Thinking Big… Maybe Too Big?

I have a bad habit of always going big when I take on a project. My first quilt project was to contain 2,000 different fabrics in a charm quilt to celebrate the new millennium. (That one isn’t done, BTW). The first time I wanted to really try a cross stitch project, the canvas was two feet by three feet (that’s big for cross stitch). That one too, isn’t done. My first (faux) stained glass project was about six foot by three foot… that one did get finished. The American Girl doll house I built was 48 square feet and stood over seven feet. Also done (and sold)! Even if the projects are quite so big, I tend to go a little overboard on the project materials… you’ve seen photos of my sewing/quilt room, yes? I literally have enough fabric to open my own shop. 🙂

So, one of the more recent projects that is in progress is a braided denim rug. One of the things I like to try to do is having little projects within the bigger one that I can write posts about. So, this one started with how to harvest the most denim from old blue jeans. I actually wrote that one up as an “instructable” and you can see it here. Then over the course of a couple of months, I collected used blue jeans and harvested as many three inch strips as I could.

DSCN4263.JPGIt was a long process, but I was able to do most of the deconstruction while watching old movies or binge watching my favorite television series. Over a hundred pairs of jeans (lost count during collecting) were used and I was able to sell the carefully removed back pockets on eBay for almost a hundred dollars!

The next step was to create long strips… I wasn’t – and still aren’t – sure how long the rolls should be and what would be the easiest length to work with. After all, braiding tends to tangle while working… I will just have to be conscious of it while working. I ended up creating mostly the same length… just guessing at it while I was sewing. Some ended up longer than others and there are a couple of kind of short ones. The should be easiest enough to shorten when I start braiding if they turn out to be too long.

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After this, I rolled all the strips into coils… this photo is most of them. Whew! This alone was the endeavor. I rolled about half by hand… just round and round. The Kid, being inventive and with a slight allergy to repetitious work, came up with the idea of rolling them using a power drill. I just love the way his brain works!

The next step is to turn these strips into the “yarn” for braiding. I am basically turning it into binding… folding the edges in and “setting” them with an iron. Then, I fold this in half and sew it with a long stitch. It took some time and trials to figure out how to sew over this much bulk, especially the seams, without constantly breaking the threads but using a heavy duty thread – actually a hand quilting thread – finally was the answer. That and coaxing the seams through by hand. I then let it fall over the edge and into a basket on the floor:

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So, far, I’ve managed to empty the with the least amount of coils. It is a bit of a long slow process. I don’t have the slightest idea of how to estimate the amount of yarn that I will need to complete the rug. Actually, I’m not sure how big I even want the rug to be!

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What I want to do is do a smaller, controlled experiment. Choose a specific number of pairs of jeans, say, 5 or perhaps ten and harvest the denim and create the yarn. That way, I know exactly how much will be needed to create the braids and how much it will produce as far as a rug size is concerned.

I’m also planning a very detailed tutorial, from start to finish. I guess this post is an attempt at trying to explain why lately I haven’t been able to post regularly. All the projects that I have in progress follow the same template… much too big to complete quickly or easily! And definitely too big to write about easily in a single post. 🙂

But, and speaking of this blog, I do have a milestone to announce. I don’t really actively promote this blog and it was really an experiment to see if I could do this as well as learn about the technical aspects of creating, producing and maintaining a blog. Sort of helps me in my “normal” nine-to-five job. But I always am doing creative type things and if my writing and photos help or inspire someone else, then great!

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 1.54.02 PMSo, I’ve surpassed the 100,000 mark with visitors! To be honest, I thought if I could maintain the blog for a year and have 5,000 visitors, I’d be successful. Who’da thunk?

My How Time Flies When You’re Quilting!

Okay, for the last four days I have been working on a new quilt. Well, technically it is going to be more than one, but the intent was to create one.

While organizing and cleaning up my sewing room – ostensibly for the purposes of trying to finish any- and everything that I have started. I get like this occasionally where I will vow not to start something new until everything I have already started is done.

In this exercise, I found a large ziplock bag with 3″ squares sorted by color. LOTS of 3″ squares. So, I thought I’d make one of my favorite quilt patterns (used on one of the quilts on my bed) and zip through this pile of squares.photo

It starts with a nine-patch (5 colored/4 white) and then adds the triangles to each side. I am guessing that there is an “official” name to this, but I like to think this is my own doing. 🙂

So, with this large stack of 3″ squares, I started making 9 patch blocks. It’s amazing how long this can take, especially since this time around, I wanted to keep each block in the same color family. So, after sorting and sewing – about 12 hours worth – I ended up with this:

photo 8The next step would be to cut and sew the four triangles onto each side. I didn’t have these pre-cut, so it occurred to me that I would have to delve into uncut stock, and I was looking to reduce the amount of precut that I had. So, I had an idea… each of these blocks would be set with a block pattern called a “snowball”. Basically a square with each corner replaced with a triangle corner.

UnknownI have found the easiest way to produce this, is to place a block at each corner, mark it and sew it diagonally. I got The Kid to help with drawing the lines. I had way more blocks than originally anticipated. Isn’t that they way it goes?

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In order to not waste the part that is cut off is to sew a secondary line about 1/8″ away from the original line.

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Then cut between the lines (removing the pins, of course):photo 10

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To make all the cuts, again I roped The Kid into helping. I hope that he is gaining an appreciation of what goes into the quilts I make. He has laid claimed to at least a dozen so far. 🙂

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Once separated, you simply iron everything. Depending on how many squares you have, this may take a while. I think I watched a whole movie while doing all this ironing!

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The larger block will compliment the nine-patch and I will use the smaller blocks for a smaller quilt. Or maybe a border on another quilt.

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So, next up is to connect the nine patch to the snowball. I am going to deviate each line of blocks so that it staggers the placement of each block. I may actually have more than enough for a single quilt top, and perhaps might divide it into two. The colors I have most is blues and greens, and it might be enough to spin into two separate quilts of their own.

For as long as I have been quilting, I never seem to be able to accurately estimate the number of squares or blocks I need. I guess that is why I seem to end up with extras, enough to create “orphan quilts”. Some day when I don’t have anything to write about, I’ll do a post on those.

julie

 

 

Working for a Livin’…

So, maybe I forgot to mention, but I am currently not working. As some of you may know (or not), I have a full time job that I usually do as a nine-to-five. I finished my contract the week before Thanksgiving, so, I have had more time than usual to work on projects.

A week before, me and The Kid had put the final touches on five projects. And we both took a well deserved break. In fact, we went to the movies three days in a row. And that’s unusual for us, we’re generally home based kind of people.

But, we’ve picked up several pieces and once again, we’re up to our elbows in furniture again. Let me give you a quick rundown of in-process projects:

Number One: We ran across a beautiful nine drawer dresser at a second hand shop. What I have found lately, is people want the tall chest of drawers and not the long style. But in looking at this piece, what I hoped to do was separate the single piece into two pieces.

Dresser with Dotted Lines

Also, I have been working on a little project of my own. I picked up a sweet little wood children’s desk and am transforming it into a vanity.

DSCN2852I had a mirror left over from somewhere and I am lowering the middle ‘pencil drawer’ down, to create the look of a vanity. Its been kind of fun. The whole thing needs some serious TLC, this thing has been used to almost death! But once this gets its bumps sanded out and the typical pick ombré paint style, this is going to be sweet!

Third project is this beautiful buffet. Well, it isn’t beautiful now, but it has the best bones. Some little person(s) had a great time pasting stickers and letters all over it.

photo 2I “almost” didn’t get a before picture. I had it sitting on its top to protect it from any dings or gouges just from being in the garage.

This is one of those pieces that I can envision well, and would love to keep it, but since the house really cannot take one more piece of furniture, I am going to paint it in the same colors as the little 2 drawer dresser that I did a while back:

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Number Four: DSCN2903I picked these headboards (footboards?) a while back. In fact, at one point in trying to clear the garage, I couldn’t give these away. I just had too much to do at the time, but now, with a little time, this is going to be really cool.

Number Five: DSCN2859The easiest and quickest project, this one is already done. A couple of coats of my trademark “blush pink” and this one was done.

Number Six:

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Not sure what I am going to do with this. I got this in an auction, initially thinking I would use it in my house, but now I’m not so sure. I got it into my head that I would do the blue and natural combination, but The Kid pointed out that it was in pretty condition already. I did some veneer repair and it might be possible to just strip it and then restain it. Guess time will tell.

Number Seven:

This was a quickie project, one I have wanted to do for a while. When sewing (yeah, can you believe how long its been since I had a chance to do any sewing?), I like to do scrap piecing but this always requires many trips to an iron. It would make things so much easier if I had a small ironing surface next to me.

A while back (a really long way back) I had purchased an ironing “set” – an iron storage bag, an ironing board cover and a table mat – all in the same cheerful fabric. The ironing board cover was short lived and the other two pieces went into a cabinet. Recent rummaging uncovered the table top mat and my brain immediately to the television trays that we have and how there is a whole set not being used in the basement.

Long story short:

DSCN2885And I actually carved out a little time to sew Sunday morning and it really came in handy. And if I need the space, it is still collapsible and can easy be store out of the way.

Things have been going out the front door almost faster than we can complete projects. Its great! 🙂

julie

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