Friday, September 13, 2013

A tale of two baby quilts

 Recently a dear friend (hey there, Julie!) asked me sweetly if I would be interested to make a couple of remembrance baby quilts for her. Her twin boys had achieved the ripe old age of 3 and she couldn't bear to part with so many of their precious little things from infancy. Knowing exactly how she felt (heh, I have a stash of baby clothes that get me all teary whenever I come across them, too), I happily agreed. She had kept batches of their little shirts and onesies and such and collected a couple of big (ulp!) bags for me. Here's just one of the bags...

Upon sorting through the clothes I realized several important things: A. they were all in very good shape (no horrible stains or damage) B. the colors and patterns were in a range that would harmonize pretty well and C. almost everything was a knit (i.e. t shirt material). A and B had me stoked., not so much. See, the trouble with t shirt knit fabric is that its so stretchy in every dimension. Which, of course, is why t shirts are so darn comfy and everyone has a zillion of them. But for sewing, yikes!  A nightmare! Cutting and sewing small shapes accurately and making anything that even looks halfway accurate was going to be categorically impossible no matter what I did.

Hmm. What to do, what to do?  I wasn't stumped--it was a fabric after all-- and I am the master, er, mistress of fabrics, am I not? Why, yes. Yes, I am. thank you very much. :)

SO... I explored my options and did some heavy cogitation for a couple of weeks. Finally, I decided that I would apply my favorite fusible interfacing, Pellon's ShirTailor,  to the little mini swatches of knit fabrics and then start cutting my squares from that reinforced and, more importantly, no longer stretchy material. Luckily the interfacing I use is not horribly stiff and scratchy; the resulting bonded fabric + interfacing will be a little less floppy but still be soft enough for cuddling.  4 inch side is my preferred square size--I've made several quilts based on that dimension and I find it just right. Allowing for a 1/4 inch seam allowance I thus cut 4 1/2 inch squares.

 So first I had to cut all of the little shirts and onesies apart, trimming out the snaps and other unusable bits. That took a peaceful afternoon just me and my fabric shears. You can see the pile above stacked up and waiting for the next step.

Luckily I had several yards of my interfacing on hand and could get right to applying it. Trim to match shape first, then iron. Accumulate another pile of interfaced swatches. Here's one ready for the stack. Guess what else I learned? I'm going to need a lot of interfacing. And when I say "a lot", I mean yards and yards. sigh. Which is fine. JoAnn's always has coupons and a single cut of a yard good counts just like any other item.

And here's the first square! Now, I just need to cut  a few more....

stay tuned!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lunar map covered notebooks

Hello my dears, its been a goodly while, hasn't it? So sorry about that--life has a habit of getting complicated and busy and then the dog has to go to the vet and, well, you know. But here's another little post to tide you over. I'll have another in a day or so, too, to make up for my absence!

Recently was pawing through my map stash and came across an unusual one: a lunar map. Our lovely moon was portrayed front and back by the good folks at National Geographic.

Well, I've had a lot of success with my celestial map covered notebooks of various sizes. They routinely sell out and I have to track down more maps on ebay quite often.  Of course, this significantly drives up my costs but the resulting notebooks are just so striking, I just have to keep making them.

Luckily, this lunar map was actually larger in size than the Map of the Heavens that I'm used to using so I got more notebooks out of it tha I'm used to getting. I was able to cut 4 full size and 7 mini covers from that one map as you can see here.
Here are 2 of the full sized finished notebooks. These two are college ruled.

And here are the 7 mini-notebooks. There were quite a few smaller moon images on the map depicting the different phases and such so I lucked out having scaled moons for the minis. Yay!

I'll be very interested to see if these are as popular as the celestial map versions!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tropical Fruit Salsa

So the other day I threw together some really fine fruit salsa--I love the combination of heat and sweet. This is excellent for those fish tacos or just to dress any pan fried, steamed or poached white fish. It will knock your socks off, guaranteed. I tell ya, I ran out of fish for my tacos and just had a fruit salsa taco (corn tortillas of course) and it was dynamite.

Don't sweat it on the measurements; this recipe ain't rocket science (or baking either).

Tropical Fruit Salsa

1 medium tomato, diced
1 small mango, peeled and diced
5 slices pineapple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 med. purple onion, chopped fine
1 fresh jalapeño, chopped fine (or less, or you can leave this out altogether if you like)
handful of cilantro, chopped medium or fine (your choice)
juice of one lime

Assemble ingredients. Other firm fleshed tropical fruits can be added or substituted for the pineapple. Stir together everything and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving. Will keep refrigerated for several days, but beware! It gets hotter as it ages. Serves 6-8. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Frida Magnets and Map Hearts

Helloooo, out there! Have you wondered where I've been, dear readers? I've been right here, of course, but have not posted due to extreme work pressures. I picked up an extra temporary job bringing my total up to 3. Three jobs? Yeah, sure, I can do it, I said to myself, at least for a while to make a little extra money and catch up on some bills. Man oh man, it was not fun. Do that indefinitely? Heck, no. Er, I'd even go so far as to say: Hell, no!! But enough about that--let's get cozy and talk crafting, shall we?

Also in the interim, I've done my taxes including all of my business expenses and profit. The good news was: last year I sold a lot of items from my etsy site and in shows. Yay! The bad news was: uh, I may have sold a lot, but I didn't actually make a profit. Booo. I didn't even break even. dammit.

So, obviously, it was time to examine what was going on and do some strategizing. After reviewing expenses, products and consulting with my awesome CPA, I came to some conclusions. Bottom line: I over invested in supplies and constantly produced many new types of products last year, most of which did not sell enough for me to recoup. (I had a lot of fun doing it, of course, but my goal is to make a profit eventually). I did definitely learn what my most popular sellers are: vintage map covered composition notebooks of all sizes.

OK! Lesson learned! No new products this year unless I already have the supplies under my roof! Purchase supplies only to replace out of stock popular sellers.

So here are a couple of projects that have been on the back burner for a while: some lovely fridge magnets using some glass wafers I had planned to make into pendants and a fine art postcard book of Frida Kahlo art.

 I made four different sets of four each, as you can see here. I'm glad I chose to go with magnets rather than pendants or pins. I only made for sets because: A. there were only so many appropriate postcards in the book and B. I only ordered 16 of the glass wafers way back when.

Then I got to work on some other supplies that had been sitting around, taking up space! I'd worked on an earlier version of map covered hearts and not liked the outcome at all. But here are some cutie little vintage map covered heart pins that are simple and sweet and just what I was going for!

I just adhered a pin back with some E-6000 (my favorite all-purpose glue) and signed with my etsy shop name. They just measure 1.5" x 1.5" so they're not big and bulky.

Stay tuned for more items from my too big supply inventory!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

T-shirt yarn challenge

Ya know, not every craft idea works out.

I haven't knitted anything with my t-shirt yarn in a while and I thought I might try to work out something that was new for my etsy store utilizing this grand recycled medium. I've made bath/floor mats and trivets of various sorts and sizes with t-shirt yarn and I wanted a new knitted project.

Cup cozies sounded like a brilliant idea! Everyone is walking around with a paper cup from Starbucks or their own refillable tall cup these days and they all need a cozy, right? Right? Of course!

Time to get cracking: in an effort to eliminate seams, I first tried knitting in the round with (enormous) double pointed needles. These babies are like broomsticks, I tell you. But they are beautifully made and a pleasure to touch and use so I forged ahead.

Anyway, I thought that tube looked kinda clunky so I ripped it all out again. Stockinette stitch just looked wrong.

 So then I tried garter stitch knit from one end to the other and thus wrapped around the cup sideways. Which, of course, was going to force me to graft up a seam. Oh well.
And here is the finished product.


Gotta say: I'm not a fan. Its clunky. Its big. Its so big, in fact, that its hard to wrap one hand around it.

Back to the drawing board....