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sewing class: night 3 (coping with machine envy)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

This class is teaching me a lot more than how to sew. Initially, I had a good bit of ‘machine envy’ as it’s pretty clear my sewing machine is one of the oldest in the group. The others are super high-tech with top loading bobbins, spring loaded needle threaders, and pre-programmed decorative stitches that rival embroidery. My little machine can make straight and/or zigzag stitches. Sigh. 

At first, I was totally guilty of coveting thy neighbor’s machine and by the end of the first class, I had convinced myself that I needed a new machine; surely I’d be better with a new machine; I’d definitely be more efficient with a new machine.   

But, isn’t that mentality just the trappings of our disposable society? We always feel the need to upgrade; our digital cameras, our cell phones, our wardrobe, ourselves.   

There’s nothing that I need to do, that I really need to do, that my sewing machine can’t handle. She’s sturdy and reliable and come to think about it, has a nice vintage flare. Now that she & I understand each other, and as I continue to learn how she works best, I’m pretty content with my old gal. 

I think I’ll pass on an upgrade for now.

Which means one thing: I can buy more fabric! 

Speaking of…I must again mention that Whipstitch has the most beautiful fabrics. When I arrive each day, I really struggle to choose my fabric for the night’s class because there are simply too many wonderful options. 

Tonight we finished our picnic carry-all and placemat and I am SO in love with it. It may seem basic, but I think it’s lovely and I’m extremely proud of myself for making it. 

my picnic carry-all and placemat!

it even folds up to fit in a picnic basket!

We also started on our reversible tote bags. While I’ve mastered the pillowcase tote bags that we made at Crafty Chicks Night in April, I’ve never started one from scratch, so I was eager to learn how to start this project from the beginning. Surprisingly, it was easier than I was expecting (maybe I’m getting the hang of this) and somehow we ended up ahead of schedule which means I took home the finished product! Check it out!

my reversible tote bag!

that's right,'s two bags in one.

 Tomorrow is the final class and we have quite a lofty goal to accomplish. We’re making piped and corded pillows complete with a zipper. I’m already debating which fabric to choose…

sewing class: night 2 (lessons learned)

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Tonight’s class taught me all about fabric…types, weights, weave, print direction, selvedge edges, grainline, crossgrain and the absolute importance of pre-washing. I learned more about fabric than I thought there was to know.

I also learned that while there is value to being ‘self-taught’ in many areas of crafts and creativity, when it comes to sewing, there’s more value in learning from a professional. 

For me, anyway. 

For example, I couldn’t figure out why I was having such difficulty threading the bobbin and getting it to cooperate with me. Well, it turns out that I was making it way more complicated than it needed to be by actually taking the whole thing apart each time I tried to thread it or needed to change the thread color. I’m pretty sure I was messing with parts of that machine that only a repair man should. 

So, while being self-taught is worthy of many accolades in many areas, when it comes to learning the intricacies of a sewing machine, I think it’s better left to a professional.

Tonight’s projects were to make continuous bias tape and to start what will become a picnic carry-all and placemat. Sounds pretty easy, right?

continuous bias tape...don't be fooled by its apparent simplicity!

the purpose of continuous bias cover rough sewn edges.

my soon-to-be a picnic carry-all and placemat!

Let me just say that my respect and admiration for those who can actually make more than the above mentioned items grew exponentially after tonight’s class. It was a very technical night of measuring, cutting, ironing and sewing. However, the not-quite-finished-product was totally worth the effort!

sewing class: night 1 (this won’t be pretty…)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

This week, I’m taking an “Intro to Sewing” class at Whipstitch Fabrics. Whipstitch is the most adorable fabric shop in the West Midtown District of Atlanta. If you haven’t already discovered this little gem, you most definitely should. I can promise you’ll be inspired to sew, quilt, craft and create.

While I have managed to make a few pillows lately, I am hardly a professional with my sewing machine, and quite honestly, I’m still pretty intimidated by most of its bells & whistles. So, I enrolled in what I’m calling a ‘bootcamp-style’ sewing class. For 2 ½ hours a night, four nights this week, I’ll indulge in all things needlework.

And, while I know it won’t do any justice to the ‘pseudo-professional image’ I may be trying to establish, I’ve decided to document my progress in the class and “proudly” show off my creations each night.

The way I see it, we’re all novices in the beginning, and the one thing that stops most people from learning something new is the fear of not being good at it. So here I am; in all of my novice glory.

In tonight’s class, we learned all about our machines, and the many sewing notions (tools involved such as bobbins, thread, stitch removers, seam guides, etc). We learned how to thread the bobbin and thread the machine. And then we made “stitch samples” which are basically a way of seeing all the different stitches each machine can make.

my stitch samples

my zigzag stitch...impressive, no?

Then it was on to our first project: a cloth napkin. We use cloth napkins at the house simply as a way to use less paper, so I was really excited to create my very own! So excited, in fact, that I bought two fabrics in corresponding colors…because I was sure I’d quickly and easily make a set of them. Oh, Emily…

Here’s my handiwork. I keep having to remind myself that I’m still learning. Quite possibly, one of the most important things I’ll learn in this class is the phrase…”it’s just a prototype.”

my dinner napkin...not too shabby (from a distance)

admire that stitchwork - steady as she goes!

Here’s hoping the three posts that follow this one show some substantial progress. In fact, until it’s time to sew again, I’m keeping my fingers crossed…because tonight’s class was definitely a humbling experience.

My interview with The Wedding Channel!

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

I have found that planning a wedding at the same time as a friend is really fun…and quite helpful. I am thrilled to share the wedding planning experience with my good friend, Michelle. 

She will get married just a month after I do and I can’t wait to watch her walk down the aisle!  She will be a stunningly beautiful bride.  I also can’t wait to attend her wedding because it is going to be absolutely fabulous. It will be a black tie affair at a beachside hotel in South Florida. Although we are planning completely different styles of weddings, I know they will both be breathtaking and I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

Throughout the planning process, we have enjoyed bouncing ideas off each other and sending over photos of inspiration (bridesmaid’s dresses, flowers, cakes, etc) that we think the other might like. It’s been really special to share this process with a sweet friend.

Michelle recently approached me about contributing to a story for the Wedding Channel. She had heard they were doing a feature on DIY weddings and she thought of me. The storyline was certainly right up my alley, so I eagerly accepted!

Initially, when I spoke with the producer, I told her about all the ways we’re saving money on the wedding; from choosing the venue, designing and printing our invitations, and making much of the décor.  When I mentioned that I had a friend planning a wedding also, and how fun it had been sharing the process, she had an idea for a new storyline; two friends planning two completely different weddings. Within a week, the camera crew was scheduled for the shoot.

quite the set-up!

focusing in...

getting mic'd

reviewing my notes

smile big for the camera!

it's a wrap!

The story will be broadcasted all across the country, so if you happen to see it, let me know!!

signs of spring

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

I have no idea what happened in Atlanta today, but the cold and dreary weather was no reflection of the gorgeous weekend we enjoyed. On Sunday, I took the camera on a long walk and snapped some shots of all the recent blooms. Flipping thru them tonight reassured me that spring has, in fact, sprung. 



Here’s hoping the rest of the week is sunnier than the start!

To Mom

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

I am incredibly fortunate to have been given the family that I have. I really lucked out. My dad is the most valiant and self-less father in the world. My sister is my absolute best friend. And there simply aren’t enough words to describe how much I love my mom. She is my idol, my confidant, my champion and the one person I turn to when I can’t turn to anyone else.

As I have grown into an adult, our relationship has grown, also. It has evolved into a genuine friendship. I can talk with her about everything. I can turn to her for anything. And I know there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for me.

We aren’t spending Mother’s Day together this year. So I thought I’d use this little blog of mine to take the opportunity to express my appreciation to her.

Mom, I cherish you with every ounce of my soul. I am so proud that you are my mother and I’m eternally grateful that I get to be your daughter. You have taught me so much and your love and encouragement mean more to me than you’ll ever know. With everything that’s in me, I want to thank you for being the mother you are to your daughters. We are better people because we came from you.

Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.

life in a greenhouse

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Growing up, my mom always had our patio packed with lots of plants and we would work together in the dirt, repotting them, planting new ones in the yard and working in the flowerbeds. It was precious time spent with her and how I cultivated my green thumb.

Eric and I don’t have kids (yet). We don’t have pets (yet). But, we have plants…lots of them. They are our children and on Saturday we spent the afternoon repotting them, giving them new homes in healthy soil.

A visit from E’s parents on Sunday and our house is now filled with beautiful flowers picked from their gardens in Athens. I love waking up in the morning and coming downstairs to see roses, azalea blooms, peonies, and petunias on the windowsill and scattered around the house.

House plants do more than just brighten up a room with color. Along with being pleasing to the eye, studies show they offer real health benefits. According to a University of Agriculture study in Norway, indoor plants can reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30 percent, partially by increasing humidity levels and decreasing dust. Plants can also remove a variety of toxic air emissions including ammonia and carbon monoxide.

They can even make people feel calmer and more optimistic, says Bruno Cortis, M.D., a Chicago cardiologist. Interestingly, he says that studies have shown that hospital patients who face a window with a garden view recovered more quickly than those who had to look at a wall.

Now that spring is in full bloom, why not add some living energy to your home? The health benefits are proven, and nothing’s more gratifying than playing in the dirt!

wedding venue sneak peek

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Eric & I took a trip to Lake Rabun this weekend for a day full of wedding to-dos. With both sets of parents in tow, we had an indulgent lunch at the Dillard House, followed up with a wedding cake tasting, and then headed to the venue to do some serious plotting and planning. The first time we saw the King of Rabun Estate, it was a cold and drizzly January day, but we fell in love with the landscape nonetheless. Seeing it over the weekend, in all of spring’s splendor, was an exciting (and reassuring) experience. The landscape was green and lush and just about the most beautiful thing I could have hoped for. We are now even more thrilled to celebrate our union there. I thought I’d share a few sneak peek photos…we’re saving the “great reveal” for October!

To New Life

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

My grandmother passed away this weekend. Her health had been failing for a while. Fortunately, we were given enough notice to spend some time with her. For much of the afternoon the whole family filled her hospice room and consoled each other, taking turns to be at her bedside and speak to her in soothing voices.

At one point it was advised that we actually eat something, so my parents walked across the street and brought back food. We sat around makeshift tables and as we ate dinner our conversation drifted away from the sadness of the day. At one point, my sister made a joke and the room filled with our laughter. At this very moment, she looked over at Nanna and noticed that the color was leaving her face and that she was slipping away. We all gathered around her bed and held her hands and smoothed her hair and told her how much we loved her and how much happiness she had brought into our lives. She passed away peacefully and with us by her side. It was an incredible experience. I will forever be grateful that I was able to share that moment with her.

Knowing my Nanna and the way she cared for all of us, I have no doubt that she was waiting until she knew we would be okay without her. As long as we were fussing about, in tears and struggling to comfort each other, she wasn’t going anywhere. I truly believe that when she heard us laughing and feeling more comfortable in the moment, she knew that it was okay to leave us.  

There are so few people in the world with the compassionate spirit that my Nanna had. For that reason, I am so very sad for our loss. But my heart is filled with joy for her. She is experiencing her first few days in heaven, reuniting with  loved ones, no longer plagued with a feeble body and aging mind. For eternity, she will rest comfortably and reap the rewards of her selfless life on earth.

Anna Morley

as a radio personality in college

Anna & Frank Morley

Anna Callahan Morley, forever in our hearts.

Help for Haiti

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

By now, we’ve all seen the photos of  devastation in Haiti. The images of pain and suffering are almost too much to bear and have left me feeling humbled and helpless….however, there are many ways to help!

My friend Davia & I decided to take up a collection around the office of non-perishable food, first aid items, bottled water, and clothing…little did we know that in less than a week’s time, we’d collect a massive carload of donations!!

We just returned to the office from dropping them off at the Fisherman Church in Norcross. They are still accepting donations. If you’d like to contribute, contact me at and I’ll give you their info.

You can also make a $10 contribution to the Red Cross relief effort by texting “haiti” to 90999. It’s quick and easy and the $10 is simply added to your phone bill. For more information, go to

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
- Margaret Mead