Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Daisy And Buttercup Chains

The elementary school I attended in England had a huge playing field around around it.  Part of it was marked out with lines for running and there may have been lines for a soccer field, I don't remember because girls didn't play soccer then so it wasn't important to me.  I do remember sitting out on the lush green grass at recess, making endless daisy chains with my friends. This memory is the inspiration for my newest pincushion!  

As you can see, I have embroidered the daisies and appliqu├ęd the buttercups.  There are tiny sprigs of Queen Anne's Lace (cow parsley in England but Queen Anne's Lace sounds prettier!) tucked in there too.  Our daisy chains were never so fancy!

Once again, I turned to Pinterest for daisy and buttercup images.  There are no daisies on lawns here.  The lawns are too manicured for daisies and right now, most lawns are brown, suffering in our California drought and triple digit temperatures.  "Brown Is The New Green"  say the signs the City has been giving out to people to put in their yards to encourage others to save water.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

So Many Beads, So Little Time!

Every now and then the urge comes over me to make myself something pretty.  I have a drawer full of beads and beading stuff that I've saved from when I used to do it more often.  Even though I don't make jewelry on a regular basis, it doesn't stop me from finding (and hoarding) cool things when I am out and about.  Yesterday when I decided to pull all my beading things out, I was excited to look through it all, finding treasures I'd forgotten all about!

I really like wrap bracelets.  I like them to be simple and lightweight.  When I was looking through my box of new bits and pieces, I found this little wooden tile with an owl picture.  The owl has resin over it so it is domed, very pretty.  The bead colors came from the owl image.  I've mixed metals, using copper, brass and a sterling silver clasp. Since I like loose bracelets, I made this one 21.5inches long and it wraps three times.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"You Make Me Happy"

Sewing makes me happy.  It helps me deal with the everyday stresses and the harder, not so everyday things.  I have friends who read, run, do yoga, but for me the rhythm of hand stitching refocuses my mind and allows my brain and body to relax.  This pincushion expresses this perfectly.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Making Lunchbox Napkins

Today I finished up a pile of lunchbox napkins.  We use some paper towels in the kitchen but I try to keep their use to a minimum. (Try googling how many paper towels are used each day!)  When we go to up to the mountains, I love to sit on the deck and appreciate the trees, their smell and the soothing sound of the branches moving in the wind.  It makes me so sad to see logging trucks coming down the mountain with their irreplaceable load.  One of the ways we try to use less, is by using fabric napkins for mealtimes at home and also in our lunch boxes.  Lunchbox napkins are smaller than regular napkins and are quick to sew and a great way to use up scraps of fabric.  For this batch I was focusing mainly on fabrics with small prints.  I did buy some of the fabric but it was all on sale and I was able to use an additional coupon.  

Using a rotary cutter and quilters ruler, I cut the fabric into 14 inch squares. Then I ironed a hem and folded that hem over and ironed it again to hide all the raw edges.   When I make napkins I like to do double row of stitching.  This gives the napkins a really nice tailored look and also stops the folded corners from looking funky.  I love using the walking foot on my machine for almost all my sewing, it was totally worth the investment.  It's also a good idea to use a heavier needle in the machine to handle the multiple layers of fabric at the corners.  I use a 90/14 quilting needle.  These napkins are primarily for my daughter to use for school, they'll be well used and loved! 

Below is my favorite fabric from this set of napkins!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

On My Worktable

I've been working on several things over the last week but all things I've written about before, for example I made 4 antique clock face pincushions and sold two already!  I've also made 4 more of these antique book needle books.  If you are curious, my needle books measure 4inches by 3.5inches and have three pages for storing and organizing needles.  



In between making those, I've finished two more hexie needle books.  I like making these.  Hexies make me smile!  They are a great portable little project too.  I have a few of these finished now and a bunch more hexies cut out and ready to sew.  I am not listing these in my shop, but saving them for the quilt show in September (which will be here before you know it!).

And now a sneak peak at a new pincushion.  I have to admit when the sky looks like this......

.......it feels a bit ridiculous to be thinking about a pincushion with grey clouds!  Maybe my upcoming trip to England is subconsciously making me think of clouds!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Quilted Table Runner, Nearly Done!

The closer I'm getting to finishing this, the more I like it.  I was really worried there wouldn't be enough contrast in the grey blocks but it looks fine.  Last night, after some drama with one of our indoor cats getting let out by mistake and a subsequent successful retrieval at about 11pm, I wound down by sewing the blocks together!  Said cat was found crying pitifully between the wall of the built in bbq and the fence and was very happy to get safely back indoors!  

This morning I pin basted after finding I did actually have enough of the wood grain fabric mentioned here.  Yay!  Like most quilters I talk to or read about, basting is my least favorite part of the process.   At least this was just a small project!

And the reward for basting, is the actual quilting.  I love the look of hand quilting and also enjoy the process but for something that will get thrown in the washer and dryer often, I think machine quilting is the way to go.  I'm a straight line quilting girl.  I love the look.  As you can see I use my walking foot for piecing and quilting, using the edge of the foot to line up the next line of stitches.  I always switch needles at this point to a sturdier needle that can handle the thickness of the seams and I lengthen the stitch to 3.  As you can see, because these blocks are improvised, there is nothing to line the stitching up with which makes it really important to get the first line right (I started in the center and then worked out).

Next will be the binding.  I think I may go with an orange binding, I'll have to see what I have because I'm trying to just use fabrics from my stash.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Inspiration Point, Lake Alpine, CA

Today I hiked to Inspiration Point with my daughter.  It's been a goal of ours to do this hike for the last couple of years and having just finished the book Wild, it seemed an appropriate time to stop thinking about it and just do it! 

It's not a long hike, around 2.5 miles round trip but don't let that fool you, it's basically straight up the mountain and then straight back down again!  For a short while you follow a trail along the lake side before turning off and climbing steeply through beautiful pine trees.  Eventually (after many stops in our case) you come to a rocky, lava flow meadow.  There are lots of wildflowers and it is very pretty.  Here the footing changes from packed forest floor to loose gravelly rocks and it generally becomes more difficult.  

Lake Alpine

This was our first view from the plateau which is almost at the top but not quite.  We kayak on those two lakes you can see in the distance.  My hiking book had warned us that Inspiration Point is windswept and can be cold but today it was still, not the slightest breeze,  warm and humid.  The clouds were beginning to thicken and darken, we had gone early in the day because thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon.   After getting our breath back we pressed on to the higher part of the ridge.  Which was where it really got tough going.... 

That's the trail on the very right of the photo and it was a mixture of ancient lamar lava and loose rocks, impossible to tell apart when walking.  It was a little scary with the steep drop off to the side.  We scrambled, sometimes moving like crabs, using our hands to help and eventually we made it to the top without incident. "Insane" is the word my daughter used.  

lake alpine

Despite all this, it was totally worth it.  The views were awesome, we'd climbed to about 8000feet from Lake Alpine which is at about 7300feet and the altitude had definitely made the climb harder.   

For us, the important thing was the realization of a personal goal.  It was a tough climb in places and we were sore afterwards, our hands chewed up from gaining handholds on the sharp lava rocks, our bottoms a little sore from the times we had to sit to scoot down a section and, by the time we got back down to the lake our thighs and calves were burning.  

But what a hike.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Modern Quilted Table-runner Progress

I finished piecing all the blocks for my table runner.  The blocks have been trimmed to 6.5inches for a finished block of 6inches because I've found that a width of about 12 inches works best for my tables.  I found the grey blocks frustrating because I really only had light and medium grey fabrics and ended up adding a black.  I could really have done with a couple of darker grey fabrics but I was trying to stick with what was in my stash!  I've also decided that I need more fabrics that don't have dots on!  I'm happy with how it is coming along though.  I am away from home for a couple of days so won't get any more done until later in the week.  

modern quilting

I'm hoping I have enough of this woodgrain fabric for the back, if not I'll have to piece it with some other fabrics.  

Friday, June 5, 2015

Picket Fence Pincushion

I finished these two pincushions yesterday evening.  They depict that very American of things, a white picket fence with a fragrant rambling rose tumbling over it.  I have used three shades of pink for the roses and they are the colors of roses in my garden.  The felt I use is 100% merino wool felt and is SO soft and lovely to sew with.  It is also certified free of any pesticides or harmful chemicals in every step of the production process, from the sheep fleece to the dyes used.  I buy the felt here in the U.S. but it is imported from Holland.  I could save a few dollars and use a lesser quality felt but then I wouldn't feel so good about my product.

hand embroidery

You can find this pincushion in my Etsy shop.

Stitch-along part 6

  Stitching the ridge tiles to finish the ornament Take one ridge tile and wrap it over the ridge of the roof as shown below.  Using two str...