Friday, February 29, 2008

Jen's Giveaway...

Anyone that knows me realizes I'm a fabric lover. Big time. I love looking at it, buying it and definitely enjoy sewing with it. Since getting into blogging, I've broadened the horizons in this area. Added to my other loves I can now enjoy reading about it on other wonderfully creative blogs.

With that in mind, I wanted to tell you about Jen. Well, better yet - go visit her here and meet her yourself. Jen is one of those people that just makes you smile. Besides having a blog, she has a website where she sells fabulous fabric. Today is extra special as she has a giveaway going on that you shouldn't miss. Quick! Go Now!

Monday, February 25, 2008

I couldn't resist...

stopping by the thrift store with it's $5/bag sign displayed in the front window. Textile junkie that I am, I headed straight to the linens section and filled, ahem, overfilled the shopping basket. Look what I found!

Now, when I got to the counter I found out that the sale price was for clothing items only. Oooops!
The sweet grandmother at the counter said that she could make me a deal rather than charging me full price. She named her price and I countered it. Um... 4 times. I did offer to return some of the items to the shelves as I wasn't sure we were going to agree on a price.
She hovered over the collection like a mother hen protecting her chicks, shaking her head. "No, there was no need to return any items to the shelf," she said, there's too much on the shelves and she'd rather I take what now lay on her counter.
Finally, after much price dropping (in my defense this store overprices the linens 2-4 times what I pay at other local thriftstores, so I felt quite secure in negotiating a lower price), she asked, "Just what would you be willing to pay?" I named my price. Sighing with resignation, she bagged everything up and made me promise not to tell anyone what I paid. My lips are sealed, but I can at least show you what I got. ;o)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Honey, I shrunk my sweater...

so I had to make a doll to fit it. See?

Nah, I didn't actually shrink one of my own sweaters by accident. This was one of my thrifted sweaters that I intentionally shrunk so that I could cut it up and make new things from it.

You previously had a glimpse of this red sweater in the felted teacozy I posted about. I obviously still have pieces of that sweater to use and just I couldn't resist making this doll (she's actually an angel in the book I got the pattern from, but I decided to skip the wings when making her). It was such a playful project and one that I'm glad I indulged my inner child in making. My sons really start wondering what's happening when they see me making a doll and my excitement in making her wardrobe. Uh-oh, they seem to express as they look at each other. Is mom losing it? Perhaps. It's just too fun not to make a doll and her clothes. Especially one as whimsical as this one.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm on an embroidering kick...

and I'm using up those thrifted linen shirts, project by project!

Previously I showed you needlebooks made from the shirts and here's the latest hand-embroidered sewing project:

Both of the projects are from Sew Pretty Homestyle. Maybe I should warn you that I'll probably be making/showing you more of these in the near future. I love the simplicity of them and the soft colours of the linen keep calling to me... they seem to be whispering of warmer weather and Spring flowers. sigh.
*I guess I should satisfy the curiousity of those that asked about the methods I previously used for transferring designs onto fabric for embroidering.
1. It's sounds rather unsophisticated and sad, but I used a regular pencil on tracing paper. Then to transfer the design onto the fabric I simply turned the paper over so that the pencil lead would come off onto the fabric as I retraced over the pencil lines on the reverse side of the paper. This method wasn't exactly foolproof. I often ended up freehanding the design as my transfer lines could be intermittent or just a bit messy. It's difficult to maintain smooth lines when drawing on fabric with a regular pencil - believe me, I speak from experience. Nevertheless, this became my usual method (worked better than #2 or #3 detailed below) and I have managed to muddle my way through some embroidery projects this way. ;o)
2. Before this, I had attempted using disappearing ink markers at one point, but gave up on them (I got tired of having the markings fade before finishing which led to extra time spent redrawing the design to be embroidered over and over again on the fabric...which is of course less troubling than the fear that the ink will be permanent!).
3. I briefly considered using dressmakers transfer paper (which works great for transferring pattern markings such as darts onto fabric when used with a tracing wheel), but this stuff has several disadvantages in transferring small designs onto fabric. Most notably is that the tracing wheel is useless for the small designs I want to transfer. Oh and did I mention it will leave marks where you don't want if you're not careful enough when handling it during the tracing procedure? Then there's the fact that placement of your designs can be trickier as you can't see through this paper like you can through tracing paper.
Okay, I think you now know why I was happy to discover the transfer pencil that you iron your drawn design onto the fabric. So much easier, faster and accurate. Yipee!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Simple tool makes projects easier...

I just have to tell you about my latest discovery. Okay, perhaps it won't be a revelation to you at all. Maybe I'm the only one that didn't know about this wonderful item that takes the headache out of transferring designs from paper to fabric. It's aptly named a 'transfer pencil'.

You use this pencil to draw or trace the design onto tracing paper, then place the paper onto fabric you want to put the design on (with the pencil marks facing down). Iron over the design at the temperature setting appropriate for fabric (eg. set iron temp. setting to 'linen' if the fabric is linen). After pressing you can remove the tracing paper and the design should now show up on your fabric. It's that easy!
I won't even go into some of the other ways I used to transfer designs onto fabric for my embroidering. Let's just say I won't be using my old techniques now that I've discovered this handy pencil.
As you can see, my tracing paper is littered with some designs I want to embroider soon. The only thing I would warn you of in case you've not used a transfer pencil before is that you should realize the designs will be a mirror image - so keep this in mind if you're transferring things like monograms.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Goodness in the Mail

Want to see the beautiful work of two talented ladies that have generously shared some of their creative goodness with me?
Katie sent me this gorgeous doll sized quilt after I was lucky enough to win in one of her giveaways recently.

Roxanne sent me this lovely and clever hand-made Valentine's Day card/bookmark that I just received.

I tell ya, I'm feeling spoiled and rather giddy to be receiving such goodness. The males in my household are really wondering what's going on that I should be so lucky in receiving gifties such as these. As for me, I'm just ever so thankful and amazed at the kindness and generosity of the friends I'm finding in blogland. Thank you so very much!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Give your needles a pretty home...

This project started with 2 thrifted linen shirts and 1 piece of thrifted linen fabric.

The results were 3 simple and clever little needlebooks and one pincushion. Patterns for these projects can be found in Sew Pretty Homestyle.
Making these little charmers is very rewarding. They are simple to sew, fun to embroider and can be completed in a short amount of time.
Best of all, they are practical. See that snap on the cover of each case? Keeps your needles secure in their pages, yet easier to access when you need them than a button closure would be. Love it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A little organization goes a long ways...

This shelving unit used to be home to a few books and some decorations until I took over the dining room as my sewing area. The decorations were shuffled into new spots elsewhere and now the bottom two shelves (not pictured) in this unit hold my sewing books and some patterns. The three ascending shelves now are home to my notions and fabric strips. I started out years ago using see-through rubbermaid stacking containers, which work well, but my needs outstripped my budget. Then I realized that the plastic salad tubs that I buy organic greens in during the off season would fit my needs.

I decided to organize my fabric strips by size into individually labelled tubs. This system has the following benefits:
1. of keeping the size I need for a project within easy reach
2. it has cut down on my re-ironing these same fabrics
3. it has prevented the strips from ending up all frayed from being overhandled
4. it has allowed me to maximize every bit of fabric in my stash because I can save larger pieces of fabric from being cut up when I only need a small strip for a project (such as in the quilt-a-long blocks I recently put together) or for giving me the variety I need for making the scrappy projects I love.

Gone are the days I just tossed strips of every size into one basket (said basket being on the top shelf of my photo). I'm amazed at the time it has saved me in putting together projects. How often do I actually use the fabric strips? Well, much more often now that I can see what I have! I know, each bin seems to be well fed...but the reason for this is that I cut strips from any leftovers in the larger projects I make. For example, I have a bin entirely devoted to plaid fabric strips - the leftovers from my 'Manly Quilt'. I don't think of these fabric strips as useless scraps. Oh, no, they're bins of 'Creative Potential'. Anyways, this bit of organization goes a long way for me. What do you do to tame the chaos from your creative endeavours?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Final Blocks in Quilt a-long

I decided to re-do the Week 11 Block and I think this version fits better with its colours than my first attempt did. What do you think?

This is the block for Week 12 and the final block in the quilt a-long.
Here you have my random arrangement of all the blocks made in the past 12 weeks altogether:
It's definitely a scrappy, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style quilt top due to my shopping for fabric in the stash approach. At this point, I've just left the blocks arranged for me to view and think about before I proceed. My husband wants me to make these 12 blocks again to have a larger quilt top. I definitely will add something to make this larger as my family prefers quilts sized large enough to wrap up in.

I want to thank Amandajean for the wonderful idea and all her clear instructions over the past weeks. I've really enjoyed being a part of her first Quilt a-long and look forward to the next one she'll host.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Lots of crafting going on... nothing finished

I had hoped to have some finished projects to share by the end of the week, but instead I'll give you a bit of a glimpse at things in progress. This is what one end of my dining room table/sewing table presently looks like...

Here's the in progress mess at the other end of the table...

I decided to spare you the shock of seeing the other stacks of materials surrounding the table (stacked on the chairs and covering the buffet). It's a rather scary sight! Someday, I'll have a craft/sewing room designed specifically to house everything. For now, the dining room works just fine.

Hoping you all have a wonderful weekend doing things that you enjoy and hopefully I'll have some new projects to share with you next week.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Woolen Wear for the Teapot

See the zip front cardigan on the left?

It recently had a make-over. Felted and refashioned along with a red wool sweater (that makes up the side panels in this project) the two cardigans became a teacozy.
The bottom edge of the cardigan front and back worked perfectly to make the finished bottom edge of my new tea cozy. I even cut a strip of the bound front off the neckline of the cardigan to make the loop at the top of the cozy.
Here's to thrifted sweaters and fabric scraps! Time for a tea break as a reward. ;o)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Plaids and Polka-dots

Some good crafting mojo going on for me at the moment. I love it when the my ideas work out! Since I'm in the middle stages of several projects, I'm just giving you a peek at one of my projects on the go...

Remember me saying I had to figure out what I would use for the backing on my son's 'Manly' quilt? I really wanted a blue plaid flannel - I thought it would make the quilt extra cozy and work well with the scrappy quilt top. I had it in mind that I would visit the thrift stores to see if I could find a sheet to use. Yesterday, I had errands in the vicinity of one of the thrift stores and went searching. Voila! Exactly what I wanted. Brand new, the right size and way less $ than retail. Yay!
Let the quilting begin!With any luck I'll be busy sewing to my heart's content this weekend in between activities with my family. I'm so happy that I'll be immersed in plaids and polka-dot projects this weekend.

Hope you have a great weekend!
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