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.
This nonsense needs to stop.
First, I finished the last of the mini zipper bags. There are 12 here but Mom took one so I made 13 in all. What a great use of this special fabric because I only had small pieces. They were way too stiff for quilts but perfect for these little bags. I think most of these will be Christmas gifts, possibly filled with handmade soaps. Click on this link for the tutorial for these pouches.
It probably would have been good if I had stopped there but two other ideas/thoughts came together to make a bigger obsession
In the Spring I made some "boy" things and made gift bags with the leftovers. I never really thought about making drawstring bags for myself for anything other than gift bags. I mostly use totes or plastic grocery bags as project bags for my crochet and travel sewing. But I do watch quite a few YouTube crochet channels and they often talk about making/buying drawstring or zippered totes for their crochet projects. That seems to make a lot more sense than open totes because things can't fall out of a closed bag. So that idea has been in the back of my mind recently.
Then Monday I told you about cleaning off the cutting table and finding the Spam fabric. I made the pink bag for Anne with her leftover fabric and then I made the mistake of looking thought some of my bins of "special" fabrics and things got crazy from there. I made the National Parks bags first and shared those in Friday's post too.
I should have put everything away right at that point and gotten back to my other projects.
But I didn't. Yesterday I went absolutely insane.
I had 2 fabrics like this that were gifts to me several years ago. I made a large quilt tote from one piece of this fabric. I made 3 of those totes and use them all the time. They are my Show and Tell bags for quilt club meetings and I use then for travel bags for towels and bedding. The other piece has been sitting in my stash waiting for a "special" project. I love this fabric made into project bags! These are big bags that will easily hold everything for a baby blanket crochet project.
Then I found this fabric that Anne gave me at Christmas. She carved the bird stamp and printed this hand dyed fabric for me. A gradient scrap was perfect for the cuff of the bag. I love the bird fabric so much and it's going to be great to actually see it from time to time when it has a crochet project in it. There was only about 4" left of that fabric so this was a perfect use.
Then I found a piece of fabric that was about 5 feet long and 14" wide. I made it from the leftovers of the Fireworks quilt. I took all of the leftovers, cut them into 2.5" strips and sewed them together kind of like a jelly roll race. It's been in my stash for almost 2 years. It seemed like it would make fun bags too and I was right. I actually made 3 bags with this fabric but one is already in use.
Then I thought I should write a tutorial so that I will remember how I made these should I ever need another bag. The tutorial needed to be done on a small bag and that sent me off to another drawer with smaller fabrics.
That's right, 3 more bags! The tutorial will probably be ready next week and is done with the metallic and orange bag but I found the sun printed black denim and it was just big enough for a bag for my crochet hook cases (which I can't find at the moment). The little orange bag was made only because I found that little scrap of fabric and had a yellow zipper nearby.
I finished the last bag just before dinner last night and them I put everything away. I am done making bags even though I found at least 10 more fabrics that would make great bags!
After dyeing today I'm going to get back to cutting out the last of the patriotic fabrics and get a quilt loaded to quilt. Making doll outfits is even seeming a little more sane at the moment so I might cut out a couple of those too.
Before I get into the birthday gifts I have to tell you that last evening my quilt club met as a big group for the first time in MONTHS and IT WAS AWESOME! We had a real program and real show and tell and lots of catching up chatter.
It was a much better time than the 2 days Chris and I have spent burying he phone line (about 300') because the phone company couldn't be bothered. If you don't have Centurylink for your phone service you are blessed. They must have the worst customer service of any company in the world in any category.
Now, on to Eli. Eli is brother to Ella (recipient of couture doll clothes). He's turning 4 this weekend and he's all boy. I decided to dye some shirts for and hopefully he'll like one or more of these. I'm especially thrilled with the spiral. The two in the back were dyed using Color Magnet and stencils.
I had leftover fabric from his pillowcase so I made a gift bag for the shirts. Cookie Monster is his favorite Muppet. The bag is lined in turquoise.
I was rummaging around the sewing room looking for something to use as the drawstring and I spied the clothesline that I usually wrap with fabric for coasters and bowls. I decided to see if it could be dyed. It turns out that it can! I put lots of Fray Check and glue in the knots so that they don't come apart in use.
Mom and I will go to his party Saturday afternoon. Not sure if I'll survive a party full of 4 year old's but I'll give it my best shot. Mom and I might need to stop at a bar on the way home to recover.
I still don't know why I'm making these doll clothes but I can tell you for sure that I'm not done because there are other ideas floating around in my head. This diversion is simply bizarre for me.
This is my newest outfit.
Ella, the recipient of these, went to Disneyworld recently. I found this fabric when I was in Lancaster (along with the "handbag"). The next week Pixie Fairie had a 1950's shirtwaist dress pattern for free. It was meant to be! I've ordered a belt for it to complete the ourfit.
Do you remember when I made this evening dress a few months ago? We're saving it to give to her on her birthday in July. That worked out great because a friend gave me some fake fur scraps. A fur trimmed cape seemed in order.
The claps really isn't in proper proportion but I found it in the button cabinet and seemed like a fine way to finish it off.
Anne gave me a bag of sparkly knit fabrics so I expect some sparkle t-shirts are in my future. I've put the doll stuff away for the moment. It's time tog et back to quilting.
I will spend part of today trying to re-time my longarm so that I can get back to quilting. I messed it up before vacation. I've been meaning to purchase the timing tool for a while but now I have the need. It was time to invest. If I can't get it right I'll get my brother over here to help. He can fix anything.
I don't know about you, but I don't travel without some sort of sewing or craft project. I took some crochet for the car and my sewing machine for the house. I barely touched the machine because the weather looked like this EVERY day. I parked myself on the beach with books pretty much all week.
But Anne and my SIL, Carol, got busy with the Cricut machine. Anne recently bought one and Carol offered to help her start it up. The first thing they did was make this iron on vinyl for me so that now I have dedicated crochet travel bag!
Anne also brought along a dozen water bottles to decorate. Carol designed this cool puzzle label because we worked 3 puzzles during the week. There are 4 puzzle pieces: a fish, a beach sign, lounge chair and lighthouse (for the Hatteras lighthouse). I did help "weed" then. I learned that term last week. Aren't these cool?
When I handed out the dyed tote bags, Anne chose an apron and added these designs to the pockets. Carol had the idea to put the apple stem inside the pocket. I can't wait to come up with some other ideas that Anne can make for me.
I'm having a lot of problems with my hands so I haven't been crocheting at all. But I have to do something in the car to do. I've told you before that I'm a horrible passenger. I took along this car crochet project and I stitched really slowly and carefully. It has 2 skeins in it so far. I'll use all of this third skein and then add a fuchsia border.
Here's a closeup of the pattern. This is my "go to" car project because it's so easy. It's all double crochet and chains.
While on vacation I always feel it's my patriotic duty to support local shops and I was a good patriot this week at several shops. Mostly, I bought t-shirts and hats. But surprisingly in the little village of Hatteras there's a very nice yarn/gift shop that has the added bonus of a sweet welcome dog. They have beautiful yarns. Most are wool that I can't use but I found this beautiful chain spun yarn that's a cotton blend. Carol found me a really simple duster/cardigan pattern for it. I really need for my hand to get better so I can crochet again!
Back at home I've got all the green quilt blocks sorted and paired together. These will be sewn together in pairs to make 12.5" blocks. I've started sewing these together. I expect this top can go together pretty quickly.
I'm also working on more doll clothes and I should be able to share those tomorrow. I've totally lost my mind over the doll clothes!
Most years I try to make some sort of gift for my family for beach week. One year I made a bunch of fused glass things and one year I had commemorative t-shirts printed. The best gift so far was the year that I dyed beach towels. I was in the mood to do that again this year and I decided to give beach bags a try. The bags are from Dharma Trading.
The last time I made shibori I decided to add a few bags to see how they would dye. They dye great! The stitching thread dyes too.
I also had a few aprons left from previous gift giving and I threw some of those in too. Someone might prefer an apron to a bag.
These bags have a pocket on one side so with this group I decided to do something large on the plain side and just do the pocket on the other side. I was going to do a lot more with the Color Magnet but these look entirely too feminine to be appealing to the guys. I didn't want to do too many like this but I love how these turned out.
This is another Color Magnet one. I would have done more of these but it took FOREVER to print because I had to do it in sections and let it dry between adjusting. This one might be minee.
Then a few more straight up tie dye. The sunrise colors were supposed to be on the blue one and the blue one was supposed to be on the orange/yellow one. I won't tell anyone. Of course I always have to make a patriotic version of everything.
Again, with the guys in mind, I tried a couple of gradients and some "solids". I'll spread them out on a table and they can decide pick their favorites. I even ironed them all.
I made more than I needed so one of these might be included in a giveaway next week.
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In Bloglovin you need to search "Colorways By Vicki Welsh" to find the blog.
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.