Sunday, January 31, 2010

Let There Be Light!

Now, I'll be the first to admit that my sewing studio is pretty nice. I have lots of space, several sliding glass doors and skylights to let in natural light. And there are plenty of electric lights to use when I've "run out of light." With a lot of lights, and most of them being above where my 5'3" stature can easily reach, I tend to let more than one burn out before I drag in the ladder to replace them. However, recently I noticed that there were three light bulbs out, and they were all right near where my sewing machine resides. Something had to be done.

This all is not as easy as it sounds. First I have to bring in the ladder. Sometimes I have to rearrange furniture (or stacks of fabric!) in order to put the ladder where I need it. Then I climb up the ladder and remove the offending bulbs. Because I do not just have all these bulbs on hand. Our house would look like a hardware store if we stocked all the different kinds of bulbs that we use! Side note: one of the burned out bulbs was a halogen bulb which had actually exploded in its socket. I had to have some help to get that one removed. See--it's not easy!

So after removing the bulbs, I take them to the hardware store to buy replacements. Which the store may or may not have. Usually I leave the ladder standing during this interval, because I'm going to need to climb back up there again, right? When I get home from the store I climb back up the ladder and replace the bulbs.

And now it is amazing how much light I have on my workspace! The photo shows two lights that were previously burned out, and I'm more or less sitting in front of my machine to take the photo. Having good light is such an essential element in any work.

Word to the wise: Not because I've learned this the hard way, but it's a good idea to have your cell phone in your pocket if you're climbing ladders and you're alone in the house. At any age, it's easy to lose your balance or take a mis-step and fall. Cross my fingers, I haven't fallen yet, but I do realize that I'm rather vulnerable if I'm home alone and there's no one to call out to.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Good Read

Just finished reading a good book, The Lover's Knot by Clare O'Donohue. I always love a good novel that has to do with the quilting world, and this one really came through. It's a good mystery, and a good story about a younger woman who is new to quilting. There was a passage in it that really made me appreciate quilting and quilters in general. I will quote it in part.

"(Quilting) was creative, it was practical and it was tradition. Passed down from one generation of women to the next going back hundreds of years, no matter the circumstances.....the women...with their unique styles, often strange personalities and strong friendships."
(excerpted from page 257)

It makes me feel good to be part of such a group. I have made the best of friends with the quilters I know.

I see that Clare O'Donohue has another book out called The Drunkard's Path. I'll have to look for it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Sewing Update

Still no camera, but I have a short update for you. I'm anxious to be able to photograph some things to show you!

But I'll give you a couple hints about what I'm working on.

One has to do with redwork.

Another has to do with up-cycling blue jeans into a toddler skirt.

Hopefully, some photos to show you soon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Hi Everyone!

We're being deluged with storms right now--downpours of rain, even thunder and spectacular lightning, which is unusual where we live.

And now there's no power, nor will there probably be for a few days.

No camera is available to me, either, so no photos with this post.

But I thought I'd let you know why you're not hearing from me.

I am working on a small quilt for BabyStitches, as well as trying to get my Quilt of Valor sandwiched so that I can quilt it. I'm loving the colors of the quilt for BabyStitches, and will show you a photo of it soon.

All for now...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Crocheted Dishwashing Cloths

I was given some hand-knitted dishcloths recently by my dear DIL's (MissesStitchesJr) mother. I thought they were fantastic.

I knew how to knit once upon a time, but didn't really care for it. However, I'm more adept with a crochet hook. (I know--not in vogue right now. But what the heck...)

Above are two dishcloths that I crocheted last week. Incredibly simple and fast. I had two different patterns, both from Crochet Spot, which is a fun website for all things crochet.

I used Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn by Lily, purchased at my local quilt shop, The Loft.

The dishcloth above is the mesh one (obviously!). It was even faster to crochet than the "full," ridged, dishcloth (below).

They crocheted up in no time at all, using a size J crochet hook, as directed.

In the above photos, the ridged dishcloth has already been used, and is lying over the edge of the sink to dry.

By now I have used both cloths. I think I prefer the ridged cloth, as there is just not very much substance to the mesh cloth.
I thought it might have a good texture, but now I think I'll just stick with the ridged cloth.

They both feel very nice and soft, and do not take forever to dry.

I can see making a lot more of these little puppies!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sewing Fabric Baskets

This past week at my quilting group, our friend Margie Binker was kind enough to show us how to make these wonderful fabric baskets. The previous time we had gotten together to "do our own thing," Margie was sewing baskets, and we all wanted to learn, so she taught us how.

This basket is what I ended up with! I'm actually quite pleased with it. And it was super-fun to make.

It starts out with regular old clothesline
rope, available in lots of hardware stores, and probably craft stores, too. This was on our materials list for this "mini-workshop," along with cotton fabric cut into 3/4" strips. Those are the only basic materials.

There is a certain knack to beginning the basket, to start wrapping the fabric around the clothesline, but after a couple tries, I got it!

Then we formed a little coil with the fabric-covered cord, and began zig-zagging it together to shape the basket.

I forgot to take photos at the very beginning, but the photo above shows my basket as I'm sewing the fabric-wrapped cord to the previous cord in order to form my basket. I have already started to form the bowl shape by just supporting the basket with my left hand as I sew on the next cord.

Here is a closer photo. It shows how I had the presser foot centered right between the two cords, so that the needle would catch parts of each cord as it went left to right. We used the stretch zig-zag, which has three little stitches to the left, then three little stitches to the right. That holds the cords together real well.

These are some of the baskets that Margie has made and brought to show us. One of them even has a lid on it! And she encouraged us to embellish our baskets with anything: buttons, beads, shells, fabric flowers, whatever...

This photo shows her wonderful storage bin overflowing with 3/4" strips of fabric!

The great thing about this craft is that you can use "ugly" fabric. Now I know that ugly fabric is a relative term. Fabric that my friend turns her nose up at, I absolutely love. But if you have a piece of fabric that just doesn't float your boat anymore, it would probably be a great candidate for cutting into strips and making a basket.

I had recently acquired a piece of fabric at a Quilt Guild party, which I didn't particularly like; the print just was not anything that I would want to use. So I cut it into strips. At 3/4" wide not much of that offending print was recognizable!

And from that unwanted print came a basket that I really like! I added a couple of other fabrics that coordinated with my main fabric, to add some stripes.
I think I will add some fabric flowers to my bowl.

The possibilities stretch out before me endlessly! Christmas bowls, Halloween bowls, boy bowls and girl bowls, gift bowls to go with different decors, baskets to hold things (like maybe more fabric!?!). I wonderful if I could sew one completely flat mat, without curving it into a bowl, and make it big enough to be a rug. What do you think?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I totally forgot to post this photo of the reindeer ornament that I made. I found the instructions at Chica and Jo. (A really good website, BTW) But alas, when I went to my local craft store to buy eyes, chenille stems, and beads for the nose, they didn't have any appropriate red beads. So I improvised and used a little red pompom. A shiny bead would be better, because Rudolf's nose really did glow, but I thought this would make an adequate substitution. It was super easy to make, and I think would be a good craft for kids to make (with a little help on the glue gun side).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Coasters, Coasters, and more Coasters

I had recently posted about making some coasters and wine glass holders using my Bear Patch Bits 5" squares. Here is a picture of those coasters.

I got very busy sewing some more of them last week. We had a houseful of wonderful guests here, and they were interested in the above coasters. So I brought out my nicely-organized (about which SisterStitches teases me!) plastic box of 5" squares and let people choose which squares they wanted for their coasters/wine glass holders. They had a lot of fun choosing colors and prints and putting different fabrics together.

That kept me busy sewing up all these little guys. They are incredibly easy to make. The beautiful thing about the pattern is that there is no hand-sewing necessary, and no raw edges visible.

This recent batch I made is slightly different, in that the patchwork design on top is done diagonally; instead of seeing four little squares, we see four little triangles. The pattern is by Daphne Greig.

So far I have made 27 diagonal coasters, in addition to the 12 I had made previously. The scary thing, though, is that I don't think I'm anywhere near done!