Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mini Quilt Swaps

Mini quilt swaps are becoming all the rage!  You can find them everywhere, from private blogs, Facebook, Instagram, and even quilt guilds are becoming involved.  If you aren't familiar with what a mini-quilt swap is--it's usually created by one person, and then other people sign up to help moderate.  Partners are assigned, sometimes based on similar likes and interests.  You are given a deadline, and after you sign up, you are asked to create something awesome for your swap partner.  It's on a small scale, normally the quilt sizes are limited to under 24", so there is plenty of time for creativity and finishing.  

I "borrowed" this photo collage from The Houston Modern Quilt Guild Blog at houstonmodernquiltguild.blogspot.com and it shows some great examples of some minis:



Some of the more popular swaps are the #schnitzelandboo mini quilt swap (@schnitzelandboo), the #igminiswap and countless other swaps that include other items besides mini quilts.  Many of them have themes that you are supposed to stay within.  For example, The Strawberry swap has a strawberry theme, $itchesgetstiches (expletive) moderated by (@weenchaweena) has a swearing theme, and countless others are themed after seasons, holidays, etc.  

Typically, these swaps have rules and guidelines you are supposed to follow, and the intention is to make connections with other sewists across the globe.  

These swaps are so much fun to participate in, that I felt the need to do a blog post on them.  Many people don't know where to start, but they are really simple to get involved in, and probably the most difficult part is meeting the deadline before the sign up closes!  Many swaps have limits for how many people can sign up, as they are usually free to participate in, and overseen by a Regular Jo with a real job.  

Here are some pointers I personally have for you if you plan on participating in a swap:  
1.  Plan ahead.  Have some ideas you can easily use and alter to fit your partner's likes.
2.  "Stalk" your partner's social media accounts to find out what they like.  This is really a lot of fun, and you can easily uncover favorite colors, patterns, and other fun things about your partner's interests.
3.  DON'T BACK OUT!  Someone is looking forward to your handmade gift.  If you can't commit to the swap, don't sign up!  How disappointed would you be if you took the time to make an awesome mini for someone, and then received nothing in return?  
4.  Once you have your partner assignment, get your fabric and pattern early, and get to work!  Have your mini done way before the deadline so you don't have to sweat not making the ship date.
5.  Put your personal touches into the gift.  Don't forget a quilt label!  You want your partner to know where the quilt came from, who made it, and when.
6.  HAVE FUN!  These swaps are intended to be fun, so HAVE FUN!

I absolutely love making things for other people, and it makes it so much more fun when you don't know them.  It's awesome to have the challenge of making something for someone else by trying to find out what they're interested in.  

The first swap I participated in was the Sewing Loft Blog Mini Quilt Swap.  Here's what I made for my partner:


The pattern I chose was @Sewwhatsherlock 's Spiderwebs paper piecing pattern, which is available on her blog for FREE.  It's an awesome pattern, and she really does a great job with all of her paper piecing patterns.  All of the fabric is Cotton + Steel.  I made this at one of our guild's sewing retreats in Kerrville, Texas at Creations.  SO much fun!

The second swap I sign up for was the #IGMiniSwap moderated by @curly_boy1 and several other swap participants that signed up to help.  We haven't reached the ship date for this one yet, but here's what I made for my partner:

I'm not sure what the blueish smear is on the picture...it isn't on the fabric!  All I can say is I'm definitely not a professional photographer ;)  The pattern I chose for this was "Swoon" by ThimbleBlossoms.

For my third swap, I wanted to offer a swap within our guild, The San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild. Unfortunately, I didn't end up "signing up" for this swap since I was doing partner assignments.  I didn't want to know who would have me...so I opted to just oversee.  I can't wait to see what all of the extremely talented guild members come up with.   You can see what they're working on by checking the Instagram hashtag #samqgultimateswap .  

@weenchaweena has just offered a x-rated sort of swap, if you will.  It's called $itchesgetstitches (expletive), and I also signed up for this.  I haven't gotten my partner yet, but the  swear words/puns should be lots of fun.  This swap is probably not for everyone, but I have a fondness for "Debra" in the sitcom "Dexter", and enjoy her needless use for random cursewords and how she strings them together.  I also have a different kind of humor, and enjoy seeing silly things like "poop" free-motion quilted into make up bags.  Like I said...not for everyone.

I'm currently waiting for @schnitzelandboo to offer a new swap sign up, and can't wait to hopefully participate in it!

I'm not endorsing any of these swaps, just sharing my love of participating in them!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Getting ready for state convention

FFA State Convention is in three days--so to get in the zone for leadership stuff and prepare...I decided to make some applique shirts.  So the first one, I was pretty satisfied with (I actually did it after the gray one).  The second shirt...yuck.  Did not turn out how I had planned at all.  I spent about an hour piecing these tiny strips of fabric, and didn't even end up using them.  Really should have been paying closer attention instead of rushing since it was for me and not someone else!

I'm thinking about putting the first style in my Etsy shop...but we'll see.  





Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Make your own Home Decor for cheap, with DIY tutorial included


Finally, I did a shortened version of my original tutorial  (since Blogspot doesn't support PDF uploading--or I couldn't figure it out!).

Above is the wall art that I made when I re-did our guest bathroom.  This is a very inexpensive way to make something to suit your taste and easily coordinate with your home decorations.  Just a heads up-this does take a good amount of time, and requires a little concentration-depending on how detailed your silhouette is.

First, you need to find a shape or silhouette that you like.  Keep in mind that you will be cutting this out AND sewing around the perimeter.  I suggest doing a practice one first with a circle or square--something simple and straightforward.  You might get really put out if you start with the deer!  

Print them out to the size you want them to be in your decor.



Now for your supply list-
Some kind of fusible stabilizer or interfacing that is thin to put behind your background fabric
Background Fabric (pictured in the next photo)
Fabric for your silhouette
Rotary ruler
Iron
Precise scissors
Sewing machine/needle and thred
HeatnBond Lite
Sewing pins or scotch tape
Photo frame with enough spaces to put what you want in it

So this photo shows the thin interfacing that you will be fusing to your background fabric.  If you don't have any handy, this step is not mandatory, so don't fret!  

You're going to cut your background fabric to the size the picture frame you bought is.  Make sure you cut the pieces a little larger than the viewing window so you can easily secure them.

Cut your pieces of stabilizer to the same size as your background fabric pieces.  I have three in this picture because I had a 3-photo frame.  

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for fusing the stabilizer to the fabric.  Now you can set these beauties aside, because you won't need them for a while!

Now cut your silhouette down to the smallest you can get it without cutting on the lines.  You're going to prep your silhouette fabric now...

Before you cut your fabric, lay your shape on top of it and make sure you have a good inch extra on all 4 sides.  It's better to have a little extra to play with if you need it than having to go back and cut more if you make a mistake.  Once you measure, go ahead and cut the fabric to size.


Cut a piece of HeatnBond to just a LITTLE larger than your silhouette.  Place it shiny side down on the wrong side of your silhouette fabric.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions for bonding.  Mine said not to use steam, so make sure you don't!  


Once you've got your HeatnBond on the back of your silhouette fabric, flip your fabric over so it is right-side up.  You may want to choose a fabric that isn't solid colored-sometimes it's hard to determine which is the front or back.  I use scotch tape and pins to secure my silhouette shape to the fabric--make sure your shape is directly over the HeatNBond.  If you can't tell, hold your fabric with the silhouette up to a light source and you should be able to see the HeatnBond with no problems.

Now you're ready to get stitching!  You're going to sew ON THE LINES of your silhouette.  
You don't need a machine to do this, but it sure goes a Heck of a lot faster if you do.


After you have your outline sewn, you're going to cut through all layers around the silhouette.  It's a good idea to leave a 1/8" space between the stitching line and your cuts.  If you cut too close, you risk cutting the thread, or having the fabric fray--which you definitely do not want!

Now you're going to peel off the printer paper from the front of you shape, and the paper backing from the HeatNBond from the back of the shape.  You even have to peel off the measly little paper between the cuts you just made and your line of stitching.  Be careful to not fray the fabric.  This is why I told you to leave a 1/8" space.  You can see that I did not.  I've done this a few times before and so I knew I could get away with that.  You might find that too.  But for now, leave 1/8". 


After you remove the paper backing, you can go grab your background fabric and center your silhouette on it.  I think the easiest way to do this is with a rotary ruler or some kind of clear acrylic ruler.  Makes things move a little faster--but you can also use just a regular ruler.


Now, look at the manufacturer's instructions on how to apply the HeatNBond, and follow the directions.  You will now fuse the silhouette to the background fabric.


Once you've done that, you're ready to frame it!  Just remember to minimize the handling of the silhouette so the edges don't fray.  If you have more than one, you'll just repeat these steps with each other piece you have.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and good luck on your new wall decor!

Joanna









Monday, June 30, 2014

Creating bags with no pattern (or making it up as you go)

For roughly the last week, I have been working on this duffle bag after I received my first shipment of Tula Pink fabrics.  I am absolutely NUTS about this fabric designer.  Her use of color is insane, and her patterns are awesomely fun.  I've had a duffle bag on my to do list for over a year now, and it was high time I kicked into high gear.

I browsed tons of websites looking for patterns for duffle bags, watching tutorials, and looking up travel bags on Pinterest.  I didn't like any of the patterns, they all seemed either really juvenile, dorky looking, too small, or just not finished enough.  

So I made a list of all my "must haves" and decided to write my own pattern.  I had all my fabric out and ready to go, and got to work in my sketchbook drawing out measurements and the order of construction steps.  Turns out I didn't even so much as cut a piece of fabric until 2 days later.  If you haven't ever written a pattern before, you might take for granted how much time, trial and error, and re-writing goes into it.  

The project took me about 5 days start to finish (my husband's family was in town for the weekend--I may have been able to shave one day off if I worked all the way through).  

The one thing I just really was not satisfied with was that I did not put any interfacing in the zipper panel that goes in the top.  In the picture, I have two huge sacks of fabric shoved inside to keep the middle from drooping.  I'm pretty confident that adding the interfacing would fix that.  Maybe there will be a duffle bag 2, but I'm thinking about naming this bag "The Body Bag".  I could literally fit all three of our dogs inside and still zip it up (Border collie and 2 heelers).

This bag has all over free-motion quilting in four different thread colors, a three-section elasticized pocket on the interior, a 3-section pocket for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, another smaller elasticized pocket, and another 3-section pocket.  The exterior has two zipper pockets (one on each end), and 4 exterior pockets.  And enough room to pack for a week and a half without needing anything.  Those were my requirements, so I guess if the middle is a little saggy, I'll get over it!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

My first Quilting class to TEACH!

Many of us sewing enthusiasts dream of one day being able to actually do this for a living...am I right?  I didn't realize that sewing and creating brought me so much joy until a few years ago.  Now I wonder how I ever did without it.  I wonder what I did with my free time with no project waiting for me in the other room.  

This past week, I visited with a local store owner in the San Antonio area.  It's a new quilt shop in Boerne, TX, called Sew It Fabulous.  The owner is ridiculously awesome!  She is allowing me the opportunity to teach a beginning quilting class on August 2.  


And this is a portion of her shop's newsletter.  I'm so excited to do this, even if it turns out to be a one time thing.  I hope that I can help other people to become excited about sewing--because I know how frustrated those first stitches can make a person.  I remember when I first started using my little rinky dink Singer and how all of my seams would be off and unfinished, and I was still so proud of myself for what I had made.  

Last week, I also prepared a step-by-step tutorial of how to do the wall-hanging applique project that I had posted about (spent hours on it!), only to find that when I went to upload it that this host does not allow you to upload PDF.  GRRRRR.  I will find another way to post the tutorial, because it really is a great project-even for beginners.  So I guess this post is mostly just an update that I WILL post the tut...eventually!  More to come soon!

Joanna

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Redecorating your bathroom on a budget

Bathroom Re-Do for $212.00 

How many times have you gone in your bathroom and hated it?  I could not stand how our guest bathroom looked.  The wall paper was from the '60s, everything is trimmed in bright gold finish, the mirror on the medicine cabinet is cracked, and I had a huge picture of a monkey chugging a bottle of liquor on the wall in bright yellow.  The cabinets had water stains on them.  The wall paper had designs of ugly flowers and vines, that if you looked really closely, you could make out the outline of a woman and her breast.  None of the towels matched.  The decor really worked well together!

You are going to love the bathroom as much as I did!

                   


My husband and I live in a 1970's model double wide that I have been taking strides to update and make into a home.  We got it for free.  F-R-E-E.  Now I know not everyone is blessed with a free house, and there were some definite drawbacks to it.  It's gotten new shingles, new siding (it had been through a hailstorm and tornado), new electrical wiring, basically lots of new just to make it livable.  

So now that it is comfortably livable...I've been "decorating".  I'm making air quotes with my fingers, because I'm a firm believer that I have an absolute lack of style when it comes to picking curtains, decor, etc.  This year, I've learned about myself that I really just don't like what there is to purchase for decor.  I want to make it myself.  Partly because I didn't even know how to use a sewing machine 5 years ago, and I am so excited that I can actually do something useful.  And when you make it yourself, you can save a ridiculous amount of money by making your house look AWESOME.  

Working on a budget!

The first thing I did was move all of the mis-matched towels out of the bathroom.  I made a trip to TJ Maxx and purchased some really nice dark gray DKNY bath, hand, and face towels, then I purchased two coordinating rugs.  This was the biggest purchase I made for the bathroom.  I spent about $40.00 on the 2 rugs and $50.00 on the towels.  I could have gone to Wal-Mart for the towels, but the ones TJ Maxx has are really, really nice.  They are soft and plush and not thin and flimsy like the cheapies at Wally World, and I was okay with spending a little extra on those.  

When I got the towels home, I cut pieces of fabric and hemmed the sides.  Then I just trimmed all of the towels in a variety of different fabrics that coordinated with the color scheme I was planning on using--gray and teal/turquoise.  

This was the end result:


I have a hard time deciding on just one fabric, so I used all of the ones I liked.  I'm not a matchy-matchy personality, so that worked for me.  

Step 2 was getting rid of that awful wall paper.  I actually grew up in this house, and I have loathed that wall paper for as long as I can remember.  It gave me great satisfaction to paint over it.   

I purchased one gallon (I probably only needed a quart) of gray paint in the shade that I wanted at Home Depot for about $25.00.  I always buy the kind that has the primer mixed in with it so I don't have to do double the work.  I probably should have used Kilz, but my husband insists we are building a house, so I didn't want to spend the extra money if it was temporary.  I already had the bright teal paint that I had used to repaint our kitchen, but if I had purchased it, I would have needed a quart--so let's add about $10.00 to that.  I already had the paint brushes and painter's tape, but let's say I didn't and I spent another $30.00 on brushes and tape.  

The key to working on a budget is to work with things you have already purchased!  I really liked the paint I already had, so I just bought a neutral to coordinate with it.  And I am really careful about cleaning paintbrushes after they're used so they don't get stiff and ruin.  

I taped off the bathroom and painted the walls and cabinets.  Painting the cabinets was much cheaper than replacing them.  And if you use a really fine brush, it can make the room really pop.  (if you had a larger budget, you could actually fill up the cabinet with towels :)





Step 3 was wall decor.  I'm pretty picky about what I like and what I don't like.  So I made my own.  Before I painted I took down the hideous monkey picture, and there was no way it was going back up.  I bought that myself, by the way.  I told you I had good taste.

After I painted, the walls looked pretty bare.  Don't get me wrong, they looked GREAT without that dated wall paper, but something was missing to tie the room together.  

I made another trip down to the Wal-Mart and purchased some pretty decent frames.  I spent $12.00 on the smaller one, and $30.00 on the large one.  I could have gone way cheaper, but I wasn't replacing the bathroom counter or the linoleum, so I figured I had a few extra bucks.

Mind you, I had no plan for what I was going to put in these frames.  I'm shocked that I came up with something.  For the 4-picture frame, I decided to put our last name in applique on some Tula Pink fabric that I had.  It was pretty time consuming, but worth the effort.  That was one picture.  The other three, I went with a nature-y theme and just did some free-motion quilting samples on solid colored fabrics that coordinated with the colors of paint I used.  I did pebbles, all over leaves, and wood grain.  Each one took me about 45 minutes.  


                                      

 



Helpful hint:  The glass in the frames I picked up was FILTHY.  Be careful when you take the glass out to clean it prior to mounting your decor.  I sliced the crud out of my finger and nearly bled all over the things I had spent so much time on, but luckily I noticed in time to get a band-aid.  

The second frame I picked up had three places for pictures, so I decided against quilting again and did something a little more "manly".  I used google images for outlines of the state of Texas and a buck.  Then I appliqued them onto another Tula Pink fabric that I had.  Are you seeing a theme here?  (I love Tula Pink!)  If I have time, I'll post a tutorial on how to do this--it's really easy!




To sum it up, I spent $212.00 total to make this bathroom look a little updated.  I added in $15.00 for fabric-you don't need much...that's probably over estimating the cost.  

I could spend a little more and replace the sink and counter top, and I do plan on replacing the mirror (which I am getting for free).  

You save a ton of money by doing everything yourself, and you get the satisfaction of seeing your work put to good use.  

And the best part is I don't have to look at an abstract picture of a woman's breast every time I'm in there.  

-Joanna



My disaster of a sewing room...organizing to be more productive

I am starting this post by literally cleaning out my closet!  Or sewing room, if you will.  Most of us that sew (not as our numero uno source of income) have limited time to do projects and orders.  That being said, you have my excuse for the disastrous pictures you are about to see.  Consider yourself lucky (or unlucky!) that you are getting to see the nightmare that my sewing room had become.  With a full time job, it is difficult to remember at the end of the day to tidy up after yourself.  

Lighting was also a huge issue.  It always seemed really dark, especially since I just had to paint the walls teal and the ceiling an even darker shade of said color.  So that was addressed as well.

I finally decided something had to change when I gashed my leg open on the corner of a rotary ruler that I had propped up against my sewing table.  Notice that I said rotary RULER.  Not rotary cutter.  Yes.  I am that much of a slob that I cut myself with a ruler.  

I know it has been a LOOOOONG time since my last post, and I'm determined to make a change...as you will see in the after pictures!  I have spent the last week thoroughly enjoying myself in my sewing "studio" now that I actually have the space and organization to get some work done.  I would estimate that I spent roughly $300 on shelves, bins, containers, hardware, etc.  But I would do it all again and then some.  It also took me 4 days, and I usually do not stay committed to a project that involves cleaning and organizing for that long, so I was extra proud of myself.  And...drum roll please!  It's been clean for over a week now.

BEFORE...you know, the hot mess pictures...






Whew!  AFTER!  






I know I have probably given some of you a panic attack with the first 5 pictures.  But take comfort in knowing that if I can do it, anyone can.  

Even if you don't have a room devoted to your hobby, you can't get anything done if you can't FIND anything in the area without tripping over a body.  

The only major changes I made in the room were the following:
-took all my textbooks from college that I never use off the bookshelf and put them in boxes.
-purchased Closet Maid shelves from Wal-Mart and Home Depot and installed them
-moved all surface areas (tables) to walls 
-purchased organizing bins from Wal-Mart and used them to group similar objects together
-purchased and installed new lighting fixtures above the sewing machines

Hopefully, your situation is not as dire as mine was...but if it is...hop to it so you can be more productive!

-Joanna