Sunday, November 29, 2009

I-Spy swap

Karen from Sew Many Ways hosted an I-Spy swap a while back, and I was so excited to get my bundle of squares in the mail. They're all so great, and will make a wonderful I-Spy quilt!

Not only did Karen host an excellent swap, she also sent a little gift in each swapper's return package. I have no idea where she found the time, but it was such a delightful surprise! I recognized the I-bolt sewing necklace from one of the many clever ideas from her Tool Time Tuesday posts, which I always look forward to reading. Thank you so much, Karen!

Are you guys all getting excited about the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day on Wednesday? I sure am. I may or may not be giving away some vintage linens - you'll just have to come back to find out. I just wish I could take the day off from work to visit all the other blogs to sign up for all the other giveaways!

Oh, and I almost forgot about the notebook cover giveaway! The lucky winner is #1 - Leslie of Fluff & Nonsense!! Yay! She already posted her awesome SMS giveaway - a layer cake of Wonderland by Momo. Go enter!

In other, less pleasant, news... I seem to have caught the flu. I don't know if it's THAT flu, because I don't feel that bad. Just off-and-on chills, aches, low fever and fatigue. You know, not horrible, but enough to keep me from doing anything productive, which sucks extra bad on a holiday weekend. All that free time - wasted!! Still, I'm counting my blessings that I don't feel worse - maybe all my years of getting flu shots have helped some. (Except for this year, due to the short supply - how ironic!) Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed (and my hands washed) that my husband and daughter don't catch it... At least they both had their shots this year (the seasonal one anyway). Knock on wood and all that.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas ornaments

And now, on to the Christmas crafts! On a whim, I signed up for the FreshlyBlended annual ornament swap on Swap-bot. We have to send an ornament to 10 different people around the world. My partners are mostly in the states, but I did get 3 internationals - South Africa, England and Canada. Cool!

I was inspired by this ribbon ornament tutorial from 7 Layer Studio, and I knew I had all the basic supplies on hand (tons of ribbon - check! tons of scrapbooking paper - check!). I wanted to use something a little more fancy for the center, and I remembered these little organza flowers I had bought for my wedding (and never used - ha!). I sewed the velvet ribbons together by hand, but used the glue gun for the rest of the assembly.

They went together very quickly, but I still thought they looked a little blah.

So, I added some inking around the edges of the circles (just rubbing them with a small ink pad), and tiny dots of iridescent glitter in the scallops. It's hard to tell in the picture, but it's there. :-)

Now I've just got to get busy packaging them up. That will take me as long as making the ornaments!

paper leaves swag

Here's a little Thanksgiving paper craft I did with my daughter last week...

I searched online for coloring pages of leaves and an acorn, and printed out some simple ones of similar scale. I taped them to some chipboard (just old cereal boxes), and cut around the pictures to make templates.

I picked out some fall-themed scrapbooking paper, and used the templates to trace the shapes onto the back, and cut them out.

Then the fun and messy part! I outlined the leaf shapes with a thin line of glue, and let Vada apply the glitter. It was a huge mess, and the house was sparkly for days!

Once the glitter was dry, I used an exacto knife to cut two small slits on the back of each shape. I used a tapestry needle to thread the shapes onto some narrow ribbon, which I had cut to the approximate length I wanted.

I made three separate pieces - one to go across, and two to hang down on the sides. I tried loops on the ends, and hung them from stocking holders on the fireplace. Voila!

When I put it up again next year, I might add some ribbons to the top part, to fill in the bare spots between the leaves.

felted sweater tree decorations

I haven't been getting too much sewing done, but I've been keeping my hands busing doing some crafty decorating. First up - remember this teeny tiny felted sweater?

It did indeed supply enough material to try this project. The trees were strangely addictive! I made the biggest two first, and then just kept at it until I had absolutely nothing left but a pile of tiny scraps. I didn't have any beads, so I used pompoms for the tops. I think they turned out pretty cute! They range in size from 7" to 2" high.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

notebook covers - done!

I've been busily crafting all week, but it's a bunch of small projects all being done in parallel, so no grand finishes. I did finish up all my notebook covers a few days ago, after getting my order of pens in the mail (these Zebra Sasara gel pens are my favorite). Now they're all labeled for their intended recipients, and ready to be wrapped. Yay!

Of course, right after I finished hand-stitching all the openings, I saw this Moda Bakeshop tutorial. Their instructions made me realize that a small modification would have enabled me to eliminate the opening for turning, so no hand-sewing would be needed. Grrrrr... the engineer in me is annoyed! I'm thinking about revising my tutorial post to include the easier way of doing it.

Anyway... Remember my attempt #2 journal cover? I finally sewed the button on it. :-)

And it's up for grabs. Anybody want it? Yes, the journal is included! Leave me a comment - if there's more than one, I'll pick a number on Sunday.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

bag dispenser - yet another tutorial

I'm probably the last person in blogland to make a grocery bag dispenser. Actually, mine will be used to hold old newspaper bags (re-used for walking the dog), but same diff. I've had this on my list of things to do forever, and I finally whipped one up last night. It took me an hour, max. It's nothing fancy, but it'll be tucked away in a closet, so who cares. I loosely based this on the Make It and Love It tutorial, but added lining and made it more quick-and-dirty (just how I like my projects!). Here's how I did it:

  • Two pieces of fabric, about 20" x 25". (It turned out pretty big, so I bet even two FQs would work fine).
  • Two pieces of 1/4" wide elastic, one about 12", one about 7".
  • One piece of 1" wide ribbon.
I used a vintage bee fabric, which is a little heavier weight than normal quilting cotton. For the lining, I used some random light pink oxford cloth I had in my "yucky fabric" bin. :-)

Put right sides together and sew both short sides with a 1/4 " seam.

Turn it right side out, and iron the seam.

On both edges, edge stitch close to the seam, and then again about 3/8" away from the edge-stitching, to make a casing for the elastic. On each end, insert the elastic into the casing, and sew down the elastic at both openings. If you have directional fabric, the longer piece of elastic goes at the top, and the shorter piece goes at the bottom.

Next I did a french seam for the sides. Pin the side edges together, right sides out, and stitch a 1/4" seam.

If I was smart, I would have trimmed the loose threads hanging off the edges before I did the next step. But no, I was lazy, as usual. Turn the thing inside-out, finger press the seam, and sew again about 1/2" away from the edge to make your french seam.

Turn right side out. Since was lazy, I had a bunch of loose threads caught in the seam that I had to clip away. Oh well.

Fold over the edges of the ribbon by about 1/2", and stitch to the side of the bag near the top (where the larger piece of elastic is).

And there you go! Stuff with bags and hang in the closet. Enjoy a ever-so-slightly more organized house!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Give three kids a quilt

Rachel recently put out a call for quilts, and you know what a sucker I am for a good cause! This one is especially up my alley because the donation area is my old 'hood (Washington County, Oregon), and it's for young kids (and I happen to have a ton of novelty fabric). And most importantly, Rachel is happy to receive just tops and will quilt them up herself. Perfect!

I went back to my old favorite the Quick Strippie, and made three identical tops. It was a perfect pattern for these coordinating fabrics, because I had exactly enough of both prints, with just a bit left over. I also love that it's pretty gender-neutral.

Did you notice that it's another cat fabric? Yep, 5 yards down, and only about {mumble mumble couple hundred} left to go....

I suppose now is a good time to finally tell my "Best Estate Sale Ever" story.... So, last year, there was a Craigslist ad for a "quilter's dream estate sale", and it really was (for me, anyway - for other folks, it might be more like a nightmare!). I'm pretty sure the owner was one of those stereotypical crazy cat ladies - the proceeds for the sale were going to an animal shelter, all the carpet in the house was ripped out, and there were boxes upon boxes of brand new items (clothing, books and fabric) everywhere. I'm talking unopened boxes from Hancocks of Paducah! All the fabric was $1 per cut (ANY length!). I wound up buying about 300 yards of fabric for about $150. Before you get all jealous, you should know that this was mostly novelty fabrics, and mostly cat fabrics. I didn't get to the sale until nearly the end of the first day, and I still wonder about what I missed (greedy, I know!). Still, for me, it was perfect - I love to sew charity quilts, and this fabric will keep me supplied for a long, long, LONG time. And I hope the previous owner would appreciate that it's going to a good cause. Maybe not directly to the animals, but hopefully to the next generation of animal lovers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

loot report

Just when I thought my garage sale season was over... There were TWO rummage sales this weekend AND another quilter's stash sale! I'm beginning to think my husband is right - Seattle is where quilters go to retire! But at $4 per yard, the prices were a bit crazy for a garage sale, so I left empty-handed. Probably for the best, anyhow!

I have been keeping an eye out for wool sweaters to try out felting, and finally scored a few (and only 50 cents each!) at one of the rummage sales. I really wish I had taken a "before" picture, because this sweater shrunk SO much, I could hardly believe my memory of its original size. But there's the tag - it really was a women's size large. Look how tiny it became! I wonder if I even have enough material to try this project? We'll see! The other two sweaters didn't shrink as much, but still might be usable. It was a fun experiment, and I'll definitely keep an eye out for more in the future. Oh, and I learned that I should have removed those buttons before I washed the sweater - they were a bear to remove!

I also hit up the thrift store, and found this awesome old Christmas fabric - 5 yards for $2.50. Just look at that adorable chipmunk! How could I pass it up? The selvage says 1993... I wonder what it's been doing for the last 16 years?? I think its time has come, and I might just make a tablecloth out of it.

And of course, a few more vintage sheets I couldn't pass up. I love that purple one, because it's the ONLY purple sheet I've ever found! I wonder why it's so rare? Seems like every other color is represented but purple... Was it just that unpopular back in the day?

Friday, November 13, 2009

moleskine cover, the tutorial

Okay, here's a quick and dirty tutorial for the Moleskin notebook cover. [[Edited to add - this is for the "large" Cahier notebook, which is 5" x 8.25". And last I looked, they were still on sale for $6 (for a set of 3) at Amazon.]] I'm in the middle of creating a PDF file which has more details (including cutting instructions to make 3 identical covers at once). But if you have some basic sewing skills, I'm sure you'll be able to figure things out from these rough instructions. Once again, I'd like to give credit to the Mr. Monkeysuit moleskin cover tutorial that I started with, and the Moda Bake Shop binder cover tutorial, from which I took my modifications.

Step 1. Cut your fabric and notions:
  • Focus fabric (my red) - one piece 11.5" x 9", two pieces 4.5" x 9"
  • Contrast fabric (my green) - one piece 2" x 9", two pieces 4.5" x 9"
  • Lining fabric (my white) - one piece 11.5" x 9"
  • Interfacing - one piece 11" x 8.5"
  • 3/8" woven elastic - 9"
  • 1/4" ribbon - 12"

Step 2: Take that narrow strip of contrast fabric, fold in half (right sides together) and sew around the edges using a 1/4" seam allowance, and leaving about 1.5" open. Clip three corners (not the unsewn one), turn and press.

Step 3: While you're at the ironing board, center the interfacing (glue side down!) on the wrong side of the large piece of the focus fabric, and adhere according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 4: Still at the iron... fold the coordinating pieces in half (wrong sides together) and press.

Step 5: Fold the outer cover in half lengthwise, and finger press. Pin the pen holder (folded edge up) to the right side of the outer cover, about 1" to the right of the center, and 1" up from the bottom. Edge stitch on three sides, as shown.

Step 6: Lay out your two smaller pieces of focal fabric. Layer the folded pieces of contrast fabric on top (folded edges up, bottom and sides even with the focal fabric). Then add the elastic on the left side, about an inch from the edge. Pin and then machine baste on the dashed lines (about 1/8" from the edges), as shown.

Step 7: Fold over about 3/8" on the long edges that have been basted (the inner edges above), and press. Sew them down with about a 1/4" seam. You can use a straight stitch, or zigzag.

Step 8: Lay out the outer cover, and pin the ribbon at the center top. Tuck the other end of the ribbon into the pen holder pocket, or just let it poke straight out the bottom (you'll be leaving that area open anyway).

Step 9: Lay the flaps on top, right sides down, with the hemmed edges to the inside.

Step 10: Lay the lining piece on top, and pin all the way around. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, start at the bottom at the inner edge of one flap, and sew all the way around to the inner edge of the other flap. The space between the flaps will be your opening for turning.

Step 11: Clip the corners, and turn. Don't get freaked out if you see the wrong side of the flaps!

Step 12: If you're seeing the wrong side of the flaps, just pull them around to the other side. Press all edges, and sew the opening shut (by machine or hand).

Step 13: Insert the notebook by holding the inner pages in one hand and folding the covers straight back, and putting both covers into the flaps at the same time.

Step 14: Sit back and admire! Oh, and pull the elastic around the back, and add a pen. Now you're done!

Please let me know if anything is unclear (or if anything is incorrect!). And if you make one, let me know - I'd love to see them!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

retreat - what a treat!

Oh my goodness, that was fun! Exhausting, but fun! Karen put on a fantastic retreat, and I'm so very glad I went. I hope it's the first of many! I came home feeling like I didn't take nearly enough pictures, but here are at least a few...

This is the big "lodge" we stayed in. I only realized on the morning we left that there was a hot tub out back! Rats! I'm not sure I would have taken the time to sit in it (and didn't bring a bathing suit anyway), but by Sunday morning, a hot soak was sounding SOOOOO good...

This little visitor was outside to greet us both mornings...

Here's a shot of our crafting space - a huge gym! I loved all the design walls around the edges - it was so fun to walk around every once in a while and admire everyone's work. We each had our own table, and I felt like I had plenty of room to spread out. I don't think it would be possible to actually quilt with this setup (except maybe a small one), but for piecing and such, it was great.

My buddy Robin was at the table across from me. Here she is, slaving away on her Prairie Pinwheels quilt blocks. Check out the full picture - isn't it gorgeous?? I'm not sure I would have taken the plunge if Robin hadn't come along with me, so thanks again my friend!

I loved snooping around at other people's setups, to see what tools they were using, and how they had their space arranged. Everyone was really friendly and helpful! For instance, my neighbor Laura saw me snipping apart my zillions of chain-stitched bits, and introduced me to this wonderful gadget:

It makes such quick work of cutting those threads - you just hold the fabric on either side (use both hands - one of my hands was holding the camera!) and pull down and it's done! So quick and easy. I'm definitely going to get myself one of these! (Um, no, I have no idea what it's called...)

As far as the sewing goes... I was sewing machine! I didn't get everything done, but I was still very productive. I got all 24 journal covers done, except for pressing and sewing closed the openings. Yahoo!! [I also took pictures for a tutorial; I hope to have that up by the end of the week.]

I finished the notebook covers on Saturday morning, sewed up the apron in a couple hours that afternoon (sorry - I forgot to take a picture!), and then moved on to the quilt that evening. Robin and I had a race to see who could reach our goal first - her blocks vs. my rows. I won (just barely!), but by then it was 2am! For a girl who normally goes to bed at 9pm, this was a major feat. I was so proud that Robin and I were the last ones to stop sewing that night!!

Here's a (pretty crappy) photo of the rows. With a lot of help from everyone nearby, I was able to work out a nice arrangement. I'm so glad to have been able to do that at the retreat - it would have been so much more difficult at home! Funny enough, this photo was taken just moments before the whole thing crashed to the floor (note to self - do not hang up a batting with painters tape - use the push-pins next time!). Thankfully, it all stuck together enough for me to number the rows. :-) I got a tiny start on the sashing, but then it was time to pack up for the drive home.

My biggest regret is that I did not do a good job of taking pictures of other people's work. Next time I'll do better. But check out Sarah's recap for some great pics of the show-and-tell sessions - there were some spectacular quilts!

And finally, I wanted to mention that the peanut butter cup cookies seemed to be a big hit! I can't believe so many people had never seen them before! Here's a couple recipes - the short way or the long way.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I'm so exhausted from preparing for the retreat - I hope I don't sleep all the way through it! :-)

Here's my huge pile of stuff, waiting by the front door for Robin to pick us up. There's a seat cushion, two quilts for the show-n-tell, a power strip, iron, rulers, pressing mat, and so much more I can't remember now. And of course, all my projects nicely bagged...

Here's my to-do list:
  • 24 moleskine notebook covers
  • One of these quilts
  • an apron
  • start on some half-square-triangles from 6" vintage linen squares
I really had to resist the urge to bring every WIP in my sewing room! I have an irrational fear that I'll run out of things to do. It's crazy - I probably already have a week's worth of sewing in there!

And of course, you can't go to a retreat without bringing munchies!! Peanut butter cup cookies and chex mix. Yum!

Okay, gotta run and pack some clothes now. :-) Have a great weekend!