Monday, February 28, 2011 1 comments

Calendar Challenge: February 2012

It's the last day of the month, which means it's time for the Calendar Challenge that my friend and I are working on to show our calendar page for next year's month.

Here's mine:

Supplies: paper (The Paper Company); stickers (conversation hearts by Creative Memories); punch (Martha Stewart).

February's calendar page is pretty simple compared to January's, but it's what I had in mind when I thought about what I wanted to do. Hopefully next month's will be a little more fancy to balance things out a bit! :)

Now you can go check out my friend's blog to see what she came up with for February. She's working on several calendar gifts, so she'll have more than one idea.
Friday, February 25, 2011 4 comments

Homemade Gift: Chef's Apron from a Tablecloth

I found a gorgeous 100% cotton canvas tablecloth at Goodwill last week for $4. I almost didn't get it because I knew I couldn't get more than two aprons from it, but common sense won out. Where else could I get this much gorgeous canvas fabric for $4? So it ended up in my cart. After all, $2 for an apron this nice is still an awesome price.

To make things as easy as possible, I used my favorite apron as a pattern. I also used ribbon for the ties, which is about 100 times easier than trying to make ties from canvas material. (Yes, I started to make one before I realized this.) It's also 100 times more comfortable around your neck!

Instead of making this one reversible or lined, I just turned the raw edges under twice and stitched them. Of course, I sandwiched the ribbon in the appropriate seams before I stitched them, too. It worked great, and it was fast and easy!

Since I was able to get two of these out of the tablecloth (with some fabric leftover), I'm considering keeping one for myself and putting the other into my gift stash. I love roses!

Hump Day link

Thursday, February 24, 2011 17 comments

Homemade Gift: Yellow "For the Love of Patchwork" Vintage Sheet Quilt

It's done! How do you like my first all-vintage-sheets quilt? Personally, I love it, but that's going to make giving it away that much more difficult.

I seem to find lots of vintage sheets in shades of yellow, so I decided to build this simple patchwork quilt around shades of yellow. Here you can see the quilting a little better. Since I did this in the quilt-as-you-go style, I was able to do different quilting on each square. The stripes got straight line quilting, and the florals got a free-motion meandering quilting.

Here is a peek at the back, for my friend who (like me) loves the quilting on the back! :) I used a thrifted high-quality white cotton sheet for the backing.

This is also the first quilt I've bound the traditional way, and I must say that I really like it. I pieced the binding for this one, using scraps of the fabrics I used in the quilt itself.

I love quilting and really admire a nicely-pieced, intricate pattern. However, as I've collected pictures of the quilts that really "strike" me, I've discovered that it's the simple square patchwork ones that I love the best. Maybe because they seem so "homey"??

Just in case you're interested, my squares were cut at 8" square.

Enjoy! :)

Hump Day link

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 8 comments

Frugal Tip: How to save money on sewing thread

If you're on a sewing kick and (like me) go through 10 regular (400-yd) spools of thread in a month, you know that thread expense can add up. It's one of those hidden costs that you don't think about when you're starting a project.

After I went through those ten spools of thread in one month, I was on the lookout for a good way to save money on it. Even though I got them for $1 each on sale (a great deal considering they're usually $1.99 or more), $10 a month for thread is a bit more than I was willing to part with. I know, I'm cheap! :)

At any rate, as I was reading library books on the subject of machine quilting, I came across a tip that is worth every late fine I've ever paid at a public library! It's from the book Machine Quilting: A Primer of Techniques by Sue Nickels. If you're looking for the best book to introduce you to machine quilting, this is it. Don't let the cover fool you - it's not all about fancy embroidery machine stitches. It's the most practical, helpful book I've read on the subject. (And I've read upwards of ten, so you can trust me on that.)

But let's get on to the tip ... You've probably seen those wire hanger-type things that are designed to adapt cone thread to a regular sewing machine. Well, you don't need to buy that wire hanger-type thing to use inexpensive cone thread on your regular sewing machine. Check this out:

You simply place the cone on the table behind your sewing machine. Then place a bobbin either on the spool holder (which didn't work on my machine) or on the bobbin-winding-pin (whatever the technical name might be). Pull the thread through the little hold in the top of the bobbin and thread your machine as usual.

Here you can see how it works on my machine. You may have to experiment just a little bit for your machine, but it's fairly easy. You just want the thread coming from the same general direction as the spool pin usually feeds it.

In order to wind a bobbin with the cone thread, I simply threaded my machine as usual and held the cone in my left hand, just slightly behind the machine, on level with the top. It doesn't require as much coordination as it sounds.

I haven't had any problems with the cone tipping over and rolling around on the table. I'm about halfway through with the cone, so I'll be sure to let you know if it becomes a problem - and what solution I come up with. :)

So, how much money can you save this way? I bought this 3000-yd cone at full price (Hancock's) for $2.99. I would have paid $7.50 for that same amount of thread at the sale price (400-yd/each), and almost $15 for that same amount of thread at full price.

This thread is 100% polyester. Since I do most of my sewing with poly/cotton blends, it works great for me. If you do quilting with 100% cottons, you'll probably want to shop around for cotton thread on a cone. I didn't look for any, but I'd guess they're out there - and for a lot cheaper than regular spools. If you go to thrift shops as much as I do, you've probably even seen a few industrial-sized cones, too. They're generally as cheap as dirt in a thrift store, but be sure to check the fiber content.

I hope this helps you as much as it has me!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 2 comments

Link Roundup: What I discovered online last week!

My friend hinted that she missed my link roundups, so I thought I might revive those now and then. Instead of posting the roundups to my blog, I've been saving them in appropriate idea files on my computer. But if it interests anyone else, I can certainly post them here, too! :)

Without further ado, here are some cute projects I've bookmarked to try this past week ...

Here's a simple, easy tutorial from Chez Larsson for a sewing machine cover. Neither of my sewing machines have a cover, and I recently aquired another one that doesn't, either. (The new aquisitions are for teaching my Sunday school young ladies; that's another post coming up.) In the interest of protecting my investments, I've decided to sew a few of these sometime soon.

I also discovered some adorable felt foods that I might sew up for my niece, or daughter, or the million and one other little girls I know that would love some of these:

Obviously, some of these are rather involved. But most of them are very do-able, even if you've never worked with felt before. Felt is such a forgiving fabric, and I love that that edges don't ravel. I'll let you know when I give them a try!

I hope you've enjoyed the little link roundup! I may do it on a more regular basis ... providing I have interesting links to share.
Monday, February 21, 2011 1 comments

Valentine's Clearance Deals

My family and I went out Friday night for a snack at Wendy's, something we don't usually do. Traditionally, Monday is our family day. However, last week was anything but "usual," so we took time when we got it.

Since we had a few grocery items to pick up before the weekend, we stopped off at Wal-Mart. I'm glad we did, too! They had just marked down the Valentine's Day merchandise to 75% off, and I got my pick of what was there:

From left to right, back to front: A "locker" tin for my Cars-loving nephew, stickers for Cousin Camp prize box and our homeschool prize box, red gift sacks, Fun Dip (rang up at only 50% off, which I didn't catch, but still only $0.06/pouch) for Cousin Camp prize box, clear sacks with a big red heart, Valentine's pencils (only a few specifically said "Happy Valentine's Day") for our homeschool prize box, crazy straws, mini watercolor paint sets, heart-themed erasers, mini spirograph sets (last 4 for Cousin Camp prize box), and laser-cut cupcake wrappers.

As you can see, I got some great deals for my prize boxes. Remember our Cousin Camp prize store? I keep my eye out for deals like these after every major event. It's surprising how many things don't have a lot to do with the holiday and are just great prize box items. Some things (like the Fun Dip) are packaged for Valentine's Day, but who really cares when you're getting them this cheap? (Fun Dip was a huge hit at last Cousin Camp.)

In their clearance section, I also found these cute kids' craft kits from Family Fun for $2.25. These aren't all earth-shattering crafts, but any kid who's sick for an extended period of time would love something like this to help relieve boredom ... Not to mention the mother who would be eternally grateful to me for the diversion. :) They're going into my gift stash.

There was a third set, but I didn't think it looked like anything special, so I left it there.

On Saturday I remembered I needed one more large crochet hook from Michaels to teach my Sunday school girls how to crochet. I must have hit that store at just the right time, too! Their Valentine's Day merchandise was 70% off, with other good clearance deals all through the store. As you can see, I didn't get a lot of Valentine's Day items here, but what I did get were great deals!

From left to right, back to front: 3 calendars ($0.30 each) to make a few card sets; a beautiful new (PINK!) ironing board cover ($5 on sale, reg. $17); 2 stamp sets ($3.99 each - they had lots on clearance, but I was super-picky); large crochet hook ($2.49 on clearance); wooden purse stamp ($1); Valentine's Day adhesive pearls in pink, red, and ivory ($0.23/pkg - less than $0.01 each!).

I spent a little more time in Michaels than I had planned, but you just can't argue with prices like these on things that I use a lot.
Saturday, February 19, 2011 1 comments

Question: Would starch stain like this?

I'm hoping one of my blog readers can tell me if spray starch is the culprit for this nasty stain on my ironing board cover. It's a brownish stain, and there are several of them in the middle of the cover. I've ironed a few things with steam and had a brownish stain transfer to them (only a few things did this), so I'm getting a new ironing board cover. However, I don't want to ruin a new one.

I haven't starched my husband's white shirts for a few years, but I did for the first year or so [until I convinced him that "do not starch" means exactly what it says :) ]. I don't recall when these stains showed up, though. I do know that one of my visitors ironed something a little too hot and got a mess on the faceplate of my iron, so that could be to blame, too. I've since gotten rid of that iron because the marks wouldn't come off - unless it happened to be something really nice that I was ironing!

On the same note, does anyone know how to clean starch from the faceplate of an iron? I've been starching a few things in the last few days, and I noticed that I have a brownish build-up on the faceplate of my iron. It hasn't transferred to anything, but I'm scared to death that it will.

Any ideas?? Thanks in advance!
Friday, February 18, 2011 0 comments

Another funeral ... and Etsy update

There has been another death in our congregation, so I've been busy with preparations. I don't have a finished project to show you today, but I hope to get some time this weekend to finish up one of the projects I've been working on.

However, I have added two new fat quarters to my Etsy shop, in case you've been looking for these patterns:

ETA: I found two more fat quarters sitting here that I hadn't listed, so I've added these, too:

Thursday, February 17, 2011 4 comments

Homemade Gift: Monogram Keychain

A few weeks back, a friend and I stopped in at Walgreens when they had whole cartloads of Christmas items for $0.05 each. Believe me, we rooted through those carts! I was thrilled to find this last lone monogram ornament in my Secret Sister's first initial:

Sure, it's a Christmas ornament, but haven't you seen keychains exactly like this? I thought so.

Take off the ribbon hanger, add a jump ring and keychain loop, and you have a quick, easy, but pretty gift.

Of course, I couldn't slap it into any old box and be happy. No, I used one of these Altoid tins I had decorated for Mother's Day a few years back. (We had a few leftover, and since I made them I got to keep them.)

Enjoy! :)

Linking to Gettin Crafty on Hump Day.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 5 comments

A small but significant victory!

I'm not a random person. When I took cake decorating classes, my instructor tried to help me place flowers randomly on my cake, but it just didn't come naturally to me. I remember her telling me, "Nature is random." Alas, I am not.

It's the same way with any random design, including the free motion quilting known as "meandering". I just couldn't do it ... until now:

Yeah!! It's certainly not the best meandering quilting you'll ever see, but it's random and it's curvy, so it's a huge accomplishment for me! :)

Stay tuned for more details on this project in a few days when I finish it!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 2 comments

February Sketch Challenge

My friend and I decided to add a sketch challenge to our monthly challenges this year, starting this month. Since we're both quite busy as homeschool moms and pastors' wives, two challenges a month seems more do-able.

My friend picked the sketch this month. She chose a sketch from Splitcoaststampers. I'll admit that I've looked at this sketch before and felt completly uninspired. Now I'm not sure why! :)

Supplies: paper (main panel, unknown collage; The Paper Company; CM); daisy lace border punch (Martha Stewart); mini rhinestones.

Since our families had a Valentine's Day party together last Friday, my kids each gave my friend's daughter a valentine. This is the one I made for my son to give her.

Supplies: paper (main panel - unknown collage; The Paper Company; ATD); daisy lace border punch (Martha Stewart).

This is the one from my daughter. They were cute and simple, especially considering the fact that the main panel was already designed and colored for me. I love those little collage sheets they come out with now and then!

Supplies: paper (Heidi Swapp, The Paper Company); stamp (Inkadinkado); ink (BIC Mark-Its, Versamark with black embossing powder); embossed metal trim (Making Memories); corner punch (Martha Stewart); Nestabilities Labels 4(?); rhinestones.

This is the cover I made for a funeral guest book. It's a full 8-1/2 x 11". If you notice some shine to it, that's because I placed a transparency over it (bound right along with everything else) to help protect the cover.

Of course, there's a story behind this. A member of our church died recently. Her children held the memorial service at our church, but we discovered when they got here that the funeral home hadn't given them a guest book. So we hurriedly put together simple guest book pages for people to sign as they came in, and I promised to bind it for them afterward.

Of course, I couldn't just bind those bland pages. It wouldn't do justice to my friend's memory. Instead, I designed covers that reflected the dignity of a life well-lived. I think she would have been pleased!

Here's the back cover, which is a piece of thick cardboard (not the corrugated kind) covered with decorative paper.

And here's a closeup of the main image. I added real gold leafing to the Bible pages for a neat effect.

And here's a closeup of that embossed metal trim. I've had these for ages and thought I might never find the perfect project for them. Well, here it is!

I hope you've enjoyed a peek at my paper creations based on this sketch. Now you can hop over to my friend's blog to see what she came up with!
Monday, February 14, 2011 2 comments

Another "big" project in the works

Here's a sneak peek of my next big project that's keeping me pretty busy lately:

Hmm ... I wonder what that's going to be ... :)

Happy Valentine's Day!
Friday, February 11, 2011 7 comments

Thrifting scores, Etsy update, and some input needed

I had another great vintage sheet day at a local thrift store yesterday. I have no idea what dear old ladies are donating all of their wonderful vintage sheets here, but it was like the whole store was restocked since last week. Fun, fun, fun! (I'm working on a vintage sheet project at the moment, so rest assured I'm not just stockpiling this stuff for the fun of it.) :)

Here are the sheets I got. See those two on the bottom? They are king-sized cotton sheets (King brand, too) in the most wonderful cotton fabric I've ever felt. They'll make an excellent quilt backing for $2.50 each!

Here's a better view of that top sheet. It has botanical prints all over it, in block form. I'm thinking they'd look pretty neat cut apart and framed in quilt blocks.

And then I scored all of these vintage pillowcases! There are actually two each of the 2nd and 3rd (from the top) pillowcases. Can you believe I got all of this for roughly $10? I recounted several times because I thought I had done the math wrong. :)

So, with that in mind, I decided to cut those pillowcases into fat quarters to make them more manageable. And, in the interests of sharing, I'm listing one each of the following fat quarters in my Etsy shop. (Check back a little later in the day since I don't have the listings ready quite yet.)

I don't know if these prints have any official names, so I'll be sure to name them before they go in my shop. Don't you just love the vibrant colors on this one?

This watercolor is so pretty, and I love that it mixes several colors (blue, pink, white).

This one reminds me a bit of the looks of seersucker. However, it's a lot thicker than seersucker and would certainly stand up to quilt-making. I love roses, so I couldn't pass these up!

Here's another wonderfully bright print in shades of blue.

And another vibrant multi-colored print.

All of these have been washed before cutting, and I've included an extra 1-2" on each side (over the standard 18x22") to allow for any unintended "wonkiness". Rest assured, though, they were all rotary-cut.

Now, on to the input I need ...

I'm working on a set of matching outfits for my daughter and I. (I have the polka dot set almost done, but not quite ready to post.) This is the pattern I chose for my daughter.

And this is the one I chose for myself. I'm fully aware that I'm crazy trying to fit a princess-seamed dress to my figure, but humor me for a few minutes. :)

Here is the fabric I'm using (which was a King flat sheet in its former life). It has a yellow background, just in case it doesn't show up too well on your screen. I was thinking of using just that and trying to add some additional interest to the dresses with a floral pin or something, and then I saw this "view" on my pattern:

This might be an "old" style to some, but it caught my attention. It's not a pairing I'd usually do, but it did make me think. I know I've admired these dresses when I've seen them in thrift stores, but they were never in my size (or in the right weight of fabric). Since I'm not a very decisive person, I'd love any input about what you think of these combinations, assuming the floral print would be "front and center":

Here's the "safer" combination - a coordinating solid yellow.

And here's the one I'm really not sure about - a yellow and white check.

If you've stuck with me this long, do you have any thoughts about which way I should go with my own dress? Should I look for a different style of dress for myself? Should I use one of these combinations? I'd love some input!