Thursday, November 10, 2016

Fabric Baskets

It's a mad dash this week to get everything made that I want to bring to a craft fair at the girls elementary school.  This is the 3rd year I've done it.  Have I ever said I hate doing craft fairs?....with a passion?!...  Mainly because I just hate sitting around all that time.  I hate the prep days in advance, pulling together displays, tables, packing it all, loading the car, unpacking it at the fair then repacking to bring home and waiting to do it again the next time.  I've sat too many times and not had enough sales to make the hours of making and preparation worth it.  Yet I still continue to do them occasionally.  I don't know why.

This time I'm making a bunch of fabric baskets.  These are directly from a pattern I designed a few years ago.  I must have intended to make these for another event since I found a stock pile of the interfacing all cut and ready to go.  Lucky me!

I use Peltex 70 to give these some stability.  It's a really heavy interfacing.  I don't like the fusible kind although if I was going to bind the top edge I supposed that would work ok.

This dress has always been a favorite of mine.  Now that the girls have outgrown it I decided to repurpose it.

And here's the repurpose!

The handle on the right is the one that I used on the pattern.  The basket on the left has a handle I wanted to try out.  It looked really simple.  You can find out directions here.  But I think I prefer the handles that stick up.  I like the idea that you can grab the basket and carry it easier.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

summer beach art

Ahhhh, summer time!  It's Monday, the start of a new week and I am trying to mix up a few different projects for us.  We've been spending lots of time outdoors in the pool, at a local lake and in the gardens weeding, weeding and weeding.  Today is a little grey and promising some much needed rain so I thought it was a good day for an art project.

I found this project and thought it would be a perfect replacement for my artwork that was destroyed by a water fight in the bathroom.  (Lesson learned to not use tempera paint for art work that may get wet!) I should have known by all the belly laughs behind a closed door.  It was one of those times where I knew something was going on, something that I wasn't going to like, but the laughter and fun I knew they were having kept me from interfering.  Then I heard silence and quiet footsteps and the tears.  But all was made better with new paintings.

This time we used acrylic paints which gave us a lot more color options.  We stuck with a couple browns for the sand half, blues and white for the water half.  I made the wave in the middle and they just had to follow the wave with the paint.  One of my painters is very precise and wants perfectly consistent, flowing waves, the other completely opposite and kept wanting to add swirls and abstract.
I love how their personalities shine through in their artwork.

We painted their feet dark brown and I helped them place them on the canvas for the footprints.  This would have been great for little tiny toes.  It just came to me but having a larger canvas and adding their footprints every year on a birthday would be an awesome reminder of their growth.

Friday, July 15, 2016

school vacation

Every year that we start school vacation we go through a big adjustment.  We are very used to our routines and it's a little hard to drop our crazy school and extra activities and go right to nothing.  Since we are so busy all school year I like to take the summer almost completely off so we can actually get bored and start to get creative with our time and ideas.  I let my introverted ways take over for a little bit and recoup my mind and soul for the coming school year.

It's been a couple weeks that the girls have been out of school and the worst part of transition for everyone is over.  We did do some fun things including a relaxing trip to the beach for an early summer family vacation.

Fourth of July was spent at a couple parties.  One of which they let off paper lanterns at dusk.  

I was craving dumplings after seeing a recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine so I got the kids involved in rolling and stuffing.

I've started making some new projects.  I used to do a lot of craft shows but gave them all up due to the enormous amount of work, the boredom of sitting there all day and not enough sales to make it all worth it.  Our town has started an event at the end of July and I will be setting up a table there with some zipper cases and reusable shopping bags.  I still have a ton of fabric left over from closing the Stitch Lounge and am hoping to use some of it up.  If it wasn't for the fact that it's being held right down the street I would not be doing it.  

Jasmine has been exploring cooking and making.  She's to the age now where she can figure out more complex directions and even use the stove.  She will get an idea then go to the internet to explore some ways to make it.  One afternoon we all got monster mouths (above)!  She's more interested in making the play dough than playing with it.  
Of course the biggest challenge is keeping the kids occupied for the summer and keeping my sanity.  I am a firm believer in letting them be bored for a little while so they can use their imaginations, play outside and pull out some old toys and games.  That's not to say that we don't do lots of other stuff but when we've been gone running around and then come home the "I'm boreds" and being able to figure out what to do without me involved are overwhelming.  On the other hand sometimes they get so involved in play and projects and I can't get them to leave.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

wine box bag & cover New Pattern Release!

I have been working on this pattern for years!  Like literally since 2011!  It's really not all that difficult if you look at it but there were just so many possibilities.  I have made more changes to this pattern than anything that I have ever made.  The biggest problem was how to reduce the amount of raw edges.  That dang hole for the spout screwed everything up!

One of my friends suggested awhile back that a large grommet looks to be just about the size of the spout hole.  I tried it and it seemed perfect.  That would answer all my raw edge problems as well as making it look professional but for the life of me I could not get a consistent product out of those things and I threw away more than one bag in pure frustration.  Then it hit me while laying in bed one morning at 4:30 a couple weeks ago.  (Yes, I remember the exact time.  It was a erueka moment for goodness sake!!) I figured out how to have almost all seams not exposed.  My pattern writing was reinvigorated and now it's done!  

I have brought these bags to several parties and they always get good comments and "Can I buy one from you?"  But I never felt like they were good enough because of their issues.  I have to feel good about my patterns!   

This pattern also contains a pattern for just a cover incase you want to keep it on your shelf or in your fridge.  My new motto on life is if it's not pretty make it be pretty!  The pattern can be found on Etsy and Craftsy.

Friday, March 18, 2016

handsewing from stars to La Passacaglia

My love of quilted stars has really started to grow over the past 2 years.  One of my first star quilts was blogged about here.  This quilt was all machine pieced and was sort of an experiment in half square triangles.  Actually a lot of my quilts and sewing projects are done more as experiments.  I don't usually like to follow patterns.  I see something or get an idea and work with what I have for materials on hand.  I'm always looking for shortcuts too so my projects very often don't come out like I originally intended.

After these stars I became more drawn to lots of quilted stars.  My eye is drawn to the 30's prints with white sashing.  ...anything that is bright, fresh and clean looking.  I've been feeling like I'm ready to take some more time with quilts and projects and to work on technique rather than bust out a project.  Both of my girls are now of the age that our schedule is filled with dance, basketball and piano and I find myself waiting, waiting and waiting some more.  Knitting and crocheting are just not my thing so I thought I would work on some hand-sewing.

This hand-sewing inspiration came from a group of local ladies that hand-sew together.  I had the pleasure of visiting their last quilt show a few years ago.  It was a.m.a.z.i.n.g.  It was almost spiritual to be among so many vintage hand-made quilts.  Of course the fact that they were all displayed in a church sanctuary helped with that.  I have lots of photos and and will make a post about it at some point.  For years I have been a huge fan of english paper piecing hexagons.  I've never really had a specific project in mind, I just like doing it.  Then I came across something out there in blog land about Tula Pink and her work on the La Passacaglia medallions by english paper piecing.  And I was sucked in.

I completed 2 1/2 medallions by English paper piecing and was loving it but feeling a little disappointed because my sides and points were frequently not matching perfectly.  The centers of my medallions were puckery and it seemed like I was always running out of paper pieces when I was out somewhere.

I started hearing that the author Willyne Hammerstein did not use EPP but just hand-sewed the pieces together and it was much faster.  Half way through my third medallion I switched over.  I am so happy that I did.  It took a little learning curve to match up the corners perfectly but for me this is much, MUCH! easier.  My work lays flat.  Sides and corners meet nicely and I think that it's faster or at least if feels faster. 

My stitches have definitely improved in quality.  My middle finger and thumb now have a nice callus.   I have certainly had more than enough needles going into my finger but I hate using a thimble and I have tried them all!  My favorite way to trace the pieces is with a good ole pencil.  I loved the line easily drawn on with a Frixion but then mid-medallion I ironed my piece flat and all the lines disappeared.  It was an annoying challenge to redraw or guess where they were to add the next shapes.

This will be a project that lasts for awhile but I'm ok with that.  The frequent changes of working with different fabric and shapes will keep me interested and adding a new row is like unwrapping a gift.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Adventures in making a new bag

I have been longing for a new handbag for spring.  Since I started making them back in 2008 I have been carrying a handmade bag.  So I've been thinking that it was time to break away and give myself a whole new look on life and carry a leather bag made by someone else.

Christmas gift certificate in hand, I drove the 45 mins to TJ Maxx excited about the possibility of carrying around a bag that shouldn't take more than 10 mins to look at and decide it was right for me. (vs. the hours it takes to make one) I marched in on a beautiful spring day, excited, hopeful.  I walked around slowly looking at every bag and all their features.
Thinking as I went along...
too much hardware on that one
too big of a flap on that one
what the?
totally not practical....
At one point I felt like a country girl in the big city (I kind of am...).
Do people really carry these around?  Two thirds of the way through I thought, where are all the nice simple leather bags with a couple pockets on the inside? is that too much to ask?
Then I knew...that I was going to be making myself another bag.  I guess deep inside I knew that I could not betray my bag making self by carrying something made half a world away.  I had in mind the style I wanted but picking out fabric is the most daunting part of the whole bag making process for me.

Next stop - JoAnn's.

I am a, I have to see it, it has to catch my eye person.  If I think about it too much it feels like I've already been there, done that.  I second guess myself, then I just give up.  So I repeat in my head, see it, don't think about it too much, go with it.  There were two Ikats in aqua that were calling out to me as I scanned the heavyweights and that was that.  I quickly did an enie-menie-minie-mo and fabric chosen!

I still felt like I needed a dose of leather or something that made the bag a little different than my usual.  I could see a nice pair of brown leather handles to contrast the aqua.  Unfortunately our JoAnn's, for whatever reason, no longer carries bag making supplies.  Really?  Isn't this like the age of DIY and handmade bags?  Then it the lightbulb went off...

Next stop Goodwill.  I literally dug my way through the mountainous crates of bags and purses searching for a pair of handles.  There were actually a few options.  The hardware made my decision. And at only $3.50 I couldn't have bought a pair of handles for even close to that.  Now if I had only come on half price day.

Here we go!  Hideous bag with perfect handles plus Ikat fabric.  Here's the best part.  The total cost of my bag, handles $3.50, fabric 1/2 yard (reg $20 per yard on sale for 50% off) = $5, interior fabric (old sheet from Sally's boutique) the part I used was pennies so I'm saying free, interfacing $1.  Total cost of bag $9.50.  Plus there is enough Ikat fabric left for a couple zipped cases or a small bag which really brings the cost even lower.

And not until I saw this photo did I realize why this fabric stuck out to me so much.  I like aqua or turquoise, or sea green...whatever you want to call it.

I chose a very simple shape.  I started with 15" x 15" for the outside with 2" squares cut out of the bottom for a good sized boxy base.

The front pocket for my cell phone is a patch pocket cut 6" x 6" then pinched in the center base to make the top stay open a little.  I added a tabbed closure and snap.

The inside was a bed sheet from a thrift shop that I had in my stash and was the perfect match.  I added a band of exterior fabric around the top of the bag.  I always feel like this gives a more professional look.  There is a zipped pocket on one side.

And a divided patch type pocket on the other side.  The bag that I used the handles from actually gave me the idea.  These are more accessible than regular flat patch pockets because of the pleats and folds.

Usually I don't add a closure to my bag but I just felt like going for it this time so I added a snap there as well.

The one thing that I am kicking myself for is not adding a firmer stabilizer.  When I started I told myself I was going to add something really stiff like Pellon 70 but I was sewing this early in the morning before school and going out for the day and I REALLY wanted to get it done so I skipped it. It just has the Decor Bond/Pellon 809.  It's a little too floppy for me but hey I was able to have a new bag for the day.

I've been using it for a couple weeks now and I still really like it so I will be making more of these for sure.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


I've been on a mending rampage lately.  I've had so much of it sitting around that I'm finally motivated to tackle it all.  Jeans, quilts, blankets, mittens, sweaters, sweatshirts, pants...

By now I feel like a mending machine.  It's funny how it all sat there for so long.  I dreaded finding matching thread, embroidery floss or patches - whatever was needed for such a small mend.

I've been purging lots of stuff lately...clothes, stuffed animals, toys, household items, fabric and crafty supplies.  I guess the piles of mending was finally getting in the way.

It was time to stop thinking about it and get it done.

It's only taken me a couple days here and there over the past weekend and this week.  What a good feeling to have all of that done or pretty close to...

One of the projects was for a neighbor who asked me to fix several things.
(last September...ahem..)
One of the items was an old bed cover.  It was in rough shape.  Almost more than it was worth it to fix.  There were lots of smaller holes and one large hole.

I've never fixed anything quite that bad.  I can't say I was completely happy with the finish but at least from a distance it wouldn't be a gaping hole.  This thing was like 6 inches long!  There was no way I could recreate the woven pattern without some serious time and thought.  I'm hoping it will go on an opposite side facing away from the entrance to the room. 

The edges were quite frayed in several spots too.
Those were an easy fix...I zipped them through the serger.  The cover's edges are scalloped and slightly distorted from age so it was not imperative that the scallops be repaired perfectly.

All this repairing done by hand has got me in a hand-sewing mood.  I'm planning on some embroidery projects next.