Sunday, November 29, 2015

Getting into the spirit of things!

I'm that mom who is always too busy to decorate for the holidays, the one who buys the Christmas tree on December 23 (but on the upside, it is usually only half-price by then!).  I promised my kids that it would be different this year.  I still refuse to decorate before December starts, but I'm trying to catch the holiday spirit earlier this year. (and by holiday spirit, I mean decorating spirit.  I believe in holding onto the real "holiday spirit", the spirit of loving and caring for one another, all year long)  So, true to my word, I'm getting started.  I'm teaching a Magic Christmas Stocking class at the shop in a couple of weeks, and a trio of girls from W&L stopped by this week to make some while they were on break from classes.

As I cleaned up our fabric and batting scraps, I got to thinking...what if I made some little stockings, too, for decorating or for giving gift cards?  So, rather than add to my scrap bins, I starting cutting and sewing and before I knew it, I had made 12 mini stockings!!!  I may be slightly addicted.  I still have fabric scraps picked out to make more.

Tomorrow, I plan to put the tree up in my shop window.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only store in town that isn't decorated for the holidays yet.  But usually, I have some vendors who bring in ornaments for sale that I use to decorate the tree, and this year, they are behind schedule.  I can't put up a tree with no ornaments, right?  And I'm too cheap to go out and buy some.  What's a gal to do?  MAKE SOME!

Oh, happy day!  I knew all those plastic thread spools would come in handy!  Using just scraps of ribbon, fabric and beads that I already have on hand, I whipped up 7 ornaments already, and have the fabric strips cut and the paper peeled off the tops/bottoms of the spools to make another 40 or so.  I kept getting interrupted as I did this at work on Small Business Saturday (people are SERIOUS about getting their shopping done! which is GREAT for me, as a shop owner), so I hope to finish them up tomorrow while the shop is closed.

Any other quick and easy ideas for me to decorate using what I have on hand?  I am open to suggestions.  What are YOU doing to decorate this holiday season?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Flipping the script

Have you seen that gorgeous plaid string quilt in Julie K's blog header?  I've been wanting one just like it ever since I first laid eyes on hers.  This fall, I finally started it.  I am using phone book pages as the foundation for my 8" string blocks.  I have a ton of homespuns I have collected over the years for just such a project.  I was sure it would be a quick project; after all, I've made string quilts before.

I was wrong. It's been two and a half months since I started, and this is all I've got.
I've got a LONG way to go!
For some reason, I just haven't been inspired to go down to the sewing room and work on it.  I've been scratching my head about this, trying to figure it out, and I think I finally have an answer.  Even though I am using a variety of plaids in this quilt, and even though I am so excited to have the final result of all those wonderful plaids playing together, working with plaids just isn't all that exciting to me.  Part of the reason I love making scrappy quilts is that I love not knowing what scrap is going to come out to the pile next - a repro? a novelty print? a calico? a geometric? a floral?  With this quilt, I know - whichever piece I pull out will be a plaid.  Ho hum.

So today, I flipped the script.  I'll still work on this quilt, but as a leader and ender project while I work on something else.  Have I finished my log cabin quilt yet? Nope.  How about my Carpenter's Wheel?  Nah.  Instead, I pulled out a baggie of shirting & shirting-like neutrals that I've been wanting to play with, and started making a variation of Bonnie Hunter's Smoky Mountain Stars quilt.  With my significant stash of pre-cut squares, I picked out a bunch of red and blue 2.5" squares, cut my neutrals to 4.5", and got to work.  Quick and easy, just what I need to feel productive again!  Here's what I got done in the hour or so I spent in the sewing room today PLUS 2 sashing strips and a 9-patch cornerstone for the plaid quilt AND a pile of bonus triangles, already sewn up.
Oops!  That top right square is oriented wrong.  I love how a photo helps you really see your project.
I know I should focus on some finishes, but I find the siren call of new beginnings too strong to resist!  Besides, I do have SOME recent finishes under my belt, mostly class samples for the shop.  I'll be teaching a beginning knitting cables class this week, and this cabled cushion is my class sample.
the front
the back - removable so I can change out pillow covers
I'm also teaching 2 sets of kiddos to make turkey potholders this week, just in time for Thanksgiving.  I'll encourage them to use darker fabrics for the turkey bellies, though.  You can see right through this yellow belly to the darker background fabric - oops!

Here's hoping my productive streak continues!