Friday, January 28, 2011

Houston Art Asylum Road Trip

A few days ago I decided that I needed some retail therapy.

I was feeling crabby with the beginnings of a cold and I had not hit any of my favorite places to shop in a long, long time.

I figured that I could do Sew Crafty Houston, Yarns 2 Ewe and Time Treasured Quilts in an extended afternoon.

I mentioned to my buddy, Janetta, that I needed to shop and we tentatively planned on heading out this morning after Knitting Friday today.

With no plans, three of us headed out this morning for the three places I had planned on visiting plus the addition of Houston Art Asylum.


The attendant said that they opened a couple of years ago with mostly purchased stock.  Today it is almost a going concern with huge amounts of donated material.

I could have spent the whole day there just rummaging around in the fabric, yarn, books, doll parts, tools parts, knick knacks and about a zillion other things.

Here are just some of the pictures I wanted to take of what they had...there would have been more but my battery died.

 What would you do with these horns?
 I need a trophy!!

$3.00 a yard for standard fabric, $6.00 for upholstery fabrics!!!

No funky smells, no stains, no mold, no mildew... all of this stuff is in mint condition with the exception of normal wear and tear...which only makes some pieces more interesting!

What did I get?



Yup, I bought nothing.  With about 60 boxes and bins of donations for the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild garage sale I couldn't bring myself to buy any of the fabric, yarn, beads, buttons or other funky stuff offered.

BUT, I will be back after the show in mid-April, when I get my house back - watch out...I could go a little crazy.

If you have a couple of hours some day go to the Houston Art Asylum.  I don;t see how you could be disappointed and, with great eating nearby you could make it the focus of an afternoon in the City.

The other places, well that's a tale for another day.

Have a great weekend!  

Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Challenges

Boy, that sounds ominous!

This is not that kind of post ... you know the kind where people talk about about deep personal issues and try to solve the world's problems.

I am way too shallow for that kind of blogging today.

What I really want to talk about is the little challenge I have taken on this year.

Every year I join a group that is set up to present a crafty challenge for just one year.

Last year it was socks (I'm still working on that!), the year before handbags, the year before... well you get the idea.

This year I've joined a group at The Quilt Room in Huffman that is based on fat quarters.

Every month each of us will be given a fat quarter of fabric and a challenge on how to use that fat quarter.  The first month you pay $5.00, and if you present a project the next month, you get the next fat quarter free.  The only restriction is that you can not use more than three yards of other fabrics to make your submission.

BTW, a fat quarter of fabric approximately 18" by half the width of the fabric.  In general, for quilting cottons, a fat quarter is cut 18" x 22".  A normal quarter yard is cut 9" x by the full width of the fabric... in this example it would be 9" x 44".

I was truly intrigued as I have an embarrassing number of fat quarters and I am always looking for more ways to use them.

About fifteen of us gathered last Saturday morning and this is the fabric we were given:

In case the colors don't come through, it is basically grey dots with a slight lavender cast to it.  When I saw it I thought elegant, simple and classic.

Then I heard that the challenge was to use hot colors to make something with this lovely fat quarter.

After I mulled it over I began by selecting a variegated pink thread and quilting the fat quarter with swirly circles.  

Great!  Now I had a fat quarter, fully quilted but no idea what to do with it.

Instead of tearing out all that quilting I went back to the Gilbert Nuniz class I took at Quilt Festival on drafting handbag patterns and this what I came up with:

Another zipper pouch!

I added the flower and buttons after I had sewn it up because I realized it needed a little something.

Note to self:  make embellishment decisions before sewing the project.

The hot pink fabric I found for the flower turned into the lining and zipper fob.

I will use this pouch to carry my stuff for this monthly challenge this year and next year I will re-purpose it for something else.

As long as it holds up I will have a great remembrance of the Year of the Fat Quarter.  

Wish me luck with the coming challenges. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I think I have mentioned before that I have collecting donations for the local quilt guild garage sale in April.

I have been getting lots (and lots and lots) of stuff to sell for the benefit of the guild.

I have also been collecting knitting supplies for the middle school knitting group that I work with as well as sewing supplies for the kids I have been working with at Workshop Houston.

Sometimes things don't work out as the givers intended.

For instance:

  • heavy macramé cording for the knitting kids is now in the garage sale,
  • nasty smelling fabric has ended up in the trash,
  • magazines for the quilt guild with key articles or patterns missing have ended up in the recycling bin,
  • tiny scraps of fabric for the quilt guild have ended up in the dog bed stuffing donation bag and
  • one yard cuts of upholstery fabric for the quilt guild have been given to a group that makes wheel chair bags for a local charity hospital.
Sometimes though the donations are amazing.

For instance:

  • a beautiful  piece of Hawaiian style appliqué given to the garage sale is now being hand quilted for the quilt auction,
  • yards and yards of colorful linen blend fabric destined for the garage sale are going to the fashionistas in the third ward, 
  • about 50 pairs of knitting needles, some still in their packages, were given to the knitting kids,
  • wonderful, high quality yarn, including some wonderful silk and wool blends was given to the knitting kids, and
  • the sewing kids are getting a whole set of pressing aids (tailor's ham, sleeve roll, sleeve board, clapper and a tailor board) and a huge cutting mat, all brand new.
I will take almost anything and find another use for cast-off arts and crafts supplies.

The tough part is not trying to find homes for all the donations but the unknown stories behind the donations.

The other day I got a wonderful pieced quilt top with Raggetty Ann and Andy fabrics.  It was incomplete but came with extra fabric for binding the finished quilt.  Who made this top and then abandoned the project?  Is there some child out there missing a quilt from Grandma?  Is the intended recipient now in college and therefore past the joy of Raggetty Ann and Andy?  Did the maker piece it for a charity project and is now too embarrassed to turn it in after many years?

Or how about the bags of fabric I found on my door step the other day.  They were filled with old dry cleaner bags of exquisite fabrics.  In many cases the fabrics were matched with coordinating fabrics, notions and patterns.  In one bag was enough fabric, with patterns and trimmings, for a whole wedding night peignoir set.  Did the wedding not happen and if it didn't, what happened?  Did the maker decide that bright coral was just not her color anymore?  Did the maker decide that sexy lingerie was just not her thing after the divorce?

Or how about the CD of relaxation music that showed up a while ago.  It had never been opened.  Was it a freebie from somewhere?  Was part of a gift package of spa products and the CD was unwanted?  Is there a stressed out someone out there trying to relax and who can't find her CD?

I'll never know.

I will, however, keep collecting and redistributing donations until people stop giving them to me.... with or without the stories behind them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Finds

The worst thing about doing a complete clear out of the sewing and craft supplies is that you sometimes come across things that you thought you had already used or discarded.

The other is that you find things that you had looked for in the past and had given up on ever finding.

A couple of days ago both of these things happened for me for a fortuitous marriage of two accidental finds.

The first was a piece of brown cotton/linen blend fabric from Japan.  I thought I had used it all up in various projects but I found about two more yards of it.

The other was a copy of Threads Magazine from the summer of 2008 (no. 137).

What if I used the brown fabric with the Five Rectangle Jacket pattern?

An hour or so later this is what I came up with:

Yes, it is a lot like a bog coat.

Yes, it is shapeless.

Yes, the fabric should have been reversible.

BUT it fits well, is the perfect weight for spring and summer here, begs for some additional embellishment (big button?  silk screened circles? paint stick highlights?) and it made me use the mitering skills I had learned from Linda Lee, of the Sewing Workshop, many years ago.

I like it and think I will get a lot of use out of it.  I may try it again with a wonderful linen that just reappeared but maybe a little longer to cover my flat butt.

I hope I find some more accidental pairings while I s-l-o-w-l-y get things sorted out in my sewing space. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thank You, Moda Bakeshop!

Moda Fabrics, a division of United Notions in Dallas, offers wonderful fabrics and home dec. items for quilters world wide.

A few years ago they began to offer for sale fabric lines that were pre-cut into popular sizes.  They started with 2 1/2 inch strips of coordinating fabrics and called them Jelly Rolls.

Jelly Rolls.. like the little cakes.

They have since gone onto to creating other pre-cut sets called layer cakes, desert rolls, honey buns, charms and turnovers.

To support quilters everywhere who hate love good looking quilts with the minimum of fuss Moda has created a blog called the Bakeshop where many quilts, and other projects, are posted using the pre-cut packs.

I love the Bakeshop and have just finished my third quilt using their recipes(cute, right?).

Here's the latest one I just finished the other day:

Now that it's all quilted up and bound I really like it and will add it to my rotation of quilts that the dogs and I use for afternoon naps.

Thank You Moda!!!!

Now, to find some more quick, fun quilt patterns to use up some of my fabulous stash!

I hope you have great plans for the weekend.

I do not but..... I will feel very smug if I can keep myself from the biggest local end-of-year sale of quilting fabrics.  Painted Pony 'n' Quilts is having their annual sale and this will be the first year in many that I have not made it down there.  

I will be strong in the possibility of $2.00 a yard bolts of fabric just an hour down the road.

I will be strong!!!!

I will be strong!!

I will be strong...

Oh rats.... 9:00 am tomorrow morning is not too early for bargain shopping... right?

And now a word from Kelis....

I seem to have a bad reputation out there for my explorer tendencies.

Yes, Alice makes sure I get healthy meals and, not so healthy snacks, for my sustenance; provides a huge, quilt covered bed for sleeping; a really comfortable lap to snuggle on and takes me on many walks to exercise my nose.

Yes, she does all these things to ensure my health and happiness.

Yes, I love living with my sister, the pompous Kimora and that stupid boy Alex.....

but it's not enough!!!

Once in a while a Girl just needs to break out of the mold.

I am not just a 8.9 lb. beauteous Dachshund.

No, I am an explorer who goes boldly to seek out new worlds and new civilizations.

To go where no Dachshund has gone before!

So what's the big deal with me tunneling under the fence to Joe's backyard so I can visit the bayou behind the house or the swimming pool two houses down?

And anyway....just because I have mud on my nose does not mean I am the guilty party!

 Thank you for your kind attention.

Now back to our regular blog posts.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bonus Gifting

When I give someone a gift I like to make it a little special.

You know what I mean....If you give someone an electronic device, you include a case or some free downloads, or if a quilt then some matching pillow cases.

I try but I am not always successful.

This year it took me until December 30 to get into the bonus gift groove for this year.

The occasion was the December meeting of the Knitters North Of Town (KNOT) chapter of the Knit At Night Guild (KANG). 

Normally we don't have a meeting in December but this year the timing was perfect for a gathering after the business of Christmas.   The meeting included some snacks (YUM!), some door prizes, plans for 2011 and a skein exchange.

The skein exchange rules were for each of us to wrap a skein of yarn from our stash and randomly select one from the packages that others had brought.  We held onto our presents and opened them all at once.

I chose some funky sock yarn as my gift and just as I about about to shove it into another little gift bag I realized that I had the perfect fabric to make a gift bag.

Gift bag?

Heck, I had enough to make a little knitting bag plus a little zipper case and a lavender sachet.

Here is how it all came out:

and check out this fabric:

Now here is the weird thing.... my buddy Janetta picked my bag as her gift!

She had overheard me saying to someone at the yarn store that I had made a knitting bag for the gift exchange so she had a clue what she was looking for in the pile of gifts.

I, on the other hand, ended up with some funky cotton yarn that had been married to some silky ribbon.... both in pale blue.  I think I will be re-gifting it to someone who makes wonderful crochet things.  I know she could put this to good use!

I must admit I have spent most of the day thinking about my new year's resolutions for 2011 and I have come down to a simple declaration.  


Anything, anytime, as often as I can, with as much joy as I can muster in as tidy a sewing area as I can create.

I like that... I think it needs a banner in bold letters, red glittery letters, with curlicues and beads and........ 

Tomorrow, for sure.. until then, sleep tight.