Monday, December 11, 2017

Weekend Plans

We spent our weekend doing the Christmas thing!  Saturday morning we went out to our favorite breakfast spot, Elmers, in Ashfield.  My mouth is watering just thinking of it now.  Then it was off to pick out our Christmas tree.  We have been going to this place for at least 11 years.  You trudge through the woods with a saw and find a tree top, cut it down and drag it out.  Only wondering while you are lugging it out down steep embankments and pricker bushes why it is that you did this again.

They are ungroomed and completely natural.  It's been $25 up until this year when it went up to $30.  This year it seemed a little more difficult to find one that was full enough.

We found the perfect one but it was pretty high up.  My husband is a good sport and didn't mind a little tree climb.  All of the pinecones in the upper branches sealed the deal.  We even stole a little of the grapevine climbing over the trees next to it.  We were just helping the next person clean who didn't want a bunch of grapevine stuck on their tree.  If I had it my way I would have just loaded it up with lots of grapevine, bittersweet, red berries and white lights.  I don't think the kids would be happy with that.  In fact Jalila kept saying, when are you going to take those sticks off of the tree...(eye roll from me) kids these days have no appreciation for the natural state of things!

We learned a trimming lesson the hard way last year when we brought it inside and trimmed off the extra from the bottom.  We were bummed because we should have cut the 6" off the top which would have made it look fuller both at the top and bottom.  This year we measured, twice! and then cut from the top.  I trimmed a little from the branches but I really like the totally natural look.  Someday I'll probably figure out that I'm just talking myself into it because of the price.

We have a ton of ornaments.  This tree fit them all.  We had an incident a few years back where my youngest daughter accidentally tipped the tree over.  I lost all of my vintage and fancy glass ones that I had been collecting since I was a teenager.  I was sad but it's only ornaments.  That was traumatic and it's turned into a Christmas tradition that we have to retell the story.  I keep thinking she is going to have some deep lasting emotional scar from reliving it every year but she's just as into the story as the rest of us.  Only time will tell.

This was a strange weekend because my husband took both weekend days off and we didn't have something that we had to do that was work or sports related in any way.  On Sunday I ended up spending a good long time with my sewing machine.  I'm prepping for a last minute holiday sale with some friends.  I got 2 reversible aprons made and designed another one that is a cross back apron.  I decided to make my own pattern for the cross back because I didn't find one that I really loved and I also didn't want to have to buy a pattern and tape together a ton of 8 1/2" x 11 sheets of paper.  I don't have any photos of those yet but I might make a post of it's own for what I'm making.

I did take a little break from sewing for gingerbread houses.  I bought kits this year instead of making it all from scratch.  WAY easier!!  Plus they used up a ton of old candy.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Turning Vintage Dresden blocks into a Quilt

Last fall I was at a little craft bazaar just down the road from my house.  I found these fantastic vintage dresden blocks all hand appliquéd onto muslin.

I've had a love affair with 30's fabrics AND dresden blocks for just about as long as I can remember and to find both of them was like the biggest score I have found in my quilting/sewing experience.

I think I got all 24 blocks for $40!  They all measure at least 13" square.  I could tell they had all been sewn together at some point because there was still the ripped out threads around the edges.

It had never been in a finished quilt I don't think because the blocks were all in such good shape.  There is only one block with a small brown stain that won't come out but I think I can appliqué either another piece of muslin over it or get creative with a patch of some sort.

I threw them all in the washing machine.  You could tell they had not ever been washed and I figured if they all disintegrated no big loss.  They came out great..No stitches lost!  I let them air dry because I was a little afraid that with the muslin it would shrink too much and make the dresedens too puckery.  Even with the air drying there was quite a bit of shrinkage.  This will definitely be a good quilt to tie and not quilt...or maybe a combination with a tie in the middle of the dresden and quilting in between the blocks.

I'm finally feeling the motivation to tackle putting it all together.  Until now I was really just happy to pull them out occasionally, pet them and look at each block.  I was feeling a little stumped as to how to put them together..with what sashing or maybe not even sashing at all.  I decided to add sashing though only because then it would make it big enough for my queen bed.  For the longest time I picked out a yellow for the sashing.  Yellow is so cheery and happy.  But then I sort of felt like that was a little too typical of what you normally see in a dresden or vintage quilt.

Then I pulled out a sea green and I started to veer in that direction.  It felt so much better to me.  I dug through my other blues, greens an aquas and pulled out 4 colors that I thought would look good with each other and the dresden plates.  I kept coming back to that yellow though.  Do I incorporate that somehow?  I'm still not quite sure.  I do know that I want to surround the blocks with a log cabin style strips of alternating colors.  I think that will bring some modern-ness to it.  I'm toying with occasionally throwing in some yellow for contrast but I'm not feeling it 100%.

I need to make up some more of the aqua blocks first an see how it feels.  It's all about feeling for me.  I have to mull it over, pull out fabrics, sleep on it, wait a couple days.  Sometimes things just come right away and sometimes I need to give it more time.  I've come to give myself more time as I've grown in my quilting and sewing.  Maybe I can work with the yellow on the backing?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Spring cushion refresh and finally time to garden!

Last fall my neighbor asked me to recover her porch cushions.  It was October and she said no rush.  (You should never tell me there is no rush!)  I'm posting this in June and the cushions were finally finished a couple weeks ago.  I guess I beat the first day of summer at least!  She wanted either a burgundy or green fabric.  Easy enough. Who knew that it would not be easy to find either of those colors.  I tried looking in all of the fabric stores I knew of in a 40 mile radius and nothing.  I ordered samples online.  Do you know how hard it is to match a color sample to a computer screen?!  The 4 samples I ordered were nothing like what I thought they would be.  The fact that I wanted to give her an actual outdoor fabric that will stand up to the weather and fading was also a factor in the search.  And of course cost.  Most outdoor fabrics start at $25 per yard which is not all that affordable.  I'm not saying it's not worth it, but considering that it would cost a lot more to have them recovered than to just go out and buy new ones.  I am all for redoing just for the sake of not throwing out all that cushioning that was still perfectly good.

Her current green cushions were quite faded and I didn't want that happening to the new ones by the end of this summer.  I'm hoping this new fabric lives up to what it promises and doesn't end up like the old ones.

I spent a couple weeks looking and waiting for the samples.  I did one last visit to a couple shops.  I stopped in Joann's and this blue outdoor fabric kept catching my eye.  It had a great texture too.  I knew she wanted the burgundy or green but knowing the colors of her yard and house this blue kept calling to me.  And good ole' Joann's also had it 50% off.  I called her up and explained the situation.  She decided to go with the blue trusting me.  Oddly I felt very confident that this was the fabric.

After I completed them and they were on her porch against the white of her house (that's her house in the photo below!) and wicker furniture, the grey of her floor, the green of of landscaping and the red of her barn I thought it was the perfect match.  It was a great change and a refreshing look.  Both her and her daughter agreed that this was a good choice!  And I am so happy.

I haven't been feeling the whole "it's nice weather I want to get out and garden" thing.  Usually I'm so ready and can't wait to spend the day in the dirt.  I think it's the weather up here in the North East.  Our spring has been rainy and cool.  Up until last week I was turning the heat on every morning to warm it up for the day.  Everyone is talking about how everything is behind.  The strawberries are just starting to get ripe!  Typically my garden is in around the end of April and early May at the latest.   I usually have to keep an eye out for a late frost.  I finally forced the family out one rainy Sunday to go purchase our plants.  We spent the rest of that rainy day planting those and sowing seeds.  Unfortunately most of the seeds didn't take.  The plants seem happy with all the rain though.  This weekend I'll be replanting seeds.  It will be interesting to see what the rest of the summer brings.  Hey, as long as it doesn't rain when it's time for my vacation I'll be good!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Cutest Little Needle Book Tutorial

I've finally finished my needle book tutorial.  This is such a fun project to make for a fellow sewist.  I have little scraps of fabrics that I love but don't quite know what to do with them.  This is a perfect project to put those to good use!

I've written this in a printable format for you to download and be able to refer to while you make it.

Needle Book Tutorial


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

La Passacaglia update

I am just finishing up my last (9th) of Rosette No. 4.  I have been working on this for almost 2 years now.  I last shared about my work here.  After that post it went on hold for awhile.  Then I discovered a video how Sue Daley uses a glue pen with her paper pieces instead of thread basting them and I had to give it a try.  Watching her whip through basting those pieces I was like... Wait. What?!  I don't know what rock I had been living under.  How did I not know about this before now?

Through some more exploring I came upon this site by The DIY Addict.  Her videos helped me figure out how to get my work to lay flatter when I used paper pieces.  You can see in the photo above the one on the left was what a start of a rosette looked like before and the right one was how much flatter some of her tips helped me get them.

So once I got through all the new information I bought myself a glue pen.  Then printed out some fresh new paper pieces.  I use these in addition to my Millefiori Quilts book.  Well worth the cost since you have the patterns ready to print forever and can even print them directly on fabric.  Although I prefer printing on card stock and cutting them out myself.

Here are my rosettes up until now.  Some of these I posted before but now they are all in one place.

You might notice that some of these are done with papers and some just stitched together.  I went back and forth but now that I am armed with some new techniques I hands down choose the paper piecing.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Deconstructing a Shirt to Repurpose

I found this shirt at the Goodwill a few month's back. (I already started deconstructing at this point so the sleeves are gone.)  I love the style of it, the color and the fabric. (Minus the wrinkles of course. Pressing came after it was fully deconstructed.)  It was on the verge of will it fit and I just don't try anything on until I bring it home first.  

I bought it anyway.  It didn't fit so back in the donation pile it went.  But it kept peeking out of the bag at me.  Every time I would go near the bag there was that red saying I'm in here! Don't get rid of me just yet.  I even took it back out of the bag and tried it on again.  But no.  Still didn't fit.  I tried thinking of how I could remake it into some other type of clothing like a tank but the middle was the most snug and I wasn't into figuring out what to use to make it look like I was trying to expand the middle.  I have remade several of my clothes into something for my kids.  I think they like the idea that what they now have is a shirt that was just like mine.  I'm sure I'll only be able to do that for another couple of years at least for my youngest before she thinks it's corny. 

There it is with the sleeves...sort of.  I had a moody child home sick... 

...who's sweat shirt was too small and wouldn't take her Patriots hat off all day.  

Back to the shirt! My scrap boxes have been growing so I've been working on cutting scraps up into 2", 2 1/2", 3" & 5" squares.  I love cutting squares.  It's the perfect thing to do when I want to be at my sewing table and not think too much.  Since nothing else was coming to me and before the shirt made it's way into the depths of my sewing table not to emerge for another couple month's I thought I would just tackle it and turn it all into 2 1/2" squares.  Part of my reasoning for that is because the rayon is so wonky to work with it's best to have a smaller piece that hopefully won't give me too much trouble while I'm trying to match everything up.  I haven't worked with red in such a long time that I'm due.  I guess this isn't red red.  More of a coral-ish red-ish.   Maybe an Irish chain wall or lap quilt, table runner.  I've got enough for a doll skirt..that would be cute.  I guess we will have to wait and see what strikes me.  For now I'll add it to my box of scrappy squares. 

For deconstructing I just cut everything apart at the seams.  Then I trimmed all seams and hems off so it was easier to cut and then just sliced away.  I love that I repurposed something and that I got to keep the shirt after all.  

I was able to get 116 squares out of just the body.  I left the two arms because I thought I might like to incorporate some of the color into my La Passacaglia. Plus I also took off 10 gold buttons I can add to my grandmother's button jars.

Friday, January 20, 2017


Push - it's my word for the year.

It's also the first time that I have chosen a word for the year but as I was on the elliptical at the Y this morning listening to one of my favorite podcasts by Elise Gets Crafty and this one in particular, the word just popped into my head.


I want to push myself to do more this year in my business.

I want to push myself to stay on top of things and not get behind.
Push myself to make working out a priority.

Push myself to have my family eat better with better snack ideas.
Push myself to explore creativity more.

Push myself to stick with something till it's done and not give up.
Push my mind to concentrate more, think deeper and not be so rushed to get somewhere or get something done.
Push myself to blog at least once a week... for myself.
Push out negative thoughts which make me feel overwhelmed, frustrated, jealous and unproductive.

Push myself to savor life and breath more.

Push myself to not take my children for granted and to engage deeper, let go and play more.
I'm sure I can come up with a hundred more pushes but this should get me started.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

First Quilt of 2017

This quilt started out as a block I wanted to make by the Missouri Star Quilt Co.  I love all of their videos and Jenny just makes me want to whip out my fabrics and start quilting.  I was aiming for this block but somehow it turned into this block.

I have a bad memory but sometimes it's to my benefit. Once I watched the video again and took better notes it turned into this, which is really more of what it is supposed to be.

But by the time that I figured out the right block I had already made 6 of them.  It's been a very long time since I've started a quilt and finished one.  Being so early in the year I thought it was a good time to start and finish this quilt.  Maybe it will set me on the path to actually finishing some of the other quilts that are waiting for me.

The fabric I used was a jelly roll that came in November's Sew Sampler Box.  It's totally different from any of the fabrics I have so I was excited to use something new.  For the quilting I used the 3" orange peel template that came in December's Sew Sampler Box.  Those boxes are coming in pretty handy!

I used a frixion pen to do all the pattern markings.  This is actually the first time that I've pre-marked any quilting lines.  I'm a fly by the seat of my pants type of quilter.  My plan at first was to keep this very simple with simple lines but for some reason once I start quilting I can't stop!

Here's the before getting rid of guide lines.

Here's the after.  It's pretty neat to see how it transforms the design.

I kept the pieced blocks very simple with loops in the white and then traveling to the next white spot through the center block.

And the finished product! I surprised myself that I started in the morning with only the five blocks and part of the pieced border.  I sewed everything together, backed, quilted and bound it by late afternoon and I was super lucky that the kids were on an outdoor adventure with their dad for an hour and a half of that time.  I even got to watch my new show, Upstairs Downstairs, while I was doing the quilting.  

Hoping this quick completion is an indicator of how my year will go with lots of finished projects.