Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm Sew Tired

Sadly, the machine sat idle all weekend. Too much going on. Ladies had Happy Night Friday, which caused me to be an extremely unmotivated camper most of Saturday, but we had friends over for dinner, so I had to snap out of it mid-afternoon and head to the grocery store and focus what little energy I had on culinary pursuits.

But while I was just pissing the afternoon away in the studio, I opened a box under my desk that contained some of my first blocks (Thangles BOMs)

But what totally threw me for a loop was that inside this box I also found

Five yards of this batik. Okay, FIVE YARDS! I can't recall ever buying five yards of anything, but what's even stranger is I also found

FIVE YARDS of this Kaffe Fassett Jungle Paisley print. BONUS!!!!!!! I'm looking at those blocks thinking, do I really want to use them with either of these fabrics? Do I even want to make a quilt out of those blocks, couldn't I find something WAY better to do with the Kaffe? You bet!

The hubs actually volunteered to pick up my small Drunkard's Path GO! die in Frederick on Saturday, since he had to drive right past there to go to the golf course. Saved me a trip, and also saved me from buying fabric to cut with the die. (not sure if that's really a good thing or not....thinking NOT!)

Of course, I did ring up the Christmas Goose Quilt Shop in Vegas and order two kits and patterns I had seen there back in August. Wallhangings that I'm going to use as table quilts. One is pumpkins, the other hearts. Pieced, not applique. Should be quick and easy. Looks like next week is going to be Christmas in the old mailbox.

Exhausted from the online shopping and the excitement of finding fabric I didn't know I had, today was another uneventful end to a weekend. I managed to vacuum and do a little carpet shampooing. Another trip to the grocery store for the ingredients for a crock pot soup (Alex Anderson's recipe in this months 'Quilt Life') and then, the horror....A TWO HOUR NAP!!!!! I must be getting sick. I have to be. I don't nap, I'm not usually this unmotivated, I'm not this slow.

My throat is feeling a little scratchy, come to think of it. Maybe I've caught something from one of the three rental cars I've been in this week (while mine is in the body shop -- don't ask!). Or maybe I accidently drank out of someone's wine/martini glass  (Lord knows, there's been ample opportunity for that to happen this week). Or maybe it's just been a long, taxing week.

All I know is I need to snap out of this and get some sewing done. Gee, maybe if I actually went to bed before 2 a.m. I might have a bit more energy. Think I'll give that a try tonight.

Reminder: October 1st is the start of Fall Giveaway. I'll be participating, so be sure to spread the word, and check back later this week to see what I'll be giving away.

I'm off to bed before I turn into a pumpkin (table quilts on the mind). Later gators!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Some Inexpensive Studio Furniture Ideas / Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Since Ginny asked about this in a comment to my last post, I'm going to share with you my inexpensive do-it-yourself cutting table.

The base of my table is made up of two shoe cubbies that I purchased at Lowes in their closet organizing department. Turned on end they are the perfect height to set a tabletop on for a cutting table--or an ironing table, or both..

My tabletop is 1/2" plywood that I had cut to approx 30x48 (to accommodate a 24x36 self healing cutting mat and the available space in my own small studio). The wood has been finished with a high gloss white baked on paint (it came from a company that builds convention exhibit booths). The guys at the shop painted the edges for me, but my plan originally was to purchase iron on veneer edging (also available at Lowes) to finish the edges. They used a thick high gloss paint, so the veneering wasn't necessary. Saved me some time and $$$$.

I fold my fabric to fit in the cubbies. Each cubbie holds about 30 stacked  fat quarters, or three folded 4-yard pieces. I've got yardage, FQs, jelly rolls in my cubbies. The cubbies are 12" deep, so you fold your fabric long and narrow for optimum storage. The fabrics aren't in the path of any direct light, and I do cycle through the fabric so it's not in any real danger of fading. When I vacuum my studio, I just vacuum along the stacks as well to keep them dust-free.

My original idea was to make a custom sewing table, with a cut out (suspended on L brackets) for my sewing machine, but the shoe cubbies were too short or too tall, depending on how you placed them, so I bought a lovely white trestle desk for the sewing machine and reworked my cubby idea into the cutting table.

Now, I had to purchase a 4'x8' piece of plywood, so the guys also cut me a shelf, and a desktop (so I can still make my suspended machine shelf desk), and I've squirrelled these away in my closet for future use.

On a quest for thread storage that allowed me to separate my threads out by content and color, and keep them protected from light and dust, I picked up these super inexpensive scrapbook drawers half price at Michaels, with an eye on dual purpose.

What you see are 4 3-drawer units that I've stacked two up. And to my surprise, they are the exact height of the base on my trestle desk, so at some point they will become the 'legs' for that desk-size piece of plywood.

The drawers are spacious and hold quite a bit of thread, and I've labeled them by content. As you can see, the spools lie on their sides (though they could stand), and the cone-type spools of embroidery polyester easily stand.

This shot gives you an idea of how much thread you can fit in a single drawer. You can lie 7 large spools, 11 small spools, or 6 Gutermann spools end to end. And you can lay at least 12 rows across the drawer. That's 72 spools of Gutermann per drawer. Totally out of the light, dust free, and multi-functional storage if you use the units as 'legs' for a flat surface on which to iron, sew, Accucut, get the point.

Cost for these multi-purpose storage solutions...totally reasonable. I paid around $50 for all four 3-drawer units. They're sturdy, wood laminate, and they stack securely (pegs hold sets together).

The shoe cubbies were a bit more. They are 25 cube Closet Maid laminate organizers, and they sell for $40 each. The 4x8 sheet of finished plywood cost me about $28, so I got 50 cubes of fabric storage and a cutting table for just over $100. (and that also included a desktop; and a shelf for future use).

Don't be afraid to step outside the box and design things that work for you. There's a ton of inexpensive storage and work solutions that will work great in any studio, large or small. You just need to look at existing storage solutions with an eye at repurposing them to fit your own needs.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh Look! Tea Towels!

Pray tell Susan, why would you make tea towels? I honestly don't know. It was an impulse purchase in the quilt shop. My sister makes these for all the holidays. She'll fold them up and tie on a cute little themed cookie cutter with a piece of raffia or string to finish off a cute little hostess gift. Sometimes I just have this uncontrollable urge to copy what my sister does, I guess. I gave one to my daughter, and I'll likely hang one in my kitchen, though maybe not--I don't decorate Halloween anymore. Not sure what is going to happen to the third one (do I smell a blog giveaway?). Check back later this week and find out. (wink)

Looks like I've made some progress on Windmill Farm. As it's made with Moda's Pumpkins Gone Wild prints, it needs to be finished up and used for fall. I'm working on that, though today I got sidetracked and refolded a bunch of the fabric (with military precision) in my cutting table that was looking a little less than perfect. (Told you I had some latent OCD tendencies.)

I probably could have put the border on that quilt top in the time I was rearranging and refolding fabrics. Or I could have read the EQ7 manual, or set up the embroidery module and given it a little spin on the Bernina. I had a little problem with priorities today (sigh).

My 5 spools of Superior silk thread arrived today. It looks absolutely yummy. Thank you, Superior Threads, for having such a great giveaway. I did pretty good with the matchy-matchy to the dupionis off the website color chart. Good to know if you want to order some yourself.

Now, to come up with a plan to use a couple dozen half-yard pieces of dupioni ...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting Back on Track....Making Up For Missed OPAMs

I finished my fall purse. Love the bag. The pattern is Letty's Bag by Robin Gallagher. The instructions were most excellent. At the moment I'm tearing apart my Kaffe Fassett bag made with an Indygo Junction pattern. Indygo can take some lessons from Robin:
1. Handles should not be made with drapery cording inside, not only will they tear away from the bag (even though you've sewn through the cording, which will eventually shred, but the seams will split when the cording has nowhere to go but up. (Ask me how I know....rrrrr--iippp, rrr--iipp).
2.  And let's talk about flimsy inside pockets. Robin uses the fusible fleece inside the two layers of pocket, AND she top stitcfhes those inside pockets to give them some body, and she divides a large pocket into 3 sections (stitching down the length) to keep them from going all flopsy-mopsy on you.

There are two large pockets attached to the bottom and side seams of the bag (they go all along the inside perimeter), and they've been stitched at intervals to provide 6 separate, non-flimsy, yet generously proportioned pockets. Above is a cell phone pocket....and imagine's sized to actually fit a Blackberry (can I get a woot woot!? ).

Anywho, can't wait to load this sucker up and take it out on the town. I love Autumn, and having a festive Fall bag, made from richly colored batik,  is pure Nirvana.

On to OPAM (one project a month) finish number two.

The bargello table runner finally finished. quilted, bound, labeled, and running a table. I'm glad I chose sunset colors that could pass as a Fall table runner. Here's to many more OPAM finishes this month (and on to tea towels).

I love Fall. I like to dedcorate for Fall as much as Christmas. This is one of my favorite decorations. It's simply a packet of scrapbooking embellishments that I stuck on a textured cardstock and stuck inside the perfect shadowboxy frame I found at JoAnn. I have another smaller frame with seasonal prints made the same way that I swap out. This frame was just made for that 'print', so it's a permanent installation. :)

This is a wool mat I sewed entirely by hand (from a kit). I love the wool prints. It was fun to make, and looks great on the table with all the textures and colors. I need to make one of these for Christmas (trees), but haven't found the right wools to use--though I do look at the quilt shows I attend. Maybe some day I'll find some perfect little squares of various green patterned wools.

This is one of my Hobby Lobby finds last week in Vegas. I had hoped to use it on the front door, but it just wasn't working against a flat surface, it's all metal and the letters are meant to dangle and twirl. For now it hangs over the table in the breakfast room where it can dangle to it's hearts' content.

Also picked up the painted wood pumpkins and gourd to sit on the window sill over the sink. I prefer to do Fall deco as opposed to Halloween. That way I can drag it all out after Labor Day and it can stay up until the day after Thanksgiving when I start the serious Christmas decorating. I even have Fall-themed dinner plates, and placements for the dog bowls....I tend to go 'whole hog on seasonal decorating. Now, if I could only get it together and get that Halloween quilt started and the Fall quilt finished (and those tea towels....oh my!).

Well, I'm off to either fix the purse handles on the Kaffe bag, make a pie pin cushion, or work on the Fall quilt top. Earlier I picked out my colors of the silk threads I won from Superior Threads a couple weeks ago (I procrastinated when I got back from Vegas). I matched them to some of the silks I bought for the hubs to give to me for Mothers' Day, which I plan to make something out of (do you like my vagueness?).

Last night I swapped out the tunes for your listening pleasure. Top song is my current favorite song, and the Neil Young was something I just discovered, out of the blue (it's a Buffalo Springfield tune). The hubs found it on iTunes tonight and then hopped over to Amazon and bought the CD for me..Sugar Mountain Live. He thinks it's a legit copy of a bootleg, and it was a bootleg we probably owned at one time but just don't remember (his Dad had a record shop and people used to come in and sell us bootleg discs all the time...I can't believe we actually sold the dozens we had to someone.....we sure were young and stupid back in the 70s).

Neck still not great, but I'm suffering through it. We'll give it the full week of medicating before we schedule a visit to the orthopedist/chiropractor/physical therapist---pick one.

Ya'll have a fabulous Thursday. Hope your weather is cooling down (or warming up if you're in the Southern hemisphere). Only 108 days (actually exactly: 107 days, 2 hours, 48 minutes and 16 seconds) until Christmas. If you need a nudge, feel free to check my sidebar. If you haven't started yet, it's time to get to work on those quilty gifts.

Goodnight Moon.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy, Happy, Happy Night

The 3-day weekend has begun. The neck still hurts, but I'm going to toss down a muscle relaxer and throw back a few glasses of wine with the ladies tonight and not worry about it (and don't you worry, Happy Night is 3 doors down the street, so it's an easy stagger home :) ).

Not going so well for the hubs....he stopped at the grocery store on his way home and came out and his car wouldn't start. Not as resourceful as I, he did try to jump it, but then he called me to rescue him during a walk home. There was a gas station about 80 feet from where he parked, but it didn't occur to him to pop in. That's okay, I called our friend who has an auto shop, called the insurance company to tow the car to him (his one shop is open tomorrow), and sent the hubs back out with a note, an envelope for the keys, and the address of the shop to tuck under the floor mat. And then I sent him to run the rest of my errands that I had to not do in order to pick him and his melting ice cream up on the way home from the store. Hopefully he'll be back up and running tomorrow. If not, we'll go borrow the company van from his office so I'm not stuck without a car on the 3-day weekend (ribbon outlet in Hagerstown is having a dynamite sale I need more ribbon????? Do the Polar Bears at the North Pole need more ice????)

Tomorrow is sew, sew frenzy day here at Chez Entwistle. My studio is calling, and the plan is to throw caution to the wind and all existing projects and knock out that purse. Check back tomorrow to see how I do.

In the meantime, can't blog without a photo, and I happened to download a few on to this laptop the other day, so let's see what we can find....

Ah, the Pirate ship used by the Sirens of the Caribbean in the Treasure Island nightly show. I had no idea how this was going to work as it was a blind shoot (so bright out, you can't see the screen on the digital camera).

One of the fabulous trees under construction at Ralph Jones Design.

Too cool. topiary 'toilet brush' trees with wrapped deer. Quite the different take on a woodland theme.

Okay, enough. I need to throw together some pulled pork mini barbecue sandwiches to haul up the street for Happy Night. Hope you get a chance to sew along with me this weekend. We can all be so productive.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Vacation's Over, Back to Stitching

At the end of the Cirque show they drop satin scarves from the ceiling. The hubs snagged one for me.

Sorry I didn't come through with the big photo show, but it was way too hot to walk the Strip (107 degrees) and take photos. I did take photos at Ralph Jones Display of the 2010 Christmas trees and will post those shortly so you can have a head start look into what this year's design vibe is going to be.

The neck pain I've had since the beginning of August, which was most likely the result of hefting the 1260 in and out of the SUV for 4 classes a week, got way worse in Vegas. Again, switching hotels every two nights meant that some days I was on check-out duty myself, carting around two 40 lb suitcases and a 25-30 lb tote bag (think wine/liquor/juice bottles). Bad, bad, bad! Owie!

Well, some anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers and I may be good as new in a couple weeks, as long as I don't lift anything that weighs 10 lbs or more. If not, it's off to the orthopedist. We shall see what transpires. Tomorrow night is Happy Night, so I'll be feeling no pain on my way into the 3-day weekend, which I am really looking forward to knocking out some sewing during. I've got new projects to tackle with the fabric I brought back from Vegas.

This is a definite project for the weekend. These are blacks and oranges. The model for this tote was hanging in one of the Vegas shops I visited, and this is the exact fabric and button used on the model. The shop owner sent me to a regular fabric shop up the street (Heddy's) for trims and buttons, and to check out all the showgirl fabrics. A great stop. I bought a bunch of rattail for couching.

The Christmas Goose had this amazing apron on display. It slips over your head and is open in the back from the yoke down. It has a cute pocket and reminded me very much of an artists smock. The pattern designer is one of their customers, who was in the shop at the time. I couldn't resist the pattern. I thought the apron would make a super gift (and I wanted one as well). When I found Hobby Lobby, they had some decent fabrics on sale, so I picked up enough to make three aprons. And I got some big rick rack at the Goose.

Found this pattern at the Christmas Goose as well. Pincushion pies. How cute is that! Found the cherry fabric at Quiltique, know I have crust fabric at home, and the hubs and I ducked into a Sur La Table at the Miracle Mile and he found the 4" silicone muffin cups that should work out perfectly, especially since they'll be light and unbreakable.

I think I mentioned that one of the shops I visited, Nancy's, was going out of business. If my suitcases weren't so darn heavy to begin with, I may have taken license to go hog wild. Instead I just picked up some Sandy Gervais Awesome yardage. Not sure what will happen with it, but I do like having Fall fabrics on hand. At the top is the pile of rattail I bought, a couple yards each of 21 colors or so.

Life was good at Quiltique, my favorite of all the Vegas/Henderson shops I visited. They had Alexander Henry Day of the Dead fabric to add to my collection. One of these days I'm going to make something really notable from all the bits I've managed to squirrel away since first discovering this line at Houston last year.

Sometimes you just have to buy something you have no plans for, because if you don't, you're going to remember you saw it and regret not picking it up. These two buttons caught my eye at Heddy's, and while I considered yardage, I settled for a fat quarter of this fab heart batik which I found at Quiltique.

And this is the star of the car. I found these neat little gadgets on the notions wall at Quiltique. They're made by the company that makes the rubber bobbin rings. These little spindles are soft and squeeze into a spool of thread, then the bobbin squeezes on the top and you take the bobbin thread and hook it into a groove at the top of the spindle. There's another piece you can buy that you can latch them into, side by side, but what I really wanted was a way to keep threads and bobbins together that I'm carting to classes, or planning to use again in the near future. I love these. 12 in a pack for $5.75. What a deal! I also found Klasse needles at this shop (which was a Bernina dealer). Buy 2, get one free, always, and they cost less than Schmetz at JoAnn. I will likely be ordering in the future from Quiltique, and it's a definite stop for me on all future trips to Sin City.

Last year on my trip to Hawaii I saw these little guys in every shop I visited. Of course I didn't buy one and regretted it. Picked this one up in the swap meet we went to on Sunday (a big indoor flea market on Decatur Street that's open on the weekends. Lots of junk, but lots of fun stuff too.
Yes, his arm is waving. Guess I should go out and buy some lottery tickets tomorrow :)

Well, I'm off to try out the new muscle relaxers, hoping to get some sleep tonight. Must go to the office tomorrow. But chin up...the weekend is a day away.