Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Walk of Shame? I think not...

T-minus 5.5 lap quilts on 1 Dec? Didja make it? Didja? DIDJA?

Nope, didn't make it by a long shot. But by tomorrow I'll have 3 of the 5.5 completed since 1 Dec. The accomplishment in that is that those quilts got completed in the face of this list of overwhelming odds against getting them done:

Christmas shopping for husband and kids, fabric shopping for my Kringle's lap quilt, food shopping for the family Christmas party, watching a 2 year old, cleaning for the family Christmas party, baking for mail off Christmas gifts and the Christmas party, cooking for the family Christmas party, decorating for Christmas and the Christmas party, watching a 2 year old, hosting the Christmas party, standing in line at the post office to send off gifts, watching a 2 year old, attending an out of town Christmas party while watching the 2 year old, planning Christmas dinner (we're starting a new tradition: Italian on Christmas Day), miscalculating yardages for the 3rd quilt, choosing new fabrics because what I'd chosen is no longer available, watching a 2 year old, dodging husband so I can wrap his presents, dodging 2 year old so I can wrap his presents. Oy! Busy, busy, busy...  Did I mention watching a 2 year old?

I count it an earth shattering accomplishment to have an empty sink for the first time in 10 days. And it's not over yet.

I know I'm not the only one, what's going on in your holiday plans?

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Holy schnikes! It's almost Christmas

I can't be the only crafter who has let Christmas sneak up on them...again.

Can I?

T-minus 5.5 quilts

Think I'll make it?

Trimming visual clutter

I'm still the newbie quilter and with less than perfect vision. Glasses can only correct so much. And my frustration level isn't one of those correctable things. You may be like me in that aspect, so a little help is always a good thing.

What inspired todays post: half triangle squares. Specifically trimming the little buggers up square. Goodnight Avery only has 36 of them, and I'm not complaining about that.  20 2½" and 16 3½" squares to be exact.

Non-quilter FYI: 36 half-triangle squares in a quilt top is only a few, and about as easy as it gets.

UGH! Too many lines!

I love my rotary cutter and mat. I also love quilting rulers. Individually, they outslice sliced bread for awesomeness. BUT, and there is always a but, using them at the same time makes me crosseyed from visual clutter. So much so that I welcomed stopping my first Goodnight Avery quilt to let my phone charge and my eyes rest while I write this post. My phone is my camera, and as they say, seeing is believing.

What got my eyes hurting after trimming only 10 squares today was eyestrain from cutting them to size while keeping them square.

Busy, busy, busy!

The fix came to me in these stages:

Tip 1: Mark the half inch square corner with X's on the diagonal line of the ruler.

I was tired of trying to visually line up x.5" squares on the diagonal. Quilting rulers are marked in ⅛" increments. To put it mildly, that's a lot of tiny squares in a very little space. Following them visually with old, tired, and poor eyes is a recipe for not just for eyestrain but cutting errors. Goodnight Avery only has 36 half triangle squares, but some quilts can have hundreds. I don't know about you, but fabric is too expensive to potentially screw up 100+ of these little, er, suckers in a larger quilt. OUCH, indeed.

Wee blue crosshairs are larger than they appear in the picture

Tip 2: Trim the squares en pointe.

In combination with tip 1, "standing" the square on a point for cutting lets you easily measure from the inside of the ruler to the outside of it, and make any needed cuts along 2 sides.

Look Ma, just 2 quick cuts!

Tip 3: Use the back of the cutting mat.

Here's where I had my V-8 moment: I noticed that I could see my X's on my ruler more easily on my sewing table because it's solid white and the ruler is clear (DUH!). Turning my mat over and cutting en pointe on the solid green side means I only see the fabric or the solid green through the ruler and no distracting gridlines or angle lines. AHHHH! Now that's easy on the eyes!

Sometimes less is more....

Once I hit on this process trimming up squarely was quick and easy peasy. My knitting hero, Elizabeth Zimmermann, called rediscovered knitting techniques, stitch patterns, and tips such as these unventions.  Therefore I unvented a highly workable process today. Hooray for me!

What about you happy crafters? What have you unvented?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wait for it... wait for it...

This chilly morning, I toast the completion of the mentalpause project with a cuppa lukewarm joe. This was to be my daughter's high school graduation gift: nice, right? Well, that graduation was in 2008.  Now to wash and block it, then have it matted and framed for her kitchen. Good thing her college graduation gift was a graduation party, yes?
A 7 year wait isn't too long, is it?
I'll admit, I'm a bit slow on the uptake. Having taken 7 years to complete the mentalpause needlepoint, any needlework project advertised as "quickpoint" would be a welcome change of pace. I chose some cute Penguins and started the next color by number with yarn. For some goofy reason I thought Quickpoint would be a basketweave needlepoint project, but it's really cross stitch on a very large mesh (4.5 stitches/inch) with worsted yarn. At least I don't have to count stitches... It's quite sizable (16 inches square) but when you compare stitch counts it's far far less work. There's only a few stitches over 5100 in the whole thing compared to the 28200 plus of mentalpause in only a 14 x 14 space.
Maybe quick point means this one
will only take 3 years to complete?

And I did cut out a quilt after finishing mentalpause and the office-to-sewing room reorganization. Actually I got much farther than cutting it out. Quilting is about to commence so that my favorite West Virginia fan has a Christmas present. Really, that's WVU blue and gold, not LSU purple and gold. LSU Purple is a color not allowed in my household.  The pattern is Donna Robertson's 'Friendship Star' from her book 3 Yard Quilts. I think this one is my favorite pattern in the whole book.

Eek! Excuse my kitchen floor, please?

But I'm still not brave enough to tackle my closets... yet. The closets may hold things that have never seen the light of day. Sticking my hands in there will require the fortitude of a, nay several, steaming cuppas Irish coffee. With whisky, thankyouverymuch. There be beasties in there.

What about you?

Next quilts up:
One each Vicki Bellino's Goodnight Avery's in little boy construction prints and little girl critter prints 
Several Stella Table Mats in Christmas fabrics

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In Mentalpause

What was I thinking???? Reorganize the office into a craft room during vacation? Easy peasy? Riiight... It's not hard but it is tiring. Everything takes longer to do in a wrist brace.  Wanting my kitchen table to be junk free as I move sewing machines and sewing supplies (a quilt top isn't junk, but I like eating on a solid surface and clean quilts) means no quilting or sewing until the room is setup.  Just a few more pieces to go... and then I'll cut another quilt top and tackle my closets. UGH! That's for the closets, not the quilt top.

And because I'm not as young as I used to be: I get too tired to think after dragging all that crap around but still want to work on something in the evenings ... my paint by numbers with yarn is almost complete. Another needlepoint is already queued up in the wings for when this beauty is completed.

Next quilts up:
Vicki Bellino's Goodnight Avery in little boy construction prints 
Donna Robertson's Byzantine Door in New Orleans Saints fabrics

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I LOVE easy peasy microwave fabric bowls

Yes, I said I love these. They're easy to make, easy to use, and easy to clean. Does anything kitchen related get any better than that?

How often are we disappointed by kitchen gadgets that seem awesome? More often than we'd care to admit, I'd wager.

I've not been this excited about a kitchen item since Crock Pot Liners were introduced. They will always be the #1 of kitchen sexy...

Tired of burning your hands and dipping hot pads into the contents of microwaved bowls? Make an easy peasy microwave fabric bowl!

These lovely little quilted fabric bowls are made with 100% cotton fabric and sewn with 100% cotton thread, quilted with 100% cotton batting. (No poly or metallic anything, please. They'll burn or arc, or both.)

Fill your bowl with whatever you're reheating/cooking/eating, put the bowl of food into the fabric bowl. Toss it all in the microwave or eat - voila! No burnt hands, ma!

I just have to share the love... Link to one of many tutorials to make these great little gadgets below:


I'll quote one of my favorite comics, Bill Engvall: Yes ma'am, you are welcome.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Biomechanics + Wedding Prep + Technology = Life caught me by the short hairs

It's been a little over two months now since I checked in with y'all. Here goes:

To Count or Not to Count Update

I did resolve my inability to count beyond two, however I haven't got much knitting done.  A carpal tunnel diagnosis pretty much put the kibosh on knitting until I can have surgery to fix it. After the wedding, that is.

%$!* Wrist

Which lead to not only no knitting these past two months, but little to no typing. A splinted wrist can only do so much, and no more.  I can type right now because a cortisone injection in my wrist has finally kicked in enough to remove the splint for a very little while. But I did sew a great deal during the blog interregnum for myself, the holidays, my daughter and her wedding, because it's one of the few things I could do with my good hand in a wrist splint. 

Gift for a Friend
First of two Christmas gifts

45" x 45" 9 Patch for grandbaby

45" x 60" Simple Strips quilt for my daughter

Wedding Prep

I never assume others think like I do, but I do assume the world would be a better and more financially solvent place if more people thought like me. But, for the moment, lets assume you do think like me and have no problems with a DIY wedding.

Dear Daughter chose burlap and lace for her decorating scheme. Being an odd combination of Depression Era "If you can make it cheaper than you can buy it, always make it," and a recovering southern belle of the Emily Post variety, nonplussed is a polite way to describe my opinion of burlap at a wedding. That said, it's not my wedding and we all know what is said about opinions. As much as I hate to admit it, I am not exempt from the opinion rule. Mine stink too. But I will give her selection a substantial plus: burlap and lace can be reused in the newlywed's home as part of a shabby chic decor.

Anyway, in discussions of "burlap this," "burlap that, " and "burlap the other," I realized there were substantial pecuniary savings to be had in making some of the burlap decorations for the wedding and reception instead of purchasing everything. Neither Emily Post nor my Depression Era grandparents were opposed to saving money. Nor am I. 

Rule number 1: Preferentially buy everything but the food on clearance where you can. Shop around to do this, and start early.You may love a particular item or look, but if you can get something really close to it on clearance, do it. For fellow cheapskates this is preaching to the choir. For you newbies to getting the best bang for your buck, it works if and only if you do it.

Rule number 2: If it's cheaper to make it than it is to buy it, always make it. Yes, factor in your time to make it against the cost, and start early. Your time matters. For instance, I was going to make the favor bags, until I found a lower cost supplier at which to buy them. The time I'm saving will go towards cooking the food for the reception and making other decorations.

Many bemoan the early Christmas store layouts, but not I. We crafter cheapskates know the number one rule of crafting for Christmas: Start early.  A crafter cannot start early if there is no seasonal merchandise to be had. Enough said.

And there are other benefits to early seasonal displays. In the Christmas section of a national hobby and craft store, I saw adorable burlap bows edged with cheapie lace, perfect for the wedding & reception decorations, save for the cost. $10 each, for cheap lace & burlap, of all things? Cheeky little retailers! 

With a little thought (I made my own bow pattern) and prescient purchasing decisions (yards of burlap bought on sale, yards & yards of lace bought on clearance), my dear daughter now has beautiful bows with nice lace at a material cost of $1 each.   Good for the wedding, reception, Christmas, Thanksgiving...  useful in the future and a gift to carry forward for the new couple. I could make more like this in the same manner, add my time and sell them on etsy for half of what the retailers charge and still make bank.  (Future enterprise for me! )
Burlap Bow (The first of many)

24" x 60" Burlap and Lace Table Runner
(to have a 12" diameter centerpiece)

Burlap and organza wired ribbon floral arrangements for the reception tables can be reused in the home as desired. They're much less expensive than real flowers. See parenthetical ending of previous paragraph.
Guestbook Table arrangement

Consider fancying up the food service at the reception with carefully purchased pieces of white serving plate. The newlyweds can have it for their new home. Give it to them after the honeymoon of course! No pics yet, still in the pick up as I find it stage.


Other sewing & quilting or wedding projects are either completed or underway, but until I figure out how to get the pics from the new phone to the 'puter they're photos non grata. It'll wait. Not like I don't have anything else to do. 

Are you the make it yourself, if it's cheaper type too? Chime in a comment and let me know...

Back to bow making...