Placemats are done!
I should have gotten lots more done in the past 2 days but we had a big laundry mishap that took us most of Monday to clean up.
Several days ago we heard a loud thump, as if something had fallen. We looked (almost) everywhere and couldn't find it. Yesterday when I went to do laundry I discovered the source of the noise. A brand new Costco-sized container of laundry detergent had fallen off the dryer into the laundry basket full of clothes. That wouldn't have been a big problem except that the cap on the bottle cracked on the way down. All of the clothes in the basket were totally soaked in detergent and it ran out of the laundry basket on the floor and some even soaked into the carpet. The clean up was REALLY clean! There was so much soap that I had to take all the laundry outside and use the garden hose to get out as much as possible before I could but them through the wash in small loads with super size amounts of water. I'm so glad I have a traditional washing machine. I'd still be trying to get all the soap out with a HE washer.
This story is going to be funny in a couple of week but I can promise you that there isn't a dirty piece of clothing, dirty towel or dirty rug anywhere in my house.
Yesterday I got back to my projects.
I got all of the soap unmolded and set out to cure. There's actually another shelf above what's shown in the photo. Not only are my clothes clean, my body will stay clean too!
Then I could get back to the sewing room, plug in my audiobook and finish off the placemats. These are Mom's. She wanted 4 individual placemats instead of a set of 4. I didn't set out to do something seasonal but that's kind of how it worked out. Today I will dye a napkin for the purple one and then these will be ready to be gifted.
Then I got the binding on the last pair that I made for myself. The napkins for this set match in color but not in design. The other one has a lacy edge. It doesn't matter, each one matches and it's a nice new set.
So how many placemats do I have?
I store them in this old desk/cabinet that Chris refinished probably 30 years ago. I did a rough count and there are about 100 placemats in here. I think I need to go through and remove the ones that I don't use much anymore. I see a few sets that I probably haven't used in years. Since most of them started as scraps and waste, I think I can relegate a few to the rag bin.
Then I looked over and saw that there were more on the other side! These are the holiday ones. That brings my total to about 120. I think I could go all year and never use one twice.
That's a little crazy.
A lot was accomplished....
There are lots of photos from this busy weekend. For once, I think I got more done than I planned.
I try to exercise every day and my exercise one day was stacking the front row of wood. It was good exercise for sure. Chris brought home another truckload of logs and he hand split every piece of the wood in these stacks. That was even better exercise that I'm not capable of. I'd say that we are officially ready for next winter and it was nice to get this work done before it gets too hot. Do you think that my stacking methods say anything about my personality?
This is all the soap that I made last Thursday. I think I calculated that it's 10.5 pounds (of oils, it doesn't include the water). They will be ready to remove from the molds today or tomorrow and then will cure for 6 weeks.
I love these silicone molds. They make the unmolding process so easy. I have them in a lot of different shapes and even have this mold that makes 1" squares. I use these little soaps for travel. They are small enough that I don't mind leaving the wet leftovers in the hotel.
Does this look familiar? I quilted one just like it in March. I wrote all about these special quilts in this post. Since the fabrics are heirloom, she decided to make an extra one just in case there's another baby in the family in the future.
I quilted this one exactly the same as the last one. I got it finished late Friday so that I could give it to her when we went to an arts festival on Saturday.
Saturday was a perfect weather day to walk around and arts festival. There were lots of beautiful things there but I was able to avoid bringing anything new into my already overstuffed house.
Saturday morning I sewed all of the placemats that I cut out Wednesday and I was able to get them loaded and the quilting started Saturday night. I finished off the quilting Sunday morning and got 8 of them bound and finished by the end of the day. I have 2 more to bind and 1 left to quilt and bind.
When I quilt them I don't worry too much about the backing. I try to use up older fabrics from my stash and was very happy to use this metallic printed fabric that's been around for years and that I'll never use in a quilt. My batting is flannel from old sheets. It's just the right "heft" for a placemat but not too fluffy. They don't' draw up as much in the wash either.
The first set I finished is the fish print set. I'm so glad I found these prints and finally did something with them. The shibori fabric has been in the stash for a long time too. These fabrics were clearly meant to be together.
I still need to dye napkins for these and will do that this week.
Here are all the sets that are on offer to my family. I decided to let the ladies make the selections and I texted them this photo yesterday. I had their selections within an hour. My oldest brother's wife picked the leaf ones, the youngest brother's wife picked the turquoise birds, my niece picked the pink/purple stripes and my nephew's wife picked the fish print. I knew she would pick one of the fish prints. The other fish fabric ones will go to a friend of Chris' that he deep sea fishes with every year.
I finished 2 of the 3 sets that I cut out for myself. Each of these are sets of 2, limited by the size of the focus fabric that I had to work with. The focus fabric of this set is a glue resist fabric that I dyed the very first time I dyed in 2008 when my friend made me dye fabric. I've always loved this fabric and was "saving" it. I had 2 previously dyed napkins in my stash that worked perfectly with these.
I finished off the weekend with this set made from a fabric dyed using dextrin resist. They are already in use at our kitchen island, where we eat all of our meals.
I have one set left to bind and have one of Mom's left to quilt and bind. Then I realized that I need to make a set for my middle brother. He and his wife don't go to the beach but the still "need" a set. I don't think she would like either of the sets that I have left but I have an idea for some that I think she will like. I'll probably work on those after vacation.
I took a quick little trip out of town Monday and Tuesday but I got these new placemats mostly done before I left town and finished them up last night. That's one more gift set for the family beach trip.
This set started with these 4 overdyed napkins from my big bin of overdyed napkins. I pulled these out and challenged myself to make a set of placemats that would work with them.
When I did my big sun printing extravaganza last summer (read about it here and here), I created quite the stockpile of sun prints and I think I've only used one so far! I started my search for a focus fabric there and found two fat quarters of this big leaf print. That was going to be just enough for 4 placemats. The side pieces are from an overdyed commercial black and white fabric. I had enough of it to use for the back too. That fabric had been in my stash a very long time and I'm glad it hung around just for this project.
I started quilting in the edge borders with this overlapping wavy line and I intended to use it over the whole placemat. But once I saw it, I didn't like it. I was not going to take it out so I did this quilting in all of the edges. You can barely see it anyway.
I thought a grid might be better on the leaf print and I was right. I think it took a little over an hour to quilt all 4 of them.
It's nice to have a focus fabric like this because there's no need for doing a lot of piecing. Let the focus fabric shine and make the rest simple.
Next I'll make a set specifically for Mom. She said she would prefer 4 different placemats, rather than a set of 4. That will be a great place to use some of the special sun print fabrics that I have. Most are one-of-a-kind so there will be just enough for one placemat.
I'll start those and will get one of Mom's quilts loaded and start quilting tomorrow.
Another set of placemats!
I actually finished these placemats last month but I was waiting to share them until I got the napkins dyed. The napkins turned out a little brighter than I wanted but they will work just fine. I don't get too fussed striving for perfection in placemats! These are for just the fun of it but I have some many for myself that it's time to give some away.
These were made with the leftover blocks and fabric from the veterans quilt that I quilted this weekend and will share in tomorrow's post. I had exactly enough HST blocks left over to make 4 placemats.
I wanted the napkins to be a tad bit grayer (less turquoise, more orange) but they are still cute. I had some foam shapes and used the triangle one to stamp some Jacquard Color Magnet on the before dyeing. The stamped areas pick up a lot of excess dye.
I decided to have some fun quilting them with a different filler pattern in each one.
This is another set of 4 placemats that I will take on the family beach trip for my family members to choose from.
Tomorrow I'll have the binding finished on the veterans quilt made from these blocks.
Heirloom Bear is done!
The teddy bear is done and ready for delivery! I'm very happy with the end result and I think my cousin will appreciate it for her new grandchild. I decided to create a separate page just for this project so if you want to see more photos you can go here.
Made it to the beach!
We made it to the beach yesterday and we are very happy with the house and location. You never really know if a house is going to look like the photos but this one is just as advertised. It has a nice big table for sewing that we will set up today and lots of natural light. Today will be the coldest day all week so we probably won't spend as much time outside. It will get warmer as the days go on so I'm hopeful for some beach reading time. We did have a nice walk on the beach and I felt rejuvenated just getting my bare feet on the sand.
I spent most of the weekend preparing and packing but I did get to a couple of projects. I started the penultimate blanket with this yarn/pattern combo. I think this might be my favorite color of the yarn so far!
The first project I have to do when I get home next week is to make a teddy bear out of a vintage quilt. Since it's a special quilt I wanted to give the pattern a dry run and I had the not-so-brilliant idea to use some very old Ultrasuede from my stash. That stuff was not designed for making toys! But it did work and I like the pattern. Making the quilt version will be much easier.
You might not be able to tell from this photo but the bear is orange with maroon foot pads. Once I finished it I realized that I had made a Hokie bear! I immediately got on the internet and ordered some Virginia Tech ribbon for it's neck. The first Hokie friend to have a new baby in their family will get this as a gift.
His legs might not look properly stuffed but I had to remove some stuffing so that it would sit up on it's own. Stuffing was a real balancing act with this bear.
Here's a little PSA for you. Hand sewing Untrasuede is a nightmare. Avoid it if you can.
Quilting the placemats
I spent a lot of hours the past few days getting a presentation ready for my quilt club. I try to commit to doing one program each year and this year I put together a presentation of some of the veterans quilts that we have made, hopefully to give people ideas for new quilts. I did the presentation last night and if you have time to kill and want to see some of our veterans quilts, you can see the presentation here.
After I ran through it in the morning I had a few hours free and decided to load and quilt the newest placemats. I'm so glad to finally have my machine adjusted because it quilted with the trilobal polyester threads perfectly! I'm also really comfortable doing any adjustment on my machine now so it should never be frustrating again.
I found a leftover backing strip that was the perfect width for me to be able to load and quilt all 4 placemats at the same time. I've mentioned this before, but I'll say again that I use old (clean) flannel sheeting for the batting on placemats. I don't like my placemats to be puffy. I want them beefy and flat. The flannel works perfectly and I have a closet shelf of flannel available for free.
I started with ruler work in the chevron. I just love ruler work. It's my comfort blanket of quilting.
My other quilting crutch is free-motion filler so I decided to do fillers in the gray background. I did a different filler on each placemat. This is the first one and it's one that I turn to often.
The second one is this one that's called coffee bean. It's a lot of fun to stitch.
The third design is one that I've never done before but it was a lot of fun to quilt. You stitch the line first and then do the crossing stitch back and forth. Super fast.
This was the last one and my least favorite. Placemats are so perfect for practicing because any crappy quilting will likely be covered by a plate or spaghetti stain.
Today I will load and start quilting the baby quilt and will try to get these trimmed and pick a binding fabric. In a few weeks I'll dye some napkins to match.
On Monday I went to Hobby Lobby to look for some fabric for a quilt project that I'm going to take on vacation. I actually did buy 3 yards of fabric (at 40% off) but a stroll through the yarn aisle revealed that they were having a 75% clearance! This even usually happens in June but, for whatever reason, it's in March this year. Last year I only bought 2 different yarns but I got a few more this year. The big pile on the left is a yarn that's exactly like Lion Brand Feels Like Butta. It's perfect for chemo hats and it was .99 a skein. I got all of it except white and gray because I have plenty of those colors. The red and blue are acrylics for donation blankets. The 2 in front are a 1 weight. I want to try crocheting with a 1 weight yarn but it's often kind of expensive and I think my chance of success is 50/50. These were only $2.50 so if the project is a fail I won't feel so bad.
No more yarn needed! I did finish another of the big blankets. I'll try to get a photo today to share tomorrow.
Placemats and doll outfits and fabric
It was quite the creative and making weekend! On Friday, Mom, Kim and I went to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. The quilts were better this year than last year and I actually took photos this time. I might share them but I really only took photos of specific things that interested me like quilting techniques or design ideas. The photos would seem really random to anyone else.
The Covid years really decimated a lot of vendors so overall the show is smaller than it was in 2019 and earlier. I expect that many had just decided that it was as good an excuse as any to finally retire. There used to be an Indian (from India) woman with a business called Handloom Batik that no longer comes to this show. She was my favorite vendor but it looks like she is only doing a couple shows that are more local to her now. I am sure that over time the show will once again fill every corner of the convention center floor. As it is there was plenty to see and lots of opportunities to spend money!
There was one interesting new vendor this year called Legit Kits. They have big foundation pieced pictorial quilts with wonderful designs. I wanted either the big eagle or raven quilt but I wasn't sure what I'd do with the finished quilt in once I was done. I left the show empty handed but couldn't get them out of my mind. At home I perused the website and found this smaller pattern for a Goldfinch and ordered it. You can get full kits or just patterns. I believe the kits use Kona solids but you know that there's no way that I'm going to use solid fabrics for my quilt. As soon as I saw this one I knew that my Jenny Lake Gradient would be perfect for the background pieces. I'm excited to get the pattern and get started.
I didn't buy any fabric (or anything else at the show) and I didn't need to because I had just received new fabric in the mail this week! The new Paula Nadelstern fabrics are finally in the stores and I ordered mine a couple of weeks ago. I just love those dots! I could the best price at Hancock's of Paducah.
Saturday morning I got busy finishing up the placemats and I love how they turned out. These started with 4 embroideries that a friend did for me over 10 years ago. I added and sunprinted fabric (the blue streaky) and a screen printed batik. The napkins are some thrifted napkins that I overdyed and screen printed with the bird.
Here are all 4 embroideries. I can't wait to see which family member chooses this set when we are at the beach in May.
I already have another set of fabrics selected for the next set but I'm going to make a few more of the little lap quilt tops first before I make more placemats.
Mom and I talked on Friday about visiting my brother on Sunday so I thought I'd get these doll dresses made up for Ella. They have actually been cut out for a while and, let me tell you, they are kind of a pain to make. That keyhole opening is awfully fiddly. They are supposed to have elastic at the waist but my elastic was kind of dead. I improvised with a casing and a tie which I like better anyway. The casing on the green dress is actually red-purple, not black as it looks.
When making this one, I got the bodice all done and ready to attach to the skirt and noticed that I had cut through the bottom of the bodice. It had to have happened when I cut it out because there are 2 cuts mirroring each other. Well, I was so sick of these dresses by that point that there's no way I was going to remake it. By then I had put the ric rack on the hem of the skirt so I added some to the bodice to cover the cuts. Once the purple sash was added the cuts in the fabric were very secure. These aren't going to be washed so it will be fine.
As it turned out, we didn't go visit anyway but I'm ready whenever we do.
I didn't quilt on Becky's quilt but I got the backing loaded and have the batting draped over the frame to get the wrinkles out of it. I might get it basted today if I don't spend too much time outside weeding and prepping beds for my annual mulching exercise.
Surprise! A pincushion!
How cute is that?
This was a Christmas gift that I only got to deliver last week so it's been waiting a very long time to share.
Way back in September I found these pins on Etsy and I had to get them for my best friend. They are stupid expensive for sewing pins but totally affordable for decoration! They aren't technically great pins anyway so decoration is the only way to go. Either way, I had to have them. When they arrived I knew that I needed to figure out a way to present them and that had to be a pin cushion. I shopped all over Etsy for days and, in the end, found one that I absolutely loved. It was over $50 so I needed to make one instead.
I found the pewter salt cellar and I was off and running with an idea.
I thought I wanted red velvet but I didn't have any but then I found this button sun print in my stash. It was perfect.
I cut a 7 1/2" circle from the red and from a base fabric and gathered a large wad of stuffing. It took some trial and error to get just the right size.
Eventually I ended up with a stuffing ball that looked about right in the bowl.
I sewed up the bottom really tight and then added the button cover and hot glued the whole thing in the bowl of the salt cellar. There's a ton of glue holding this thing together.
I felt like it needed some sort of black trim and since the fabric is a button print it only seemed right to make the trim from black buttons. It was quite fiddly to sew these buttons together so that the edges of the buttons touched perfectly with no gaps. That was probably the hardest part of the entire evolution.
One more stick of hot glue and I was ready to add the pins.
My friend loved it and I'm happy to finally be able to share it. This project was so much fun to make.
I quilted and cobbled
My big accomplishment of the past 2 days was getting Groovy 3 quilted. It took 8 long passes and I only had one thread break. Now I just need to trim it and get it bound and I can take in on vacation. The fabric for the binding is soaking but I will be able to cut and bind Monday.
While Groovy 3 was the biggest accomplishment, my proudest accomplishment is that I did a little cobbling in the old fashioned sense of the word.
These are my favorite sandals. I've had them several years and, because of last year's foot injury, I didn't get to wear them at all. Now I can wear them and the last time I did the strap broke on both shoes in the same place. (See the red arrow.)
I could take them to have them properly repaired by a real cobbler but I wouldn't get them back before vacation so I decided to see if I could fix them myself.
First I got some old sandals and some upholstery thread and experiment to see if my Juki machine would sew through them. It worked brilliantly with a Jeans size 16 needle.
Next I was off to Hobby Lobby for a $4.50 spool of dark upholstery thread and in 15 minutes I had them sewn back together. It's not a perfect match but no one will notice.
You can see on the inside how the original seam failed. Hopefully the triangle stitching will be strong enough to hold it for another year or 2.
Mom finally got her birthday card yesterday so I'll have that to share with you tomorrow and then we will head to the river for the weekend.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.