Denim Quest: Projects 8, 9 & 10

Well, I’m starting to feel like I am making some real progress! The piles in the sewing room, outside the sewing room and in the guest bedroom are starting to diminish and some are even disappearing! There are still projects ahead and of course, the pile of quilts that need the top stitching grows all the time.

Project 8:

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This quilt started out with the medallion – which was really an experiment. I thought the use of harvested fabric that had the removed pockets, but as I look at it completed, the medallion shape sort of gets lost because of it. I might try this again, however, I would make the medallion larger and perhaps use the larger squares as well. This particular quilt is 5″ squares, but I think a larger medallion with 8″ or even 10″ squares might be the trick.

Project 9:

DSCN5236DSCN5237I really like this one and so does The Kid; he has already claimed this one! Like he needs another quilt on his bed!53647418560__736E739E-FDCC-4711-9B54-2C4863C97F50.JPG

This is a larger version of quilts that he is currently using. I think the original strips were 3″ x 9″, but once assembled there was some significant trimming. You can see my ‘signature’ red strip and one in the corner piece (this will have a bright red flannel backing). I didn’t quite have enough border fabric, so I improvised on the two sides with a tiny patched strip. I really like this. Happy accidents!

Project 10:

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This quilt is still in the “wait & see” category. I actually saw this block originally as one of many, in fact, the star was actually less than 10″. I took the pattern and blew it up really large and then used strips of denim to create the arms.

After sewing the strips together to make the star, I removed the paper backing, but now I am thinking I should have left it until it could be top stitched. I think this might be a real headache to do without getting the quilt all distorted.

I thought about adding a border, but just with the star alone is already 75″ square! I think it might work better this way, without a border. We’ll see, I guess.

We took the quilts outside to the front to photograph them. It was a bitter 10 degrees while we were doing this and the wind was blowing pretty well. That’s why The Kid is in the photos trying to keep them still enough to take the photos. In the short time it took to hang and take the photos, we both had numb fingers and faces. I don’t know if you live in a colder part of the states (of the world?) but our memories of the last few winters were pretty warm and almost coat-less. In fact, it was in the mid-fifties until Christmas and then a real cold front moved across the nation. At least we only got minimal snow (*fingers crossed). These are the days when I miss California the most!!

Well, a few hours and we’ll be into 2018. Wow. Time sure flies!

Happy New Years

Happy New Years folks!

julie

Denim Quest: Projects 6 & 7

Okay, two more done. Ish. Done-ish. Oh, you get it.

And should I mention that I have not been sleeping real well. So slinging denim and hunched over the sewing machine for hours… ah, I digress. In actuality, if I could figure out a way, I would make quilts for a living.

So, on to the projects du jour.

The first one I put together awhile back. Just been sitting on a shelf waiting for borders. And with the recent purchase of 16 million yards of denim, well, now I have no excuse.

Project 6:

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I really like this one with the stars. It feels like a real quilt, rather than just patchwork of old pieces of jeans. Which is so like many quilts, so, I should stop while I am ahead.

Project 7

This one is made of a more unusual material harvested from the old jeans: inside seams! (Which I just found out are referred to as “fell flat seams” like this:

Jean SeamsThe seams from the back and crotch go into this as well, when they represent a significant length. Most of the time, to get really long unbroken seams I will leave in the ‘intersections’ of the seams, but in most cases I will try to remove them when they’re too bulky. Unless you have a heavy duty sewing machine, you’re going to lost your cool sooner or later as these “knots” (as I call ’em) will break your thread, break your needle and in the worst conditions, break your machine!

Okay, back to the quilt:

IMG_4477There she is! It is about 90″ long and about 70″ wide. I argued with myself back and forth on adding a border, but in the end, I think it will go without. I think just about any borders would pale in comparison and take the emphasis of the quilt away from its uniqueness. The backing is a deep indigo blue flannel that is just so soft. Once it is top-stitched (I am thinking blue jean “yellow orange” stitching) to help keep this beast together.

A few more photos:

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Only about four or so more quilt tops that need attention. If I can continue in this manner, should be no problem!

julie

Denim Quest: Second Project

Working steadily yesterday evening and this morning, I managed to stitch together the next project using the 4″ x 6″ pre-cut rectangles. 4x6-4.jpegThe original project was less ambitious but once I had it laid out on my cutting table, it appeared too small. So it was widened -65″ – and lengthened – 85″.

4x6 1The rectangles are laid out in rows that are end to end and alternative rows that are side by side. I thought that this might make for a more interesting and more pleasing layout.

I do like it, but it is definitely not my favorite. I also added a few rectangles that were pieced. In the patchwork of color and stages of wear and fading, the pieced rectangles are difficult to identify.

4x6 2A closeup (before ironing) of the alternating placement of the rectangles:

4x6 3And I underestimated the number of those pieced pieces and now I have about 25 left… to small to make a quilt, but too many to just throw away. Sigh. Another project I guess!

A few months ago while Joann’s was pushing fabric with an unprecedented sales price, I stocked up on flannel for the backs of all of these denim quilts. This particular quilt included some deep green denim, so I want to use the black/green checkered flannel for its backing. 4x6 5My experience with making denim quilts is that they are quite warm without the inclusion of batting. And they are quite heavy without the added weight. Now I just have to lay  my hands on funding for the top stitching!! (I haven’t forgotten you Becky!)

Next up, I think I am going to add sashing and corners to the four or five (almost) completed quilt tops. For this, I also stocked up on denim when it was on sale (again at one of my favorite stores, Joann’s) from $19 to $6 per yard prices. I have prepared some interesting corners for at least a few of the quilts, which I will show you in more detail when I use them.

4x6 6You may have noted that I have spilled out of the sewing room into the hall. In addition to the denim (still on bolts!) I also have some remaining waistbands that are intended for some projects in the way of handbags and backpack designs that I want to try. Waste not, want not!

That’s about it for tonight. I am going to try to complete as many of the denim projects as I can as I think it may be time to return to my full time occupation. I have sure enjoyed these past months though!

julie

 

A Diversion to the Dollhouse

This CloseOkay, I am this close to finishing the dollhouse but I am having to wait on a few last items to come in the mail. The inside of the house is done, but just have a few details to add to the outside of the house, such as shutters on the windows, railing for the porch, door handles and a knocker. I may include a few other things, such as a mail box and an American flag. Oh and I have been working on a large semi-round welcome mat. I am almost done with the flower boxes, It is amazing how little in scale the items are for a dollhouse but what a large impact (including price) they can be!

So as to not waste time waiting, I launched into the next project on the list: the denim rag rug. Over the past year I have collected hundreds of old jeans, deconstructed them and then cut them into three inch strips. I completed about half of them and then I sort of got overwhelmed by the sheer amount.

So, as much of my projects go, I set it aside and planned to get back to it. At the beginning of this year, I decided that I really needed to get some of these long overlooked projects done and vowed not to start any new ones and complete the ones I had started. I would select one project and work on it until it was done. Such was the decision to start with my dollhouse and I have done really well so far.

So, having to wait for the last pieces to arrive for the dollhouse, I didn’t really want to start working on the next project, but I don’t really want to waste the days while I am waiting. But that is the trap… waiting for supplies and working on another projects and then never getting back to the original project.

So, I spent the better parts of three days cutting the remaining denim into three inch strips. (I didn’t take a photo before I started but there were three piles about two feet high. If I had to guess, I would put the number at somewhere between 100 and 150 pairs of jeans’ worth of fabric.)

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This is the end result. The next steps are to connect them to make about 15 foot sections and then to iron them and fold and sew them. The scraps left over are going to be given away, the last time I made them into scraps for quilts which, do I have to say it?, still are not assembled into the quilts they should be.

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So, rather than creating yet another project that has to be completed, I am going to give them away on Craigslist. Spread the joy, right?

Okay, The Kid and I are doing a binge watch of ‘The Office” and really not getting anything done. What a great day!

julie

Two Words: Prewound Bobbins

So, I am working diligently to get everything done and organized before surgery, now just nine days away. Wow… I am both so excited and terrified at the same time!

But work continues on the braided rug made of old jeans. After finishing cutting and harvesting denim from more than a hundred and fifty pairs of jeans… probably closer to two hundred. I’ve sold the back pockets on eBay for a nice little bit and I’ve sewed together all the inseams and bottom seams and have (mostly) fashioned them into bags and purses. I say mostly because I’ve still to find a tailor or perhaps shoe repair place that can do the final seams and attach handles as my somewhat specialty sewing machines just can’t do more than twelve layers of denim and/or leather (handles or straps). I am excited about finishing them though, they are going to be tré chic when they are complete.

The three inch strips of denim are, for the most part, now combined to form reasonable lengths. It took some time and experimentation to figure it out, but I’ve landed on a length that I think will be most productive when I start braiding. I’m taking lots of photos and making tons of notes, I think I am going to do a in-depth tutorial on creating these rugs from start to finish, that is, starting at the very start to include collecting jeans and harvesting the fabric all the way through to the finished rug. So, I won’t put too much of that into these posts pre-tutorial.

IMG_3480But I did do something that I thought I’d never do while in the process of turning the three inch strips into the finished strip for braiding. And that was to buy pre-wound bobbins.

s-l1600I don’t know why, exactly, I hesitated to do so, maybe something leftover from an early home-ec class or something about being thrifty and always winding your own bobbins. And heaven knows that I have enough bobbins and don’t really need to invest in more. But I found that with all the basic sewing that I’ve been doing, I have been just going through tons of bobbins and to sit and wind bobbins seems to be the most essential waste of time. Additionally, the pre-wound bobbins that I purchased seem to be wound very efficiently, that is to say, it seems to be twice as much thread on the bobbins than when I wind them, so I find that I am not changing bobbins as often. Which is awesome… again with the amount of basic sewing I am doing, nothing is as irritating just getting into a groove of sewing just to have the bobbin run out. And as my machine is overdue for maintenance, the bobbin sensor is getting in the habit of not alerting me and I find that I can run through feet of sewing before I realize that its not stitching! Argh!

So, here is officially my stamp of approval on pre-wound bobbins. They’re not overtly expensive (I get mine off eBay), they save me both time and frustration and they are help saving my sanity! Can’t think of better reasons to use them!

So, do you use pre-wound bobbins? I’d love to get the impressions of others who do a lot of sewing. Ever tried them? What’s your take?

julie

 

Forever in Blue Jeans

So, I’ve finished (for now) cutting all the blue jeans collected into three inch strips. I had set aside all the remaining pieces for making jean quilts. I’ve been working up the courage to start the rag rug… for whatever crazy reason, I always seem to go overboard when putting together the materials necessary for a project. Based on the tutorial I saw online for the rug, I now estimate that the amount of material that I have put together, I think I will probably end up with a forty foot diameter rug! I don’t know what it is that always makes me overestimate everything, but it seems that every project I work on, I do this.

DSCN4264This is the strips I’ve made… this has got to be the result of at least a hundred pairs of jeans and then some. I pick up pairs of jeans and just the denim material where ever I go, and recently procured a bunch when I picked up all that material free from CraigsList. And it was only recently that I started saving the back pockets – and I now have more than 100 pairs – so, I know that there were more pairs of jeans than those.

I made a “test” rug using 1 inch strips, that did not pan out too well. However, I think that fact that it was smaller was part of the problem. I need to fold the three inch strips into itself, so that the rough edges are hidden. I have been considering doing the folding and sewing it closed that way, but just haven’t decided.

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Anyway, I sat down and just started sewing the denim scraps. At first, it was just to get an idea of how well it would work, but after a while, I just got lost in it. I started watching Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950’s series and kept sewing. I was working with 7″ cotton squares as a starting point. On and off sewing over the past week or so, and I’ve finally made my way through the majority of the denim scraps. I didn’t want to make any squares with too many seams, the denim gets thick quickly and I know longarms don’t love to hit those seams where the material is thicker than four layers or so. I decided to make the squares as simple as possible and to keep those intersecting seams to a minimum.

IMG_6897Yesterday, I used the last really good piece of denim and stacked them and did a count.

IMG_0296That’s 422! At 10 x 10 squares – about 70″ x 70″, that would make at least four quilts! I was thinking about working with some colored denim – red, I think – as a medallion pieces and then placing the blue denim squares on point around it.I briefly considered double sided quilts, but then I would be right back to the problem of thickness and seams. And that each quilt would weigh like a hundred pounds! Ha!

Now that I’ve used up the scraps, however, leaves me with trying to finish up my other projects before surgery. Just three weeks now before the scheduled date and I’ve still a handful of projects to complete in the garage. I am making headway on them, but the temperatures in the 20’s have made it a bit cold to be working in the garage. It should be a bit warmer today though.

The dresser and the nightstands sold quickly, within a day of posting them. Yeah! My foyer is getting emptier although I still seem to have the red desk. Even before I painted it, it was one of those pieces that just doesn’t seem to appeal to anyone. It is a great little piece, and I have lowered the price to the point where I won’t make any money on it. I wish I had a place for it myself, as it is beautiful, but alas, I do not.

And I am just waiting on the pneumatic stapler that I ordered online so that I can finish up my upholstery projects. More denim! And that should clear the final pieces from the foyer and the garage. It should be simple at that point to re-arrange the final stuff in the garage to get two cars back into the space initially designed for cars!

I’ve got a couple of small project lined up to keep me busy while I am working on the last couple of big projects. Seems like it is both taking forever and time is just whizzing by while I wait for this upcoming surgery! And in the same way, I am both excited and terrified about it!

julie

More Intermediate Work

Again, the way I work is very energetic and a bit haphazard. I start working on multiple things at once and then wrap them up almost all at the same time. I am making progress on another pink ombré dresser, a couple of nightstands and began the process of putting together my pew (a bench for the foyer!) So, yeah, tons of stuff going on all at the same time.

2015-12-11 22.00.02Additionally, last weekend I was the recipient of a ton of wonderful stuff from a woman who, along with her family, were clearing her grandparents’ home and her grandmother was an avid sewer and crafter (like me)! I brought out two truck loads of ‘stuff’ – and I have spent the better part of the last five days going through all of it!

Seven large 55 gallon plastic bags, five more 33 gallon bags and a ton of other stuff – including numerous rolls of upholstery fabric! Initially, I was worried as Laura warned me that both of her grandparents were smokers, but this stuff was really clean and only smelled of fabric and crafts! LOL!

2015-12-11 21.58.47There was some really awesome retro and vintage fabrics. Colors straight out of the seventies: gold, green and oranges! But there are tons of it, some cuts were multiple yards! There are gorgeous cuts of pastels and children’s prints. Lots of whites and blacks – staples that I can always use. Laces, ribbons and threads. A bunch of real wool felt… red, blue, brown, greens, yellow and more! Velours, brocades and lace. Such awesomeness!

2015-12-05 20.27.47I’ve chosen a huge selection of the fabrics and extras, and am donating a large selection. I don’t usually work with knits or corduroys, but did select about two dozen cuts of fabrics that will make lovely blankets. I sat one day (and evening) hemming and have made a whole bunch of blankets that will be going to my favorite animal shelter: Wayside Waifs (along with some other stuff I’ve collected for them).

2015-12-11 21.59.44Oh and about another twenty pairs of jeans! Yay! More denim for my rag rug! So, I also spent more time deconstructing all those jeans and preparing them to be cut into 3″ strips. I also managed to sneak a little time sewing and have started sewing denim patchwork squares (7″)… I think I have about 50 so far. Might be looking at maybe ten by ten initially, and with all this leftover scrap denim, I think I could probably get at least a half dozen quilts out of it all!

2015-12-07 23.12.13Yeah, I’ll sleep when I am dead! And when I am recovering from surgery (oh yeah, attended an information class today about joint replacement therapy too)!

julie

Finally, Work Has Begun on the Denim Rag Rug

I seem to be guilty of working on many projects at once, and because of it, they seem to get completed at the same time. When that happens, there seems to be a roller coaster effect on the blog… many posts in a row, then nothing for a bit, then more posts. I wish I was better at planning or managing my work, but it is what it is.

Right now, my focus is getting things done that will be a) in my way once I have my double knee surgery and b) those projects I won’t be able to do because of the recovery. So, the garage is once again full of multiple projects being sanded and readied for priming.

Let’s see… there is one dresser, one chest of drawers, that little vanity that is about to become a pair of nightstands, my entry way pew (I can’t wait!) and headboards and foot boards waiting to become a couple more benches.

I am also determined to finish a project that I started about a hundred years ago… a table sized regulation Scrabble table!

DSCN4206This is the table base. The top is almost done, its been painted and the striped… all it needs is the special squares marked (you know, “double letter score” etc) and a finishing edge to the table. I’ve made the Scrabble tiles and the holders and then just to put it all together. I can’t wait to actually play a game on it… its going to be awesome!

I’ve been working on a couple of other small projects in between the big ones. One is for The Kid and his recent love of vinyl. As in music records. Whenever we hit the second hand shops and thrift stores, there is always at least one or two worth buying. His 45 collection is growing quite nicely and he needed somewhere to keep them, rather than in a flat pile on the desk. So, I am building this:

DSCN4207Its been primed, and I am going to finish it with a coat or two of my favorite Deep Space black high gloss paint. I made this in a day using scrap lumber (the bottom is actually paint stir sticks!!).

Whenever I get overwhelmed with how much is going on in the garage or it is a bit too cold to work in the garage (note: buy kerosene for garage space heater), I escape to my sewing room. I’ve been purchasing and prep’ing old blue jeans in anticipation of making a denim rag rug. So, after removing waist bands, pockets, zippers and seams, I have a nice pile of denim. The next step is to cut it all into 3″ strips in preparation for braiding.

So, I spent many hours tucked safely in my warm sewing room watching streaming television. I am having a difficult time estimating just how much is going to be needed to make the rug I want… or how large of a rug I can get with what I’ve got. I guess I will see when I start braiding. Saved for recovery time!

And speaking of, I am also planning on hand quilting that quilt I found some time back.

2015-02-18 16.45.07I’ve replaced the torn patches and added a new border and have a great backing material. Then I went out a purchased a hand quilt frame in anticipation (along with the wool batting) for time to hand quilt it and have been mulling over what pattern but right now, I am leaning towards just ‘stitch in the ditch’ of each and every triangle. Maybe I am overestimating how much free time I might have?

julie

P.S. I’ve been thinking about redesigning the website, mostly because the design blocks reader comments. I’ve been wanting a OMCS logo for a while, to start attaching to photos mostly – as they are popping up all over the internet, many without redirection back here. I’d love to hear from y’all… suggestions?

The Great Experiment Continues!

The last post I made, I explained how I was conducting a little experiment to see if it would be possible for me to simply live off the money I make “creating”. This week the experiment continues.

I had just the most awesome luck last week in running across quality pieces from a number of places. In addition to furniture pieces, we really made out with our ‘thrifting’ trips as well. I found a ton of old quilting books, one that dates back to 1949! Its really neat to see the way that women used to quilt before the adventure of rotary cutters and our fancy-schmancy sewing machines! Gives me a new perspective on just how good we have it!

IMG_8502And one of our favorites just happened to be clearing out their inventory of clothing. $1 for every stitch of clothing in the store. Couldn’t pass on that deal – so yes, I snagged another ten pairs of jeans. I have about a hundred projects going on it seems, but deals like that cannot be passed over! By now I am sure that I have enough denim to make a rag rug at least 20 feet round!

IMG_3254The Kid and I have been steadily working, but with days in the high 90’s and temps reaching into triple digits, it isn’t easy to spend too much time in the garage with heat and the paint and glue fumes. We’re made a lot of progress on quite a few projects in that time, though. I expect to have at least three or four ready for reveal this coming week, but until that I will just leave you with some parting pics!

DSCN3682Who said garages were supposed to be for parking your car?DSCN3685Part of our week long bounty. And I have ideas for all of it!

DSCN3686And yep, you’re looking at a pew! Lord only knows (pun intended!) where this will go, but it is solid wood and gorgeous! How could you say “no” to something like that?DSCN3690Projects have even spilled back into my kitchen! I can’t wait to show you this piece… it started out looking like this:

00t0t_heezBoCqAMt_600x450Prepare to be amazed! Or not. You decide! 🙂

julie

Filling Up The Hours with The Details (Planning and Organizing)

I’ve had some seriously disconnected days… can’t seem to get anything started or finished. Sold the last of the finished dressers and am down to only having my restored chandelier left for sale. Did manage to keep an eye on the free list on CraigsList and have a garage full of future projects.

While I’ve been meandering, I have been “testing” myself on just how little I can go with fabric pieces by doing some piecing and should be ready to reveal my final decision in the next day or so. I mean, how small of a scrap piece would you save?

Picked up six more pairs of jeans to harvest denim for the rag rug I plan to make. This is what six pairs of larger than 40 waist sized jeans boils down to:

DSCN3585You can check out my instructions on how to get the most out of a pair of blue jeans here. I also have the same instructions on instructables.com and can see it here.

Other than the denim and the scrap piecing, I’ve been done a little goofing around with felt. I found a pattern online for this cute little minion (it seems everything everywhere is about those little yellow guys), so I whipped one up.

DSCN3577Some of the directions weren’t all that good and neither was the pattern… I am thinking about how I can make my own pattern for a slightly larger version of this guy. I know this photo doesn’t allow for size comparison, but he is about 6″ from top of his head to bottom. I’d like to make one maybe 50% larger… I even managed to find larger sized eyes. I want to do something different with his arms and legs, as I didn’t care for how they came out in this version. Even after modifying his boots to be more 3D-ish, I still don’t like it. I want to make his feet (boots) and hands (gloves) out of leather, which means it is going to have to be larger to work with.

I have been trying to get our workplace in the garage into order. I picked up a deeper shelved piece and want to get things squared away before we get started on the next dozen or so projects. The Kid also managed to finally get a way to store our pipe clamps so that they won’t be constantly in the way or being knocked over.

DSCN3584I am determined to get this garage into a more useable and convertible space. There is still plenty of space on this wall which is the back side of the work area.

I also have an area that I want to be able to use for a paint booth and picked up heavy plastic sheeting a while back to use as “curtains” to contain the over-spray but nothing that is “permanent” so that I can still use the stall to park my car (sometimes in the Midwest, it is important to be able to garage your vehicles, like yesterday’s tornado warnings). Once situated – and it shouldn’t take long – we can get moving on the new pieces.

You cannot imagine how long it has taken me to write these words! Geez, I hope soon to get my focus and motivation back!

julie

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