Frustration On The Creative Endeavors – When You Can’t Get Anything Finished!

Ever have one of those days? Well, I am having one of those months! I have about ten projects all going at the same time and it seems that for one reason or another, I cannot get a single one finished! Timing or materials or weather, something seems to stand in the way of completing the project.

My big project and the one I am most excited about is now 99.9% complete! I am waiting on one more simple (or I hope simple) finishing touch and a nice day of weather to get the project photographed. Argh! It is so frustrating to be so close to completion that I have nightmares about it! No joke!

I’ve stopped picking up project pieces since the weather is going to soon become the kind of weather that prevents me from driving my little sports car. When that happens, I usually drive it into the third garage stall, cover him and put him into hibernation. Well, in order to do that, I have to get that stall cleaned out, so I have been a busy little beaver trying to get things done. It is either that or get rid of them. And I am trying to do both.

I picked up this awesome antique bench thinking it would be an easy project, but it has turned out to be anything but. Sigh. I work on it a little and then get frustrated or tired of fighting with the four million staples/nails/tacks and move to something else.

I am close to finishing the four poster bed frame that I am painting in the same pink ombré style, but of course, I had to spend an inordinate amount of time to find the right connectors for the side boards, so it too has taken a place at the back of the line.

I picked up this not-so-little entertainment center for the express purpose of harvesting pieces – like the doors and drawers and shelves – as I am planning on building a gun cabinet for The Kid’s personal collection of antique fire arms. They are very nice pieces, so the cabinet needs to be of the same quality. This thing weighed like two thousand pounds when we picked it up and much of it is turning out to be real wood (as opposed to the junk compressed wood in many) so I am harvesting much more than I thought I would be. And of course, it too, was well made with about a ton of glue, staples, screws and nails so it is taking much more effort to get it apart than hoped.

The end table to dog crate too, is almost complete. It has turned out to be a bit heavy, so as an added bonus, I am planning on adding wheels (found on the entertainment center) to make it easier to move around. Of course, the wheels are on the bottom of the entertainment center, so they are close to last in coming off, but maybe – just maybe – that can be completed today.

As I said, the weather is starting to turn which is just raising havoc with the arthritis in both knees. Did I mention that I am tentatively scheduled for dual knee replacement surgery in January? Something tells me that work with come to a screeching halt in the garage for a while then. 🙂

photo 4As a consequence of the weather and knees, I’ve been back to sewing some. I made a personal vow not to make any more quilts until I can get some of the tops completed quilted. My best guess is that there is between 200 and 300 waiting for someone to do this step and then I do the binding. I just cringe each time I think about the money that will be needed to do this. So, they wait.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on using up my scraps. I just put on a good movie and sew, really without much thinking. I’ve also been working on a postage stamp baby quilt (I think I might be able to do the quilting on my sewing machine) just to use up these last few hundred pieces. A few years ago, I ordered this box of charm pieces (2000!) that are 1.5″ squares and used a good deal of them in several quilts. I just can’t bring myself to toss the remaining, although they are what I call “the uglies”!! Does anyone else here have this issue?

I’ve also been working with felt pieces while I ice then heat my knees. I’ve made a bunch of Christmas decorations (although we don’t really celebrate or decorate in the house), as well as working on another needle book. I need to just need to finish the cover. Of course over in the corner next to the fireplace is that great big hulking needlepoint project… just sitting there mocking me.

I’ve resisted writing just this post – the one where I admit that I can’t seem to get anything completed! Its just so aggravating and humbling to have to admit to all this incompleteness! I really try to hold myself to a higher standard, but sometimes it is so overwhelming – and I realized that it has been quite a while since I last posted. But to have to post and say I’ve got nothing! Argh!

Best intentions aside, time to get on with the day. I really need to assess what is left and what still needs to be done and what is required to get to that point. And then just start tackling them, one by one.

Wish me luck! And to all those out there who think us bloggers just get things done out of discipline and attention? We’re just people too and infallible. So don’t worry that you’re project(s) isn’t getting done. It happens to all of us!

julie

Making My First Needle Book

Things have been a little hectic in my life, so I thought it was a good time for a little downtime from the furniture projects and do some hand sewing. In getting all of the bits and baubles that I have finally gotten around to organizing, which gave me a central collection for all my hand sewing needles. So, then I needed to figure out a way to store them properly. It was then I stumbled onto something that apparently has been around a long time, which I’ve never heard of. Which is all I needed to jump into it with great enthusiasm.

What I am a speaking of? A simple little thing called a needle book. Did a little search on Google and then again on Pinterest, and came up with some great ideas. So, I settled down with some great movies and felt and thread and set about making my own.

2015-09-22 17.50.56I had a different cover created, one that I had started embroidering, but when it came time to put the cover on, I found that I had seriously underestimated the book’s thickness! So, instead of using it, I had to make a new cover and it was left unadorned. I really had wanted to make sure that it was going to work out, rather than spending a lot of time and effort on it and not being able to use it again. And in the end, it worked out good enough.

My initial thoughts is that it would be a small book. But as I worked on it, I added a pocket for a pair of small scissors, and another pocket for a small round container of needles. I began adding pages for the different types of needles that I have: crewel, upholstery, darning, sewing, embroidery… who knew there were so many different types? Or that I had so many of them! This was just the small collection that I had downstairs with my crafting supplies. I might be afraid if I gathered together in a single spot all the needles that I have in my sewing room!

So, several pages completed, I realized that I had four packages of unopened needles and it might make more sense to leave them in the package. So the inside pages were really pockets, opened to the top. I attached the jacket and it looked great. The closure was a simple button on the front with an elastic band to close it. The real problem happened when I put all the needles ‘away’. Now it appears that the book is too small for all of the needles and especially too small for the cover. It was fun creating it, and I learned a lot of lessons doing it, so now I will start working on another, correctly sized this time. And I will be going all out on the decorating this time; cover, pages, everything.

But, I’ll share the photos of this one. I like it for my first attempt.

2015-09-22 17.49.52 2015-09-22 17.49.112015-09-22 17.48.472015-09-22 17.48.37 2015-09-22 17.50.01 2015-09-22 17.50.09 2015-09-22 17.50.302015-09-22 17.51.15If you have suggestions or comments or photos of your needle books, I’d love to hear from you!

julie

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Beading: Trying to Learn By Doing!

I ran across some beautifully hand beaded works recently and of course, I want to try and do it too. I always seem to take the jump-in-with-both-feet-and-wallet approach. Most of the time it works pretty well.

And I think it did this time too. Maybe?

So, I went out and bought about a million dollars worth of beading supplies. Well, not quite, but I did buy a LOT for such a little project. And I say that because I am thinking that the bead work is way more of a hassle than it was worth!

I’ll just dive right into the final product:

DSCN3678photo 7It is actually a felt jacket for a notebook… I use them (the notebooks) ALL the time when I am working and also when I am playing! First, I cut the large deep blue felt that would serve as the cover. It was enough to provide for four inches of overlap on each end, used to be able to create pockets that the covers would go into. Next, found the paisley design online, printed it and the starting with the teal, just cut out the shapes and using embroidery thread, stitched each one in ascending order.

I actually cut out some of the overlapping layers as I went, so that the dark green center wouldn’t be 6 layers deep!

Next came the beading. Actually first came finding needles that would fit through seed beads with thread! On the plus size, I know have about 156 new sewing needles, but on the other hand only about 6 of them worked. And they are so tiny and fragile, I managed to break one trying to force too much thread through the needle threader!

Okay, now back to beading! In the supplies I bought were lots of sequins – of all colors, shapes and sizes. (Of course my OCD required me to sit and sort it all!!) This helped get an idea of what I wanted to use and where.

I started with the dark green. One of the boxes of beads I bought had tubular beads and matching beads. The dark green was completed with the tubular beads across the color (rather than along with it). I thought about going back and adding seed beads between, but I think that would have been too much.

I then went back to the turquoise, those cute little ‘snowflake-ish’ designs with a bed atop into each one of the ‘loops’. Next came the lime green (I know it looks yellowish in the photo) where I sewed a little flower space with three matching green beads.

photo 4Then I went onto the purple.. this was pretty straightforward also, as the only real purple sequins were these little round ones, so I topped them off with a little larger purple bead.

And then I went back to the dark blue! I started beading this like outlining the shape but I was having a hard time controlling my spacing and the beads didn’t want to line up. About half way up the side of this and I was ready to call it quits. But then, I thought I’ll just fill it in!

Yeah. These are the things you don’t read about when trying to get information about how to do this. As you can see, I think I sewed on about 600 of these little blue seed beads (and I know because I accidentally knocked the paper plate on the floor and had to pick them all up!). Those alone took me about the time it took to watch 8 movies to sew on! Once I got to a certain point and thought “oh hell, no” I was past the point of no return! I had already spent a considerable time beading, but I did like the way it looked. So, I soldiered on.

DSCN3676I am actually still looking for the perfect ‘thing’ do place in the middle of the smallest and also dark green center. I originally had a large oval shaped button with its own beading, but being oval it didn’t look right in the teardrop/paisley shape.

I ran up to my sewing machine, sewed the little sleeve/pockets and slid the book into the cover.

DSCN3678ViolĂĄ! It was done. Like I said, I have about a million bucks tied up in all of these beads, sequins, plastic flowers and needles that I may have to do more just to help offset the costs! After all, I can just get the basic piece done and work on the beading whenever I don’t have anything else to do.

Yeah, right!?!?

Quick Update: Paisley, Painting and Scrap Quilting

Been a little remiss in writing regular posts. This does not mean that I haven’t been working hard and have a ton of projects ongoing all the time.

I am not sure that I revealed this before, but a fair amount of the work I do – in projects and experiments – are sold to fund more projects. That’s why you will see a lot of repainted furniture… I have found this to be the most reliable and easiest way to make money. As a second note, I have been on a professional sabbatical for the past six months, so the furniture projects also help to replace some of the earnings that I haven’t been contributing to my household budget.

Currently, all of the former pieces completed have sold, thankfully!

With all of that said, the garage is filled up! Kansas City has a wonderful CraigsList community, but like everything, it isn’t always consistent. I can go for months without being able to snag decent furniture and then (like last week) it turns around and we have been able to score a bunch of pieces. I had so many projects lined up, that I needed to make a physical list and schedule pieces to make the most sense and still be contributing to the household budget, while still working on pieces for the blog.

DSCN3604So, a shot of the garage… this is three dressers and two nightstands, in my signature pink primer. All five pieces will be done in the same ombrĂ© pink scheme and will be sold mix and match. We also have a project dresser and an entertainment center – both pieces that are scheduled for some transformation experimentation. There is also the leftover “hi-fi” that I have finally decided to turn into a “bill pay station”while keeping the ability to play music. I haven’t quite figured out exactly what I am doing with it, exactly why it isn’t on the ‘do right now’ list.

One of the fun things I have been messing around with is beading decoration. I have this weird love of paisley, but you wouldn’t find a single thing in my house decorated with it. It is a weird kind of love… but soon hope to integrate some of it into the master bedroom redesign. Lack of funds have put that plan on hold – the most expensive portion is the purchase of fabric.

photo 6Here is the paisley beading project. I took this snapshot with my phone in a fairly dark living room, so the colors aren’t as vibrant as they really look. The felt pieces have all been stitched onto a deep blue background and today I purchased all of the beads and sequin pieces I will need to complete it. Part of the delay is that much of the sequins came in a large collection of colors and styles and with my OCD I first had to sort it all to get what I needed to match colors.

photo 5Here I had started the deep green with glass tubular beads and then started on the turquoise. Lots to do and lots of shapes and colors to work with. I am really enjoying this project.

I have also been working on a small challenge of my own, I wrote a little about it last week. I wanted to see just how small sized scrap I could work with and still be successful. Here is some examples of pieces that I feel that I can use. You can see how small they are by the lines on my cutting mat. I can’t really work with anything less than 3/4″, you can’t get two good seams and still have much displayed in the piecing. I had two plastic boxes, about shoe boxed sized, and have used up the scraps of one.

DSCN3602I had started with a 3″ muslin square attaching the scraps. I think I’ve gotten enough to make a doll-sized quilt or the perfect center to be surrounded by larger scrap pieces. This was fun, but a bit tedious… it seemed just once you got the needle moving you had to stop! But it becomes almost cathartic along with watching old movies!

Okay, that was a quick update to the past week’s work. Lots to do in the coming weeks! Oh, and can’t forget the container gardening… one tomato plant even has flowers! I think I have to pinch back these flowers, as the plants need some upward growth before it can support fruit. I think I need to read up some more!

julie

Lately, I Have Been So Distracted!

There doesn’t seem to be any ramp up time for me when I start thinking about going back to work. It goes from a fleeting notion to a full blown hunt in a snap. Much of my time lately has been taken up with the construction of a job hunt. I have had a few minutes here and there, but it seems that once I get things organized and ready to work, I am tired or distracted by a phone call.

But, with that said, I have finished a couple of projects. The first one is something I’ve done before, but I never seem to get bored with the idea. The suitcase dresser is a very popular style, especially when you’re looking at a piece that may have damage or isn’t the highest quality. I’ve probably done a half dozen of this style now, and it always comes out great.
Although these are difficult to do, they tend to take some time to complete. Especially when the cabinet requires work as well. The Kid was much more involved in this one, as all of the drawers had to have fronts placed and supports both front and back of each drawer. One drawer had to almost be rebuilt from scratch, the one good thing is that all the pieces were there and just needed to be put back together.

I created a tutorial some time back, you can see it Suitcase Dresser Tutorial. I didn’t take many photos, since I’ve done the tutorial. I will tell you that if you have dedicated space to work on it, it helps. I did most of the work in the kitchen and dining room, and had to constantly move the drawers as I progressed with the work.

DSCN3560I tend to work on it ‘assembly line style’, that is, I glue the fabrics on all of the drawers first, then glue the tucks on all four sides. Since each side needs to be clamped while is it drying, I can only do one side at a time. So I have to find a way to stack them out of the way while the glue dries.

I’ve gotten some things done with the container gardening… if you recall, I am attempting to grow tomatoes on the deck. So far, so good.

DSCN3564That’s The Kid’s one stalk of corn, he wanted to try just one. He also planted corn in his backyard garden.

DSCN3565We’ve had so much rain that everything is so green and the grass around the garden seems to have overtaken much of it. On this side, we attempted to build a small berm; the yard slopes such that when it rains, we end up with a little stream. I call it “a river runs through it’… and we’ve now figured out to avoid it, but with the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had, it has widened. We experienced standing water around the seeds and we worried that nothing would ever sprout. But it does finally seem to have a foothold and now we have to watch the garden to make sure it gets the proper amount of water.

DSCN3575And speaking of growing… I rescued this little violet when it was on its last leg about a year/year and a half ago. Someone had left it behind when they left their job and it sat for nearly two weeks without being watered or attended to. It was sad. I brought it home and repotted it in a larger pot in MiracleGro soil. And almost immediately this thing started sprouting new leaves and flowers. It has given me almost nonstop flowers ever since. Don’t those little purple flowers just make your heart smile?DSCN3571On the other hand (or should I say knee), I am now forced to ice or apply heat to both knees almost daily. The ice packs that I’ve been using have started to leak and I never really liked them anyway. They never really fit right against my knees, consequently, I did not get the full benefit. I had seen this ice packs using rice and you can both heat them up or cool them down.DSCN3572 I actually had bought two bags of rice awhile back and with so little crafting time, I thought maybe if I just cranked out a few smaller projects, I might feel like I am accomplishing something. The project is simple enough… I would cut some muslin fabric and sew the edges together leaving one open side; to keep the rice from bunching up on one end or the other, I added some baffles. Then using soft fleece, I made each one a cover. I used velcro for the opening – this way if the covers get dirty or wet, then can just be thrown into the washer/dryer.

Front of Denim Hems BagSo, I’ve also attempted to use up some of the denim that I cut up a few weeks ago. The main bulk of the denim is going into one or the other of two main projects: a braided rag rug and reupholstering a wing chair.

That leaves me with pant leg hems (2 per each pair of jeans), back pockets (2 per) and a waistband. So, I took the plastic bag of hems and sat down in front of the sewing machine and started sewing them together. Once I had a sizable piece of fabric, it hit me… this would make a terrific all purpose bag!

Back of Denim Hems BagI have always been a fan of canvas bags – we use them for groceries and I carry them into many places that I shop. I had found one that was about the right size of the piece that I had sewn, so opted to use it as sort of a lining. With it in place, I then used a waistband to finish the bag.

I found an older bag that had a beautiful handle and removed the rivets that were holding the handle in place. I cut four pieces of leather as the support of the handles. I couldn’t get the rivets to hold with my home kit, so I’ve opted to find some place that does leather work. I also want this place to stitch the bag pocket, as there is too many layers for my sewing machine. That is the thing with denim, it gets too thick very quickly. In fact, during this entire process, I broke 18 needles! And these needles were specifically for denim and other heavy projects. It is just as you work, the layers can add up very quickly… especially when you’re talking about seams!

DSCN3570On the other end of the sewing spectrum, I’ve been doing some hand sewing. I just start a with a circle of felt – whatever color I have on hand – and start adding stitches and have been using beads on many of the pieces. I didn’t have a specific project in mind, but while perusing Pinterest, I saw some pin cushions that looked similar. So, violá!

DSCN3569Won’t these be the most adorable little pin cushions?

DSCN3568And the great thing about this, is, this will give me a chance to use up much of my scrap felt. I can sit and watch television and stitch to my heart’s content. (Someday I will get back to working on my My Huge Cross Stitch Project. I just had to take a break from it for a while.)DSCN3567And the last little project… My son built this in his wood shop class a couple of years ago and I never knew exactly what to do with it. But working lately in my home office lately has shown that for the health of my knees, I need to have my feet elevated. And what better way to do it than with this little footstool! I painted it my signature red and I had just enough fabric to cover the foam that I added (material is left over from re-cover my dining room chairs and pillow covers for the couch). Don’t you just love it when things come together?VioletsSo, I am going to leave you with another shot of my happy little violets!

julie

What’s The Secret to Etsy?

I’ve been a seller on Etsy for sometime. Well, I use the term “seller” loosely, as I just made my first (and only) sale a week or so ago. Perhaps Etsy is one of those places that server more as an inspiration for people rather than an actual place to buy goods, I am just not sure. I thought it funny, that in all of the time that I have been selling, my fees have totaled about eight and half dollars and with the first item I sold, my grand total of sales to date is $6.00. And of course, that doesn’t include the cost of actually creating that item that finally sold.

Did I tell you about an on-going little project that I finally decided to list on Etsy? I started as a whim, one of those things that I like to do when I have to have something to do with my hands while watching television… making reusable felt covers for notebooks. I don’t recall the very first one or even the first size of notebook, but I have completed nearly a hundred over time. Let me show you a few:

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il_570xN.567686054_fvqsThese happen to be the notebooks that are 4″ x 6″, but I have done covers in all sizes, from 3″x4″ up to 8 1/2″ x 11″ and many sizes in between. And the covers are reusable, just slip the old notebook out and the new one… violá!

Here is the one that finally sold and was my first (and only) sale:

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By a Futurama fan, no doubt. I really don’t want to have to create a bunch of Futurama based notebooks just to get some sales, I think that the selection should appeal to a wide audience, but perhaps I overestimate. That particular notebook received quite a few ‘favorited’ and a couple of Pinterest pins.

Any way, if anyone has the keys to success with Etsy, please share?

julie

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