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 ombré 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

Large, Long, Medium, Small and Too Small: Let’s Talk About Scraps!

Seems some days I just cannot get inspired. Doesn’t it happen to everyone? I walk around the house and look at projects planned, started and unfinished. I make lists of work that needs to be done. I review and re-order the lists and I watch CraigsList and pick up more potential projects. I clean, re-arrange and organize. I even cleaned and organized the garage; vacuumed the carpets.

Whenever I see carpets for free on CraigsList, I try to pick ’em up. Most of the time the rugs are dirty or smell or just plain ol’ ugly. Once in a great while you get a nice one. Hasn’t happened in a long while, but you can get lucky. Anyway, I like to pick up carpets when they’re available, ’cause I like to have them on the floor in the garage. Serves a couple of purposes… 1) makes it more comfortable to stand on, 2) helps reduce the noise and 3) I can walk around in the garage without my shoes on (either barefoot or stocking-footed) – well, as long as it is kept relatively clean. I have the great shop vac that can suck the color right out of the carpets and I usually try to do it on a regular basis.

IMG_7258Okay, back to the matter at hand. Trying to get inspired. I follow several other blogs, blogs of all different crafts and ideas. Of course I do follow a couple of different quilters and quilt makers. One is currently doing a “scrap-a-long” which got me thinking about my scraps. One other website has talked about what is the smallest scrap that one would keep and use. I recently did a bunch of cutting for another quilt (see above pic) and I got a lot of new scraps. Okay, I’ll admit that maybe I cut a little so that I was able to get a decent stash of scraps. I had pretty much used up all my other scraps and the barrel was almost empty.

So, sometimes when I can’t seem to get into a groove or lack the proper inspiration, I will sew scraps. I always have 8″ and 6″ squares of muslin sitting for just such times. I set up and I can sew scraps together without ever really having to think. I watch old movies and sew to my heart’s content.

So, yesterday, I took all (4) the plastic bins and hit the sofa. I dumped everything onto the ottoman and set the four plastic boxes around me. It seemed like a never-ending supply of scraps. I finally came up with the categories: large, long, medium, small and too small. Everything that was too small went into the trash. Two movies later, I was pretty much done.

So, this morning, still in the uninspired and goal-less, I headed to my sewing room and snuggled into my position behind the sewing machine. In this situation, I’m not going to try to use the small pieces, rather, I have that set aside for a special project that I want to try.

So, four hours/2 movies later, here is what I have:

photo 1And here is my setup:

This is but a step in a direction. Now I have to cut apart all of those pieces in the chain and then get ready to do a second round of chain piecing. I am trying to be random, allowing the pieces to be put together as I pull them out of the bins, but occasionally I will substitute another color if it is too similar in color.

IMG_6475Here are the 8″ squares waiting to be trimmed, lying on the cutting table. I have a stash of these squares too numerous to be counted, but I am conservatively guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of 200. I won’t start sewing these squares together any time soon, as I already have about 150 quilt tops waiting to be quilted. Technically, I guess the scrap bin will never be “finished”, but I am still on the kick to not start something new until everything started is completed. It can be difficult at times.

julie

Putting Final Touches on a Bunch of Quilts

Since the new year, I’ve been staying out of the garage and working in my sewing room. I am drawn to doing work in the garage, but the temperatures have been hovering just above the freezing point and kerosene heater or no, it is too damned cold to be working outside. And not just for me, but for painting and staining.

I am an avid quilter. Rather, I make a lot of the quilt tops and send them off to be quilted and then returned to me and then I bind them (the outer edge). I’ve been quilting for over almost 15 years, started just before 2000 and I am betting in the time I have made at least a five hundred (or more!) quilts. In the last couple of months, I received two big boxes of quilted tops from my friend Gloria and I’ve slowly been working through them. Doing the binding, that is.

So here’s what I finished today:

DSCN3025I’ve created some of these quilt tops months – even as long as years – ago. I have almost forgotten that I’ve done some of these. This was a work in green… not much to say about it really, just a nice fun pattern that I will give to someone who likes green.

DSCN3026This was inspired by a fun little duck print. Wouldn’t this be grand for some little one? The yellows are so cheery. And the quilting pattern is little ducks too!

Did I mention that one thing I had always loved about my friend Gloria who does the quilting, she makes most of the decisions about pattern and thread color? I like to work with her, it is a real creative collaboration. It started out with her wanting to try new patterns and me wanting to not have to choose! And it has worked out well for the last decade and a half.

DSCN3029I love bold, strong colors. As a result, I also end up with a lot of great scraps (see below). Sometimes I just like to sit and cut pieces while watching old movies on DVDs (I have the complete set of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies) and then sit and sew them together. Sometimes they turn out absolutely great and sometimes they turn out ok. Once in a great while I get a dud or two, to which those are donated to the local no-kill animal shelter for the dogs to use. That way, it gets used and the puppies probably don’t care what it looks like!

DSCN3031This is a piece that I have been working on and off for years! These are strips of white cotton are cut across the width of the fabric and six inches wide. Then the strips and scraps are sewed onto them. I had 16 strips completed, so I then sewed them together. The back is just white cotton and I am debating about whether or not to layer it and quilt it or just leave it as is. I have it hanging over the landing railing, so every time I walk down the hall, I see it. And then I think about it.

And to give credit where credit is due, here is my helper, usually hidden behind the quilts. And the one who runs up and down the stairs for sodas and makes lunch for me and who helps me move the massive amount of fabric around as I bind them. And I just love him like crazy 🙂

DSCN3032The guest bedroom bed has about another nine or ten quilts waiting to be bound. And of course I have projects that I’ve started that need to be completed. And I found another box of quilt tops that I need to send off to be quilted. But Gloria has decided to hang it all up and retire and now I have to find someone new.

This is gonna be difficult!

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.

IMG_9661

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

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