Thursday, April 17, 2014

From Maine, With Fabric

I won’t bore you with photos of my vacation to Maine.  Like all the beautiful lighthouses we visited.

Or this cool one you have to walk out across the breakwater to get to.

Beachcombing on a rocky beach.  Can you spot my daughter in this photo?  My sister took this and I think it’s really cool Bea blends into the rocks.

Photo: Bea found a treasure trove here

Beachcombing on a sandy beach.

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Exploring old forts.  We visited an old graveyard too, but I left my phone in the car that time.

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Playing at the Children’s Museum in Portland.

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Learning to bake bread.

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Lots and lots of holding baby chickens that hatched the morning after we arrived.

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Attempting to go for a hike in the snow. (Not very successful, and we all fell at least once.)

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And feeding and collecting eggs from these ladies every afternoon.  My sister has chickens, turkeys, ducks, and goats.  The kids loved helping her with all the chores.

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Now for the fabric part of the post!!!!!!

My sister knows how much I love sewing, so she took us to a discount store (think Ollie’s or Big Lots) that has a huge fabric section in the back.

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All the bolts are arranged by color, then there are aisles of stripes, dots, and novelty fabric.  Most of it is older designer fabric, but some is from this past year.  I saw quite a bit Denyse Schmidt, Tula Pink, Erin McMorris, and Valori Wells.  I have to be honest, when we first went in and walked through the front of the store, I was doubtful.  But as we made our way to the back, the heavens parted and I saw paradise.

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Lucky for me, all my daughters love fabric and sewing, so they were more than happy to help me fill up my cart.  All the fabric is $5 a yard or less, so it was easy to say “YES!” 

Here’s what we left with (not including 3 other pillowcase kits that Bea already sewed into pillowcases).

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One thing my stash is  missing is prints without flowers.  It is a little tough to find fabrics for the “manly” quilts I’ve been making lately.  So these came home with us.  Not a flower or flourish in any of these!

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A set of 1/2 yard cuts from a Maywood collection of birds and blooms that Ronnie had  to have.

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Some fabrics I just liked.

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Remnants that are all 20% off at the register!

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Some additional low volume prints.

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And some random fabrics—Perfectly Perched, a bird print, stripes for binding for my Tone It Down quilt, and a humungous animal panel that I want to make a quilt from for myself even though it’s kid fabric.

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And some fabric my daughters had to have.  A pack of 10 fat quarters, some random cuts of fabric they liked, and two packs of 4 half yard cuts.

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Classing it up at the checkout.

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One day was quite rainy, so Bea sat down and sewed three pillowcases that day, so those kits were not pictured.

Photo: Bea makes her pillowcase

All in all, it was an amazing trip with the kids.  Sure, it was stressful at times in the airport (like when I misread the departure time for our return flight and we barely made it on the plane in time).  But I’d do it again, and not just for the chance to buy some discount fabric;)

I said I’d pick a winner from my giveaway today, so without further ado…

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Yay, #8, which happens to be my favorite number.  So the winner is Saira P.  I’ll email you shortly!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Triangle Quilt Along {finished quilt top}

Hey everybody, I’m back from Maine and wanted to get a post up quickly to make it in time for the link up on The Sassy Quilter.

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I took along my sewing machine and the stack of triangles and sewed this baby together at night after the kiddos went to bed.  I’m not sure if it was the unseasonably warm weather in Maine or just all the fun we had hanging out with my sister, but bedtime was after 10pm most nights, cutting into my sewing time major!  I just squeaked in this top the night before we left.

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I also brought along this stack of triangles and was able to arrange them using my sister’s huge upstairs as a “design floor.”

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I won’t get a second quilt done in time for the big parade of triangle quilts in two weeks, but I thought I’d make another in purple, black, and gold for my BIL.  Any guesses what football team he likes?

About a  month ago my computer had a huge crash and Picasa lost all my photos from the past few years.  No big deal because they are all on my hard drive, but now I need a new hard drive because there is no room left.  I’ve been using a free trial from Photoshop and have to make a decision…Picasa or Photoshop???  I’m just wondering if anyone recommends one over the other.  I am leaning towards just reinstalling Picasa when I get the new hard drive.  Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A little bunny told me

That spring has finally sprung!

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This little bunny is from Melly and Me’s pattern called “baby bunnies.”  You can purchase the pdf pattern here.  He also told me he wished I had stuffed his feet a little better.  In my defense he is the first stuffed toy I’ve made.  My next one will be better, promise!  I already got my hemostats ready to professionally stuff the next one’s extremities.  And if you don’t know what hemostats are, they are very technical tools for stuffing homemade toys.

No matter, my daughter loves him and has carried him everywhere with her since I made him a few days ago.

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And this little bunny also told me that it’s time to have a giveaway in celebration of spring.  Earlier this year I picked up a few charm packs for a giveaway…Hello Petal and Daydreams.  And then this past weekend I found some great designer brand fabric in the fat quarter bin at my local Joann’s…two Timeless Treasures nature prints and one Rashida Coleman-Hale Washi print.

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One winner takes all!  In your comment tell me what project you are working on now.  I’ll pick a winner on the 17th and international entries are welcome.  Good luck! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fabric-Covered Button Hair Ties {a tutorial}

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Have you ever explored the world of fabric-covered button hair ties on Etsy?  I’ve spent lots of time admiring them and even bought several kinds for my daughters.  But I wondered, how could I make them myself?

Actually, it’s quite easy!  All you need to purchase is a button covering kit from Joann’s or your local sewing store and some hair elastics.

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Picking the kit is the most intimidating part of the entire process, which one do you choose?  There are so many options!  I suggest going with either a 3/4” or 3/8” button covering kit for your first go-around.  They retail around $4 for the most basic kit that includes 3-5 buttons depending on the size you pick.  More elaborate kits come with shank backs and blank backs.  Just remember, you will need a kit that has shank backs, so check to make sure the kit says “shank backs” or has a picture of them and that it is NOT a refill kit.

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So you’ve got your kit, your scissors, a marker, and scraps.  You’ll also need hair elastics.  I prefer the larger circumference thin elastics.  You can also use the thicker elastics, but that involves removing the wire from the shank back, which I’ve never had much success with.  The smaller or larger circumference thin elastics are easy to use.

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The most recent kit I bought did not include a plastic template for cutting the fabric.  Instead, the pattern was on the cardboard back of the case.  Cut out this template.

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The plastic template on the left is included in some button kits.  I recommend this over just the paper template.  I’ll show you why.

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I tried to line up the semicircle over the center of the red turtle I want centered on the button.  After tracing, I flipped the template over and traced the other half of the circle.

And here’s what my circle looked like.  Not too bad, but the turtle isn’t exactly centered.

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If you can find the kit with the plastic template, you can dead-center the turtle in the middle of the template easily.  Trace around the outer circle.

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Here’s the difference.  The top circle was made with the paper template, the bottom circle was made with the plastic template.

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Now the fun part, find the two parts to your button—the front and the back.

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You can see here the front of the button fits snugly in the mold.

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Insert your fabric right side down and press in the smooth side of the button top.  Fold in the excess fabric.  No gluing is needed.

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Then press your back into the mold so the shank is on the outside.  Grab your pusher…

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…and press hard.  It might help to do this on a flat surface so you can put some weight into it.

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And voila! A fabric covered button will emerge when you push it back out of the mold.

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Now the easy part!  Pick an elastic and thread it through the shank.

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Pull one of the loops through the opposite loop.  It doesn’t matter which side you pick.  Pull tight.

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And now you have a custom fabric-covered button hair tie!  You can make a pair if you wish.

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Have fun looking through your fabric to see what other small prints you can use to make more.

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Then make as many as you can for your daughter, granddaughter, next-door-neighbor’s daughter, person at work’s daughter, cousins, birthday party favors, etc.

When you decide you want to make even more, take a look on Etsy.  You can buy large volume refill kits for a fraction of the cost at a conventional store.

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If you have any questions about the tutorial, just leave a comment or send me an email.