A Year of Creativity: May – Rag Quilt

Or as I like to call them: Quilts for People Who Suck at Making Quilts.

I won’t really go into my quilt making history much.  But let’s just say that RocketPuppy has a few failed attempts that I made for her, and from then on I stuck to fleece blankets.

Until I found the world’s greatest bowling fabric.  Fabric I knew I needed to have.  Fabric that went clearance when clearance was half off.  And I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but at that price I knew I needed to BUY ALL THE FABRIC!!!

So then I was left wondering what a girl was to do with 7+ yards of bowling cotton.  Trust me, it was an amazing deal….

At some point I remembered that I had some grey flannel sitting around–thankfully not prewashed–enough to back a duvet cover.  My wheels got turning.  I’d always wanted to make a rag quilt, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  Problem was, I didn’t really want a black and grey quilt.  That didn’t seem like fun.  I needed to throw in one more thing to make it “me.”

Luckily shortly after this flannel solids went 60% off.  And it was also shortly before I’d stop having my sweet employee discount, so I needed to strike.  And strike I did.  Aqua.   Because it’s me.

And then I put it off for a really long time because I was skurrd.  There are plenty of things I haven’t made yet because of fear.

Then I got bored.  So I decided to dive in.

First I figured out how big a square I could make while still getting an even amount of squares out of the width.  I settled on 10″ squares.  And I cut a million of them (okay 216).

I started with this:

72 triplets in layer order

Then I stitched giant Xs across all my triplets with aqua thread on top and black in the bobbin, and I ended up with this:

Then I followed a little pattern my buddy The Hooker (she crochets, get your mind out of the gutter) drafted for me, because she convinced me I shouldn’t have all print on one side and all solid on the other.  And I sewed and I sewed, piecing 8 squares into a strip and nine strips into a blanket.  And it was just about the fastest sewing I’ve ever done.

And then I had to snip.  And snip.  And snip some more.  Every seam needed to be snipped, and it took me a couple evenings.  The first evening it was cool, and I welcomed the blanket on my lap.  The second evening it was hot and humid.  I think that made me work faster.

Next up was washing to shrink the fabric and fray the edges.  I can’t remember if I washed in hot water–I doubt it, since I don’t wash anything in hot water unless I have to–so I don’t think it really shrunk that much.  I washed and dried it twice.  The first time there was so much lint that it blew the lint trap on the washer hose clear off and filled the entire lint trap in the dryer with almost an inch of lint.  The second wash there was about a quarter as much.  There’s still little balls of lint/pilling on the flannel, but I’m not going to worry about those.  They may require a sweater shaver, and I just don’t have that kind of patience right now.

But, frankly, I’m sure you guys don’t care about that… You want to see the end result.  And I’m happy to report it’s one of my favorite creations to date.

You can see the lint on the back.  If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears.  And by suggestions, I mean solutions that require almost no work at all.

The quilt will not stay on the bed, although I have used it myself on a couple of the cooler nights.  It’s really just not big enough for the whole bed with two bodies underneath.  72 10″ squares would be PERFECT for a twin sized bed and doable for a full with only one person.


File This Under Y

For Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

Pretty much ever since Dragon graced our doorstep, the blinds in the living room have been trashed.  He’s a pretty headstrong cat, and if he wants to see the squirrels and birds and bunnies, he’s going to see the squirrels and birds and bunnies.  From the safety of the indoors.  Because he’s kind of afraid of going outside.

As a result, the blinds started looking a little like this:

Something in my head said, “Hey, I wonder if I can make these crappy blinds into roman shades.”  So I went to the Google.  And it turns out, I can.  Little Green Notebook has great easy to follow instructions. I was a little nervous cutting into the blinds, but really, they were so far gone that if I screwed them up more, who cares?  Armed with the knowledge that I could just buy new ones if I botched these, I pulled out the scissors and went to work.

Strings cut and most slats removed.

I used E-6000 instead of fabric glue, because that’s what I could find in my sewing room.  I also serged and hemmed the edges of the panels instead of just gluing them down.  I couldn’t reuse the plugs that kept the strings to the bottom bar, so I just tied the strings around the bar before gluing it down.  The end result:

The blinds themselves never worked well–or I just really suck at operating blinds… this is entirely possible–but the fabric hasn’t affected the operation of the strings in any way.  Well, I take that back… the strings are behind the fabric, which makes it a little inconvenient.  There’s really no other way for that to happen with this, so if you like to raise and lower repeatedly, this may not be the project for you.

For us?  We never move them, and they’re strictly for privacy.  And, more importantly, the cat can’t really screw them up.  He might snag the fabric, but that’s it.  Great way to repurpose, I say.

Go Home, Puncher, You’re Drunk

I’ve been working on this embroidery project for a friend, and for the most part it’s gone swimmingly (have I mentioned lately how vastly superior my new machine is from my old one?).  I’ve had the pleasure of stitching out funky little animals like this guy:

And I’m using this particular picture specifically as an example of what most embroidery designs look like before they get cleaned up.  Jumps are expected.  It happens.  And usually they aren’t that bad to clean up.  Usually.

Meet Lion:

I am reasonably certain that the puncher who created this lion was drunk.  Seriously?  The fuck?

I’m not sure what the reasoning behind this was, but every time I started a color, the design would lock the stitch on one side of the design and then move across to the other side to actually start embroidering.  On top of all that, this design (and its fellow holiday themed buddy) had twice as many thread changes as their secular friends.  I’m pretty sure for no other reason than to be jerks.

All in all, though, the project has been great.  I can’t wait to see the magic that unfolds when my embroidery gets into the hands of the master.

Things You Should Try: Blind Hem

Do you have a list of things you know you should probably learn how to do, but the thought of them seems scary, so you just decide to take the easy way out, even though it might not be the best look?  I kind of felt that way about the blind hem.  And honestly?  I’m not sure why I waited so long to figure it out.    And, really?  There wasn’t anything to figure.  It’s just about the easiest thing in the world.

Let’s begin:

Garment inside-out.  Do it.  Figure out your hemline (for this, the original hem was perfect, so I just used that as my guide).

Fold and press.  If your starting edge isn’t finished, fold it at half the amount and then fold again (like any other unfinished edge, really).  Put a couple pins in parallel to the fold to hold it in place temporarily (not pictured).

This is the hardest part, and it’s not even all that hard (it’s tricky to explain, but not tricky to do).  Fold your new cuff back on itself so 1/4″ of your “raw” edge is showing.  Pin it in place and remove your previous parallel pins so you don’t accidentally sew over them.  I don’t recommend pressing this, as you’ll just end up having to try to get that crease out later.

Refer to your user manual to determine which of your feet is the blind hem foot.  Even my basic starter machine had a blind hem foot, yours probably will too.  If not, ebay.  While you’re there, your manual should also tell you how to set to a blind hem stitch.  Your stitch will look like the picture above: a line of straight stitches broken up by one zigzag stitch.

The blind hem foot has a stop on the right side.  Your 1/4″ part goes under that, and the stop lines up with the fold.  Sew around the entire hem, turn right side out, and press.

The result is a secure hem without an obvious hemline.  Very professional (if you ignore the fact that my tension is a little wonky as a result of a broken needle).


Iron Craft Challenge 1

In an effort to jump start my promise to be more crafty this year, I joined up with the Iron Craft peeps.  52 craft challenges with one week to finish them.  The first challenge was to make something to light up the dreary winter bluckies.  Technical term.

I made up some wine bottle torches, and took a few “in progress” photos to show you how it’s done.

First up, the supplies:

  • Wine Bottles–or any bottle with approx 1″ opening (free from your own lushiness or from friends/family)
  • 1/2″ x 3/8″ copper couplers (found in plumbing section of your local do-it-yourself store for about $0.75)
  • 1/2″ caps (same, about $0.25)
  • Teflon Tape (same, about $0.99 for a roll that will last you forever.  Or your SO might have some in the junk drawer that you find after you already made a bunch of these)
  • Tiki replacement wicks (seasonally found at said DIY store, unseasonally found online for a couple bucks plus terribly high shipping costs)
  • Not pictured, torch fuel ONLY for tiki torches (ditto what I said about wicks).

Easy-peasy instructions:

Wrap teflon tape around the 1/2″ end of your coupler until it fits snugly into the wine bottle.  I don’t bother to cut the tape, I just pull until it snaps apart and smooth down the edges.

Fill bottle with fuel using a funnel.  If you don’t use a funnel, the teflon tape will slip and slide around on the fuel in the opening.  Stick wick in coupler, and insert wick/coupler set into the bottle.  If you find the wick slides in once it’s coated in fuel, you can use a pin stuck in at the top of the coupler to keep it in place–moving it as necessary (once the fire is out, of course).

When not in use, throw some caps on the wicks to keep them safe and dry.


As promised

Last week I was feeling extra domestic. It sucks when this happens because I need to squeeze it into one or two days. Last week I was lucky enough to get two days, but the reality is, I would love to play this game every day. The other blog will (eventually) feature the crafty project I did, but here I’ll share my culinary project.

I started by saving the heels from every loaf of bread we’ve eaten since, oh… March?  The Hippy won’t eat wheat bread (and I feel the need to be healthier) so we always have two loaves of bread in the fridge at once.  That made for a lot of heels.  I pulled them out Monday morning and began toasting, two by two.  Probably would have been faster in the oven…

That is, incidentally, how I like my toast toasted.

That is, incidentally, how I like my toast toasted.

I toasted up that entire stack, broke them into pieces, and threw them in my blender.  It was touch and go for awhile–I really wish I had a food processor, but in a kitchen the size of mine, the blender was more practical–but I ended up with lovely, lovely bread crumbs.

Lotsa crumbs!

Lotsa crumbs!

Because they were still a little moist, I turned my oven to 150ºF and spread the crumbs out on a cookie sheet to bake.  After a half hour or so I had dry, clump-free crumbs.  I took out a cup of crumbs, added a half a teaspoon each of garlic salt, onion powder, basil and oregano.  But what to do with those crumbs?

Shake, Bake...

Shake, Bake...

Uh… duh!  Oven “Fried” Chicken!  I more or less followed that recipe, but since I thought I was short on time, I cranked the oven to 425ºF and cooked about 15 mins on each side.  The chicken came out PERFECT.  I don’t even *like* chicken all that much, but I could probably eat this every day.  I also read the comments and followed the advice of the person who put the flour and crumbs into a bag instead of dishes.  No dishwasher=strong desire not to dirty a ton of dishes.  Also prevented “THE CLUB!” (Hand crusted in layers upon layers of flour+egg+crumbs)



I apologize for the bad photography on that one… The Hippy had just gotten home, was outside watering the flowers, and I didn’t want him to see me taking pictures of food.  So it had to be fast and secretive and done while the chicken was still in the oven.

To add to the meal, I made crock pot polenta and glazed carrots.  It was such a decadent meal.  The carrots and the parmesan on the polenta were almost a little too rich, but oh my god was everything good!