Monday, January 4, 2016

Basket Mending - With Fabric

I have a thing for baskets.
Well, pretty much any storage option that is old, handmade, natural materials and/or looks better than a plastic tub.
I aim to buy good quality items in the first place, but occasionally they have accidents or just get used enough that they break down.  When a basket starts falling apart, I try to mend it.  I automatically turn to fabric for this purpose because I happen to have a ton of it (That might be a literal statement...).

I start with something like this.

I first decide what my color palette will be.  In this case, I went neutral.

I snip and tear the fabric into strips - the width depends on the type of basket I'm mending.  This one needed 1/2" strips.  The fabric was an old curtain.  I just use whatever's handy.

Next, I locate my trusty rug needle - of which I have several because they are quite useful and have a tendency to wander off.  

From there, it's time to get to mending.  This is much like mending clothing by hand.  I leave a tail of fabric and stitch over it to hold it firm.  Then I weave in and out of the basket, making sure to sew out into areas that aren't falling apart so there's something to anchor the mend.  When I get to the end of the fabric strip, I either leave a tail and stitch over it with the next piece, or weave the end out into the basket so it disappears.

It's by no means an invisible fix, but it works for my purposes and it can be done decoratively as well.

Here's one of those ubiquitous wicker baskets.  They work great for laundry until the edge starts disintegrating and snagging all of your sweaters.  I fixed that with a nice 2" wide strip of fabric.

Once again, my trusty rug needle and some time with Netflix.  I just wrapped around the rim trying to cover as many snaggy ends as possible.  Do what it takes to "Make it Do."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Scrappy Strips - A finished Quilt

The scraps are never ending, so making a scrap-buster quilt is always on the to do list.  The blue seems to always be the basket that overflows, so when I finally had the time for a scrap quilt, I knew it was going to be a blue one.  I had recently seen Rita's Worn and Washed Strip Quilt over on Red Pepper Quilts and I knew I wanted to make something similar to bust some scraps.  The improvised, random piecing was just what I needed after being a bit overloaded with commissioned quilt orders.  I'm thankful for the work, but making the same quilt repeatedly does get old.

 I picked through the Blue Scrap basket  until I had a nice pile of navy and turquoise.  At the last minute, I decided to throw in a few bits of magenta for contrast.  This quilt has fabrics of all ages.  There are some genuine vintage 1950's bits all the way up to current organic prints from my Etsy Shop.

 The finished quilt is throw size at 53" x 73".  It is for sale in my Etsy Shop.

 I machine quilted it in a wavy parallel line pattern in keeping with the random block pattern.

 The backing fabric is Cloud 9 Cosmic Convoy Gamma Ray which has become a favorite for backings and bindings.  The binding is a scrappy mix of Gamma Ray and Cloud 9 Moody Blues Dots.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rag Yarn Tutorial

As a sewist/crafter/thrifty lady, I am frequently gifted spare fabric, some of which is either too ugly or the wrong type for my usual projects.  I also have a tough time throwing away ruined clothing or other useful fabric.  There just ought to be SOME way to use it, right?
This is my solution.

I make "yarn" from old fabric.  Anything from poly/cotton yardage that I don't want for quilts to old t-shirts, to the purple corduroy upholstery that was on an ottoman I made over.  Here's how it goes.

***This tutorial is a work in progress, any suggestions or questions are welcome and I'll edit accordingly.
Making Rag Yarn

1. Wash it.  Whatever it is, an old sheet, t-shirt, towel, etc.
Use the hottest water and hottest dryer setting - this ensures all shrinking and dye bleeding are done.  This way your finished product will be machine washable.

2. Make a pile.  I have a constant collection going.
 This pile has been picked over for a rainbow rug - looks like a neutral rug or basket is next on the list...
3. Sort by color.

This just makes it easier to make patterns if desired.
4. Cut or tear it into strips.

I cut stretch materials with a rotary cutter.  Most woven materials are easier to tear along the grain.  The goal is to do as little sewing as possible, so get long strips of the right thickness whenever possible.  What is the "right" thickness? This is partially personal preference, but when I twist my yarn up tight so that it's round, it's about 1/4" in diameter.

5. Zig-Zag stitch to keep it together.

I use #3, the elastic stitch.  Set at its widest zig zag and a medium stitch length.  Regular zig zag stitch would work as well.

I try to tuck any loose ends inside so that my finished product doesn't have odd bits hanging out.

Any time I have a stretch fabric, I pair it with a strip of woven fabric so that my final yarn isn't stretchy.  Stretchy yarn can lead to wonky results when crocheting.

I try to cut my fabrics to a good width so that I can use a single ply whenever possible, but some of my scraps are thin strips from quilting and other projects.  I just bundle these together until they are the right thickness for a consistent yarn and zig zag stitch them all together.

It doesn't matter if things are twisted or not perfectly uniform.  The variations even each other out in the end.

6. Wind it all up.

7. Crochet it into a rug or basket.

Here's a link for A Common Thread's alternative method of making yarn instead of sewing all of the fabric together.  This works especially well if you have nice yardage that is easily torn into strips (like a sheet or just ugly fabric).

This yarn can be used with any basic crochet pattern.  You just need a BIG hook (I have a size Q).  You can find them easily at any craft store, or order them through Amazon.  Better yet, for some handmade wooden goodness, try these Etsy Sellers:


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On Badassity

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to inform you all that I have recently discovered a new blog and as a result, have taken up a new lifestyle.  Ok, maybe not entirely new - I've been called "granola", "hippie,"and "crafty" from time to time, but now I have a better label for that intangible quality that makes me seem a bit strange.  It's called Mustachianism. It's changed my perspective on a whole lot of things and spurred me on to even greater feats of badassity.  Disclosure is necessary because I may throw some Mustachian ideas into future blog posts and I want to give credit where credit is due.  I highly recommend the Mr. Money Mustache blog and invite you to go over and check it out.  He breaks down things like saving, investing and DIY into interesting little nuggets while throwing in a peppering of manly swearing.  Any of my Mustachian-inspired blog posts will always contain links to the articles containing said inspiration.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Grandma was a Badass

I occasionally have people bring me old quilts for repair.  People also ask if I can finish a quilt that some departed relative started long ago that has been sitting in a cedar chest somewhere waiting to start its life.  That is how this beauty and I were introduced.

The pattern is a classic hexagon layout called Grandmother's Garden.  In this case, it actually was pieced by someone's grandmother.  And Grandma was a HAND-stitching badass.

I counted these up, and they average 27 stitches per seam.  I did some sloppy math and got a rough estimate of around 90,000 stitches in the entire quilt!

This quilt is huge.  A generous king-sized quilt.  Large enough that I didn't have a room with enough floor space to lay it out and baste it for quilting.  Thus, I pulled out a tarp and used my back yard (Note the clothes drying on the line - I have a bit of grandmotherly-badassity going on myself).

The Tarp.

Quilt with Warm & Natural Cotton Batting .

I had been avoiding sandwiching this together and basting it for quilting, because it's huge.  That's intimidating.  I do this with every quilt, regardless of size though.  It always surprises me when it goes well and is really not that difficult.  Then I wonder why I put it off for so long.  Now that it's basted, I'm hand quilting it.  I could wrestle it through my sewing machine, but Grandma's tedious handwork deserves to be honored, so I am firing up the Netflix and getting to work!

Because this generation needs a few badasses too.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Upcycled Picnic Blanket

I try to utilize my network of friends and acquaintances whenever possible to get things accomplished on the cheap while still providing mutually beneficial services.  It's good to have good people.  As a result of this, I found myself owing a certain graphic-designer friend of mine a quilt (for that little bit of goodness up there ^^^^ among several other things).

"I'd like something sturdy for sitting on the ground.  Something that can take some wear," he said.  My first thought was reusing denim, my second thought was reusing an ugly blanket for the batting.  My third thought was GOODWILL!!!!!

And so this happened. The batting in this blanket is FIERCE!

And these. (I later decided not to use the khaki). 

And then this.

And finally, this.

And the graphic designer loved the quilt, and all was right with the world.

The End.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Don't Buy a Mean Girl

I recently had someone ask if I could do a dress alteration for her.  My alteration skills do not match my quilting skills.  I can do VERY basic alterations, but anything more complicated than shortening a hem is something I usually pass on.  I told her I would take a look and see what could be done.

I should inform you that this lady stands about 6'1", is athletically slim and has a kick-ass attitude.  She'll drink you under the table and can land just about any guy she wants. 

Girlfriend is a knockout.  

She brought me a cute little party dress that just didn't fit her in the bust.  There was no fixing it.  She's got this great, perky little pair up front, but the dress was made for someone with size D boobs that could magically (or surgically - no judgement, just saying) stand up on their own.  There was nowhere to hide a bra under this thing.  She started blaming her small boobs and the genes that created them.  This dress was a beautiful color, had a sassy hemline and really begged to be worn, but it had just succeeded in making a gorgeous girl dislike her decidedly beautiful body.

Take the dress back to the store!  There's no need to go paying money to have a mean girl in your closet.  I'm all for buying things that you love and altering them to fit if need be, but if it's not working, it's not working.  Break up with that dress.  You're better than that.