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

A Little of This, A Bit of That, More of Something Else

Do you ever find yourself pulled in many directions at once? Well, that’s me for the last week or so. I feel like I have so many irons in the fire and yet, never feeling like I am accomplishing anything. At least not accomplishing enough.

I will share with you a project that has been in the works for sometime. Way back, I was given a wonderful gift of four antique phonograph player cabinets. An acquaintance of mine does old fashioned Victrola type restorations and much like anyone who restores things, it often takes two or more pieces to be able to get something that old working again. So, my friend would strip the cabinets bare of the music parts and then not have anything to put back into them.

01414_146BGjp6j5f_600x450I was able to fix up two of the four I received pretty quickly. I love how they turned out. I like one so much I opted to keep it – yes, it was done in my signature red color. But it was extremely handy to have my financial information all in one place and look good to boot! You can read about it here.

This photo shows the four I received. Like I said one sold quickly, and you can see its transformation here.

I did some preliminary work on the other two, but we were pulled in many directions and the other two went into the “To Do” section of the garage. That space was arranged and re-arranged a dozen times. But I knew I would get around to them eventually.

Eventually was this week for one piece. I stumbled onto a color when I was sorting through paint chip cards and have fallen head over heals for it. It is called ‘Deep Aubergine’ and it just screams elegance. So, being (sort of) close to finishing the third Victrola cabinet, I opted for a quart of this beautiful color.

DSCN3384This is one of those colors that is just plain hard to photograph accurately. Trust me when I say that this is a gorgeous color in person. Its a deep brown with just a hint of ‘purple’ in it. But you can see the difference in how it photographs between this photo and this one:

DSCN3385Either way, it is gorgeous! I had to replace the top, it seems that the tops of all this cabinets were the first to go. The right side of this cabinet had a horn that was covered with the dropping front.DSCN3387That piece then can be slid into the cabinet to keep it out of the way (when they were listening to music). I loved the construction and only briefly considered changing it. The other side has an added shelf to use for storage. I think this piece would be nice as a entry way or hall cabinet. I think grandmother’s silver box and the good crystal would fit nicely into this cabinet.

DSCN3386So, I have a number of other projects in the works as well. I stumbled onto a thrift store that had all their clothing marked down to $2… so I snatched up all of the jeans I could find. I spent the better part of the last two days with scissors, seam rippers and razor blades taking everything apart. I am planning to use the fabric to make a denim braided rag rug. I’ve seen a few photos and they just look awesome! I have plans for almost the entire pair of jeans – I am going to use the seams and waistbands with belt loops – I even have a plan for the back pocket label

2015-05-12 21.11.10Sitting and working on this gives me a chance to catch up on some of the old movies I missed the first time around. I love streaming content! I am taking full advantage… we have AppleTV, Roku and Amazon Fire!

2015-05-12 21.10.52The Kid and I are, once again, giving gardening a try. Last year we did pumpkins and the year before watermelons. Didn’t have luck with either of them. This year I am trying tomatoes and The Kid is planting sweet corn. Which of course reminds me, I have to get down and weed the strawberry patch. This is the third year for the strawberries and this is supposed to be the year that they really bear large and flavorable berries.

Oh, and we’ve got the antique chandelier that we rescued out of an abandoned farmhouse. I’ll provide all the info when it is complete. Like I said, we have many irons in the fire… we are constantly doing something around here.

julie

Denim Quilts… the Ultimate Jeans Recycling

I’ve been going back into my unfinished quilts and quilt blocks and trying to get some things done. I received a couple pair of old jeans and it just jumped start my love of quilting with jeans. There isn’t a tougher fabric to work with but also none more satisfying when the quilts are complete. They just are like snuggling under a favorite old pair of broken in jeans. They are warm and comforting and they look great to boot!

I seem to have gotten started on about five or six quilts, creating the center medallions and then unable to figure out how to complete them. None of them are big enough to be quilts, not even lap quilts. And try as I may, I cannot figure out how to put them together to get one larger quilt. Sigh.

I did get a couple close to done… or at least the quilt tops. I love these actually quilted, as opposed to just tied, but they are murder on sewing machines and longarms and their needles. I think one of the last ones that my friend Gloria did for me wrecked her machine and she is just too nice to tell me. I know even just sewing some of those multiple seams on my machine has broken more needles than I can count and even sent my machine to the hospital once.

Here is the first one I’ve been working on. I’ve actually added a ten inch border all the way around, making this quilt large enough to be a king sized quilt. It has turned out rather well, if I do say so myself 🙂

2014-02-20 22.05.51

The next one is another almost done following the addition of a border. I like almost everything about this one except the purplish looking denim-ish fabric that I used in several of the blocks. It wasn’t real denim from recycled jeans, and it sort of makes the whole quilt wrong. But I’ve never been one to go back and rip out seams or replace blocks or fabrics, I am sure that someone will love this just the way it is.

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I was able to score an absolutely fantastic deal at the local thrift shop Friday afternoon… they had a 1/2 price deal on ‘purple’ tags and I just happen to score about 10 pairs of wonderfully worn and faded jeans. And since they were getting ready to close, they said it would be easier just to sell them to me for a ‘buck a piece’ (and would that be okay with me? Ha!)… which gave me quite a bit of fabric to get those other quilts completed. I sat tonight and sketched up the remaining blocks and medallions to give me a plan on how to get them finished. The craziest part is that, of course, I came up with a couple of more ideas for more quilts!

I how vowed though, that I will start no more quilts until I have completed at least most of the ones I have started now. I’d love to do an orphan quilt or two as well – you know, use up a bunch of the orphan blocks (or UFO’s) into a single quilt. Its amazing that those can sometimes turn out to be quilt wonderful. Even if the fabrics or colors don’t match up, those can be donated and used for warmth. One time I turned a bunch of those orphans into dog beds and donated them to the local ‘no kill’ shelter and I later learned that they sold them in their gift store and made quite a bit of money! Woot! I love when accidents like that happen.

Okay, tomorrow, I have an update on a long overdue project that is finally done. And I scored some wonderful cabinets via CraigsList that used to be old Victrola-styled players that the guts had been removed. I am excited to see what I can do with those!

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. 😦

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.

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