Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer on the Porch and Other Things

This is our front porch.  We purchased 6 of the trough planters and railing brackets at Fleet Farm. 

3 planters in a mossy green that matches our house color, and 3 in medium gray to match Jon's Mom Betty's house.  I filled them with purple and yellow wave pansies, short yellow marigolds, and bib lettuce. 

Perfect spot for lunch time meal, usually a salad for me.  Many times I sit at this rocking chair to do hand sewing projects--like sewing bindings on scrappy over-sized potholders. 

All together I made 4 dozen oversized potholders last month.  They sell well at craft shows. 
100% cotton prints and batting, washable. 

I spent the month of May downsizing and sorting through 4 Large Bins of Fabric Scraps. 

Much of the fabric scraps I gave to a friend who weaves rugs, and I used leftover quilt blocks and cotton batting to build dozens of oversized potholders. 

Multiply this pile of 2.5 scraps by 100 and you'll have an idea what 4 full storage bins of scraps looks like. 

Ever Growing Piles of Scrap Fabric and Why They Grow:

As I finish a quilt project I always have leftover quilt blocks, and lots of  2.5" wide strips.  The fabric scrap bins were getting ridiculously full.   

I used the leftover quilt blocks --sewing padded purses and cell phone carriers that I sell at craft shows. 

Often I combine hand stitched wool penny medallions for decoration

This is my design--I created the carriers with  a large swivel metal clip-on to attach to the waistline, or at the neckline.   

Back to the flower troughs--marigolds, pansies, and bib lettuce . . .

Its been a great year for munching, harvesting bib lettuce on the porch.  I'll be using these trough planters many years and I can see already--they'd be great for planting fresh cooking herbs.  Nice!

From my three planter boxes I harvested. 

This is what I love to eat for lunch everyday.   Lettuce with yellow peppers and bits of sweet onion, sliced white mushrooms, blackberries, two ounces of dill cheese, a few croutons, and not shown drizzle with dressing, a raspberry balsamic vinegar.  

 There is an amazing tea and vinegar store in Stevens Point called Diversi-Tea.  Yummy.  I've tried the strawberry, blueberry, but raspberry balsamic is my favorite!  Great marinade for chicken too!

Second rocking chair - Front Porch

East Porch (summer kitchen entrance)

East Porch
As I was planting the flowers--I labeled each trough planter with name tags, so Jon would take the just the gray planters I made up for his Mom Betty.  

Actually the gray and green planters are difficult to see a  color difference in the bright outdoor light. 



Ok--back to my story about downsizing and sorting scrap fabrics . . .

Last week, I used some leftover quilt blocks to build a couple of padded purses.  I was looking through the scrap bins hoping to find dozens of  flying geese blocks I made back in 2013 for my Circus, Circus quilt.  

After sorting and downsizing the bins for two weeks I didn't see any flying geese blocks.  What???   I made dozens of them.  Where are the flying geese blocks?????

The flying geese blocks were hiding in the BOTTOM of this basket, topped off with rolls of 6-8" lengths of 2.5" wide fabric strips sewn end to end. 

I randomly selected four flying geese blocks and made a padded purse, then added more UFO blocks and leftover blue quilt binding . . .

First part of making a padded purse . . .

Finished Purse
Featuring hand made polymer clay beaded zipper pull . . .

 The best part of this purse is its padded exterior, and padded pocket. 

Padding is a good feature when you want to carry and protect your cell phone.  Underneath that pocket is a HIDDEN POCKET--a place to hide a passport, or folded receipts you don't want swimming around in your purse
I used only a small amount of those flying geese blocks for my Circus, Circus Quilt, 2013. 

I cannot explain to you why I make so many extra blocks.  The Circus, Circus quilt I made up as I went along--adding this and that.  What I really wanted in this quilt was COLOR COLOR.  

For me, the design process is--I get an idea, and build quilt blocks and use what I need, store the rest for other projects.  Lately, I've been using a little bit of math to better plan my quilt tops and art panels for the backing.  I'm attempting not to make too many extra blocks. 
I used a few of those flying geese blocks to create front of this Navy Corduroy Upholstery laptop carrier.  It was experimental, free motion quilting, and beading.

While sorting through scrap fabric bins  I found one hunk of this upholstery fabric left--a fabric I loved and made lots of purses from.  I was sad to see it go. 

There wasn't enough to build a full purse, and certainly not enough to make cross-body straps.  But I was sure I could combine other fabrics and build something fun!  I added two cotton fabrics to the margins, free motion quilted it to a layer of cotton batting and decorative cotton living. 

Built a padded pocket for the interior, with secondary hidden pocket beneath.  Added hand made polymer clay beaded zipper pull, a wool medallion hand stitched with seed beads, and finished off with batik orange/yellow appliqued circles.  This is a full meal, all the bells and whistles.  Anything more and I would have ruined it.  I almost did.  Ha. Ha.


Hope you have a great day.  Ugh, I have to do some laundry before I get to sew today.  Bummer.

Drop me a line.  Tell me about your summer . . . . please.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Library Card Files for Storage

Library Card Files - recycled for STORAGE in my sewing studio.

Stored in the first four drawers of the library card files are the items I use the most: scissors, seam rippers, hem guides, machine needles, tools, and thread.  
Easy reach.

Rough, but Ready to Convert

In the fall of 2010 - Jon and I were looking for library card files for my studio.  Our neighbor offered 2 used-vintage credenzas of library card files with a total of 120 drawers.  What a jackpot!   And a chance to make them into built in units for storage.

My Mom Lorraine visited me September 2010 and she and I started on the card file project. 

Mom removed brass pulls from the 120 drawers and hand cleaned each one with fine steel wool.  She buffed the brass pulls only slightly--clean to the touch, just enough to remove surface dirt. 

While Mom cleaned brass pulls from the drawers, I started working on the two credenzas.

One of two library card file credenzas with its 60 drawers pulled out.

Each slot you see here has three stacked drawers.   I hand sanded and primed the unit with black primer.  The project took two weeks. 

I removed the legs, and unbolted the four boxes to finish sanding and priming.

Pictured above are 40 of the 120 wood faced drawers. 

Sanded, Primed, and Painted two coats black satin finish.

Mom's work cleaning the brass pulls was PERFECT. 

I was able to sand most of the alligator varnish finish off the wooden drawer fronts, primedand repainted black.   The drawers are 17" long, 5 inches wide.

I labeled each drawer

Threads sorted by color.  I got acquainted again with all the threads I purchased over the years.

Oh My!

I took this photo of all the threads in 2012, in preparation of moving to the studio. 

Since then, I've USED UP, and ACCUMULATED more thread. 

Different threads for different machines and applications: 1) General Purpose Thread for piecing quilts, clothing, purses.  2) Serger Thread (larger spools) for overcasting fabric (edge finishing) to build clothing. 3) Thread for Embroidery Machine.  4) Not Pictured are Long Arm Quilting Thread and Crochet Thread/Pearl Cotton Thread for Hand Embroidery Work. 

Things that don't fit inside the converted library card files--I store in a vintage four drawer oak file cabinet.  Things like: stabilizers for the embroidery machine, interfacing for clothing, wool roving and topping.  Which reminds me of other things stored in those drawers that I need to pitch. 

The curtain panels are ivory cotton/polyester shirred on tension rods.  I made curtain panels for each of the seven windows, but only ended up using one curtain.   I move the curtain from one window to another--to block the sun which sometimes makes sewing difficult.

Having my studio on the second floor, the windows are a cinema view of  deer and their fawns, turkeys and their gosslings moving across the expansive yard.  The view and sunlight makes me happy. 

The curtain also becomes storage for colorful clips I use while making fabric rope baskets.

Adding a new strip of fabric takes just a dab of stick glue to join the end of one strip to a new strip.    Lots of fussing to keep walls straight.  Learning curve--definitely.

Decorated with my hand formed polymer clay buttons.  I like making my own buttons and beads for purses and rope baskets.

As I wind the fabric around the cotton clothesline rope, I secure the wind with a plastic clip, and then sew about 6-8 inches as I sew round and round.  It takes a whole day, and a hundred feet of clothesline to make a fabric rope basket.  They are really cool looking.

I added twine and beads to the perimeter for decoration and stabilizing an extra wide rim. 

My studio is the second story (800 sq. ft.) over the two stall garage and woodworking shop.  Built in  September 2009,  Jon made the building to look like a grain elevator--and we painted it Barn Red. 

I sewed many years in my basement with the spiders at our old place.  When we moved to the Victorian, I sewed at the dining room table.  

For thirty years  I stored all my notions in boxes, and wasted hours looking for this tool, or that color of thread, and where did I put the buttons, or the zippers?  I lost/misplaced things over and over again.  I re-purchased lost/misplaced sewing notions all the time.  

Having a big studio where there are labeled drawers is a dream come true.  

Getting organized doesn't come overnight.  It was a process for sure.  In this photo I just dumped the zippers into the drawers as I was moving into the studio.  Later, I sorted all the zippers by color and labeled each drawer.  Organization is a blessing. 

As a little person, I remember Grandpa Bert telling me many times, "a place for everything, and everything in its place."  Seemed like a lot of words to remember back then, but easy to remember Grandpa's smile forever. 

Grandpa also told me, "the early bird gets the worm."  I was tickled to find a big sign for the wall in my studio.  I keep it right in front of me at the long arm quilting machine.  I see him and smile each time I see the sign.  Sometimes I start my day in the studio at 4 or 5 a.m.  I'm an Early Bird. 

"Navy Blues Quilt" - May 2016


SHE'S ALIVE:  The sewing studio comes alive!


Patience is the name of the game.  I finished restoring the library card files in the fall of 2010.  Two years later, my studio space was just a big room, waiting for flooring and finish carpentry.  Above are the finished card files sitting in the middle of the unfinished studio space.


In January 2012 Jon started to transforming the studio into a real sewing space,  and turning the credenza boxes and drawers into multi task storage units.

Jon created bases and cubbies for the converted library card files shown here at the north end of my studio. 

I use table extended with leaves for a long layout/cutting table.   

Notice the high 4" deep shelf Jon installed around the perimeter of the studio?  This is one of the most important features of the studio.  We used this same feature in the upstairs bathroom in the house. 

In later photos you'll see the studio railings hold spools of serger thread, long arm quilting thread, and crochet thread for hand embroidery.  The spools of colorful threads are artwork for the walls, and color inspiration for projects. 

Jon is a genius to make bases for the card files, lifting the drawer off the floor, and turning these storage units into  good looking furniture.

With the new floor installed, Jon goes to work building the cubbies. 

He is very good about checking with me to make sure my STUFF fits.  The cubbies are built to store bolts of fabric, and therefore Jon built the cubbies about 6 inches taller than the standard fabric bolt.  Makes it convenient to access and put away fabric bolts. 

I drew picture of what I wanted for this north wall and he built it perfectly including wide cleats underneath to support a countertop.

View of Studio--looking south
I didn't overthink lighting, but was sure to find lights that have swivel features.  I figured if needed, I could beam some of the lights toward the ceiling or walls if it were too much.  I didn't hesitate when I saw these fixtures, and caught them on sale to boot! 

Jon added three ceiling fans for seasonal comfort.  So glad he did this.