Monday, January 30, 2012

Forever in Blue Jeans (...giveaway...)

I've been wanting to make a denim quilt for years, so I've been slowly saving up our worn out jeans to cut and upcycle.  However, with 2 little boys, while they go through LOTS of jeans, their pants are LITTLE!  Since I was envisioning a rag quilt with 1/2" seams, I need rather large blocks of denim to cut out.

Then, last week, a co-worked gifted me a whole bag of worn out jeans from her husband.  I was so excited that I got started right away this weekend.  I dismantled jeans at my son's basketball game on Saturday (and got some strange looks for it, I might add).  I dismantled jeans while watching shows on Netflix.  I dismantled jeans while singing along with my favorite country music.  I'm surprised I can type today, as my right hand has been working overtime with those scissors!

This is about 1/2 of the cutting I have done.  I still have about 6 pairs of jeans to go.
I am backing the quilt with plaids.  I am making it for my oldest son who fancies himself a skateboarder, and who tells me that old ripped blue jeans and unbuttoned plaid shirts with t-shirts underneath are the unofficial uniform for skateboarders.  This quilt will mirror that "uniform."  I'm thinking of calling it "Skate Dreams."  However, since most of the denim is coming from the pants of my co-worker's husband, whose name is Sandy, I am also playing with the idea of calling it "Sandy Bottoms."

How about a quick giveaway?  Leave a comment with 2 things:  which name do you prefer for the quilt (Skate Dreams, Sandy Bottoms or come up with your own name if you have a creative brainstorm), and tell me which of the following you'd like to add to your stash - juvenile novelty fabric, neutrals, or stripes.  I'll pick a random winner on Friday, February 3 (my goal date for having the top completely pieced), and I'll send the winner 3 Fat Quarters from my stash of whichever type of fabric they said they wanted more of (novelty, neutrals or stripes).  My stash has outgrown my space for it, so it must be time to share.

I don't have a picture of the quilt yet, but how about a photo of what I've been doing with those odd bits left over from cutting that aren't big enough for a rag quilt - denim-backed bookmarks!
Denim and fabric fused together, sewn around the edges and trimmed with pinking shears.
I gave one to my co-worker already, made from her husband's jeans and with pig fabric on front (pigs are her favorite animal).  I've also pulled out some red bandanna fabric - wouldn't that be cool on the other side of the denim bookmark?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Today, I cried

I just got out of a meeting, and logged onto Facebook to peek at what others are doing before I jumped into what needs attention on my desk.  Usually, I see who is on vacation, who is slammed with work, whose kids said something funny - you know, typical Facebook stuff.

Lately, I've been the one posting "slammed at work" type stuff.  You know when you get to the point where you are doing so much and not sure you are doing any of it well?  That's been me lately, and it has come across in my Facebook statuses.

When I logged on just now, my stepfather had commented on one of my posts:

I sit here and reflect on a major life journey I embarked on.  It began with meeting a tiny bare foot girl,riding bareback on a pony,in the Maine woods on a dirt road at a residence called the Funny Farm. She rode up to me looked me in the eye with an incredible grin and engaged me in a very mature conversation.  I left that day wondering who this amazing child was and wishing I would get the chance to know her better.  For whatever reason the Creator granted me that wish.  A short time later the little girl her three siblings and their mother became my family. I watched this little girl turn into a teenager and do great things in high school. Then into a beautiful young woman, I drove her to Harvard University and lugged her trunk up several flights of stairs in her dorm.  I drove back home with tears of pride.  I went with her to pick up her first motorcycle then watched her climb on it with a teddybear and leave for Calafornia by herself.  Again I watched her go with tears of pride because I had done the same thing.  She made it but turned around and drove back to Maine.  When she got back we asked why she didn't stay she replied "Because people in Calafornia are insane". Then for several years I watched her relationship with a young man that she was fiercely in love with.  There were ups and downs and a few times the Atlantic Ocean seperated them.  A few times I was tempted to go visit the young man and smack him upside his head for making her sad and cry.  I forced myself to stay out of it,then one day she told us he had proposed marriage.  At the wedding I watched the proud young man break down and shed tears of pride while he was voiceing his marriage vows to her.  Then I understood why she had stuck by him, I walked away and stopped where I could observe the two of them at a distance and again shed tears of pride.

Sense then the two of them became successful young professionals then produced two wonderfull children. In the future when this VERY acomplished mature woman questions her accomplishments I hope she can reflect back to a time in the middle of the Maine woods barefooted riding bareback on a pony and approaching a long haired bearded wildman and engageing him in a mature conversation. Because that man is very aware and extremely proud of her many many accomplishments that continue to this day.
Tell me you wouldn't have cried, too.

I love you, Mike Buxton.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Corner Bookmark Tutorial

At the request of a couple of readers, I am including my instructions for making a corner bookmark made from fabric.  These are pretty big, but I like them that way - it seems that it is more likely to stay in place that way.  The size of the initial rectangle could be made smaller, though, to reduce the size of the finished product.  You could also embellish with lace or ric rac or fused shapes on the front.  These take no more than 15 minutes to make, start to finish.

1) Cut two 6.5" x 3.5" rectangles of fabric, an outside fabric and an inside fabric.  Sew around 3 sides, right sides together, leaving one 6.5" side open.  The open side will be the top of the bookmark, if you need to keep that in mind when using directional or fussy cut fabric.

The flowers are my outside fabric and the bluish purple is my inside fabric.
2. Cut one 6.5" x 3.5" rectangle of fusible (I used Pellon Wonder Under), and fuse to one side of the 3-sides-sewn rectangle.  Remove the paper backing of the fusible.
Hard to get a meaningful photo for this step...

3. Clip the 2 corners that are sewn on both sides close to the seam to reduce bulk and turn the rectangles right-side-out.  Align as best you can before pressing to fuse the two fabrics together.

4. Fold the two 3.5" sides together until they meet with the outside fabric on the inside.  Sew the raw, unsewn edges of the top of the rectangle together, backstitching at the beginning and end to stabilize.

5. Clip the corner that you just sewed closed close to the seam to reduce bulk, then turn right-side out.  Press the seam open, and then smoosh the fabric into a triangle.  Press.
A mini iron would come in mighty hand right about now!
If you make some, I'd love to see them!

Monday, January 23, 2012

New life for old scraps

I truly didn't mean to start a new project, but I was straightening up my sewing room and came across the scraps from my great-great-grandmother's quilt that I dismantled a couple years ago, and they called out to me. They are so soft, so I found a soft, off-white fabric to pair them with and got to work.

The center is completely constructed (blocks and thin inner border), and I am currently pairing the salvaged HST units to make a pieced outer border. The finished quilt should be about 40" square, and it should use up all that is left of the old scrap quilt.
The HST units were already sewn in the old quilt, but I have to cut them down to 2" first (because most of the seams have disintegrated) and then sew them together with the other HST units.  It is a little less work than making them from scratch, but not much less.  I love all the prints on the old fabrics.
I also whipped up a couple more corner bookmarks today.
Bookmark modeled in Lizbie Brown's Broken Star.  I have all the books in that series except Shoo Fly.  Does anyone know where I can find it?
 Last weekend at my quilt guild meeting, I was asked to provide instructions for the bookmarks for this month's newsletter, so I made some more while I made sure of my instrucions. The next time I give a kid a book, I am ready with a bookmark.

Speaking of books, when I wasn't sewing today, I was reading. I finished Leann Sweeney's The Cat, The Lady, and The Liar, and got started on Katherine Hall Page's The Body in the Basement. I had read one of her books before, The Body in the Kelp, because a quilt played a role in that mystery. It turns out, the book takes place in Maine (where I grew up) and was not only clever but well written with characters that I liked, so I was thrilled to learn that there is another in the series with a quilt in it. I haven't gotten very far into this one, but so far, so good. Truly, if I could spend my days splitting my time between quilting and sewing, what a happy existence that would be!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Resolved to sew 2012

Have you seen the massive giveaway over at Very Berry Handmade? If not, hop over there to check it out. Lovely prizes. And it got me to thinking, what am I resolved to sew this year?

1) my 9-year old needs a new bed-sized quilt. For now, he squeezes himself under the crib sized quilt I made him years ago, and while I am flattered, I imagine he has got to be cold.

2) I started hand quilting a quilt for my bed about 5 years ago and then got bored. Well, I want a quilt on my bed. It is downright embarrassing to be a quilter and not have a quilt on my bed! I'm finishing it this year.

3) Remember my Pindrop block that I made up a while ago while participating in my first Bee this year? I'd like to make a whole quilt out of those.

4) I want to make a bed-sized flannel rag quilt. I have more flannel than I know what to do with.

5) I want to quilt at least 3 of my existing tops this year. I don't know if that is possible, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

6) I've been doing a pretty good job of making and giving homemade gifts, but I want to go all the way this year. It means I'll need to be more disciplined and prepared, but I think I can do it.

Join the giveaway -I'd like to see what you are resolved to do this year.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dancing pigs?

I've finally made it into my sewing room!  I completed my January Let's Bee Together Bee block.  I love the block and the fabric, but this stressed me out a little, and here's why.  The original reddish fabric, which serves as the foundation of the block, is 12.5" square.  We were to cut it into fourths diagonally, sew the strips onto the 45 degree angle ends, and then sew the 4 pieces back together.  She wanted the final block to be 12.5" square.  That isn't possible, is it?
I have lots of strips - perhaps I'll make a Spider Web quilt for myself one of these days.
As you probably know, it is basketball season, and now, both my boys and my husband have basketball games.  Can you say "bleacher butt"?  Yup, that's how mine is shaped these days.  Luckily, I have a cushioned stadium seat with a back to take with me, particularly on Saturdays, when I have 3 games to attend.  The upside, besides getting to support my guys, is that I get good chunks of time to do handwork.  Here's what I've accomplished so far this month at basketball.  I'm pretty sure I'll be making a mug rug with this little cutie.  Got any design ideas?
Probably my favorite hot drink of all time.
My leaders and enders project continues to grow.  I have a ton of 4.5" blocks of that black floral, which is the whole purpose of this particular project - use 'em up!  Well, those and all my 1.5" squares.

I started a plaid flannel bear paw quilt for my step-father.  Besides me and my husband, I think he's the only person in the family I haven't yet made a quilt for.

Yesterday, in between basketball games, I made it to my quilt guild meeting.  While there, one of the lovely ladies surprised me with a big bag of scraps.  Now, when you think bag of scraps, you think all crumpled up and thrown together, right?  Not hers!  First there were a ton of strips, mostly 2.5" and 4.5" strips, but some 2", 3", 3.5" and 4" strips, too.  How handy!  There were also some bigger scraps, mostly between a fat eighth and fat quarter in size.  I took a photo, but forgot to upload it.

Whenever I'm the recipient of such generosity, I feel the need to share the wealth.  So I put together two little packets of fabric scraps to share. 

The first is this cute green with dancing pigs, along with some bright polka dot scraps.  The dancing pig scraps are: 1 piece 8.5" X 42", 2 pieces 7" X 21" and 1 WOF piece that is 4.5" wide.  The yellow has 3 pieces, 3" X 56" total, the green is 2 pieces, 15" X 6.5" each, and the blue is 2 pieces, 9.5" X 6.5" and 4 pieces 16.5" X 3.5".

The second is this sea shell fabric with two "neutrals" to go with it.  The photo is a bit washed out, I apologize.  Anyway, the seashells are 1 piece 10.5" 15, 1 piece WOF X 11", and one piece 11" X 26".  For the two coordinating neutrals, there are 2 WOF X 4.5" strips of each, and 3 WOF X 2.5" strips of each.

If you are interested in receiving either packet, leave a comment and let me know which you'd prefer, first come, first served.  Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A new friend!

Not a lot of quilting news to share.  I received a squishy package from a Christmas fabric swap partner.  Not only did she send fabric, but also CHOCOLATE (can you tell that half the bag is missing already?) and a wonderful pair of scissors with a holder.  Thanks, Leslie!!

But I didn't sew at all this weekend.  Instead, I went on a 23-hour date with my husband!  He somehow got a free night at a hotel in a town about 30 minutes from here, so we invited another family to come kid/pet/housesit for us, and the two of us went to dinner and a movie, spent the night in a fabulous hotel, slept in, and then went to brunch.  I think it's so important to spend time as a couple and remember what it is we love about each other when the kids are out of the equation.  Contrary to my boys' belief (they cry if we even suggest that one day they will have to move out!), one day, it will just be the two of us in the house, and we certainly don't want to be strangers.

Speaking of strangers, a couple months ago I met a woman at the library and her three boys.  She had recently moved here from New Hampshire (another Yankee!) and her boys were looking for a cub scout pack (I was wearing my Den Leader uniform after our meeting).  We chatted and I gave her my number, but I never heard from her again. 

Fast forward to today:  I met her at the library again today (both of our oldest sons are in the local Guys Read bookclub), and we talked a bit.  She noticed that I had some quilting magazines in front of me, and she's a quilter, too!!!  Add to that the fact that we are (practically) the same age, and that she has/had a crafty blog ( although she hasn't posted in a while), and I am SO EXCITED to be making a new friend with so much in common with me!!  (are you reading this Michelle?  Hi!!  We'll have to invite you and the boys over so they can play and we can play with FABRIC!)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Well, I tried.

My first grader is going to a birthday party this weekend.  I asked the mom if the birthday boy had the Frog and Toad books, because Donald loves them, but coincidentally, that is what she bought for her son for his birthday.  So I bought another book by the same author, Owl at Home, to give.  But a book needs a bookmark, right?  I tried to make one that looked like an owl.  Please don't laugh.  Squint, if you must.  Turn it sideways and upside down and look at it from a distance.  Even if you don't think it looks like an owl, tell me it does.

Jason said it looks like 2 triangles and 2 circles.  Donald said, "I don't know...a bird, maybe?"  Whatever it looks like, it is what is getting wrapped up with the book.

I'm also giving some books to my nephew, so I wanted to make a monster bookmark for him. 

Perhaps my monster should have more teeth?  Bigger eyes?  I don't know.  I'm pretty underwhelmed with the result.  But nonetheless, the monster bookmark is getting wrapped up with my nephew's book.  I tried.

I'm not trying anything else for the next hour or so.  It is over 60 degrees and sunny, so I'm brewing tea and heading out to the porch to read!  Yesterday, 3 quilt fiction books arrived in the mail:
The Double Cross and The Devil"s Puzzle by Clare O'Donahue (the 3rd and 4th Someday Quilts mysteries),
and The Cat, the Lady and the Liar by Leann Sweeney (the 3rd Cats In Trouble mystery).    I may not get any sewing done in the next few days with these books to keep me busy.  Ah!  The weekend!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I need help

According to Random Number Generator, the winner of the giveaway is:

#9 Jan - "Oh I love give aways by my friends, cos I know they are always great things. Please enter me Erin, if I am allowed cos I am across the Pond of course. I wont be cross if I cant. I will still be your friend.  Happy New Year by the way."

Jan, I think I have your address already, but please send it again just in case.  Thanks to everyone for entering and for reading my blog.

I haven't gotten a ton of sewing done lately because I got it in my head to clean and rearrange my sewing room.  It would have been OK, if I hadn't gotten into the closet...I can't believe how much stuff I have!  I did take two pieces of fabric of questionable material to Goodwill, but here's the problem.  While at Goodwill, I thought I'd just peek around for some more pillowcases for more shopping totes.  Yikes!  I walked out of there with eight of them! (It's a sickness, isn't it, this fabric addiction of mine.  I felt like a hoarder bringing fabric out of corners where I didn't even know it resided yesterday.  And then I come home with MORE!)  
(there's only 7 shown, but that's because there are two of the solid pink pillowcases)
The only sewing I have done is to finally get the top and bottom borders added to my Birdie Stitches BOM quilt.  I'm stopping there for now.  I don't think I want more borders, but we'll see.  If so, I'll need to get more muslin as I've run out.

although now that I look at it, I should probably add some white on the two sides, just for balance
 What I should really do is use up some of my fabric as backings, sandwich up some of my quilt tops and do some simple machine quilting.  Some of my quilt tops have been languishing in a cupboard for years - it is time to make them full-fledged quilts!  And time to come to terms with the fact that as a hand-quilter, I will never finish all the quilts I want to finish.  I need to diversify.

Here's a question - how do you quilt a top with embroidery on it?  I'd love to finish up this Birdie Stitches quilt, but I am stumped.  The embroidered bits are about 8" square.  It seems like sewing over them would mess up the embroidery, but isn't that too big a space to leave un-quilted?  Help!  All suggestions are welcome.

Monday, January 2, 2012


I had to laugh at myself yesterday.  Lately, I've been turning old pillowcases into reusable shopping bags.  Yesterday, I found myself MAKING a pillowcase!
This is my first ever pillowcase, using the Tube or Sausage method that I learned with this Missouri Star Quilt Company video tutorial.  EASY!!!  Why did it take me so long to try this?  It is for my darling niece to match the nightgown I made her this summer.  I just adore that pink owl fabric, and I will be so sad when it is all gone.

I have some books to send to my nephew, and I felt bad not sending something homemade to him.  How about a bookmark for his book?  Have you seen these Monster Corner Bookmarks?  I wanted to make him one, but out of fabric, not paper.  So I started playing around with fabric...

My first attempt:
I like it, but the bottom edge in the back is unfinished, just two fabrics fused together, and I'm afraid they might unravel. Back to the drawing board.

My second attempt:
After fusing the fabrics together, I hemmed the bottom edges before making it into a corner. VERY BULKY! I thought my sewing machine was going to revolt in protest! Back to the drawing board.

My third attempt:

I sewed the two fabrics right sides together (3 sides), then turned right side out and fused.  Nice neat bottom edge - I have found my method!  Although, why am I putting the ribbon loops in the corner?  While I like the decorative touch, they are unnecessary and add bulk in the corner.  I think I'll eliminate those from now on.
 But before I made a monster corner bookmark for my nephew, I was inspired to find some fabric that reminded me of water to make a corner bookmark to go with my giveaway of Riel Nason's book, The Town That Drowned.

Have you entered the giveaway yet?  If not, comment on my last post before I go to bed on Tuesday, January 3 for a chance to win the book and bookmark, the Urban Circus scraps, the travel tissue holder and the chocolates.

It's my last day of vacation, what am I doing on the computer?  It's back to the sewing room for me!