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˜‰


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!)


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)!


The Dilemma with Gorgeous Large Print Fabrics

As I was laying out fabrics for my next set of mug rugs, I had set aside this beautiful blue large print fabric along with a couple of complimentary fabrics.

I go through 2 phases of fabrics selection — well most of the time – sometimes 2 phases isn’t enough! The first phase is just colors – selecting a collection of fabrics with colors that would look fabulous together. Next might be several iterations of ironing and laying out the fabrics and taking a close look at the printed designs on it. I need to answer several questions before the fabric is used.

  1. Does the fabric look good in small pieces? (Because, let’s just face the fact that, as a quilter, I cut up fabric to sew it together into a beautiful, harmonious quilt – ultimate goal is harmony in design, color, and texture.)
  2. Will the chosen quilt/block pattern do justice to the fabric?
  3. Will I need to fussy cut to attain the desired end product? If, yes, will fussy cutting add or take away from the fabric, and thusly, to the overall quilt?

For example, look at the above fabric. In its wholeness, it is quite a magnificent piece. Now, imagine it in 2″ x 2″ squares. Each square would look different. Some would have a dark blue background and others a white background. Some would have leafy, flowery curves and others straight lines and geometric shapes.

I could fussy cut it, but then I’d lose the beauty in the parts I elected not to use in the quilt.  This fabric screams to be used in a much larger design and, as a result, it was ironed, refolded and placed back into my stash – for now! 

Love of batiks

I grew up appreciating art and artists. You see, both my parents are artists though now mostly retired: Β my mom with her sewing and fabric, and my dad with his ink-line drawings. My dad, when he wasn’t helping my mom with the tailoring business, would sit and draw. My parents had a huge appreciation for batiks, because it is a large art form in Sri Lanka. I remember visiting an artist in Sri Lanka that sold batik shirts. This artist used the canting method to make batiks. It is a lengthy process of hand painting designs onto a cloth with wax, dying the fabric, adding wax for the next dye color repeating this process until the batik had the desired colors and patterns.

To this day I love batiks — doesn’t matter if it’s the canting process or the stamping process. When you hold a gem up to the light, remember how it just glows? Well, batiks do that for me. The colors in batik fabrics seems to be so rich that they glow. Also, because it is dying and not printing, the color has a lot of variation, which makes batik fabrics difficult to work with in quilts, but when you get the perfect combination and layout the quilts are just magnificent!

Also, batiks have a higher thread count, largely due to the resin and dyes (more threads holds the resin or dyes better). When you buy sheets, you will notice the higher quality sheets have a higher thread count. Same rules applies to cotton quilting fabrics: higher quality means higher thread count. The higher the quality of the fabrics used in a quilt means the quilt will last longer.

Thus, you now understand my sincere love of batiks. That’s not to say I won’t use printed fabrics but I will always gravitate to my batiks…always.

Wedding Pillow

As with most major events in the lives of friends and family, I whipped out my sketchbook and sewing machine. (I can write this post now because I know for a fact they’ve opened their gifts.) I used their wedding invitation for color and design selections and turned it into a pillow that I hope they will enjoy for a lifetime!

I used a very simple quilt block, known as a four patch (the 4 center squares in the pillow). The squares were selected from fabric in my stash that matched the colors for the invitation. The center motif and inner border was created using satin, which required a special trip to the fabric store. (Any excuse to go to the fabric store is an excellent excuse!) If you’ve never worked with satin before, I don’t recommend starting! It’s a very slippery material and doesn’t like to be pinned or ironed too much. I had to remember to lower my heat setting, since I’m used to cotton – mostly because I love cotton fabrics.

I framed the whole pillow in the green and blue fabric from my stash. Yes, I could have made a solid border but that would have been horribly boring! Added pocket back for easy removal of the cover and inserted a fabulous 16″x16″ pillow form.