Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thelma and Louise go to a quilt store sale

Evidence of quilt shop sale...
Yesterday Sandra and I went to Country Concessions' annual sale in Cookstown ON, which is about 45 minutes from us. The fabrics were offered for between 65 to 80 per cent off.
Then, because we could, we also drove to Fabricland in Keswick, a town about 35 minutes north of us. We had never been to that location before. (Believe it or not).
At the quilt store, Sandra scored some drastically reduced threads, some really cute bug fabric, and she bought each of us an electric blue FriXion pen in electric blue. (Thanks, Sandra!) Apparently, lime green is the best colour to use because it shows up on both light and dark fabrics. Electric blue, according to the lady at the quilt store, is second best. These are cool pens. All marks disappear when ironed. Amazing!
As we were waiting for our fabrics to be cut, we collectively pawned through the fill-a-bag-for $7 scrap bin for buried treasure. We both found bits we liked.
Big finds of the day!
As usual, I went slightly nuts at the sale. This is largely because I never met a notion I didn't like. All were half price. I found a clever seam gauge that is small enough to travel in my sewing bag, a button hole cutter, a flexible ruler, a couple of wooden needle cases, a snag mender, and some mesh transfer material -- useful for embroidery projects.Then, I found two half price Fig Tree patterns. They screamed please take us home. There was really no need for the screaming. As soon as I saw them, they were in my hand.
My big fabric finds of the day were:
  1. Amy Butler Lotus fabric for 65 per cent off. (I'll take two meters, please.) 
  2. Fat quarters to use in a Father's Day project for my favourite newspaper man.
  3. Sweet Water fabrics  "Sunkissed" words for $6 a meter. I got 2.5 of that.
Yeah, like I needed more fabric. But it was so pretty, and so calling to me...
We finished off our big day out with lunch at a local 50s themed diner. I had onion rings with my burger. Sin on top of fabric sins...
OMG it was good.
The whole day was a bit like Thelma and Louise, minus the cowboy bar and the whole driving off the cliff thing...
I am currently working on some projects for some special graduation girls. All will be revealed very soon!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Everything old is new again...

My very favourite tea cup
Wendy, over at The Crafter's Apprentice is a  cheerful little bunny who will try almost any craft at least once. In other words, someone just like me.
Although, unlike me, she has the wherewithall to organize a competition open to one and all to come up with some fun and useful craft projects that employ recycling, upcycling -- maybe even bicycling (as along as it uses repurposed materials).
There is a button at the side -- look over there, to your right -- so you can join in the fun and get the word out too.
Each project posted is counted as an entry, and you can't spend more than C$20 on new materials. Although, truthfully, fess up: do any of us need to spend any money at all for this one? No, I didn't think so.
There is a prize. There will be sharing. There will be awesome ideas that will make you say, "Hey, why didn't I think of that?"
Make do and mend need not be a tedious chore. It can be fun, and possibly, profitable. Go, go on and look at Wendy's blog. You know you want to...
Not long ago, I came across my favourite tea cup from my mother's collection. I was only allowed to use it at Christmas and Easter, and I always think of that warm, milky, sort of sweet tea adults sometimes allow children to drink.
I took it for a test drive the other day, along with those macaroons one keeps hearing and seeing so much about. I have the other one to the boy child. He really enjoyed it. I was sort of unimpressed. However, my tea was magical in that magical cup.
I am going to use it more often from now on. All days can be special with the correct tea cup.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's the unofficial start of Canadian summer!

Sum, sum, summertime...
This weekend is the unofficial start of summer in Canada. The old rhyme is "Horray, horray, it's the Queen's birthday, if we don't get a holiday, we'll all run away..."
In adulthood, this means loading the contents of your house into your car, drive north for three hours or so, unpack the car, remind the kids about bug spray, sunscreen and their hats -- all of which they have left at home on the table in the front hall. They run away to the lake, where they will stay for the whole long weekend.
The adults work for the rest of the day to remove the winter's grime from the cottage, cook dinner, sit by the lake until the blackflies come out. Once the blackflies start biting, we are driven indoors. I bring my stitch project. The thing is, on the May long weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday are almost completely identical, except on Monday, we are loading some things back into the car, and then we sit on the highway, inching our way back home with all of the other cottagers.
I will be at home this weekend, but I am not doing Friday Night Sew In. I am working on my sewing machine cover's embroidery. It is nearly done.
Today, I did a new wreath for our front door. It is a Tilda-inspired frog wreath, featuring dragonflies, daisies and some solar-powered firefly effect lights which come on when it gets dark and go off  before dawn. The sort of ugly little solar panel could not be disguised, because it won't charge the lights if it is covered up. I am hoping the froggy will be so charming people won't notice the solar panel. I hope a lot of things. Have a magical weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mamma mia!

Pieced, Mamma!
And, here she is -- my very first paper pieced project. She is a little Russian doll. Sandra, my partner in all fabric crimes, gave me this pattern for my birthday, along with an offer of lessons on how to do this. It is not perfect, but for a first effort, it isn't bad. I really enjoyed the process.
Last Friday was the day of my lesson under the guidance of Sandra, who is an awesome teacher. We had a lot of fun.
Sandra had to leave before we were finished doing all the sub sections, so I was on my own for the last one.
That one went okay, it was the one before -- when she was there -- that went badly. It not Sandra's fault. I was pretty entertaining as I struggled to learn not to sew EXACTLY the way I have always sewn. It is a bit like learning a new language, driving, and reading a map -- all at once. Things were bond to go a bit wonky.
At first, I produced what can only be described as a cone head. I had to do the whole section all over again.
If at first you don't succeed, friends will take photos...
When it was time to put all the sub-sections together, I discovered another mistake. I just redid the other block. Bonus: all the redos helped reinforce my new skills!
And, it made Sandra laugh -- and she tried really hard not to -- but it was pretty darned funny. Now, my Things to Do and Make Pintrest Board is slowly filling up with paper piecing patterns. Sandra is also going to lend me some books. Oooo, I love learning new things and then obsessing about them, don't you?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Piecing it together

Some shopping ...
Sandra (my partner in all fabric crimes), and I were up bright an early this morning. It was time to go to Markham and renew our membership to Quilt A Bag. The membership has definite privileges, including a good deal on good threads, percentage off deals throughout the year, and a 25 per cent discount off one item per month. Not bad for a $10 annual investment. 
This year, QAB fabulous owners, Ann and Phoebe, are celebrating the second anniversary of the sweetest little quilt/bag supply store in Southern Ontario (in my opinion). Even though it is the store's birthday, we got some presents.
Sandra sweetly gave me with her gift, so I scored two cute little faux leather cherry charms.
We both received some hot fix iron crystals for renewing our membership.
Surprisingly, we found some fabric we needed. Hide the shock and surprise...
This summer, I will be working on a wall quilt while on holiday at the cottage, so I was hunting some sweet and quirky Japanese prints to include in the fabric mix. I also got some lovely Japanese linen/cotton, and cool Japanese bag handles for a new tote I have in the works.

... and some learning
We headed home, picked up some lunch on the way, picnicked on our back deck. At the end of lunch, Sandra announced it was time to teach me to paper piece.
This is a pattern she gave me for my birthday. She looked at it and announced it was going to fairly difficult for my first piece. But, she figured I had enough sewing experience to pull it off. It's nice to have friends that have that kind of confidence in you!
Eventually, I caught on. Boy, it is a challenge teaching your brain to work in opposite directions! My homework was that I had to finish the final sub section on my own -- in the time it took Sandra to hike back to her place -- about 20 minutes or so.
I think I did okay, but I might end up doing it again. I have a feeling I might have messed up the seam allowances on one side.
Ah well, I rarely get things complete right on the first try. I think it is part of my learning process to do a bunch of do-overs.
Sandra was an awesome teacher. Next week, we put the blocks together. Until then, I'll leave what it is to your vivid imaginations.
This is North American Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day to us all! Whether or not we have children, the artsy women of the world are ever in the process of creating and encouraging others. Celebrate!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finishing up the needlebook

The basic layout
As promised, here are the instructions for finishing my felt needle book. A group of us started this project during my make and take session at the CreativFestival recently. Even if I didn't get to meet you in person, feel free to use the basic design to make a needle book of your own. I find they are pretty handy to keep needles organized and off the floor (or in the seat cushions)
Here are the steps to create the book:
  1. Cut one piece of craft felt, 6 inches wide by 8 inches long.
  2. Cut a second piece of felt 4 inches wide by 6 inches long.
  3. Cut out letters in a contrasting colour. (I used an computer font, and traced the letters onto the felt).
  4. Cut out needle shape in a second contrasting colour. Cut a small eye in the needle.
  5. Fold the larger piece of felt in half. Arrange the letters and pin. Over hand stitch the letters for a puffy effect. If you prefer a less puffy effect, just use a running stitch. Don't pull the stitches too tight. Craft felt has a tendency to stretch.
  6. Thread the cord into the needle. Allow the thread to coil in an attractive manner around the needle. Use pins to anchor the cord. Attach the needle to the front of the book using a running stitch. Couch the cord onto the front. Couching is simply taking a small stitch on one side of the cord, catching a bit of the cord edge. Bring the thread over the top of the cord, catching a bit of the other side, and sink the thread into the cord. Repeat until the cord is attached to the front of the book.
  7. Remove the pins.
Fold the smaller piece of felt in half. Attach the felt to the middle of the cover. (There will be a border of about one inch). Use a running stitch to sew the second piece of the felt to the book cover.
And, there you have it! If you want more needle storage space, simply add more pages by adding a second piece of felt inside the book. Two page fits pretty well, but three is a bit too full to close properly.