Monday, June 23, 2008

Work Space

Saturday my husband finally replaced the ladder shelf he'd swiped from me a couple of weeks ago to put in his office at work. The shelf itself wasn't the most functional thing, but it at least kept my stuff off the floor, so I was really wanting something else to take its place. We made a quick trip to Target and bought a fairly nice, inexpensive one that gives me more storage and matches my desk perfectly. With my shelves filled up, I decided to tidy my work area and snap a few pictures. Personally, I love seeing other people's creative spaces. So I thought I'd share mine.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Juice pouch tote bag

For the past few weeks I've been saving the empty juice pouches my kids create on a daily basis. I got a little obsessive, constantly peering into garbage cans around my house to make sure none had gotten throw away! Yesterday we had an activity at our church that offered a demonstration on how to make a bag from these pouches. I've been curious about what it'd look like, and ended up being really happy with the outcome! I brought about 30 pouches and was able to make a nice big tote from them, though I did have to borrow 8 from my instructor to make my handles. Anyhow, here's a peek at the process:

Empty bags need to be slit at the bottom to rinse & dry properly.

I opened them up and let them stand overnight to dry, then tossed them in the dryer on low for a few minutes to get the last of the moisture out. Happily, the dryer also did a nice job of flattening them out again for me!

Overlapping the side edges of each pouch then zig-zagging them together makes your front & back panels. The side & bottom panels are made by overlapping the top & bottom edges of the pouches, then zig-zagging.

Here's the body of the bag all stitched together.

I made handles by stitching 4 pouches end to end then folding them lengthwise into thirds and stitching down the middle. I chose to have the silver side showing instead of the graphics side.

All done! Handles were attached with double rows of zig-zagging to make sure they stay put.

There are plenty of good tutorials out there to follow if you want to give this a try. It was super fast and easy. The only semi-tricky part I came across was getting the bottom panel stitched on, but this really wasn't all that hard. Here is a link to the instructions we were provided. Here's another good one. Go have a look at Betz White's blog for a very cute idea for more interesting handles! I'm going to have to try plastic bag fusing next!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Confessions of a non-quilter

Well, it's finally done. After much difficulty, struggling, silent cursing and grinding of teeth, Hakan's new bed quilt is finished as of a few minutes ago. (Yes, his bed has been moved due to his bedtime window shenanigans.)

Confession #1: I am lazy.

Once I got all of the strips stitched together I went searching for an appropriate batting. I found this "fusible" type that I'd never heard of before and thought, "Brilliant! No pinning!" I snatched it up and took it home. I laid a fleece blanket on my rug to work on, since using my skinny ironing board didn't seem realistic and I didn't want to melt my carpet. Down next went the backing fabric, smoothed and perfect. Batting next, then the top. The directions on the batting package told me the iron setting and the direction to start ironing in, so off I went. Half an hour later I'd managed to get the top mostly adhered to the batting, but the backing was still loose. Grrr.... It said all 3 layers would fuse if ironed & steamed enough. Not so. Flipping seemed necessary. Over it all went, now with the backing face up. More ironing, on my knees, bent over this increasingly annoying quilt. I managed to get a few spots fused, but it just didn't want to stick. Finally, after about an hour, I realized that pinning was looking like my best option after all. Down to the dining room table I go, and after a good wipe down got the quilt laid out and pinned. Just like that! Should have done it that way in the first place. I guess that's what I get for trying to take a shortcut.

Confession #2: I am impatient.

Thinking that I've got all the layers pinned together well, I took the quilt back upstairs and laid it out on the floor to mark out my stitching lines. I was planning on using my machine, because a.) I've never learned how to hand stitch a quilt, and b.) it would take too dang long (see Confession #1). I drew vertical lines that go perpendicular to the strips, about 6" apart. Then, over to the machine to start. This, as it turns out, is waaaay more difficult than anticipated. First of all, trying to maneuver this quilt through my machine with both hands while trying to stitch a straight line was a nightmare. The bottom layer didn't want to stay put and things just kept getting all bunchy and askew. GRRR! Eventually I managed it, but after lots and lots of growling.

Confession #3: I thrive on instant gratification.

The fabric I bought for the binding was perfect and I was growing more and more excited to see the finished product. I wanted a wide binding, so I cut it so that it'd be 2". Stitch the pieces together, iron the whole thing in half lengthwise and I'm ready to roll. I decided to cut a straight grain binding instead of on the bias because I liked the pattern of the dots better that way. And this time, instead of just winging it like I've done in the past, I looked up an online tutorial on how to apply the binding to a quilt. Corners have always baffled me. I found one that seemed clear enough and started along. I followed the instructions to create a mitered corner precisely, and stitched around the entire quilt. It wasn't until I went to turn the binding to the other side that I discovered that my so-called mitered corners were anything but. There was a small pleat at each corner, but that was about it. The binding just kind of curved around each corner and didn't make anything even remotely resembling a squared corner. GGGRRRRR!!!!! I had to put the thing down for a couple of days until I could figure out what to do about it.

Confession #4: I like shortcuts and don't care if they're "the right way".

Instead of pulling out the stitching I'd just done clear around the whole quilt, I decided to do something else. I finished turning and stitching the binding, clipping the it almost to the stitching at each corner. I realize that this is where hand stitching would have made the binding look a lot neater because the stitches would be hidden, but, hey- have you been paying attenion to my Confessions? Also, this quilt is going to take a beating, so I really don't want to worry about my carefully hand sewn binding being ripped off at some point. Doesn't look that bad, does it?

For the corners I cut 4 strips of the other orange fabric I used on the quilt and used them to cover the botched corners I'd attempted before. It ended up being a bit time-consuming, and they don't look super neat and tidy, but I think it's okay.

Confession #5: I feel exceeedingly satisfied when I finish a project.

Thankfully, all of the washable ink did wash out (which it sometimes doesn't), even the stains my iron left when the steam holes got drippy. I think it looks cute on Hakan's little bed. Now I need to start thinking about that pillowcase idea... Oh, and Pyper thinks now it's her turn for a new quilt. *groan*

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Getting started

Just a quick post before bed. Last night I cut all the strips for Hakan's quilt while watching a rerun of Gilmore Girls, then today sewed them all up and even got the seams ironed. Here's a photo of the quilt before ironing. I ended up omitting the yellow/cream striped fabric and I think it was a good decision. It just seemed too muted compared to all the other fun colors in there. I'm still going to back it with the green polka dots, but ended up buying a yard of this one for the binding.

I told you I have a thing for polka dots! What's that you say? An obsession? Yeah, I guess that's a little more accurate. I couldn't resist getting a little more orange in there. Don't know when I'll get the chance to actually finish this thing, but I'm psyched about how it's turning out so far!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New quilt for Hakie's bed

Upon arriving back home from a short vacation yesterday, my husband discovered a FedEx package at the front door with my name on it. I was pleased to finally have the last of my quilting fabric in hand for my next project: a 45"x55" quilt for my 2 year-old son. I'd bought the fabric online from various websites, but after getting it all together decided to make a trip to the fabric store to get just a couple more blues & a yellow.

I found this fabric on Etsy and just couldn't resist buying a bit of it.

Then as I searched the internet some more I found that there was a whole line of coordinating fabrics that make up the "Wee Play" collection of American Jane fabrics for Moda. Every single one has this darling vintage feel and I finally made up my mind which ones I'd use. I tried to stear clear of anything too girly-looking, and here's what I ended up with:

Yes, there is one floral in there, but it's very blue so it's okay. The green/white polka dot on the far right is what I'll use for the backing (can you tell I LOVE polka dots??). And I think I'm going to buy this one to bind it...maybe.

I had to show you more than just a little of this one. The kids playing are just sooo cute!
4 of these don't belong to the "Wee Play" collection (the cream w/ printed words, light blue & white polka dots, blue gingham and the yellow/cream stripe), but I think they all look nice together. Originally I was going to do a simple block quilt, but then I found this adorable "strip quilt", as I call it, and decided to try to make my own version.

This quilt was made by Etsy seller nettiepete and is just so, so cool. I think it'll be easier than a block quilt (which has to be very easy anyway, since I'm a beginner), but I'm not sure how I'm going to come up with the perfect color/pattern/strip width combination to come up with 55" and use every pattern the right number of times. My other dilemma is how to use that very first inspiration fabric I showed you, since cutting it into strips would kind of ruin the block effect is has going on. Maybe I'll make a matching pillow case...?

Anyway, the reason I'm doing this is because the blankets my son has are all too small for his bed, and a twin-size blanket is just waaay too big. He sleeps in this darling little Jenny Lind style antique bed that was given to us by my Grandmother. My daughter slept in it for quite a while, but when Hakan outgrew his crib we had to shift them both up to bigger beds. So I decided I'd try to make him a blanket that's big enough for his bed, but small enough for him to carry around like he loves to do.

This week is going to be rather slow for shoe-making, so I'm excited to have a chance to get started on this new project! I'll post pictures when I get done.