Monday, October 30, 2017

A Halloween Treat for My Readers

I was going to post this on Halloween, but then I decided that if you want to sew a spooky last minute project, you might appreciate the extra day. 

Because everyone (or maybe just me and my offspring)  needs a coffin-shaped pencil holder... 

If you have the materials handy, it won't take long at all to make. While I was putting mine together, I kept thinking of ways to make it more fun like adding a red lining or trapunto and free motion quilting. But Halloween is tomorrow.  The clock is ticking and now is the time for something quick and easy.

You'll need:

two 4 1/2" x 8 1/2" rectangles of coffin colored fabric
one 7" zipper
one 4 1/2" x 8 1/2" rectangle of paper
matching thread

About that zipper -- These instructions don't explain how to install it. Let me know if you need a separate zipper tutorial and I'll put one together. The zipper I used was labeled 7" and measured the same as my 8 1/2" cut of fabric. You can always shorten a longer zipper from your stash. That's what I'd do if I hadn't gotten lucky with the one I grabbed!

Start by folding the piece of paper in half lengthwise with the fold on the left. Along the top and bottom edges, measure in 1 1/4" from the fold and make a dot. Measure 3" down from the top edge and make a third dot on the side that isn't folded.

Connect the dots and cut along the lines. When you unfold it, you'll have a coffin shape. Don't cut your fabric into that shape yet!

Using your rotary cutter and ruler, cut one of the fabric rectangles into two 8 1/2" x 2 1/4" rectangles.

Install the zipper and top stitch along either side.

Now's the time to cut the zippered rectangle and the plain rectangle into the coffin shape that we just created. Doing it this way means that even if the seam allowance on your zipper isn't perfect, both pieces will be the same size. (Or, if your seam allowances are perfect when it comes to zippers, it means I don't have to figure out how to make oddly shaped pattern pieces that will come out the proper size.)

With the zipper open, place both pieces right sides together and sew all the way around the outside edge. You'll be using the open zipper to turn it open.

Turn and press and fill with nice pens or yummy candy for your favorite little monsters.

Be sure to check out  my other free Halloween Tutorials -- Halloween Parlor Quilt Haunted House PotholderPotion Bottle Mug RugPumpkin Carving Wall Quilt To be notified when new tutorials are added, follow my blog or like Michelle's Romantic Tangle on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.

This post is linked to Bag It! and Crazy Mom Quilts

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Early Morning Stitching

How early is too early to spend some time stitching the thatched roof of a little cottage? Depending on what else is going on in the house, my early mornings and late nights overlap a bit.

There's a smaller cottage off to the left and if I stitch the roof of that one, I'll be able to work on both chimneys at the same time. I'll save the flowers to the right of the big cottage for an evening when I feel like working with colors that aren't as obviously placed.

I've also spent some time out in the sewing room playing "What is this and why do I own it?" and "Where did I put that thing I haven't seen in years but suddenly need right now?" It's an interesting process. I didn't find what I wanted, but I did find a couple of things I wanted last month and almost immediately forgot about.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

All the Crewel Kits!

Apparently I now collect vintage needlework kits. This would be getting ridiculous if it wasn't so much fun...

On the way to Coding Camp, we stopped at the thrift shop where I found all of those cross stitch kits a few weeks back. Those all obviously came from the came person and I wondered if she'd passed away or moved on to other hobbies.

This week, they had all of this, most of the kits unopened. It's all got to come from the same craft stash, but was it from the same person who owned  the first haul? And should I keep going back every week? These kits were ninety-nine cents each, and 25% off of that. So I spent less on my craft haul than I did on our lunch.

Did I tell you that I've got a sudden overwhelming need to learn how to do crewel?

And isn't it all pretty? (Or most of it. A couple of them are iffy, but I can always donate those back if I decide against them.)

This is my absolute favorite. I love the scissors and the journal and the flowers in jars.... But I also love the Wysocki houses and the one with the dollhouse.

And these could have belonged to Grandma and Great Grandma. I've never felt a need for napkin rings, or "jeweled" holiday napkin rings, but Grandma Walters would have totally made those. I do have a need for felt jungle animal Christmas ornaments. Grandma Wittenberg would've made those.

Everything is here in the pictures, but if you want a closer look check out the video.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {10/27/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Five Hundred and Two Piece Project Bag

Months ago, I was standing in line at the grocery store and caught a glimpse of a yellow and white quilt on a magazine cover. It was a home decor magazine and the quilt was barely visible, but the idea of yellow and white stuck with me. I thought I'd do something with that color combination once Bag It! rolled around.

By the time I was ready to get started, I had no idea what pattern that original quilt used. I knew I wanted a lot of blocks so that it would look like a quilt.  Nine patches and snowballs are easy to make, and I'd already worked out their measurements for this project, so I went with that. Each block finishes at 1 1/2".

The front and back of the bag are identical, with thirty-five blocks on each. My piecing and quilting are a disaster, but I really like the idea. And it's definitely good enough to haul a knitting project around in.

This project used up every last scrap of solid cheddar from my bow ties quilt. So in addition to being cute and sturdy, it's a happy reminder of one of my favorite scrap quilts.

If I had more solid cheddar, I'd think about making a strap and turning it into a purse....but I don't so I'll think about making something similar, but a little larger and with inner pockets. 

Want to make one of your own? I didn't have the time to photograph and write up the steps for a tutorial, but it's easy enough to figure out. Use the measurements and piecing instructions from my Full Blown Quilt Lust mini quilt to make thirty-six nine patch blocks and thirty-four snowball blocks. (The color placement in this one is reversed, but it'll look nice either way.) Each side of the bag is seven blocks by five blocks, with a two inch border. I quilted the front and back to a piece of scrap batting, then assembled them into a lined pouch. Easy -- as long as you don't mind piecing those seventy-five little blocks!

This post is linked to Bag It! and Crazy Mom Quilts

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

{Books and Yarn} Video Games are LOUD

The boys and I spent Saturday up at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. In case you couldn't guess by its name, that's pretty much the noisiest event of my year. 

I got a few rounds done on my sock while we spent two hours sitting in line for a panel.

One of the highlights of the expo, in addition to a chance to see the Unipiper, is the retro arcade. A group of local collectors brings in their arcade consoles, all set to play without quarters. While my oldest sons were  off doing their thing and the youngest was getting ridiculously good at something called Balloon Fight, I got the chance to play more Frogger than I did in my entire childhood (which honestly wasn't much at all.) And I learned that Baby Pac Man is half pinball machine, and got my annual dose of guilt for donating the Vic 20 and Intellivision to Good Will back in 1992. Who would have ever imagined that my own kids would want to play them?

Best-Laid Plants by Marty Wingate

I've been reading the Potting Shed mysteries since the first book came out and even though I have almost no desire to plant a garden myself , heroine Pru Parke makes working with plants look like a lot of fun. This time around, she's been hired to plan the restoration of a neglected Arts and Crafts style garden. I got completely caught up in the book's settings --  the bed and breakfast with its maze of rooms and puzzling light switches...and the garden itself, with overgrown walkways and limestone statues melting away after years of exposure to the weather. Those statues seem a little spooky even before one topples over onto the garden's original designer.  I really can't think of enough good things to say about this series. It gives you a vicarious glimpse into the character's lives and an interesting murder mystery, and no cliff-hangers to drive me nuts until the next book comes out. 

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copy by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Village Serene Update

Village Serene is going much quicker than the lighthouse did. Having walls and windows and a roofline to use as landmarks makes all the difference in the world and even though I'm making tinier stitches, figuring out where to put them is faster. 

This is the kind of project I used to love so much, which probably explains why the kit was up in my sewing room. If it had an old house and was completely covered in stitches, I wanted to do it.

Monday, October 23, 2017


I leave off borders whenever possible, but I was told that this quilt needs them....and I agree. Now that they're on, they make things more symmetrical.  

Should I not admit that the only reason I did get around to putting them on is because I needed to see how much of the blue fabric I had left to use in another project?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ten Skeins of Embroidery Floss

You know how sometimes you see a project and need to start it right that second?  A couple of days ago, I stumbled across one of those. I've been limiting myself to one cross-stitch project at a time, but this one only uses ten colors and should be a quick stitch and I want to do it right now.  

The plan was to pick up the floss at Walmart so I could start working on it Wednesday night. I knew their selection of DMC was limited, but they didn't have a single one of the colors the pattern calls for. We got home and I dug through the sewing room. I've got hundreds of skeins of floss, but only five of the colors I needed.

This isn't a project that's going to allow for substitutions.

Friday, I made time to stop at Joann's and picked up the last of the colors. This whole thing was a lot more work than it should have been, just to pull the floss together. But I'm still excited about it.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Quilting Helps

I'm not sure exactly how much the wobbly quilting helps draw attention away from the poorly matched corners, but at least the whole thing is more stable now that it's quilted. And I am still having fun with the process...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {10/20/17}

Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I'm Not a Fan of Fussy Cutting

Now that I've gotten more comfortable installing zippers, it's the fabric giving me fits. The piece of yardage I used for this bag was on the freebie table at our quilting group, deemed "not suitable for charity quilts." (On the same day that I picked up the fabric I used in my last bag.)  It was pretty, so it came home with me and I decided to make a project bag or two while I try to figure out why classical artwork isn't suitable for charity quilts. 

I wanted a bag that showcased one image without having chopped off bits of the others along the edges. That was easier said than done and involved too much fabric waste to make me happy. I'm not a fan of fussy cutting when it involves taking a hunk of the center of the fabric, but to get the ladies I wanted, I had no choice...

What would you do with this hunk of fabric? I could see using it as a quilt back, or maybe someone using it to make a skirt. Or apron? Whatever it is, it's going to require either a big stretch of uncut fabric or some seriously wasteful fussy cutting.

The other side of the bag has a different image. In my head, I wanted it to be bigger, but that wouldn't have looked right. Now I'm thinking of two different ways I could have worked with this fabric...happily I have two yards of the stuff so, even if I'm being wasteful, it'll go a long ways.

This post is linked to Bag It! and Crazy Mom Quilts

{Thrift Shop Temptations} Old Stereos

It wasn't a great week for thrifting -- except for the birthday boy who wanted to read Jurassic Park and had five different paperback editions to choose from, along with a copy of The Lost World. Sometimes gently used is better than new, especially when it means you can have it in your hands right away. 

The store that's had all of the great needlework stuff is rearranging everything. I can't tell if the new section is smaller, or if I'm just bugged that it's different. The other store's craft section was almost completely empty, like they'd cleared out everything that wasn't selling. 

But if you're in the market for an old record player, this was the right week. 

I'm guessing the three of them came in together. I don't know what my fascination  with these old things is, but to make room for one I'd have to part with a treadle machine and that's not going to happen. 

They're probably more fun to look at than to own, right? And it's not like I'd ever be able to settle on the perfect one to bring home with me, which would eliminate all of the future possibilities.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

{Books and Yarn} I'm So Tired of Socks

We all saw this coming, right?  After however many pairs of socks I've finished so far in 2017 I'm at the  point where I just don't want to do another inch of ribbing, or turn another heel. So I'm playing with bookmarks. 

That doesn't make much sense, since I'm working with the exact same needles and the same weight yarn. But - for the moment at least - this is more fun. I'll stick with it until the novelty fades.

At that estate sale in January, the one that had all of the buttons and zippers, I got a sandwich bag of sock yarn leftovers for a quarter. I thought I'd use it to try some Frankensocks, but since I have no idea what the fiber content is or how the yarns will play together, I don't feel at all guilty about using some of it up this way. (There's also the leftover yarn from all of this year's pairs of socks. I've got plenty of options to play with later.)

I've also got a stack of library books I can't wait to read. The boys are taking another class at the library, which means I've got a lot of time there to get myself into trouble.

Death Overdue by Allison Brook

Being promoted to head of programs and evens at the library where she books is a big deal for librarian Carrie Singleton. It means she needs to change her wardrobe, and that she can afford to move into her own place. Too bad one of her co-workers is furious that Carrie got the promotion and tries to sabotage her at every turn. Even worse, the speaker at her first major event drops dead before he can even make his presentation. The murder mystery in this one is overshadowed by Carrie's new life, which includes lots of shopping and eating out. It's upbeat and a great choice for a reader who wants to escape to a nicely haunted library for a few hours.

The Dead Inside and We Can't be Friends by Cyndy Etler

I read these two books back to back and they left me tied in emotional knots. The first book, The Dead Inside, tells the story of Cyndy's sixteen month stay at Straight Inc.  I sort of dimly knew that places like it existed. but I had no idea... When she was a young teen, Cyndy ran away from her abusive home. Her mother responded by signing her into a cult-like inpatient drug treatment facility, even though she had only briefly experimented with beer and pot. After more than a year of physical and mental abuse, she's pronounced "straight" and sent back to her old high school, terrified that just hearing the wrong "druggie music" or speaking to her "druggie friends" will send her into a downward spiral that will leave her dead on the streets. We Can't be Friends tells how Cyndy overcame the brainwashing and started to live a normal life again. Remember how when we were growing up, Go Ask Alice was supposed to scare us away from drugs? Cyndy Etler's books will leave you scared of the treatment facilities. I'd much rather my teens read The Dead Inside and We Can't be Friends, especially the author's notes at the end of the second book. I highly recommend them both, but they aren't "feel good" reads. They'll leave you upset.

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own.   

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Gridding Fabric and Sorting Floss is Not the Fun Part

I didn't want to start a new cross stitch project until I finished the lighthouse. One abandoned project is better than two or three abandoned projects, right?

Then I had the lighthouse finished and nothing else ready to work on and spent three or four days avoiding the task of sorting floss and gridding the fabric. Nowt that the boring part is done, I'm enjoying myself.

The fabric is 18-count, which is harder on my eyes. But the needle is thinner and that's making the stitching easier, once I figure out where to jab through the fabric. My stitches are getting neater, too.

This is one of those little Dimensions Gold kits. I have absolutely no memory of buying it, but it was up in the sewing room and has clearance stickers from Craft Warehouse. And it's definitely something I'd pick out if I was shopping today. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Second Panel

I got the second panel for my project bag done last night. 

The corners don't match. In some spots, they're wildly off...but I'm willing to live with that since I'm making it for myself and after the events of the past couple of weeks I'll be much happier to have it finished and ready to use than to have it sitting in a drawer forever waiting for me to get it right.

Although I do wish my machine was cooperating and I could free motion a really dense stipple pattern that would hide the mistakes...

This post is linked to Design Wall Monday

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Someone Else's Stash of Notions

Remember that box of buttons that I posted about yesterday? I kept wondering about it, especially after I took a closer look at the labels in the picture. The box itself is probably worth something, and I need curved safety pins and bobbins. 

We had to run up to Salem again on Friday and were even on the right end of town, so I stopped by the thrift store even though craft stuff always gets scooped up fast.

Look what was sitting there waiting for me --  

It leaked buttons and needle threaders all over the car on the drive home. I think I've got someone's entire notions stash here and the folks at the thrift shop just wrapped some clear plastic around it to hold the drawers shut and slapped a price tag on it. That's not their usual pricing strategy.

There are at least ten packs of unopened machine needles that will fit my machine, along with some others I'm not sure about. I think the others might work on the Featherweight, but I'll do some research first. None are my preferred size, but there are leather needles and denim needles and ball point needles...all of the stuff that I need once in a blue moon but refuse to make a special trip to town and spend money on.  I'll use those. Or my daughter will.

There are twenty full packages of hand sewing needles -- tapestry needles, darning needles, applique needles, and those wicked curved ones for fixing upholstery. I never ever have enough needles, so these are a welcome addition to my stash.

I've now got all of the sew in snaps and hook and eye closures I could ever need...

I don't know if a needle threader will help with my stitching, but now that I've got a few I'll give it a shot.

Don't forget about the buttons. I counted 190 complete cards of them and didn't even try to figure out how many loose buttons there were. Our mystery stitcher also apparently kept every one of those little envelopes with extra buttons for repairing your garment. They're not old enough to be interesting, but buttons are buttons.

The very specific labels on the drawers intrigued me. No bobbins in the bobbin drawer or curved safety pins, but there were eighteen iron safe nylon snaps in the drawer that claimed to hold them. The machine brush and seam ripper were there as promised.

It would be smart of me to clear out the drawers and fill them with my own notions. I'd feel a bit bad about removing the labels that are already there, but I don't have enough nylon snaps to keep a specific drawer for them.

How do you organize your little notions?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

{Thrift Shop Temptations} The Doll in the Box

Lots of pictures this week, even though the boys and I only visited two shops. We didn't find what we were looking for but we had an absolute blast. 

I keep hearing that raising girls and raising boys are completely different endeavors. This week's thrift shop find might settle that argument once and for all -- 

A little girl would probably see a pretty doll... My sons (and me too, I've got to admit) are sure there's a sinister reason she's sealed in that box. It's a custom wooden shelf with plastic wrapped around the front and hadware to hang it in a corner.... Someone made that. There's got to be a story behind it. If it had been 50% off day, we would've brought her home and named her.

My sons don't want dolls. Possibly cursed dolls in creepy enclosures are different, though...

If I had a bigger house, I'd have room for more furniture, and I'd probably get myself in trouble when I saw pretty things like this...

I'd also have more wall space. Our house is full of arches and windows and things that get in the way of landscapes like this one.

Pre-Pinterest string art!

This is the thing I left behind that's starting to haunt me a bit...

The drawers were stuffed with buttons and notions. The more I think about it, the more I think it would have been fun to dig through...especially now that I see the drawers marked "curved safety pins" and "sewing needles."  Who has enough needle threaders to designate a drawer for them?

If you did ceramics in the 80s, I bet you made one of these cats. Mom had one and I think both grandmas had them. I come across them on a fairly regular basis, but never like this one....

That's little individual triangles of fabric glued to its surface.  And the cat was solid plaster so it weighed an absolute ton.

I was telling my sons what we were looking for when I rounded  the  corner and this beauty took all of the words away. It's soooo pretty. And soooo overpriced. And missing whatever bottom piece enabled it  to stand upright. (But still worth sixty-five bucks according to whoever determines the prices.)

We've all got our personal list of things we absolutely won't buy at the thrift shop. Smoke detectors, even new and sealed in the box, never made my list because who would even think of that as an option?  I just looked and these are being sold as "collectible" on ebay. Now I'm even more confused.

How about you -- find anything great this week? We came home empty-handed, but had fun looking.


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