Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Enabler

Me to Nancy: I did a little experimenting with crochet cotton to see how it handles for hand-quilting. I've used hand-dyed perle cottons before, and I really love the effect. Anyway, it works great! And it's so cheap, Nancy. I can get a huge ball of it at Zeller's for three bucks!

Nancy: Well, you know, I have a bunch of it that I'm just not going to use, so you're welcome to have a look...

Me: Are you really sure you're not going to use it? Come on, Nancy- you make lots of stuff!

Nancy: I have LOT of it, Johanna. You're more than welcome to it. Take as much as you want...

Oh, the shame...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Slide Show

On a recent trip to visit my folks, my dad unearthed some ancient slides and we were treated to an Epic Slide Show. I was delighted when an image of my grandmother slid into place and onto the little portable screen.

There she is- Grandma at her sewing machine! She didn't sew much for fun; she sewed because she had to mend things. She did, however, enjoy needlepoint and crewel embroidery. I'm so glad to have this photo showing part of my "needlewoman" heritage.

Tutorial: Salad Bowl Pincushion

By popular demand (well, two or three of you), here's my first tutorial. I started off with a straight-sided wooden salad bowl, but with some creative tweaking and glue, you could use other shapes as well.

1. Sew a couple layers of tightly woven fabric into a circle that will fit inside the bottom of the bowl. I used the bowl as a template and did two lines of stitching. Leave a small opening and fill with sand. Glue the opening closed.

2. Cut 2 circles of very thick felt, using the bowl as a template. I had some industrial felt- the thick stuff used to line winter boots. My circles were too big to begin with, so I kept trimming until they would fit snugly into the top of the bowl.

3. Using your felt circles as a template, cut 2 circles of thin quilt batting about a 1/2" to 3/4" bigger all around than the felt (eyeball it), then cut a circle of your top fabric 1/2" bigger than the batting. On one pincushion I made, I stitched the batting around the edge to attach it to the top fabric, and on the other one I didn't bother. Either way worked OK.


1. Put in your sandbag into the bottom of the bowl. Give it a shake to even out the layer of sand.

2. Fit your 2 felt circles into the bowl on top of the sandbag.

3. Position your layered batting and fabric on top of the felt.

4. Using a wooden craft stick (popsicle stick), tuck the fabric/batting around the sides of the felt.

Voila!! Finished pincushion! And since nothing is glued in, you can change out the fabric when it starts looking tired. Yay!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Un-idle Hands

The idea of being away from thread and fabric for several days makes me a little edgy, so while I was getting stuff together for a weekend trip to Michigan, I was racking my brains for something portable to take along. I scanned the bookshelf for ideas. Hold on a sec... "Stitch Sampler"... let's try that.

With some pretty threads, tools, fabric and the book in hand, I was ready to go. Here's what I did on the weekend.

Unfortunately, I'm hooked now. Mental gears are turning.

Demon: Victorian Crazy Quilt! No wait- a modernist, contemporary crazy quilt with all this gorgeous stitching!

Angel: But all those unfinished projects... Must... stay... focused...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Salad Bowl Pincushion

Like most crafters, I love a re-purposed cast-off. I picked up a stack of 70s-era wooden salad bowls from a garage sale last summer. I knew I would do something craft-ish with them, but I wasn't sure what.

Then, inspiration: A pincushion! A big hefty one! The Mother of All Pincushions!

Months pass...

Today I got out one of the salad bowls, and in less than an hour, I have the best pincushion ever- large pinning surface, substantial enough to stay put while removing pins, cool looking (I think), and I used stuff I already had to make it. Wheee!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

New Tote

I finished this new tote from that swirly, irresistible Ikea fabric! In fact, my sewing room has been a frenzy of activity this week. In my constant zeal to make-make-make, I've amassed quite a collection of half-finished projects. Some of those are demos from classes I've taught, but those are relatively few in number. The simple ugly truth is, most are just UFOs just laying around making me feel guilty and unfocused.

SO! I'm taking control of the situation and completing unfinished projects into finished... things! Three orphaned 9 Patch blocks? You are now a potholder! Random hexagon rosette? You are now also a potholder! (I told my sister to expect a steady stream of random patchwork objects for her home.)

Huge group of really nice little 9 Patch blocks? You are now all together and will become a throw for my couch! And the strips are the result of me fishing through all my scrap collections, finding everything blue-ish and green, and sewing them all together. These will somehow live with the 9 Patch group in the same throw, I think. One bag of scraps used up, only a million more to go! Eat my dust, scraps!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Big One

I've started it. The Big One. The Monster-Huge Applique Project.

I bought this lovely book at the CreativFestival (what's with the absent "e"?), and I've been wanting to do an intensive hardcore applique project for a while now. I thought removing the design-angst would be a good idea. Look at this beauty...

Here's Block #1 from the book, and my start on it. I have my palette all picked out- aquas, greens, indigo, mustard, light and dark neutrals. It's gonna take a while...