Sewing Room

Construction Ahead

We all know I have actual, real work to do. Quilts to quilt, piecing to piece, overall work to be had.

Hands where I can see them – who’s surprised I’m completely distracted?

There are some things in the sewing room that I’ve been intending to accomplish. Things just lined up to get re-arranging done in the sewing room the last few weeks. Here’s what’s new!

Item #1: Mini design boards.
I mentioned before at the old house how fabulous it was to have the design wall right beside my machine and how I would do something to make that happen if my situation ever removed me from the wall. Well … welcome to the mini design wall idea!

We start with the board. Now, I could have gone to the hardware store and gotten a bit of board, but those things are expensive these days!! Besides, we’re stylish here! And what’s more stylish than upcycling? What you do is go to the local used book store or second-hand shoppe or garage sale (or in my case, raid the mother-in-law’s stash of old books that didn’t get sold at her old book store) and get yourself a massive hard-cover coffee table book. Then you rip the covers off, recycle the pages, throw out the spine, and you have the perfect light-weight design board! I stopped off at Fabricland to get some end-of-bolt discount fleece out of the sale bin. A very cheap glue gun was acquired on Amazon. The assembly process went seamlessly, surprisingly. I was mildly anxious. The last time I touched a glue gun, I was 5. My mum was making a flower arrangement. She told me multiple times to NOT TOUCH THE GLUE GUN. IT WOULD BURN ME. So, naturally, I waited for her to go get more eucalyptus then reached out to touch the lovely clear globule of melted glue. AND IT BURNED ME!! I started screaming, Mum came running in, and I was shown NO PITY. The glue was stuck on my finger and keeping it all hot and burny and running it under water did NOTHING. Needless to say – I did not have the same experience 1this time around. Fingers did get a little toasty, but I did not touch the melted glue. My husband says I’m completely unteachable. I showed him!!

Now that the board is set up, I put the blocks on it, stick it on the easels I bought on Kijiji for $5, and like magic! Mini design board! I got super into it, so of course I made 4. 😛 This way, I’ll be able to work on one project, put it aside without losing anything, and work on homework when I need to.

Item #2: Ruler organization.
This whole time, my rulers have been sitting on a shelf in the sewing desk. The shelf is plenty wide, but I do have to stack up the rulers to make them all fit and when I need more than 2 at a time, it becomes quite annoying to shuffle around to pull out the right one. And should I need the strip ruler, it’s totally impossible to manage. SO – why not use what the sewing desk engineers gave us and utilize the end?

I ordered 3M Command hooks along with the very cheap glue gun. In all honesty, the Command hooks were probably 2x the price of the gun, but they’re not the cheapest item on a good day, so we’ll let that slide. I had to get the metal hooks as the plastic ones are just a little too wide to go through the hanging holes of the rulers. I measured out where things needed to hang, popped on the hooks, let them set for an hour while I made mini design boards, then hung up the rulers. I have to say – this is working out very well!! And those rulers are a heavy acrylic, especially when you’re hanging 3 of them at a time. I think this will work out quite well. 🙂

Item #3: Shelf storage
Now that I’m not storing rulers on the shelf, what am I going to do with it? I am sort of using the back part of the drawers as temporary tidy zones when I need to work on something else for a bit, but the front part is not in use. It turns out I was dealing with something else not in use at the same time in another part of the house.

Want to guess what I found? You can see it!

Story time! When we moved in, I had to re-think the kitchen quite a bit. The house was built late 70s early 80s by older people who liked older styles, which means all the cupboards and drawers in our house are super narrow. The drawers are an average of 6 inches wide. I know that’s the way my grandmother’s kitchen was growing up and older un-renovated houses are the same. That means that my cutlery organizer (coming in at a whopping 15 inches wide) was NEVER going to fit in the kitchen. I left it on top of the fridge to stick in storage once I had storage set up in the basement. It was still there when I was cleaning up a mess the other day. When I pulled it down to wipe it out, I thought … I know where you can live from now on!!!

Fully loaded

I think this works out really well!! I took everything that was living under my extension table and put it in there. Now, when I’m working on something, I just pull out what I need. When I’m finished and need to get things cleaned up for a different project, into the organizer they go! I love using this. It scratches my organization itch.

4. Accessorizing
So … I got a new toy. I was recently making a wallet (next week’s blog will have more details) and decided to use rivets to pin the sides together. I loved the look, but … riveting is hard with my basic setup. When I started making bags and wanted to do rivets, I went with the absolute cheapest option for attaching them. It’s a rivet anvil setup. You get a little tool that pierces the fabric to the right size, then insert the rivet, place one end in the round anvil, and hammer the wand down so the rivet is pinched shut. It works pretty well, but it makes a LOT of noise hammering and brings husbands running to find out what the heck I’m doing to the house!! Plus, it’s a everyone awake scenario, so if I’m bag making at 1AM (like I was last weekend, the dolt that I am), I have to wait to finish it in the morning. Sometimes, that’s not an option when I’m getting up early the next morning to take the almost-finished project as a gift. We’ve all been there … no judgement!! Finally, when working on something very snug (like the wallet), it is VERY hard to put a hole in the fabric then hammer the rivets secure. The rivets go on crooked or can’t be hammered tight enough, so they rattle. Not a polished finish.

SO – I got a rivet press from Emmaline Bags. 😀 I love making bags and wallets and rivets can be a big part of that process. Plus, you can get snap-rivets for clothing! I think I will use this a lot, so the upgrade is worth it. You can see that I also got a hole-punch hand tool. My rivet press came with a rivet die and a hole-punch die, but the hand punch is nicer to use in tight spaces (like a wallet). And it was 10$ at the hardware store. Absolutely worth buying the hand punch – I should have done that the first time!

5. Organization
During the riveting adventures, I came to the realization that I absolutely have to re-do my drawer organization now. It cannot wait any longer. SO – top drawer is bag hardware, second drawer is quilting tools and accessories, third drawer is large spools of thread that doesn’t fit in the small thread organizers. I switched around what went where and used some drawer organizers I had a kicking around, not being used. Again – love using this!! I can find everything immediately without a ton of digging around and I love having a place for everything. And I have a fourth drawer available for re-organization in the future if I need a little more room! Unfortunately, this is making the heavy storage unit become invaluable to my space. I may need to break my promise to Husband to replace it if/when we move again. Oh whatever … that’s future M’s problem!!

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

And We’re Back

I completely forgot to get back to the blog. Sorry!!! When you get out of a habit, it can be hard to get back into it. Even this week is late … OH WELL. We still made it! I have two weeks worth of updates, so let’s start with first things first, shall we?

DESK ARRIVED!!! I’m pretty sure the desk showed up 2 days after writing my last post. Even though I was pretty tired that week, I still took time to put the whole thing together the first day it arrived. I’m so glad I did!! It let me jump straight into my first project!

When we moved in, one of the few new things we bought was a new couch. The old one HAD IT. Grungy, stinky (cat and dog nest for the last year or so), and not entirely in one piece anymore. We agreed that the old couch would not enter the new house, so a new couch arrived along with us. I really love it. We totally lucked out for buying sight unseen, only what was in stock. I didn’t really care what we got, but I wanted a sectional that was in stock because wait times are tracked in terms of months with the current craziness going on. I did keep the old throw pillows from the previous couch. I figured “pillows are pillows”. I tossed them through the wash and they came out smelling great! Looks, though, not so great. The tears and worn seams, I get – they’re 10 years old after all – but how in heaven’s name did it get a bleach stain???

Now that I had my sewing desk set up, I wanted to make new pillow coverings! My original plan was to go to Fabricland for some upholstery fabric, but Fabricland has been very nutty in our region. We were in lockdown almost 2 months longer than any of the surrounding municipalities. When our restrictions finally lifted, the stores went bananas. So, I’ve been waiting to go to places like Fabricland. Their parking lot is usually only full-to-overflowing on the 40% off store-wide sale day they have once a year. It was overflowing for a week straight after lockdown. Suddenly, I remembered I had a large-enough piece of tougher-than-normal cotton that would do the trick! I got it at a guild meeting during the penny sale and it’s been sitting in Fabrique Estates awaiting a purpose. Now it has one!

Item 1: set up my serger. The other reason I picked this as my first project was to test out the dual-sided sewing desk real estate. It actually worked out very well!! The desk is a little tight to the wall on the far side (mostly due to the baseboard heater sticking out), but it’s usable for short uses. I may angle my desk a little to give that side a bit more chair room in the future … not a bad idea.

Item 2: Cut up the fabric and SERGE. Note to self – double-check the fabric before cut WHAT ARE YOU DOING??????
Evidently, I need a refresher course on sewing. I had a little fabric to spare, but not enough to make mistakes with. When I was cutting my pieces doubled up, I didn’t check the underside of the first square and missed about an inch of fabric. Thankfully, it was close enough to the seam that I could just patch in a piece to make up the seam allowance. You can’t even tell now … but I still can’t believe I was that dense. I blame the excitement on having a HUGE cutting space at the end of my sewing desk to take advantage of. I haven’t even used my cutting station yet!!! This is is just too convenient.

Once the serger was set up (I had to re-watch the tutorial on how to do that because … I forgot …) serging the pieces together went VERY fast. I made the slips a little snug so the current pillows would fit in tightly. I left the old fabric on to give it a bit of stability. It’s all clean, so I don’t think it will matter. Once the pillow was stuffed in, all that was left to do was sew down the edge and we’re finished!!

That part got a little tricky. I could have put a zipper in to make it removable (and invisible), but I don’t want to waste a zipper. I could also have sewn the ends in by hand, but that takes time AND I wanted to use my room set up!!! What I settled for instead was using my zipper foot to get as close to the pillow form as possible and leave a small lip to the top of the pillow. It’s a little unprofessional looking, but this isn’t supposed to be the forever fabric and it looks good enough. Good enough works for me!

And pillows are now finished! That was one evening’s work for all three pillows. My sewing appetite has been whetted, the couch looks decently good, and there are projects to work on!!

Next up: UFO homework.

~M

Sewing Room

New Digs

Well, we made it!

*Mostly* moved in, *mostly* settled … but the sewing room is 85% there and that’s the important part, right??

I know in my last post, I mentioned I’d be taking the big bedroom for my sewing room, but I actually took the small room. Why do you ask?? Layout. The smaller room is significantly longer than the big room and I much preferred the wall layout, so I opted for the small room and we’ll turn the big room into the guest bedroom when we get around to it. We’re still not supposed to have company where we live as per the COVID rules, so we don’t really need to worry about sleepover visitors yet.

Check it out!!!

I even have stuff up on the wall. Aren’t you proud of me? And I bought and hung new curtains!! I love them so much. Husband thinks they’re hideous, but who asked him?? 😀 They’re purple with some green-shift in them. Even I have to admit they don’t look super great when closed at night (the circumstances of this picture), but when pulled back in daylight? I think they’re lovely! FYI – those units are MONSTOUSLY heavy. I promised Husband that, in our next move, one of them will remain behind. Not Fabrique Estates, but that unit is swiftly coming to the end of its life. It made some horrible cracking noises when we moved it. It still seems solid, but if it simply falls apart while moving next time, I will morn it but it had a good long life. Plus … that means shopping, right???? 😀

The fabric has been completely re-organized. Literally the only thing in the same place is the solids. I’m not 100% happy with the fabric placement, but it’s good enough for now. At least it’s in the house and put away! Once my kits make it into the house, they will be filed in Tupperware bins and will take up residence on the closet floor. I’m going to commit to getting all my purchased kits made after my UFOs are caught up. I’d rather not have stuff stashed everywhere in the future. Yes, my clothes are in the sewing closet for now. The cats are living in the master bedroom closet and with their litter box, so my clothes are in a “fresher” location for the time being. 😀 Evidently, cats need to slowly adjust to new living environments one room at a time and that makes the most sense. It *shouldn’t* be permanent.

You may also have noted that there’s nowhere to set up a sewing machine. That seems like an oversight, right? Well … I have a new sewing desk coming and it should be delivered this week!!!! POSSIBLY EVEN TOMORROW! I’m going to put the desk in the middle of the room so I can sit on either side to do sewing. Dual sewing machine setup, anyone?? 😀 I’ll be able to piece AND quilt simultaneously!!! I am so looking forward to it and love that I have the space to comfortably do that!

This is all I have to share with you today, but next week should be exciting!!! If I do get the desk this week, I have lots to be working on right away!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing · Sewing Room · UFO

Slogging Through

My goal for this weekend was to finish off the remaining Christmas Fig blocks. Spoiler: I didn’t make it, but I can see that finish line coming strong!

After my struggles last week, I decided to start off with the easiest block first. I have three blocks left – the Flying Geese Criss Cross block (ain’t that a mouthful), the Feathered Star block, and the Tree of Life block. I’m saving the Tree of Life block for last – it just seems fitting. The easiest of the two remaining blocks is by far the Flying Geese Criss Cross block. It took me less than 2 hours to put it together and the bulk of that time was spent on the flying geese blocks. I’m not super enthused with this block. It’s yet another example that I didn’t take colour value into account. Even though these two fabrics compliment each other probably better than any other fabrics I paired from this bundle, the light coloured fabrics blend into the background fabric too much. It would have been better to go with white fabrics or just use different fabrics for this pattern, but that how we learn.

On to the Feathered Star block! It doesn’t look much like a feathered star to me. In fact, if it were up to me, I’d call it the Sawtooth Star. Unfortunately, there’s already a block called that. If you compare the two, the Feathered Star looks much more sawtooth-y. I’m calling mine Sawtooth.

I honestly think this was the most challenging block in the book. Some of the others would be very close (the Puzzle block and the Milky Way block come to mind), but this one was most challenging to me, in no small part due to using directional fabric. Thankfully, the pattern was somewhat easy to conceal on the smaller pieces, but I had to make sure the eight big triangles were all flowing in the right direction. You’ll see later.

The first challenge was getting all the blocks sorted and moving in the correct direction. I love having a design wall for this sort of work!!! I know other people have boards about the size of a piece of paper that they arrange their blocks on for piecing. If I am in a place where my design wall is not directly beside my sewing machine, I will absolutely do this as well. It is so handy to be able to arrange it before sewing it to make sure it’s going the right direction. Most of my Sunday was taken up with making the half-square triangles (HSTs) and arranging them on the wall. I decided to make some of the outer blocks before calling it quits and honestly – the wall made life easy. If you’re in to quilting, please please do some form of this. It’s so much better than laying them out on the table – I promise!

Here in Ontario, we had a long weekend! Yay!! That meant I could do more quilting on Monday! First step was to make the remaining outer blocks, which was a snap. Then on to the four inner blocks!!! This is where directional fabric got the better of me. As you can see, the blocks I made last night clearly have dots streaming upwards. There are four more big triangles in the middle with the streaming dots. I got one done, then on a whim I decided to toss it on the wall to see how it worked. Am I ever glad I did!! I had it backwards! So I ripped it off, sewed it back on so the dots were going the right way, then made a second block. Have you ever heard of measure twice, cut once? Well, in quilting, you need to check two blocks, then make one quilt. 😀 My wall experience had spooked me, so I decided to take all the blocks I had made so far and put them up on the wall in the configuration I’d need them to go, just to be sure … and if I didn’t have those two fabrics backwards again!!! I need to mention here – ripping them off and sewing them back on would not have worked here except for the fact that I was working with batiks. The fun part of batik fabric is that there is no back and front to the fabric. The dye goes through to both sides so you can use either side. That made flipping these blocks around possible!

Once I finally got all my dots streaming the same way, I quickly whipped the rows together and voila – Sawtooth the block! I love that you can see the two focus fabrics interacting with each other much more in this block as there is less background fabric. The colours really are pretty. 10 out of 10, would totally make this block again. It’s a lot of effort, but I think it really looks nice.

Sawtooth The Block!

On a parting note, I still have one block left – the Tree of Life. I’ve been dealing with back pain this week due to a very old car accident from my college days that comes back to haunt me once in a while, so I was taking lots of breaks in the piecing process. I did manage to get all the HSTs made before calling it quits. I just need to cut them, press them open, and I’m ready to start piecing that tree!

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Project Clean-Up

This was a good weekend project-wise. Crazy Quilter on a Bike had a weekend retreat. It mostly ran on Sunday, but there were a couple of hours on Saturday that gave me enough time to prep a project that has been sitting on my cutting table for over three months now.

My sewing machine has two extended beds. I can’t remember if I actually shared this officially or not, so we might as well go over it now. Red (my mum’s machine) was sold with an extended bed included, but of course companies find ways of making you spend more to have the same amount. The new sewing machine beds are fairly high tech, though, so I don’t really mind spending the money to get a lot nicer product than the one that comes with Red. The first bed extender was a Husqvarna Extension Table that is designed to fit certain ranges of machines. It adds a nice amount of extra space so you have a place to rest your hands on either side of the needle and to hold up your project. This particular model also has a gentle slope at the front so it doesn’t dig into your arms or palms. I used this exclusively for the first year I had the machine and I’m using it right now with my limited desk space. It is an amazing product and I highly recommend it, but I upgraded to a bigger bed with a version of the Quilter’s Table. It provides a much larger flat surface which is AMAZING for free-motion quilting as it gives the quilt more slip/less drag. I cannot remember the company name of the one I bought, but I got it through my dealer. It came in three sizes I believe? Or four? I got the middle/second largest. It still more than doubled the bed space I had with the Extended Table and the larger size simply wouldn’t fit on my 6-foot sewing table. Up until I moved my office desk into my room, this was the extension bed I had set up all the time.

The question you should be asking is “How do you store the unused table?” Easy! In the box it came in! … until I went to put the Quilter’s Table away. That’s when I discovered that Husband had turfed the admittedly large and awkward Quilter’s Table box. Yaaaaaaay. So my plan was to make a protective case for it. I picked out the fabric, batting, and yes – even a zipper. Then … well, you’ve seen my blog posts over the last few months. Time has not been in free supply. This weekend, though, I was bound and determined to get that fabric off my cutting table and the Quilter’s Table off my pressing table. My iron got WAY too close for comfort a few times!

Saturday night: I had the outer fabric and the batting already basted, so I quilted it in simple, wide-set lines to make up a diamond shape. Instead of having the two sides open with it joined at the bottom like a normal person, I decided the best use of the fabric would be for the seam to run along the bottom and one side and have the fabric wrap around the other side. I was a little worried that would make inserting a zipper more difficult, but you know what? I actually liked the way it turned out better than the normal way. Less zipper bits to stitch over. There were tiny little rosebuds sprinkled in some of the stripes, so I decided to add a pocket to store the table’s feet in of the same colour. I originally intended for the pocket to be closed with a snap or button, but overlapping the panels and stitching around the whole thing seems to be just as effective. Doing it that way instead also let me have a new adventure!

Twin needles!!! These things are super neat on a domestic sewing machine, especially if you’re into making clothes. They simulate the cover stitch look you get with a serger. Red had a very old twin needle that came with it from Mum. I never tried it before as I was quite intimidated and now that I have a serger, I don’t have to fake that look. I decided to give it a try on this pocket, mostly to say I had done it at least once, but also because I was curious about the function. Well, let me tell you … I love the look!!! I’ve done this look a lot when I make bags just to get the double-line look, but stitching two rows side-by-side is never even. I think I may keep this needle on hand for future bag making. Another cool thing about them is that they come in different sizes, so you can have different widths. I may buy a pack to have on hand if this one breaks. It is older than me, after all, and I just levelled up last week.

That is not a pretty liner job …

The only thing that sort of needs attention on this bag is the liner. I cut it several inches too big, figuring I’d re-cut it fit when I went to insert it. Well … I don’t really care anymore. SURPRISE!!!! 😀 Actually, in my squashed state, I don’t really have the room to cut something that big and I’ve been using scissors a lot lately. I’m not super accurate with them either, so I figured it would be better if I left it too big than cut it too small. I just stitched the extra fabric as a fold. Maybe someday I’ll rip it out and make it pretty, but honestly – it’s a functional protective bag, I’m keeping it, and it’s staying zipped shut 99% of its life. I don’t really care that’s is a TARDIS. The added benefit of making it to fit my biggest table is that it has enough fabric to also fit my fatty smaller Extension Table whenever I go back to using the Quilter’s Table full time!

I finished this around 1PM on Sunday, which means I had time to get started on my UFO homework blocks. I got one totally done and the other most of the way done, and you know what? It was not as hard as I was dreading it would be! I may even get all the other blocks made before the February meeting and have another quilt top just about pieced together!! But we’ll talk about that NEXT TIME ON … DRAGONBALL Z!!!

I may have overplayed my millennial geek hand on that last reference.

~M

Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Piecing · Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

2020 Kickoff

I am so pumped for the 2020 quilting season! I’ve got some fun projects planned and I can’t wait to start!!! For the first year of the new decade, I’m only committing to projects I actually want to work on. That means signing up for only one BOTM (with FibreChick again) and not forcing myself to complete everything I start … unless there’s a deadline for some reason … speaking of, let’s introduce the first two quilts of 2020! 😀

I started this quilt on New Year’s Eve. My first cousin was expecting her second daughter in January and I decided to make a very brightly coloured quilt centered around an owl panel I picked up last year. I started of with two colour blocks – one warm and one cool, all the colours from the owl blocks. The solid colour blocks are called churn-dash blocks. The churn-dash pattern has many alternate names and is usually made with two colours to emphasize a specific design in the block, but I decided to use five colours. It causes different components to stand out on each block, which makes the pattern look different on each block.

I took a break to do something else with my sewing room. I hung up my design wall! I picked up some 0.5lb 3M Command hooks and stuck 4 of them on the wall. Then I hung my design felt to it and BOOM! Design walll!! The location is temporary. Do you see the plastic-covered item leaning against the wall? That is the glass form for the shower. When it’s installed and the room has been finished, the sewing room door will open against that wall. I intend to move the design wall behind the door. It will be a good use of the space without interfering with the door’s path. Plus, the wall won’t be facing the sunny window in that place. The sun will prematurely age the design wall and potentially fade quilt blocks where it is in the long-term.

Blocks on the wall

This allowed me to put up the blocks once I was finished. The warm blocks look beautiful, but they are too autumn-coloured to got with all the other blocks in the quilt. I cut and sewed four more churn-dash blocks using more jewel tones, but including a couple brighter fabrics to include some yellow and red to round out the owl-blocks.The owl blocks were set on a black fabric, so I decided to use black sashing to space all the blocks. I think the effect is bright, colourful, yet cohesive. The design wall was very helpful for laying out the blocks in the way looks best and to keep the rows organized.

I think the piecing took me three days, including the re-making of the warm blocks. It was immediately on to the quilting! I used scrap batting from my last two quilts and flannel I picked up at one of the guild meetings. Stash busting!!! I used an electric orange thread to do the quilting. I put continuous curves into the squares (this is swiftly turning into a favourite design for me) and a meander with loops around the owls. I also traced the owls, their eyes, and their wings. I ran a looping meander in the sashing between the blocks and around the border. The orange stands out beautifully on the black! I did something a little special with the top and bottom of the quilt. The baby was literally born as I was doing the quilting, so I “wrote” her first and middle name at the top of the quilt and the date at the bottom. It’s the first time I’ve ever done quilt-writing. It’s fairly easy – I just need a little practice!

I got to play with a new tool! Husqvarna came out with a binding tool for putting the binding on quilts. It’s not as perfect as doing it the long way yourself, but it saves me almost two days of pressing in half, then in quarters, then pinning on one side, then pinning on the other side. No folding, no pinning, and I only sew the binding once! It stitches the back and the front of the binding at the same time! It’s been worth every single penny for getting things done FAST. Merry Christmas to me!

Now that the quilt is in a box and on it’s way to the East Coast, I’ve started my next quilt for my great aunt. My grandmother has one sister left alive. She loved Grandma’s quilt, so I decided to make her a lap quilt. She’s recently re-located to a nursing home and I wanted something she could use all day long instead of something that stays on her bed. One of my favourite online quilting stores, Troll Brothers Quilt Designs, organized a de-stash to raise money for a sick individual who is close to her. I picked this beautiful pansy fabric. The pansies are outlined in metallic gold. I thought it would be a beautifully bright for her to look at. I asked Stacie to pick out three fat quarters of complimenting colours and include it in the bundle when she sent it to me. I want to make disappearing nine-patch blocks highlighting the pansies. I can’t wait to share it with you next!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Mini Update

As promised, I did not have time to do a blog last week. We didn’t get that lovely A/C fully installed until mid-week. When they installed it, they ran all the piping out through what had been a boarded up window, so we spent the remainder of the week installing a new window and bricking around the pipes. The weekend was a family canoe trip, during which we punched 3 holes in our canoe and sank it. Thank goodness for family. We loaded the Snowdog into a cousin’s canoe with their pooch. The dogs didn’t try play at all – just cuddled up in the bottom and went to sleep – so that went well at least. Husband’s brothers tied the sinking canoe up to their canoes to tow it while we tried to bail fast enough to keep the canoe afloat to get back to the cottage. We sank twice anyways. That’s how bad the holes were. 😀 At least we laughed the whole time! It was a very old canoe we got for free, so we just made the best of the situation. Long story short – there was no time for blogs.

What I did have time to do was finish straightening up my sewing room. When the A/C guys came, they asked my husband to move everything … and boy did he ever.

It got worse than this, believe it or not …

I almost cried when I saw the mess … but messes are opportunities for organization!!! 😀 And since I’d just installed Fabrique Estates, it was the perfect opportunity to finish cleaning up and setting up! I’ve decided that painting is going to wait a year or two, but everything is set up where it’s going to go when the painting does happen.

See the quilt-covered dresser next to Fabrique Estates? It turns out that the top is the exact same size as my “small” cutting mat! I now have a cutting station that’s at chest height! No more back ache from bending down to cut!!! I can still put the big cutting mat on the folding table to cut long strips, but most of the time I’ll be using my cutting station!!! I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I’ve been seriously considering investing in hardware to get a collapsible cutting station. My back was injured during a car accident in college and I try not to strain it anymore than I have to. Now I have a cutting station!!!

I put the big mat on the regular sewing table to replace the small one getting moved to the cutting station. It got damaged during the AC installation – my husband left it out in the hot sun and warped it badly – but I’m hoping that it will slowly flatten out and be usable. If not, I think my dear mother-in-law may have another unused mat lying about that I can snag.

What I’m also really excited about is my pressing station!!! I made an ironing board out of … well, a board … from Home Depot, covered it in a layer of batting, then covered it in this cute Amy Butler fabric I found in the sale bin at Fabricland! I’m planning on painting the room a slightly more muted shade of the purple, so it’s going to match the finished room perfectly when I get there. And my rulers aren’t lying in a pile by my table anymore! An uncle of mine made this little shelf for me years ago as a girl in high school. It’s been up in most of my places, but I hadn’t found a room for it in our home. Now I have. And did you notice the shelf supports? That’s me! Auntie M!!!

There has been little to no sewing being done, but I did at least get caught up on last month’s block. The assigned block was a Dresden plate (or to be exact, a half Dresden plate). I got three blocks done for the class, which was enough to not get dinged with the $5 failure charge, but I wanted to complete my row anyways. There were five blocks needed. All were cut out and ready to go, so I took a couple hours on my last night of vacation to finish them and sew them together. Aren’t they cute?? They aren’t perfect, but I did the thing and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Now to get at least one of the next blocks done, plus get Grandma’s quilt pieced (due August 12). July and August are shaping up to be busy sewing months and it’s finally cool enough in the house to do the work!! Can’t wait!!!

~M

Finished Projects · Sewing Room

Fabrique Estates – Now Open!

It’s finally finished!

In case you don’t remember, I was working on finishing an old Victorian cupboard that my mother had given to me when she moved. There were several coats of very ugly paint on it that I wanted to get off. I put a layer of paint remover on it and got it down to the last layer of paint. Then I threw a tarp over it, went on a quilt retreat, and got too busy to deal with it. 😀

When I got back to it, I started off sanding by hand. I did the whole top of of the cabinet by hand. It took two days. Half-way through the second day, I decided to dig out my husband’s belt sander for the rest. Even if I made a mess of it, it was never going to be an expensive antique. You can see that someone filled in half the doors with poly-fill when it split (which is the reason the thing got painted instead of varnished). Someday, my husband wants to take off those doors, dig out the poly-fill and replace it with epoxy, but for now I just wanted this project DONE. And I didn’t botch it too badly with the belt sander, so bonus! This work took a day, with one more day to hand sand the places that still have paint (mostly around the hinges).

At this stage, I needed to do something about the strip around the top piece. I sanded off most of it, but I couldn’t get all of it, especially in the corners. There’s also existing paint under the lip on the front of the top piece that I couldn’t get off. I decided to paint just those bits to hide the old paint, so off to the local paint shop I went for some black chalk paint. I popped on two layers of the black paint, then decided to move on applying a finishing oil to the rest of the cupboard. I’m not a fan of staining and varnishing – I prefer finishing oil. I chose tung oil over the family favourite linseed oil for a couple of reasons. Tung oil is an indoor-only oil (linseed protects both indoor and outdoor surfaces), but since this is an indoor piece, this is a non-issue. I only needed to wait 24 hours between applications for the oil to cure instead of the 72 hours for linseed oil!!! I would have been all month at this with linseed oil! Also, while they both have a strong wood sealant smell, linseed oil smells stronger and lasts much, much longer. Stinky quilt fabric?? I don’t think so!!!

One of the cool things that came out of the oil finish was the colour. As soon as the oil went on, the unit developed a reddish look. I really like how it turned out! Maybe it was made with red pine? That would account for the colour, at least. I wound up putting two coats on the front and side and four coats on the top. Each little cubby got a good scrubbing out with dishsoap and water, the unit dried while the last coat cured, then the fabric condo came inside to be installed in its forever home!

Now presenting – Fabrique Estates!

To make it easier to slide the fabric in and out, I cut up shelf liners from a couple of old pillow cases. I know there’s still a door missing. No worries – it’s coming eventually, it’s just not finished yet. I was more focused on getting the unit done and out of the elements. The last door can wait until the weather gets a little cooler. It’s been +30 degrees Celcius here all week … and it’s been even hotter inside than outside. We’re getting a new furnace installed next week and with it is coming central air conditioning. I CANNOT WAIT. We have a window unit downstairs in the living room/work room so we can get some work done during the week, but the unit we had in the upstairs bedroom broke at the end of the season last fall and we’ve been toughing it out until the installation date. When I was upstairs folding fabric and re-installing the latches, the sweat was just pouring off my face!! Sewing is officially on hold until after next week! I have a dream of getting the pressing board I’m making for the top done. I should be able to do most of that downstairs in the cooler work area, so maybe I’ll just focus on that for now.

Would you like a fabric tour? Of course! I’ll show you around! 😀

First, the missing square. In the bottom two cubbies are my backing fabrics. I have a couple of cool ones that I picked out on sale for future projects I have planned, but the rest are just old, clean sheets. They’ll be perfect backings for practice quilts or learning block quilts. The top right contains what is left of my mother-in-law’s stash’s raid. I put quite a dint in that stash! The left top is fabric that needs to be taken out, folded, and re-sorted. The heat was getting to me by this point. 😛 Cool thing about these little latches. One of the original latches broke when the unit was getting transferred home. This isn’t the first time this has happened – Mum already replaced a broken latch with one she found at a Home Hardware when we were still living in Orillia (before Y2K – yes I’m getting old!!!). After much hunting online, I found the neatest manufacturer in Quebec City – Old Quebec Hardware. They make antique-looking hardware for cabinets and one of the latches they offer was an exact match to the replacement my mother had added! The cost and the shipping were both reasonable (considering buying original hardware off eBay would have been FIFTY DOLLARS EACH PLUS SHIPPING!!!), so I bought two for symmetry on the lower doors. They look pretty good!

The Fabrique Estates would not be complete without my Tula Pink stash!!! I might have a wee little addiction going on here … but I have a solution that I’ll outline later.
Picture 1: On the right side at the top are all my solids bundles. The second row of solids are the Tula coordinating solids, cause gotta match!! Right?? You can also see the Tula stash overflow at the very bottom with more to-sort-later fabric jammed in the middle.
Picture 2: LOOK AT THE STASH LOVELINESS!!! 😀 The top two cubbies are mostly All Stars on the left with Zuma on the right. Both of these will eventually be made up into kid quilts for the niblings (the plural of niece and nephew … LOVING THIS WORD!!!) as they come along. In the bottom left, you can see the Pinkerville line that we all know is going into my eldest niece’s quilt this fall. And on the right … the line that started the obsession. It’s my De La Luna stash!!! This is going to be made into a quilt for Auntie M!!!! No sharing!!! Although … I ordered 2 meters of each fabric, so I’m probably going to have sooo much left over … MOAR QUILTS FOR AUNTIE ME!!! (not a typo 😉 ) If you’re super curious to see what the different lines look like, you can wander over to tulapink.com to see the different fabrics unfolded.
Picture 3: Other little stashes. I’ve got my Boundless fabric bundles – you can see one on the bottom right with coordinated thread!!! That’s going to be for my sister’s quilt whenever I get started on it. You can also see more of the Fairy Lights glow-in-the-dark collection (originally destined for the eldest niece quilt before Pinkerville was unveiled to the world) and the cutest Peter Pan fabric you’ve ever seen by Sarah Jane from Michael Miller Fabric. I have a plan for that fabric already, but realized I needed just a little more to make it work. It’s in the mail now – as soon as it arrives, I’ll re-fold it to stack in the cubby like the Fairy Lights.

I’m still keeping my great-grandfather’s cupboard in this room. Again – fabric needs to be sorted a bit, but this is where I intend to store my kits, my patterns, and my fabric scraps. The fabric you see was supposed to be made into clothes some time ago … future me, to work!!

I emptied two large totes into the cupboard!!! That’s a lot of fabric! I definitely have more than I need at this point (although compared to other people’s stashes!!! But I’m not comparing …). I have a plan for the future – no more totes. I can only buy what I have space for in Fabrique Estates. If there’s no space, either a current tenant gets evicted or the new applicant does not get to come home with me. 😀 Tough I know! The exception will be for batting. I will turn one of these two totes into my batting tote. Batting isn’t cheap and it’s better to get it on sale than buy at full-price when you need it. THAT’S IT THOUGH. No extra fabric!! Here’s a Snowdog picture with the empty totes. He’s proud of me! 😀 He is also not enjoying the heat. I wonder if he dreams of snow?

~M

Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

The Distractions Continue

This will be a short update due to the fact that I haven’t touched my sewing machine for a couple weeks. I KNOW … I’m shocked too! I was on vacation all last week and intended to get some sewing done then, but we were just too busy! The weather was lovely all week for a change and outdoor work had to be done. We have an undeveloped bush lot outside of the city. It’s the property my family lived on when I was a teenager. Husband and I acquired it from my parents when they moved further north and we’ve had plans to start developing it. Step one – put in a road. This took up a couple of days worth of distractions scheduled for this week.

We also had some home improvements to complete – and complete, we did, although it took three days to do so.

We were supposed to take one day off to relax, but I couldn’t help myself – I got started on a sewing project. Not one that involves a sewing machine, but one that is going to wind up in my sewing room.

This is an antique Victorian cupboard that my mother used as a book catalog while we were growing up. It’s going to be my fabric storage solution! I’m super excited to see how it works out! The first layer of paint is mostly off (the shiny stuff – it was already peeling off). Underneath is a blue paint and a red stain (the red stain is still on the inside of all the doors). I removed the hardware from the doors last fall before putting the cupboard in storage. One of the clasps needs to be replaced, but I found a website (Old Quebec Hardware) where I can get replacement latch for $8 a pop plus shipping. That sounds expensive, but my next best option was $40+ on eBay! I’ll pay the $8 + shipping (probably no more than $15 for Canada Post) instead thanks. It’s a cheap price to pay to have a beautiful piece for my room! Plus, it’s an exact match to a replacement latch my mother put on the cupboard years ago. It’s probably the same company that still makes them. Isn’t that cool? I’m a little tempted to replace all the latches now as they are obviously starting to reach the end of their life cycle, but I think I’ll wait until I lose a couple more before doing that.

I have an idea for the top. The width and length is comparable to a ironing board. I’m planning on building a padded surface to use for pressing. It will save space as I won’t need to keep my ironing board out. I’m really excited to get this finished! I still have a lot of sanding to do, but I’m hoping to have it finished and installed by next weekend! I was going to try to paint the room first, but I think I’ll hold off on that. I need to get some time in on my sewing machine soon!!!

~M

Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Surprise Project!

It’s not a quilt.

It’s knitting!

Crochet, to be exact.

New ball winder!

It all started when I got my new ball winder. I had a smaller, crappier one that would eat and break my wool if the ball was bigger than normal. It worked just fine when I was working on baby quilts and kept ripping out small balls of yarn, but I finally got sick of it and decided to upgrade. I placed an order at my local yarn store, Stix & Stones, and she kindly offered to resell my old ball winder for me. I wound up with half the cost of my new ball winder paid for!

Black Cat Custom Yarn – Transmuation

The second stage happened when Stix & Stones got in a shipment of Black Cat Custom Yarn and as soon as I saw the colour Transmutation – I had to have it! I have mentioned my eldest niece before here. She (and by extension, my sister and her family) are currently working on controlling epilepsy that appeared in April 2018. The doctors aren’t sure what is causing it, which is normal for a large amount of epileptic patients. It can take some time to manage with medication and management can take even longer to do in children. In Canada, some conditions (like cancer) have colours associated to them for fundraising and identification purposes (cancer in general is yellow, breast cancer is pink). The colour for epilepsy is purple. I found out when my niece, who has been a pink princess girl since she could talk, announced that her favourite colour is suddenly purple. While the Transmutation yarn has many colours, including pink, the base colour is a rich royal purple that would be perfect for her. I thought this would make a perfect little sweater. You can see below that a it wound up in a range of beautiful colours when I wound it off my yarn swift. You’ll notice I took a ton of pictures – I found it so cool that this sweater appears to change colour based on the lighting!

I tend to get all my knitting and crochet patterns from Ravelry. I found the pattern I wanted on Ravelry for free, but when I followed the pattern to the designer’s website (KT and the Squid), she had it available for a small fee. If you remember from a previous blog, I like to support designers if I find the cost to be fiscally adequate. Maybe that’s not a fair reason, but it’s a reason I am comfortable with. I found the $3.50 USD (I think was the cost?) to be a fair price and bought the PDF version. You can find the pattern for free on her website if you like it!

Little sweater! (3 days work)

This is technically a quick crochet. By technically, I meant that the body and one arm of the sweater were completed in the span of a weekend. When I got to the second arm, I had a horrible block. For five days … I crocheted the arm, realized I did it wrong, ripped it out, crocheted the arm wrong again, ripped it out, and went to bed mad. 😛 To be honest, I was watching TV while I did it, so while it was annoying, it was my own fault for not counting properly while I was doing it.

My baby doll – Amy! Who doesn’t love a Cabbagepatch doll? (Are my 1980s roots showing?)

Once the sweater was made, I had the better part of a ball left over (the sweater required 2 balls with a third ball needed to do the second arm). What to do with the leftover wool … how about a sweater for her little sister’s toy Bear! I decided to do a first – make my own pattern! Plus, it gave me an excuse to pull my old doll out of my memories box (because I needed a model, of course!).

Blocked project drying flat

Once both sweaters were done, I decided to try my hand at blocking! I’ve never blocked before. Blocking is where you wash your wool projects, shape the wet project to the correct proportions, and let it dry. It’s a bit of a process, so I thought I’d use this project as a test to block. It took two full days for the sweaters to dry out. This is partially because of the time of year – here in mid-May, it’s a little cold and a little damp. The furnace is off for the summer (it’s not cold enough to need a furnace right now, just sort of grey and rainy), so the laundry isn’t drying out as fast as it would in the winter with the furnace or the summer in the sun.

The sweaters!
Another picture of the burgundy button

Final step – sew on the buttons! I dug into my button collection to see if I had anything suitable. I found a beautiful burgundy-red big button for my niece’s sweater. I can’t remember where I found it, but I’ve always thought it was so pretty! For the toy sweater, I decided to use some pearlesque pink buttons that I’ve had in my button box since I was 8. Sometimes holding on to things pays off!

My Saturday class last week got bumped to this week, so I have two BoM classes this week (Thursday night and Saturday morning). It’s going to be a busy quilting week on my vacation week next week! YEAH VACATION TIME!!! I am bound and determine to get out on the lake next week. It’s going to be fridgedly cold, but I can’t wait any longer. In my books – it’s summertime!

~M