Face Masks – the Update

There’s a saying, “What a difference a day can make”, so one can presume how transformative two months might be. Two months. Are those measured the same during a pandemic? I know that there have been many days since our self-imposed quarantine on March 13, that I’ve not even known the day, let alone the date. I was in “head-down, get busy, hope for the best, prepare for the worst, help where I can” mode. I wasn’t sure I should even make masks, as I discussed in an earlier blog post. But here we are, two months later.

I definitely feel a shift in the mask-making frenzy. I hear my maker-friends, echoing the same sentiment. There are still orders, but there’s a calmness to it now that none of us saw months ago.

As someone who sews, I knew I could do something to help. What I didn’t take into account is how emotions and fear might play out in the interactions with potential customers. Clearly, we are all facing something we’ve not seen before. Of course, our reactions will be varied. I (virtually) met kind, caring and generous people. My intention was not to profit, but to pay forward. I kept the cost low & donated profit. Some paid for those who could not pay. Some “rounded up” to cover postage for others. Some purchased for dozens of others in their community without remembering to get one for themselves. One, waited so patiently as her package visited every post office in Michigan but her own. When they did arrive, she repaid the refund I had given when we thought they were never to be seen again. So many repeat customers, which of course, felt like I was doing something right. And yet, there were interactions that were strained and difficult because I couldn’t meet the request for a “favorite designer or favorite fabric print”. I pride myself on meeting customer expectations & this was a different scenario. I had customers fall by the way-side in the early days when I explained I wasn’t taking custom orders; I was making masks for safety, not fashion. With stores on lockdown, I was sewing from what I had available. I had committed to making 25 face masks a day and orders would be filled from those finishes. I didn’t anticipate the backlash when I explained, “I’m not allowing people to visit my studio to choose fabric….I’m in quarantine!”. I now believe those demands were driven by fear. I hope everyone can also see that while I was able to provide a sewing service, I was also trying to keep my family safe and deal with a pandemic. I suspect it’s easy to overlook that I was a bit fearful in those days too.

So many graphic prints
Do you see YOUR face mask here?
The third “edit” of mask style

My mask-making evolved and I learned how to streamline this process. Initially, I followed patterns outlined by hospitals for a pleated, flat mask. I had more positive feedback on elastic ear loops vs. ties, so I stuck with that plan. I made all of mine reversible, so that wearers would know which fabric was next to their skin vs. “outside”. You know, safety first.

It became clear that I sew with bold, graphic prints more so than solids!

One day I received a message from someone I’ve never met, who asked if I was accepting fabric donations. Of course; the more fabric, the more masks that can be made. We agreed that I would use her donation for masks & if I had fabric leftover when I decided to stop, I would donate the overage to other sewing charities. I thought a small donation would be coming my way, and then THIS box arrived. It brought me to tears. The sheer volume, the elastic and this card, were overwhelming. If you browse through the finished mask photos, you’ll see some of these prints in action. What you won’t see is the order I received for law enforcement officers. The same day this box arrived, I was asked to make masks in black or blue for corrections officers and a military general. 24 hours prior, I didn’t have those colors available. Betsy’s donation of 2+ yards of black / blue fabric allowed me to sew for those on the front-line. The serendipity of the moment was not lost on me. I cannot thank her enough for this incredible gift. She helped me, help others and I’m grateful.

Beyond grateful for this donation! Thank you, Betsy.

Customers sending photos brightened some dreary days! Thank you for showing me the Two Terriers Studio work, out in the world.

in Massachusetts
in Michigan
Preparing to deliver and meet baby #4
For my favorite 90 year old lady…xoxo
in Connecticut
more seen in Connecticut

I mentioned paying it forward. So far, by the purchases of these face masks, I’ve donated $500.00 to Children of Fallen Patriots. This organization assists in the college costs for children of parents who lost their lives in the line of military duty. I value higher education and I will be forever grateful to the men & women who serve our country. It seemed a fitting charity based on how we all came together: my sewing, the fabric and monetary donations, the purchase of masks and being able to help a military child attend college. I’m not done donating yet, but I’m still working out details of when mask making “ends” and what the final tally will be for donation.

One last note. I was recently asked by All People Quilt / American Patchwork & Quilting to participate in a survey about creating in a time of quarantine. You can find the article here. For makers, I think these suggestions are valuable (and you might see a new face, you’re not yet following!). For non-makers, I think this gives a good perspective on how quilters are moving through these unprecedented times.

Friends, be safe & stay well.

The Woodstock Bag

One of the first designers I worked with as a pattern tester is Natalie Santini, of Sew Hungry Hippie. She is a gem – creative, talented, spunky, no-nonsense and always coming up with new projects. She loves COLOR and so do I. Fast forward to today…more than a year and a half since our paths crossed, and it’s release day for her Woodstock Bag pattern. Pattern Release days are exciting times. Ironic, that for two people who love bright & bold fabric, I made it in black cork and camo. It’s spring, but thanks to Covid-19, we’ve all been in quarantined/sheltered in place. Maybe there’s still a vibe of winter around here. Or you know me well and know I almost always wear black, so this matches.

The Woodstock Bag is a waist (or “fanny-pack”) style accessory, but the adjustable strap also allows for it to be worn over the shoulder. The zipper closure at the top will keep your contents secure. This design lets you move about & shop, hands-free, without the worry of setting your bag down. It is roomier than you might expect, thanks to darts, which expand the front panel just a bit.

This pattern is a quick make & I used supplies I have on hand. Notice the mixed metals, between the D-ring and the adjustable slide? I’d like to say it’s a creative design choice, but it was literally a supply availability issue. Maybe it will be a 2020 trend? Me, a trendsetter? Now that’s funny. If you’ve not sewn with cork, faux leather or vinyl, give it a try. Natalie carries a lot of these items in her shop and it’s simpler to use than you might imagine. I highly recommend a teflon foot for your machine, to minimize “drag”, but other than that, I’ve not made other adjustments in sewing cork. I look forward to making more of these in other textiles and colors, which will be posted to my Instagram account (@twoterriersstudio) as they are finished.

Take a minute and go visit Natalie on Instagram (@sewhungryhippie) where you’ll see links to her tutorials, patterns and MORE. Allow time – it’s a creative spot & if you’re like me, you might be there awhile.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to test patterns before they are released to the public. It lets me stretch my skills, finish a new project, work with other makers and incorporate my education and former career in editing. The whole thing makes me happy. Natalie, THANK YOU!

All photos and content property of Two Terriers Studio, not to be reproduced without consent. While I share what I love by other makers, this is not a paid or sponsored post.

The Lotus Blossom Quilt

One thing I love about quilting is the community of makers. While it may seem like a solitary craft, a quiet escape for someone who likes to create, for themselves or others, there really are so many additional layers and elements that make it all happen. There are fabric designers who create gorgeous art which then moves to fabric by a host of manufacturers; the pattern designers who create new layouts or reinvent traditional shapes or encourage improvisation. There’s thread, batting, sewing machines, brick and mortar shops and online venues. There’s also the “tester” or “editor”. That’s where I came in on this project. I’m so thankful to have crossed paths with Tara Curtis, creator of @weftyneedle. You may know Tara by way of the Wefty Needle or Wefty Miter and her beautifully woven fabric designs. If not, go check out her work; I suspect you’ll want to be weaving by nightfall. Tara gave me the opportunity to test her pattern, the Lotus Blossom Quilt, before it became available to the public and I’ve been hinting at it’s release on Instagram for a few weeks now.

As a pattern tester, I get to mesh my passion for words and fabric. Something you might not know about me is that my education and professional background is in writing, editing and publishing. When I’ve been invited or signed up to test a new pattern, I rarely know what it looks like or whether it falls into my sewing skill set, but I am usually confident that I can at least assist with the written words of the pattern. It’s even better if the pattern contains elements out of my comfort zone. That’s where we grow & learn.

Lotus Blossom Applique

The lesson for me with this pattern was in appliqué and slowing down. It seems I have a habit of fast sewing with one bare foot. Not so great for curved appliqué. I had to temper myself and take my time.

Slow down…

This pattern comes in two sizes, crib and queen. I opted to make the crib size as my goal was to machine quilt it myself and I have not quilted a queen size project on my domestic machine (yet). I also wanted to use fabric I already owned. I had just recently returned from Missouri Star Quilt Co., where I purchased a bundle of the V & Co., metallic ombre dots. If you love the look of these ombre fabrics, seen in a “sample”, they are even better in full-size, real life. It wasn’t until I had laid it all out that I noticed the glow that came from the ombre effect. It was even better than I expected and perfect for this design. I also used V & Co. ombre solids for the blossom petals, except that one, center bloom.

A pop of color on a winter day

When quilting this, I used straight line, “in the ditch” stitching and added a few additional lines in the wider bands of fabric, stopping at the edges of the petals, which were each outlined. I’m hoping to learn more about free-motion quilting, but until then, it’s straight lines and hiring my friends with long-arm quilting expertise!

The Lotus Blossom Quilt by Two Terriers Studio

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating, especially with this photo. My husband cheers me on in my quilting endeavors and he also willingly travels around with me as I look for perfect settings and photo opportunities. For those who know him, you know he’s tall. TALL. He’s in this photo. Do you see him? No. He has mastered hunkering down, (keep in mind this is a crib size quilt), as well as having perfected the “fabric pinch” so that we don’t see his hands creeping around the bound corners. Together, we get it done. What I’m curious about is what this must have looked like from the perspective of the house across the bridge. Maybe next time. That could be an interesting shot.

Tara released this pattern today, April 15th, and it is available on her website weftyneedle.com by PDF download. Do yourself a favor, and check it out. She has highlighted other makers who tested this for her and I think it’s terrific that given the same instructions, we each made something unique. She also explains her inspiration for this design, which is even more fitting today than it may have been months ago as we saw this pattern for the first time. It’s worth reading about, please take a look. As we all move through this period of uncertainty with Covid-19, new boundaries, staying home and attempting a new normal, there can be something calming in creativity. I am so thankful for my sewing community, and for Tara giving me this opportunity.

-Stacey

Face Masks

It’s April 2020 and for weeks (months, at this point) we have been experiencing a global pandemic from Novel Coronavirus / Covid-19 that has left many of us wondering what the heck is going on, what it means for us personally and how we manage through this unprecedented time.

We started “social distancing” in late February and early March; we prepared our homes and family for isolating as this invisible nightmare passed, but here we are, still waiting for a return to what we know as “normal”. I can’t imagine what our new normal even looks like yet.

My primary concern was keeping my family and loved ones safe. Besides self-imposed isolation, #stayhome, wash your hands, and disinfect everything in sight, what could I do? That “let me fix it” gene kicked in and I started making face masks. Hearing that the supply of medical grade personal protective equipment (PPE) was not only low, but might run out, I realized I wasn’t going to be ordering any for personal use. Never in my 9 years of sewing & quilting did I think I would be making protective gear. But I am; and I’m now making them for others too.

I have zero interest in profiting off of a pandemic. I’m offering these handmade face masks on my Instagram account (@twoterriersstudio) while I have the time and supplies to make them. I’m asking readers to cover the cost of shipping ($7.75 flat rate, USPS Priority Mail) and to make a charitable contribution of $5.00 per mask. In the event of a large, bulk order, shipping fee may increase. I’m accepting payment by PayPal. When I get to the end of making masks, I will be donating 100% of profits to charity, so any contribution over this amount is appreciated. I’m tracking every sale by state, # of masks and contribution and that will be a follow up post at some point. At this time, I am only shipping within the continental United States, as I am doing this from home & not going into the post office. I think it’s a full circle of compassion…I’m using a skill I learned from others to make a product that might help people stay safe, and their contribution is in turn helping someone else. This may be a scary and negative time, but goodness prevails. Right?

Handmade face masks

I must say, my handmade masks are NOT medical grade; they do not have a filter insert and I would not promise that they prevent Covid-19. I can say that they are made from quality quilting cotton that has been washed and sewn in a pet-free, smoke-free studio by a maker who has practiced social distancing since early March and who shows no outward signs of being infected. For those who have worked with me before and ordered custom totes, bags and other items, you know that I work to make sure your color and style preferences are met. That is not happening with face masks. I’m not taking color preferences or custom designs. This is a function over fashion moment. My masks do feature two fabrics so that the user knows which side was next to their skin and which was exposed to the outside. The masks are all machine-washable and should be washed frequently. If you’d like the pleats to be crisp after washing, a quick press with a hot iron will work.

If you or someone you know needs a mask, please visit my Instagram account @twoterriersstudio and direct message me there with your name and quantity needed. I will follow up as promptly as possible. I am taking time off until April 13th to celebrate the Easter holiday with my family, but will be in communication after that time.

My hesitation in making masks for people outside my immediate family is that there is a VERY fine line between helping others and creating a false sense of security. I kindly ask that anyone wearing my masks please educate themselves with the safety guidelines set forth by your physicians, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or ever-changing, published/professional guidelines. I am not a doctor, a nurse or health-care provider. I know these masks are not foolproof, but I wear mine with the mindset of “better than nothing” if I need to go outside. I cannot and do not ensure this will protect you 100% from an infection. So, I’m happy to make these, but expect that buyers educate themselves as we are all learn about this disease and how to be safe. (UGH, all the disclaimer stuff; wish I didn’t have to say it.)

I wish you all good health in these trying times. Many heartfelt thanks to our healthcare heroes who work tirelessly each day to keep each of us safe. I hope we all do our part to make their jobs easier so that they, too, can return home safely to their loved ones.

Playroom – Everyone is Welcome

This is Playroom, the most recent fabric collection by Mathew Boudreaux aka @Misterdomestic, an Angles fabric designer for Art Gallery Fabric. I wish there were “touch-o-vision” so you could reach into the screen and feel the softness and drape of this fabric. It’s lovely! Whether in these prints or coordinating Pure Elements solids, this premium quilting cotton feels amazing. While I have not personally sewn with them, there are also substrates in knit & rayon. I’m tempted to learn more about garment sewing so that I can work with those as well.

In 2019, I was chosen by Mathew to join his team of Master Makers for the “Catch & Release” Blog Party. Fast forward a few months to the release of Playroom and the opportunity to sew for the Art Gallery Fabrics (artgalleryfabrics.com) Look Book. THAT was an exciting day. I saw these fabrics and instantly thought of which I’d use for a quilt, which would be “perfect” binding, those I wanted to save for English Paper Piecing and the ideas kept swirling. I was so anxious to begin. To not only have the chance to sew, but also be published in their book of inspiration, was a dream come true.

The entire collection brought me back to the days when my children were small and I was trying to teach them manners and the Golden Rule. Seriously, the “Playroom Rules” is among my favorites, with the positive affirmations and so many fonts. I love fabric with text.

Playroom Rules

The very first thing I made once the fabric arrived was a jelly-roll rug. Let’s start with a good foundation, right?

Prepping fabric strips and batting
Pattern by Roma Quilts

This rug requires quite a bit of straight line sewing, so make sure you have more thread than you think you need. Remember that comment about being anxious to start? Let’s just say, there was a lot of “bobbin-chicken” going on one day. I should have hit pause before I jumped in. In the end, it all worked out and I LOVE the finished product. And to top it off, since it’s made with quilting cotton, it’s machine washable. Even better.

Next was the Reflections Quilt, a pattern by Suzy Quilts (suzyquilts.com). This is the second time I’ve sewn this pattern and it goes together very quickly. The wide bands of fabric beautifully showcase a variety of prints. I made the baby size quilt; the pattern includes additional measurements for other finishes.

“Funloving” binding
Reflections, pieced and machine quilted by Stacey, Two Terriers Studio

Last, but not least, were three quilted nesting buckets. When I think back to my children’s playroom, I remember it being easier to stay organized, yet still fun, through the use of storage containers and buckets. I wasn’t sewing back then, but if I had been, you would have seen a lot more of these little goodies in every corner! In graduated sizes, they easily corral small toys, crayons or colored pencils and even a plant looks good tucked inside. I lined each of these buckets in a coordinating print, all have the same accent band for a cohesive look. The most difficult aspect of this project was wanting to make multiples of EVERYTHING because I had a hard time choosing a favorite print.

Quilted Nesting Buckets, Pattern by Christina Cameli of “A Few Scraps”, Bluprint

Childhood and playrooms should be fun, energetic, positive, inclusive and if you can, a time to surround yourself with super cool fabric! What better way to end the day than snuggled with your favorite person in a cuddly quilt?

Miss K…the adorable helper

In this joyful tribute to his daughter, Helena, Mathew perfectly captured designs with finger painting, alphabets, florals, hearts, melty beads, and more. There’s a saying for parenting young children that “the days are long, but the years are short”. True. Here’s to hoping we can all remain kids at heart!

Special thanks to Samantha for letting me photograph Miss K. Big, giant thank you to Mister Domestic. Working with you is the best.

All patterns were purchased by Two Terriers Studio for this project; all photos property of Two Terriers Studio. Comments and opinions are my own, not sponsored or paid.

I made it to Hamilton

Wide open spaces in the midwest; no, I’m not driving

When I began sewing almost a decade ago, my first two quilts were made from pre-cut charm packs. I hadn’t invested in many notions and wasn’t quite ready to cut yardage, but I still wanted to make quilts. Those little 5″ squares were the perfect beginning. Additionally, the online tutorials by Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Company gave me the idea that this was all not only possible, but FUN. Her personality is engaging. If she made a mistake while filming, she shared that too. She demystified this craft. In those early days, I tuned in several times a week and watched Jenny piece quilts with enthusiasm. I think my children recognized the “jingle” and knew with the quack of the duck in the video, that I was intent on learning more. I gained so much information from those tutorials, that it was years and many quilts later before I took an “in person” class at my local quilt shop.

Fast forward to January 2020 and I finally made it to Hamilton, Missouri – home of the Missouri Star Quilt Co.! My family roots are in the midwest and my husband and I were in Kansas City for the AFC Championship Game between the Chiefs and Tennessee Titans. We had one free day in our schedule, so off to Hamilton we went. I might add that there had been a significant ice storm and the temperature was in single digits. We were committed; we were ready to explore. Yes, my husband willingly makes these fabric field trips with me…even when it’s freezing outside. I’m blessed.

Hamilton is just about an hour from Kansas City, but what we both noticed is how wide open the roads were along this route. No east coast-like traffic jams or aggressive lane changes by fellow drivers. We were gifted a blue sky that I remembered from my childhood – I swear, I never tire of it. I say RED is my favorite color, but it could easily be THIS blue.

Missouri Star Quilt Company, Hamilton, Missouri

This may sound silly, but I was GIDDY sitting in front of this shop. I had no idea what to expect or if I might just run into Jenny, but this was the embodiment of where and how I learned to sew. Once inside, we were greeted, almost immediately, by the staff who explained the store layout, what we could find at the other shops along Davis Street and that there was actually a place called “Man’s Land” if my husband needed a cozy hangout while I shopped! Interestingly, “Man’s Land” is a place for anyone who needs a break from shopping while relaxing in leather chairs and maybe watching TV. Its original beginning was as an old-fashioned men’s clothing store, well before it had anything to do with Quilt City! If you’ve shopped until you’re ready to drop, this might be the place to go, rest and refresh before continuing on.

The stores are organized, bright and clean

I thought it was really cool that in each shop we entered, someone on the staff was sewing. Sewing, right there, by the fabric or the checkout area, not tucked away in a hidden studio. This is a company that walks the walk and they SEW and they QUILT! There’s a community vibe that everyone is working together. It never felt like I had walked into “work”. Everyone we met was helpful and friendly.

There are hundreds of patterns, templates/rulers, notions of all kinds and “gear”. Need a sewing mug, tote, t-shirt or other novelty item? They are available. I had to keep reminding myself that my suitcase was already pushing the airline weight limits, so I had to remain focused and frugal (to an extent).

So much character in these buildings; browse basics and solids here

This particular building is the location of the 500th store of J.C. Penney, which the name and location had been retained. Talk about a step back in time!

Primitives and Wool
Modern – could be one of my favorites!

I liked that each shop had a specialty or theme. This concept means not having to roam a factory sized warehouse to find the perfect fabric. I sometimes find huge stores to be overwhelming. Here, you could narrow it down and find what you need rather quickly. However, if time is not an issue, going in and out of all the stores along this quaint street would be a lovely way to spend a day or more. There are restaurants and benches if you need to refuel or rest.

A Bright Mural on a Winter Day

I don’t know if or when I’ll make it to Hamilton, Missouri again, but I’m thankful I was able to visit at least this once. It was nice to shop these beautiful stores in person. Oh, I almost forgot! You know the “quilter’s cash” you accrue with online purchases? Yes, you can apply that to in-store purchases! What? Happy day! Even better, as we went from one shop to the next, any purchase generated NEW “quilter’s cash”. I know it all adds up, but I convinced myself I was generating my own coupons – ha!

One additional “take away” for me after this vacation was that you don’t need a big city, big lights and a booming metropolis to make things happen. Start where you are, follow your heart and your dreams and work hard. You never know what might be waiting for you around the next corner if you just take that first step and start. If you find yourself in Hamilton, I hope you get to meet Jenny!

Jenny Doan, Missouri Star Quilt Co.

This is not a sponsored post; all content and photos are property of Two Terriers Studio.

2019 Handmade Holidays Buyer’s Guide

It’s the middle of November and while many of us may be consumed with thoughts of Thanksgiving and celebrating with family and friends, it seems conversation often turns to holiday shopping, wish lists, unique gifts and bargains.

Just about everyone I know is interested in making or finding the perfect gift for a loved one. As a maker, with many maker friends, I also know what the holidays mean from this perspective. Makers work all year to create special items. When someone buys this work, it means our effort, artistry and love are being shared out in the world, beyond our studio doors. It’s a cool and affirming moment! When you support local makers, you are supporting a dream of someone in your community while at the same time, giving a gift that is likely one of a kind. It’s a win-win scenario.

Recently, I was contacted by Molly Anthony (@mkranthony) of The Found Art Walk to be included in her Handmade Holiday Buyers’ Guide. What an honor; no hesitation before I said, “yes”! Molly and her friend, Jenny Maroney (@jennymaroney), have put together the attached guide to help with your 2019 Handmade Holiday Shopping and this also serves as an introduction to many artists whose creativity is beautifully captured in a variety of mediums. Click on the link below to see the guide. The Table of Contents will highlight each artist and the individual pages feature clickable links to that particular artist’s online site. I hope you’ll take a look around, meet some new people, shop handmade and enjoy the benefits of the discounts offered. Invite friends to follow these makers on social media and to subscribe to my blog for future updates. Be sure to also follow me on Instagram @twoterriersstudio to see the latest holiday offerings and details of pop-up shops. I have a special discount in the buyer’s guide, so let me help you give unique art this holiday season!

I look forward to working with you as we close out 2019, but I must also say a huge, THANK YOU, for your support of me and Two Terriers Studio this year. What a journey and a privilege to share what I make with all of you! Happy Holidays & all the best in the year ahead.