Quilts, Denim and Thrifting… Oh, and I Finished My Cross Stitch

I’ve been working on a ton of projects but current resources are making things hard to finish anything. And when I say “resources” I am not talking about time, imagination or inspiration and generally speaking also not about fabric, thread or sewing machines.

The group of quilts that I’ve been working is based on using denim fabric harvested from old jeans. Getting my hands on really, really cheap jeans isn’t an issue. The problem I am having is that the borders I want to add to these quilts in progress I want to be seamless. And that will require the purchase of new denim fabric. And, of course, I want to use is flannel and I am finding that the necessary amount of this fabric will be quite large. I tend to find myself in this quandary quite often now that I am approaching nearly a year of unemployment. đŸ˜¦

Not so long ago, I saw a comment posted on a beautiful – simple yet very functional – quilt made from old blue jeans. The comment, which I cannot seem to locate now, said something to the effect that quilts made from old jeans look like “old jeans” and therefore implied that the quilt looked ‘old and worn’. I replied saying that’s what makes these quilts so extraordinary, that they feel as great as your favorite jeans and thereby by extension, are something to be used and to feel comforted by. These words kicked off a goal of using harvested denim to make both beautiful and functional quilts. To show that your blue jeans and flannel shirts aren’t about dressing up, but about feeling good; and isn’t that what we all love about our favorite quilts?

So, let me start with sharing my method for acquiring blue jeans. It was a absolute accident that I stumbled upon this idea. If you’ve been reading or following my blog, you’ll know that I am a huge lover of thrift shops and going with my son. We just happened upon the “Last Chance” racks of clothing at Red Racks. Red Racks, I believe, are local to the Missouri, from Kansas City on the west all the way to St. Louis on the east. With a little luck, you may find your solution in your area.Fancy Line 1

Red Racks is a major source of funds for DAV. The proceeds from the sales of donated goods help our country’s Disabled American Veterans, providing assistance for transportation, medical needs, counseling, and much more. Find out more at DAV.org.

Fancy Line 1

So, Red Racks have what they call “last chance” and all items on these racks are priced at a dollar. Sometimes, they have some wonderful items (a great place to get kid’s clothes!) and often many pairs of jeans. These range from baby jeans all the way to guy’s jeans. Even at this price, you can’t beat it.

But… on Sundays the last chance has one really last chance and everything is marked to twenty five cents! Now here is a unbelievable price! And as you might suspect, items go quickly. For some reason, The Kid and I just happened to be there early and literally took every piece of denim we could find. And even at this, our giant haul was only $13!

Now, here is one thing that I discovered with working with denim. Be extremely cautious using denim with stretch. One project I am working on is using the jeans seams. However, when you add in seams with stretch, the piece becomes … curvy. Not a result that I wanted. And if not used correctly, the stretch denim can cause havoc in your quilt. I am not saying that you can’t use it, just be careful when you do. I, personally, have opted to reduce my use, if not all out stopping.

IMG_4370So, this is one of my first hauls. Either someone was watching or had the same idea as me, but it never was more than this. But this is more than enough. I was also working on collecting colored denim as an accent for these quilts, but true colored denim is hard to come by. Or maybe I should say heavy denim or colored denim without stretch.

IMG_4369In this pile, really only the top red, the blacks and browns and the bottom turquoise print are what I would call “real” denim. The others are lightweight and/or have stretch and will not use them in quilts. They may work great for making doll clothes though.

So, I’ve been able to piece together six denim quilts, four that need borders and all need flannel backings before I can ship these off to my top quilter. For those who may have missed it, I have a wonderful friend Becky, who does my longarm service, Collis Country Quilting. (If you’re interested in contacting Becky, you can reach here on her Facebook page: Collis Country Quilting. She can also be reached via email at: rebecca_collis@yahoo.com. Just let her know that I sent you!)

Here is a quilt that I stumbled onto via Pinterest. It is called “Cathedral windows” and was quite quick to put together.DSCN5208And the back:DSCN5209This is quite wonderful since it didn’t actually require top quilting… it is a ‘quilt as you go’. I love the varying shades of denim… this is one of those quilts I am working on in the concept to show just how beautiful old and faded jeans can be turned into equally beautiful quilts.DSCN5210And here, a shot of the front. Some of the squares turned out a little funky, I think I wasn’t paying quite enough attention to the flaps as I worked. I think once its gone through the washing machine once or twice.DSCN5211I’ve actually starting working on another of these quilts, starting with 10″ circles which should fold down to about 7″. Initially, I was going to use the harvested colored denim, but after assembling a few squares have determined that it is too dull. So, more investigation as to other possibilities.DSCN5212I actually did a smaller quilt with some leftover squares and ran it through the washer. This will give you an idea of how it will look:IMG_4388I did finish the binding for one more that Becky top quilted for me (there are still a ton more to finish binding!):

DSCN5214The quilt didn’t turn out quite like I hoped. The patterns of the fabrics mask the layout and you can’t quite see it for the colors.DSCN5215Oh, well, sometimes you hit a homer and sometimes it is just good for keeping the fans in the bleachers warm.DSCN5216Pretty purple backing with a nice meandering pattern.

I also finished my cross stitch of my favorite Pyrex pattern: Friendship Birds.IMG_4391I’m not thrilled with it in the hoop, can’t seem to get it taut. I am going to look into other options. Stay tuned!

Okay, that’s it for now! Thanks for dropping by!

julie

For The Love of Pyrex – My Friendship Pattern

Sometimes it is so amazing how quickly time goes by. I always thought that time was like a bell curve, when you were young, time seemed to go so slowly and then speed up as you entered your twenties and then sped up until sometime in your late forties or so and then it would start slowing down.

Even though I am not working, each day seems to alternatively just go by in a blink of an eye and then sometimes, the days can just drag on and on.

Anyway, this last couple of weeks have seemed to just flash by. I have always tried to write consistently… rather than have the blog just sort of fade away. When I feel like I have nothing left to share or learn, I will just say so, say goodbye to my readers and stop. I am not ready to do that yet.

So, although I haven’t written recently, it isn’t for lack of projects! Every so often, I have to stop myself and focus on a project until it is done. I get one started and then I have my attention diverted and get started on something else, and before you know it I have eight things going and nothing getting done!

On top of that, The Kid and I went out to pick up free Tiger Lilly plants for replanting in the back yard and while trying to load them, I tripped and fell. I may have cracked a rib, at the very least I bruised something, making it tough to really do much at all. Every move hurts and it really puts a damper on most of my projects.

There is one that is doable, and it started a little while back. When I dug out all my Pyrex and got a little more involved with it again. I want to take the doors off the cabinet above the stove and display the Pyrex I collect for me, the pattern is called Friendship or Friendship Birds. Its mostly red with a heavy sprinkling of this light orange.

il_570xN.85348169

(This isn’t mine but I want to add this to my collection!)

The remainder of the Pyrex was sold! And I got almost as much as I was asking… a nice little amount. This is the cabinet I am thinking about turning into a showcase:

I think I could just take off the doors and rearrange the shelves, but I work because it sits above the microwave vent and I worry that it might get greasy (the doors do!). Maybe I could place a framed piece of plexiglass or something over it. I am still thinking on this idea.

But the other idea it sparked was another cross stitch. Using my favorite Pyrex pattern, I drew out the pattern. I am going to “frame” it in a embroidery hoop, I’ve already painted it red. Turns out that cross stitching I can do that doesn’t aggravate my cracked rib.

IMG_4366So, between the stitching, harvesting denim from old jeans and sewing denim quilt squares, I have been keeping busy. I will let you in on my secret of getting old denim from jeans for practically nothing soon. In addition to the mostly blue but some black and white, I have found some really great colors – and a leopard print! – which I am going to make a really colorful denim quilt down the road. I’ve also added much to my denim stash: side and bottom seams, belt loops and pockets! Like I said, so much stuff started… getting nothing done!

Oh yeah, and in between all this, I am still job hunting. Although it may not seem like it, I still love the work I do in computers. There is a career that is never boring and always changing. It has done well for me.

Come back soon for updates!

julie

Uh Oh, I Think I’m In Trouble Here

So, when I get frustrated or overwhelmed, I tend to stop creating and start cleaning and organizing. Yesterday was no different. I am a bit overwhelmed in the garage – to the point where I can now not get my car OUT of the garage. Sigh.

Also, my home office was rife with clutter, to the point where I couldn’t hardly get to any of the computers. Much less sit down and try to be productive.

So, out came the organizing bins and with that, the ‘attic closet’ that I store them in had to be organized so that I could get empty ones out and full ones back in. We started there. Pretty much pulled everything out of the ‘attic’ and made quick decisions on what could be kept and re-stored and what could be donated or thrown away.

With much of that done, I had the boxes I needed to work on the office. All the empty boxes that had been collected in my office were sorted by which ones needed to be kept (and organized in a container) the ones that no longer needed were broke down and readied for recycling. That was pretty easy. Carried the containers up to the ‘attic’.

Next came putting everything back into the attic storage (quick definition, the ‘attic storage’ is not actually the attic, but space behind the closet in the guest bedroom. It feels like an ‘attic’ because it is unfinished and cold, but the real attic is a floor up.)

We had a pretty large pile to be donated and that went into the truck for the next trip. The containers all went back in nicely organized by size. But then the brakes were hit!photo 4

Quite a few months ago, I organized the quilt tops that had been finished and awaiting quilting. I sent one large box off to my friend Gloria for quilting and set the other box back into the guest bedroom closet (closet, not the ‘attic storage’). I really had thought that there was only one box left. I really felt like I was making a dent in getting quilts quilted and then bound and completed.

In yesterday’s flurry of organization, more boxes were uncovered. First it was one. I sighed. Then another was uncovered (it began to feel more and more like an excavation). I called The Kid over. We removed more boxes and there was number three and four. Holy cow!

I also took one box and loaded into it all the denim quilts awaiting the discovery of someone who is willing to take them on. I think I broke Gloria’s machine with one of the last denim quilts she quilted. đŸ˜¦ For this I feel really bad.photo 2

So, I moved all of these boxes into my sewing room. I have to figure out something. And until I do, I cannot – CANNOT – start any more. This is nuts! I also have a large armoire in the guest bedroom which was my baby’s storage in his nursery. It stores TONS of quilts. It is now pretty full. And another dozen or so finished (at least they are finished!!) are sitting on top of the guest bed. I suppose this is where I am grateful that I don’t often have guests!!

I am planphoto 5ning on counting all the unfinished quilts which should allow me to do some math. I am beginning to believe that I could invest in my own long arm machine and would be cheaper in the long run than paying someone else to do it.

Oh, by the way, I did some searching on the internet to find someone to hand quilt my rescued quilt top and I found one woman who priced a queen sized quilt at $15,000. No, there isn’t too many zeroes or any typos. Good grief… if I thought I could get someone to pay me those kinds of numbers, I would totally do it! I can’t imagine! Can you?

I am hesitant to even mention the dozen or more quilts that are already in process… I’ve either cut for blocks or have the blocks and just need to assemble. I am so overwhelmed by all of this that I have decided to go watch a movie and do more cross stitch. Right?!?!

julie

One More Denim (Finished a While Ago)

I know I made the proclamation that I wasn’t going to make any more quilts in denim for a while, but I actually did complete this some time ago and have had it stashed for a while. I finally when through the inventory in the guest bedroom, I ran across this one (and one other) that I have opted to place for sale on eBay.

DSCN2298I love the nuance in the shades of the denim, and I love the idea of the life that was worn into each of the squares of denim and then rescued and displayed in the quilt. The paisley fabric I chose for the trim looks almost like bandana material, and just compliments the denim. There is a small print red heart fabric on the back that really gives the calming influence of the blues and white – a nice contrast.

photo 1For what it is worth, this is the other quilt – also finished sometime ago – and going up on eBay:

DSCN2300I used the same fabric as in the sashing for the back. This is just hard candy colors and sometimes it is just fun to play with the dynamic colors. I could see this as a quilt for a boy or a girl that just graduated from a crib to a “big kid” bed. Or to hang on the wall of a nursery or kid’s room. I hope that someone buys it and loves the colors and the happy feeling that comes from it.

Okay, that’s it for today. I am in a very weird place… kind of in-between everything. I can’t really get excited about working on anything new and really, I shouldn’t be starting anything when I have so much to finish. But I really am having a tough time really getting back to the already-started-pieces because it means that there it will require working in the garage and the temps just aren’t all that comfortable. And that is probably just an excuse, I just am unable to get motivated.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

julie

More Denim, This Is It For a While…

Okay, I persevered and finished another denim quilt. This one fought a long and hard battle. It is the first time that I had to really rip seams and fix mistaken cuts. And not just once. And to add to the fighting, the weight of all that denim had me uttering choice phrases to the sewing machine. I even had to throw my hands up in defeat and leave it for a couple of days while I pondered the best way to finish it.

I think it all boiled down to four diagonal set-in seams. I have never been a big fan of set-in seams anyway, but that they were on a bias and diagonal didn’t help. Oh and yeah, broke four! needles in the process. Denim is not kind but I love the end result.

IMG_6145Now I have three more denim tops completed and have really paired down my stash of recycled denim, I am going to swear off working with it for a while. I flipped through a few books and magazines that I’ve marked with possible ideas but nothing seems to be sparking or lighting a fire under me. Maybe I need to take a break from sewing and concentrate on finishing at least one or two of the Victrola cabinets that I picked up a few weeks ago.

I’ve decided with one that I am going to turn into a little bar… with a little ice tub and a place for bottles and decanters and store glasses and napkins in the cabinet where albums were kept. I am thinking a walnut stained top and painting the cabinet a deep brown. The other cabinet is going to be an entertainment cabinet… using the former horn as an amplifier for an iPhone/iPod/music player and then adding a turntable and also making place for game controllers. This piece is going to be walnut stained top with a deep red/maroon cabinet. I think this will be really sharp.

There are two additional cabinets, a taller one that I think The Kid has his eye on it to be restored to the same sort of end product… a place for gaming systems and also a music system. And the last one has the makings to be the perfect bathroom vanity. I will have to replace the top with a solid piece (it splits in the middle right now), but I could see this is a beautiful ivory with maybe a piece of granite or ivory on top. Guess we’ll have to see how this proceeds.

Tomorrow I may go down to the Habitat’s ReStore and check out what they have in terms of granite or ivory and if they might have any vessel sinks that might work. Or any other interesting pieces that might be fun to work with. I still have the whole garage/shop job that I have planned, a post for another day.

julie

Back To My Quilting Roots

I just seem to be all over the place these days. Work is consuming me as I have joined a new team and am learning all new technologies. I just haven’t been able to land on a single project at home, so many are this close to be completed, yet I can’t seem to wrap my brain around any one thing or get those last few details finished.

Then a box arrived in the mail. A long forgotten group of quilt tops that I had sent off many moons ago. I have this wonderful friend in Arkansas that has been quilting my tops for as long as I can remember, probably close to 15 years. I don’t even remember how we connected, but I remember that I trusted her completely to make decisions about patterns and styles and thread colors. She has experimented and I have always been over-the-moon happy with her work.

So, once I moved to Missouri and put together my wonderful sewing room, I put together quilt tops like there was no tomorrow. I suddenly found that I had more than 200 completed and it was going to be a fortune to have them quilted, even with my wonderful quilting friend. I let them accumulate for some time. I finally thought it was time, so I sorted through, found some of my favorites or ones that I promised to friends and sent them off.

I got the first few quickly but it came with a note. Gloria was having trouble with her machine and it would take some time to get someone out to her home to get it fixed. Did I want her to ship the quilts back? I told her to hang on to them and work on them when she could.

So, a week or so ago, a box appeared on my doorstep! Yay! Quilts that needed to be completed. I’ve not worked on these specific quilts for some time, in some cases years!

So, when I was struggling with completing a number of projects, I turned it all over for a chance to finish some long awaited quilts. Here are a couple…

Jeans Quilt

The first one is a just one more of a series of scrap denim quilts that I’ve been doing for a while. These are made from many different pairs of jeans, some mine and the Kid’s and from friends that thought of me when cleaning their closets. I take apart the jeans and harvest the largest squares and then down until what I can get are 2″ x 6″ pieces. That is what went into this quilt along with pockets in each corner. If you look closely, you will see a second quilt underneath the latest, the Kid has placed dibs on both. They are backed with a soft flannel, one green and the other blue. One more still to go will have red backing. They are incredibly warm and soft, from years of wear… there is no breaking in needed for these quilts.Small QuiltThis quilt is simply the left over blocks from a larger quilt. The hearts were the first real attempt that I did in doing applique, not exactly my cup of tea. But I wanted to really give it an honest shot to ensure that I wasn’t passing up something that was really going to excite me. And I realize that this isn’t going to be it. đŸ˜¦

One more quilt arrived in the box that I haven’t had a chance to get finished… and I want to take my time with it. It is made with a multiple of red and white patterns and it is stunning! This will definitely be completed this weekend. I will share it with you then.

Every quilt gets a special finishing touch. I know that I should be more detailed and more informational and more creative, but for the most part, once I sew that last stitch on the binding, I want to be done. So 25 or so more stitches secures this little note in the corner on the back.

Name TagSo, a little time spent doing one of the things I love doing the most and I have given myself some time to figure out how to get organized and see a better path for the other projects that need to be completed. And I am looking forward to the next box of surprises.

%d bloggers like this: