Monday, January 30, 2012

Taking a Moment to Think

While I love sewing for its creative outlet; using puzzle solving skills and my ability to produce tangible, aesthetically pleasing results, it’s also a mode of escape. Sewing keeps me from thinking about what’s next in my life and from actively seeking something that might be next.

I admit I wish the right thing would just drop in my lap. But it hasn’t yet. I have a ton of options before me. All good options but in a way it’s too many choices. I wish my range of interests were narrower. It’s not. I must do the work of researching and find what is out there next for me.

Oh for audible guidance from God.

Now that I have that off my chest, I think I will go back to sewing.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Mini Sewing Vacation

I have a dear friend that lives in Wheaton, Illinois. She got offered the use timeshare condo in Wisconsin Dells which happens to be half way between here and there. Only catch, it was short notice. Fortunately for me, I have plenty of free time.

So we met there on Wednesday afternoon. I hauled videos, cutting matt, sewing machine, fabric and much, much more. In the process I got a personal tutorial on how to make bias binding – great for my chenille blanket habit! And I learned how to make mitered corners on blankets. Both will be useful skills to have in the near future.

I did a little hand work on my current patchwork project. My friend helped me solve some of the issues I was having with it. She was invaluable in giving tips to help me through my new-found hobby. We chatted, watched movies, cooked and ate!

We did a little looking and shopping – and were very inspired by some of the quilting we saw! It was a wonderful get-away. I’m so thankful for respites like that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Maybe Bags are My Thing

I thought that would do it for my bag endeavors for a while. But then I had this light bulb go on in my head! Some time back a friend gave me a dress her mom had sent her that she wasn’t using and although I wasn’t really thinking I would wear it, she passed it on to me. She asked for it back or to pass it along, if I didn’t want it.

I had toyed with making it into two little girl dresses for the two oldest ones I live with, but that wasn’t happening either. Then it came to me! Another bag!

This is another modification of the 6-pocket bag. I think it turned out darn cute - almost too cute to give away. But it became a birthday gift for the gal who gave it to me originally. I hope her mom doesn’t mind.

She did say when I gave it to her, “I love how you up-cycled this!”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Grandma’s Mystery Bag

My friend Annette is a fabulous crafter, especially in the area of soft crafts. She had reupholstered many a chair, she quilts, and makes tons of various sewn items like baby blankets and home decor for family and friends.

In late December she sent out a challenge to a few female friends and all her sisters and sisters-in-law. It was to make a hand bag in the style of one she had found among the items in her grandmother’s trunk. She figured out how it was made and made one herself. The challenge was that she wasn’t showing us what it looked like, we just follow step by step instructions photographing each part to prove we are ready for the next step.

First step: gather materials needed. Second step: cut two squares of coordinating material and sew then together so they make a big two sided square.

Step three: make the circular straps.

Step four: sew corner casings and sew the strap right in as you go.

Voila! A big o’ bag! I think it looks like a beach bag or a knitting bag. (I don’t knit.) Or it’d be great for carrying those picnic items out to the park. Since I used canvas type material it turned out much different than the original one looked.

I will still add vintage buttons that my friend will send to match the style. Not quite sure what I’ll use it for though.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bag Number 2

I decided to try a second 6-pocket bag, beefing up the measurements a bit. I changed a few other things too. I added an interior pocket. (Not that I need seven pockets.) There are also a couple of little Velcro closures to make it a little safer. (Maybe just safe for items not to fall out.) This one is a very functional size but I don’t like the interfacing I ended up using on the inside to make the inner fabric stand up more, it’s too stiff.
I’d been shopping a lot lately for fabric and it was hard to choose which three to use together. I like these three better before they were sewn together. But they turned out fine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Make the Best Darn Granola

Years ago when I first lived in Kenya, I learned to make granola from scratch. Back then you could occasionally find muesli in the store which is the German answer to granola. Basically it’s untoasted granola (not my favorite). My recipe is fairly simple, but the process is time consuming because you have to watch it carefully while baking it. It burns easily.

The flavor is so yummy that every time I try some other kind of granola, I just end up wanting more of mine. Recently I took the time to make a batch since I’d been craving it. I’m not disappointed!
Here’s the recipe -
Combine in a large bowl:
2 cups flour
7 cups oats (regular works better than the quick kind)
1 cup coconut
½ cup raw sesame seeds

Blend together separately:
1 cup warm water
1 cup honey
½ cup olive (or canola) oil
1 T. vanilla
1 t. salt

Mix the dry and wet ingredients together well and spread over two large cookie sheets in a single layer. Break up into small pieces as much as possible.
Bake at 350o for 45-60 minutes, stirring often!

Let cool, then stir in:
1 cup craisins
1 cup slivered almonds

I have to confess that I did not come up with this recipe. My friend Laura Jane did. All credit to her.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What’s In the Bag?

After the chenille I started a bag fetish. I made the first one after seeing it at a friend’s house some time ago. The material came back from Kenya with me because it was so cute. It’s considered curtain material there. These are usually a kind of a cheap blend of synthetics that is about the weight of canvas. This one had the animal block prints in two columns with borders that I used for straps.

The straps sewn on create the pockets – thus it’s called a 6-pocket bag.

It turned out pretty cute but I thought it too small for my needs.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Lorraine Motel

Right up there with the most significant stops on our tour last fall was the visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Memphis. It was a moving display of the history of African American freedom struggle. I know that some of the Afrizo students had an “ah-ha” moment when the finished the museum. They had studied the history in school, spoken with other African
Americans along the way, but were finally able to put the significance of certain pieces together after experiencing this museum.
I too enjoyed a deeper understanding of our black brothers and sisters from our visit to Memphis. I think our Memphis hosts were nearly as significant a help in my historical understanding as the museum. Definitely a stop I will not soon forgot.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chenille from Scratch

Earlier this year I mentioned the handmade chenille project I had seen. It’s one of those things you read about and sort of think, ‘oh maybe I can get to that project in another life.’ I guess I’m having another life right now.

I wasn’t about to attempt a whole baby blanket at first. I knew this project take a lot of time and material (i.e. expense) so I decided to do what I am calling a sampler. It turned out to be about 15” by 24”. I am not crazy about how the binding turned out, but the chenille affect is so cool. It really works. Now I will have to make some more!

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm Hooked!

Despite the challenge of working with a possible stretch factor I just couldn’t resist doing more patchwork like the first one. The fact that it wasn’t all measured and calculated makes in so much more fun! But it also means I can succeed at these early attempts because I wasn’t trying to follow a pattern.
I absolutely love how this table runner turned out! It’s too fun!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why Sewing and Quilting?

Last fall I traveled all over the US and one stop was in Lancaster, PA. I remembered a quilt museum there from the last time I passed though and it didn’t disappoint me this time either. The quilts were truly inspiring and that’s what caused the first push into this new hobby.

This is just one of the quilts from the museum.

It was so dramatic and intriguing that I had to try to get a similar effect. However, I soon learned that sewing diagonally cut fabrics can be a bit tricky. The stretch!

My very first attempt at quilting (and patchwork) is this table runner.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What Have I Been Up To?

Well, the New Year is speeding along, with or without my blogging. I’ve been busy but if I had a job I’d be a lot busier than I am now. Thankfully, I don’t have to account for the time spent Bible reading. I must say it’s a great luxury to have extra time each day for reading several chapters in different areas of the Bible. I’ve been doing a few other things too.

On Thanksgiving weekend I took up a new hobby: Quilting. I’ve learned a few new terms. For example, if you quilt something it usually means you have put layers together and sewn through then for a puffy effect. Patchwork is when you piece fabrics together. You don’t have to then quilt them, but often quilts (blankets) use both of these techniques.
In addition, I’ve taken on some other sewing projects; I wanted to try my hand and homemade chenille since it looked so intriguing when I first saw it was possible on a craft blog well over a year ago. I’ve also been into fabric bag making.

So just for fun and because I should have something to show for my time, I’ll be sharing some of these projects here in my blog. Maybe you’ll be inspired too.