains, but the Rockies had tons of snow this weekend, which leaves camping areas sparse and crowded this early in the summer.

The grassland was beautiful.... I had never quite ventured into this sort of terrain, and the beauty of it and life that it held caught me off guard.   Did you know that grasslands remove more carbon dioxide from the air than rainforests?

We hiked to the Pawnee Buttes, then drove dirt roads through the grasslands to find the perfect camping spot, investigating windmills and wildlife in between.

Arkansas family vacation

Not the typical family vacation spot, but Arkansas was a pleasant surprise.  It was hot but not unbearable, and the rivers and lakes were just perfect for recreating.  We swam, floated, and boated in several bodies of water during our stay.  I traveled there to meet up with my two older brothers and their wives, 3 little boy nephews, and my mom and dad.  Unfortunately, Chris wasn't able to be there because of work obligations... he sure missed out!

Here are a couple of highlights:

Horseback riding with the women... here I am with Buddy :)

Lazy river floating outside our back door.

A heron or crane during our boating expedition on Lake Ouichita.

Jumping off the boat into amazing warm water!

Petting zoo in Hot Springs... we got to see the alligators eat their lunch of raw chicken!

The goats sure liked my shorts.

We found teeny tiny little frogs down by the river on one of the last days... they couldn't have been longer than 1/4 inch!

Lake Ouichita.

I held a baby alligator!

So did Garrett, but he was not as amused.

Goats jumping all over me!

Toni and I admiring the view...

The river outside the back door.

The twins, Owen and Eli, throwing rocks into the river.

Eli doing a funny little dance after he threw .the rocks into the water

Owen choosing his next rock to throw.

I'm totally embarrassed by my ghost white legs, but Garrett is cute enough to make me want to include this photo.

Driving the boat!

The fam, minus Chris.


reflections on Market...

Brace yourself for a wordy post!  I've been full of photos lately, but I've had a lot of time to mull over a few things that I would like to share... (but I won't judge if you can't deal with lack of visual stimulation! Just skip to the end of this post...).

I've had a few weeks to decompress and process all of the experience of the Spring International Quilt Market, which just happened a few weeks ago in Salt Lake City.  There were so many emotions, stimulations, people to meet, things to see, ideas to process after that crazy weekend that I'm just now beginning to articulate what I learned from Market and how it will impact my business in the future.

The most immediate impact that all of this will mean to many of you is that I have decided to no longer offer PDF patterns for sale on Etsy.  I am doing this for a variety of reasons.  Care to hear?

1. I want to support the local quilt shop.  When people know that they can purchase PDF patterns online for a few dollars less than in shops, it makes them more inclined to shop online instead of in their local shop.  Although this is good news for me, since my cut of the profit is higher, it isn't in line with my "shop local" philosophy.

2. PDF patterns are tricky, because they are easier to forward to friends via email.  This isn't great news for me, since it means that my patterns could be passed around and I wouldn't be compensated for all of the time and creativity it takes to develop a sewing pattern.

3. In the future, I plan to offer limited edition PDF patterns on Etsy, but they will be smaller, easier projects and will not compete with the paper patterns available in the shop.

4. I'm not sure if this should be a number, but I am still offering the printed patterns for sale in my shop, and at the same retail price that I suggest to quilt shops. If you have a quilt shop in your area that sells my pattern, by all means, purchase it there!  But for those of you who have no other way to get my patterns, come on over to my shop to purchase.

On that note, as many of you may know, I redesigned the look of my patterns just in time for Spring Market, and had them professionally printed and assembled.  (Goodbye folding and assembling patterns myself at the kitchen table -- YIPPEE!!).  The professional printing has caused me to reevaluate the price of my patterns, so you may have noticed a price increase.  This new price reflects the going rate for purse patterns these days, and is the price I need to maintain in order for designing patterns to pay off financially.  I'm as thrifty as the next person, but believe me, the difference in printing and the quality of the pattern makes the price totally worth it.

Here's a peak into the redesigned patterns:

Pleated Messenger  Sewing Pattern
pattern cover

Pleated Messenger  Sewing Pattern
pattern back

Pleated Messenger  Sewing Pattern
image of the pocket tote and classic messenger patterns

Pleated Messenger  Sewing Pattern
inside the pocket tote pattern

Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap

Step-by-step instructions to create an adjustable strap for your handbag.  Use this technique for almost any bag that has a single strap – especially the Pleated Messenger bag!

1. Determine strap length.  Decide how long you want your strap to be by draping a measuring tape across your body and noting where you would like the bag to hang when the strap is fully extended. Add 8” to this length. Sew the strap according to pattern directions.

    2. Attach O-Ring. Then, cut off 4” from the strap you just sewed.  Fold this section in half widthwise and slide on the o-ring.  Baste or pin the cut ends together.

3.   Attach Slider. Next, attach the slider to the remaining portion of the strap. Loop the strap over the center bar of the slider, folding it over approximately 2”. Stitch in place.

4.  Put it All Together. Now feed the long part of the strap through the o-ring and thread it through the slider piece.  Now you have one continuous strap.  Double check the length of the strap by draping it across your body where you would like the bag to hang and adjust the length as necessary. Continue following the pattern directions to attach the strap to the bag.

{ visit www.jengiddens.com & click on tutorials to find a downloadable PDF of this tutorial! }