I did it! I finished all the postcards! It's actually 79, not 80 but I'm not going to be short. There are a couple of people on last year's list that aren't on this year's. Not because I suddenly dislike them but because they moved, or, sadly, died.
After all of the agony and angst, I'm actually happier with this batch of cards than any year before. I like all 3 designs equally.
Here's the second design. I suppose it can be called an abstract tree. The background is a fabric that I think was called Mirror Ball and it's got just the right amount of sheen. I cut out diamond shapes from batik and fused them down. I picked up the Merry Christmas ribbon at one of the craft stores. The stitching is silver metallic thread.
I think the final count on these was 22. I'm not about to get up out of this chair to go count.
The third set are really cute Gingerbread Men. I picked a plaid background for the look of a kitchen towel or tablecloth. Mottled hand dyed fabric was perfect for the cookies (or biscuits for my UK friends). The shape came from Electric Quilt. I took their Gingerbread applique and sized it for a postcard. It distorted the head a little so I just had to fix that before making my cardboard template.
The arm and leg icing is a very narrow ric rac. I have a shoebox of vintage ric rac that comes in handy from time to time. This was one of those times. The face and buttons are paint. I did some in white and some in colors and a few of the mouths are "o" shaped because they are afraid of being eaten. I wish I had "taken a bite" out of a couple of them. My brothers would get a kick out of that.
Here they are after painting. This picture reminds me of gingerbread on a cookie sheet. There are 20 of these cards.
Here's the stack of 79 cards ready for a hand-cramping session of addressing. Before I get to these I have a few Christmas gifts that need to get made before Friday. I expect I'll address these this coming weekend and get them in the mail on the 14th. That's plenty of time!
And now for my hack!
After I finished these I shortened some sleeves on some new long sleeved tshirts that I bought and then I started cleaning up the serger to put away. It was a linty mess and I was trying to use cotton swabs and brushes. I used to have one of these mini-vacuum attachment kits but it never fit any vacuum that I owned so it was useless and was thrown out ages ago. I wondered if I couldn't hack one of my own.
I had this attachment from an old vacuum that I use in the basement. I never use the attachment so I tested and it fits the upstairs vacuum. I cut off the brush stuff. Then I found this hose in the cabinet of leftover hardware and stuff. It turns out that cabinet has a TON of weather stripping for some reason. I can't even think where we have used any of it and have no idea why we have so much of it. Probably need to do a purge down there sometime. Anyway, this tubing was in there so I cut a length and it just fit inside the attachment.
That tube wasn't going to be small enough to fit in the small areas of the sewing machines. I solved that with another length of a narrower tubing that fit perfectly inside the big one.
Duct tape is so awesome.
The old attachment fits right on the end of the vacuum extension thingy. It's not pretty but I've always been a function-over-form girl.
This hack functions perfectly! Look at that beautiful clean serger! I'll be using this on all my machines as soon as the Christmas sewing rush is over.
Now I'm working on coiled coaster sets, you know, the ones that are fabric wrapped around clothesline. My friend, Estelle, makes lots of these as a fundraiser for the Virginia Quilt Museum. She's right when sewing them is like eating potato chips. You just can't stop! It's such a zen activity. I made 2 sets earlier this year and another last night. I want to get 2 more made by Friday and that shouldn't be a problem at all.
Yay! The first set of postcards are done! I finished the stitching on the gingerbread men last night so today I could prepare and fuse backs and start serging the edges. I think this is probably one of my favorite Christmas card designs in the 14 years that I've been making cards. It's simple but still nice and a little elegant.
When I planned these cards I wanted gold for the edging but after I did one I decided that I didn't really like that so I switched to a green edging. I'll still mail the gold one, it's perfectly fine and the recipient will not know that they got the only gold one. Hmmm, maybe I should note it so they think they got a special one and not a pseudo-reject.
Getting the right green color was a bit of a challenge. I eventually settled on running these 2 green threads in the upper looper. The blend of the two matched the green in the tree really well. I used blue for the needle and a darker green for the lower looper. The upper looper threads are embroidery threads that have a nice sheen to them.
The first 37 cards are ready to address and mail.
The serger makes quick work of the postcard edges. If I were only making 10 or so cards, I'd use a satin stitch on the machine but when I need to crank out volume the serger can't be beat. I've had this serger over 20 years and it's not been serviced once! If the stitching is off it's ALWAYS a threading problem. I just rethread the machine and it's ready to go.
Actually the first thing I serged today were the cuffs on this shirt. I bought it in August and it's been hanging on the back of my sewing chair ever since waiting for me to shorten the sleeves. I didn't want to get the machine out for a 15 minute job so I took care of this first. I chop off the cuff, then cut some length off the sleeve and then sew the cuff back on. It's a little awkward at the machine but relatively easy. Now I can wear my super soft new shirt this winter.
I've got some errands to run today but this afternoon I'll be working on the rest of the cards. I should be able to get them all edged and then I need to add some paint highlights to the gingerbread men.
I'm focused on two things this week: decorating for Christmas and making postcards. The truth is that I'm kind of over decorating. Years ago I would go crazy with something like 5 trees. I must be my mother's daughter because she's pared down to a door decoration and a 1 foot tree that she pulls out of a box. I'm heading in that direction but I'm not quite there yet. This year we are doing the outside (finished that Sunday), the fireplace mantle (this afternoon) and the tree with the glass ornaments (Sunday) and that's it. I'm not doing the beaded ornaments this year. No one is visiting and it's way too much work for a room that we probably won't go in all month. I'll peek at them in the closet if I miss them.
It's more important that I get these postcards done. I'd like them in the mail by the 10th and even though they have been more "difficult" than usual, I'll get them done in time for sure.
Why have they been difficult? Because I can't decide on designs. I don't remember having this much trouble deciding on designs before but I probably go through this every year and just forget.
I started with this idea based on something that I saw online. Ignore the green feather stitching, that was some practice after I had already rejected this one. It's supposed to be an ornament and garland but it just doesn't work. I might revisit it next year with different fabrics.
Here's another idea I saw online in a paper card. I love it but I surveyed 3 friends and all agreed that this one would not survive the mail. Rejected because I refuse to mail them in envelopes. Envelopes take all the fun out of it! It is a really cute design though.
Then came an idea based on a roll of ribbon that I bought at the craft store. That led me to fuse 30 pieces of muslin and then use a stencil to paint trees. Really, really ugly trees.
I tested one out and I hate it. It turns out that I really hate the ribbon. I'll keep the painted trees. I might come up with something clever for next year. A friend took the ribbon so at least that's out of my life.
Then I went to my friend's house for Thanksgiving and we did some fabric shopping and I bought 2 packs of red and green batik fat eighths and that inspired these cards that I'm really happy with. Now I'm sure that I have fabric that I could have done this simple design with but I think it was the process of just seeing something new that got me out of that postcard funk. For that, the purchase was totally worth it.
(All fabric purchases are totally worth it all the time.)
So, as of Sunday I had these 2 piles of cards read to go to get backs and go through the serger for edges. I only needed one more design. I went back to Electric Quilt and looked through the applique Christmas motifs for inspiration.
EQ has a Gingerbread man block and that was just what I needed! I have a box of vintage ric rac that produced the perfect icing trim. I'm in the process of edging all of them in the brown thread. Once the are trimmed they will get the rest of their embellishments with paint. I think they are going to be really cute and they could potentially be in the mail early next week. Hooray!
As with every weekend I started out with a pretty long list. The difference this weekend is that I actually finished most of it! The big project of the weekend is one that I can't share. Every year I volunteer to make a sample quilt (0r 2) for Paula Nadelstern for her new fabric line. Usually I work on this on September - October but covid changed the schedule this year. My goal was to start it this weekend and finish by December 10 but once I got into it I came up with a simple design that used the fabrics in an amazing way. I finished the top Saturday afternoon and got it quilted Sunday. All that's left is binding. I'll take it with me on my Thanksgiving trip and get the binding and sleeve stitched. I should be able tos hare the quilt sometime in December.
I'm able to focus on my projects so well because I'm listening to a great book. It's Robert Galbraith's latest installment of of the Cormoran Strike series. I've been waiting for the book for months and now that I have it I can't turn it off. So I sewed and quilted and drew Spirographs all weekend. Here's the stitching on the first Christmas card design.
In case you are wondering how I drafted the star, I used Electric Quilt. They have the star shape in the motif library and I was able to play around with it until I got it the size I needed. I love EQ.
These 37 cards are all set aside and ready for backs and edges. I'll serge the edges so I'll wait until all the cards are done and finish them all off together.
I also quilted! I finished Mom's quilt and that's why I was able to get my Paula quilt done yesterday. Mom made this quilt for someone who works in her apartment complex. It's a really pretty quilt.
I dyed a gold backing and quilted it with the Woven Wind pantograph using Superior Rainbows and Superior So Fine threads. The tension was perfect all the way through.
Mom is an expert at scrap quilt and this one is a winner.
Yesterday was a really good day. I ran errands in the morning and found almost everything I needed between Walmart and Wegmans. The only think I need to order is printer ink. There seems to have been a run on printer ink lately because it's been out of stock for weeks. I also noticed that there's another toilet paper run. My friend in California told me about it there so I looked down those aisles today. How much more toilet paper do people really need? Isn't everyone stocked for a year now?
Back at home I now have 36 postcards ready for stitching! These will be done in no time and then I'll need to think about the next design. I quite like how these are turning out and I think the simple stitching that I have planned will look really nice.
I also spent a couple of hours on the floor cloths. I'm sorry that these photos are a bit chopped off. I uploaded them from my phone and I might have selected the unedited images so the blog software cropped them for me. I'm writing this late at night on Thursday and don't have the human or cell battery to reload them. You will see loads more photos to come but here's a peek at what I did yesterday.
This the second of the 6 foot rugs and you can see that I'm starting to layer the designs. It takes more time but it's so worth it, don't you think? I've got lots more space to cover. I'm working no more than and hour and a half at a time and I do wear a respirator but some of the fumes still sneak through. I'll be back out there this afternoon to finish the inside of that big circle and to add more elements to all three rugs. It's so zen and relaxing to work on these. You have to concentrate so you have to purge everything else from your thoughts.
Yesterday was dyeing day and after 40 yards of fabric dyed I didn't have time or energy for much else. But I did have time to think about a different postcard design and I got a little start on it.
I do some sort of tree design every year so I decided to table the design I was working on Tuesday and move forward with a tree design. It took some editing but I now have a plan. I have 34 or 36 postcard bases ready and I've started cutting out trees. Next I need to add fusible to the gold metallic fabric and cut out my star template. I'm determined to make fast cards this year. I don't have time for a lot of details, there are too many other projects to do!
I've got errands to run today but I hope this afternoon that I can get these substantially done and get some quilting done on Mom's quilt too. All I have to do is stay off the internet!
I'm so happy with this new postcard design that I made this weekend. I always try to come up with something new for my Mom for her birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!) and some years the creativity works better than others. She's an avid gardener so flowers are always a good choice. This particular one is a true trash-to-treasure project.
It started with this little pile of scraps that I found in one of the magical bins in my sewing room. This little stack of hand dyed bits are left over from this quilt called Innova Angles. It was the first quilt that I quilted on my Innova in 2014 and I gave it to Virginia Longarm as a thank you for their great support. The fabric was some of the first fabric that I ever dyed and there was only a tiny bit leftover.
Without having any sort of a plan I just sewed all of the bits to postcard bases and had enough for 7 cards. The palette is so "Springy" that it just screamed for a flower.
I have a bin of pre-fused bits so I pulled that out and just started cutting shapes. The flowers are purple because that's what I had available that would show up on the background. No patterns here, just free cut shapes. I did fuse and stitch it in stages:
1 - vase, stem leaves
2 - petals
3 - centers (the center is 2 layers of yellow to hide and shadows from what's underneath
I used a 30 weight purple thread and went around every shape twice for definition. I even did the outside edge with 3 rounds of straight stitching instead on my usual serged or satin-stitched edge. I felt like a satin stitch edge would be too heavy. Surprisingly, I like the effect of the straight stitches. It goes against my fussy nature but I'm glad I restrained myself for this one.
Just in case Mom's gets lost in the mail I have extras. I can always send her another. I think they are so happy!
I'm happy to report that the cat quilt, now officially named Corona Cats, is done! I got the binding on last night but I didn't get photos taken yet so you will have to wait until tomorrow. I still need to make labels for that quilt and the penguin quilt and they need to be done by Friday night.
For today I have some postcards, including my Mother's Day card, to share.
First up, 4 more shibori postcards. I'm really pleased with this set, especially the 2 on the right. I have 4 more bases but I'm not sure I'll finish those. I'm less inspired by them so I may stop here and just put those 4 bits in the Drawer of magical Things for a later inspiration. I've got another postcard idea with some leftovers of the cat quilt backing and I think I want to get on to those.
This is my Mother's Day card for this year. I decided to do the beach scene because we thought that our beach vacation was canceled this year. But the day after I made this we got the news that vacation is on! We'll be sitting on the beach very soon. I've done a lot of these shibori sea cards but this one got some extra attention with the addition of tan shibori to transition from the water to the solid tan sand. I also did 3 thread colors on the edge, not something that I'd do for anyone but Mom.
It took a lot of materials to make this one small card! I pulled out the bin of shibori and a bin of pre-fused scraps.
I also got to test out the new yarn arrangement. I wanted a yarn for the horizon and it only took a minute or 2 because everything was visible at one time.
This is why I will probably not do anything with the last 4 shibori scraps bits. These are the off cuts from the cat quilt backing and I really want to do something with them. I think there are a lot of possibilities here!
Yesterday was dyeing day so I was busy most of the day dyeing some new shibori and some of the tea towels. In the evening I finished off the next 4 shibori postcards and cut some more scraps.
The postcards are so much fun to play with and I like all 4 of the ones in this set. I think I have 8 more to do and I've already started stitching one of them.
At the end of the day I spent a few minutes with the scrap bin. I cut up enough pieces for 10 more Blockade blocks and more 2.5 and 3.5 squares. I can really see the difference in the bin now.
This is the funniest piece in there. Most people would have thrown this out. There are actually a lot of good repeats left and I could have left it in the fabric cabinet but I cut it up and salvaged a lot of pieces from it. I would probably have never pulled this out to use in a symmetry project.
I also found a nice surprise in the box!
These are painted silk fabrics that I bought at a quilt show (probably Houston) ages ago. I did buy them to use in symmetry projects but they just didn't work well for that. Now they are going in the Drawer of Magical Things for future postcards. I'm already getting some ideas. They might make beautiful ornaments on Christmas cards. Finding them was like getting something cool for free because I had completely forgotten about them.
I wonder how much cool stuff we all have that we have forgotten about!
Yesterday was dyeing day but there was still plenty of time to finish up the cats that I started this weekend. I only have 8 more to make but I might make a few extra so that when I lay out the quilt I can replace any that don't make me happy. My favorite in this group is the on on the lower right.
Here are all 12 that I've made so far. These are so much fun! I've done all the "paperwork" that I needed to do this week so today is pretty much a day reserved for exercise and sewing.
The other thing that I work on between crochet session is stitching on the shibori scrap postcards. I have 16 bases of scraps sewn together and I'm adding little bits of hand stitching before fusing them to postcard interfacing and finishing them. It turns out that these are a lot of fun too! I'm making them in sets of 4 and I've already started stitching on the next set. It's just another fun thing to do in the evenings.
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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.