Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tiny Goodness

I had a hankerin' to try my hand at making a bag with a metal purse frame. Above is my first effort. I dug around online and found some tiny frames on the cheap at eBay. They're so tiny that a credit card won't fit in one, but I made the bag long enough to accommodate a tube of chapstick and some rolled up dollar bills. It now resides on my keychain. To create a pattern, I used the instructions I found on the U-Handbag blog here. The glue I used to attach the fabric to the frame was Craft by Goop (I bought mine in the craft dept. of Walmart). It did the job, the fabric stuck tight, but it was a little stiff and hard to distribute evenly in the metal frame channel. U-Handbag suggests using Gutermann fabric glue, but I can't seem to find any. If anyone knows of a source, share your info!

Denyse Schmidt Quilts Book Review

Lately I've been digging into the book Denyse Schmidt Quilts, and loving it. When I bought it, I read it cover to cover. Actually, I bought it right after I had seen the movie "Julie and Julia" and I wondered if I should make every project in Denyse's book the way Julie in the movie made every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook. The reality of how much time that would take eventually dawned on me, so I abandoned that idea, but I have made a couple projects from the book.

At first, I expected the book to give me some insight into Denyse's creative process and explain how to improvise patchwork projects the way she does, but it's actually a book of projects with pattern pieces that when sewn together, look like you've improvised a free-form patchwork piece. Being such a newbie to quilts and patchwork, this method is probably a good thing for me. It's like someone holding my hand while I get use to the construction methods. Her ideas are cute, modern and very doable.

Her scarf pattern uses a foundation piecing method. The strips of wool and silk are successfully sewn to a muslin foundation fabric until you have the right dimensions, then square it up and stitch it a soft wool lining. It was quick and I love the look. Our weather has turned cold the last few days, so it was done just in time to be put to use!

I made this fun apron for a housewarming present for my niece. She loves vintage things and all the fabrics I used came from a pile of old fabrics I bought at a garage sale last summer. It's a very easy pattern with a wonky log cabin block pocket. I'd love to make an entire log cabin quilt some day. But in the meantime, these small projects are fast and satisfying. The pom pom fringe is a fun sassy addition. I also whipped up a couple pot holders to match using my own design. The thing I like about these is the pocket on one side. With my hand inside the pocket, I feel like a have more control when grabbing something out of the oven.

Thank You, Detail!

I actually won a giveaway! A. at her Detail blog sent me this wonderful cloth basket filled with scrap fabrics. Lovely little pieces that I'll soon be showing off in a project I'm working on now. Isn't the ribbon detail on the top of the basket clever? I love it. Thanks, A.!

Trying to Catch Up

Wow. Blogging has been left in the dust while I've been trying to catch up on some "chore" projects around here. Pretty straightforward stuff. Here's a rundown:

I finally finished a shower curtain for my hall bath, using Flights of Fancy fabric by Paula Prass. On the wall, I covered four art canvas frames with a coordinating Flights of Fancy print. Simple, quick, done!

My college age son moved out in September, but it took me till October to clean out his room. Yeah, it was THAT bad. Really. Anywho, the room is now a study room for whoever needs it. This antique chair belonged to my dad, and although I wanted to use it, I also wanted to protect the wood seat and the leather back. I covered it in a paisley print that matched the wall color, and also made very simple matching valances with the leftover fabric.

Now that I'm a little more caught up, it's time to think about Christmas presents...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Inspiration Overload

I found this book on Amazon Marketplace recently and had to scoop it up. A copy of this same book was on our bookshelf when I was growing up. Actually, it wasn't on our bookshelf, it was always in somebody's hands, either mine or one of my sister's. A sister now has that copy, with a missing back cover and loose spine, but it's still readable and well loved. Every page of that book is like an old friend, comfortable and familiar.

That book, along with a couple of Pack-O-Fun magazines, were all we had for crafty inspiration. But it was enough. I believe I've made, attempted to make, or dreamed about making every single project in this book. See the stocking pattern above? My mom used that pattern when she made my stocking, which still hangs on my mantel every year, along with the stockings I made for my husband and kids.  There's a rag doll pattern in the book that my older sister made for me. It's the first doll I remember having, and the doll I hand stitched clothes for when I was a preschooler. That book taught me how to knit, how to carve soap, how to sew, how to create.

Contrast those sweet memories with today. I have a bookshelf full of crafty books, a basket full of sewing magazines, an endless list of blogs I love to visit, and just about any idea I want to explore is only a Google search away. I'll never accomplish a fraction of the projects that swim around in my head from all this inspiration. Everywhere you can hear talk of the "information overload" age we live in. Sometimes I think we can also be burdened with "inspiration overload" as well.

Don't get me wrong. I love having books at my fingertips and being inspired by all those creative ladies that let us glimpse into their lives through their blogs. I love the resurgence of creativity and sewing I've seen developing in our country. It's just that sometimes I find I need to take a creative step backwards, simplify my thinking process, and remember to enjoy the simple things in front of me. Enjoy putting needle to fabric for the sheer pleasure of it, enjoy the sound of knitting needles clacking together in a rhythmic pattern, enjoy a completed project being put to good use. Sometimes I need to stop trying to be a more inspired, creative, unique craftsperson, and simply find joy in the person I am right now.

 So, to all of you, have a relaxed, simply enjoyable weekend!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why I Love Colorado

Wednesday, Thursday: Lots of snow.
Friday: Digging out.
Saturday, Sunday: Bright sunshine, warm weather, no jacket required (just avoid puddles of melted snow). You gotta love how Colorado does its thing, then gets over it and moves on.
Monday: Back to business as usual.

I'd like to have a gallery of beautiful finished projects here that I accomplished during the snow storm, but it was more like a must-get-mundane-chores-off-my-list kind of snow storm. Things like:

1. Finish cleaning out my son's bedroom. He moved out in September. There will be no "before" photos of that room. Way too embarrassing. I could take a photo of the big black garbage bags of stuff I hauled out of there, but where's the fun in that? There will be a few photos later of that room as I complete some very minimal decorating projects in there to turn it into a quiet study room.

2. Baked apple dumplings with my daughter. Whole peeled apples wrapped in pie crust pastry and baked. Yea, I should have taken a photo of those beauties with their leaf cutout tops, but when they came out of the oven, all I could think was must. eat. NOW. We're making those again.

3. Mended more rips in my jeans. Four more rips to be exact. I have an awful time finding jeans that fit, so I hang on to the pairs I have till there is just nothing left of them. And no, I'm not photographing the behind of my jeans. We're not going there. Ever.

4. Worked on a shower curtain out of Paula Prass fabric. Photo as soon as I get curtain rings to hang them up.

5. Started some Quiet Room projects. More on that later. Nothing too exciting, though.

6. Watched movies, ate popcorn, drank hot chocolate with marshmallows, read the new Stitch magazine (l-o-v-e i-t), slept in late.

Now it's back to reality. Wish me luck.