Friday, August 31, 2007

Weekend Wonder

For your amusement check out this site for some of the best jewelry for Autumn - (Not for the faint of heart!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I subscribe to Vogue magazine. Not that I am a clothes horse but that I love to see all the beautiful things. I rip out pages of ads and articles when something catches my eye and keep them in a large bowl on my coffee table to look through for inspiration. Also, it is incredibly cheap to subscribe.. at $12.00 a year its an incredibly good deal. The Fall fashion issue arrived the other day with over 800 pages of current fashion and fashionable news. As I leafed through it I noticed a few things you might find interesting.

Smaller handbags - there was a very funny article on how one woman was asked to give up her large satchel for a more modest sized shoulder bag. The magazine sent over several samples for her to try out. The first one she tried was by Louis Vuitton of bronze leather that was covered with logos and brass hardware. There was a flap closure with a very heavy duty lock. The problem was that neither the author not a friend of hers could get it open. Such is life in the fast lane... incredibly expensive handbags that do not open! The author finally chose a lovely green crocidile leather YSL bag. It looked great on her but the long list of things it would not hold made me wonder how long it would actually be used.

Bigger Jewellry - Some of the jewellry would look large even on Mr. T. There were a pair of copper bangles, highly polished that would lovely on anyone except that they were about six inches wide ... I wonder how people use their wrists when they are encased in such large hardware. There was even a sidebar article about the 'new' necklaces, that stated that if you were not reminded that you were wearing them every minute or two then your necklace was too light. I know many fashionable shoes can make your feet ache but sacrificing our neck to fashion is going a bit too far in my mind. I do think its interesting that many crafty folk out there have been making large fabric based cuffs and chokers for quite a while that can mimic these heavy duty accessories but much, much lighter. Fashion following craft or visa versa?

That Handmade Dorky Look - It always amazes me the amount of raw edges seen in current fashionable sportswear when I work so hard to clean finish every seam. In fact, the amount of raggedy edges completely hides the wearer's shape and resemble my scrap bag... except that my scrap bag has some wonderful colors in it while many of the raggy looks have just dull, muddy colors.

That Handmade Couture Look - I did see a lot of hand applied embellishments that were perfectly gorgeous. Crystals, embroideries, ribbons and feathers were very evident. The patience and skill it would take to do this work is way beyond my imagining.

Knitting is BIG - when I say big, I mean gigantic. There was a knitted scarf and coat by someone named Giles ( I am not familiar with that name) where the yarn looked like wool roving , densely wound to a bulky wieght about the size of my wrist. The gauge must have been about a quarter of a stitch to the inch. Heaven knows who actually knitted these garments but I'd love to see a picture. Another knitting fashion I saw was something called galzed mohair. What the heck is that? And why would someone wear toeless socks? Another sidebar article was about a Vogue staffer knitting a cool looking grey tunic as her first knitting project. They showed her wearing it with pants and a shirt and it looked great. Maybe there is hope for my navy blue Tee Shirt/tunic.

Quilting - Chanel still has a love of quilting. Not only her classic quilted handbags and jackets but handbags made out of vintage looking quilts have all apeared previously. This year Chanel has taken it to a whole new level. I saw a lovely shirt style jacket with the body and cuffs constructed of traditional four inch red churn dash quilt blocks on a white ground. It looked to me like it was hand quilted in various feather variations. At a zillion dollars I think I can pass on it for now.

Stupid Idea - In past years I have seen a lot of bustiers primarily for evening wear but sometimes in sportswear. Their main purpose seemed to be to look sexy and not to restrict anyone's movements. Dolce and Gambino have taken it to a whole new level with metal corsets to wear on the outside of your clothes. Completely impractical, inflexible and they've got to hurt ... a lot! Other designers were showing corsets with a zillion buckles and clasps but again.. they look completely uncomfortable. I hope this is an idea that fades away very, very quickly or our emergency rooms will be over flowing with teenage girls with broken ribs.

Now all I need is for the high temperatures to dip below 90 degreees and I might actually begin to think about shopping for the low priced knock-offs of what I've been looking at in Vogue:-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Puppy Meet and Greet

On the Internet I found a site called Houston Meet-up. This is a service available in many cities that allows anyone with a few dollars to put out a call to others who share their interests to meet up. I saw a posting for a Dachshund group and signed up. Never heard from ayone about a meeting but another Dachshund owner e-mailed me about having her puppy and Alex having an informal get together. Sofia, the other Dachshund, is a chocolate colored wired hair sweety about 8 months old and her owner wanted her to meet other similar sized Dachshunds. Alex and the girls seemed like a good match for size and they all need more socialization. This morning we met at a lovely park in Houston called Woodland Park for about an hour of dog walking. Here a picture of Sofia (on the right) and one of Alex and Sofia.

It went relatively well. Alex didn't seem to want to play while he was on the leash but he did not rebuff Sofia and his nose got a good work out smelling all the new smells. I hope we wil be able to meet up again... maybe at a dog park.

BTW doesn't Kelis look cute!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Knitting Tales

I decided that I needed to take my knitting up a notch as knitting something and then felting it does not stretch your ability to knit evenly to gauge. To improve my skills I decided to take a class at Twisted Yarns just outside Old Town Spring. As a stretch I signed up for a class on knitting a short sleeved Tee Shirt. It was knitted in the round from the top down. It included torso and neckline shaping and needed to be knitted to the stated gauge if there would be any chance that it fit. Here are the results:
It turned out to fit like a tunic despite the shaping so I eliminated the sleeves to give it a capped sleeve look. I knit it in a 100% mercerized cotton which is probably why it grew on me. I also found out that I had switched dye lots when I took the photograph though I don't see the shade change when I wear it. I do wear it around the house and for morning dog walking. I do not have the nerve yet to wear it to public place. I learned a lot from the other knitters in the class and I coud see myself knitting another in a different yarn.

While I was in the class I saw a notice for another upcoming class that looked interesting. It was for an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern called the Baby Surprise Jacket. I had some leftover yarn from the Tee Shirt project plus some white that I never used. I bought the pattern and, once again, learned that gifted designers are not gifted pattern writers. Fortunately there is Dawn Adcock on the internet and she figured out all the increases and decreases by rows. In the end I knitted the garter stitched sweater from Dawn's notes rather than the actual purchased pattern. The surprise is that something like this:
turns into a sweet baby jacket like this:

This was a fun project and I would do it again. It looks particularly great in varigated yarns that are self striping. I am also looking for assistance in constructing an adult sized surprise similar to Dawn's notes. No luck yet. My basic problem is that I don't know any babies who would fit this jacket as the chest is only about 18". Maybe I'll trade it on Leahpeah's Trade-a-craft.
COMIC RELIEF - While photographng the baby sweater I noticed Alex working on something. It turns out his new favorite toys are the pine cones that fall into the yard from all the trees I have. I guess I should give up trying to find the perfect toy for him as old plastic bottles and pine cones seem to be his favorites.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kitchen Table Fun

As much as I try to contain my messes to the upstairs in my home, it seems that I have a deep need to sit at my kitchen table and play with stuff while listening to the NPR news shows. Recently I spent a few Morning Editions playing with a mailing box I received from Home of the Sampler. I decided that it would be the perfect size to hold all the extra stuff that came with the new sewing machine. During the three guide classes I attended, for the new machine, I discovered that there were too many places for the bits and pieces to hide. There was the front accessory drawer, the hidden compartment below that, the back bobbin case, the white plastic pocket, the little clear plastic bags and numerous loose pieces that made for a huge mess when I went looking for something.

This first picture shows an original Sampler Box wih the new, recovered box next to it. I used scrap batting and some wonderful fabric in my stash from I have no idea why I needed to purchase yardage of pink hearts on a brown background but it worked very well for this project. I still have tons of this fabric left ( at least a couple of yards) so I better get on my thinking cap to discover what I intended to do with it. Old age can be such a pain!
Below is a picture the interior fo the new box. It closes with Velcro and is lined with some neat adhesive backed fabric sheets I got from the Red Velvet Kit Club to use in one of their projects. Yes, those are colored paper clips on the edge of the lid. I sometimes use paper clips rather than pins to hold fabric together when sewing and I can never keep track of them. I hope their new home helps me keep track of them. The well of the box contains, from the bottom right, a bobbin holder and tomato style pin cushion. I used E-9000 to adhere them to the interior so I shouldn't be tempted to hide them in the rest of the sewing room clutter. Around the bobbin holder are other bits and pieces like an additional bobbin case, two addtional bobbin case covers and a couple of other thread related bits and pieces. To the left of the bobbin holder is the bottom of a chip board box, painted with pink Tulip puffy fabric paint and lined on the bottom with batting and more fabric. (why do I have pink Tulip puffy fabric paint???) This area holds all the presser feet I now have to organize. The upper left hand corner holds screw drivers, marking tools and other useful bits. The upper right hand corner holds another box trimmed out of another chip board box and holds the cable that connects the sewing machine to my laptop and the labels I sometimes sew into those things I make. All in all I think this took me about a week to complete working sporadically at my kitchen table.
Now I have to get all the remaining stuff back to where it belongs upstairs... which may take another week.:-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Crazy Quilting Day

Today, at the Sew Fitting neighborhood group of the Houston ASG Chapter, I was on the agenda to do a brief program on Crazy Quilting. I was nominated for this honor as I made this purse at a class by Deanna Powell of the Embroiderers' Guild of America back in the early nineties. It took me until a couple of years ago to actually finish the construction.

It really is a particularly spectacular purse... but it just leaves me cold. I did not enjoy making it but it did teach me that forced creativity doesn't work with me. Finding all the motifs and figuring out what to put on it nearly drove me to distraction - which is probably why it took me almost a decade to get it finished.

For the program I gave each of the attendees a little ziplock bag containing a whole bunch of little bits of fabric, ribbon, fibers, beads, buttons and yarns. After tacking the fabrics to a piece of muslin we worked through buttonhole/blanket stitch, cross stitch, herringbone stitch and rounded it all out with a wrapped spider web. I got to preach a little about plying stranded fibers before using them and to see some of the most creative women in Houston learn something new. They so much enjoyed our time together they asked me to come back to do another hands-on embroidery program next month. I promised to do the next program if everyone attending would make something out of their 'kit'. I didn't leave them high and dry but gave them brief instructions for creating their own copy of my purse as well as instructions on how to make a Magic Card Case as originally shown in the Winter 2006 issue of Quilting Arts magazine.
I wonder what everyone will make?
A better question would be... what will I be teaching next month? Yikes! I better get started now!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm a winner!

A couple of weeks ago Kristin Roach, in her Craft Leftovers blog, ( asked for photos of projects any of her readers had made from leftovers as a birthday present to her. Never one to back away from a challenge I sent Kristen several photos of my on-going quest to reduce my scrap pile. I don't think I realized it was a contest but I won! Kristin seems like a wonderful person and has, obviously, good taste. :-) Her Etsy store has many little kits, buttons and pre-made items all made from leftovers. Thanks Kristen for making me feel like a super star.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Puppy Toys

Alex has made many things in my home his toys. Essentially anything on the floor and anything he can grab off the coffee table all have toy potential. Contrary to my expectations, he does not go after my knitting except to chew on it when it gets in his face while he is sitting on my lap. The most popular toy for the past month or so has been an empty plastic bottle. He has finally beaten it into submission and today he got the top off of it. Here is the product of his incredible efforts.

In an effort to protect my pillows and cushions I decided to try my hand at making toys for him. I think I have been a little successful. I took some scraps from the kitchen projects , serged them together and stuffed them with crunchy plastic bags. I got the idea from a toy that Kemora used to carry around for hours. It was an elongated dog shape and used to make a crunchy sound when she chewed it. It eventually bit the dust but seemed to last for months. Anyway, I've made Alex a few of these and here is a picture of him carrying around one of them.

About 10 seconds after I got this shot Alex made for the doggy door and proceeded to bury this toy in the side garden. I went out a little while later and dug it back up and brought it inside as I thought it was not the best place for fabric wrapped plastic bags. Darn if he didn't head right back out to the garden and re-bury it in exactly the same spot. I think I'll wait until he's asleep in his kennel and see if I can find it again.

Weather Update: My area has had no rain for almost 48 hours now. Yahoo! It also looks like Dean will be hitting Mexico rather than the Texas Gulf coast so my area may see only a litle rain from this hurricane. Let's hope Dean loses some of its force before it hits the Yucatan.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Japanese Textiles

I mentioned last week that the local ASG chapter hosted a day with Carol Lane Saber. During the morning Carol gave us a trunk show of various types of Japanese textiles and garments that she and her husband have collected on their many trips to Japan. Some of the items had never been out of her home before and they were truly remarkable. She also shared with us her collection of Kimono and the garments she had created for the International Quilt Festival Fashion Show. In the afternoon she gave us a taste of the various workshops she gives on things like shibori, which is a dying technique that uses teeny, tiny knots to create intricate patterns on the fabric and fabric origami where fabric is folded to create texture and patterns.

In addition to sharing her collection, Carol and her husband brought some wonderful things to sell. For sale there was an incredible amount of silk and cotton fabrics, buttons, and tapestries as well as many table runners and other ready-to-use articles. I did a little shopping and ended up with these silk pieces (on the left) and an eight foot long table runner in gold, red and black. I may over dye the silks to bring them all into a compatable color range but the table runner is perfect for my newly cleaned off dining room table and will complement the Japanese wood block prints I have in there.

I think I said before that you would jealous of my purchases. Are you? Now I wish I have bought more silk pieces. There is always next time!

Friday, August 17, 2007

In Stitches and Simple Sewing

In Stitches by Amy Butler and Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter are both recently published by Chronicle Books and each include 20+ projects that can be sewn for anyone's home. Lotta's book has a definite Scandanavian look - all linen and simple/primitive prints. Amy's book has a definite retro look - all cotton and rich, bold, colorful, complex prints. I purchased both of these about a month ago and have had a wonderful time looking at their beautiful photographs.

Lotta's projects are simpler to sew with clean lines and wonderful fabrics. Amy's patterns are much more complex and the instructions can go on forever. Both books seem to have had the instructions written by the same people and use similar terms and layouts. Both also have full size patterns in a pocket at the front of the books. Neither of these books are for someone who has never sewn before but there are quite a few descriptions of basic techniques. Amy does give credit to a whole cadre of pattern writers and testers as she is much more of a designer.. which is probably why her patterns are so complex. Lotta appears to be much closer to the actual sewing of her designs.

I probably would not have purchased either of these books if they weren't so beautiful. There's something about a book that feels good to hold and use that always speaks to me. There are Flickr groups out there that is sewing all of the patterns from both books. The posters are very frank in their critiques of the patterns. For instance, the Simple Sewing hat project caused several of those who made it to comment on the fact that they couldn't see out from under the rim while those making the In Stitches bathroom caddy were bemoaning the overly complex 19 step process.

I think my flurry of sewing related book purchasing will stop for a while. If you are looking for sewing books for others, I would recommend Amy Karol's bend-the-rules Sewing for those who haven't sewn a lot; Simple Sewing for someone who knows how to sew and likes clean design lines; and In Stitches is definitely for those who are fans of Amy Butler's complex fabrics and patterns.

Weather Update: It turns out that Houston is on the 'dirty' side of Tropical storm Erin so it has been raining a lot around here. As the rain has been coming in bands, my area has not seen any flooding however those who live more to the south and west of me have been having a much harder time of it. If Hurricane Dean comes along the middle of the projected track we will again be on the 'dirty' side. I hope we get a few dry days between these storms so I will have a chance to clean up after muddy puppes before I need to do it again.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pay it Forward

I have participated in a number of swaps through the Internet and have, for the most part, enjoyed both the sending and getting of stuff around a specific theme. I came across a new one the other day. It's the 'Pay it Forward' swap. Essentially the sender commits to send something to 3 others within a year....Then they commit to sending something to three others and on and on and on. It is a blog thing in that the sender posts in their blog that the first three people to respond to the 'Pay it Forward' posting will get something from the sender. They then commit to posting the Swap on their blogs to have three people commit and on and on and on.

A better explanation that I copied from someone else:
  • be one of the first 3 bloggers to leave a comment on this post and you win. What, you ask? The winners get something home-made and crafty from me within the next year, but you have to promise to post the same on your blog and follow suit for 3 new people. If you think this sounds like fun, just leave a comment and I'll get in touch with you.

Please comment on this posting if you would like to participate. In my case, you don't have to be a blogger as I know many of you aren't but I believe this concept works for other forums as well. If you don't have a web presence then I will take your word for it that you have paid it forward to three others for them to pay it forward to three others....

This could be fun! Let me know if you would like to participate.

Weather Update for Houston - Its now decided to start raining again after about 10 days of hot, humid and dry weather ... since this morning my gauge has measured two inches of rain with another few inches anticipated over the next couple of days - anyone like some of the huge nasty mushrooms groing in my side yard?

Political Relief

I don't know about you but I am already getting weary of the 2008 Presidential race. If you need some relief as well, check out this article and slide show from Slate. Slate has postulated that in order to win in 2008 the condidates need to start courting the craft community and not other groups like soccor moms or evangelical Christians. There are also 10 different proposals for craft projects to support the two major parties. The embellished money, gun cozy and macaroni Bloomberg are all very funny.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Heat Relief

With temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit I really needed this site. Try your hand at snowflake cutting. The neat part about this site is that, unlike real paper snowflakes, these don't need to hold together. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stitch'n' Pitch

Stitch N' Pitch brings together two American traditions — Baseball and the NeedleArts. Every major league baseball team has had a game designated for SnP this year. There were giveaways, contests and general hillarity at the previous ballparks. Today was Houston's turn and from my point of view SnP was a bust. All I saw was a table manned by weary women. Then again, my seat was not in the official block of tickets as I was given two tickets on the club level by Tina so Paul and I went together. Great seats! I hope to hear from others on how it went in the 'official' seats. See - I really did some kntting> (note the yarn barn made from embroidery scraps)
The game, however, was GREAT. This was the day that Craig Biggio was honored for being the 27th person in major league history to exceed the 3,000 hit mark. The game was sold out and 90% of the crowd were wearing the special freebee shirts given out when you entered the ballpark. The Astro's won and Biggio even had a home run. Here is the sea of white for the seventh inning stretch.

Major League baseball has changed a lot since I was activly following the sport. The beer comes in aluminum bottles not waxed cups. The peanuts are in plastic, not paper, bags. The hot dogs don't seem to know that they are supposed to be cooked on one of those contraptions with the rolling bars and not in a warming oven. Not one person near me spent most of the game analyzing every pitch. (Thank heaven for that!) Some things have definately changed for the better. Minute Maid Park (formerly Enron Field) has a retractable roof and the whole place is air conditioned! No more sun burnt noses but I do miss the creaking of the old wooden stands at Tiger Stadium.
Have a good week...just wait until I get a chance to photograph the wonderful Japanese silk pieces I picked up from Carol Lane Saber.... you will be jealous.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Coral Swing Jacket

Tomorrow is a special day for the Houston Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. Carol Lane Saber ( ) will be giving us a full day of trunk show and creative inspiration. I am looking forward to it as she is supposed to be a fabulous teacher and she has a huge stock of Japanese and Japanese inspired textiles. As with all ASG events, my thoughts turned to what I should wear and whether I should make something. l didn't want make anything but I had been experimenting with an applique design in white on a scrap of coral linen. It came out very nicely so I went looking for a pattern for the rest of the coral linen. Here is what I came up with based on Vogue's pattern number 8088 designed by Marci Tilton. Note: that Alex is sunning in the background.
The original applique:
Three pieces for the right shoulder:
I also embroidered a couple of the flowers on the cuffs:
I may not add the extra applique pieces and I may add some additional rows of squiggly topstitching but that's all I can think of to finish off this project. Now what will I do with the leftovers?
Just watch though... I'll wake up in the morning, spill my coffee all over it and end up taking an old sweater to the event. I'll let you know.
Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wal Mart kit

I was at Wal-Mart the other night looking for some embroidery thread when I noticed the clearance bins. I saw that there were two different kits on sale for constructing a quilted tote bag or a quilted duffel bag. I liked the duffel bag one because the pre-quilted fabric was a gorgeous black paisley with red and cream accents a la Vera Bradley. I also liked the look of it as the heavy duty zipper with a very decorative zipper pull. I purchased the duffel bag kit and came home to make it.

The quilted fabric was printed with patterns pieces in the black paisley on a cream background. The instructions mentioned that there were cutting lines... did that mean to cut the pieces out along the edge of the black paisley or cut the peieces out with a half inch seam allowance width from the black paisley? I compromised and serged the edges with a quarter inch wide stitch just outside the black paisley and sewed the pieces up with a half inch seam allowance.

The ends each had a pocket so I then proceeded to make one end from two end pieces rather than one end piece and one pocket piece. Not being one to rip out, I then reconstructed one of the pocket pieces into an end piece and attached a real pocket piece to it. I tried to make the straps using a tube turner that I couldn't find (later I realized it was stolen by Alex and hidden under a blanket) so I re-did the straps by folding in the raw edges to the center of the wrong side then folding the straps lengthwise again and sewing down the edges. That was a big mistake as I ended up with extra layers when sewing up the bottom of the bag and broke a needle.

In the end it looks pretty good. What do you think? If your Wal-Mart still has a fabric section, check out the sale bins and you too can have the fun I had yesterday. One last note - the decorative zipper pull that was a major incentive to buying this kit is now missing. Wanna take any bets that Alex has hidden it somewhere?

What did this sewing experience tell me? In the end, the lessons were:

  • I can't read and follow instructions
  • I don't know the difference between an end piece and a pocket piece.
  • My supplies are not puppy proof.
  • I can salvage a project.

Pretty good lessons from a $13.00 kit from Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


I love Sunday. Although I do not attend religious services on a any regular basis, I do practice the biblical injunction to rest on the seventh day. So, on Sunday, I tend to rest. I also see my son on many Sundays. This past Sunday was no different than many others. The only difference was that I took a few pictures.
Here is one of my son, Paul and his girlfriend ,Sandy. Its not the best picture of him as he is in the middle of telling me that he doesn't show his teeth when he smiles. I guess I wasted a lot on money on the dentist as he was growing up!
Its also fun to play with the dogs on Sunday. Here is Alex getting some help showing off his very big ears. Alex is on Paul's lap and has fought for space there with Kelis and Kimora, Paul's dogs. For some reason when Paul is in the house all three dogs forget that I exist and compete for his attention continuously. I find it relaxing as, when I have them with me all week, I get this kind of competitive behavior a lot of the time.
While Paul is here I usually put him to work. This time he installed a couple of light fixtures I bought to replace the builder's grade junk that had been in front hall. In my walks around the neighborhood I see many instances where the owners have continued to use the lights the builder installed when the homes were built about 20 years ago. How can they stand it! On the other hand, I have been here about five years and I only switched out the original lights this week. Pot calling the kettle black?
What Sunday is primarily for is napping. Here are Kimora, Kelis and Sandy taking advantage of the time when Paul was installing the lights. This may look posed but they really were napping.
Now that I have retired, Sundays have become even more relaxing. I still plan my week on Sunday but the sense of urgency is not the same. I hope all your Sundays are as relaxing as mine was on this past Sunday.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Five Fat Quarters (cont'd)

Actually this post is a cheat.

I bought Six Fat Quarters in a beautiful pattern designed by Anna Griffin and I couldn't find any space in my fabric drawers to stuff them for later use. That made me consider that I really needed to get some use of my fat quarters which then led to the previous post on Five Fat Quarters and the making of the grocery bags.

Thus the cheat.. this post is about using up six fat quarters rather than five.

The next day, after the grocery bag frenzy, I was trying to find size 5 double pointed needles and realized that my search would have been swifter if I had my double pointed needles organized. That led to the creation of organizers for both my double pointed and circular knitting needles. The first photo below shows the cases all tied up while the second shows the interiors. I did use the embroidery machine to do the labels on the outside. The ties for the circular needle case were made from scraps while the ties for the double pointed needles were made from the ribbon that the fat quarters were wrapped in when I bought them.

And, yes, I do have a lot of double pointed needles. I inherited most of them from my mother and my grandmother. My grandmother made many pairs of socks so most of them were in her sewing box. I don't think I will ever buy a set again... unless I need size sixes... they seem to be missing from my array of sizes.
Have a good week!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Five Fat Quarters

Recently I have been embarrassed by the size of my fabric stash. I seem to have a huge amount of fabric, each scrap of which I feel I will be using any day now. In an effort to actually stop fooling myself, I have been trying to find a use for all the fat quarters I collect. I found a link to a site with a clever way of constructing grocery bags. Instead of using yardage I have modified the pattern so I can use five fat quarters at a time and end up with very few scraps. The first photo shows three bags on my Kitchen floor after a shopping trip. The second photo shows them all snuggled up in their pockets for the next trip to the store. The website with the instructions is and your need to search on the word Singlet. The tutorial is excellent and the best part about it is that it seems to have been written by someone who actually sews.

Fifteen fat quarters used (5 per bag), 47 trillion left!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Crafter's Companion

'The Crafter's Companion', edited by Anna Torborg, is a series of articles about 17 well known crafters. Each article includes answers to these questions: Why do you create?, What inpsires you? and Where do you work?. Each crafter also presents a project that represents not their signature work but something simple that could inspire you to go further.

I loved reading the answers each of the crafters came up with for the questions. For example, one of them lives in a studio apartment where she does all her work... heck I couldn't even fit my fabric stash into a studio apartment ... but she makes beautiful art. I also liked the fact that the crafters live all over the world so the reader gets an international view. I think I am a little bit of voyeur because I was disappointed that only one or two of the crafters had their pictures in their sections. As the articles included blog names or websites, I guess I will need to go look up these people to satisfy my curiosity.

This is a book for those of us who are curious about the crafters represented and it is a pretty good value. I would not recommend it for anyone looking for a how-to book or for in-depth instruction in the crafters' signature styles.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


"Craftivity" is a book by Tsia Carlson that I received the other day from It is a compilation of 40 DIY projects that have been created by 40 different contributors. Some are simple that can be created in an evening from things you may already have on hand while others will take a week or more. Examples of the more simple projects are a string bag crocheted from old plastic grocery bags and sewing your own panties from old t-shirts. More complex projects, like casting your own wacky ceramic teapot, would take a significant investment in time and materials. One of the best parts about the book is its detailed explanations of all the techniques used. For example, the book does not assume you know how to crochet and has detailed, well illustrated instructions on how to crochect. The folk behind this book all have a connection to which is a strange website that looks at the larger craft scene but seems like an inside club. I like the book as it explains a variety of crafty DIY techniques then gives you a couple of cool projects using those techniques. I think it cost me about $13.00 and I can well see it becoming a book I will go to again and again for instruction and inspiration.