Tuesday, November 9, 2010

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, SCRAP uses!

Hi everyone! I'm Vicki from Sew Inspired and I'm excited to be posting on Stash Manicure today! I like to save all my fabric scraps that are big enough to hold a seam allowance and I have a few ideas for using them up. Here goes:

1. Give your scraps to a kid. And then let them do what they want with it. I have a bag of fabric scraps that I don't want for my own use--my kids know they can use what's in there as long as they don't fight over it. The other day my 10-year-old son asked me if he could make something from a small rectangle of denim fabric. At first I hesitated, then thought of asking him what he was going to do, and then I just told him, "yes." I haven't been the best at letting my kids be in charge of their own creative projects, but I'm working on it.

I hang on to batting scraps too, the ones left over from trimming the edges of a quilt after it's quilted. A few weeks ago my 12-year-old neighbor had me help her make a pillow out of an old sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off. We were able to almost fill it up with my batting scraps--I'm glad I didn't throw them away!

2. Weave potholders. We have a potholder loom from Jennifer at Craftsanity and she included instructions for weaving with strips of woven fabric. My son and I have made a few of these and they definitely use up larger scraps quickly. These potholders are also good for using up fabrics that you don't love any more as the print usually gets obscured when you weave the fabric strips.
woven potholder

3. Join an online bee. I've been participating in two online quilting bees this year--each month, one member sends fabric to the other group members, who then sew up quilt blocks to the specifications of the sender, and then mail them back. Obviously, you don't have to use scraps, but you can if you want! For one of my groups, I requested these scrappy square blocks (made partly from my scraps and partly from regular stash fabric):

blocks received so far
For my other bee I divided all my strip scraps up and sent them to my friends to make string blocks. (I thought I took a picture of the stacks of strips before I mailed them, but I can't find it so I guess I didn't.) I can't wait to see what the blocks will look like!

If you want to know more about online quilting bees, including how to join one or start one, you can get lots of great information at QuiltingBeeBlocks.com.

4. Make a charity quilt. A couple years ago I was working on getting rid of some fabrics I was tired of and I made this quilt top:
pink and purple quilt top
I cut my fabrics 6.5" wide in one direction and 6.5" or smaller going the other way, depending on the size of the fabric. It was a quick little quilt top that ended up being quilted and donated by my church friends.

5. Make a scrap ball. It's a ball, made from fabric, and stuffed with your tiny, un-sewable scraps! I first read about this idea from the Future Craft Collective last summer on craftzine.com and I made a couple of these balls with my boys. It is a great way to have zero waste from your projects!

6. Make a ticker tape quilt. This is an adorable, quilt-as-you-go type quilt created by Amanda Jean from crazy mom quilts. It's a perfect project for tiny scraps. I still haven't made a proper ticker tape quilt but I hope to soon! Maybe a potholder or doll quilt to start.

That's it for me--I hope you'll try something new with your scraps in the next few weeks! I'd love to read your creative ideas for fabric scraps in the comments.

Thanks so much, Madame Samm, for inviting me to contribute to Stash Manicure! I can't wait to do it again!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Quilting, Diet and Exercise...OH MY!

Hi! I'm Nan and I'm thrilled to be the Guest Blogger du jour!! I write a little blog called Pots and Pins where I share my love of cooking and quilting, combined with stories about my life with a caveman. I wouldn't say I was a gourmet chef, but I do know my way around the kitchen, and I'm definitely NOT a short-order cook...I don't want my family to think they can waltz in the door and request chocolate souffle with a side of grits any time they want! After 30-some years of quilting I'm still a 30-foot quilter...which means my quilts look fabulous from 30 feet away! Up close, well, let's just say that precision and perfection are two words I've never understood.

Now, unless you are extremely talented, and if you are I want to meet you, there is absolutely NO WAY you can quilt and eat at the same time, therefore, I am here to tell you that IF you quilt more, you will eat less and lose weight. Can I get an amen?!

We all know that dieting combined with exercise is how to really lose weight...and even though quilting is not an Olympic sport - yet - it is MY favorite and only form of exercise. I am NOT the most physically fit person on the planet, I can't run marathons, you'll never catch me doing yoga and I’m certain I’m allergic to my own sweat - but my fingers are as fit as Cindy Crawfords’s and I try to sew, I mean “workout” every day!

To keep me out of traction, off the shrink’s couch, and from being a member of AA, I subscribe to the following on a daily basis and you should, too!

1. Sit higher than your machine so your shoulders are not hunched...you can spot a quilter with a low chair a mile away, she's got hunched shoulders and she smells of Ben-Gay. Sit high, shoulders down and relaxed...save yourself some chiropractor bills!

2. Don't grasp your rotary cutter too tightly...apparently grasping is bad, very bad...use a gently touch to avoid quilting carpel tunnel syndrome...it's true! I read that somewhere! Besides, if you're trying to cut through 12 layers of fabric (which is my limit) then you're grasping/pushing/exerting WAAAAAY too much! Cutting less=cutting smart.

3. If you take your machine and all of your sewing paraphernalia to a quilting class, and you don't have it all on wheels, get your husband to carry it for you! Seriously, what else are they good for?!? Not even a Bernina 9000 is worth a ruptured disk! Is there such a thing as a Bernina 9000? If so, in my next life I shall own one!

4. If you have a cutting table, make sure it is high enough so you are not bending over to cut. You can purchase "lifts" to raise it up...stay with me, I'm not talking about breasts here although I know you can "lift" them, too! Raising your cutting table to a comfortable height will prevent sore necks and backs so you'll feel good enough to live to quilt another day!

5. I sew by the 20-minute rule. My own creation. I will sit at my machine and sew continuously for 20 minutes and then will force myself to get up and move around. And sometimes I only have 20 minutes a day to sew - it's amazing what you can get done in 20 minutes and the only thing you won't get is sore!

6. If you don't have a design wall, get one. Use the back of a door, throw a piece of batting over the front of a bookcase - just get up off the floor! I've done my share of designing on the floor (usually praying for inspiration!) on my knees, hunched over. It's not a pretty sight, especially when I try to get up! Woman was not meant to be on her knees...feel free to quote me on that!

So you see, quilting involves standing, sitting, lifting – don’t tell me that’s not exercise! Listen, here's the bottom line, I took up quilting so I wouldn't have to play tennis, golf, frisbee or do water aerobics. I've spent years mastering my hand-quilting technique just so I wouldn't have to jog, trot or learn the luge. I know I should exercise and in my next life I shall…in the meantime, IF you ever see me on a treadmill you’ll know I’ve learned to walk AND stipple at the same time!

I've droned on long enough...it’s been great fun to be here! Stash Manicure is my daily treat! But now, I’ve got 20 minutes and fabric screaming at me to be sewn, unsewn, then resewn...story of my sewing life! Come visit me at Pots and Pins and help me celebrate my THREE year Blog-a-versary!! I'm giving away a TURKEY APRON, matching hot pads and a few more MUST-HAVE T-Day things!! And I'll let you in on a little secret...if you win the apron and you wear it on Thanksgiving day with NOTHING underneath( maybe your undies) no one will notice if the turkey is undercooked or if the stuffing is dry!

xoxoxox, Nan
p.s thanks to Madame Samm and all who leave me comments...I will think of baking you something!~


Sunday, November 7, 2010

It is that time again...

I get an extra hour today....
I think I will SEW....
and YOU?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Mug {rug} of Scraps

Hi, there!  I'm Jennifer, a.k.a That Girl, of That Girl... That Quilt...  I'm so excited to be posting here on Stash Manicure today!

When Madame Samm asked me if I would be interested in sharing here I paused for a second because I'm not known as someone who has a well manicured, under control stash.  I have only been quilting for 3 years but I have quite the fabric stash.

Got scraps? I do!
I love fabric.  Love. It.  And I buy a lot of it... just ask my habit supporting hubby, Steve.  But after I thought about it for a moment I decided that I wouldn't be a total hypocrite posting here if I shared a project that uses entirely scraps.  Right??

My first mug rug
Have you seen the mug rugs appearing on Flickr and in blogland as of late?  Carol, Madame Samm and jodi comes to mind.  There is something about them that is endearing, a bit quirky, and a lot of fun.  I made my first one on a whim and I was hooked.  They take nothing more than scraps of your favorite fabrics, a scrap of batting, a bigger piece of scrap fabric for the backing and a strip of fabric for the binding.  That's it!

So today I thought I would show you the basics of making one of these cuties.  It takes less than an hour to make one and they are awesome gifts for the fast approaching holidays.

To make the top of my rug, I use a combination of linen and quilting fabric scraps.  I piece them into a simple rectangle that measures approximately 7.5" x 9.5".  You could also make a favorite quilt block for the top.

I add a little linen pocket to my rugs to hold a spoon, a tea bag, packets of sugar, etc...  It's a simple touch that draws a lot of comments and compliments.  Here's how you make it:

Take your scrap that measures approximately 4"x8...

...and fold it in half.  It it's a patterned fabric, you will fold it with right sides together..

Starting on one side of the fold, with a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch down one long side to the corner stopping 1/4" from the edge.  With your needle down, raise the presser foot and turn the fabric and begin stitching down the short side {this will be the bottom of your pocket}

Near the middle of this side, stop, backstitch and leave an opening of 1.5".  On the other side of the opening, backstitch again and begin stitching to the corner.  Again, stop 1/4" from the corner and with your needle down, raise your presser foot to turn the pocket to stitch the last side.

To reduce bulk clip each of the corners, turn the pocket right side, make sure your corners are pointing nicely, and press. 

 Don't worry about stitching the opening closed; you will catch this when you are attaching the pocket to the mug rug.

If you want to embellish the pocket now is the time.  I stitched a few of my favorite scraps onto the pocket  with a zig-zag stitch.

Now you are ready to attach the pocket.  I just eyeballed where I wanted the pocket to go and measured to make sure it was straight.  Topstitch it onto the mug rug.  Make sure you backstitch at the corners for a little extra strength.  Done!

Layer your backing, your batting and then your top just like you would a quilt and either baste it with pins or a little basting spray and you are ready to quilt.

On this rug I just did a random grid of straight lines with my walking foot.  I changed the distance between the lines by changing my needle position.  This is a great way to try out new quilting techniques, BTW.

Once you are satisfied with your quilting square up your mug rug and bind it.  I did a tutorial for a complete binding by machine and you can find it here.  It's quick, easy, and I love the precise results!

 Thanks for letting me share here today.  Enjoy your new mug rug!

PS: I'm giving this mug rug away... stop by my blog for a chance to win!

Love to hear what you think, it encourages me to make more.
Like I needed an excuse.

Thanks everyone!
Jennifer :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

I ammmmmmmmm back and keeping up with the paperwork...

Hello all you fabulous stash trimmers (and stash stuffers...).  This is Teresa of Fabric Therapy, back again to share a little more of the organizing going on in my quilt cave.  Thanks for checking in and leaving a comment!

Today I want to talk about paperwork...books, patterns, magazines, quilt show photos, free pattern downloads, etc.  It's all got to go somewhere and we all need to be able to find it again when we want it, once it enters our quilting domain.

Let's start with magazines and all that loose paper.  A few years ago, I simply had to come to terms with quilt magazines.  They were taking over my house.  I was really afraid to throw them out because there were so many yummy things I wanted to keep.
Meet my best friend...SHEET POCKET PROTECTORS!!  I LOVE these things!  I'm a total office supply geek and these are available at most office supply places like Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, etc.  I now go through my magazines and only save the things I want...patterns, how-to's, reference articles, and pictures.  The patterns, "how-to's" and articles I slip into these fabulous clear pockets.  If the pattern or article has multiple pages, all pages go in one protector. 

Sometimes I just want to keep a picture or sketch, no directions.  I set these little pictures aside (I'll show you what I do with those in a moment).

From time to time, I find a project that I saved and wonder "whatever made me want to keep THIS?!?"  I just throw those pages away and reuse the pocket protector for my NEW favorite thing that I want to make some day.

I keep all my "how-to's" in a magazine file.  By "how-to," I mean articles on things like binding, making hourglass units, yo-yo's,  labels, English paper piecing, foundation piecing, comparing battings, etc.  Fons and Porter's magazine is a great source for these "how-to's," but I find them in just about every publication. 

I like the magazine files because I have not met a 3-ring binder yet that has not disappointed me!  I hate it when pages slip out of the rings!  And these magazine files fit so nice on the shelf next to my quilt books, and I can remove the page I want without wrestling with a heavy binder.

Now, what to do with the patterns, etc. in these sheet pocket protectors...

I file them in labeled hanging file folders.  You can come up with your own filing system.  I tend to use many kinds of categories...I file by holiday (Christmas, Halloween, 4th of July, etc.), style (row quilts, medallion, Redwork, scrap, etc.), pattern (star, basket, flower, house, log cabin, etc.), designer (Bunny Hill, The Rabbit Factory, etc.)...the sky is the limit.  It only has to make sense to you.  The whole point to this is being able to find things later.

The nice thing about using these clear plastic pockets is that you can also store plastic templates, fabric swatches, or freezer paper templates (sometimes I re-use my freezer paper shapes from doing hand applique) in the same pocket with the pattern.
I also sometimes shrink or enlarge templates from commercial patterns...I can save all that in the pocket with the pattern.
Perhaps you are thinking that this kind of storage can be expensive.  Well, I use second-hand, two-drawer filing cabinets that I find at the University of Michigan property disposition center.  They cost me about $10 each.  Check out your local college or university - most have one of these places where they sell their old office and lab stuff that they no longer want.  I've also found them at yard sales and recycling centers.  I space them on the floor, then use recycled doors as a table top over them.  This is very sturdy and gives me a flat work space to look through my files.

OK, remember all the little pictures we cut out from magazines?  I combine these with others bits of inspiration...quilt show photos, greeting cards, etc...and glue them in to my "Inpiration Book."

I save little pictures to give me inspiration about color, form, etc.  Any little thing that will inspire my applique or piecing.  I use a large, bound record book (also available at an office supply place).  I use this mainly because I had one left over at home from the days I used to work in a reserach lab and I would use these kinds of record books to store experimental data.  Now they hold my quilting "experimental data!"  I just use a glue stick to glue things to the pages without much thought or planning...just getting as much on the page as possible.

They are comical looking...I kind of like the fact that the books expanded to hold all my little ideas.  You could also use a binder or spiral notebook if you want your book to look more normal when it is full.  LOL

  I store them right above my main work area so I can grab them when I want some inspiration. 

Now we come to books.  As I have told you, I sew in the basement.  I used to NOT store my craft and quilting books down there because I was afraid if the basement ever flooded my books would ruin.  I used to store them in my bedroom, two floors away from my stash and sewing machine.  That did not work.  I like having them near where I work. 

So I store them up, off the floor.  I put bookshelves up on top of my filing cabinet/door tabletop structures.  Very sturdy.

I sort my books by category...applique, Christmas, antique, rotary cut, liberated, Baltimore Album, tie quilts, reference, etc.  I tried doing it alphabetically by title or author, but then I could never remember titles or authors correctly and got frustrated trying to find a certain book or project.  This really works for me.  There are certain authors I love and collect...like Blackbird Designs.  I keep all their stuff together. 

I did spend some money on good quality bookshelves from Ikea...I used to use something less sturdy, and I came home one day to find that a shelf collapsed and there were my books...all over the floor.

I tend to use sticky notes in my books to mark things I really liked so that I can find them again some day.

I can see the little colorful notes sticking above the books...just like old friends waving at me, saying, "remember me??"

So, was that easy?  Does it inspire you to organize all your inspiration??  Don't get overwhelmed...I started this many years ago and now I only have to maintain the madness.  This is something to work on over time...especially going through old quilt magazines and organizing all the patterns you've bought.

Thank you for reading along and I am grateful to Stash Manicure and Madame Samm for the opportunity to share my quilt cave with you.  Good luck with your organizing!

See you next time,
Teresa  :o)