Hello, corkboard

March 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Part of my great laundry room make over was to hang a corkboard. I want a place to display my kids’ artwork so
everyone can see but I don’t want it on my refrigerator.

I bought the least expensive corkboard I could find. In retrospect I would have spent a little more money if I’d known that the cork was thin and the frame plastic. Since I was covering it, I made lemonade.

I had the fabric, but did have to buy the nailhead trim. It’s the fake every-four-spaces-is-a-real-nailhead kind of nailhead trim. Not what I’d use for fine upholstery but perfect for this. I’m pretty happy. Now if I could just find my thumbtacks!

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New Quilt Shop

January 23, 2014 § 3 Comments

I found out about a new shop yesterday, Sew Main Street. It’s in downtown Woodstock, so it’s pretty close, but more importantly, they carry fabrics and notions for heirloom sewing.

I’m not all that I to heirloom sewing, but I’ve always thought it beautiful. And time consuming, which is funny coming from a quilter.

My sister-in-law is getting married in July and I’m working on a project for her. I won’t disclose any details or photos, but I needed delicate fabric.

I did pick up a few items for myself while I was there (of course). Some good for the stash pieces, and this adorable fabric from Timeless Treasures.

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Needle Know How

June 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

I wrote and posted a blog for my favorite quilt shop and thought I’d share it with you.

There are quite a few hand sewing needles and sooner or later you’ll need one, but do you know the difference? After some research I realized that I do occasionally (gasp!) use the wrong needle for projects. As long as it works I’m relatively happy, and while I can’t speak for all of you, I suspect you have from time to time been guilty of the same. So, what is the purpose of each needle?

If you are going to pick buy one kind of needle (not that we recommend that) the best needle to buy is a sharp. Sharps are good, all-purpose needles. As the name suggests they have a sharp point and are a medium length, compared to its shorter cousin the between (but we’ll talk about that needle further down). Sharps needles are good all purpose hand sewing needles and work well for attaching bindings or other hand work. Sharps have a rounded eye and come in a variety of sizes.

Betweens were specifically designed for traditional hand quilting. The shorter shank provides good control and the needle is thicker than others, giving it strength to move between the layers of the quilt. The small size of betweens allows the quilter to make small, even stitches. Like a sharp, a between has a rounded eye making it easy for threading. You can buy betweens in several sizes, the smallest of which usually speaks to those that have been hand quilting for a while (or have really small hands).

Straw needles have a narrow shank and the eye of the needle is punched within the existing shank – that makes a straw needle great for hand applique since the eye won’t hesitate when pulled through the fabric. Straw needles are also great for hand basting.

Long needles, or basting needles, are used to hand baste a quilt. The needles are long, hence the name, and the added length makes hand basting faster. The needles have a slender shaft to decrease movement between the three layers while basting. The larger eyes of long needles make them great for tying quilts, too.

Sashiko needles have significantly thicker shafts than traditional needles. The thicker shaft prevents them from bending and a larger eye enables the needle to be easily thread with perle cotton or embroidery floss. Sashiko needles are the perfect needle for big stich, Japanese sashiko or embroidery. Sashiko needles are available in several sizes. The shop typically carries a variety pack.

When choosing a needle size, it’s best to consider the type of fabric you’ll be using. In general, the lighter your fabric, the thinner the needle you’ll want to use with it. We carry variety packs if you are unsure of the best needle. If you’re unsure of the best needle, just try passing a few different-sized needles through an inconspicuous place on the fabric to determine the needle that passes through the fabric most easily and leaves only a small hole. Keep in mind that needle size increases as the number decreases so a 10 is larger than a 12 (I know, seems counter-intuitive to us, too).

Happy stitching!

It’s in the bag

May 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

The last day of school is next Monday. It’s been a great year for us and I’m sad to be leaving his class. Little Mister had the best teachers this year! I just loved them! As a small token of my appreciation and eternal gratitude I made tote bags for them.

I was sneaky and found their favorite colors. The totes are 15″ wide by 16″ high, have a 4″ base, can fold up nice and small so they are great to pack in your suitcase* and they are machine washable.

I didn’t use a pattern but did get inspiration from a Heather Bailey pattern. Her pattern has a flap on the front so you can fold up the bag into an itty bitty packet. I didn’t do that. I also didn’t put any pockets inside the tote. In retrospect it may have been a good idea but sometimes a tote bag without too much fun is the perfect bag to take on an outing*.

*I just found out yesterday that BOTH teachers are taking amazing trips overseas this summer so a tote like this may be a perfect for their travels! And it’s okay if the bags don’t make the cut, too.

Handmade not Homemade

May 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Handmade not homemade.

Seems like a silly set of words to compare but there is a difference.  I think most artists would agree. To me handmade implies that an item was made by (usually) a single person and a considerable amount of thought, time and love went into it. Think about a handmade quilt, dress or flowerpot, pottery or jewelry. I’m certain I shouldn’t  but I do get offended if someone refers to anything I make as homemade.*

A neighbor of mine is a Doctor at the CDC. Sapna studies Tuberculosis and travels the world doing amazing things. I’m truly in awe of her. She is getting married at the end of May. Our neighborhood had an engagement party for her the Saturday before Easter. It was a lot of fun.

Sapna is one of the most down to earth, likeable people I know. I decided to clean off this flower pot and use it for her gift. I had all the kids in the neighborhood leave their handprint on the flowerpot. Then I added stems, leaves and grass. My friend Amy painted on “Bloom where you are planted” across the top (she’s an architect and has amazing handwriting). I added some day lilies, zinnias and a draping green plant (the name escapes me) to complete the gift. It was a big hit, and handmade gifts are best.

Another neighbor is having a little girl in three weeks. I made this taggie blanket out of some scraps a friend gave me. Love it!

* homemade isn’t necessarily bad, either. Think of homemade jams, breads, cookies, and other confections. That’s how I want my homemade. Might have to go make something homemade now.

Handprint Christmas Tree Skirt

March 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

I worked my fingers to the bones. Okay, well, not to the bones, but I put in a lot of hours in on this tree skirt.  I figured out that I spent something like three or four minutes per yo-yo (making it, attaching the button then attaching to the tree skirt). And there were 100 yo-yo’s. That’s a lot of minutes. The tree skirt was a HUGE success though, and worth every minute I put into it.  The auction was a blast and the tree skirt sold for a pretty penny, which makes me happy. The tree skirt went to a friend of mine and I know it will be well loved for years to come. That’s the reward for me.

For anyone wondering, and on the off chance you want to make one, here are the instructions.

I began with nine fat quarters and, basically, made a gigantic nine patch. I started with an 18 1/2″ center. I decided that the tree skirt would look more symmetrical if the center was square. I added a fat quarter to each side of my green center,  then took three more fat quarters and stitched them together along the short side (the 18″ side) to make a side panel. I repeated this to make two side panels.  After the side panels were made I attached them to the center panel. Note that the side panels will be larger than the center panel since the center piece was cut smaller.

Then I assembled the back. I started with 1 2/3 yard of fabric. I cut off the selvedges and stitched a 10″ x 60″ strip to each side of the main fabric. I placed the top over the bottom, wrong sides together.

To make sure I accurately cut the center and opening of the tree skirt I found the center of the green square by drawing a line 9″ from each side.  I then used my blue chalk marker and drew an approximation of the circle size and opening I wanted. I made a few measurements then determined I should have a 4 1/2″ radius for the circle – meaning I marked a 4 1/2″ spot all the way around the center of the square to get a 9″ opening. You could also use a plate or other round object – this just worked for me. I drew the opening lines using a ruler.  I then decided to use a 23″ radius for the outer portion of the tree skirt and made those marks. Then pin, pin, pinned the heck out of the thing.

After the pinning madness I stay-stitched a quarter inch around the center opening (or something like that), along the sides and around the bottom of the skirt.  I didn’t want the tree skirt to stretch while I was sewing on the binding. Next steps- sew on the bias binding, attach the yo-yo’s and stitch down the handprints.

ps- Worth noting is that the buttons in the center of the yo-yo’s were a variety of sizes and colors. Blue, purple, turquoise and black buttons gave the tree skirt a little zip! Enjoy!

Auction project – part 2

February 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am making a Christmas tree skirt for Little Mister’s class auction project.

I started by cutting out 8″ squares of white on white fabric and putting them in a 9″ square in a manilla folder – secured on the back side with masking tape so the fabric wouldn’t bunch or move. Each folder was labeled with the child’s name so I couldn’t mess it all up. Genius, right?

I let the kids choose which hand to use (i.e. right or left) and they could choose from four green paint colors. I’m pleased that we’ve used left and right hands and all four of the paints. Variety is nice.

Each hand print has been bordered with a complimentary green fabric. The hand prints will get appliqued around the border of the skirt, along with yo-yo’s and stars. Well, maybe some stars. Each yo-yo has a button in the middle. The buttons are shades of green, red, black, white, gold; there are a few purple, blue and pink buttons for variety and to break up the monotony.  I might make a few blue and purple yo-yo’s too. I have about 50 yo-yo’s made so far. If I am calculating correctly I need about 100. The auction is March 4th. I need to start whipping those things out!

I “found” some time this weekend and was able to cut out the skirt (it started as a giant block of nine fat quarters) and I put on a red and white stripe binding. I used red ric-rac for the ties and I’m considering putting bells on the ends just for fun.

Here’s what I have thus far

I took this photo on Monday. I have a little more than half the binding sewn on as of this afternoon.

I used ric-rac for ties and really LOVE the bias binding so I’m showing it off here.

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