Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Big Debut!

Okay, it's not really all that big - but it is kind of a big deal to me. If you look right over there in my sidebar -----> you'll see that I've opened up a wee little Etsy shop! It's true!

This is the deal: 100% of the shop's proceeds are going to benefit the Arthritis Foundation's Camp JAM (Juvenile Arthritis Matters). Yep 100%. That's how much I love this camp and what it does for families like mine who have a kiddo dealing with arthritis. You can read more about our family's experience at camp here.

I don't intend to go into "production mode" and have a zillion things for sale but this is a small thing that I can do to feel like I am doing something in the face of this disease. Over 46 million people suffer from arthritis and over 300,000 of those people are children. There is not yet a cure.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New (Old) shower curtain

We've been living in our house for over three years and I finally hung a shower curtain in the down stairs bathroom. We've mostly been using this as a powder room and it's where the kids take baths so a shower curtain hasn't really been a necessity. But when I cleaned out my sewing space a little while ago, I went through all of my vintage sheets/linens and decided to make my very favorite flat sheet into a shower curtain.

This project was so easy it's almost embarrassing. Just measure the length you need and fold over the top to create a nice wide "hem" at the top of the curtain. Mine was about 2 inches after trimming the excess. Then I fused some lightweight interfacing to the top. At this point you could stitch the top hem in place or be lazy like I was and just steam-a-seam it in place.

By far, the hardest part was measuring the grommet spacing. Now that I am smarter and wiser I would suggest just laying your shower curtain liner on top and using the spacing that someone else has already figured out. Sure wish I'd thought of that sooner. Oh well.

Putting on the grommets is really fun and involves hammering!

And now we have an awesome new old shower curtain. We have a clear liner on the inside. I love that I can just take it down and throw it in the laundry when I need to. And I love that I get to see this beautiful vintage sheet every day. Even the men in the household think it's pretty cool, so that's a bonus.

I'm planning to make a simple tie back with some of the extra fabric that I trimmed off the top, but I haven't gotten around to that yet. Hopefully, it won't be another three years before I can make it happen.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Custom tag tutorial

Okay, finally! Here's a tutorial for how to make your own custom tags/labels.

These are a really fun and easy way to add some (more) personality to your projects.

First gather your supplies. I use twill tape for most of my tags but you can use regular cotton fabric as well. I'll show examples of three different products: StazOn ink pad, Versa Magic ink pad, and Micron pigma pen. You can use regular rubber stamps with the ink pads.

You will also need an iron to heat set the ink.

Here's a better look at the three marking products I used:

Using the StazOn ink, I stamped some small images on the tape. I made this little swatch scrap just for demonstration.

Then I did the same with the VersaMagic ink.

Here's the Micron pigma pen.

On the bottom tape I did a combo of stamp and writing. Once you're done stamping or writing on the tape or fabric all you have to do is heat set it using your iron. I have no idea if there's an optimum time to iron in order to set the ink but I just press for about 10-15 seconds.

So, here's what everything looks like after being stamped, written and ironed.

And here's what it looks like after going through the washer and dryer. I washed with detergent in warm water and tumbled dry on low (just because that's what I always do) but you can dry on high heat as well.

I use these to add a personal touch to my handmade items like the snack sack and patchwork pouch above. I also sew them into the back of pajama pants so I know which is the back and which is the front. You could even make a quilt label!

Be creative and have fun making your own custom twill tape tags!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Brace yourself

I've actually been working on a quilt!

This is Bailey's "I Spy" quilt, made from the leftovers/scraps from making one for Owen. I've had the spying squares done for ages but only just now added the pink sashing/border and did the quilting. Why now? Well, her birthday is next week so it was now or never!

And looky - I did some more free motion stippling! The quilt is small, maybe crib or lap size but I was pretty impressed with myself that I got all the quilting done in one evening after the kiddos went to bed.

The binding is already cut, just need to press it, attach it and hand-sew it. A trip through the washer to crinkle up and it will be all done! I think I can manage to get that completed before the festivities. And then I can say goodbye to I Spy quilts. Not that they weren't fun and all but I'm ready to move on to other projects.

Friday, September 24, 2010

And then there were MORE

Apparently, I can't stop making pincushions.

This one (below) was made from linen and a scrap from a vintage tablecloth. There was enough of the vintage goodness to actually make two of these so I'll be putting one in my new, as-yet-to-be-opened etsy shop. More on that at a later date.

This one was made as a gift although I will be more than a little bit sad to see this happy wee bee go. Isn't he cute?!

I have one or two more pincushions up my sleeve and then maybe I'll move on to something else. Maybe.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pincushions and PMQG

The Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting last week included a new segment called Ten Minute Tutes, where members can share a quickie ten minute tutorial with everyone. Jen did a great presentation about pincushions! I had never made a pincushion before, though I've often found myself lingering on the many flickr groups devoted to them. Here are my first attempts:

And the backs:

The linen and orange one was completely and totally inspired by one that Jen made for the presentation. It has some of my very favorite orange prints in the patchwork.

And this little fella measures only 3 inches square - perfect for tucking away into a travel sewing kit. I love the little gnome peeking out and waving to everyone.

I'm working on a few others including one to take to the next PMQG meeting for a pincushion swap. And I'll be making one for a giveaway here!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quilty love

Isn't this how everyone wants their quilts to be used?

My sweet pea just got out of the bath and snuggled up under her quilt on the chair. By the time I got her brother out of the bath and in his jammies, this is what I found. I love seeing my kiddos wrapped up in a quilt I made. I know I can't be with them every moment of every day, and this makes me feel like they're wrapped up in my love even when they're crashed out on daddy's recliner.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monkey Money

A little monkey wallet for my firstborn. He loves money and seems to find it everywhere. Now he has a place to keep it (besides his piggy bank, of course).

The belt clip was a personal request. I'm telling you, he's a four year old who knows what he wants when it comes to carrying his cash.

More monkeys inside to keep an eye on things. A zipper pocket for all the pennies and quarters that he seems to spy in every parking lot or grocery store we go through. And the dollar? Yes, half of his two dollar prize from his baking entry at the county fair. Peanut butter and jelly bars. Yum.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Scrappy and Snappy ~ Part 4

Thanks for the comments and emails about the Scraptastic Projects so far. For those of you who've asked about a zipper tutorial to document my zippiphany, I'll get to work on that in the midst of a few other projects. It may take awhile but in the meantime you can enjoy a new obsession: snaps!

I made these little snappy pockets with some larger scraps, a minimal amount of thinking and very little time. Win, win, win. Speaking of larger scraps, you should know that I don't cut up ALL of my scraps for patchwork. Especially larger pieces that may be useful in other ways (linings for pouches, strips for piecing, etc.). For me, it's just a handy way to control some of the ever-growing scrap pile and it makes patchwork a breeze when the urge hits. Onward....

I am so loving these little pockets! I want to make a pocket for everything.

This one has an interior divider and can hold my two sets (1 1/4" and 1") of Jill's hexie templates.

Does anyone else love that orange lining? Every time I see it, it makes me happy.

Awwww, look at how cute and cozy the templates are.

This one holds our library cards and can easily be tossed into a book tote for a trip to our local library. It can also hold credit cards and I'm planning on making one that is sized for business cards.
The bird/dots fabric was raw edge appliqued onto the base for this one. The orange and green one above is made of three strips that are actually pieced together. Both have a layer of lightweight fusible fleece to give them some dimension and provide some reinforcement for the snap.

And this one also has a twill tape tag. Sometimes I just can't help myself.

If anyone is interested I can also do a quickie tutorial on making your own custom twill tape tags. Any takers?

So, if zippers aren't your thing or you just want to try something else then give snaps a go. They're fun and relatively easy. I got a plier tool thingy that can set snaps and small grommets (50% off at the craft store!) and then got those awesome pearl snap fasteners that you see on the pockets.

Tips and tricks: Take your time setting the snaps in the pliers. It's a little bit fiddly, but not too bad. Just trust me when I tell you that you will NOT be a happy camper if you spend your time making a cute pocket and then screw up putting in the snap because you didn't get the pliers set up quite right.

Have fun! And if you make any snappy pockets, I'd love to know about it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Scrap Busting Projects~ Part 3

Have you been having fun with your scraps? I have! In fact, I may have to make about 75 gazillion sets of these:

These are fabric covered buttons, only better! Not that they aren't completely adorable as buttons. And hey, if you need buttons and want to make super-cute fabric covered ones, great! You're done. But if you bend down the button shank and fill in the back with adhesive, you can press in a thumbtack and have these:

The cutest thumbtacks EVER! And if you don't have a bulletin board, you can ditch the thumbtacks and glue in a magnet and put these on your fridge. Cute overload!

You can purchase button covering kits at your local fabric store or craft store ~ no special tools are required and they're pretty inexpensive. They come in a variety of sizes too so you can mix it up if you like. I used some kind of fancy adhesive (Duco Cement) that works with metal, but hot glue would probably work, too. You'll want to go for something a little stronger than your garden variety white glue so that the buttons don't pop off the tacks or magnets.

A word of caution: using a thicker fabric like this cotton/linen blend might cause you to use language that isn't exactly appropriate for your extremely verbal four year old to hear. You can compensate by making a larger button (the ones pictured are only 5/8") or by using a 100% cotton fabric that is a little bit thinner than the blend.

Have fun!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Scrappy Projects - Part 2

Ready for another fun scrap-busting project?


I love reading. I love fabric. I love reading about fabric. And I love these scrappy bookmarks.

This is a really neat way to use all those super-cute Japanese prints that are incredibly fun but can also be pricey. I never want to waste even a little bit of my Japanese stash. So it's great that you don't need much at all to make a really unique bookmark.

These next ones were made with Tufted Tweets and I also added a stamped word. You could add ribbon too.

You can see that I left the edges raw on both the main bookmark fabric as well as the small scrap pieces. I like the way the fraying softens the edges and keeps the bookmark nice and flat. But you can make them however you like!

Here's a detail of the teeny tiny Tin Man applique ~ and the little trees with the mushrooms. Seriously, I can't let this cuteness languish in my scrap pile!

Let's see, tips and tricks.... I made these by fusing the fabrics together with Wonder Under, a type of web that is fusible on two sides. If you don't have any, you could also just use a lightweight fusible interfacing but be careful when you stitch around the edges that your fabric doesn't shift. Part of why I like to use a fusible product is because it adds some stability to the finished bookmark so it isn't quite so floppy, but it doesn't add a lot of bulk which might distort the pages in your book. Fusing also helps to keep the fraying to a minimum.

If you make a bookmark for yourself or a friend, I'd love to know about it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Scraptastic Projects - Part 1

Today I thought I'd share some small projects made with small-ish scraps. If you follow my blog, you've seen some (but not all) of them before. Think of it as recycling, which is sort of what we're doing with our fabric when we use all the leftover bits and pieces.

First is this patchwork zippered pouch made with 2 1/2" squares. It's super easy to whip up if you already have a stash of precut 2 1/2" squares. Sew 'em up, add a lining and stitch on a zip - you're done!

Here's where it gets even more fun! These are two small zippy pouches made from super small scraps. The one on the left is a patchwork of 1 1/2" squares. Same as before - super fast and easy if you already have a bunch of precut squares.

The one on the right was made using all those teeny tiny "useless" scraps I showed previously. I just did a little raw edge applique onto a piece of linen/cotton blend. I didn't do it on this example, but I would strongly recommend using some sort of stabilizer/interfacing on the base fabric before trying to add the bitty bits. It can be done without but I think would be much easier with.

I really like the fraying and softening of the edges that happens with leaving the edges raw. Here's a peek at the inside.

If zippy pouches aren't you're thing, you could also use button, snap or velcro closures. If pouches of any kind aren't your thing (what??? you must be bored to death with my blog), you could also make panels of patchwork or raw edge applique and use them to decorate pockets or totes or book covers or to embellish clothing get the idea.

I have a few other things up my sleeve for more scrappy projects. Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2!

Are you starting to think about your scraps in new ways? I hope so. If you make something like this I'd love to know about it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Moleskine

Okay, both Jen and Jill beat me to the punch and posted about their Moleskine covers, so it's only fair that I post about mine as well. This was a really fun experiment/challenge and I love how differently all three of our covers turned out!

Here's the front of mine:

I used an IKEA sheet for the solid and a thrifted floral sheet for the print/back. The hexies are some of my favorite sewing related prints and I love the graphic punch they add.

Here's the inside flap:
I went ahead and made mine removable but I didn't include any pockets or anything. After thinking about it I decided that I didn't want any bulk there to interfere with writing on the backs of the pages. But I do have a plan for carrying my pencil/eraser/swatches/ruler.

Here's the inside back flap:

I made the flap so that I can still access the back pocket of the moleskine.

Here's the back cover and a great look at that pretty sheet:

A close-up of the hexies (I must get more of that math print. I LOVE it):

And finally here's a detail of the topstitching and lace from the front cover:

So my plan for writing instruments/rulers and such is to make a pencil pouch that has a large covered elastic loop attached so that I can use it as a closure for the notebook. But I haven't even cut out fabric for that so you'll have to wait to see it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oh Scrap!

Okay, I'm sure you all have your scraps sorted and ironed and stored in nice tidy containers separated by color, right? Or, you're more like me and have them all dumped into a couple of big plastic wastebaskets under your cutting table.

Pretty useless in this state of being, for me anyway.

I'm launching my own little experiment to see what can be done with scraps. Some of mine are a pretty good size, some are teeny tiny but still cute, and some only made it to my scrap pile because I was too lazy to walk the three steps over to my trash can and throw them away.

But here's the deal ~ all of that fabric cost money. Even if I got it on sale and only paid five dollars a yard, that means I paid five dollars a yard for my scraps too. Well, I don't know about you, but I don't want to throw them away unless I'm sure they have no useful life left in them. And even then, I'll probably turn some of those scraps into stuffing for a kitty cat bed or some such thing.

So, here's what I did first. I ironed my scraps. Yes, it sounds slightly insane but all the time I spent mentally convincing myself what a waste of time it was ended up taking more time than actually DOING the ironing.

Then I took my larger pieces and made either 2 1/2" or 1 1/2" squares. I put these in separate labelled containers so that I have them ready for patchwork. You can make patchwork pieces any size you like as long as you're consistent. I also started a container for 1 1/2" x 4 1/2" strips. (A little side note: I love 2 1/2" squares for a couple of reasons. One, that's the size jelly rolls come in so when there are leftovers, it's easy to use them in patchwork. Two, a square this size is perfect for piecing 1" hexagons.)

Even after weeding out the fabrics that can be made into patchwork squares, there are often teeny tiny pieces that seem too small to be useful. But stay tuned and you'll see the possibilities!

Hopefully, being a little more creative with what I have will help me with my upcoming Fabric Fast (more on that later). How do you handle your scraps?

And speaking of scraps....head on over to A Few Scraps. It's not too late to join in Christina's quilt along and learn a bunch of great stuff about free motion quilting on your home machine! Go check it out.