Thread Art Project Done!

And, she’s done!

I thought there was a gigantic possibility that I was going to mess it all up once I tried to color her in, but I think it went ok.

So, what to do with her. I could cut her out, bind her, and hang her on the wall. Or, I could make her part of a tote bag. Decisions decisions. I have a minute (my clients always refer to time as “like a minute” – how long did you wait for the detective to come in? Lke a minute (2 days). How long were you in the store? Like a minute (a half hour) to think about it because I had to order textile medium to seal the color. So, while I wait for the finishing magic to arrive, I’ll think on it. I’m leaning towards turning her into a decorative pillow – round, with piping. I’ve never made piping, or applied it, so that could be an adventure.

And, for my next project, I’m thinking Frida Kahlo, since my doll was a big fail. I’m thinking that I’ll stitch her, but then, instead of stitching the flowers, I may do some ribbon embroidery -I think that might be pretty cool. We’ll see.  Maybe I’ll do her as a doll.  I have a few minutes to think on it.

In the meantime, here’s a gratiutous pic of Olive – look at that face!!!

Craftsy on Steroids – Binge or Bust

In the beginning of October, Craftsy ran a $10/all you can watch for the month of October promotion.  I didn’t get an email about it, and I didn’t see an ad for it, but someone posted about it in the Crafty Gemini Facebook group, and I ran, tripping to jump on that Craftsy train.  I’m thinking that it wasn’t very highly publicized because it’s some kind of a test or experiment for a subscription model business plan a la Netflix.  And, I would be all over that deal if it was every month.  Because Brave Girls – the ultimate Netflix of art/craft videos – no way, Craftsy – hell yeah!

So, I strapped in for the month of October, got out my knitting needles – because if you’re going to watch crafting, you might was well do crafting – came up with a game plan, and went to watching.  My plan, oddly, was essentially to watch all of the classes I wouldn’t actually pay for.  You’d think I’d start with my wish list – but, my wish list are classes that I’d pretty much agree to pay for as stand alones.  So rather than start there, I went for things I was interested in, but wouldn’t have thought to take. So, I started with knitting.

Never pay for a knitting class?  But you’re a knitter, you say, puzzled.  But, the things is, as far as techniques go, if I need to learn something to start or finish a project, I’m an experienced enough knitter that I can watch a youtube video, and pretty much figure it out.  I certainly don’t need to take any of the beginner knitter classes, or project classes like my first hat or socks or sweaters.  So, I narrowed it down to classes that couldn’t be learned on youtube, design classes.  For a run down of the knitting classes I took, and what I thought of them, pop back in on Wednesday when I chit chat about knitting.

Today, I’m going to focus on the class I took when I had exhausted my knitting options.  After knitting, I moved on to sewing.  I didn’t start with sewing for two reasons – one, I’m not sure what happens to these classes at the end of the month, and two,  when I take sewing or quilting classes, I pretty much do the projects with the instructor and that’s not so good for binge watching.  Here’s what I mean about the uncertainty of these classes – Craftsy classes are normal lifetime access.  The $10 deal was all you can watch in October.  In theory, I could have started the first lesson of every single class on the site, and added them to my library.  And, that surely couldn’t have been what they meant with the $10 deal (of course, if i had read the deal all the way through before I clicked on the Buy button, I’d know the answer to this question – I was just too excited!).  I’m assuming that whatever I “bought” in October is going to expire at the end of the month.  So, for that reason, I’m watching the entire class (unless it’s simply not what I thought it was going to be) all the way through before I start another class.  So, watching a project class all the way through to the end, then watching another one, etc., I may not be able to go back and watch them when I’m actually sewing the project.

So, again, the first class I clicked on was a class that I wasn’t sure I’d actually end up making a project, something I had an interest in because it’s interesting, and something I probably wouldn’t have even thought to buy – Thread Art with Lola Jenkins.


Can  I just say this – SO  MUCH   FUN!  First, Lola is a character, and she’s really very encouraging with her repeated emphasis on there being no mistakes.  She starts off the class with a brief introduction of herself, in which she shares that after suffering through some of her own health problems, she then lost her husband.  To cope, she bought a sewing machine, and taught herself how to make her own brand of thread art.  See, here’s the way I like how art and healing can be incorporated in an online medium – her art saved her – she shared that with us, and then taught us her techniques.  That’s it.  No faux unlicensed therapy, no you are enough, no martyrdom – just get to work, and maybe you’ll feel better like me.  Or maybe you’ll just make something you love.

Once the life advice was dispensed, Lola moved on to teaching her seven step process to creating thread art pieces.  She made it look so easy, that at the end of the class, I stopped watching Craftsy, and started actually crafting.  In the class, Lola works through The Girl with the Pearl Earring.  Someone in the forum posted a Modigliani, and asked what Lola thought, and she said, perfect.  So, since I’m more inspired by Modigliani, I went with that –

Unfortunately, I don’t have any light, semi-solids in my stash.  I either have solids, or patterns, not so much with the batiks or the motled solids.  But, I did find this fat quarter in one of my mystery boxes, and while yellow isn’t my favorite color, I think it’s ok for this project.  There are some mistakes – oh well, it makes it less Modigliani, and a little more me. That’s ok. After stitching out the girl in the hat, it was time to fill in the background.

For the border, I went with one of three background fillers that are discussed in the class, the Lola’s wiggle – basically, hatching with wiggles. Perfect for those of us who don’t sew so straight.

Then, for the background, I went with my own version of pebbles – meaning, I did my best, but it’s a little messy. But, I still think it looks ok.  Tonight, during the Eagles/Giants game, I’ll move on to the next step – adding colored pencil.

Anyone looking to take this class to learn free motion quilting, you’ll get the flavor of it, but it’s not a full blown class on free motion stitching – she really doesn’t talk about how to set up your machine for free motion work, or how to move your fabric, or how to keep your stitches even, and that’s ok.  She’s self-taught, and free motion is one of those things you really learn by practicing.  I did binge watch one of Leah Day’s free motion classes – and of course, she’s an excellent source for free motion technique.  So, I’m not sure how I would have done with this stitching had I not watched Leah’s class first, but I still think that Lola makes everything look so easy, that anyone could get started.  And, as you can see from the number of projects posted on the class platform, a lot of people were inspired to try what was  probably a new medium for them.

So, I highly recommend this class !  Even if my project doesn’t work out so good in the end, I enjoyed watching Lola create, and I had fun making my own thread art – at least up to this point.  We’ll see how coloring and football goes tonight!

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To Crafty Daily or Craftsy? Or Creativebug? That is the Question

There is just not enough time in the day for all of the things I want to do. So, some projects get put on the backburner, some get ditched all together, and some move to the top of the list.

Right now, my current Fiddleknits shawl, Water, has moved to the backburner. I subscribed to Craft Daily, and I really want to cancel after a month, so I’ve been binge watching craft videos on my ipad, so I can’t use my ipad for KnitCompanion, and my shawl’s chart. Very bad timing, this binge watching subscription idea, since I’m so close to the end of the chart – about 20 rows to go. But, since I don’t really need a wool shawl/scarf in this 80-90 deg. weather, this project can safely drop down on my list without causing any fuss. So, instead, while watching videos, I’ve been doing some English Paper Piecing (more on that another day), but I’m about to switch over to my knit sock project (time sensitive, see below), which means that embroidery has also been moved to the backburner, although, I really do want to start my bird shading project, and this sew-a-long from Bustle & Sew. And, that run on sentence is how my brain is functioning these days – I have these socks on needles, but I want to start the sew-a-long, but to start that I have to stop doing my EPP, and if I stop doing my EPP, I’ll never make any head way with it, but do I really want to make head way because it will never really get done, and it’s such a fabric suck, maybe I should abandon it, even though I enjoy it? Maybe I’ll start my bird embroidery project, oh, but I really want to sew . . . argh, and when am I going to get back to my 2 Sophie afghans, and I’d really like to crochet those little guys from Inside Out, and what about my Color Dive quilt that just needs to be quilted and bound, and on and on it goes!

So, I did ditch one project, and erase it from the stream of conscious crafting paragraphs that run through my mind before I go to sleep, the Crazy Quilting. I got halfway through the free class, I looked at my project and thought, you know, I really don’t like this, I think it’s ugly, I don’t want to do anything with it, and it’s really really time consuming. So, done. I didn’t even finish the class. I was at peace with my decision to toss it, and I never looked back.

Forward! Onward. So, one sewing project did jump to the top of the list, out of necessity. Crafty Gemini Creates, the Crafty Gemini’s new video channel in partnership with Missouri Star Quilts, released a video on a quick and easy insulated lunch bag. Hey, something I can make that I actually need. Perfect. That makes prioritizing much easier. The tutorial was super simple to follow. I did run into a snag, literally, because I bought the wrong Velcro. I should have bought the sew in kind, but instead, I bought the kind that has adhesive on the back. My sewing machine did not appreciate being gunked up with glue. Luckily (or not so luckily, because I’d really love an excuse to buy a new machine), I didn’t break the machine, I only ruined the needle. And then, instead of waiting to order the right kind of Velcro, I decided I had to have my lunch bag now, and I decided to hand sew the gluey Velcro. Two hand sewing needles ruined, and a blister on my index finger from fighting the needle through the fabric and the glue later, I had a lunch bag. Ta da!

How cute, right? The Crafty Gemini posted my photo on one of her pages to promote the tutorial, and someone left a comment regarding this Singer model, the Superb, and whether I had troubles with the bobbin. Well, since you asked – YES! I’m really not a fan of this machine, at all. Originally, I bought a Singer 74sometingQ, which was their HSN quilting model. It had a nice sized throat space, the extension table, etc, but it didn’t have a needle down position button, and there were a few other simple things it was missing. So, when I broke it (I tripped over the foot pedal, yanking it out of the connection, and busting the computer board), I was upset because I was mid project, a Hanukkah gift for my niece, and I ran out and bought the most affordable machine I could – it was the holiday season, and I wasn’t really flush. This model was on super sale at Sears. It does have more bells and whistles than the quilting machine, but it has its problems too. First, the bobbin – the bobbin is tempermental, and having googled the problem, I know it’s not just me. 9 times out of 10, when you begin stitching, the first few bobbin stitches are clumped up, a stitchy mess. After the first couple of stitches, it stitches fine. My solution has been to use a leader fabric, and move into my real project. But, that doesn’t always work – sometimes the seam starts with a curve, and it’s very hard to start anywhere but right at the beginning point. So, the bobbin is a drag. The second problem is bizarre – my backstitch button only stitches at half speed. So, I can’t just move the fabric back and forth to back stitch – it’s like a tortoise hopping backwards, one slow stitch at a time. Very annoying.  Steer clear of this machine if you’re in the market for a crafting machine – there are plenty of other ones on the market at this price point.  Anyway, obviously, the real issue is the bobbin, and I may just need a new machine for the holidays.

But, that’s enough complaining for one blog post.  I had another sewing project gelling in my mind. Last month, I think, during one of the Crafty Gemini’s Quilt Cams through Quilt Club, she mentioend she was going to eventually do a tutorial for Missouri Star using glue in, purse frame handles. That reminded me of a pattern I’ve had in my queue on Craftsy for awhile, the Tammy Bag from Mdm Samm at Sew We Stitch. I became intrigued with the Tammy bag after she hosted a blog hop for a special version of the Tammy Bag, a Tammy for All Seasons, which featured vintage cross stitch designs based on the four seasons.  I don’t have any real desire to do cross stitch (although that has never stopped me from investigating, trying, and then abandoning – see crazy quilting), but I think I could do something similar with embroidery, like this bag from Bustle and Sew.

So, with the project in the back of my mind, sparked by the Crafty Gemini tease, I saw a video on using purse frames from my binge watching on CraftDaily, and decided that it was time to try it.  I bought the pattern, and found sew-in frames on Amazon.  For this particular pattern, she used the sew ins, and since I couldn’t actually find glue ins, I decided to just go her way.

And, voila, I give you Tammy!
And my sock project.  As you can see, the sock yarn – Chargers colors – moved to the front burner because of the approach of football season! Anyway, the Tammy bag pattern is . . . fine.  The written instructions are a bit confusing, but there are a ton of photos – so it was easy to figure out.  The only part, I guess, that was really confusing from the written instructions was about lining the pockets – the pockets were clearly lined in the photos, but there weren’t really any instructions about doing the lining of the pockets in the written pattern – but you could extrapolate pretty easily from the photos.   The difference between the Tammy bag, and other similar metal purse framed bags is that the Tammy bag is constructed from four pieces – two fronts, two sides with curved seams, rather than from two pieces of fabric, front and back, that sit upright from boxing the corners.  Anyway, I love it, and I see more of them in the future.  I’m picturing a denim one with really bright embroidery on the front.  Or a classy vintage one with the embroidery from the Lady Bird purse.  We’ll see.  I definitely think everyone is getting change purse sized ones for the holiday.

And as to the question, glue or sew?   Sewing was easy peasy.  It’s really a matter of taste I guess, and whether you like the look of the stitching on the top of your bag.  I’m good with it.

And, for my last sewing feat of the week – a project that came out of nowhere, just inspired by a video I saw on Craft Daily – a Tilda Doll.

A doll? Yeah, I don’t know why – it’s certainly not on any need list, nor has it been waiting in my mental queue like the Tammy Bag. I just saw it, and thought it would be fun to make.

I had never heard of a Tilda doll, although I had heard of Tilda fabric. The Tilda brand is the work of Norweigan designer, Tone Finnanger, and it is distributed by a British company throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I follow a few Australian bloggers, and they’re always diving into their Tilda fabric stash, especially for subtle vintage florals perfect for needlework and patchwork. But the Tilda doll was new to me through Craft Daily, and when I went looking for additional tutorials on youtube, I found tutorials mostly in Russian and Ukranian.

So, I’ll digress here for a minute. Big problem with Craft Daily – none of the videos, at least that I’ve watched, and I’ve watched quite a few, provide the original pattern from which the tutorial video is based. There are no downloadable PDFs, either of patterns or supplies necessary to complete the project. This is really annoying – and had I bought these classes individually, which you can do, rather than through the monthly subscription, I would be pissed. This is a huge difference from Craftsy – which not only provides a supply list, all patterns used in the class, in some cases, you get an entire book – as I did with Crazy Quilting and Allie Allers books. But of course, that’s why there’s a different price structure. And of course, the Craftsy classes go beyond simply tutorials – they’re really entire classes that if you went to them live would cost you easily over $100 per class. As it is, the general price per class is usually somewhere between $29-49, and I have to say, I’ve never paid full price for anything on Craftsy. You put stuff on your wishlist, and then when they go on sale, Craftsy notifies you – so for the classes I’ve taken, I’ve paid either $14.99 or $19.99 – a total bargain for what you get. Anyway, comparing Craft Daily and Craftsy is probably unfair – the fairer comparison is probably Craft Daily and Creativebug, both monthly subscription services.

Creativebug is under $10 a month, provides downloadable PDFs, and has a platform for asking questions, and posting photos of your projects. CraftDaily, at $20/mo (unless you commit to a year, then it’s $17) – nothing. Craft Daily is definitely bigger – but if you binge watch for a month, like me, you’re then in same position as you’d be on Creativebug, waiting for new content. Creativebug has a schedule, and lets you know what’s coming. Craft Daily – not so much. When you search for “New” five videos come up. At least 2 of them were on the site when I joined two weeks ago. So, new content isn’t really coming in any faster than Creativebug, which posts at least one longer, work-a-long class a week, and several smaller tutorial videos on Tuesdays. And “new” is new to the site – not necessarily a new tutorial – it might be something recycled from an affiliate site – and therefore, the quality of the videos isn’t nearly as good as the quality of the videos on either Craftsy or Creativebug. And, these videos that come from an affiliate site, don’t even provide the link to the original site, which is always referred to in the video, so you can get the written instructions or the pattern. You have to google what you catch while watching the video – and then you find out, you could have watched the tutorial for free on the affiliate site. Anyway, as I mentioned above, I went into Craft Daily planning on canceling it after a month, and I’ve seen nothing in the last two weeks to change my mind. Creativebug is a total bargain, and even if a month goes by and I don’t get a chance to watch anything, I’m ok with paying my fee because I like the idea of supporting the site, and it’s independent makers and designers.

So where was I – ah yes, the pattern for the Tilda doll. So, I watched the Craft Daily walk through tutorial, and of course, since they don’t provide the pattern, I had to buy it for $6.00 from Amazon. There are plenty of photocopied patterns on pinterest, but I never feel right doing that. Anyway, from the time I ordered my pattern, until I got it, of course, I went into the Russian/Ukranian sinkhole of looking at Tilda blogs, and was totally jonesing to get started.

So, here she is – well, so far!

The sewing is really easy. You just trace the pattern on doubled up fabric, sew on the traced line, and then add a 1/4 inch seam when you cut it out. The stuffing, actually, is the time consuming laborious part – you don’t want to have a lumpy doll, so you have to stuff with little pieces, and be careful to make sure the little pieces don’t get balled up, and your doll ends up with vericose veins.

i did make the mistake of overstuffing the body, because I used a satin fabric for her bodice, I wanted to stuff out any creases or wrinkles. So, I had a hard time attaching the legs – but they’re in there. The satin fabric came in that box that I bought for crazy quilting, and since that’s abandoned, I have to use up the scraps with something. The skirt is going to be made from the same fabric I used to upholster my dining room chairs – I didn’t want to use anything “real” in my stash until I knew I could make the doll. This is kind of like a rough draft, sort of. But, she’s turning out! And, she’s really fun. Look, she doesn’t even have a face, or clothes, and she already has kind of a personality just sitting there, arms in her lap.

Speaking of personalities, the Tilda doll patterns come with wings to make them angels, but I have no desire to make an angel. That means they’re dead, right? Who wants to make a dead doll?

So, this post is all over the place – but so am I. And, as long as I want to do all of my projects NOW – I don’t see focus coming into play any time soon.  Eh, focus is over rated right?  If I focused, I’d only have one project at a time – who wants that?  And, I’d never make a useless, cutey patootie doll.  Where’s the fun in that?


A One Hour Basket in An Evening

My last one hour basket took oh so much time.    Two days.  But, that was due to aggravation, and ripping out more than anything else.  I’m not sure I would have made another one, but I was already signed up for the One Hour Basket Swap 2 on Instagram, and I was committed.

That didn’t stop me from waiting until the last minute, though.  And, also at the last minute, on Sunday, when the swap had to be mailed by Friday, I decided to attempt my first serious embroidery hoop (I made one before, but it was all backstitch, with a few french knots thrown in for good measure, too simple to count).  On Sunday, I was finally seduced by Bustle & Sew. a monthly e-magazine devoted to embroidery, patchwork, applique and other things of the stitchy sort.  While I didn’t (yet) subscribe to their oh-so-cute magazine, I did get sucked in by their 50% Etsy sale, and I bought my first downloadable embroidery pattern.

Since I’ve been playing around with my stitch sampler, I have tried several methods of getting that downloadable pattern onto fabric, with mixed results.  I’ve traced, I’ve used a transfer pen, and I’ve used a Frixion pen (it magically erases when you hit it with an iron), so I wasn’t totally befuddled about what to do once I downloaded.  But, I did start with the transfer pen – lines were too thick – fail, and then I started over, and went with tracing with a Frixion pen.  Serious embroiderers poo poo the Frixion pen, you can smoosh your stitches with the iron, it doesn’t erase all the way on certain fabrics, if you put your embroidery in the freezer, the lines will come back – it’s not a permanent erase, it’s more like Harry Potter.  You hit it with heat, gone, freeze – back!  Super cool, but I guess for a purest, not so much.  I’m not a purest, and it worked for me.  And, the pens are easily findable at your local Staples.

So, I managed to get the design on the fabric (doubled up, white quilting cotton), and then I went to work . . . slowly.  I’ve said this before, there’s just no speeding up stitching, and it was a real crunch to get it done by Thursday, so I could get it in the mail on Friday.  But, I succeeeded, and I was happy with my imperfect, but perfectly giftable results.

This was a great beginner piece:

IMG_6190.JPGLots of different stitches – backstitch, stem stitch, satin stitch, bullion knots, french knots, detached lazy daisies, and what was called in the pattern, radiating straight stitch – although I’m not sure why it’s not satin stitch.  Anyway, the pattern also called for some shading of the flowers – as you can see, mine’s a bit of guesswork, and a commendable first try – just because I did try.  It’s really hard sometimes, learning things online, little nuances, things where you need an experienced eye to tell you it would look better this way or that way, or that you’re holding your hand wrong, or that you’re not using the right needle, or any number of things.  There are just some things it’s nice to have a live teacher or mentor guiding you in the right direction so you’re not struggling to reinvent the wheel.  In any event, I hope to get  better with the shading thing with this class.  It starts next week, so I’ll let you know.  I got the kit in the mail last week, and I hope I don’t mess it up because it would be a shame to mess up something that’s potentially so pretty.

Oh, and the basket!  Yep, it was a basket swap, after all, and that should have been my focus, but the basket came together pretty easily, and I really did spend most of the week cramming to get the hoop done, which was just a little gift to go with the real swap gift.  To save myself aggravation, I sewed the lining and the exterior piece with the same seam allowance.  The interior lining is supposed to be a tad smaller, but since that’s what gave me a headache last time, I just went with the bigger measurement, and the extra fabric ended up being a pseudo binding around the top, much like my Crafty Gemini tote.  I had been planning to make another Cotton & Steel basket, like my last one, but my partner sent hers out first, and I received a Cotton & Steel basket – sweet!  But, I had to redesign in my head.  So, I went with this Anna Maria Horner fabric from her Dowry collection.  To get one fabric to sit on the top 3/4’s and the other on the botton 1/4, it’s actually 2 pieces of fabric that are the same size sewn together, because most of the bottom fabric is the bottom of the bag.  So, if you wanted to add maybe a patchwork stripe, or an embroidered motif, or a hexagons, or whatever, you can see where your working space would be, in that top 5.5 x 16.5 piece (5.25 after it’s sewn to the bottom piece).

Also, unlike the last basket, instead of fusible fleece for the stablizer, I used Crafty Gemini’s go to double sided fusible stablizer, In R Form Plus.   This thick, squishy but firm stuff, really gives the basket a nice shape, and makes it, I think, more functional than the floppier fusible fleece.  Although, once you fill the basket, it doesn’t really matter.  This basket from cutting to finishing probably took 2-3 hours.  I know I cut my pieces, made dinner, returned after eating, and finished long before bedtime.  So, it was an evening.

I also made a little basket from a Crafty Gemini tutorial, the same night.  By then, I was really tired, and the sewing isn’t the best, but it turned out well enough that I thought once she filled it with clips or something it would look A ok.  I also threw in a quilting magazine, some wonder clips, and a small package of Heat N Bond, and in the mail it went.  Whew!  It was totally cutting it close, but it all worked out!

And now, I’m taking a bit of a break from swappage.  The Crafty Gemini swap this month for Quilt Club is so fun – 1 yard of your ugliest fabric – but I decided to pass.  Even if a swap is easy peasy, sometimes it’s still a pain in the neck to package it up and get it in the post.   And, also with Crafty Gemini, the swaps are not anonymous, meaning you get your partner’s email, and exchange emails before addresses are exchanged.  So, it’s a commitment to a short relationship as well, or a long one if that’s how it turns out.  So, I think I’m out for the summer, but we’ll see.   This swap was my first instagram swap, and the organzier (@heart_stitches)  was really really on top of things.  I was very impressed.  So, I’m glad my first experience was a positive one, because we’ve all heard disappointing swap stories.  I would definitely do another Instagram swap, but probably in the fall.  Tonight I’ll photograph my goodies from the swap, and post them so you can see.

And maybe make up with my knitting, so I can post tomorrow with Yarn Along.  Or maybe it’s still punished, we’ll see.
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A One Hour Basket in, er, Two Days

Have I even mentioned, since I resurrected the blog, that I joined one of the most fantastic online clubs ever? I may have dropped a few lines in passing, but it deserves a little more attention.

In January, Vanessa Vargas Wilson, the Crafty Gemini, launched her online quilt club.

Every month there’s a featured project (a tote bag, a wallet, a mini applique art quilt, for example), a Mystery Block of the Month quilt clue, weekly UStream chats, interviews with prominent crafter/sewers/quilters, and a monthly giveaway – and she gives away really sweet stuff.  If you click the button, you can see examples of all of the projects, and each month’s  giveaway.  There’s a Facebook community, and, in an effort to foster an even tighter knit quilty bunch, there’s a monthly swap.  But, unlike  most swaps, this swap is not anonymous.  You get your partner’s email, and you have to engage in conversation to get your partner’s address.  I’ve met a bunch of great women, from very diverse backgrounds, and I’ve learned something from each swap.  The first month was a mug rug, and I did my first applique.  The second month was a zipper pouch, and while I had done a zipper before, I went a little zipper crazy, and not only did I make the little pouch, but I made a bionic gear bag.

This month the swap was some kind of a sewing room organizer.  Vanessa did a tutorial for these baskets, which are quick and easy, but I decided to jump on the one-hour basket bandwagon that’s all over Instagram.  I signed up for my first Instagram swap, which isn’t due out until June, so I thought I’d practice making the basket with this swap.

Did I show you this?

So, that jelly roll of Cotton & Steel Mustang, became this –

Ta da!  A basket!

I have to admit, though, it took me more than an hour

First, I spent an hour hour creating the exterior.  I used this quilt as you go tutorial from the Crafty Gemini and Missouri Star Quilts.  Easy peasy.  And, then I put it away for the evening, thinking I was in good shape for the next night.

I thought everything was perfect – my exterior looked fab, I had a matching solid for the interior, my handles were cut from the leftover quilted exterior, I was all ready to sew them all together.

But, they didn’t go together – at all.  My interior was way too small, or my exterior was too large – I could not get them to nest.  I spent a good half hour trying to make it work, before I gave up and just decided to redo it.  Boo.

I must have measured wrong somewhere.

So, I sewed a new lining, this time using  the same seam allowance as the exterior (in the pattern the exterior is sewn at 1/2″ and the interior 5/8″) and the second time around, all was good.   And, had I just accepted that the original lining wasn’t going to work, and done a resew right at that moment, I think it probably would have only taken maybe 15 minutes to a half hour to finish the thing up.   In the end, it all took two evenings, but that was my fault.  In the finished basket, the lining is probably a tad big, but it looks good, and I was happy with it.

And, hopefully my swappee will be too, since I’m of to the post office and then to court.

And then I will return to the business of plotting my Maryland Sheep and Wool shopping route. Miss Babs, here I come!

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Country Mouse v. City Mouse

So, in my last post, I pointed out the obvious – I had once again failed to complete a 30 day project. I failed at 30 days of Faces, 30 days of index cards, 30 days of lists, 30 days of whatever. I did succeed at 30 days of not blogging. Frankly, 2 weeks into the listing thing, and I just thought it was stupid. The truth is, I’d rather be doing the things on my list rather than making the list. And so, for the past month of failing at blogging, I’ve been crafting up a storm – sewing, quilting, knitting, keeping up with Project Life – all of these things are a success – so I’m not too upset I failed at listing the projects before I started the projects.

Most of my projects start with a google search – I’m interested in x, I follow a link, then follow another link, and then all of a sudden, I end up interested in Y – a place I never expected to be in the first place. For instance, I was interested in making an Amy Butler Weekender Bag. I read many a blog that convinced me that the Weekender is not only above my pay grade skill wise, but above my pay grade pay wise – that darn thing is super expensive to make. So, I started looking for simpler, cheaper alternatives. That lead me to Sew Sweetness, and her Purse Palooza. But not only does Sew Sweetness host the Purse Palooza, she hosts the City Sampler Sew-Along. What is this? I thought, and started clicking through those links. I ended up buying the Tula Pink City Sampler  book, and I’ve got it in my queue of things to start. And, while I was looking at blogs who were doing the City Sampler QAL, low and behold, these same blogs had quilted along to the Farmer’s Wife Quilt-a-long.

I then started looking at Farmer’s Wife Quilts, the Flickr group, and eventually the Yahoo group. I bought the Farmer’s Wife Quilt Book a few years ago when I was taking my quilting class at the now defunct Spool, and I was thinking about jumping on the Farmer’s Wife QAL bandwagon.  I was fascinated by all of the little blocks, and how they came together like a puzzle. But, then I read the book – and I was just appalled. In 1922, Farmer’s Wife Magazine asked their readers if they had a daughter, would they want their daughter to marry a farmer. The answers inspired blocks, the blocks make up the quilt. Ok, I know it’s 1922, but the answers were so myopic, and the limited nature of the dreams they had for their daughters was disheartening. By 1920, I had hoped that the famer’s wife wouldn’t still want to keep her down on the farm, not after she’d seen Paris – but the truth is, that’s just a song, and they hadn’t seen Paris, and the only world was the farm, and the people they knew – which to me was so exclusionary – certainly not welcoming or openminded to people of color or, like me, who was reading the book, of a different religion. So, the text of the book turned me off, and also, this is probably just me, but some of the blocks look like swatikas. Now, I know that the symbol itself has ancient origins, and was traditionally viewed as a symbol of good luck. I’m not faulting anyone, or judging anyone for it being in a quilt, or a fair isle design, or anything – it’s been a crafting motif forever.  But to me, I just don’t want to look at it. And, if a block resembles one, I don’t want it in my quilt. And the blocks in this book, they’re not swastikas, they just resemble them, and that’s the first thing I see when I look at them.  That’s just me – not anyone else who’s made this quilt – just the way this symbol imprints on my brain, and that’s it.  No judgments – just not for me.

So, why am I back to the Farmer’s Wife? Again, it’s the blocks . . . and, as I followed links, and looked at blocks – it’s the paper piecing, or foundation piecing – when you sew your fabric onto the back of a pattern (the paper, the foundation), and eventually remove the paper to reveal a perfectly pieced block, with perfect points and seams. Voila!  It’s awesome.  It may just be my most favorite quilting technique I’ve learned in my internetting journey.  And the best thing – no cutting!  You can just use your scraps – as long as the scrap is big enough to cover the block in the template, plus a quarter inch seam.

So, do I want to make an entire Farmer’s Wife Quilt? Maybe, I don’t know. I love the blocks, but I still have a hard time reconciling the theme. On the other hand, I do feel kinder towards the Farmer’s Wife than when I bought the book several years ago. It was 1922 after all, and it is a slice of Americana history. And, I feel there’s balance – because I definitely want to make a City Sampler, and it’s nice to work from both ends – traditional v. modern, farm v. city. I like that dichotomy.

Boy, I really am over thinking all of this, aren’t I?

Again, maybe – if quilts are about storytelling, my story is not down on the farm. But, recognizing that, I guess, is part of the story. And, I am grateful for the food that’s on my table every night, and certainly, in this economy, the farmer’s plight couldn’t be more relevant.

Enough babbling – let’s look at what I’ve done – because if nothing else, the Farmer’s Wife Quilt is excellent practice – and I don’t have enough fabric, even scraps, to make it at this point.


What’s that owl doing in there! I’ll get to that in a sec.

The three traditional blocks are from the Farmer’s Wife – the Attic Window (Block 1), Autumn Tints (Block 2), and the Bat’s Wing (Block 5). You may ask what happened to Blocks 3 and 4. 3 is Joannie’s basket, and requires some applique – one technique at a time – I’ll pick that up later if I end up doing a whole quilt.  Block 4 was one of the windmilly ones that looks like a swastika, so I skipped it. And block 4 is totally NOT a swastika – again, it just reminds me of one – it’s just a basketweave. Block 4 is probably one of the ones I could get over, and throw it in – but since I was just practicing I moved on to 5, I liked it better anyway.

Now, what about that owl.  Well, of course I went looking for paper piecing tutorials.  And, the best one I found was on Bubblestitch Quilting’s blog , although the tutorial is by Connecting Threads.  Anyway, while on her site, I found my way to her craftsy patterns, fell in love with the Owl, and with three Farmer’s Wife blocks under my belt, I felt confident enough to go for it (even though my Autumn Tints block is a wreck – that’s certainly nothing more than a practice piece):



How cute is this owl! Now, you can see from my photo, I screwed up a little – I didn’t realize the pattern already had a quarter inch seam allowance built into it, and when I cut my head out, I added one – oopsy – but I don’t realy care – I’ll make another one. I don’t think I’m going to do a whole quilt or wall hanging with them – I think I’m just going to add a 2.5 inch strips around the block, and stick it in an embroidery hoop to hang on the wall.

And what about my City Sampler? I have the fabric – Denysce Schmidt’s Florence, with a stack of solids, put together by Pink Chalk Fabrics.


But, as much as I’d like to start working on it – I started a quilt for my niece for Hanukkah – and since Hanukkah is just about a month away, it’s the priority sew at the moment.  I had a really hard time picking fabric because I wanted something easy peasy, so I wanted a precut – because cutting is the biggest struggle for me.  She requested hot pink, lavender, and zebra print.  Sheesh.  So, I found Summersville Spring (I linked to Red Pepper Quilts instead of a store because she has the fabrics all laid out) which has a print that sort of resembles an animal print at least and has the requisite colors.  I’m making Jenny Doan’s Alternate Square layer cake quilt (from her Craftsy class, Quilting Quickly 1) – one layer cake is cut into four patches, the other, half square triangles, and then the blocks alternate – the diagrams are on the back of the Moda fabric label when you get your layer cake.



But, once that’s done, and I can’t imagine its going to take too long – I’ll be off to the City. Or maybe the Farm. Or maybe a different farm, Jane’s Farm – I found the Dear Jane quilt on my linky travels, too.

But that would just be too crazy.


Anyway, I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced, which I also found in my linky travels. 

 WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


And if you’ve stopped by from WIP Wednesday, thanks so much for popping in!

Weekend Endeavors

Very productive weekend here at 1639!

First, after months of hounding me to make a bird (can you believe it – my husband was actually nagging me to do a craft!), I finally made a bird to go in our birdcage.


Well, back in the day, when I had first bought the house, and I was trying to think of clever ways to decorate it, inspired by a display I saw at Anthropology, I bought a bunch of bird cages from ebay, thinking I would put plants in them.  Unfortunately, the openings were so small on the cages, I could never figure out how to get the plant in. I threw most of the cages out, but I kept this one, because it was the nicest.

And now, it is home to a little fabric bird!


Because of the blobs on the fabric, he kind of has eyes, strange eyes, but eyes, and kind of a mouth, totally unplanned:

He was pretty easy to make.  The pattern is here, which is free, but Spool is also having a class this fall on how to make them, here.  I don’t think you really need a class, but the pieces are curved, and if your nervous about sewing curves, I guess the class is worth it.  I just sewed slowly, and it went ok.  At Quilt Odyssey, I got trapped for about fifiteen minutes by this guy selling a sewing foot for curves.  Very neat, but I had enough projects on my plate at that point – free motion quilting supplies, hexagons, and the feed sack squares. Maybe next year.

So, here’s the little guy in his new home –

Much easier to maintain than a real bird – although I’m sure Lemon would like a friend.  Too bad.

And then, after my bird obligation was complete, I spent some time with my Full Tilt Boogie Journal:

Here, I did some real journaling over a vintage thank you note – I blurred it because its just stupid stuff.  Then, on the next page, I practiced some water coloring -Mr. Blue Bird.  And the bottom thing, is a piece of an old letter than was in one of my ephemera pack, and if you can’t read it, it says:

“With one on the couch, one on the floor, a third in the kitchen, and a msall one raising hell on the piano, a dog at her feet while a tiger sleeps in the Easter basket, yes, your home is truely a happy one.  Granny White just rang the bell for dinner, so that’s al for now.”

I just liked it, and thought it worked with the little illustration of the family.

And, here’s my first whimsy girl, and some journaling/collaging on the next page.

And, another whimsy girl I did last night:

I call this one Candyland.  

So, that’s it for the crafties for the weekend.  Well, that’s it for posting about them, anyway.  I”ll probably work on the hexies during the Phillies game.

Go Phils.

Happy Sunday!


Beach Blanket Hexagon

Sunscreen, check!

Bathing suit, check!

Charged up camera, check!

Kindle, ipad, check!

320 precut squares . . . huh?


While listening to Darren Daulton once again make an ass of himself on national television (I thought those days were so ovah, but apparently not), I cut my pack of Cut Out and Keep half yard bundle in 4 x 4 squares to make hexagons at the beach. 

Hey, it’s supposed to rain all day Sunday.

It’ll either be that or Cowboys and Aliens.

Probably both.

So, I’m ready.