Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Women on a Mission

There is a woman named Rose who is a wonderful character about town here.  At 78 she's a little bent over when she walks, has a perpetual smile on her face and usually wear's an odd assortment of shorts and t-shirts.

Rose is a very generous woman.  Although she lives on a very limited income she is always finding ways to give back to the community.  Just ask Rose about a project to benefit others and she is always there to lend a helping hand or to organize reluctant friends to pitch in.

Recently Rose became involved with a local nursing home serving 161 souls.  This is a place, where but for the grace of God, and a lifetime of saving, go many of us.  Near the ends of their lives many of these people never get any visitors and have no financial resources after paying the fees associated with their care.  Its a small community with many needs.

To solve two issues at the same time Rose was encouraged by her church to make wheel chair and walker bags for the residents.  As part of the process, she is also encouraging other members of her church to visit with the residents when the bags are being distributed.

Visiting can be tough for some people but making bags.....anyone can help with that project.

Enter the Women on a Mission.

Rose approached me about the instructions for making wheel chair bags and I saw that this was going to be a relatively huge project.  There are 91 people using walkers and 10 using wheel chairs at the home.  That's a lot of bags!!!!

Saturday, during Strip Club, one of us cut out 20 wheel chair bags... enough to cover the current need with a few extras.

Today five of us gathered to begin cutting out the walker bags.  I would like us to have at least one hundred kits put together before we start sewing with more being the goal rather than less.

We cut and assembled about SEVENTY of these kits (a kit being cut-to-size fabric for the body and handles of one bag) today in about two hours!!

We are going to meet one more time, on Thursday afternoon, to cut some more bags and I have high expectations that we will more than meet the one hundred bag goal.

Then next Friday we will gather to figure out the most efficient way to make these bags.  They are slightly more complex to put together than the wheel chair bags and I hope we can get a smooth assembly line figured out.

I don't expect we will get much done but there will be one final big sewing day at Rose's church with church members, guild members and anyone else we can drag into this project, to make the majority of the bags and get them together to go to the home.

I am so impressed with all of these people.  A need was expressed, someone saw a way to fill the need, others ransacked their stashes for fabric (I even bit the bullet and donated a bolt of fabric I have not used in over ten years even though I loved it!) I organized the cutting days, someone else has organized a preliminary sewing day and someone else will organize the BIG sewing day. 

Women on a Mission... without them this world would be a poorer place.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Strippers 06/25/2011

Today was the June 2011 edition of the Saturday Strippers and what a wild time we had.

Okay, that's a slight exaggeration but I think everyone enjoyed themselves and we did solve all the troubles in the world...maybe not world peace and the elimination of hunger but other issues just as important to us like bathing suit shyness, the benefits of exercise for some friends, how to get a charity project completed without a lot of support and the issues around parenting older children.

The quilt for this month was the cover quilt on 'Scrap Basket Sensations' and was worked on by four of us.  

Here are a couple of examples of what the block/quilt will look like when it is done:

I did work on the blocks but mine were packed up and in the car by the time I took pictures of everything.

Besides four people working on the selected project one of us made a quilt for her four year-old great-grandson.

Someone else made about 25 flannel baby blankets for the local charity hospital:

Two others did not sew at all.  One worked on cutting out wheel chair bags (she got twenty 'kits' all ready to sew) and the other worked on getting all her cut pieces in order to sew later.

Our final pair, a grandfather and grand daughter combo got a little sewing done and wowed us with grandfather's thread guide invention made from an old soda bottle and some PVC piping.  I expect to see it soon offered for sale on Etsy!

Next month we are going to have a UFO day to finish up these quilts as none of us got enough done today to actually produce a quilt top.  If you are local to me, please come visit us on the fourth Saturday of the month for an afternoon of sewing relaxation.  We may not solve your problems but you may come away with a project completed and who can argue with that.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Free Shipping

Those are the words that get the heart of any on-line shopper to go pitter-patter in anticipation of beating the system by getting the most bang for your buck by getting free shipping.

I have learned over the years to restrain myself but sometime you just have to break out of the mold and SHOP!

It happened to me the other day.

Fabric.com is one of my favorite places to buy fabric (like yardage for the backs of quilts), simple sewing patterns or when I know exactly what I want and they have it at a good price.

They had advertised that a couple of high quality brands of quilting cottons were on sale at up to 60% off and I decided to take a look.

None of the fabrics that I liked in those brands were deeply discounted so I decided to browse around to see if these was anything else that struck my fancy.

Of course I did find something that was cute, cheap and added it to my cart.

That was the beginning of the end for me.

A simple knitting pattern for $3.00 (50% off the original!) of a little dachshund named Tofu began the craziness of finding enough to fill up my shopping cart with $35.00 worth of goods so I would not have to pay shipping on Tofu.

The hunt was on!

With $32.00 to spend I went first to the $1.93 a yard fabric.  You could buy a lot of ugly fabric here but I found some lovely oxford cloth shirting fabric that would make a great pool dress.  Three yards went into the cart for $5.79.

$26.21 to go!

Next I went over to the 60% off category of home decor fabrics to see if there was anything I wanted for another bog coat.  A wonderful embroidered denim presented itself so I bought a yard (all I need for a bog coat) at $6.36.

$19.85 to go!

This was taking a long time so I next went to a category that I try to avoid...the prepared for dying section.  The prices here are not hugely discounted but they had some lovely mid-weight cotton. I know I can have fun playing with it so into the cart it went, two yards for a cost of $17.96.

$1.89 left.. now that's more like it!

Trying to find something for $1.89 on a web site that has over 50,000 items can be very time consuming.  Never fear, I have a method.  When I am down to the last few dollars I go hunting for deeply discounted notions.  In this case, not hugely discounted but something I always need are point protectors for knitting needles.  I found some from Clover for $2.68 and into my shopping cart they went.

Ta Da!  $35.79!

My order now qualified for free shipping.

Mission accomplished.

Is that a round of applause I hear?

Seriously though, Fabric.com is a great place for for all kinds of fabrics at great prices.  I have never been disappointed by what I have ordered and I have even used some of it as I intended.  

And they have knitting supplies now so I just may have to keep going back for more.

What were Alex and Kelis doing while I was shopping? 
Sleeping!  They have learned that when I am on a hunt on the computer that no treats are forthcoming so sleep is their alternative activity.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Heart and Home Block of the Month Quilt

I was digging around in the shoe boxes full of quilts to be made and came across one that I don't remember much about.  As seems typical of me, I had most of the fabric parts but none of the written instructions.

It has to be a good six to seven years old and I thought I had discarded it into the Quilt Guild Garage Sale.

Imagine my surprise when I examined it and discovered that most of it had been completed and all it needed was a little creative license to insert the middle block into the center of the 80% completed quilt.

After a couple of hours of recalculating the amount of border fabric I needed for the center block (and never getting it right) I came up with this:

I think the Block of the Month program it came from was to teach me applique skills but, from what I remember, all the instructions said were things like like cut out hearts, fuse to block, stitch raw edges.  No real instructions or hints on how to make it better BUT I did try a number of techniques I will never try again.

Look where Kelis is sitting.  That block is supposed to be a Grandmother's Flower Garden block; all hand pieced from little bits of fabric using paper octagons as the foundation.  It should have looked something like this:
Let's just say that mine was a more more free form interpretation of an octagon.  I will probably never try this again but the primitive nature of my work will put a smile on my face for many years to come.

I will add this to my slowly growing pile of of odd quilt tops I have completed lately and finish them up when it will be way to hot to leave the house.  That may be tomorrow!

On a final note... here is Alex is the middle of my dead lawn trolling for things to chew to keep his teeth clean like pine cones, twigs and gum balls (look like thorny chestnuts).
Have a good week!  Mine will be busy with three water aerobics sessions, a doctor's visit, a bone scan, two afternoons at Work Shop Houston, a meeting of the 'other' quilt guild, a meeting of the Knitters North of Town,  relaxing with the Friday Knitters, book work at Sweet Sadie's and, to top it all off, Saturday will see another gathering of the Strip Club.

Now I need a nap!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fat Quarter Challenge

Its that time of the month when the Fat Quarter Club meets to see what everyone has done with the challenge distributed the previous month.

The challenge from May was to take a lovely, delicate paisley fat quarter and turn it into something rodeo/cowboy themed.

Again, I knew what I was going to do with it.  I have some fabric with 50's style Pin-up Cowgirls on it.  I was going to make one or more little wall hangings using this paisley as a border for these naughty ladies.

Other people came up with an embellished cowboy hat, a BBQ apron, a baby quilt, a picture frame (for a square dancing photo) and a couple of other projects that could be twisted to relate to the theme of the month.

Two days before the meeting this morning I went looking for the focus fabric and this is what I came up with:


Where is the wall hanging?  Where are the girls?  How does a bucket relate to cowboys and rodeos?

Here was my twisted thinking...it's a feed bucket for carrying feed to the horses or for the horses to eat out of when putting on the feed bag... get it ?

So it's a bit of a stretch but I passed the challenge and ended up winning a packet of charm squares.

One thing I did learn (these is always a lesson in there somewhere), I really like to make containers... purses, bags, totes, pockets, boxes, baskets and buckets.  Even if I do not have an immediate use for this bucket, I know I will keep it around to remind me of this revelation.

Failed Challenge

You know this girl loves a challenge.

Okay, so not all challenges.  Definitely not ones that include getting covered in dirt and eating disgusting food.  YUK!

But I do love challenges when I am given a topic or a material or a deadline or a puzzle.

I recently fell head over heels for a challenge proposed by one of the ASG neighborhood groups I sometimes attend.  The challenge was to document a very expensive item and then recreate it for pennies.

Yahoo!  I knew what I was going to do even before I left the meeting in January when this challenge was proposed.

In the August/September 2010 Threads magazine there was an article on how to construct a hard sided clutch.

I wanted to try this out and came up with a couple of examples of little hard sided bags, one of which was going to be my inspiration.

So far so good.

Four days before the challenge was due I sat down and began to construct a hard sided clutch and here are the results from two hours before it was due to be presented:

Yup... I tossed it while it was still in pieces.  The instructions seemed easy but I forgot Rule Number One when it comes to trying new techniques.



Once again I read some of the instructions and followed some of the instructions and came out with a useless result.

Where did I go wrong specifically:
  • Cut all the fabric to what I thought was the right size and, of the seven pieces of fabric needed for this project, three were cut too small.
  • Used extra heavy duty fusible web when light duty was recommended thus the glue seeped through the silk fabric and made it stiffer than petrified wood.
  • Cut the chip board interior boards raggedly so the edges curled a little for a too loose fit.
  • Thought that hard Timtex could replace soft felt padding.

My dollar investment was less than $3.00 for the chip board and I have enough left over to try again.  Everything else was already in the stash and were primarily leftovers from other projects.

Next time I try this I will start off with one tool not mentioned in the instructions:  a strong person (read Paul) to cut the chip board.  My hands are not that strong any more and I really mangled the cutting process.

Until then, on to my next challenge of trying to figure out why Alex and Kelis are so stressed this afternoon.  

Could it be because I am eating pretzels while writing this?  

I may need to do an experiment to solve this mystery....NOT!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

International Yarn Bombing Day - Kingwood, Texas 06112011

What is Yarn Bombing?  Some would call it an example of civil disobedience.  Others would call it a bit of middle aged silliness.  And still others would call it a way to beautify the world.


I'd call it a bit of all three plus a way of reminding one swiftly aging person (me!) that you need to take your fun where you can find it.

For the past couple of weeks I've written about this project and even put up a yarn bomb that was quickly removed from my neighborhood.

Last night, four of the Friday Knitters gathered at our local Starbucks, where we regularly meet, and yarn bombed the outside of the store.

We had warned them we were coming and the manager and staff were waiting for us to transform their storefront.

Here's what we did:

Silly?  Yes! 

Beautiful?  Maybe.

Life Affirming?  I don't think so!

A good way to end a day of Birthday Eve celebrations?  ABSOLUTELY!

Let me explain the final comment....Today is my birthday and during the day these same ladies managed to feed me homemade apple pie, an ice cream cake and a strawberry pie as well as give me presents (!!!!) and a lot of laughter while hanging up our yarn creations.  You must agree that this was a good way to end a birthday eve day!

Thank you to Susie, Janetta and Lish for actively coming along on this yarn silliness.  An especially big shout out to Ely for coming to see what we were doing and not laughing too hard.

Time to start gathering odd bits of yarn for more convert yarn bombing in the neighborhood.  I think I could make a lot more of those little flowers and hand them in all the trees around here AND I dare anyone to take them down!     

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Alex's New Duds

A couple of times a year Alex needs a new walking harness.  Not because he has grown out of his old walking harness but because the current harness has gotten extremely soiled or worn.  His last harness actually started to disintegrate so I knew I would need to get him a new one soon.

The other evening, after our evening walk, the D-ring that is used to attach the leash to the harness actually ripped off of the harness and gave him a few moments of freedom.

No more procrastinating, a new harness would be needed before morning.

Was I prepared to make a new harness that evening?  Not really.  I had the hardware from the old harness but I really wanted fabric to match his new collar from a few weeks earlier.  Even with a few (hundred!) yards of fabric in the stash none of it met my expectations.

In the end I used some African curtain fabric leftover from a wheel chair quilt I made up a couple of months ago.

Here is how it came out:

He looks all decked for a formal party in the 70's!

Note the really dry ground and almost no green around Alex in the picture. It is so dry here that the landscape is getting very stressed.  The browning of the grass  is not a big deal to me....we can always grow more grass... but the trees and bushes are beginning to feel the stress.  A couple of days ago this happened:

Its not the first or the last time that a tree has cracked but, with the ground covers drying up and the trees falling down, I wonder when an errant sun beam will hit a stray piece of glass and the whole area begins to burn.

Time for another rain dance!  

Friday, June 3, 2011

CPS Fabric Swap

I love getting mail that is not junk or bills.  In this day and age of e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and blogs it is rare to get something in the mail of a personal nature.

Yesterday was the day for me.

Here's the back story - a couple of months ago Cloth, Paper Scissors(CPS) magazine put out a challenge to its readers to make nine, nine inch squares of altered fabric, send them to CPS by a certain date and get back seven different squares from other readers. The two left over from your nine would be divided up with one whole set staying at CPS and the last complete set going to the winner of a people choice type award.

My submission was talked about here.

What I got back is wonderful range of fabrics that almost defy description.  Aren't these wonderful!

Starting at the upper left is a beige piece of burlap with dyed circles, hand embellished with metallic threads and jewelry findings; then an altered photo on muslin with fabric paints and other hand coloring; then a piece of Katasome stenciling; then a wonderful painted piece with hand applied sharpie decorations; then a collage of old ties and finally a metallic quilted piece of fabric colored by deconstructed silk screening and over dye.

I have no idea how I will use most of these pieces but they do inspire me to try different fabric altering techniques.  I make stretch each piece on stretched bars and hang them up on my sewing room walls... or then again I may use them in projects....or trade them for other altered fabrics or?

I hope you will have a wonderful weekend with moderate temperatures and a little rain for your gardens.  I will be sweltering in record braking temperatures hoping for the the drought to break soon.

Time for a rain dance!      

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Walker Bags

I have successfully made many wheel chair bags and the recipients have been very pleased with them.

However, I am always asked for bags for walkers and today was the day to bite the bullet and devise a walker bag that is durable, easy to make and usable.  I have been hesitant to make walker bags because the walkers come in so many sizes but I think I have come up with a basic style that should work with all walkers available.

The basic bag follows the same directions as for the wheel chair bag here.  There are two major differences.  One is that the handles need to be able to be tied, velcroed or buttoned to the walker.  The other difference is that I bagged the bottom of the bag as you would do for a tote bag (see here for one method of bagging the bottom of a tote).

More details:

Body and pocket - 16" x 14" - 3  of upholstery weight fabric or 5 of quilting cotton type fabric
Ties - 12"  - 4 of 3/4" webbing (what I used) or 4 of other fabrics 4" wide

Final size, excluding handles - 15" wide, 12" tall and 4" deep

Here is my sample - 

I hope to get someone to test out the usability of this style of walker bag before we put it into production in a couple of weeks.  If they like it, I will produce more complete instructions and post them here.