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Couple O’ Quick Things

I love illustrating recipes and maps. I wish I had more time to draw up more, but I’ve been lucky recently to create one of each for the great site They Draw and Cook (TDAC) and sister-site They Draw and Travel (TDAT). 

First up is my recent set of three potato-centric recipes for TDAC:

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And for a recent TDAT call for maps that focus on the more creative and curious highlights of your city, I chose to dig deep into little-known New York City curiosities:

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I know. Totally foolish. Just how I like it. But I’ll bet you didn’t know all of these things about NYC, did you? If so, get yourself a Big Apple Tour Bus job PRONTO! If not, you just might now be equipped to kick some major booty at your next pub-hosted trivia night.

1. Albert’s eyes? Yeah, a pretty shocking discovery to me too. A couple of sources claim they’re in NJ but most document them as residing somewhere in NYC. But who cares!?!? Either way, it’s totally and utterly bizarre and sad, in fact, considering this all went against his final wishes. I just wish I could find out which exact safety deposit box we’re talking about…

2. Sure, sure, by “tiny’ we might really mean “microscopic” and by “shrimp” we might really mean “crustacean invisible to the naked eye”, but who could resist illustrating these guys any other way than this? Talk about ultimate shrimp cocktail…

3. As for feeling gassy in church, NYC law states that a person is guilty of disruption or disturbance of a religious service, funeral, burial or memorial service “when he or she makes unreasonable noise or disturbance while at a lawfully assembled religious service, funeral, burial or memorial service, or within one hundred feet thereof, with intent to cause annoyance or alarm or recklessly creating a risk thereof.” Under the law, a fart could potentially get someone charged with a misdemeanor.

4. The Empire State Building has its own zip code, who knew? 5. Toilet paper was invented in NYC. I think a quiet collective whisper of “Thank you, Joseph, thank you” is in order right now, don’t you think? 6. Scrabble was invented in Jackson Height, Queens; if you’re ever in JH and you look around closely, you can even spot the street sign honoring Mr. Butts’ great contribution to many a family game night. 7. New York City was the first capitol of the United States, with George Washington being sworn in at Federal Hall. But you knew that, because you paid attention in U.S. History class, right. RIGHT?!?! 8. Air-conditioning was invented in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1902…stay cool, hipsters, stay cool.

That concludes a couple o’ quick things and a little brain expansion for ya. Enjoy!

Spoonflower Headquarters: An SK Tour

I’ve only been obsessively designing and uploading my surface designs to Spoonflower for, oh you know, the better part of the last six years. 

So when the opportunity arose last week to actually get my physical self to their North Carolina headquarters, I did just that.

But wait. Before you think this post is going to be a guided tour of their amazing facilities, let me go ahead and make this perfectly clear. This post is a post like no other. Why? Because, good virtual friends, I’m about to give you the most concise and tailored tour of….wait for it…

THE BEST PLACES TO LIE DOWN once you’re inside Spoonflower Headquarters.

Oh yes, be stunned and amazed. And thank me in the form of pre-ordered fruit baskets scheduled to appear at my home’s front door. 

Thrilled and excited? You should be.

Let’s begin…

Once you have found your way to and arrived at Spoonflower’s Meridian Parkway address, parked your car and made it through the front doors, it is wise to spread out in the foyer to get a lay of the land…

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You’ll not only be impressed by all the fine upholstery work, but you’ll quite likely find the carpeting to be on the lusciously plush side of office chic.

Head through the magical doors that divide mere common folk from those charged with the heroic task of printing any and everything under the sun onto reams of scrumptious fabric and you just might be lucky enough to spot a design or two of your own…

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Such sights might become justifiably joyfully overwhelming, so you might consider resting for a bit. Maybe here is a good choice…

imageOr if you’re feeling a bit more social, you might consider a location like this…

imageWhile relaxing, you might just look up and notice a design or two of yours adorning some of the shelves, like #9 for example…

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Why not shake things up a bit and move to a more open area of the great Spoonflower landscape. Taking some of their golden toys with you wouldn’t hurt either.

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This might be a good time in the lovely tour of All-Things-Wonderfully-Spoonflower to consider a bathroom break. 

Take a moment to appreciate and give big mental kudos for “Best Bathroom Stall Decals EVER.” Because behold…

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Once the call of nature has silenced itself, waste no time and get yourself right back into the center of things.

You’ll find that the carpet around Danielle’s desk is quite inviting…

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Feel the need to be vertical again for a few odd minutes? No problem. Head on into one of the far offices and be welcomed with the surprise of an oversized plush unicorn.

Sure, this looks like a routine pony proctology exam, but in fact it’s a purple horsey tail that will hold your attention for a more time than anyone thought one ever could.image

Say “until nayyyyyy-xt time!” to your new unicorn friend and head back out into the main floor area where you will find ample room to make unseasonable snow angels and whatever other poses you see fit.

The spatial options in this part of the Spoonflower floor plan are endless.

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Interested in actual furniture that you might consider putting your body on versus the floor? Then head on back to the main lobby, where your clothing colors will be instantly coordinated with a complimentary palette.

Because you are one here (and pinks with orange are a classic pairing)…

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Once you’ve experienced just how wonderful the people of Spoonflower are, go back to the point where you began your tour and bid everyone a fond farewell…

imageSee you on the digital flip side, Spoonflower peeps! Thank you for a grand visit. 

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We knew your fabrics rock…and now we know your floor does too.

Double-score!

SK’s Mini Fabric Giveaway Winner ANNOUNCED!

Woohoo, it’s time to announce the winner of my mini fabric giveaway!

First, let me tell you that I really loved reading all your entries. I’m happy to know that my Great Gotham collection is so popular already and brings back great NYC memories for many of you. I’m also happy to hear which fabrics you’d pair together for the Modern Traditional Mini Quilt Challenge and am waiting eagerly to see the entries!

I realized it was too hard to pick a winner because I was smitten with every comment for one reason or another, so I did the next best thing….I enlisted the help of Mister Baby Pants because, frankly, he doesn’t care who wins as long as he gets to be the one to pick out the piece of paper and unfold it.

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And the winner is……………….

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Terry Maimone! Congratulations, Terry!

And thank you to everyone else who participated! Giant virtual high fives and low fives to all of you! Yay!

Modern Traditional Mini Quilt Challenge!

Hey, hey, did you hear about the great Modern Traditional Mini Quilt Challenge announced yesterday over at Timeless Treasures and Dear Stella?

If you thought you might enter but don’t have just the right Timeless Treasures fabric to add to your Mini Quilt entry, not to worry because here’s where I save the day like the pretend superhero that I am!

*Cue the wind machine and trumpets! Where’s my cape?!*

Da-da-da-dahhhhh!

I’m hosting a mini contest within this mini contest: Win some of my fabulous Timeless Treasures fabrics to use in your Mini Quilt entry! 

What You Win:

1. Two, count ‘em TWO luscious yards of one my latest fabrics, YOUR choice!

**OR**

2. Four, that’s right, FOUR 1/2-yard cuts of any four of ANY of my latest fabrics, YOUR choice!

Here are just some of the designs you can pick from…

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How to Enter:

1. Go look here to see my latest Timeless Treasures fabrics. Comment below on this blog post, telling me which of those fabrics you’d pick for your Mini Quilt Challenge entry and why.

2. If you are on Facebook, share this post on your wall and tell me which fabrics of mine you’d pick for your Mini Quilt Challenge entry and why. Make sure to ‘like’ my page: Samarra Khaja | Sammyk Fabrics and tag it along with hashtag #DSTTchallenge.   

3. If you are on Instagram, re-gram this post and tell me which fabric you’d pick for your Mini Quilt Challenge entry and why. Make sure to tag me @samarrakhaja​ along with hashtag #DSTTchallenge.

4. If you are on Twitter, tell me which fabric you’d pick and why, tag me @samarrakhaja​ and use hashtag #DSTTchallenge.

Smell a pattern here? Good!

I’m all about overdoing it (same goes with chocolate-eating), so if you have more than one of the above, spread the word and chime in all over the place. Multiple social media outlets are encouraged! (Have I gone mad? Maybe.)

Seriously, I want to know what you’d pick and why! I can’t wait to see everyone’s interpretation of “Modern Traditional”, so let the brainstorming begin!

Deadline:

You have until Wednesday, April 10th at 12:00 Noon EST to enter.

I’m not using any automated system to pick a winner (be thankful I didn’t strong-arm you into signing up for more annoying email spam; you’re welcome), so please follow the steps above and tag me so I can find your entry. I’ll read all entries with my own two eyeballs and select a random winner from all who enter.

So be impassioned, be heartfelt, be verbose and emphatic!

Let me see some SK fabric love and in return you’ll get some in the mail! That’s nothing but win-win!

I can’t wait to see what the SK fabric winner makes for the Mini Quilt Challenge! Good luck!

No Foolin’: Recent Sewing Projects

Firstly, Happy April Fools’ Day. Secondly, I have no pranks for you today. Sold out of them yesterday and getting restocked tomorrow, so today, you’re just plain outta luck. Sorry.

Now on to more interesting things…

Here’s another bunch o’ stuff I’ve been up to recently. I figured it would be nice to post these all together since they’re all sewing projects, but they’ve been occurring on and off of the last few months and for different purposes, so it’s also nice to see them as a collective. Plus, I can retrospectively see mini themes and groupings, like the colors I’m drawn to at any given time or similar techniques or fabric types. Nice and cohesive.

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First, there’s always my staple go-to gift, the personalized toy bag. I can’t stop making these because they’re so practical, useful and fun to sew up. 

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These were for couple of birthday boys from The Bub’s school. I enjoyed tailoring them to suit their (haha, okay, really their moms) tastes and sensibilities. 

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And what’s up with all the “J” names, I have no idea, but this was literally the fourth “J”-initialed bag I’ve made in the last month.

It’s been enjoyable to revisit and rummage through all my fabric in search of the perfect combos to make all these goodies with. I still have the much bigger goal in life to have more stuff *leave* my house than *enter* it, so I continue to slowly chip away at what seems to be my own private art supply store. Okay, fine, maybe it’s a chain by now.

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I guess the gender divide is starting to happen because I can’t recall the last girl’s birthday party my eldest was invited to; it’s been a while. That makes me sad because I hold onto hopes for more gender coexistence, especially when the kids are still young. C’est la vie.

Anyway, I was very excited to once again have the chance to make a gift for a birthday girl, and in this case one who is quite the girlie-girl and very much a fashionista. I love any 5-year old with a diehard fashion conviction.

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So of course I took the opportunity to go over the top with a jazzy tote bag paired with great pops of color and fun textures. 

I made the whole thing up from scratch as I went along; I really sew the best that way (you know, when I don’t completely screw it up and it actually comes out just the way I imagined it). This time I nailed it. Phew!

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I had actually never worked with webbing before but for some unknown reason I have numerous giant spools of the stuff, so I swore to myself I’d start using it. I wasn’t originally going to put a letter on the bag, but The Bub insisted we needed an “O” on it and I’m glad he did because the neon pink sets the entire color palette off just that much more. 

I think I just might love egg yolk yellow together with neon pink. Yeah, that’s right, I’m calling it now. Future trend alert.

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Not too long ago, I found myself the willing sucker of a social media pay-it-forward gift-making assignment. A friend posted something to the effect of, “Hey, if you’re one of the first five people to comment on my post, I’ll make you something sometime this year.” I thought, ‘Heck yeah!”.

The kicker was that I had to agree to post the same assignment and rules, so I did. Three friends of mine responded. Three. Um. Not sure what that says about me, but I was also really kinda fine with only having to make 3 things instead of five. Less people to follow through with gift-giving? Sure thing!

I don’t have the third gift made (haven’t even thought about it yet), but I have finished the first two. 

First up, a giant stuff carrot. 

Obviously. 

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I got to use up more of the luscious upholstery fabric I was recently bequeathed by my personal Fabric Fairy.

Turns out, I am a complete and utter sucker for great-quality velvets and corduroys. I’d probably eat the stuff if given half the chance.

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This project required some sorting out as I wanted the stems to not be completely floppy and dead-looking, so I sandwiched in some wire armature supports into each leaf.

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Can you tell from this photo how totally chewable and yummy that orange velvet is? Gorgeous and heavy, I want a three piece suit made out of it.

But for now, a giant useless carrot will do just fine.

And you know how sometimes you stuff something and those funky buckled creases occur? In this case, those creases are perfect because they mimic the grooves and texture that a carrot has. I was originally going to embroider some lines onto the surface, but no need!

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Why is this giant stuffed carrot on a plate? For no reason other than to show you the scale…and it’s funny.

Eat your vegetables!

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The second gift for my other social media sucker friend was also an extravagant velvet and corduroy affair.

For this gift, I chose to focus on her cat, Daisy, who, after gracefully adjusting to life with two new kid additions to the family, deserves a little extra attention of her own, methinks.

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I perused my friend’s online photos to find close-ups of Daisy and sketched out my version of her.

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I transposed my sketch into little pieces of fabric and became a zig-zagging fiend on my sewing machine, appliquéing them all together.

The photo doesn’t do it justice, but that yellow ( kinda ochre-y, kinda chartreuse-y) velvet background fabric is simply edible in my book. It’s divine.

I used a dark purple thread, partially because it would add an extra pop and partially because I was totally and utterly lazy and didn’t want to change my thread. 

I love the results.

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What makes it even better was finding the perfect fabric to back it with; not only does it have just about the same colors in it as the front design, but it’s a sweet floral and, hello, for a cat named Daisy, that makes it a perfect match. 

This is what the finished pillow looks like.

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It looks a tad deflated here because I didn’t have the right-sized pillow insert at the moment, but you get the idea. Oh, and I failed to iron it before taking the photo. Another signature SK move, you’re welcome.

Anyway, I think Daisy likes the finished product!

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I love mini projects like these because they break up my regular schedule of bigger design jobs and make for nice quick bursts of imaginative carefree fun. 

That’s it for now!

Is It Spring Yet?

Don’t answer that. No really, don’t.

What I will happily acknowledge is that the March/April issue of Generation Q magazine is popping up on bookstore shelves faster than daffodil blooms can make up their minds.

Although I still haven’t gotten my dirty little paws on a copy (arghhhhhh, I’m too impatient for this!), I did score this sneak peak (thanks, TT!):

imageSee that? I’ve got a fun little feature in the latest issue! 

It’s a two-part sewing project I created using my “When Pigs Fly” fabric: a cute lunch bag and accompanying sandwich bag to match!

So go get your copy (I’ll race ya!) and sew one up faster than you can say “unseasonable cold snap!”

Finished Project: Annual Report Design

Along with various art projects, sewing and textile-related endeavors and whatever else, I also work regularly on graphic design projects for a variety of clients.

I’ve done this for years now, but I tell ya, after all that work, the best thing is to see and hold the finished piece complete in all its printed glory.

When it’s a hefty 45-pager like this annual report, it’s even more exciting.

Lots of copy, lots of photos, lots of captions and content to keep straight…all finessed together into a pretty bound book. 

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LIsten, whenever I get to add sweet flourishes like a nice set of peekaboo die-cut windows, it’s even more fun.

Annual reports can often be reallllllly dry and boring, so this was a great opportunity to showcase a creative organization like the Moving Picture Institute in a more unusual way.

Film organization? Why, oversized sprockets, of course!

A playful nod to the physical film we don’t actually get to see all that much of anymore, but the iconography still stays and immediately conveys what this printed piece will be about.

I’m also a sucker for old-school references, so it was a perfect fit.

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Sometimes you don’t know what will come of any given spread until you jump in and start playing around with all the pieces to the puzzle.

A quote here, a stat there, an image here, a caption there…adjust, adjust, adjust and a sweet cohesive layout appears.

I still get giddy when it happens so smoothly.

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The trick is to carry that thematic tone from page to page, while also tailoring it to specific content, in this case, stats, stats and more stats.

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One of the many photographic section openers, this one is my favorite.

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Another print job complete and more happy clients.

Win-win!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

What did I do this morning, after waking up to my wonderful husband’s sweet gifts for the children and me? 

Well, after drinking my morning coffee, I realized that I needed to get on with some sort of gifts for everyone because I completely waited until the last minute.

Let me say that I really dislike holidays/celebrations fueled by marketing. I know. I get it. And I don’t like the insincerity or sense of obligation that it often creates in some people. That just makes me sad. So I’ve never really been a big fan unless the expressions of love are unbridled and pure.

And in the case of my guys, and especially my oldest son, it’s so real and so joyous. I mean, come on, when your kid is thrilled to pieces to dress for school in head-to-toe red (yes, even red underwear), you know you’ve got sweet genuine love for the day at hand.

That’s when I really realized I hadn’t gotten my act together.

So after my required coffee and with no consumption of food whatsoever (bad move as I became a grumpy, woozy, almost-barfy sewer as the hours ticked on), I decided to make a couple of heart-shaped pillows for the kids and a carrot cake for my husband.

I still need to make that cake, because I’m now using the tiny spare time I have before school pick-up to write this post. My priorities and time management are quite up the pole today.

So anyway, I made giant fleece heart pillows. Did I stop there? No. I personalized them with neon pink appliquéd letters for each recipient.

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Did I stop there? I should have, but I wanted extra pizzazz, so I made (MADE<—-read: I’m nuts) my own piping with striped fabric and added that flourish to the mix.

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I’m happy they’re done and the kids will love ‘em. For me, I’d just love a nap. Or maybe a sandwich. Why don’t I eat when I should? Don’t answer that.

I know once I go get my giddy boy from school, I’ll get a second wave of love for the day. And that’s good because I plan to enlist his help to get Dad’s surprise carrot cake made.

All handmade and all from the heart; yay to that!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

SK News: Quiltmaker Magazine’s 100 Blocks

I already knew 2014 would be full of fun, exciting stuff and as things unfold, I’m thrilled to share them with you:

I was invited a few months ago to submit an original design for a quilt block to Quiltmaker Magazine, for possible inclusion in their 100 Blocks series. Well, that lil ol’ block has been picked to be in Quiltmaker’s upcoming vol. 9 of 100 Blocks!

I’m still a newbie to most things quilting-related, so considering this block is literally the second one I’ve ever contemplated, designed and pieced together in my entire life makes this even more thrilling. 

The very first block I made was actually my initial submission idea, and although it did come out the way I wanted, it just seemed a tad boring to me and figured I could do better. So, flying by the seat of my pants, I concocted a new idea, drafted and sewed it up, sent it off to Quiltmaker and now it’s scheduled to debut on May 6 when the next issue of 100 Blocks hits the newsstands.

So what did I make?

Cue the party pooper womp womp sound, because I can’t give any more details on that because, hello, it would be a spoiler alert otherwise!

But hey, that’s a good thing because really, because what’s more fun than a surprise, right?!

Rest assured that when we get closer to May, I’ll be the first one posting about it, so stay tuned!

Yay!

PURR Pillow Tutorial Time!

Want to make this most PURRfect pillow for your favorite feline friend?

See? I can totally read your mind.

Well, head on over to the Timeless Treasures blog now and see how I made it using my brand new Thumbprint Cats fabric!

Your cat will love you for it…

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…or maybe just follow you around demanding food a tiny bit less due to the sweet, sweet distraction of a new place to cat nap.

PURRfection.