I'm not into gardening at all. It seems that with everything you plant that there's more work associated with it. I like trees and shrubs because they are relatively low maintenance. That leave my "gardening" to activities that I actually enjoy doing: weeding and spreading mulch. Those things only require sporadic effort. I skipped most of that last year so I'm in catch up mode. The weeding (spraying) was done a couple of weeks ago and the weather has been totally uncooperative for mulching until this week. So that's what I'm doing. We aren't talking about a few beds around the house, we're talking about 7 truckloads. It's great exercise but it's going to take a while but at least I've started!
Looks like those boxwoods that I "pruned" are going to live! They won't need any attention for a few years for sure.
But this means that inside the sewing room there isn't so much going on. Yesterday after mulching I decided on a quick and easy project: dog beds.
All those veterans quilts created a lot of batting scraps. I store then in this bin until it gets full. I actually started with this overflowing plus a bucket full of scraps. The only fabric bits that I include are fabric bits attached to batting. Too much fabric makes the dog beds heavy and dense. I know that Richmond Animal league washes them and I don't want them to take 5 days to dry.
The fabrics are whatever I get free from donations. There's always someone showing up at quilt club with fabric that they want to divest and occasionally there's a bolt of heavy decorator fabric. I still have fabric pre-cut for 5 more dog beds when my bin fills again. I use this tutorial to make them.
I'm not going to share any more photos of mulch but my posts might be a little thin this week.
that's going to take a lot of planning but I think it's going to be worth it.
This project starts with my finished kitchen. We basically got new counters and backsplash. The cabinets are still in great shape even though they are 20 years old. We wanted a couple of them to be reconfigured but that's it. New hardware was enough to make them look new. We also finally got faucets that don't drip! The black sinks were a risk but so far I love them.
The other catalyst for the new project are the Wild Gears that I've been playing with. Here's a new set that came in last week.
So, when we put the kitchen back together I put the floor cloths back down. These were made to match the old counters and tile. This was yet another project that my friend, Anne, got me into. In the summer of 2014 we made fabric floor cloths using this book. I dyed these fabrics to match the kitchen and I love how they turned out but they were a HUUUUGGEE paint in the @$$ to make. I do love the floor cloths because they can be mopped and they last so much longer than rugs but I vowed that I'd never make another with decoupaged fabric. (You can see a couple more photos of these here.)
Now that the kitchen is done I do need to make new ones so why not painted floor cloths covered in Wild Gears designs!
I know! It's brilliant and, you know me, it will probably take just as long as the fabric ones. But they are going to be awesome.
For the new ones I've decided that they will be painted to blend in with the flooring and all of the spiral motifs will be done in black Sharpie marker. I'll paint a base in a mix of these 3 browns to completely blend in with the floor. So hopefully it will look like spiral designs directly on the floor.....which is yet another idea to possibly do somewhere.
You can't just start drawing on the painted canvas. I needed to have an idea of the patterns that I would get from the gears. So I started drawing and I make notations on the gears that I use as I draw. That blue one is one of my favorites.
I quickly figured out that a fine point Sharpie wouldn't work. The drawings are going to be 5 - 6 feet from your eyes so I need bold lines and that means a fat Sharpie. I will need to use the big holes in the gears and that will change what designs I can do. The gears have fewer large holes than small holes, as you would expect but that limits the designs too.
But I can't use Sharpie markers for practice, I'm too sensitive to the fumes from the ink. Crayola Washable Markers worked out to be the right answer. The back of the kitchen counter cutout for the stove gave me a perfectly smooth surface for drawing (my cutting table mat was too uneven) and a pack of large newsprint from the craft store gave me cheap practice paper.
The Crayola marker give me a good idea of the thickness of line I'll get with the fat Sharpie. Some of the coolest designs come from running a gear in a gear in a gear.
Oh yes! I might or might not put these 3 designs together. I'm just making as many designs as I can on a sheet. I use different marker colors because I make my gear notes on the side in the color that the design is drawn in. I'm going for a library of designs.
It will be a month or so before I can start on the floor cloths. I will have to paint, draw and seal them outside because of the fumes so I need to wait for more comfortable weather.
Meanwhile I'm practicing and here are some of the practice pieces. Some are winners. Some are losers. You will see that I'm also playing around with ideas for filling in some of the designs.
I'm going to need a case of Sharpies for 15 feet of floor cloths!
More to come!
With the remodel on hiatus until the countertops come in, I didn't have any big chores for the weekend so I was able to do some of my own projects...like quilting 2 more veterans quilts. Both of these were made by Betsy, This one is very much her style with red, black and gray reproduction prints.
The Half square triangles in this one are very much a Betsy-style but the batik fabric was a surprise. The mixed taupe shades work so well with it.
The cool think about this quilt is that all of the batik patches came from the same piece of fabric. I quilted both with a taupe thread color and this overall pattern.
I actually used this pantograph but you can see that I really just used the path and did not add the frills. By doing the pattern more simply I quilted I saved a lot of time. So it's OK to simplify a pantograph if you want.
When I trim the quilts I chop up the batting and backing bits and store them in a trash bin until it's full. Well, it was overfull after these 2 quilts and it was time to make some dog beds.
I have decorator fabrics that people have donated to me that I use for the covers and I even use this opportunity to finish off spools of thread.
I use this tutorial to make them.
I also chop up old (but clean) sweats and tshirts and add them to the stuffing mix for these beds.
That big pile of scraps made a small, medium and large bed. One of my friends is on the board of a local rescue agency so I take them to her and she delivers them to the organization. I know that they eventually will end up in the garbage but at least all these things get one more life before they become trash.
But here's something that's going straight in the trash. My friend, Patty, motivated me to finally replace the cover on my ironing table.
Ahhhh, much better.
These started as a plan to use up more of the Indonesian batik scraps but, honestly, they didn't make a dent in the scrap. The other motivation was to use the rest of the backing fabric on the Indonesian batik quilt. I had about 18" of 108" wide fabric at the end of the quilt and that was perfect for 6 placemats.
I'll have to come up with a postcard design to use the rest of batik scraps but I used every inch of the dyed backing.
The background is a gradient fabric that I had in my stash. I don't know what I originally dyed it for but it worked out just fine for these.
The tree and the circles are fused and all of the stitching is free motion.
I had enough of the gradient to do 4 using the blue/orange side of the gradient but I had room on my extra quilt back for 2 more placemats.
The other half of the gradient was green so I made these 2 with green backgrounds. I like both sets. I'll keep the 4 blue ones and give the green pair to Mom.
I'm happy to have another finish for 2018.
Before the bowl hot pads became my 2018 gift idea, I had planned to dye kitchen towels for everyone. Someone in one of my dye groups imported a bunch of them and offered them for sale.
I decided to order a dozen but by the time I talked to myself about it and wanted to have "enough just in case", I bought 3 dozen! So it could be that I have a head start on my 2019 gifts.
I dyed 2 past week just to see how they take they dye and then are wonderful. They are made well and even the thread in the hems dyes. I used Jacquard Color Magnet to screen the images. The Color Magnet causes the fabric to absorb more dye where it is printed. I could simply screen print the images after I dye the fabric and I will do that when i want the image in a different color.
I've used Color Magnet before. You might remember this tablecloth that I printed with Color Magnet and the dyed . It took a lot of time to print that cloth but the effect was worth it.
Through the next year I'll use the new hand towels to play with different techniques and I should end up with a great stash of gifts.
My Christmas prep projects are done. The hot pads are all made and postcards are in the mail. Chris and I are going shopping for my Christmas gift today (a shooting vest, my jewelry days are over!). So now I can get back to some of my own projects and the first one is to use more of the Indonesian batik scraps for some placemats.
I've seen this idea of trees with circles for the foliage for a while and have been wanting to do a version of it. I remembered this tree stencil and thought it might work. Fortunately cutting circles is easy because I have several circle dies with my Go! Cutter. I cut a few out to test the idea with the stencil and I really like it.
I fused the scraps to WonderUnder, because it was easier to handle them if they were backed with paper. I cut enough for 6 placemats.
I really want to get these wrapped up because I'm planning to quilt them on the left over backing from this quilt that's STILL loaded on the frame. I want it off and bound by the end of the month. I also have 8 veterans quilts that need to mbe quilted soon. So, the placemats are my focus for this week. Now I have to decide on a background and if I'm going to stencil the tree trunk or cut it out of fabric and fuse it.
They are done! All 11 sets (22 bowls) are done and ready for gifting....except for the 2 I'm keeping for myself.
I wrote a tutorial for the way I made mine. I was really disappointed with all of the other tutorials that I saw online. They looked very pretty in their styled photos but once I read through the steps I knew that none of them would hold up through one trip through the washing machine. I don't know about you, but when I microwave soup or oatmeal there's almost always overspill. These hot pad are going to get washed a lot so I added some steps to make them last.
Get the tutorial here.
I've got a little factory going making a dozen sets of bowl hot pads. I was going to post some tutorial links but as I made my first prototype I realized that they wouldn't hold up well to frequent washing. So I've made some mods and will post my own tutorial tomorrow or Friday. I think they are going to be nice gifts!
I bought some new clothes recently and I have a rule that new clothes have to fit into existing spaces. So if a drawer is full I have to get rid of some items to make room for new ones. I can't stand clothes clutter. All of the new clothes fit fine because I had recently done a purge but as I was putting things away (including a new red tunic) I found another red tunic that I had never worn! Ugh, I hate it when I do that. What a waste! I know I had not worn it because the pockets were still stitched together and also I because I don't love it. But it's a perfectly good sweater/tunic and I thought that maybe I could make a Christmas sweater out of it. It is red, after all.
I remembered a sweater that I saw at a show recently that had 3 simple tree on it. I wanted and easy project and that seemed perfect. First I had to find the fabric. I wanted a plaid or stripe so I pulled out those bins and found this set of 3 woven ikat fabrics. (I also found something else for another quick project that I'll share tomorrow.) These are perfect for the look I want...more homespun, less sparkle.
Had I planned this project properly I would have put some Mistyfuse on the back of the tree fabric before I cut it out, but I didn't do that. I just cut out the tree shapes, arranged them on the shirt and pinned them in place. Then I tried on the shirt to check/adjust placement.
Once it was time to stitch I realized that i needed some sort of stabilizer or I'd stretch the sweater during the stitching. Had I taken more than 5 seconds to think about that I would have used Sulky Solvy as my stabilizer because it's so easy to wash out. But I didn't and the closest thing to hand was tissue paper. I pinned a big hunk of tissue paper to the back side of the sweater front and pinned it in place. I did do one test seam on a scrap of sweater fabric and once I had the stitch length and width just right, I zig zagged away. Start to finish, the whole effort (including cleaning up the plaid fabrics strewn everywhere) took less than 2 hours. Now I have something to wear to the quilt club meeting next week.
This cold is supremely annoying. It's not horrible like the one I had last year that lasted 6 weeks. It's just a normal cold that prefers for you to be a complete slug and watch bad TV and that's mostly what I'm doing. Although I did play with EQ some yesterday on some ideas for a quilt made with Shades Packs. But I also had an energy spurt in the afternoon and took full advantage to finish my Maine placemats.
While we were on vacation I, of course, visited the local quilt shops and picked up a dozen fat quarters of Maine-themed fabrics. These aren't my style of fabrics but it seemed like a requirement to buy them. I knew they would end up as placemats or some other small project. I also left them on my cutting table so that I'd be forced to deal with them soon.
Once I got home I spent a stupid amount of time trying to come up with ideas where I could use all 12 fabrics. Seriously, I bet I spent 3 hours on this and, as you would expect, nothing really worked. Some of the prints are way to big for little 4" pieces, like the image above.
I finally decided that my Fat Quarter Placemat pattern was the best option. It uses 6 fabrics so I picked the 6 that went together best and moved on.
I wanted a set of 6 placemats so I needed 6 fabrics even though each placemat only has 5 fabrics. With this pattern you can make 5 or more. But the big pieces really show off the fabrics well and they go together quickly. When I made these the last time I didn't even do any quilting and that worked out fine but I did a lot of straight line quilting on these because they will be easier to iron and will look better longer. The quilting was very zen and was nice to do as I listened to my latest book.
I even did traditional binding (topstiched on the front) which I rarely do on a placemat. generally I take the raw edge and turn it to the back and stitch it with a twin needle from the front. But these needed the brown binding to rein those prints in.
Today I'll dye napkins to match.
Here are all 6 together. I'm really pleased with how they turned out and I think the Fat Quarter Pattern worked great for these novelty prints. They would be fun to make for kids in character prints or for your table in Holiday prints....any holiday. They are nice because they are fast to make.
I had 6 fabrics left over and I know myself well enough that I'd also spend way too much time trying to figure out something to do with them. That's why I used those fabrics for the backs. Now all 12 fabrics have been used and I can move on to something else.
Maybe I can get through next year's vacation without bringing home another project!
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.
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