Jen Spilly Designs
handmade for woman and home

spillymade blog

Handmade for Woman and Home
Posts in creative space

Sewing Selfie  

Here's to a lot more of this ^ and a lot less of nothin' going on around here in 2014! For a year that started out somewhat average and normal, 2013 ended on a definite upswing. The whirlwind of renting and moving into my own studio bookended by an active, family-filled Thanksgiving weekend and a generous and more family-filled Christmas was stressful and often frustrating. There's not much that makes me more uneasy than living in clutter and disorganization. Thankfully (and just in time for the New Year) I am now feeling relieved to have time in the studio to settle in, ponder new designs, get crafty and teach some enthusiastic students.

I feel so many opportunities on the horizon... I hope you do too, in whatever it is you choose to do this year! Happy 2014!


This tiny little space (to go along with the tiny little picture of it) is about to become what it was always meant to be... Miss G.'s very own bedroom! Nope, I am not going to quit sewing - although the from the looks of my shop, one might think I had. No, in fact, the thing I have talked about with so many friends, family and acquaintances for so long has finally come to pass. I will be moving my sewing studio out of our house along with my entire operation, including all of my sewing classes!! The big move will likely happen VERY soon - like within the next week...

That's right! Last week The Mr. and I went to check out an amazing little space on Fourth Street right in the stretch of Downtown San Rafael that I have been hoping for. The building is clean and nicely put together with a lovely entry staircase and waiting area. My space has two glass entry doors, big white walls, a partitioned storage area, clerestory windows and adjustable gallery lighting. I am crazy excited! How can I not be? I'll be able to spread out and spend my days doing what I love, set up all my teaching machines and leave them out, and expand my offerings now that the use of my space will not be dictated by the needs of my family. I am looking forward not only to the ability to work in a dedicated and focused environment, but also the chance to participate in all the Downtown San Rafael has to offer for artsy craftsy folks like myself.

What else? Well, the obvious and even bigger bonus is being able to give my kids the space they need. They have both been wanting their own rooms for so long and I feel this move has come at just the right time. I am really happy to be able to provide this for them. I know it will be a great opportunity for them to grow in ways they never knew possible.

Photos of all three spaces I am sure will be coming soon! Stay tuned...

Just Peachy :)

For those who might be curious, I am still here! The blog is alive and well if slightly dormant. Like a bear hibernating for the winter, this blog o' mine has taken a hiatus of an unexpected duration. Although I tried to pop my head in back in March, much like our February friend Punxsutawney Phil, I saw my shadow and turned right around again. Decided I would have to hold out until summer! And, let's face it - I haven't exactly established myself as a consistent blogger up to now anyway. But, here we are and the truth is I just haven't been all that productive. Somehow sewing and crafting of any sort got pushed by the wayside over the past couple of seasons and replaced by days of school volunteerism, kid's sports and just plain old getting everyday stuff done. Ideas percolate, conversations happen and lists get made and yet I still find my creative self stuck in a bit of a rut. However, I am here now to attempt recovery!

I took a few pictures of my studio a couple of weeks back to document the state of things...

Studio June 2012 (2)

The inspiration board in transition. The piles of fabric in a horrible state of disarray. Unfinished projects on the work table waiting for my attention.

Studio June 2012 (3)

The sewing table looking suspiciously clean save for the to-go cup fittingly noting my recently increased caffeine intake.

Studio June 2012 (5)

Truly though, there are some very interesting things happening around here. For instance, I was recently asked to display some of my bags at Sunny Day Salvage in Fairfax. As part of my sales agreement with Sunny Day's creatively fabulous Michele, I will also be working at the shop a few days a month. My plan is to Facebook and Tweet those dates a day or so ahead of time so local folks can stop by and say hello. In fact, I am looking forward to being there this Saturday from 12 noon to 5 p.m. If all goes well, I will also be leading a couple of evening workshops at Sunny Day each month teaching some fun craft and sewing projects to interested students.

Things are also moving ahead nicely with Marin Handmade. The amazing Heather has created a top notch website for us, the focus group has been meeting regularly and a few events are being planned for the summer and fall months. I'll be sure to post all that information here as it gets finalized.

Last but not least, I am (FINALLY!) ready to start teaching sewing to children and adults. My plan is to take on small groups of four, aged 7-12, for beginning machine sewing, as well as individual private lessons for older children and adults or Mom & Me classes for moms and kids who want to learn together. Look for class descriptions and pricing to be posted soon on my website. If you are local, interested and just can't wait for me to post the info, email me and we can hash out the details.

My first newsletter will be arriving soon too! If you would like to subscribe click here and enter your info.

Pillows, Pouches & A Little Happy New Year

Currently on my work table are a few new pillow covers for our living room. I must say I have searched high and low for pillow inspiration, but nothing is really grabbing me. Since we lack a decent fabric store here in Marin, there is really nowhere I can go to lay out bolts of options and hope for one of those great Aha! moments. After many days procrastinating a drive to Berkeley, I gave up and decided to go local to a little shop in Mill Valley that has a decent but small selection of quality cottons. There I found this lovely plum floral print from Art Gallery Fabrics' Paradise Collection. pillows in progress 2

It really is pretty, especially paired with the solid linen/rayon blend I picked up from Joann's that is a miraculously perfect match. However, I have to say I am still not satisfied and I already know I will continue to be on the lookout for the perfect fabric and inspiration for the next batch of pillows. I really just couldn't live with the previous pillows for a minute longer. I had hoped to finish these before our little New Year's Eve party and when I didn't get it done, I seriously considered hiding the old ones in the closet. Far too dingy to bother showing a picture of here, they have truly worn out their welcome in the Spilly household. As I continue my search for the perfect pillow, these will have to do. Photos of the completed pillows will follow...

pillows in progress

In other news, I whipped up some cute little zipper pouches for the special ladies in my life for our family Christmas Eve gift exchange.

Christmas zip pouches

They came out really nicely. I made them slightly bigger than the ones currently in my shop. I realized a while back that the ones I have had for sale up until now weren't quite the perfect size for carrying makeup which usually is the purpose of this sort of bag. They are just a bit longer taking into account the length of the average makeup brush, mascara, or lip & eye liner pencil. That said, "the ladies" loved them and future pieces for the shop will be updated accordingly to maximize their functionality.

Christmas zip pouches 3

Finally, for whoever might be reading this, I want to wish you a Happy New Year! The Holidays whirled through my life this year like a tornado taking with them my ability to think straight and, most certainly, my ability to write down or take note of a single thing. I am not one to make long lists of resolutions, but if you check back here you might just find a list of things I hope to accomplish over time and a list of things I am proud to have accomplished in 2011. For now, however, I wish everyone a year of peace, health and comfort  in 2012.

Finally Starting To Feel Like Home...

Well, good morning! Let me just start the day by saying, I did it! I finally did it! I closed my Typepad account and the old version of my blog will no longer be available there. I feel a sense of relief. Why did I hang on so long? I don’t know. All I can say is that this process has been frustrating and complicated and annoying. Pulling everything together for the new blog in this new space took some time. I couldn’t get the banners to show up right, they were the wrong size, other things got in the way of me sitting down and just getting it done, and overall I procrastinated (as I am known to do) an awful lot. In fact, I spent so many days trying to get it all right that when I reached a point where I thought I would never figure it out, I just shut down. I couldn’t log in to Wordpress for fear I might just cry. I considered stopping this thing altogether. I even considered dumping all of this work and just sticking with the old blog, but then my frustration made it so I couldn’t log in there either.

But, here I am and I am feeling pretty good about it. A weight has been lifted. I have the feeling I get when I finally drop off that load of clothes at Goodwill that’s been taking up space in the back of my car for a month. You know what I’m talking about – those bags you take out and put back in each day so you can make room for the dog and yet you just can’t seem to drive those extra few blocks to drop them off. It’s a genuine freedom I can feel deep down in my bones!

The banners now are not only the right size but they appear, somewhat magically, on the right pages!! I nearly peed my pants when I got that to work. Really! I let out a whoop and the kids came running like I might have fallen and broken my leg or something. That alone is worth celebrating!

The funny thing is I can’t even really tell you how I did it except to say it’s how I always do things. I worked on it until I was about to throw my computer through the window and then I took a long, long break. Then, one day I opened it up, spent about an hour poking around and, Voila! (as they say in France) here it is.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know there are still glitches here and there, things I can add and fine tune, pages missing and photos with bad lighting, not to mention days and days worth of posts that should have been written and my shop that should have been updated long ago. But, it’s a start and a darn good one if you ask me.

So, I invite you to poke around here. Let me know what you think. Let me know what might not be working. Make suggestions right in the comments section and tell me what you’d like to see here in this space. If you see something here you think might appeal to someone you know, send them the link. That’s what this is all about after all – sharing ideas and thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to check it out too. I really appreciate the feedback and knowing that you stopped in to see what I am up to.

creative spaceJennifer
studio after / in progress
Finally making some progress on the studio re-do. The walls are Ansonia Peach as planned and I love it! 

I used a twin sized quilt batting to create a small design wall behind the desk. I am not a quilter - at least not yet - but this will serve me well by allowing me to stick up swatches of fabrics that I am planning to pair together. And I do hope, at some point, to start experimenting with quilts and this will be the perfect spot to build my blocks. The batting material acts the same as a felt board allowing you to stick up pieces of fabric without pins. I hung the batting using some heavy push pins and it seems pretty sturdy so far. I don't recommend this method, however, if your husband has issues with tacks in the sheetrock. Not sure how this is any better or worse than all the nails and hooks around holding up our artwork, but let's just say we had a bit of a "discussion" when he had discovered what I had done.

That white cabinet to the right holds my sewing machine. It's the hydrolic-lift type from Joann's purchased a couple of years ago. I splurged on the custom plexi-glass frame to slip in around my machine in order to make the stitch plate flush with the table top. I decided to leave the desk area under the design wall open for cutting and set up the serger to the left. So now I can be at my desk (where there is usually a chair hiding all of my messy storage below) and move freely from cutting, to sewing, to serging. The ironing board I set up at the other end of the room and just hang it up on the back of the door when I want it out of the way.

The shelf above the desk is from Ikea (just a board with braces really) and that bulletin board below it is loaded with current inspiration.

This space is coming along and is really starting to feel like my own. I am sure the studio, just as the things I make in it, will continue to be a constant work in progress, but for now I feel like it is on the right track.

creative spaceJennifer
studio remix

Studio Before 1

In November we got a set of bunk beds and moved Gianna into Nathan's room.  This happened because I needed space for my sewing stuff which seemed to be taking over the house.  So, here it is - my new sewing studio clearly in a state of transition.  Lavendar paint still on the walls, poofy gingham shade still in place, and wooden angel mobile hanging from the ceiling - no matter, I still took over the room.  We brought back my giant desk from storage and I got down to work.  I am sure this room will get rearranged ten times before I find the "perfect" set-up.  OK, it's only 8x10 (tiny!) so how many ways can you rearrange it?  Oh, I will find a way!  Just ask my mother.  I used to rearrange my bedroom once a week when I was a teenager and that was not a large room either.

Even though it is far from perfect and will go through many stages of transition before I feel truly moved in, I am totally excited and looking forward to being able to leave my work out, spread out and store all of my things in one place.  Take a look below at the paint swatch on the wall.  That's Benjamin Moore Ansonia Peach and, oddly, I love it!  I'm not really an orange/peachy person, but I am pretty sure this is my color.

This is such a huge improvement over having a workbench in the garage (with dust on everything), my sewing machine in the hall and piles moving from the dining table to other locations throughout the house each night in order for us to eat dinner.  Looking forward to really making it mine and getting some great projects pumped out.

Studio Before 2

creative spaceJennifer