Friday, July 30, 2010

Figuring it out

I figure if I'm going to be ripping out stitches, putting in an old movie will make the task less odious. I love old movies and managed to find "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" starring Gary Cooper, at the library, which is one that I'd never watched. Movie playing, stitch ripping these blocks was accomplished quickly with me moving on to cutting new strips for the charms.
Ta-da. Here's the re-do. The quilt uses all of the 35 charm squares and most of the scrap bag fabric strips. I did end up searching the stash to help keep things scrappy looking, but I think the new fabrics fit in nicely (I've laid the quilt top on the backing fabric in this photo - I was seeing how they measured up to one another).
Now I'm dithering over making the top larger as this one is only 43" x 59". Not sure what I'd use it for at this size.

I think I'd like to make it a bit wider, but now that I've used up all the charms, I'm wondering about making a scrappy border to add width or should I see if I could cobble together some more blocks? What do you think?

*Thanks for the feedback on the coin purses. I just have to write that tutorial - all the pics are ready and then I will share ASAP.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


"What in the world can you make with such tiny zippers?" a fellow thrifty shopper asked me when she saw me scooping up a handful of 4" zippers at the Unused Fabric and Crafts Sale. Honestly, at that moment, I was enthralled with their cool looking zipper pulls more than having a specific project in mind. I told her I could use them for coin purses and that seemed to satisfy her curiosity. ;o) Turns out that 4" was too small for my usual coin purse design, so I put the zippers aside.
When Jacqueline was visiting last week, she showed me a coin purse that she uses and asked if I could help her figure out how it was put together. Here was my chance to use one of those tiny zippers as I worked out a prototype. The coin purse is lined, with the lining being machine stitched to the zip at the same time as the face fabric. The tricky part was that my fabric choices were light weight and a bit slippery to work with.
I resolved that problem by using a decorator weight cotton for the next attempt. I also added fabric tabs to cover both ends of the tiny zipper, which makes the sewing even easier. This is coin purse prototype #2.

I couldn't leave the idea alone, though. Those cute, tiny zippers were calling me. Last night, I put together a new shape and I decided to use selvedges as my face fabric.
Just like the second prototype, I decided to enclose the zipper ends with fabric tabs and again, the coin purse is fully lined.
I added some ribbon to the zipper pull and a ribbon loop to one end.

Now I'm wishing I had grabbed more of these tiny zips at that sale!
*Just wondering if anyone would be interested in a tutorial on making these coin purses? If so, which design would you prefer...#1, #2, #3?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I couldn't stop

and it looks like I went into production stitching up fabric cards! I did tell you about this grand scheme of mine when I made these before.
I keep a container of "strings" (which are basically bits of fabric too small for much else, but too pretty to part with) and decided I really needed to put a dent in my collection.

This one is my current favourite. I love those bits of vintage ric rac in this patchwork combination. Stitching these cards is a quick, relaxing and gratifying way to spend my evening. This will not be the last I make. You can count on it. ;o)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Feelin' the love... right down to my toes

I will be the first to admit that I have been very blessed to have wonderful friends in my life. How wonderful? Well, one of my sweet friends drove here for a visit last week (we live 8 driving hours apart since my move 2 summers ago) and she brought all kinds of gifts. These are early birthday gifts (my birthday is in August). I received handmade and heartfelt gifts from three of my dearest friends.

Samantha knit me the most beautiful socks (and I'm wearing them as I type - they are fabulous)...
Heather gathered Pyrex bread pans (baked my bread in them yesterday- wahoo!) and some vintage sewing treasures including the pretty pink fabric forming the backdrop in this shot...
Jacqueline gave me some more pieces of her fabulous fabric scraps,

a locally handwoven linen/cotton dishtowel,
gorgeous yardage - including the cutest Japanese prints,
a zip pouch with a sweet bird applique she made that was filled with more treats.
Pretty hard not to feel loved when you receive so many thoughtful and generous gifts. I'm tellin' ya.
Thank you so much Samantha, Heather and Jacqueline. I am overwhelmed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gifts for a small girl

How about a flowery, girly tote?
Complete with a touch of ric rac and a ruffle.
A small fabric flower tic tac toe gameboard

and matching pouch for the game counters.
A one-of-a-kind flower that will always be in bloom and is just the right size for cuddling.
All handmade with love for a sweet little girl.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gifts for a small boy

How about a brightly coloured tote to hold his treasures?

A quilted, mini tic-tac-toe game board
with a matching pouch to hold the game board counters.

A little lizard stuffie that's spotty on one side
and soft as velvet on the other.
These are the handmade and heartfelt gifts for a special little boy that's visiting us today with his sisters.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm blushing to admit

that the one and only charm pack I've ever purchased (about 5 years ago?) has never been put to use - just gazed at admiringly. I like the charm pack so much I was afraid of making the "wrong" thing with it - thereby ruining it. I know. It sounds silly to even admit that. The other issue holding me back was that I didn't have enough fabrics that would compliment the charm pack. Until now. I happened to be in my LQS looking for something else when I came across a manufacturer's scrap bag of fabrics that I KNEW would coordinate with my languishing charms. This is what I have come up with after pairing them up and with the addition of a couple of fabrics in my stash. This palette is so unlike anything I have worked with that it's stretching my creative muscles. Even my family has made comments about the change of pace colour-wise. Definitely time to broaden my quilting palette!
My hope is to make a lap quilt out of this. I'm still playing around with the layout and will need to trim some blocks as well as redo some of the less appealing blocks, but I'm underway. Finally.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My creative space

in its "before" state....
This would be the the room that raises the most eyebrows - and not necessarily in an admiring way ;o) Finally, it received a major overhaul this weekend when I bought this much needed metal shelving. I had no problem filling the new shelving from top to bottom...
giving me a chance to rework this corner set of shelves and the space around it.
*Please try to ignore the surrounding boxes. I ran out of shelves to unpack everything onto. Admittedly, the latest shelving is a small step in getting this space fully organized, rather than being the final wrap up. It's a work in progress, I'm patiently accepting {fingers crossed that my family continues to be so understanding with all this}. ;o)
The real happy news? I no longer have towers of plastic bins filled with thread, lace, snaps, zippers etc. stacked on the floor. My supplies are within easy reach without the hassle of unstacking 10 bins to get to the one on need, which always seems to be the one on the bottom. It actually feels as if I've created more space in this room - without having to get rid of any of anything.
It feels so good to be more organized, although I think it only reveals just how much sewing paraphernalia I actually have. {gulp}
I have determined that I MUST make a size able dent in the hoard before our next move (approx. a year from now). I've somehow managed to amass 6 tubs of fabric, 1 tub of knitting/needlepoint/crochet supplies and one tub dedicated to recycling thrifted woolens ( these tubs are the large ones stacked two high along the panelled wall).
Now that my creative space received a bit of a makeover, I've been steadily stitching away and have some projects to share with you. Nothing like a bit of a tidy up to get me more motivated with my sewing!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Show Us Your Stash ~ Thread

A thread stash seems to go hand in glove with having a fabric stash... so, I decided to join in on the fun over at SewMamaSew and answer their questions about thread.

1. How did you select colours for your personal thread collection?
I always stock basic or neutrals and then colours get added as determined by my projects.

2. Do you always match the colour perfectly to your project?
No! It basically depends on what I want for a finished look - if I want the thread to blend in with the fabric, I'll match. Otherwise, it's fun to add some contrast or interest by not matching thread and fabric.

3. Do you ever use contrasting thread?
Yes. I love using a contrasting thread for top stitching especially when I use a twin needle or a decorative stitch I want to feature.

4. Do you use the same colour in the bobbin as the upper thread?
Not always. It's fun to mix it up a bit and for this reason I will not always match the two. I'll do this for my machine quilting or when I'm top stitching on garments.

5. What if a fabric has big areas of very different colours?
Again, it will depend upon what I'm looking for in the finished project. If I want the thread to "disappear" then I will use a neutral colour or any colour that will best blend into the background. I have even found that variegated thread can blend quite nicely if you get the same range of colour in the thread that the fabric has. If I'm going for contrast then I will choose a bold but complimentary thread colour to make sure it stands out on the fabric.

6. Do you have any tips or suggestions about choosing thread?
Buy quality thread and match the fibre content to the project you're working on. Early on, I learned that cheap quality thread made the sewing more challenging (it kept breaking and would create more lint than the good stuff). If you're going to put time into making something, it's just worth it to not skimp on using quality thread.

7. Can you show us a picture(s) of your thread collection?
The above photo shows my fledgling collection of vintage threads. I love those old wooden spools! They take me back to my childhood with my great grandmother who taught me to hand sew and started my love of handicrafts.

8. Do you ever buy thread because you fall in love with the colour (without a particular project in mind)?
Oh, yes. I find specialty threads very hard to resist. Silky rayon, variegated cotton quilting threads and even metallic threads have all made their way into my thread stash based upon a "love at first sight" purchase.

9. Do you "invest" in thread?
I do stock up on the basics every time they're on sale - to guarantee that I'll never be without. Nothing worse than running out of thread when you're caught up in a project and it's after business hours!

10. What types of thread do you have? (elastic, quilting, all-purpose, wool, etc.)
All-purpose, elastic, machine and hand quilting, serger thread, embroidery threads in rayon and silk, metallic, mono filament, button hole wt., woolly nylon and variegated threads. I've even used baby yarn as a decorative thread on my serger.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's true!

I Love Patchwork and if you use linen with favourite quilting cottons, the project is "swoon" worthy.

This table runner is my second project from the inspiring pages of this book. The simple zig zag design made by the patchwork, caught my eye and I was enticed to try it. Unfortunately, I missed the mark when choosing my fabrics. Due to the 'busyness' of the three prints I chose, you can't see the zig zag as clearly. Solids would work better.

For the flip side, I used this lovely Moda print which my sweet friend, Nicolette sent me. I had been waiting for just the right project for it and this is it. I really feel like this table runner is reversible because of this gorgeous print.

Here it is, at home on the top of my antique china hutch.

I'm surprised just how much I'm enjoying using linen in patchwork projects. The linen I'm currently using is a coarse weave, so it adds contrast to the smooth texture of the quilting cotton. It happened to be a lucky find at the thrift store and I'm soon going to be out of it. I haven't found 100% linen at my local fabric store. Anyone have a favourite place to buy linen?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Selvedges, Linen and Scraps

I just finished a prototype on a design that's been on my mind, using selvedges I stitched together awhile back

combined with linen and some pretty fabric scraps (from my generous friend Jacqueline - she has the best scraps!).
I'm going the long way around in revealing what this project is. *I'll give you a hint... this is the outside view and that zipper compartment is for coins.*

This is the inside view, where you can see I had fun combining many different fun prints.
Finally, here is my new wallet folded up and ready to go...

with the coin compartment waiting to be filled! ;o)
I took my wallet out for its test run last night. I'm thinking I may tweak the design a bit yet - I suspect I need more ease in the proportions to allow for the over stuffing I tend to put my wallets through. Um.... no, that over stuffing would not be from a burgeoning supply of cash ( I wish), but more like I tend to jam lists, receipts, coupons and assorted paper miscellanea into my wallets - totally "blimping" them up. No guesses as to why my purse gets so heavy, right? ;o)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tough to decide

what I like best about the little tote I made for my niece's birthday.
There's fresh, bright fabric...
with each side just a little different from the other...
there's a sweet wee ruffle at the top...
there's polka dots and patchwork...
there's lemon yellow stripes on the inside...
and some some lively, pretty floral prints...
I really can't decide what I like best about this tote. Maybe it's that with a little girl's birthday in my family, I had a very good reason to try my first Rosalie Quinlan pattern * (which I received in my recent swap with Janelle...thanks, Janelle!).

*I did make a few changes to the original design, such as making the strips patchwork and attaching them to quilt batt. That's the fun with a great design like this one from Rosalie Quinlan, you can use it as a springboard for ideas and/or follow it to a "T" with beautiful results whichever way you choose.

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