Next big project: Sew Room Remodel

Since we are in a new house and my old sewing room is about 40 miles away with the perfect lighting and the just right storage, I need to refinish a room in the basement for my new sew room. This is one of those times I wish I could snap my fingers and have my sew room just perfect, because I currently have no space to set up my sewing machine. Ack!! (Yes, I am experiencing serious withdrawal. Everywhere I turn I think “I need to sew something for that” and then realize it’s not going to happen until I can set up my sewing machine. All flat surfaces are currently used as staging areas from filing to homeschooling, etc. Literally, no space for a sewing machine!!!!)

However, as I go through this adventure of setting up my sewing room, I will bring you right a long with me. Starting with lighting, then flooring, and storage and layout. I am very picky about my lighting – more so the older I get and my eyes begin to experience that agey-thing – which is why a whole post will be dedicated to lighting!

This is my starting point. Pictures taken from opposite corners of the room. The room is 11′ 5″ x 23′ 1″.

Whew! I have my work cut out for me!

Happy Quilting!!

N

Quilting Border Design

Lately, I’ve been pondering the science behind border design — in quilting. The border is what frames your quilt – just like a picture frame for a painting. A beautiful picture in an ugly frame can make the picture ugly. A beautiful picture in an extraordinary frame can make the picture extraordinary. Even the mat selection (that strip of color that you can put between the picture and the frame) adds or takes away from the over all picture. The border you choose should bring out what you have designated as the centerpiece and make it pop adding to the overall visual impact of your quilt. (Note: The center piece does not have to be center of your quilt.)

This pondering has not come about by coincidence. Every time I use a pattern I make an attempt at following the pattern, but then I change something. My current dilemma (a.k.a., project) has a block-pieced border and I have been staring at this quilt on my design wall thinking, “It doesn’t fit.” (By “fit” I mean it doesn’t look pretty to me – beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.)

Contrast, texture, complexity, and unity play their role in artistic composition. Quilts are your work of art. What you like is what you should choose, because, ultimately, it is your creation. It is also why most quilters cringe at doing commissioned pieces. When you look at art pieces, ask yourself: “What did you see first?” and “What did you see last?”. Do you think what you noticed and when you noticed it was what the artist intended? When did you notice the frame? All elements of composition should aid in enhancing your quilt.

Color (Contrast): Light and bright colors pop. You’ll notice these first before the intricacies of darker elements. So, when you look at your quilt what do you see first and what color is it? It what you want people to see first?

Texture (Another form of Contrast): Movement or items representing movement will always catch the eye first. Use texture to take the eye where you would like it to go. Texture can be with the fabric you use of with the lines you sew.

Complexity: The complexity of a border should be less than the quilt itself – unless the border is your focal point. A really busy border (whether from pattern or fabric selection or even quilting lines) will draw the eyes to the border of the quilt and keep them away from the center. Just imagine a bouncy, wiggly child in a sea of stoic adults. 😁

You can sew an amazingly, detailed pieced border but if you select high contrasting fabrics then it might be too contrasting (a.k.a, “busy”) for your goal or it might not. Too much quilting and too little quilting will, also, change your quilt’s complexity.

Unity: This is your “big picture” view of your quilt. Step back, does everything belong? Or is there something you see that just doesn’t fit? (This is how I determined that it was time to veer away from the pattern.) I could have changed the highly contrasting colors in the pieced border, but the block chosen for the border, though it fit in theme, would have required introducing a few new colors to the quilt. I do not like introducing new colors in the border. I prefer to select a handful of colors already inside the quilt and bring those out into the border, which, seems to bring about a sense of completion to me.

So, after all this pondering, I have decided to not follow the pattern for my current project and apply a simpler border. Sometimes simplicity is the answer to complexity and in this instance simplicity matched my tastes the best. πŸ˜‰

Happy quilting!

N

Wow! What an adventure!

Several years ago, my husband and I decided we would like to homestead. These last few months has brought about several changes in our lives, between moving my dad in with us and trying to find a house that would be able to accommodate his needs (i.e., no stairs). Our current house has been an amazing house for over a decade with trails and easy walks to stores and parks and we have loved every minute of living here. We’ve spent time to build the small garden area with fruit trees and berry bushes and lots of space for vegetables. It met our needs for a time, but we still desired a bit more space and the ability to have chickens and a goat or two with more space for a large dog to be able to stretch out and run.

With my dad needing less stairs, we decided it was time to find that much dreamed of acreage. After a few months of searching we finally found that acreage with a ranch house – a small 5 acres lot that had a barn, corrals, pasture, garden, coop, and a green house. It needs a bit of work, but my husband and I love a bit of physical labor added to our days. There’s just something that feels good about getting a good sweat going.  (I know some people might think me crazy for saying that…but really sweat is cleansing.)

Needless to say my sewing stuff is all packed and ready to be move. (Something that is driving me a bit batty!)

Happy quilting! (Because someone else must since I cannot.)

N

Why make time to create?

There are many reasons to make the time to create. Usually, creating anything can be an outlet, or a break from other life-y things. When you sit down at a design table or in front of your sketchpad or behind a computer, that is your time to express whatever is in your heart. Sometimes things need to come out and it come out in an healthy manner or in a non-healthy manner. (I, personally, prefer the healthy option – much better for everyone around me. πŸ˜‰ )

I have been doing an in-depth study of Proverbs 31, which describes this most amazing and blessed woman. Did you know she panted vineyards, made clothing and bedding, and spun her own thread/yarn? Seems crazy, right? In this age where we have every convenience imaginable (and some not so imaginable), we still struggle with time. We have machines to wash our clothes and our dishes. We have vehicles that can take us farther faster. We have grocery stores and restaurants to provide us with food so we don’t have to make it, or grow it, or butcher it (if you eat meat). Yet, we can’t seem to find time. As you sit and read this post, take the time and ask yourself what do you do with your time? Where does your time go? Really think about it. I’ve sat down and asked myself this question and found that I am mostly wasteful with my time – which is sad because time, once spent, cannot be unspent. (Eeek! Seeing that in writing is very convicting!)

So, if you struggle with finding the time to create like I do, just remember this quote: “[We] have been ‘created…in His own image’ (Genesis 1:27). This means we possess some of God’s attributes, and one of those attributes is creativity. Do you realize that each time you create something, you are saying to everyone, ‘I am creative because my God is creative, and I am made in His image’?” – Discovering the Treasures of a Godly Woman by Elizabeth George.

Creativity is an outward expression of that which is inside. Don’t keep it inside — share it!

N

A Shelf for Toys DIY

I found a fairly solid shelf sitting in a thrift store. The thing was ugly. Someone had tried (and failed) to paint it black. You see, you cannot simply paint furniture a new color. You have to strip it. Paint doesn’t stick to finish – I wish it did. This poor shelf had paint streaks all over it.

Time to take it home and show it some love. πŸ™‚

First step is to always strip or sand it down to create a surface to which paint will stick. If you’re going for a natural wood finish then it needs to be done, then you have to get into all the little grooves, etc. (Always wear the appropriate safety gear: safety glasses and a mask!) Β I’ll wipe the surface down remove any spider webs, etc. Then I get out my husband’s hand sander and use large grit sand paper for the first pass, gradually working my way to finer grit paper with each pass.

Once stripped I use some gesso as the first coat and outline the characters that I want to paint on the shelf — in this case my son’s favorite cartoon characters: Blaze and Paw Patrols.

Since I was not going to do a wood finish, I did not worry about sanding every spot to bare wood. My goal was to create a surface to which paint would adhere, so, I just scraped the black paint off with a scraper and sanded the finish a bit

For the Blaze side I used some paint markers that claimed to be for all surfaces. I really didn’t like them. The tips would shred really easily making it difficult to get good detail work done. I had to make a trip to Michael’s where I found some sturdier tip markers that I used on the Paw Patrol side.

I painted the cartoon characters first to avoid multiple coats since my plan was a black shelf. Once the main shelf was complete, I painted the shelf back blue. Finally, both parts of the shelf got a polyurethane finish. When everything dried, I screwed the back onto the front and my son had a new shelf. I did let my son paint a portion of the shelf – he had a blast!

This was definitely a fun project.

Have a fabulous day!

Nelum

Spring-time in Colorado

All the birds are chirping. The grass is green and lush. The trees are blossoming. You begin to see the reappearance of migratory animals and hibernating animals. You begin to think about what to grow in your garden. Out of the blue the temperature tanks 40 degrees and snow returns blanketing everything in it’s gorgeous white fluffyness. Yes, that is the Colorado front range, but don’t worry wait a bit and it will be warm again. πŸ™‚

My backyard as of yesterday morning.

When this happens, it’s a great excuse to head into the sew room and attempt to finish many projects. (I always have high hopes. Hahahaha!) Although, I spent all day hibernating in my little hobby room – I didn’t finish a single project: planned several, started one.

I love that my passions in life accommodate the unexpected weather changes of my locale. I have a treadmill to run indoors and access to beautiful trails outdoors. I have my gardening in the warmer months and sewing/painting in the many more colder months. On days like today, I feel enormously blessed. Blessed to have a wonderful husband that enjoys having father-son time on the weekends. (Little G treasures his time with his dad – no question!) Blessed to have the flexibility I’m allowed to have in life. So, I enjoy the colder temps and the white frosting today, because tomorrow it will be gone – a memory of the past. (Weather claims to reach the 60s!)

Here’s to you all having a beautifully blessed day!

N

Ever struggle with how to bind a quilt?

I want to take some time to talk about binding. There are several different ways to bind a quilt. Some methods are designed to save time, others not so much. The most popular is the double fold binding method. It’s the way I was taught and has become my method of choice for most of the quilts I’ve made.

The only exceptions are my art quilts and the method used depends on the purpose of the quilt. For art quilts/wall hangings, be creative. That’s my best advice. Art is meant to be, well, artistic. Think about the overall impact you want the quilt to have for the viewer and then think how to “frame” it. The binding is the final “frame” for any quilt – it is your final chance to stop someone’s eye from leaving your quilt. Look at my one of my art quilts below. Notice how the borders and the binding work together. The black border on one side and the black binding on the other side stops your eye; thus, framing the piece.

For utility quilts, I *highly* recommend the double fold method because it is a method designed for durability.Β  By utility quilts I mean quilts used as bedding, baby quilts, lap quilts, or any other type of quilt that you make with the knowledge it will be used. The reason why is best illustrated by the below picture.

This is one of the first quilts I made (approximately 10+ years ago). Sadly, my at the time young puppy got a hold of the quilt and ate a very small hole into the quilt. (I can see a lot of quilters just cringing.) I was upset with her but not for long, because I will have only 10-15 (if I am lucky 15) with my puppy. I will have this quilt for much longer (hole and all) and it will always remind me of my fur baby. I did use this quilt for a time (yes, back on topic!) and, as you can see, the binding wore down. However, the quilt edge is still protected because of that second layer of fabric from the double binding method.

I will provide binding training videos, if people comment a desire for it. There are lots of binding training videos out in cyberspace, as a result, I don’t feel the need to redo what others have already done quite well. However, if my style of writing is something that you find helps you to assimilate data then comment or e-mail me and I’ll see what I can do. πŸ™‚

Until next time and have a fabulous day!

Nelum

Upcycled End Table

Quilting is only one of my many hobbies – granted it’s my favorite. Every now and then I find a furniture piece that speaks to me at a garage sale or at a thrift store. Some pieces need a little bit of TLC; others a lot. If it has good bones, I’m known to drop the $20-$30 for it. It takes time to sand and paint, but, eventually, I have a furniture piece updated and painted artistically.

Now don’t get me wrong. When it comes to furniture, I am a minimalist. The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to clean. I prefer to spend my time with my husband and son, quilting, painting, or running – not cleaning. πŸ™‚ However, I do need things to paint and I’ve found that I like to bring new life into something old.

I was walking through one of the local thrift stores and I found this beat up and scratched end table. I could use an end table, since, I currently own 0 end tables. (Furniture Minimalist – Fabric Hog – at least I have my priorities straight πŸ˜‰ ) I put my weight on it and wiggle it – it feels nice and solid – sold. I said good bye to my $20-ish and went home with an old end table.

Two of the center panels in the door needed to be replaced and asked my husband to cut 2 rectangles of replacement wood. I’m not staining it, so, it didn’t matter what kind of wood – just not particle board. I sanded it and applied a base coat (ignore my tea cup in the picture – it’s usually glued to one of my hands). I painted the top (my son helped).

Then I grabbed a pencil and free handed a quadrant of a design. I used some tracing paper to help repeat the design in the remaining 3 quadrants and grabbed my paints. Don’t ask me how I come up with a design – I just draw to fill a space.

A couple of coats of sealer and a trip to Home Depot helped to upgrade the hardware and I declare this project complete. I enjoy completed projects. (And so does my husband – mostly because it means more space for him in the garage.)

Project: Finish the quilt! (My latest project.)

Since I finally got all the fabric in my stash refolded, I decided that I needed to actually finish a quilt that I have been working on for the last year+. (Some progress is better than no progress!!! πŸ˜‰) It’s a lap sized quilt and a pattern I got from one of the batik beauty books (only I didn’t use batiks – LOL). I’m not planning any fancy quilting for it. I’ll stitch-in-the-ditch until the basting pins can be removed and see where I want to go from there. The quilt needs more than just a basic stitch-in-the-ditch. When quilting, you want to make sure that nothing greater than a 2″x2″ section is unquilted. This helps with longevity of the quilt and a good-rule-of-thumb for utility quilts or quilts that are gifts (i.e., you don’t know how the receiver will use the quilt.)

Here is a picture of the quilt in the middle of being basted. (No, not basted like a turkey – it’s close to Thanksgiving and I know turkey basting crossed someone’s mind while reading this post.)

I had to fly out to my parents’ last minute to help my dad. (Family emergency.) So, my quilt gets to wait another couple of weeks. It waited a year to get quilted, it can wait another 2 weeks for the quilting to be finished. πŸ˜‰

Nelum

The Quilter’s Stash (and Maintenance)

We quilter’s love (LOVE!) to collect fabric. For each new piece added to our stash there is a limitless list of possibilities and endeavors. Fabric is a quilter’s passion – well, next to quilting.

Every few years I cull through my insanely large stash and refold and reorganize. Since I have recently returned from vacation, I have discovered that my stash is in dire need of this activity and it took me weeks to accomplish!

The need for reorganizing is easy to understand. A properly organized stash allows you to quickly find that perfect color match for your next quilt without digging through countless yardages of fabric. (Unless you prefer to spending hours searching and petting fabric rather than sewing – to each their own!) I’m a little OCD, so, I need my stash to be organized by the color wheel. In other words all the blues are together – lightest to darkest. Same for my reds and blue-reds (a.k.a. purples). (I took a color theory class eons ago and my husband is adamant that it has ruined my color perception. I disagree of course because there are some “purples” that are more red than others and putting them in the class of just purple seems just wrong so they are my red-violets!) There should be fabric that fits into each color on the color wheel for your stash to be complete and functional. Also, organizing by the color wheel helps you realize that, when your favorite color is blue, there’s never enough blues in your stash (and never enough space for the blues)!

The reason for refolding is the same reason heirloom quilts are refolded – to reduce creasing and wear along fold line. I do this because … warning I’m about to confess to something quite profound … there are some pieces of fabric I haven’t found a use for in 12 years!!!! I blame these purchases on temporary chemical imbalances in my system at the time of purchase (hormones…evil hormones). However, I am an optimist – one day they will be used in a quilt! Also, you know how all fabric purchased is folded in half on the bolt and that nasty crease line through your beautiful 42” wide fabric? Yea, that crease line. The longer it’s there the more ironing and Best Press it takes to remove it. (BTW, Best Press is awesome!)

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Now that I’ve explained why I do this chore. I saw a Pinterest Pin on fabric storage that peaked my interest. Like most everyone, I have been disillusioned on the actual realistic functionality of most Pinterest pins. (My cucumber trellis fell over 3x one year – the trellis idea came from Pinterest.) I figured I would try this particular idea. It involved magazine backer boards. You know, it worked AND it wasn’t expensive! Below are the before and after for half my blues (yea, I really do love blue).

The blues are organized by how much red or green they have then by value. I might tweak over the next few months – or maybe actually use my fabric in a quilt (shocker!!!) so that it’s not taking up all the space available in my sew room.

It was a huge chore, but it was so worth it for my little sew room!

Have fun sewing (or organizing fabric)!

Nelum