Quilts, Denim and Thrifting… Oh, and I Finished My Cross Stitch

I’ve been working on a ton of projects but current resources are making things hard to finish anything. And when I say “resources” I am not talking about time, imagination or inspiration and generally speaking also not about fabric, thread or sewing machines.

The group of quilts that I’ve been working is based on using denim fabric harvested from old jeans. Getting my hands on really, really cheap jeans isn’t an issue. The problem I am having is that the borders I want to add to these quilts in progress I want to be seamless. And that will require the purchase of new denim fabric. And, of course, I want to use is flannel and I am finding that the necessary amount of this fabric will be quite large. I tend to find myself in this quandary quite often now that I am approaching nearly a year of unemployment. 😦

Not so long ago, I saw a comment posted on a beautiful – simple yet very functional – quilt made from old blue jeans. The comment, which I cannot seem to locate now, said something to the effect that quilts made from old jeans look like “old jeans” and therefore implied that the quilt looked ‘old and worn’. I replied saying that’s what makes these quilts so extraordinary, that they feel as great as your favorite jeans and thereby by extension, are something to be used and to feel comforted by. These words kicked off a goal of using harvested denim to make both beautiful and functional quilts. To show that your blue jeans and flannel shirts aren’t about dressing up, but about feeling good; and isn’t that what we all love about our favorite quilts?

So, let me start with sharing my method for acquiring blue jeans. It was a absolute accident that I stumbled upon this idea. If you’ve been reading or following my blog, you’ll know that I am a huge lover of thrift shops and going with my son. We just happened upon the “Last Chance” racks of clothing at Red Racks. Red Racks, I believe, are local to the Missouri, from Kansas City on the west all the way to St. Louis on the east. With a little luck, you may find your solution in your area.Fancy Line 1

Red Racks is a major source of funds for DAV. The proceeds from the sales of donated goods help our country’s Disabled American Veterans, providing assistance for transportation, medical needs, counseling, and much more. Find out more at DAV.org.

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So, Red Racks have what they call “last chance” and all items on these racks are priced at a dollar. Sometimes, they have some wonderful items (a great place to get kid’s clothes!) and often many pairs of jeans. These range from baby jeans all the way to guy’s jeans. Even at this price, you can’t beat it.

But… on Sundays the last chance has one really last chance and everything is marked to twenty five cents! Now here is a unbelievable price! And as you might suspect, items go quickly. For some reason, The Kid and I just happened to be there early and literally took every piece of denim we could find. And even at this, our giant haul was only $13!

Now, here is one thing that I discovered with working with denim. Be extremely cautious using denim with stretch. One project I am working on is using the jeans seams. However, when you add in seams with stretch, the piece becomes … curvy. Not a result that I wanted. And if not used correctly, the stretch denim can cause havoc in your quilt. I am not saying that you can’t use it, just be careful when you do. I, personally, have opted to reduce my use, if not all out stopping.

IMG_4370So, this is one of my first hauls. Either someone was watching or had the same idea as me, but it never was more than this. But this is more than enough. I was also working on collecting colored denim as an accent for these quilts, but true colored denim is hard to come by. Or maybe I should say heavy denim or colored denim without stretch.

IMG_4369In this pile, really only the top red, the blacks and browns and the bottom turquoise print are what I would call “real” denim. The others are lightweight and/or have stretch and will not use them in quilts. They may work great for making doll clothes though.

So, I’ve been able to piece together six denim quilts, four that need borders and all need flannel backings before I can ship these off to my top quilter. For those who may have missed it, I have a wonderful friend Becky, who does my longarm service, Collis Country Quilting. (If you’re interested in contacting Becky, you can reach here on her Facebook page: Collis Country Quilting. She can also be reached via email at: rebecca_collis@yahoo.com. Just let her know that I sent you!)

Here is a quilt that I stumbled onto via Pinterest. It is called “Cathedral windows” and was quite quick to put together.DSCN5208And the back:DSCN5209This is quite wonderful since it didn’t actually require top quilting… it is a ‘quilt as you go’. I love the varying shades of denim… this is one of those quilts I am working on in the concept to show just how beautiful old and faded jeans can be turned into equally beautiful quilts.DSCN5210And here, a shot of the front. Some of the squares turned out a little funky, I think I wasn’t paying quite enough attention to the flaps as I worked. I think once its gone through the washing machine once or twice.DSCN5211I’ve actually starting working on another of these quilts, starting with 10″ circles which should fold down to about 7″. Initially, I was going to use the harvested colored denim, but after assembling a few squares have determined that it is too dull. So, more investigation as to other possibilities.DSCN5212I actually did a smaller quilt with some leftover squares and ran it through the washer. This will give you an idea of how it will look:IMG_4388I did finish the binding for one more that Becky top quilted for me (there are still a ton more to finish binding!):

DSCN5214The quilt didn’t turn out quite like I hoped. The patterns of the fabrics mask the layout and you can’t quite see it for the colors.DSCN5215Oh, well, sometimes you hit a homer and sometimes it is just good for keeping the fans in the bleachers warm.DSCN5216Pretty purple backing with a nice meandering pattern.

I also finished my cross stitch of my favorite Pyrex pattern: Friendship Birds.IMG_4391I’m not thrilled with it in the hoop, can’t seem to get it taut. I am going to look into other options. Stay tuned!

Okay, that’s it for now! Thanks for dropping by!

julie

A Few More Finished Quilts

I’ve been keeping busy but mostly doing what I said I wouldn’t do and that was to start any new projects until I finished a few that were almost done. :-/

I have finished three more quilts however. If you’re new to my blog, you should know that I love to make quilts, but am not quite so in love with the process of finishing them. So I send my quilts off to a wonderful new friend, Becky, who is quite talented in doing the top stitching. She has a longarm service called Collis Country Quilting. (If you’re interested in contacting Becky, you can reach here on her Facebook page: Collis Country Quilting). She can also be reached via email at: rebecca_collis@yahoo.com. Just let her know that I sent you!

She did some incredible work on a quilt that was so amazing! I am in awe at the work on this quilt:

DSCN5197IMG_4333IMG_4332IMG_4331IMG_4330IMG_4329Five different quilting styles were used to complete this quilt. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the way she quilted this. Her attention to details is off the charts!DSCN5199DSCN5198My helper in trying to stay hidden when its windy and he doesn’t want to be in the pictures:DSCN5200The next couple of quilts are ideas that I get while looking at the already cut stash of fabrics. I’ve been trying to use up as much as I can.

DSCN5196DSCN5195DSCN5194DSCN5193And the final quilt for this post…

DSCN5190DSCN5189DSCN5188I used a blue background with white dots, which is the same as the border. A nice little finish. I did, however, not have enough for the backing, so there is an inset of red with white dots. Sometimes you gotta make do!

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Also, this week, The Kid and I were on a Studio Ghibli kick and watched four or five movies. The one I like is “Howl’s Moving Castle” which boasts a fire who is voiced by Billy Crystal -“Calcipher”. So as sort of a salute (and for something to do with my hands) I made this little bean-guy:

IMG_4328Took apart another forty pairs of jeans. We stumbled onto the best deal for salvaging denim from old jeans. Our local Red Racks (which is a thrift store that supports veterans’ needs) has what is called Last Chance, which is where clothing ends up that doesn’t sell. And on Sundays, it goes to a whopping twenty-five cents! So, I go through and grab all the best jeans – generally speaking those that have pockets and side seams for additional quilting. VoilĂĄ! I have something for my hands to do and it provides a lot of fabric for jeans quilts.

So, a couple more projects accomplished and this post done. Whew!

julie

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

Oh The Treasures You Can Find!

I don’t think that it is any secret that I love thrifting. That is, perusing and shopping at thrift stores, secondhand shops, yard and estate sales… just about anywhere you might find a bargain. I have some great collections that I constantly search for more pieces: china, pyrex, fabric, furniture hardware, old sewing notions and pin cushions, old Macintosh computers and accessories, crystal, interesting old jars and liquor-type decanters for my planned chandelier in the entry way… yadda, yadda, yadda. It is so true that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Even The Kid has a couple of collections that he looks to add to, including his love of older technology and electronic gaming.

Today, we headed to one of the thrift stores that we love. It is heads above many of the other shops we go, in that it is so clean and well designed and has a lot of merchandise turnover, so that you rarely see something two visits in a row. In fact, not so long ago, I had run across something that I really wanted, but for whatever reason, I decided not to buy it. A few hours later thinking about it, I decided I did want it and was worth the asking price, but by the time I got back, it had been sold. Lesson learned.

So, today’s visit was particularly good. Just one more collection for the sewing room are quilting and sewing books – regardless of when they were printed. I have picked up quite a few for pennies and they are almost always awesome. I purchased a quilt book not so long ago printed in the 70’s that featured quilts with the big color schemes back in the day – how many remember avocado green, harvest gold and burnt orange? I certainly do, my mom’s kitchen was of just these colors. I believe the refrigerator and stove were avocado green, but the wallpaper – these giant leaves on a background of ivory in those three iconic colors.

But if you can imagine, those colors together in a quilt were, well to put it as nicely as I can, were a massive color saturation and over abundance. They even talked about using knoits, poly- and polyblends in a quilt! Wow!

Well, today’s find was a bevy of beautiful books. Most are fairly current; I’d say within a decade or so.

photo 4But the prize was the 1969 first print titled “Singer Sewing Book: The Complete Guide to Sewing”. From the funky graphics on both the front and back covers to the instructional information, it just oozes awesomeness! I can’t wait to sit down with it and really go through it.

imagesI also managed to find a huge amount of Pyrex, although not my collection, but rather pieces I actually love to cook with. I collect Pyrex in the red and orange color titled “Friendship”. Its a tricky 16132915804696ppattern to find, which makes hunting for it all that much more fun. The clear Pyrex, on the other hand, is fairly common and still being produced. These pieces are workhorse bowls and pans and I use them often. I have bread pans, cake pans, mixing bowls and a whole lot more. I learned to use glass  – rather than metal – for baking and I just love the nice evenness that it affords. And all this stuff is dishwasher safe, no hand washing for me! I do have a couple of very high quality cookies sheets that have never been touched with soap nor anything that could mar or scratch the surface. Sometimes, it can be a real pain.

I did find six pairs of men’s jeans size 50 and 52! Let me tell you; THAT is a lot of denim! It was a tough inner battle, but in the end I feel like I need to work on using what I have before I decide that I don’t have enough and need more. I have a bad habit of over buying in anticipating a new project. I need to remind myself of that and often.

Tomorrow brings the unveiling of the most recent completed waterfall-style dresser. Just screams luxury and style and elegance. Again, one more piece I wish I could keep!

julie

The Always ‘Almost Done’ Status

Its been a lazy kind of weekend, it seems each time that I muster up enough energy to get started, I fizzle quickly. It was all I could do to work up enough energy to sort through the third stall of the garage. Trying to identify everything that could possibly be either discarded or thrown away. Then what was left was organized such that it is each piece is easily reached and I did a mental checklist of the projects left and their relative level of effort required to finish.

The countertops don't look nearly as blue as they are!The project that is currently under way – has been under way for some time – is the kitchen table and chairs. I don’t know if you recall, but months ago, The Kid and I picked up some Corian countertops from the friendliest woman via Craigslist. She had gotten the counters from her dad (I think she said) and she had hoped to use them for an outdoor kitchen but her husband had put his foot down and wanted them gone from the backyard. Of course, I couldn’t resist, even though I didn’t have a particular project in mind. I love it when something happens that makes it worth the gas and time to pick it up.

One of the pieces of Corian that was included, was a squarish piece that had edges, it appears to have been used for an island. And it just so happened that I had been on the receiving end of an antique sewing machine and table. I wanted to use the base for something, I love the character that comes with things that were manufactured or built in the previous century. And the square base sat perfectly onto the frame.

To be complete, however, I had to have chairs to go along with it. And they had to be similar in style. After watching CraigsList for some time, even scouring the For Sale listings, I saw the ad in the FREE section. There were four of them, although two were broken and needed repair. But I thought that perhaps two chairs were enough given that it was a small table, perhaps to be used in a breakfast nook.

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So far, I’ve been able to get the base of the table painted, as well as the chairs. To give the chairs a little more heft, I filled the tubular legs with sand. By using both broken chair, we were able to actually to get one good chair. So this table set with have three chairs.

2014-11-02 14.29.03Next up, today, we cut the rough shape of the chair seats from another piece of Corian. I had heard and read that Corian would cut just like wood, using the same tools and methods.

2014-11-02 14.29.08I was nervous but The Kid helped out and used the circular saw to cut the patterns I drew. I took a piece of Corian scrap and worked it with the band saw and the belt sander and to my amazement, it did exactly what it should. It did take a little more time (and patience) but in the end the normal tools worked.

So, next up is to finish the chair seats and then attach them to the table. We also have most of the table assembled, we’re going to mount pieces of wood to the base and then bolt the base to the wood we’ve attached to the bottom of the table. This one is soon to be completed.

photoOkay, I’ve been writing while watching some old scary movies via Netflix and we’ve just started “House on Haunted Hill”, the original with Vincent Price, so I need to publish and turn my attention to The Kid and the movie.

Come back soon to see the completed work!

julie

Tiered Baking Plates… They Present Cupcakes!

Woke up this morning not feeling the best. You know how that goes. I am thinking that nothing is going to get done today, except making my way through the third (or is it fourth?) season of “Mad Men”. But I thought I would get at least one more post out of activities completed so far.

Yesterday was a bake-fest. The Kid was essential, he is going to make someone very happy in the kitchen. We made two and a half dozen cupcakes, a double batch of bread pudding (mmm my favorite) and baked cornbread muffins. I figured while the kitchen was a mess and the oven was hot, we might as well take advantage of it. The cupcakes were done specifically to show off something that I’ve been working on. Hopefully it will be successful.

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I’ve been collecting these clear plates and short candle holders from thrift stores and making these cupcake tiered plates. I love the elegant way it makes the cakes look and especially the four tiers.

Here are some more shots of the different tiered plates:

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It is what is wonderful about making these, the different styles and weights and diameters of the plates and the candle holders.

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I have endeavored to avoid holiday themed plates (like Christmas and Easter)  but there are so many styles to choose from.

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And the wonderful thing is that they can be as large – or small – as you may want. They can be two, three, four – even five – tiers and the taller they are, the more elegant they become.

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As you can see, the patterns couldn’t be more different. The largest plates, I have found, are the heaviest and therefore make a great base or anchor.

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The candlesticks are also different styles and heights. They all work well with the plates and they provide enough height between the plates to allow for cupcakes, pieces of cake or other candies or even sandwiches.

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I’ve done these with my own china pattern as well as collected a set much like the ones above. Sometimes I wished I did more entertaining, just so that I could use this!

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So, you’ve seen three and four tiered, aren’t they just fabulous? Oh, and while I do my thrift shipping I am always on the look out for certain things: clear platters and plates, candlesticks, any and all kitchen things in red; utensils that would work for chimes, sheets that work well for drop cloths, picture frames, decorative jars and cut glass, someone else’s craft materials (always a good deal) and the unusual items that would work well for other projects.

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Like these two square plates I just managed to see… I don’t know if they were once part of a larger set or someone else had found them and put them together. And just a few inches away sat a little while candlestick that screamed it wanted to be paired with the plates.

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Another quick snapshot with cupcakes this time.

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For example, I found this large jar that just called my name… I don’t have a use for it just now, but it was so cool and priced right. I have a similar jar, not quite so angular, that holds the matches that were collected for years – especially when we were smokers and did a lot of traveling. It used to sit on one end of the  fireplace and I always wanted a second one to balance it out, although the fireplace has different items now. What to put in it is still a question (if you have suggestions, lay it on me!).

Well, still have plenty of work to do and we have our neighborhood garage sale next weekend, which means I will be doing plenty of organizing and cleaning while figuring out what to sell. A fantastic opportunity to get rid of some things, maybe sell some of my finished projects and, of course, some American Girl accessories that I’ve made. I’m planning on setting the dollhouse out, just to see if I get any offers or interest. I would SO love to get this behemoth out of my entryway.

julie

Kid’s Room Re-Do, Part 2 (We’re making progress!)

Got up early and decided to get this post finished and published!

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice or a hundred times that I am a big lover of recycle, reduce, reuse. The Kid too. So when it came time to outfitting the new room with furniture, I really wanted to find the perfect pieces.

In a recent thrifting trip, one that we happened upon completely by accident and almost didn’t stop, we found this lovely piece. Unfortunately, I don’t have a ‘before’ picture with the drawers in. But you can see that it needed some love.

I always go straight to the furniture sections at thrift store, the Kid heads to electronics. For someone still in his teens, he has a ‘nostalgic’  spot for “antique” computer and gaming equipment. Definitely need a lot of storage space in his room for his beloved collection.

This particular thrift store had a pretty sizable selection of furniture, unfortunately, most of it was junk. You know, those mass pieces put out in the last few years of particular or pressboard and with little to no personality. The prices of this stuff was pretty high too. I see a lot of those entertainment centers that were so popular when 32″ televisions weighed more than VW Bugs and were almost the same size. Now with flat screen televisions being mounted on the wall, those entertainment units are a dime a dozen. Most of them aren’t worthy of a second look though.

I found one recently, though, made of solid wood that I turned into a play kitchen. You can check it out here.

Anyway, we were just about to leave the store when I saw a few “older pieces” that had been shoved toward the back. I guess who ever was organizing the store didn’t see the value in all-wood, handmade furniture from 50 years ago. Good for me, bad for the store. And the store was running a promo of 30% off all furniture. The piece that caught my eye wasn’t marked and I had to track down someone who could tell me the price. Considering how overpriced everything else was, I figured this would be well out of my price range.

Obviously the young man “in charge” obviously wasn’t one of those who recognized quality, not real quality. When he took a look at the piece, he quipped “$40”, almost with a question mark at the end. I asked if the discount applied and he said yes. That means that I was walking out of there with this all-wood, quality piece for thirty bucks!

So, it just fit in the back of my car (have I told you about my little SUV? It is so versatile and I can work it to death!) and carted it home. Of course I forgot to take a photo before I started working on it, but here it is with just the drawers in the center removed:

You can see that this piece is all wood… it is such a wonderful piece, worthy of restoration. So, I jumped right in and after a light sanding, I started to apply the first of five coats of my beloved Deep Space Black. I used a foam roller and light coats, it comes out so beautifully. The paint is a semi-gloss, so even though the finish is soft, it is still shiny. It is beautiful.

Here is the crowning glory. In keeping with the mechanical/industrial theme of the room, I wanted to use unique handles. The ‘ribbon bow’ look of the original handles is beautiful, but not in keeping with the theme. After searching high and low and not finding what we’re looking for, I had an idea.

I saw this idea on FAB… have you been on the site? Wonderful selection of unique and wonderful stuff. A few weeks back, they showed these lamps:

I was determined to incorporate this design into the room. And I thought… why not handles for the console? So off to the Home Depot (I wonder if I can get corporate sponsorship for as much as I visit this guys!?) to browse the piping aisle.

And here is what I came up with:

So, here’s a short tutorial about how I did it. Obviously the handle is three pieces, you simply screw the three pieces together. Each handle is two 90 degree couplings with a 3 inch nipple. But how to attach it to the console? The Kid actually came up with the idea… fill the pipe with wood and then using a wood screw,  install it through the existing hole.

So using a wood dowel, I simply screwed it into each handle end:

Then clamping it and sawing it off even with the end of the piping joint (a couple needed to be sanded to get them level with the end of the coupling):

This is what you end up with:

And here are the five handles ready to be attached to the cabinet. Be forewarned, these are actually meant to be used in plumbing, so they are dirty and greasy. I used some ‘GooBeGone’ (although any degreaser or soap would probably work) and an old towel to thoroughly clean them before I attached them. After working with them during the process, my hands were absolutely black!

And here is the finished piece, with the handles attached. It really adds a nice ‘industrial’ touch to the console. He will be putting his television on top of the cabinet and then the gaming systems in the side cabinets. When he plays, he simply needs to open the cabinet doors and he will be ready to play! And when he is done, everything is neatly hidden and stored in the drawers and cabinets.

So, there is the finished product. I am so pleased with how this turned out and with a relatively inexpensive total. The cabinet was $30 and the total hardware was about $25. The paint, which I have been using for many projects, was $30 for a paint-and-primer semi-gloss and I already had all the painting supplies. I estimate the total for this piece right at $60! I would have spent ten times that amount in Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn for a similar piece and I wouldn’t have been half as happy with it. 🙂

Up next is to finish painting the room. First thing in the morning! At the same time, I think we can get the ceiling fan and task lighting installed. We may actually get so far as to get all the furniture pieces into the room, once we have the bed assembled. It is a whole ‘nuther project! Keep coming back for the next installment!

Okay, thanks for stopping by!  Happy Crafting Y’All!

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