Monday, December 28, 2009

Modified Markt Bag

A couple of International Festivals ago I learned how to make a Japanese Market Bag. In October of this year the Saturday Strippers made a wonderful variation. Instead of using two pieces of fabric, this variation uses an exterior of pieced, pre-cut 2 1/2" strips, an interior of plain fabric and an interlining of batting.

I chose a Jelly Roll made from the Cotton Blossom fabric line from Moda, a lining of flannel and an interlining of Warm 'n' Natural batting. Here's how mine came out:
This bag is huge... about 38" wide by about 50" long. The picture above has a queen size quilt in the bag and there is plenty of room for at least one or two more.

I used flannel for the interior so that the bag, when unfolded could be used for a design wall in a pinch.
I did use the same construction as the original Market Bag while the others in the Saturday group used magnetic snaps to close the top and straps that went all the way around the bag in one continuous loop to carry the bag. Both techniques work equally well.
Once you see the bag all flat it inspires other uses for ths type of bag. How about it made up as a nap mat for an infant, or as a play surface for a toddler or as a beach bag? There are lots of possibilities.

Another UFO off the pile so now its time to do my Chrstmas sewing that I didn't even start until after the holiday. I hope the recipients don't mind!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Humphrey Bogart Socks

Yesterday there was a Humphrey Bogart festival on television. I love him, especially when he played opposite Lauren Bacall.

Knowing that there would be some serious movie watching going on here I decided it was about time to finish a pair of socks that have been on my to-do list for a couple of months now.

What do you think....

There really is another one I just couldn't figure out how to get both of them on the chair without Alex and the Girls jumping on me.

The yarn is wool with aloe in it. I think the aloe is to make the wool softer to wear.

These were knit from the toe up and include a bunch of cables. Fortunately the yarn's colors hide any mistakes I made in the knitting. I've worn them all day and have now realized that they do not go with any of the shoes I own so I guess they will be house socks for now.

Another UFO done.

EZ Screen Print

I read about the EZ Screen Print system in the Amy Karol book Bend the Rules with Fabric. I have always enjoyed using purchased silk screens but I never semed to be able to find the ones I wanted when I needed them. I bought the book back in August and have been mulling over purchasing the system since them.

A couple of weeks ago I took the plunge and, until a couple of days ago, it sat on the kitchen counter waiting for me to try it out.

Sweet Sadie's has run out of staff T-shirts so I took that as a sign to make some for them.

I started with some stained while t-shirts I have lying around here and, after runing one screen, got this result:
Imagine how it would look on an unstained T-shirt!

I then tried out my silk sreen on a black T-shirt..

Not as good a result because I didn't have the right ink but in a pinch it would work.

The way this system works is that it uses the sun, or another UV light source, to harden the emulsion on the screen where you don't want the ink to penetrate. Where you do want your image, you mask it from the sun (like the Sweet Sadie's which was printed in black on a transparency sheet) and the emulsion stays soft. Scrub off the soft emulsion, dry and put the screen out in the sun for a final hardening and your screen is ready to use.

I now have three different sizes of Sweet Sadie's silk screen bits, from one big screen, to try on other T-shirts to see what works best.

I hope Paul likes them.

Now to what I really want on a silk screen.... some smallish leaves to cover up stains on other T-shirts. Just need to find the right images.

If you would like try your hand at making silk screens, try this system. It's relatively inexpensive to begin, then if you like it, you can then invest in more screens.

I think 2010 will the year of the silk screens.

Could be worse!

Merry Christmas To All...

And to All a Good Night... even you Kelis!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Aunt Kate's Quilting Bee

One of the joys of collecting items for the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild Fish Pond is that I get to see all the goodies that people donate to the cause. Some of the goodies are not so good and have to be discarded but most of them are in good condition and provide me with hours of pleasure. Among all the fabrics, patterns, notions and magazines that have been donated, I came across a quilting magazine called Aunt Kate's Quilting Bee.

Begun in 1962 by Glenna Boyd (1919-2006) this publication was considered one of the best in the market from 1962 until it ceased publication in 1980. Printed on glossy paper with some fuzzy black and white photograghs, this publication gives us a wonderful look at our quilting heritage. Aunt Kate also re-published patterns from the the 1920' and 1930's, crocheted edgings from a book originally published in 1916, contemporary apron and potholder patterns as well as original quilt block patterns from her readers.

The issues I have had the privilege of purusing come from 1976 and 1977.

How things have changed in 30 years.

Back then it was all about the blocks.
Most of the quilts discussed were made up of multipes of one complex block that was meant to be hand pieced. There were lots of curves and lots of pieces in each block. Now its all about the overall quilt design with blocks designed to be machine pieced. If you were lucky enough to get a block published in Aunt Kate's Quilting Bee you could make up to $9.00 if you completed all of the elements required in good order. Now the magazines pay between $150.00 and $300.00 for each quilt they accept for publication with the magazine's staff writing the actual instructions.

As a subscriber you were expected to create templates from the printed instructions and gather the pieces into labelled file folders or large size envelopes for future use. There was a section every issue where women asked for other block patterns to be swapped or bought. Blocks by Nancy Cabot were much sought after in the requests I have read. She published block patterns in the Chicago Tribune in the 1930's and published two pamphlets of bock patterns in 1934 and 1935. What a find these booklets would be today!

One interesting part of the publication was where subscribers' wrote in looking for pen pals and round robin opportunities. Not only were their full names and addresses printed, but birthdays and wedding anniversaries as well. In this day of identity theft I wonder how such notices would be handled today?

Even though there are quite a few typos and the use of the opening phrase of 'Now girls..' just grates on my nerves, this is magazine is a delightful look at quilting from the 60's and 70's.

If you come across this periodical take the time to look it over and read some of the charming articles. I don't think you will be disappointed with the time spent.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sewing Holiday Parties

I was at a party today with a group of sewing friends and the hostess offered a special gift to the youngest person there. It turned out that the youngest was 51!

I remember thinking many years ago that there was no way I could ever make it to the year 2000 as 48, my age in 2000, was so ancient.

Now I was sitting in a room of bright, beautiful, creative women and they were all over that ancient age of 48.

How my feelings about age have changed!

But enough about age.

We're talking about Sewing Holiday Parties and, for them, its about the location, the food and the loot.

Most of the parties have been held in private homes and the hostesses seem to go all out to decorate to the hilt. Today's home was a prime example. There were towers of glittery ornaments and lots and lots of green wired ribbon bows everywhere. This home was so decorated that the wire mesh waste basket holding a standard green garbage bag had lots of the same green ribbon looped and draped all around the upper edge.

Now that's decorating.

The food for these parties ranges from packages of exotic cookies from the grocery store to dishes that have been in people's families for generations. I brought food from Sweet Sadies to a few (beans or brisket) and salads made from kits to others. I am so going to miss sampling all the fine eating of this season . Going back to lunches of peanut butter sandwiches will be a real let down.

The loot is the icing on the proverbial cake. Each of these sewing related parties has included a gift exchange of some sort. In general, those that participate collect some sewing related items and wrap them up. The participants choose one of the secret gifts or can steal a previously opened gift. The number of times a gift can be stolen is usually limited and its fun watching people trying to figure out out if their targeted gift will still be in play when their turn comes around to pick.

The party today had an unusual twist to it in that gifts were not swapped but each of us was challenged to create an apron using only stuff that we had on hand in our resource centers.

I created a reversible apron using a pattern in Lotta Jansdotter's 'simple sewing' book. The fabric was from Clothworks retired fabrics called 'Well Done'. One fabric had lots of cooking words on it like baste, saute and grill while the other fabric was full of cartoonish restaurant staff.

I received an origami apron done in a lovely peach and cream linen blend fabric. Here's a link to a similar creation.

With a week to go before Christmas, and two weeks before New Year's Eve I am partied out. I still have a couple of small gatherings I plan to attend but there are no obligations attached to any of them.

Little did I know when I started to get more active is various sewing related groups that my hoiday schedule get so interesting.

I wonder what it will be like next year?

I better start dieting now so I can enjoy the wonderful food even more that I have this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

When looking for UFOS to finish up before the end of the year I came across a project that I thought had great potential and decided to complete it.

I must have been drunk.

The project came from a class with Gabrielle Swain back in June 2008. If you go to that post you can hear me gushing about what a wonderful class it was and how excited I was about my work that day.

A year and a half later I finally go far enough along in the project that I can see that my joy was entirely misplaced.

What I have come up with is butt ugly because, although the design was good, my over-use of hand dyed fabrics makes the whole composition muddy. I should have added some plainer fabrics, at least for the background.

What do you think? Does this look like two leaves, one behind the other?

Ugly... right?

I don't think there is anything I can do to make it better so I am folding it up into a very small packet and filing it away in the back of a drawer behind a lot of beautiful hand-dyed fabircs where it may not see the light of day before the end of this century.

Next time I try an 'art' piece I will try to restrain myself and add some plainer fabrics to the mix otherwise I will have too much of a good thing...again!.
BTW, the fabric is from Judy Robertson of Just Imagination. If you go to her site you can see wonderful quilts made completely with her fabrics with much more pleasing results.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fabric Collage UFO

For many years I have been entranced by the creative possibilities inherent in Collage. I subscribe to both Quilting Arts and Cloth, Paper, Scissors which feature a lot of collage techniques. I have taken classes on how to put fabric collages together with June Colburn and other instructors. I continue to collect bits and peces of deritus to eventually use in my collage masterpieces.

I love collage BUT I suck at actually doing collages.

I can gather lots of related things together and can come up with a great concept but when it comes to actually putting one together I have rarely gotten results that I would be proud to display.

Many years ago I took a class with June Colburn here in Houston on her fabric collage technques. June has the uncanny ability to take many different, but related, fabrics and collage them together into a new piece of fabric that looks like it was manufactured as whole cloth. This was my second or third class with her and thought I could produce something pleasing to both of us.

No such luck.

After spending a couple of hours cutting and placing fabic on a 16" x 20" muslin foundation, June came over and pointed out obvious flaws in my masterpiece. I was hurt but not daunted and spent the rest of the day reworking my piece.

It never measured up to the potential I saw all around me.

The other day I dug it out again and began to re-work it ... again.

I had the inspired notion that I would complete the origianl piece but this time I would just try get all the pieces of fabric attached to the foundation and not worry about the piece's eventual use.

From well thought out concept to slap on the fabric in one easy step.

Here's how it came out:

Not pretty but there are bits that are quite pleasing like the Japanese lady and the fish motifs.

Not letting it go into the trash bin after the huge investment in time to had spent, I decided to use the bits I liked in several little projects.

From one 16"x 20" ugly fabric collage I came up with a holder for my iPod Nano Touch:


Attached to my purse

A cover for my address book,



And, a box to hold paper and pens near my sewing machine.

Not bad for an ugly piece of collage.

I hope your weekend is going well and that the typical pre-holiday cleaning is not getting you down. I have set a small goal for myself... getting all the laundry done AND put away in the right drawers and closets. Somehow laundry gets done here with great regularity but not everything gets put away correctly. Tea towels end up piled on the counter, socks to be folded languish on a dresser top and towels get re-used before even seeing the inside of the linen closet. For just one day I would like to see it all done and put away.

And while I am working towards laundry nirvana I will be on the look out for more UFOs that I can complete before year-end.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sewing Gifts

In keeping with the time of year, many people who know sewers are out trying to find something to feed the sewer's need for more stuff. Instead of opting for a gift certificate to their favorite fabric shop you may want consider going to the electronics, office supply, grocery and hardware stores to find great gifts for the sewer in your life.

Not that a gift certificate would not be appreciated but there are other places to find great gifts and stocking stuffers for sewers.

For instance, at the electronics store, you can find an iPod phone or iPod Nano Touch. This gift would give the sewer not only a nice MP3 type musc player but a lot of applications are out there that would appreciated like a quilt block sampler or a set of videos on how to do several complex sewing related tasks.

While you are there you can also get the little vacuum attachments for sucking up dust from delicate computers. Great for getting all the thread lint out of the bobbin area of any sewing machine.

Over at the hardware store there are a lot magnetized gadgets that are a real boon to those of us who work with dangerous things like pins and needles. One that I use a lot is a pointer type thing with a magnet in the tip. They even make them wth an LED light in the tip as well. Just run it under the sewing table and pins and needles just leap onto the tip ready for re-use.

Another thing I have heard about, but not personally seen, is a magnetic bowl that mechanics use to corral nuts and bolts. I must get one of these as I have heard you only need to fling things in the direction of the bowl and the pins and needles just jump into it for re-use.

At the office supply store there are a lot of things that sewers need. Pick up some extra paper and printer cartridges. Not galmorous but they would save a lot of cursing when the sewer finds out that there is no paper or ink in the printer when they just have to print out 25 pages of how to sew a particular project. Files folders, plastc sheet protectors, newsprint sheets, colorful binders and file boxes are always in great demand when the urge to re-oganize somes upon the sewer.

And don't forget the grocery store as a source of stocking stuffers for sewers. Skip the flowers and pre-made dinners and find the freezer paper. My freezer paper has not made it back into the kitchen for months as I have been using it a lot to make applique templates. A not very galmorous gift but a great stocking stuffer would be washable glue in sticks or bottles. Don't forget to pick up some colored pencils, marking pens, Sharpies, lead pencils, art erasers or crayons. All are things that are needed by the sewer and just never seem to be on hand when needed.

If you must go into a sewing store, consider an expensive add-on for the sewer's current sewing machine, new embroidery disks, or, if you must, a new, top-of-the-line sewing machine. More modest needs are straight pins, size one safety pins, big spools of the sewer's favorite neutral sewing thread or pre-wound bobbins.

For as little as a $1.00 even a cash strapped little kid can make a sewer's life brighter.

Happy shopping!

Lazy Girl!

The other day I mentioned to a friend that I was going to drop off 'One Yard Hugs' to Sun Flower Quilts. Apparently I had mentioned this project to her earlier this year and she took all the flannel in her stash and made about 50 'One Yard Hugs' for this project. She dropped them off the other night for me to deliver.

Here's the lazy part... she made 50 based on my mention of this project. I, on the other hand, only made twelve.

Its nice to have inspired someone to contribute so much but I feel a lot of guilt that I made so few.

What's a 'one Yard Hug' you ask?

Basically you take one of yard of cute cotton flannel, hem or serge the edges, then donate them to a local hospital that gives them to new moms who may not have any receiving blankets for their new babies.

With cotton flannels on sale everywhere this time of year this is an inexpensive project and, if you serge the edges, it only takes about five minutes to get one done.

Please consider this project if you are ever looking to use up some stash flannels or searching for a group giving project.

The moms and babies will be greatful and your stash will thank you for the breathing room.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

In The Mail

I am part of a Flickr swap group called 'Fat Quarter Swap with a Twist'. Every month there is a new theme for the fat quarters to be swapped plus some addtional requirements. This month the theme was cupcakes and the requirements were:

3 "cupcake / sweets themed" fat quarters (fabric that measures 18"x20" at minimum)

1 yummy cupcake recipe

1 sewing notion min.

1 or more cupcake paraphernalia

I was lucky enough to draw a Home Ec. teacher as my swap buddy and here is what she sent:

She included a bunch of fun things including some cute fat quarters, a handmade cupcake-like pin cushion and a cupcake shaped placemat. The recipe is for Snickerdoodle Cupcakes (how good does that sound?).

I have only participated in this swap twice and have enjoyed evrything that I have sent and received, which can be a rarity in swaps. The problem with swaps is that I originally joined thinking I would be able to reduce some of my surplus resources but, in most cases, I have ended up with more than I actually sent!

I hope your weekend is going well. As most people know, Houston had about four inches of snow during the day yesterday. Snow is not a complete rarity here as Houston sits right below the Great Plains so storms can sometimes roll right down from the north without anything to stop it. Unfortunately I hear that there will be another chance for snow next week. Personally I don't mind the snow but the Girls hate it and have to be forced outside to go for walks. Alex, on the other hand, doesn't seem to notice and just loves to be anywhere I am... even if it is only twenty degress out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Art Bags

As mentioned last time I picked up some art supplies to donate to a local charity. In order to keep the bits and pieces together I made some bags to hold all the loot.

Here's one of the bags I came up with:

The fabric was from the Vogue Fabrics bargin bn at the Quilt Fetsival. Th embroidery is a standard font on my sewing machine done in varigated cotton thread from YLI. The size and shape came off the top of my head.

The weird thing about this project is that I made four bags and each turned out completely differently. Each time I went to cut into the fabric I made little changes in the size and shape of the body and the length and postioning of the handles. Because I couldn't stick to the original size, shape and handles it took me longer than planned to get these done.

Fortunately this project is completed and ready for donating tomorrow. I hope whomever gets these little art bags enjoys the contents as much as I enjoyed putting them togeher.

Now I can go onto another UFO. Unfortunately I think it will turn out to be one that will be cut up into dog bed filling as I think it is pretty ugly. I will try to salvage it but have little hope of turning it into a silk purse rather than the sow's ear it is already.

You'll just have to tune in next time to see the results.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday

I love Black Friday! The getting up early and sneaking out of the house without waking up the dogs, the extra heavy duty coffee bought from the gas station to get my eyes open and then there is the wait in a crowd of like minded wackos in front of the chosen store for the deeply discounted thing you have been yearning to purchase.

Yup, I love it all.

This Black Frday there wasn't all that much I was excited about in most of the ads but JoAnn's, once again, was selling what I needed.

This is when I stock up on needed items... like batting for quilts at $4.40 a yard rather than the $10.99 regular price (I bought the whole bolt) or interfacing for garments and bags at $0.30 a yard or flannel for one yard hugs at $1.19 a yard. Love it, love it, love it!

I was also able to put together children's art kits at Michaels for under $10.00 each. These will be going to a local charity once I get some tote bags made to hold each set.

I'm almost sorry that its over. There is one toy I was looking for but did not get. I am now searching on-line to see if I can find it before they are all sold out or the store's servers crash (JoAnn's are down for the count.).

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 27, 2009

I'm thankful....

I’m Thankful for You
Thanksgiving is the appointed time
for focusing on the good in our lives.
In each of our days,we can find small blessings,
but too often we overlook them,
choosing instead to spend our time
paying attention to problems.
We give our energyto those who cause us trouble
instead of those who bring peace.
Starting now,let’s be on the lookout
for the bits of pleasure in each hour,
and appreciate the people who
bring love and light to everyone
who is blessed to know them.
You are one of those people.
On Thanksgiving,
I'm thankful for you.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Poem By Joanna Fuchs
Thanks to Dachshund Rescue of Houston for sending out this on the day before Thanksgiving as a thank you to the many people who have made it possible for them to rescue over 100 Dachshunds this year.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


One of the projects that had to be done before the end of the year that is not a legitimate UFO is that I needed to make a needle case for an exchange at the KAQG holiday party next week. This was not a MUST do but, as a member of the board, I felt that I should participate.

Anyway, tonight I took a wonderful piece of fabric that had been around here for a while and turned it ito a needle case for this exchange.

Here is the fabric:

I got it at the International Quilt Festival a few years ago and fell in love with this and other bleach discharged indigo fabrics the vendor had avilable for sale. I don't remember the vendor but every time I've seen this bit of fabric since then I have kicked myslef for not getting more.

Here is how the needlecase came out:

At 3 1/2" by 7 " it is more of a travel sewing case than just a needlecase. To the interior I added a small pocket in which I placed a couple of silk thread wound reporduction thread savers, a bit of white felt with a couple of needles stuck in it and another little pocket to hold a small pair of scissors. I like the way this turned out and I hope that whom ever gets it will use it in good health for a very long time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


As part of cleaning up old projects I (finally!) finished a small wall quilt called 'Bootiful' based on a pattern by the Big Fork Bay Cotton Company. I won this pattern with some fabric as a door prize at a KAQG meeting earlier this year.

I used this project as practice piece for raw edge applique plus as a piece to try out some fabric painting to try to add dimension to the piece.

I'm pretty sure the applique was okay but the painting will take some more practice.

What do you think?

Good, bad or indifferent, it is now done and hung on the wall.

One project done... 756 still to go.

Wish me luck!

Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative was founded by quilter Ami Sims three years ago to raise funds for Alzheimers research. This is an unusual charty in that you can contrbute in two ways to this project. One is by contributing small art quilts to the project which are sold to other contributors. The other is by buying the quilts or by direct donation.

I love this charity as I have been able to purchase small art quilts that I never would had the opportunity to have in any other way.

At the Quilt Festival this year this one particularly caught my eye:

The picture does not do it justice as the colors and shapes are more subtle than the photo indicates.

The quilt is titled 'Breakthrough' and it was made by Mary Jo Schroeder of Port Angeles, WA. I think that the pink coming through the black perfectly illustrates how Alzheimer patients can have moments of clarity while this illness increasingly fogs their minds.

If you are looking for a unique gift for yourself or someone else please consider this project.

I do not think you will be disappointed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

For Your Wish List

I just got a wonderful book in the mail that I think you will want on your wish list especially if you are a Jane Austen fan..

It's called 'Jane Austen's Sewing Box'. Subtitled 'Craft Projects & Stories From Jane Austen's Novels', the author, Jennifer Forrest, takes fourteen projects referenced in Jane Austen's novels and gives you a historical perspective on the project, excerpts from the novels relating to the project and then gives you instructions on how to reproduce the project.

Projects include a 'huswife', a bonnet, a needlepoint pillow, a knitted miser bag and nine more for you to try out.

I love this book.

It is a joy to read each section with the mix of historical information and the bits from the novels.

The projects are interesting and the illustrations are lavish.

Just browsing through it for a bit this afternoon I was taken back to the Regency Period and kept imagining myself the clothing of the period sitting in the rooms pictured working on paper flowers for the coming holidays.

Although this book does not have a U.S. publisher, it is available through Amazon from several sellers. Mine came from The Book Depository in Gloucester, U.K. It only took a week to get here and I am so looking forward to cuddling up in bed with Alex and the Girls to read it this evening.

For those who watch the movies based on Austen's novels and get distracted from the action by the clothing, accessories and home decorations, this is the book for their library.

From the files

One of the things that have been hanging over my head is clearing out some of my files from work. You know those old benefits folders and stuff that used to hang on your cubicle walls... all of it needs to be dealt with and I seem to have a lot of it. While going through one of those old files I came across this poem. I don't know where it came from but I can see why it used to hang on my bulletin board.



If you can start the day without caffeine and pep pills,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook when people take things out on you when, through no fault of yours something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can do all these thing,
Then you are probably the family dog.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Year-end Resolutions

Yup, that's right, year end resolutuons.

I don't seem to do well with New Year resolutions. I usually fail to follow those for more than a month or so but my short attention span works great for shorter periods.. like about 39 days instead of 365.

So here goes... no new projects unless they have to be done for giving this holiday season.

All other activity will be focussed on getting projects done that have been started already... like the little quilt I started back in September or another one from October or the fabric collage from two years ago or the class project from a year ago or on and on and on.

I had a similar resolution a couple of years ago and it really worked in cleaning up my sewing space.

I hope this plan works again this year or I will have to move houses just to find space for all the unfinished projects around here.

Wish me luck!

In the Mail

I got a surprise in the mail the other day that truly made my day. A dear friend sent me these:

I will admit I have not worn them yet because I have been debating whether to make them part of the Dachshund things I have been collecting or to wear them around. I know if I wear them they will make me smile every time I wear them... on the other hand, they would make me smile if I display them.

I guess its a struggle between keeping them pristine in the house and making me smile everyday of wearing them and having smiles all over town.

Put that way and given that I am such a sourpuss, I think smiles all over town is the better solution.

Watch out world, a happy Dachshund lady may be coming to your neighborhood.

I hope your weekend is going well. I seem to have hurt my back a little the other day so naps with pain meds have been on my agenda for the past couple of days. So sad that I have been spending time napping with three hot little bodies snuggled up to where my back hurts. Such a tough life I live!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Knitting, Knitting and more Knitting...

but not a lot accomplished.

On Thursday Evening KNOT (Knitting North of Town) had their holiday party. We had some great food and some great show and tell. I took a sweater I have been working on for a while and got about two inches done on one of the sleeves. Of course, this sleeve is all I have worked on for about two months and I still have many inches to go before even that sleeve is done. I am working on this pattern from Knit Picks. Since it uses lace weight yarn its probably going to take the rest of the winter to get it finished at this rate.

On Friday morning I met with the little group of knitters we have that meets at a local Starbucks. I probably only got another one or two inches done again even though I worked pretty continuousely for about an hour.

On Saturday morning the Kingwood Library group met and I must admit that I spent more time seeing what every body else was doing rather than working on my sleeve.

Why is it that during the summer I got lots of socks done as well a heavy weight sweater but now that it is getting colder(40's in the morning, low 60's during the day) I seem to be unable to find any time to work on a simple sweater?

If you figure it out, let me know... please!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Sharing

Although there were a lot of wonderful projects showcased at the Saturday ASG Neighborhood Group I attended today, this fabirc takes the prize as the most fabulous... at least in my book.

The sample I saw was in black and white. I can't seem to find a lot of this on-line but I definitely need about three yards or so of it to satusfy this fabric lust. BTW it's by Alexander Henry and it is not part of their current catalog.
While I do some more internet cruising I hope your weekend is going well and that you do not get bitten by the fabric lust bug like me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

That's Sew Wrong (continued)

Over a year ago (more like two years ago, but who's counting!) I picked up some fabric made by Michael Miller called That's Sew Wrong!. At that time I used it to recover a utilitarian IKEA secretary's chair. Here's that original post and I'll wait while you go take a look.

I then used the same fabric to recover an old sleeve board that I had picked up at a garage sale many years ago. Here's that post.

In that second post I mentioned that I had a table top sized ironing board that needed a makeover as well and this past weekend I finally got it recovered as well. Here's how it turned out.

Even after these three projects I still had fabric left over from that original three yards. I was inspired by the 101 One Yard Wonders book to make a roll-up sewing kit to take to simple, out-of the house sewing sessions.

There is an elasticized strip for holding spools of thread, a zippered pocket for scissors, bobbins and such, plus a couple of pockets for needle books and other little bits.

I wish I knew why I bought all that trim! I still have tons of it. Want some?

I am now down to the tiny bits that I can in all honesty put in the dog bed stuffing bag.

Not a one yard wonder by any stretch of the imagination but definitely well-used fabric.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

101 One Yard Wonders

There's a new sewing book out there that you might want to take a look at when you have that stray yard of fabric begging to be used.

This is a book that will not teach you how to sew but it does have some great projects. I will admit that some are pretty lame... like how to recover a small ironng board using the old cover as the pattern (duh!) but there are many, many more that will stretch your imagination and give you some great results.

I decided to try out one of the projects this weekend just to test of the instructions. Each of the projects are designed by different internet based sewers but the instructions are all written by the editorial team. The one I chose is a cat bed that looks like a big floppy bowl. I was intrigued by it as the design is based on trapezoid walls that lean out from a small bottom.

Here's how it came out:

Doesn't Kelis look mad to be woken up by the flash?

Those big fluffy walls are just Alex and the Girls love to rest their heads on when they are taking naps....just don't tell them that it was designed for a cat!

The fabirc is a golf themed flannel that I have no idea how I acquired it or why. I stuffed it with tiny bits of cotton scraps that I spent way too long making even tinier while clearing out the TIVO yesterday...I should have just run out and bought some fiberfill as suggested in the instructions!

The instructions were very well written, short, to the point and very accurate. If you follow them, and do not get distracted, you will have success with this book. Please note that it is not written just for quilters with their obsession with 1/4" seam allowances, although there are a lot of projects that need bias binding as an edge finish. Many of the projects are suitable are non-quilting cottons which makes this an extremely versatile set of projects.

Even though I do like this book, I am a little disappointed in the projects offered. Even though there are some darling children's clothing and some other great things I haven't tried, there wasn't a hint of a bog coat or a six square jacket... not even one bias top or a simple bag for a wheel chair.

I guess there is still a lot of material out there that can be included in the next addition.

Definitely a Lack of Imagination

I've always wondered how streets get named in new developments

After all, new developments are usually carved out of large tracts of land that have been purchased from one owner. After you have put together a new subdivision you get to name the streets and can pretty quickly run out of variations of the original owners name... New/Old/Smith/Farm Road/Drive/Place/Lane/Circle/Drive is pretty limiting. As long as the new names are acceptable to the postal service you can name the new streets anything you desire.

There is a small subdivision just north of my area that failed to take off for reasons I will not go into here.

After the first dozen homes were built a succession of builders came in and did some fill in building. Finally someone came in and bought all the vacant lots and, for some unknown reason, renamed all the streets.

Here's where the lack of imagination comes in...

Not only did the final owners name two streets This Way and Thay Way, they built a house where That Way turns into This Way.

Now I am all for a good joke, but it must get tiresome explaining to friends and family that your house is located at the corner of This Way and That Way.

And before you go looking for This Way and That Way on Google Maps, be aware that they are both called Right Way there.

Have a great week!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Into the Mail

No, I'm not serving mailing boxes for dinner this evening. It just so happens that I am storing these boxes, before mailing them off, on my stove as it gets so little use these days.

Inside these boxes are the results of two different donation efforts from here.

The top box holds 65 Christmas stockings, each wth a holiday card, for the use of Operation Care Package's holiday mailings this year. This effort is about half of what we did last year but there is still time to get more done before the packages are sent overseas.

The bottom box holds about 20 scarves for the Red Scarf Project of the Orphan Foundation of America. Even though yarn does compress quite a bit you can see I have had trouble getting the box completly squared up. I think I will need to use a lot more tape to get it fixed before shiping it off tomorrow.

I wonder if I can get Alex to help me out with that?

Have a good Sunday. I intend to spend the day enjoying that old TV mini-series "V" while working on Sweet Sadie's books. I guess the grass will just have to wait for another day. My heart is broken. :-)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Dream Rocket

Quilting Arts Magazine sent out an e-mail today on an interesting project that really speaks to those of us who live in Houston. Its called the the Dream Rocket Project. For someone who lives next to Space City USA it is incredibly intriguing that someone is intending to cover a Saturn V Rocket with a quilt made up of panels illustrating peoples' dreams. The fact that those folk from the International Fiber Collective in Huntsville, Alabama are leading the project is just an accident of geography as I know someone here would have come up with the idea ..... eventually.

What a great project for a grade school class, a group of friends, an individual quilter or anyone else, anywhere in the world who would like to share a dream.

Now to come up with a dream for a 2' x 2' panel .... and the fee.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Schlepp Bag Revisited

Next to my cuttting table is a pile of fabric. It is not the only pile of fabric in my home but it is the one I go to when I need to get away from bigger projects and get some almost instant gratification from making something useful. The other day I was getting sick of working on my pink Angotti quilt and went to the pile to see what caught my eye.

On top of it were two pieces of upholstery weight fabric that were crying out to be made into a wheeelchair bag. Wheelchair bags are a quick sew (Instructions I use are here) and these bits of fabric seemed perfect for one. There was one problem. I had already cut a chunk out of one of them (I don't rememeber why) so I went onto to Plan B.

Plan B in this case was a Schlepp Bag.

I have made several in the past (here, here, and here) but this time I decided to make one based on the original design I found in an old magazine. In that one, the sides were not made from squares of fabric but from strips of fabric. I cut my fabric into 6" x 24" strips, serged them together, top-stitched the seams down, trimmed the top straight by eye-balling the edge, added a lining, reinforced the bottom with part of a worn out cutting board and here's how it came out:
The bottom is the classic square and the points sort of match even though the fabric is fairly heavy:

After it was done I started using it as a library book bag but it has morphed into a travel knitting bag for knitting guild meetings and such when I am taking more than just my current project.

What I didn't realize before I started working on this project is that I do have a specific stack of fabric for fill-in sewing. For those times when I just want to get something done, whether for charity or for my own use, there is this stack that I go to to find the building blocks. I've been doing it for years, I just didn't know I was doing it.

If you have time some day, look at your fabric stash and find those fabrics that are a usable size for various quicks projects. Gather them in one place and you will also have your own stack for fill-in sewing. Wheelchair bags, Anti-ouch pouches, Chemo caps, Operation Care Package Christmas Stockings and other charity sewing projects are all good uses for fabric that no longer has a specific use.
After all, we can all use a little instant gratification once in a while.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In the Mail

The Victoria and Albert Museum
South Kensington
London SW7 2RL

Doesn't that sound elegant?

Selvedge magazine had a short write-up on a new series of books called V&A Pattern. The first boxed set includes four beautiful volumes of images from their collection of patterns from the 50's, William Morris, Indian Florals and Digital Pioneers. Each volume includes a disc of the images that you can download and use for your personal use in whatever way you would like. Copyright resides with the museum but I know from personal experience they are generous in giving it when credit is given where credit is due.

Is this not the most elegant set you have ever seen?

My set came from Britan but I see that it is now available from Amazon here. I also see that the second set is now scheduled for publication next June and will include Kimonos, Owen Jones, Novelty Petterns and Secret Garden. My birthday is in June....guess I'll just have to get this for myself.
It's been raining a lot today and Sweet Sadie's sprung a leak. Not a big leak but enough that when combined with monsoonal rain we closed for the day. We will be open tomorrow but it was nice to have some down time to do some seasonal decorating and catch up on some paper work. Tomorrow its back to the BBQ grind.

Halloweiner 2009

Twice a year Dachshund Rescue of Houston (DROH) has a fund raiser. In the fall its the Halloweiner event. This year it was was held at Meadow Lake Pet Resort down in Pearland and I think they raised about $10,000.00 for the cause, most of it from a one family but still a good amount when the need is so large.

I do not do elaborate costumes for Alex and the Girls because, after the first few minutes of hilarity, they really do look pretty stupid. I do little ruffled collars as their costumes/dress-up outfits with coats for cold weather. Here's what they wore this year:

Alex would not pose without showing off his equipment in the most uncute manner. Here's a shot of how some of the other critters and their owners were dressed.

This guy was most appropriately dressed and amused many of us by climbing up the walls of his cage in his effforts to get out.

Most of the day was spent untangling leashes:

Note the new harnesses for Alex and the Girls. One of the reasons I went to this event was to purchase new harnesses for them from a woman who donates all of the proceeds to DROH. I ended up with an extra small for Kelis, a small for Alex and a medium for Kimora. These are incredibly well made and I can't blieve how inexpensive they were to buy. Check out the DROH website for ordering information. I also gave her all my doggie themed fabric to help defray some of her expenses. I didn't realise how much I had and I know she can make good use of it.

The saddest thing all day was one little guy who had to wear a stuffed lobster that kept falling off of him. He was a real charmer and bore it well. His owner won a squeaky stuffed toy and walked around with it completely ignoring the little lobster boy's efforts to get her attention so he could have the toy. He didn't bark or whine or cause a scene just sat and stared longingly at the toy.

I finally took piy on him and let his owner know what was going on and asked her to let him have the toy. She did and he was in squeaky toy heaven as we left.

Have a great week. I will get back to sewing posts soon!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You Dirty Dog!

After two days of on and off torrential rains little Miss Kelis decided to make an escape attempt to the neighbors' backyard. After much time spent digging and forcing her head through the claylike mud we call dirt around here, she did not succeed in escaping but she did succeed in getting pretty dirty.

Here is the little princess in all her glory after rubbing most of it off on my black jeans (sorry for the devil dog eyes):

I just might wait until later tonight before giving her a bath to see if she finds another spot to dig.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Kingwood Quilt Part 73

The group working on the quilt for the Kingwood Library had another gathering this evening to work all the blocks into a setting. The important thing here is that we had all the blocks to work with even though some still needed a little tweeking to add some definition to the subjects.
Here's how it is looking so far:

plus some details:

Each of the blocks will be surrounded with a lovely leafy brown and green batik... just as though they were laid out on the forest floor. The high quality of the workmanship is amazing and the variety of the blocks submitted is extremely creative. There will be a bunch of little nine patch blocks and other pieced blocks scattered throughtout the quilt to fill-in any gaps where necessary.

I think this quilt (for the Library), and it's twin sister (which will be auctioned for the benefit of the Guild), are going to bring a smile to the face of everyone who sees them.

There are a lot of stories in this quilt and all the difficulties people have had putting their blocks together. I do not need to go into my trials with the spider or the cicada again. While I was bemoaning the garbage pail full of cicada scraps another block maker confided to me that she had spent $42.00 collecting and experimenting with materials for her dragonfly block. Since she made two fo them I guess this makes this bccok the $21.00 dragonfly... and worth every penny of it!
I hope your week has been going well. I am looking forward to even more rain here, this time from a Pacific hurricane rather than from the Gulf, which we had today. Autumn here can become a sea of mud as the hurricane season winds down. With it so wet so frequently it does is give me an excuse not to mow the grass in the backyard and Kelis more excuses to dig holes under the fence.