First, the news flash. We have power! I don't know how we got so luck to be one of the first today to get reconnected but we were. There are still 50,000+ people out in my electric service area but that's down 20,000 from yesterday so they are making good progress. The rural roads are still pretty hazardous with trees falling. Chris saw a guy at the grocery store that had a cracked windshield just from a heavy piece of ice falling in it while he was driving.
Interesting times here in Virginia! But I did get Monday's orders in the mail. I had them packed up before the power went out Monday morning but there was no mail service and we couldn't get out until today. I will even get to do my fabric dyeing tomorrow, only 1 day late.
Today I'm sharing a project that was actually finished last week but I forgot to post about it. During my Christmas mini-cleanup I found this stamped piece of fabric in my postcard supplies. It's a gradient that I stamped and I used most of it in a project that I don't even remember anymore. I had a small chunk left and intended to make postcards with it. That never happened. The fabric is beautiful and kind of precious to me because it took a long time to make. It was time to do something with it.
I also happen to have a bin of dyed napkins. A friend used to do a lot of thrifting and she would periodically bring me bags of vintage linens that she would pick up for practically nothing. I keep them in the dye studio and use them as waste fabric in my gradient dyeing or use them to dump on leftover dye. I have 6 of these napkins (3 in each color) and they matched the leaf prints perfectly. I decided to make placemats with my special fabric.
There wasn't a lot of the leaf print but I was able to get 6 pieces this size. I use old flannel sheets for the batting and leftovers from a dyed quilt back for the backing.
I cut strips of waste fabrics and did a simple Courthouse Steps log cabin design and used some scraps of greens for the binding. I'm really pleased with how these turned out. I'm thinking that I will keep 2 of them and set aside 4 in the gift closet. I think they are pretty enough to be a nice gift.
Tomorrow I'll get back to regularly scheduled activities and posts. I admit that I have kind of enjoyed the past 2 days "off". It was nice to test out our emergency preparedness and, other than needing to stock up on 9v batteries, we did very well and could have easily gone 3 more days, maybe longer. The generator is great but the wood stove is the real hero of the event.
I've had these ready for a week or so but wanted to wait to share them until I gifted them and could get model photos. Ella was THRILLED with both outfits and I'm thrilled that they fit so well.
Ella's favorite color is pink so I knew this one would be popular. The pink silk fabric came from one friend and the glitter fabric from another. It's the ReadCreations Reversible Dress. It's a good pattern but the fabric raveled like crazy so it was a little difficult to work with. The little sash on the solid pink side is a piece of ribbon from my stash that I turned into a sash by adding a snap closure. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head when she opened the box and saw all that pink.
I actually made this little hippie outfit months ago but needed the accessories. The shirt is the California Baja pattern and it was very easy to make. If you take a close look below you can see how the stripes in the fabric match up across the pocket. That was a complete happy accident! I also made a second pair of pants in dark orange denim.
My SIL made the bracelet. The purse and boots are from this Pamela Barton pattern and the headband is from this YouTube video. Apparently this particular doll has a guitar so this outfit was perfect. She also had a leather skirt and denim jacket for quick changes.
The dolls really creep me out but making the outfits is fun. Ella's joy is a bonus.
I hope you all had a great holiday weekend. Ours was lovely and quiet. The weather was really warm so we were able to take a hike Christmas morning and the rest of the weekend I was able to make some things! One thing turned into another and the next thing you know I had a lot done.
First I got 2 veterans quilts quilted. I think most of you know by now that we quilt them in pairs. So I loaded one back and quilted both at the same time. When I make my veterans quilts I generally make them 2 at a time just for this reason. These are from that big stash of patriotic batiks that I bought last year. I've almost made my way through all of that fabric.
I quilted it with the star/ribbon pantograph with red thread. My current favorite "workhorse" thread is Innovatech. I still like So Fine a lot but the Innovatech is a just little beefier so it shows up more.
I only had 2 more quilt tops in the closet so loaded and quilted them. One is this one that I made with strips of leftover hand dyed backing fabric from other veterans quilts and leftover strips of waste fabric from the Big Green quilt. I adore this quilt! I will make more of these this year. I think it sparkles.
I love to quilt diagonal blocks like this. It's really fast and makes a great pattern on the back.
The other quilt in that pair is this one make by one of our club members. The quilting wasn't going to show so I did a quick stipple. I don't have to bind this one.
Then I had more time one afternoon and decided to tackle all of these batting scraps. I don't think I had let the batting scrap bags get out of control this much before.
It made 8 pet beds for my friend to deliver to Richmond Animal League!
Finally, last night I remembered this scrap blanket that I started last year. I decided to add the rest of the scrap balls that I had and finish it off to be another pet blanket for donation. I have a few old blankets (not quilts) in my closet that I'm going to cut down and serge and make into more blankets for them. I like finding new homes for things I don't need anymore.
Now I'm busy planning my next crochet project and I've started doing just a little cleaning and reorganizing in the sewing room. How are you spending the last week of 2021?
Yesterday we took Mom to my brother's house and I got to see my ornaments in their new home!
I can honestly say, that they never looked this good on my rotating trees! They belong on a white tree and Carol loves having them. I'm sure my brother doesn't care one way or the other and I'm cool with tha.
You can click on any of these photos to see close ups of some of the ornaments. I think she has around 110 of them and they really fill the tree nicely.
The best news is that more people have seen them in the last 2 weeks than in the past 5 years combined and that makes me the happiest. I made them to be seen and enjoyed and now they are.
Carol also made some really cute jewelry for Ella's doll outfits that I'll share tomorrow or Monday.
My normal daily routine is to get up (not early), pack orders and exercise. This morning I was laying in bed deciding what type of exercise I wanted to do today and decided on the recumbent bike while watching some Netflix. But I just couldn't bear sitting on the bike and having to see the dead bugs and cobwebs in the basement corner. The next thing I know, I've traded off exercise and vacuumed the entire basement which was a lot more work than riding the bike, watching Netflix and ignoring the bugs. But the basement looks great, well, great for a basement.
Then I had the great idea to wash the Finally! quilt again to soften it up some more. I just love sleeping under this quilt. It's so heavy and warm, just like I want. But I was reminded why I never buy Kona cotton fabric anymore. This stuff, especially the dark colors, must have some sort of lint magnet. There wasn't any lint on the color squares, just on the Kona black. Nothing 5 sheets of sticky roller couldn't solve but annoying nonetheless.
Then I had breakfast!
This weekend was reasonably productive too. I admit that I'm mostly focused on Chris' crochet blanket. It will be done in a couple of day! But when I needed to take breaks I also got 2 Rail Fence veterans quilts quilted. After I finish the project below I'll get these trimmed and bound. Then I have 2 more ready to quilt.
There were also a couple of breaks to make some accessories for this outfit that I made for Ella's doll earlier this year. I don't know what I was saving it for but I decided that it will be part of her Christmas gift. This doll will be a proper little hippie.
The main part of her Christmas gift is getting made this afternoon. It's PINK!
I'll get through it.....
Yesterday was dyeing day. I got 5 gradients dyed, including 2 new ones and I had time to dye some socks and tshirts for gifts too. In the evening the serger and I got together and got our Christmas on.
I wanted to make Christmas pillowcases for Ella and her brother, Eli. They also have 2 cousins so I made 4 of each. I felt that I needed to make 2 designs so that they could alternate pillowcases with the laundry cycle and no one would have a meltdown if they didn't have a Christmas pillowcase for a day.
Mom is spending Thanksgiving with their family so I'll send these with her to deliver. Today Mom and I are running errands all day so the only thing I think I'll get done today is to get my stuff together for quilt club this weekend.
But first, I can report that the binding on the postage stamp quilt is now 37% complete. I actually didn't work on it at all this weekend because of the rest of this post, but I set a new of next Tuesday so I can take it to show-and-tell. I'm working on it diligently now and have finished one full side and 2 corners.
What I did all weekend was work on the ornament storage. For new readers, I'll give a little background.
Are you old enough to remember when we used to get a catalogue of catalogues? There was no internet so we could only find out about new shopping sources by getting a catalogue that literally was only a collections of catalogues that you could subscribe to, mostly for free. It was in one of those that I discovered Cracker Box Kits. I was working at Bank of America and living in Charlotte, NC. Chris was stationed in Charleston, SC and we were lucky if we saw each other on weekend. He was deployed 9 of the 18 months he was stationed there. I already had acquired TWO knitting machines and, of course, I had my sewing. But making Christmas ornaments seemed intriguing. I ordered a couple of kits and I was hooked. Even back in 1993 one of their inexpensive kits was over $20. The most expensive was about $70. That was one called Cinderella's Coach and I did eventually get it too just before it priced over $100....FOR A KIT! Each ornament took a minimum of about 14 hours and up to 40 hours to complete. It was fabulous entertainment and stress reduction from a really stressful job.
Fast forward to 1998 and we moved here. I found this awesome upside-down tree and we used it for display for years but it was a complete paint in the next to set up. I eventually found three rotating trees and used those until recently. I tried to find the photo of the most recent display but I can't find it.
I did love displaying them but no one ever saw them. When Christmas happens around here we are always going somewhere else. They are now on their way to my sister-in-law (and brother but he has no say in this transaction) to display on her beautiful white Christmas tree. After almost 30 years, it's time for the ornaments to move on and I am thrilled that my SIL and niece want them.
You will not be surprised to discover I kept records of the the kits I made and when I made them. I even kept all of the instructions. I remember that someone actually once contacted me to buy one of the instructions. Of course, I just gave it to her. But that shows the devotion of the people who made these kits. I easily have $3000 (but probably closer to $5000) invested in these. But, that's nothing compared to what I have invested in sewing machines. I justify it as my drug money.
The instructions were VERY detailed and you had to work on the step-by-step, reading ahead was to be avoided. There were very few drawings so the instructions had to be very specific and they were! I never had to contact them for clarification.
These are the first 2 kits I made in 1993. On the left is Wind in the Willows and on the right is Curtain Call. Every ornament had a name and an inspiration story. The guy who designed them had previously designed costumes in Las Vegas. You can see the influence for sure.
The business is in New Hope, PA. The original designers/owners (Paul and Walter) are, sadly, gone but someone who loved the ornaments bought the business and continues it. I got to go to New Hope once and visit their little showroom and meet them. They were real characters.
I have this linen closet in the upstairs hallway and that's where I stored them. Hanging them is the best way to store them. My college roommate once commented that if she ever had to explain to the FBI what I was like that she would just bring them here to see this. That's about right. I do love organization and precision.
Which brings me to the transfer storage. My SIL doesn't have a closet like this so I needed to come up with a way to store them. It has to be in bins that she can stack and that led me to 1" thick foam with circles cut out for then to rest in.
The problem started with cutting circles. I just couldn't figure out how to cut them so I spent HOURS AND DAYS working out a plan to add a layer of fabric to hide the ugly foam cuts. The fabric needed to be pleated to sink down into the foam holes and it was a nightmare. Finally on Saturday night I gave up and decided that I had to find a better way to cut the circles. I walked through every corner of the house and every craft space and even looked through that trash. That's when I saw the discarded tin can from making hummus.
I thought I might be able to heat the open end and melt the foam. That does not work at all and you are in real danger of burning the crap out of yourself. Dont' try that.
Then I thought of the tin can lid. That sucker is really sharp. People cut themselves on lids all the time. How could I make the edge of the can sharp like the lid? Well it turns out that you can hold the can opener sideways and cut off the rim of the can! Yes, yes you can! You do have to use some pliers to smooth out some bends but it works awesomely.
Dig it. Freaking awesome perfect circles! Think of all the sizes of circles you could cut with all the different sizes of cans. Oh, the possibilities!
120 of them to be exact.
So the final solution is a layer of puffy polyester batting covered in fabric to provide padding for sticky-out parts of the ornaments under a layer of 1" thick foam.
Each bin has 2 layers of ornaments. I made a shelf from foam core board. I tried to get 3 layers in a bin but it was just too tight and the top ornaments would be smashed by the lid.
I was also worried about plastic off-gassing so I wanted to allow for some air circulation. I drilled 3 holes in each end and glued on a piece of organza so that bugs couldn't get in through the holes. That was probably overkill but, hey, it's me.
Here are the 3 bins packed and ready to go. I've shaken the bins and the ornaments are quite stable in there. Sometime before Thanksgiving, Mom and I will drive down to Newport News to deliver them to their new home.
In case you are wondering what's going into that empty linen closet. It's surely not linens but you might get a whiff of yarn if you walk by it in the next few weeks.
I haven't put one stitch in the postage stamp quilt yet but I kind of have good excuses. Tuesday I took Mom to Farmville to visit her former next door neighbor. The wife (a quilter) died a couple years ago and Mom made two quilts from her stash for her granddaughters. We went to deliver them, The husband was anxious for us to take more fabric back with us and I'll have that update at the end of this post.
Yesterday was dyeing day and I dyed over 50 yards of fabric so I didn't do anything at all (except a little bit of crochet) before heading to bed.
But, in little bits of time I got the 4 safari scrappy placemats done! I love making placemats from quilt scraps. It's a great way to use them, it's a nice memory of the quilt and I actually use them! These are made from the scraps of the Safari Quilt that I made for my SIL. I used the scraps whatever size they were and just pieced giant crumb blocks. I got 4 placemats out of the pile of scraps.
I've mentioned before that I use old (clean, of course) flannel sheets as my batting so that they don't wad up too bad in the washer and dryer. I like quilting them pretty heavily too as another way to control them getting out of shape. For these I did lines 1/2" apart, more or less. While I was quilting them I was thinking about what color to dye napkins and I couldn't stop thinking about the possibility of shibori dyeing them.
Well, imagine my surprise to find that I can shibori dye napkins! These turned out much better than I expected.
They don't match the placemats on color but they do match in spirit so I'm keeping them. The reason that they don't match in color is that my color recipes don't work for immersion dyeing. They work perfectly for the low water immersion dyeing that I developed them for, but they don't translate to immersion. In my normal dyeing that blue/gray would be a deep chocolate brown. There will be more shibori napkins in my future. Some dyed with clamped designs would be really cool. Next time I might dye the napkins first and then pull fabrics to match but that would kind of defeat the "use scraps" purpose of placemats. Quite a dilemma.
So, back to the Farmville visit. Mom's friend really wanted us to take a lot of fabric and supplies. Mom did take a bag of mostly batiks but I don't really do much with commercial fabrics and I don't like to take things that I am not sure I can use. But I did clear out a small drawer of heavy weight fabric scraps to use for walker caddies or dog beds and I took this bin of batting scraps. If the scraps are big I'll piece them together for small quilts or I'll chop it all up for dog beds. He was very happy to have a little spot on a shelf emptied out.
Chris and I were gone about half the day yesterday for an appointment and errands and then we visited friends yesterday afternoon so I didn't get a whole lot of creative things accomplished yesterday.
I am going to get that stack of bags done this weekend to get them out of the way and I'm not cutting any more out! I knocked this one out yesterday afternoon. It will be a great size for gifting a bottle of wine or other spirits. It's made from a fat quarter size ice dyed fabric. It's got one seam in the center back so that I could center the mandala on the front.
Another little chore that I accomplished is restocking my supply of pet bed fabrics. A friend helped me acquire a bunch of upholstery and drapery remnants. I worked through the 2 bags of goodies and got everything paired and precut so that I'm ready to go when the batting scrap bin is full again. Chris and I are pretty sure that one of the fabrics is a silk blend so 4 pets are going to get some really fancy bedding!
On the loom knitting front I've made a few decisions. I'm only doing the loom to give my hands a break from crochet. I don't love doing it but I do need to keep my hands busy. I developed horrible tendonitis in both hands several months ago and they are just now getting better. Loom knitting is working out to be a pretty perfect substitute for those times when my hands bother me. The Copperfit compressions gloves are helping tremendously! I've been working with the round loom only so far making hats and one knit stitch scarf. I didn't like the scarf because it curled horribly and had to be blocked. Making hats is OK but the yarn tension is pretty tight so there's still some strain on my hands.
I had bought a $5 clearance modular set from Michaels and decided to try out a scarf set up and I started making the scarf on the left. I think I've found my perfect project! The tension on this stitch is quite loose and there's no pressure on my hands at all. When we went out yesterday I took it in the car with me to see if it would be too bulky to work with and it's not! I will be making scarves for the foreseeable future during my crochet breaks. I may eventually make more hats but I don't like them as much as this double knit style scarf. It's actually a really soft and warm scarf. I should be able to get a few made before I drop off donations again in September.
One of our errand stops was to Joann where I picked up the ergonomic loom pick on the right. I had to sand off the point a little but it does work better than the pick that came with the loom. I also bought more bulky yarn that I didn't need but it was less than $1.75 a skein after the markdown, clearance discount and military discount all added together. I'll be making loom scarves for the next 10 years if I'm not careful about my purchases!
Today my one big goal is to get all of the bags finished and everything put away so I can get back to the worktable cleanup. Tomorrow I'm giving a quilting lesson and then I'll get the big green quilt loaded and start quilting.
I have seriously lost my mind but I'm having fun at it. I never thought I'd say this but I need to get back to making doll dresses!
Here are the two newest ones and they are made from the very first fabrics that I ever dyed when my best friend made me dye fabric one summer against my will. These were made with glue resist. The one on the left is red on one side and black on the other. I made these bags as big as the fabric allowed. That's why I love these projects. I can finally use my special fabrics and can use the whole piece because size really doesn't matter in this case.
Of course that created another project.
Here's one of 2 drawers of some of my earliest dyeing. Anne and I did lots of print paste, resist and other special dyeing techniques and created some really cool fabrics. But I don't use the fabrics because I know for a fact that they will all bleed.
I've decided that it's finally time to fix that and to soak all of these fabrics so that I'll use them in future projects.
In case you didn't think I was being accurate about the bleeding here's the first group that I put through soak cycles. That's only 12 fat quarters!
We were following the conventional wisdom of that time so we didn't know better. It took me several years to figure out that I could actually fix bleeding fabric.
These fabrics have already been processed and are back in the drawer and ready to be something someday. They will not be drawstring bags, I promise.
Because I've already cut all of these fabrics to make into bags in the coming days. Some of these are earmarked for gifts but most are for me.
99% of you will already know how to make these but if there are any new sewists reading I have created a tutorial. I've read through the tutorial 3 times and I think I've corrected all of my errors but if you see something let me know, I can easily fix it.
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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.