Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Just Saying Hi!


I'm checking in.  I haven't got anything crafty to share with you today, but I wanted you to know I was here.
My quilt rack topped with miscellaneous old sewing items.  Hey, I had to show you pictures of something!
Even though I've got nothing to show you right now doesn't mean I haven't been busy.  One thing I was working on was a birthday present.  Since I know the birthday girl reads this blog, I can't very well post it until after she receives it.  Well, the truth is, I can't post it at all because I forgot to take photos before I wrapped it all up and packaged it for the mail.  That was dumb!

The other thing I've been working on is a surprise.  Shh!  I can't tell you about it now, but you will see it in a few weeks.  Why the secrecy?  You'll understand that soon enough, too.
Some of my old sewing baskets.
I have so much I want to do.  It's driving me crazy that I don't have the time!   Once again, I have to lament that working full time really gets in the way of my crafting.

I'll be back tomorrow or the next day to report about my new sewing machine.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Aunt Peaches Valentine Swap Part II

My three Valentines from the Aunt Peaches Valentines Swap
Valentine’s Day has come and gone.  Mine would have been uneventful (sigh . . .) if not for the Aunt Peaches Valentine swap.  I wrote about that once before here, but that only covered the Valentines I sent.  I also received three Valentines.

The first one I received was from Tya of Craft.Run.Wag.  Isn’t it pretty and super professional looking?  I opened it and thought, “Geez! Mine looks amateurish.”  Well done, Tya! 
The first Valentine to arrive.
The next to arrive was from Patty.  How cute is this matchbox Valentine?  You open it up to find this adorable little felt heart.  Not only that, but the heart is a pin!  So cute!  Thank you, Patty!  I love it.
Cute matchbox Valentine.

With a surprise inside!

And it's a pin to boot.
Last, but not least, was this sweet Valentine from Puja.  Can you imagine gluing on every single one of those tiny hearts?  I’d have glue everywhere.  I’m not a tidy gluer so I admire gluing that is well done and Puja did a great job of it.  The caption inside reads “You are one in a million.” 
The third and final Valentine.
I loved the spirit of this swap and feel lucky to have participated.  Thank you to Tya, Patty and Puja for the Valentines I received.  I love each of them.  And thanks to Aunt Peaches for organizing the whole shebang!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Highs and Lows in the World of Finance

Here’s my story.  A few months back, I took a pretty darn hefty pay cut so I’ve been living a thriftier than usual life.  I saved all my Christmas and birthday present money and got a good tax refund so I convinced myself that I could splurge a little.  What did I want?  Another sewing machine.
The Brother PQ-1500S - Object of My Desire
Never mind that I already have three sewing machines—my fancy-pants Bernina which I love, my perfectly serviceable serger, and my old faithful Kenmore—I wanted another one to be fully dedicated to use on my quilting frame. The Brother PQ-1500S; a nifty machine that my friend Denise has and that I covet.

So I hemmed and I hawed and I changed my mind at least forty-three times, then I ordered it.  It was done.  Irrevocable.  That sewing machine was on its way.

Not an hour later I got into my car and the air conditioning died. 
Life without A/C in Arizona is hot.
I live in Arizona.  A/C is required.  Sigh.  I was being punished for my frivolousness. 

Oh well, no use crying over it.  I am going to have both a new sewing machine and new A/C in my car so I may as well be excited over it.  Yay!
A sneak peek at a corner of my handkerchief quilt.  You'll see the whole thing when it's done.
I wanted to be ready for the arrival of the Brother PQ-1500S so I spent some time on the weekend readying a couple of quilts for the frame.  The first one you can only have a little peek at.  It’s a handkerchief quilt that I made some time ago.  To get that ready, I needed to piece the backing.  This is a monster-sized quilt . . .  well queen-sized plus a little extra.  I sure am glad I have a frame to put this on.  Gone are the days of trying to shove these big quilts through the tiny sewing machine.  Oy!  My neck hurts just thinking about it.
Second quilt ready for the frame and my new sewing machine.
The second one is a little gem I whipped together recently.  The fabrics (except the border) came from my friend Sue M.  I believe they were leftovers from some project she did as when they arrived they were all bundled together.  Sue has exquisite taste so making something from her scraps is guaranteed to be pretty.  I intend for this to be a charity quilt. 
Closer look--pretty fabrics.
I bought the border, backing and binding fabric.  Okay, it’s been a long time since I paid full price for fabric in a quilt shop.  Holy mackerel, has it gotten expensive!  $11.50 a yard?!  Man, I used to think $8.95 was expensive.  I know, I’m sounding like an old person.  (Why, in my day, fabric only cost a dollar, but we had to walk 5 miles in the snow with no shoes to get it!)  I guess I’m lucky that I inherit scraps from so many people.  I don’t know that I could afford quilting if I didn’t.
Waiting impatiently.
Now, I have to wait impatiently for my new toy to arrive all the while sweating on the way home from work until my A/C gets fixed on my next day off.  I'm not good at delayed gratifiction.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Blocks from the Past, Catching Up

Awhile back, I did some posts about a group of quilter friends with whom I was doing a block challenge.  Each month we would make four blocks from the book Teach Yourself Blocks from the Past by Marie Henry.  I stayed caught up for three months.  Well, then things fell apart a little.

Everything I've done so far
I've been catching up.  I may actually have shown you some of these blocks before now.  My pile got a little messed up because the cat knocked it off the table when he decided he wanted to sleep where it was sitting.  Darn cat.  Any-who, I think these are the blocks since November.
Road to Fortune
I'm caught up with all the pieced blocks, but I'm still two months behind with the applique blocks.  If I could just spend an hour prepping them, I'd have them done in a couple of evenings.  But, there's just too much fun, creative stuff to do that I put that off.

Jacob's Ladder

Twinkling Star

Friendship Album

Clay's Choice

Baby Bunting
The block above was a b*$&#!  Paper pieced--which I hate--then appliqued to the background.  Oy!  Not fun.
Cake Stand
Gentleman's Fancy
It wasn't until I saw the photo that I realized what a bad job of pressing I had done on that Gentleman's Fancy block.  I'm a little embarrassed to be posting it.
This and That
My goal is to catch up completely--applique blocks and all--by the end of next month.  Wish me luck!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Workbench Clean-up

The picture below is of one of the {many} embarassing spots in my house.  It's the workbench in my sewing room.  It's meant to be an extra work space for me, but really, it's a junk collector.  I was up in the wee, wee hours of the morning today so I thought I would tackle cleaning it up.  Since I wasn't sure what I would unearth, I thought I'd treat it like a treasure hunt and see what I found.  Sorry if some of the photos aren't the greatest...  it was a bit dark.

Right on top of the pile was this UFO.  It's a circa 1980s Bucilla Christmas ornament kit.  I started working on this about 6 months ago, then stopped.
Here are a few of the ornaments I finished.  Some of them I gave away at Christmas time.  I'm not worried that I didn't finish it.  But I am happy that I finally put it away.

This is a box of 2 inch squares for a quilting project I'm working on.  It's a Jewel Box quilt.  Why this box of squares had wandered away from the rest of the project, I can't say.  It's now back where it belongs.

These are fun.  One set of new and one set of vintage flower looms.  I've got to make up some flowers on these and do a post.  For right now, they've been organized (which means I may never be able to find them again).

Another UFO!  This is a string quilt that should have a Christmas-y look to it when finished.  As a matter of fact, I should see if I can find any discounted Christmas fabric to finish it.  For now, it's on the UFO shelf (yes, I have a UFO shelf and it's very crowded).

So, I got interested in making coin purses for about 5 minutes one day.  That was enough time for me to order a bunch of purse frames and find a pattern.  I did manage to finish a couple of them.  The one is kind of big--I don't know what I was thinking there; it sure can hold a lot of coins!

Of course, what's a junk pile without a vintage bouillon cube container and an old Easter box full of marbles?  You've got those laying around, too, right?  I don't know why I have these, but I know I need them.  They are going back on the workbench.  How cute is the ox on the bouillon cube box?

What's below are three craft fails.  I don't know why I was hanging on to them.  Sometimes, I just can't let go.  Today, they went in the garbage.  Breath, Sarah, breath....

So that's where these cards were!  I was looking for them not long ago.  I whipped these up a few months back and promptly lost them.  I guess they're found now.

Another thing I got interested in for 5 minutes was metal stamping.  I actually found this cool set at Goodwill (and I did not pay full price for that...  it' was 1/2 price Saturday).  Anyway, my interest waned, but not enough that I actually put the stuff away.

Now these are cute.  I don't even remember having these.  I must have inherited them from someone.  I definitely need to think of something clever to do with them.  They are way too cute to waste.

We're getting to the bottom of the pile now.  This is a collage project I started at least two years ago.  It has potential, doesn't it?  Maybe now that it's been unearthed, it'll get finished

An hour later and it's now conceivable that I could use the workbench to work!  I am promising myself that I won't mess it up again.  Ya, right...

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Found Object Bracelet with Tutorial

My friends Jan and Lisa came over this weekend to do a little crafting and a little--okay, a lot--of eating. 
My finished found object bracelet.
Lisa was intrigued by a project she had seen in an old copy of Martha Stewart Living.  Turns out, you can also find this project online.  It’s called the Curios Cluster Necklace.  We decided to use this as our inspiration and do our own found object bracelet.  I thought I'd share with you how we went about it.
Another view.
Materials List
·         Beads, buttons, charms, sequins, found objects, etc.
·         Felt or other backing
·         Nymo (beading thread), embroidery floss or other strong thread
·         Beading needles
Jan and Lisa sorted through just some of my trinkets.
We met at my house at 10:30 am.  I’m the girl with all the craft supplies so it was natural to work at my place.  See, I keep telling you, you have to hoard supplies so when inspiration strikes, you are ready for it!  We started by picking out buttons (I had left them on the table from my recent post about buttons).  Then I brought out the charms, random found objects, old diodes, sequins, beads, rhinestones, old gumball machine toys . . .   whatever we could think of to put on our bracelets.  Lisa brought some stuff to share, too.

Jan's tin of goodies.

My trinkets.
Of course, all that is hungry work so we needed to break for lunch before we passed out.  We’re such delicate, little flowers.  I had made my famous To Die For Mac & Cheese.  Sharp white cheddar, parmesan, and asiago cheeses with a b├ęchamel sauce . . .  You’re likely to gain ten pounds just thinking about it.  Lisa brought a wonderful salad to accompany it. 
A good long nap was called for after that meal, but time was a-wasting so we got right into the sewing.  We started by cutting a base strip of felt for our bracelet slightly larger than what we wanted the finished size to be.  We used a good quality felt, not the el cheapo felt squares you find at the craft stores.  Then, using Nymo (a type of waxed beading thread), we started sewing our stuff to our bases.  Could you use regular thread or embroidery floss?  Absolutely, but the Nymo is strong and it's waxed so glides nicely through everything.  It might be worth looking into. Tip:  when you tie off on the back, leave a slightly longer tail than you normally would.  This will help the waxed thread from working loose.
My bracelet at the beginning stages; adding the largest objects first.
I started with the largest items then began to fill in with smaller pieces.  There is no technique to this, just sew the stuff down where you want it. There were a couple of pieces I glued down, as well as sewing them.  They were dangly and annoying so a little dab of glue (I used E6000) on the back kept them in place. I sewed stuff right to the very edge of the felt backing.
My bracelet at the end of the day.
 Lisa had a good idea.  She used a tray with a towel in it to keep her trinkets organized.  Nothing rolled around or got out of hand that way. It worked well. 
Lisa's good idea:  a tray with a towel on it kept everything tidy.
Did I mention dessert?  Jan brought Arizona Sunshine Pie (lemon pie) for dessert which we ate while we sewed.  Yum!  She also brought Kahlua balls (like rum balls, only with Kahlua) for good measure, just in case we were still hungry. 

You do need to make a closure for your bracelet.  Sew a larger button on one end; this can be one of your embellishments.  Using embroidery floss or ribbon, create a loop at the other end.  There are several different ways you could do this.  I used a loop of wide silk ribbon then sewed the ends down on the underside of the piece.
Here's the ribbon closure in process.
Here's the finished closure.
Once you have everything sewn in place, add a backing to your bracelet. Cut a piece of felt the same size as the front. Using a matching thread or floss, whip stitch around all four edges.

It was fun to do this in a group to see the different results we got.  None of our bracelets were remotely similar, yet each was very cool.  Another good reason to do it in a group would be to share/swap supplies (in case you’re not like me and don’t have enough junk yourself to make about a million of these things). 
Jan's bracelet at the end of the night...  not quite finished.

Lisa's bracelet at the end of the night...  also not quite finished.  Lisa used a piece of ribbon behind her trinkets so she doesn't have to fill in with beads.  Another smart idea.
The time just flew by as we talked and laughed and sewed.  Before we knew it, it was 8pm!  None of us finished that day.  This is not a project you can do in a hurry.  In all, I would say I put in about 15 hours.  But the results are so worth the effort!
One last look...  I just love it!
Do you craft with your friends?  Do you get together and work on a single project like we did, or do you all do your own thing?  I find it inspiring to work when there are other creative people around me.  Do you?

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