Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mysterious Christmas Fabric

Three summers ago, I decided to work at using up my stash of holiday fabrics.  After three quilts and several little projects, I succeeded in reducing my Christmas stash from two full drawers to one full drawer.

Last summer, while trying to re-establish some semblance of order to my shed, I found another drawer full of Christmas fabric.  Total: 2 full drawers.

Last weekend, I decided to make pillowcases and aprons to make another dent in that Christmas stash.  Total: 2 drawers minus 5 yards.

Today, I went to Wal-mart to get a yard of red fabric to finish an apron and turn a Christmas panel into something other than a piece of fabric.  I returned home with 5 yards of Christmas fabric.  Total: 2 full drawers.

My Christmas stash is starting to remind me of that fairy tale about the pot of oatmeal that was always full no matter how many people ate from it. 

The Easter stash is gone.  The Halloween stash has just a few scraps.  The St. Patrick's Day stash is down to 3 pieces, each 1 yard or less.  And the Fourth of July stash takes up less than 1/4th of a drawer.  They're all diminishing.  What's the deal with the Christmas fabric?

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Final Sundrop Critter Freebie

Shelani, the Sundrop Sheltie, is now ready on my website and she's a free downloadable pattern until October 1, 2012! 

Although Shelani is the last in this monthly series that started way back in 2002, she won't be the last critter pattern ever.  I'm already working on two projects involving animals.  One I'm calling On Sundrop Pond and the other, well, you'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Quilter's Trivia: Lil' Drums

Did you know that the diameter of the top cover of a Drumstick Lil' Drum ice cream treat is 2-1/8 inches?

If you trace around it on fabric --

then cut out the circle and stitch around the edges, you can make a little yo-yo just about the size of a U.S. quarter.

Lol!  It's one way of using my hole-y charms!

How many calories are in a Lil' Drum ice cream cone?  I haven't a clue!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hard-Knock Lessons: Fabric Storage

When I moved out to my parents' place 5 years ago, I had to pack and move in a hurry (my old house sold in 3 weeks -- much faster than I anticipated).  As a result, things weren't packed or moved or stored in anything close to the ideal way.  So each summer since then, I've been hauling boxes to the front yard (I live on a hill so there is no backyard) and going through them.  This week as I was cleaning up the shed to set up a sewing machine dedicated to free-motion quilting (I hate changing feet with a screwdriver), I came across one of last year's finds: a stack of 6.5" charms.

The charms were musty and muddy, but I ran them through the washer anyway to see if they were stained permanently.  I got the oddest surprise when I sorted out the laundered patriotic charms.  Many of the charms have a metallic etching in the design, and every charm that had silver etching or that was touching a charm with silver in it was riddled with holes.  They look like red, white and blue slices of swiss cheese!

If you look closely at the charm pictured above, you'll see that it's mostly the white stars that are disintegrating.  This was true for all the blocks with the silver metallic etching.  Oddly, the charms without the silver that were in direct contact with one that did have silver suffered the most -- take a look at this one:

There was one charm with gold metallic etching -- it didn't even have the tiniest hole in it!  But it was horribly stained so I tossed it (before I thought to take a pic).

What caused the holes?  Acid from the silver?  Or do field mice have an affinity for silver?  I don't know what caused the holes.  Until I do, I'm not storing any fabrics with silver on them next to any other fabrics.

Incidentally, there was a stack of 30's repro charms stored in the same shoebox as the patriotic charms.  They have some stain damage, but there isn't a hole in any of them.

Have you ever encountered a problem like this?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

UFOs and Back to Some Sort of Normal

This last month has been crazy.  My dad developed an infection and had to be hospitalized, and was moved to a rehabilitation center last week.  We're still uncertain where he will go from there.  A nursing home or a memory care center are the most likely possibilities.  And my mom is looking for an apartment in a senior housing center.  Changes are happening, changes are coming.

The first change for me was to get some sleep and become human again.  I have been getting more sleep.  I'm still working on the becoming human again part.  Filling out paperwork, scheduling rides, dealing with leaking roofs, a contrary pellet stove, unseasonal snowfalls and so on still adds to the stress levels around here.  I'm guessing it might be that way for the next six months, at least.

On a free afternoon, I spent some time in my shed trying to sort through the clutter and make sense of things.  After getting interrupted in the middle of something so many times, my shed looks like a tornnado blew through and rearranged everything.  Dusty, my puppy who turns one year old at the end of this month, seems to like to help with rearranging my stuff.  I'm not sure where he found them, but he somehow unearthed two UFOs from a good ten years ago.  Both are doll quilt tops inspired by scraps of focal fabrics too small to do much with but too special to toss.

I loved the gorgeous leaf print scrap in this top and it was just big enough to cut into ten 4.5" squares.  It became a UFO when a young child spilled glitter paint on it.  By the time I got the paint washed and scraped off, it was time to pack it up and move.  Repeated washings dulled the brightness of the leaf print and frayed the border so much that I'll have to trim at least .5" off.  I'm thinking of adding a wider purple border before putting this one in the to-be-sandwiched pile.  Or maybe it needs a purple-and-white checkered border....

The second top was inspired by the colorful print depicting adorable kids in cultural costumes from around the world.  Alternate Friendship Star blocks seemed perfect for this print.  I nearly had this one quilted ten years ago when my sewing machine burped horribly, made some major thread nests and other weird stuff and I had to remove all the quilting.  It took forever!  And I did it back before I realized that I really needed reading glasses to do such tasks. 

Between me and my machine, the top has three tears that can't be easily repaired.  I've been waiting all these years for inspiration on how to deal with these tears.  Appliqueing something over the tear is my usual remedy, but that doesn't seam appropriate with this top - too busy already.  Sewing rickrack or seam binding on the main seams might work as the tears are either in or right close to a seam.  What do you think?  Any other ideas? 

The thought did occur to me that, as a wall quilt, repairing the tears really isn't important - the quilting will be enough to hold it all together.  But what if some little girl someday wants to spread it on the floor for a picnic with her teddy bears and the bears spill their honey and the quilt has to be washed?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another Surprise, More Options

While working at the house computer last night, I noticed a bit of red fabric peeking out of the pile of junk mail that no one wants to deal with.  Of course, I ignored the junk mail and tugged on that piece of red fabric.  Much to my surprise, another heart block materialized!
Wow!  I now have 9 blocks to work with instead of 8!  This opens up a whole lot of options that couldn't be considered before.  I mean, what can you do with just 8 blocks?  A linear wall hanging or valance?  A table runner?  A tote bag?  Two chair covers?  Eight mug rugs or coasters?  Four placemats?  A border on a girl's skirt or jumper?  A sewing machine cover?  Two armchair caddies?  Eight eyeglass cases?  Four tiny tote bags?  Eight apron pockets?  Four doll-size jumpers?  Eight pin cushions or needle keepers?  A dog jacket or four (depending on whether you're dealing with a German Shepherd or a chihuahua)?  A teddy bear or two?  Four Christmas stockings?  Two valentine keepers or notebook covers?

What can I now do with 9 blocks?  Now I can make a lap quilt or a baby quilt or a square wall quilt or a uh, uh, .... 

Lol!  I guess the options didn't increase all that much in reality.  Nine just seems so much easier to work with than eight.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spring Cleaning Surprises

During the cold months, I spend just as much time in my shed as needed to cut, sew and press a project.  Everything taken off shelves or out of drawers or boxes simply gets tossed on a table or the back of a chair or any other surface that isn't walked on.  So when we had a bit of warmer weather last week, I began spring cleaning in my sewing shed and I found a few surprises!

Surprise #1: My First Ever Foundation Paper Piecing Project!
I have no idea how this got buried on my sewing table.  Nor do I know why I never sandwiched it.  Perhaps because it's a bit wonky?  The hearts are 1" blocks, so the entire top is rather small.  I made it about 15 years ago.  Maybe it's been waiting around all this time so it could become a Kindle cover!

Surprise #2: Funky 4" Heart Blocks
I made these heart blocks about 4 years ago when I was experimenting with glue, various machine stitches, and cutting out applique shapes using paper-folding techniques.  Along with 7 square blocks, I found a rectangular block and some 2.5" strips of heart fabric.  No time like the present, right?  I sat and sewed the strips to the blocks on two sides, log-cabin style.  (I needed a break from cleaning, anyway.)  For the other two sides, I tried some scraps from a current project I'm working on.

Right color, sort of.  Wrong scale, definitely.  The funky flowers compete with the appliqued heart.  So I rumaged through my nearby box of test fabrics (fabrics I use to test blocks, techniques, etc.) and came up with this:
Better scale, lighter value.  From a distance, it looks pretty good.  I think I'll stick with this one.  What I'll do with the finished 8 blocks I haven't a clue!

Surprise #3: The Aqua Project
I also found a stack of 9-Patch blocks made of a variety of coordinated aqua fabrics:

Along with these, I found a stack of plain aqua blocks, some 2.5" strips of aqua fabrics and a half-yard cut of white-on-white.
I remember working on this last summer before my mom's emergency hernia surgery.  What was my plan for using these blocks?  I haven't the foggiest idea!  Any ideas?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Watch Those HSTs - They Can Be Tricky!

I was hurrying a bit while sewing this month's block for the Home on the Range BOM.  It was cold in the shed and I wanted to return to a warm fire soon as possible!  Anyway, I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention to my sewing and I ended up with a block unit that looked like this:
instead of like this:

Needless to say, I spent more time than usual last month frog-stitching (rip-it, rip-it)!  When all was finished correctly, like this:

I decided to play with my accidental design in Electric Quilt to see what it would look like.

Hmm.  Interesting light and shadow effect.  Not my usual everything-perfectly-symmetrical block, but it's still a pleasing design.  Does it deserve a name of its own?  I don't know.  For now, it's just Bucking Bronco Variation.