Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I have always loved taking "nothing" and making something.  Amazingly enough, that is popular and encouraged in this culture at the moment, which I think is pretty interesting......been doing that for years and come from a long line of Iowa farm women that knew no other way.  I thought we were just frugal, clever & economizing....  and sometimes border on the grandma saved foil, plastic bags, wax paper out of cereal and cracker boxes, and my MIL was known for washing and drying styrofoam plates and cups after church functions and taking them home to use later.....bless her heart.  That is stilled talked about in some circles.  :) They always cooked the bones of every turkey, chicken and ham bone to get the remaining meat off and broth for soups and casseroles.  But they were a product of their time....growing up on farms, raising their own food, sewing their own clothes, canning their excess for winter and not having much means to do all of this for fairly large families by our standards today.  They didn't know they were "short on means" because everyone around them lived the same way.  They all worked hard and had a sense of community with their neighbors.

Goes to show ya.....nothing new under heaven....recycling and repurposing have been around a LONG time!

I recently finished a floral scrap quilt and with any project of this size, you end up with a pile of leftovers. 

What to do with them.....easy, would be to throw it away.  But I can't seem to do that.  So here is the pile I started with.......

Let's start with the pile of batting scraps to the left.  I lay them out and find similar lengths and straighten edges as needed with the rotary cutter & ruler.  Then butt the edges together and stitch them using a 3 step zig-zag stitch or just a plain zig-zag, which ever you prefer.  I also adjust the stitch width and length to the very widest and longest.  I also use leftover thread....if I have spools that are almost empty and bobbins that have different colors in them, I like to use them up and stitch away.

Starting with the smaller strips/pieces of batting, then adding the larger pieces.....trimming off what is too long.  This is not rocket science here......just making a new batting out of leftovers.  I stop whenever I end up with what I think will be a usable size.  The great thing about can always add more.  I keep a basket of these pieces and when I go to quilt something check out my basket to see if I have a piece that would work.....or take several pieces from the basket and stitch them together to make a piece big enough.  I can't tell you how many quilt pieces I have finished out of the "free" batting basket.....lots.

Back to my on to the pansy floral print in the foreground.  You can't tell by the picture, but it is machine quilted fabric that was in the border of my quilt.  I got everything loaded in my frame only to discover that my backing fabric was not quite wide enough.  As this was a "mature" project and I had no extra fabric, sooooo what to do.  Just decided to quilt it as is, and luckily the quilt started with quite a wide border.....I just trimmed it down to the width of my backing when I took it off the frame.  So hence a whole pile of double sided quilted fabric.....I can't just chuck that either.

So I laid out the strips and flipped them top side/back side alternating and cut them a length so they were some what close to even and serged them together using a woolly nylon thread in the loopers.

I gently pressed the seams in one direction.

Then trimmed off the edges.

Then I serged around the outside of the whole piece.....threading the corner tail with a bodkin and glue with fray check just for some added security. 

Now I have a small table runner to put outside on my patio this summer.  :)

Back to the pile and the remaining fabric strips.....

I take all my small leftover pieces after a project and cut them into strips, in sizes starting at 1", 1 1/4", 1 1/2", etc. If I have bigger piece, but smaller than fat quarter size, I put them in Ziploc bags by color.  So when I was done, this is what I ended up with......

My batting pieces all ready for the basket and my fabric strips already to be put away.  Another pile cleaned up!!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Easter

May you have a blessed Easter weekend with family & friends!!!

I have included a special piece of Easter clip art for you to download.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Doll Quilts

 I like small quilts.....what can I say.  I was looking at one of my blank walls the other day and I don't have many of those.  :)  I was reminded of a photo I had once seen in a decorating book, where the wall was covered in small quilts and it was wonderful.  I have never forgotten that image.  So I went through my trunks and quilt racks and pulled several pieces....laying them out on the floor to come up with a layout that would work and started hanging them with straight pins.  I hang almost all my pictures with pins, except the heavy ones.

Here is a close-up of the lower three pieces.  The half-square triangle piece is a recent piece based on a antique doll quilt that was found in "Shipshi" in Indiana.  The courthouse steps was made out of scraps and was foundation pieced and the four-patch is out of 30's repro fabric.

The Bear's Paw on top is from one of Kathleen Tracey's books and I did that at a recent workshop.  The thimble shaped piece is a charm patch where every piece is a different fabric.  The little square one in the center is a Carol Doak design and is all foundation pieced using vintage 30's fabric from my Grandma K's is from an online challenge.  And the basket quilt, I made a long time ago and looks better from a distance.... lets just say my skills have increased since then, but the graphic appeal is still there.

Hope you enjoyed my mini quilt show.  Small quilts are a joy to make and give you a short turn around in accomplishment and as you can see are very graphic in their appeal.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Felt Puzzles

Several years ago I found the designs for the felt activity books from My Fair see the cover of the Easter Book check back to my Easter Tree Post for a photo.  If you want me to post the pictures of that book let me know.  These books are absolutely darling.  When I have taken them for show and tell......let's just say fav project ever!!!!

I also got a couple of these monthly puzzle designs free when I bought the Seasonal Book designs, but since the puzzle set was a monthly premium and I did not come across them until late in the year, I was only able to get a few of them for free.  This year I decided I wanted to finish that set and stitch out each month the puzzle for that month.  These are very popular with the Grands.....

April Showers Puzzle

This view shows the puzzle put together.

March St. Patty's Puzzle
The only issue I have with these puzzles and it is partly my fault.  I added another piece of felt on the back of the puzzle as I stitched out the puzzle pieces.  I wanted to make them heftier for the wear and tear of my tribe, so that makes them thicker.  The designer's "little" basket & coat are really not big enough to hold all the pieces.  I still like them and overlook that problem.  :)

Here is the link to purchase the Puzzle Designs.  I chose to not put them in a book.  I put each month together with a binder ring usually decorated with ribbon and trim.  And I keep out only the current month.  The Grands love a surprise when they come visit & what I have out is different each time.  :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gluten-Free Food

I am not going to use this blog to talk about food or recipes often, not that I don't like food.....but in the last two years I have taken gluten and dairy out of my diet.  So that has made food not much fun for me and at this point of my life I am not much interested in spending lots of time, money & ingredients figuring out food that I actually like.  I have other things I rather spend my time doing.

I will mention to all of you, my reason for taking gluten out of my diet was not for my stomach, but for my thyroid.  After having a surgery many years ago, it resulted in a pile of other issues that were very irritating to deal with and really interfered with living a "normal life."  One of which was never waking up rested in the morning.  I forced myself to get out of bed every day for quite a few years.  A couple years ago while visiting with a pharmacist and was sharing this with her and she immediately told me, she thought I needed to eliminate gluten.  So I did that and it has made a huge difference.  I share this only because there might be others that are troubled in this way and it would be something to try and might be a help in your life as well.

We go to friends in Arizona in the winter time and the last two years have been with them over New Year's.  Genie makes cooked cabbage and bacon for us.  So we have been enjoying that a couple times of month.  It is easy to make and tastes wonderful and can be made in minutes.

I use a 1/2 of cabbage for a meal to feed two people.

I chunk up the cabbage into bite size pieces.

Cut up 1/2 pound of bacon and cook in some olive oil.

Add the cabbage to the browned bacon with some salt and pepper.

Cook until the cabbage is wilted and glossy.  You can also kick it up a notch and drizzle it with hot pepper sauce.....yummmm!!!!

A couple of my favorite gluten free products.

I make the bread in my bread machine and then freeze the slices to keep it fresh and pull it out
when I want a piece of bread to eat.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Paper Scraps

Every six month or so whenever I run out.....I take a day or two and make up a bunch of cards.  This is just as satisfying as making a scrap quilt out of small pieces of nothing, but a heck of a lot quicker.  I had a small pile of coordinating papers and some odds and ends of embellishments that didn't fit my filing system  very well.  So I had them all laid out and spent most of two days on my porch, cutting, pasting, rearranging & folding to end up with these.......

Notice on the center card I used some postage stamps ripped off a recent package. 

I have a thing for stamps.....but I come by it parents still collect a first edition stamp and block sets and have for years and my Grandma K. kept little envelopes of stamps she liked off of packages and letters which I still have......  of course.   So you see I really can't help myself.     :)

Here are a few mores cards done using Martha Stewart punches, which I must say.....I really like all of them.  The deep punch designs are beautiful and work very well and give you a wow factor with not a lot of effort.  Since I don't have a Michael's close by.....I pay attention to my coupons....if I know I am traveling and try to pick up a new one when I have the opportunity.

I did over 40 cards with that small pile of that should last me for a while.  Also another thing I like to do which is shown above......I use the word happy or happy day which is somewhat it obviously could be a birthday card, but it also could be pretty much anything someone might be celebrating.  I like that so I can tailor what I write to fit any situation and make it very personal.

To streamline this process:
  • Limit your amount of coordinating papers
  • Limit your choices of embellishments
  • Use your larger pieces of paper for card blanks and large embellishments
  • Use your smaller scraps for small embellishments
  • Use strips for borders and border punches
  • Don't agonize over every decision, make a decision and move on....if you don't like something, cover it up with something bigger or throw it away....start over!!!
  • Collage style or color blocking is a great technique when you are left with small pieces.
  • When you are done, give what you have left over to your child or grandchild for their craft box. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Quilt Therapy

A sweet bunny pincushion I did for a pincushion exchange for our local quilt guide. (Sue Spargo Design)   I made one to exchange and one for me to keep because it turned out so cute.  This is made from recycled wool and vintage rick-rack.  In the background is another small  basket quilt I did several years go from my Grandma K's 1930's stash.
 I am in quilt therapy right now.....what is that you might wonder?  Well I cannot say it is cheaper than cigarettes or booze, or any other substitutes your might want to name, because that may not be true.  But it is certainly better for you than those things.  I find myself in a place where I need to do some emotional and spiritual healing.  I was reminded of that this AM while talking to a dear friend, who is also living in the same abyss.....we are in it together....only many miles apart.  So we are together in a like situation, but not together in locale.  And that is a total bummer.  I sense we will be OK and even thrive at some point, but this place we are at right now is hard.  And not something either of us would choose.........I digress.....

Easter Egg Table mat, I just finished....a fun afternoon project!!!

Quilt Therapy is like stitching with purpose and a realization that time is precious.....working on pieces that are important to me,  give me a sense of accomplishment, or encourage those in need around me with a gift of sewing.  It is methodically and systematically, repeating over and over, the same motions and hear the same sounds of my sewing machine as it chugs along.  BTW hearing different sounds from your sewing machine is most often very BAD.  I hate it when that happens!!! 

Anyhow, I sometimes listen to sermons I have recorded, music, Phantom, Les Mis, or favorite shows that I have Tivo'd.  But sometimes it is just better to have quiet and be reflective and allow my mind to use the make decisions, give understanding and in the long term, healing. 

I wake up (when I don't have a migraine....) ready to jump into my projects where I left them and I am finding this time to be well spent and like a healing balm to my soul.  I am reconnecting with who I really am, after a long absence because of several  recent outside pressures in my life. One thing I know for certain is any healing takes time and it most often takes longer than we thought or want. 

BTW, if you don't can substitute this with exercise therapy, hiking therapy, biking therapy, knitting therapy, cross stitch therapy, writing therapy, etc.....use that time productively and maybe creatively.... it will nurture your soul and heart and mind to a healthier and better balanced you.
A little close up showing the Happy Easter I wrote with my machine and a few decorative stitches that I added.