Denim YLP Intro

Getting started on my Denim Crazy Quilt, which will be one of the Year Long Projects (YLP) on my YouTube Channel!  

My daughter and I started collecting old jeans from the rest of the family about 4 years ago to make some picnic quilts.  Picnic quilts are simply durable quilts that can be kept in the car for use as picnic blankets, or spread on the ground to sit on.  Denim makes a really heavy quilt, so these won't have any batting.  We are hoping to back them with old flannel sheets.  Our hope is to make 6 to 8 of these quilts over the coming year, and these will be our gift to each family this coming Christmas.  We've been talking about it for years, so I don't mind sharing it on here!  

My quilt is going to be a crazy quilt, and I thought it would be a perfect project to share on my YouTube channel!  In all, I'll be making 16 blocks that are 14" square to end up with a quilt approximately 62" square once the outer sashing is applied.  I have a stash of old white cotton cutter lace that I hope to use, and also some old Japanese fabrics from a friend that I hope to incorporate in little spots.  

The cutting up of the denim turned into quite a project.  Not wanting to go through expensive rotary blades on this heavy fabric, I opted to use my designated wire/ribbon cutting scissors.  They were pretty sharp to start despite the occasional nick in the blades, but they are noticeably duller after cutting 6 boxes of denim jeans up!  I developed a couple of interesting calluses on my fingers as well, not from rubbing on the scissors, but from the fingers rubbing against one another as I cut.  

We salvaged as much as we could.  We even kept the double stitched seams to see if we can find a use for them.  I'm thinking of making woven hot mats for the table with them.  We also saved the back pockets, many of the watch pockets, the odd triangular back yoke pieces, and the zippers.  My daughter does a lot of clothing repair, and the short zippers for jeans are hard to come by, so now she has a big stash to pull from to help with that.  

For some of the jeans, we kept larger pieces so we can include the nicer seams in larger pieces.  Some of these larger pieces may also be used in creating a tote bag to store each quilt in.  There are some fun decorated back pockets that we saved and hope to make a few fun denim purses out of.  We are going to focus on getting the quilts done first, making the denim crazy quilt I'll be working on a priority so I can upload videos of its creation in a timely manner.  While I'll probably help with the planning and cutting pieces for each quilt, Jessie will likely do most of that sewing, and then I'll help her finish them.  Should be a busy but fun and productive year for both of us!

Check out some of our inspiration pins for this project on my Denim Picnic Quilt inspiration board herehttps://www.pinterest.com/boni0366/denim-picnic-quilt-ideas/

One of our inspirations behind this project was learning about how many textiles end up in the landfill, or are baled up and shipped thousands of miles overseas, using valuable resources in order to be remanufactured into rags or other items.  In some cases they clothes are resold in other countries, which impacts local manufacturing of clothing and textiles in a mostly negative way.  I'm including some links and facts here if you are interested in learning more.

Some interesting things about textile use/reuse in the U.S.A.
In 2017: 
- 16.9 Tons of textiles were created
- 11 million Tons of textiles ended up in landfill, accounting for 8% of all municipal solid waste
- 2.6 tons of textiles and footwear were recycled (including sold for reuse as is as well as deconstructing and remanufacturing into other products.) 
- 3.2 tons of textiles are incinerated in energy recovery facilities 
- Only 1 in every 4-8 garments that are donated to thrift stores are actually sold for re-use.
- The average American throws away approximately 81 lbs of clothing a year.
- 85% of discarded textiles end up in the landfill

A good article from Great Britain on the impact of fast fashion that also highlights what we can do to help decrease the impact of textile waste by responsibly managing our textile purchases

Good article from the Saturday Evening Post about the waste clothing problem in the US (and around the world) 

A UK perspective

Article on some of the social implications of used clothing from the US/UK being sold in other parts of the world.

All of this makes me glad to be a crazy quilter, because it is so easy for us to salvage and re-use fabric from otherwise unusable/unwanted garments and linens!  We get to stitch AND help the environment at the same time!  

For my part, I decided at the beginning of the year that this was going to be a NO-BUY year when it comes to my crazy quilting, with one exception.  That is the heart quilt that I'm working on, I don't have an appropriate fabric for the solid blocks and so I will plan on purchasing that fabric.  But otherwise, I'm going to make it a year of using what I have - which as you have seen is a lot!  Hope that some of you will join me!  

Happy Stitching! 


2020 Projects

I always have to laugh when I hear someone say that they have a "couple" of projects going as though that is a terrible thing! They have NO idea! That's what my latest video is about!

Watch the video first and then to see more of what is in my project bins; read the rest of this post! 

I am a list maker.  Every year, I make a new list of projects and things I want to complete that year.  Some years I make great progress, others... well, not so much!  Then I make new lists.  Reorganizing my studio this month made me realize that my lists of projects were vastly incomplete - all three of them! In fact, I probably had 3 times (or more) the number of unfinished projects than were actually on my lists.  So my daughter and I set out to make sense of everything.

We sorted everything into 4 bins.

Bin #4 is the "cold storage" bin.  The one of projects I probably won't have time to work on for a long, long time.  

This is what is in the cold storage bin.  Several embroidery projects that range from a dresser scarf, numerous cross stitch kits, and a shirt I'm embroidering.  There are some quilt projects including a log cabin quilt that was pieced by one of my great Aunts that I'm finishing, another log cabin quilt that I started piecing in 2015, as well as an appliqu├ęd bunny quilt I started when I was pregnant with my daughter - 37 years ago! Yikes! Then there are some kits and patterns I've picked up here and there, including a rug hooking pattern/partial kit because it's something I'd like to try at least once.  There are also a number of Altoid Tin kits that I put together for a workshop I taught in 2016.  As I look at this pile, they are all still things I'm interested in completing... someday!

Bin #3 is filled with lots of odd bits of projects, miscellaneous blocks, etc.  It's the junk drawer of my crazy quilting world.  This is also mostly a cold storage box as there isn't a lot in here I'm planning on working on in the coming year... and yet, there a few things that will probably find their way into my work bag from time to time.

There are blocks made for pincushions that never got made, blocks made for doing some stitch samplers, little blocks I embroidered in 2017 that never got made into anything.  There are several bags of round robin projects that have never been finished as well as bags of miscellaneous blocks that I made up here and there but have never done anything with.  Lots to work with here, but not much for the immediate future.

Also tucked into bin #3 are my various "faux paper piecing" projects.  These range from the Woodland quilt that I started back in 2010 or so, the bags of bits for making pocket prayers and a couple of other small pieced items I've been playing with.  These are great take-along projects and so these will probably all get stitched on a little bit here and there - just as they have been for the past 10 years!  They are constantly progressing and changing as I work on them.  Let me know if you would like a tutorial on doing a small project like the pocket prayers.

Bin #2 has some fairly large projects that I've been gathering materials toward.  It's not quite cold storage, but most of these projects are still a ways off, as I simply MUST get some other projects out of the way first.  

Here is Thomas kitty looking pretty disgusted with me for having so much stuff to work on!  

These are projects that I really want to work on!  They are big projects that are far enough along, that I've gathered materials for and have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with each one.  There is a folk art wool quilt, some old quilt blocks made by another great Aunt that I'd like finish.  There are two sets of blocks I made back in 2015 when I thought I could do 3 blocks a month while working full time and take care of a house and big garden... it obviously didn't work out!  Theres a project with a piece of embroidery I found at a thrift shop, which should be a fairly quick project once I actually have time to get started on it.  There's a Bavarian Trim quilt to work on, some wool pennies, a project inspired by a piece of pottery I found at the antique store, and a collection of things I've been gathering for a special "Ivory Blush Roses" project!

These are the projects I'm really itching to get working on!  But... with so many other things yet unfinished, they are going to have to take a back seat for this year.  

Bin #1 is the stack of priority projects that I aim to finish this year.  Most of these are projects that a nearly complete.  My daughter called them NFPs or Nearly Finished Projects. I also wanted to do a big project, similar to the Crazy Quilt Journal Project, but without actually joining that group this year.  I came up with 2 of them.  A denim crazy quilt, which I'll be posting more about later in the week, and the heart quilt which began as a round robin in 2014 or 15.  Those are YLPs or year long projects.

The video went into detail on these so I won't repeat that here.  These are things I'd love to get finished and off my project list!  A few of them have been there for a very long time... like the Scottish themed block that might have been the 3rd or 4th block I ever made.  There are three round robin projects in here to finish as well.  So, 11 NFPs, 2 YLPs, and 2 bonus projects - Lots to work on!

Now that I'm "retired" and have a much smaller house and yard to care for, hopefully I'll be able to stay focused and productive this year!  I'm looking forward to sharing these projects with you via You Tube in the coming months!

P.s. I also have a large tub of unfinished projects in my storage locker... deep, deep cold storage!  Mostly embroidery and sewing projects as well as some needlepoint.  I don't even want to think about those!  My daughter thinks I have enough projects to work on for the rest of my life if I work at it full time.  I'm afraid she might be right!


Studio Makeover!

New video up on YouTube about my studio refresh! 

My sister's study

My study

When I moved into this house, I knew I would use this room as my studio and office/study. I wanted shelves on the wall like the ones my sister had in her little office. 

Like my sister's shelves, I put lights underneath mine and bulletin boards on the wall. I'm not quite as neat and minimalist as my sister, but I love this layout! The lights can dim as well as switch from cool to neutral to warm and they give me a lot of light, which my aging eyes really appreciate! I adapted the shelf spacing so that I could put my printer over the desk since I didn't have room for a printer stand. 

Inspiration for studio decor came from my CQJP 2015 project. When I stitched it, the colors were far outside of my comfort zone, yet it ended up being some of the best work I'd ever done! Upon moving in, I thought it might be the perfect inspiration piece to decorate my studio around. So I found a rug that repeated some of the colors and searched through my fabric for pieces that would coordinate for a curtain valence.

At first I loved it! It was bold and different. I used a lot of my pink colored items to decorate the space, from little bits I had stitched, to items gifted to me. With the multi color rug, I also decided to let other multi-color items take precedence, like the jars of colorful buttons and the tray of bead containers. 

As the year progressed, I realized I wasn't spending much time in this space. I preferred to paint in the kitchen, due in part to better light. I was stitching at the kitchen table as well. And even for computer work, I was either avoiding it or bringing my laptop out to the living room. The bright colors and the chaos of the multi-color rug were just too much for me. The room had become a catch-all for everything I wanted out of the rest of the house. This little house has no storage space and teeny tiny closets, so the studio/study space became more of a storage room and I was increasingly frustrated with how difficult it was to find the supplies I needed. Time for a refresh! 

 I started thinking about what would make my studio/office space a place where I wanted to spend time, and what would make it easier to find the supplies I wanted. I also knew I needed a better, simpler space for filming my YouTube videos.  Bright pink is notoriously difficult to photograph and in videos, all the bright pink meant I spent hours editing, trying to come up with some semblance of real colors.  I knew I wanted this small room (11"-0" x11'-0" square)to feel more open - so that meant lighter colors. The space desperately needed a calmer rug. As fun as I found the multi-color rug at first, it felt like it was always cluttered to me, I hated filming against it, and the pink/red colors reflected onto everything I was working on, making it hard to see the real colors. 
I also wanted to cut the glare from the window for when I was filming, and yet I needed to let the light through in this otherwise dim room.

That turned out to be an easy fix as I had a pair of shorter linen curtains that I hadn't used and I had a vintage lace curtain panel which I have loved for years and it fit perfectly between the two linen panels. The window also has an easy to operate blind for nighttime privacy. 

While I enjoyed this display for a while, the clutter of all the little bits of decor made the space seem smaller as well, so I knew I wanted to simplify things in that realm.  My tastes are definitely evolving towards a more minimalist style! 

First step was to find a new rug.  With the multi-color rug, I had been lucky to find one that was nearly square and filled the open space well.  Most rugs are rectangular or round and square rugs are hard to come by, but on Wayfair, I found a rug I liked that also came in large square sizes (the one I purchased is 10'-0" square!) and was also within my small budget!  It's modeled here by Thomas, who seems pretty happy with the new decor as well! 

It took about 2 weeks to get the room re-organized and change out all the decor.  All the little bric-a-brac has been put away, but accessible if I want to look at it.  On the wall I hung my Cream and White crazy quilt, the first big project that I stitched when I started crazy quilting.  I hung a simple wreath of faux fern fronds and hung a strand of ivy over the curtain rod.  Instead of lots of little art, I propped up an old mirror on top of the shelves.  It is all so much simpler and calmer now!  

The new rug reflects lots of light and makes this dim room seem so much brighter!  I made a new curtain cover for my art shelf where all the canvases, paints, sketchbooks, mediums, etc are stored.  Even when neat and organized, it always looks cluttered and a mess.  I was able to use fabric I already had and some antique crocheted lace for an extra touch.  

All the threads and ribbons have been newly re-organized as well and all the bits from all over have been consolidated into labeled boxes and baskets.  Finding things is so much easier now and I don't have to go through umpteen different containers before finding what I'm looking for!  

The little radiator heater keeps this room a couple of degrees warmer than the rest of the house, so I can work comfortably during these cooler months and I don't have to heat the entire house to my working temp!  It is Thomas' favorite spot as well, and most days he can be found with his paws tucked underneath it! 

The old cabinet I have from one of my "adopted" grandmas has been utilized as my sewing cabinet and holds all the little sewing bits from needles and pins to interfacing, scissors, bias tape, etc.  I love having this bit of "history" that is filled with memories for me! 

The stack of frames I've been accumulating, waiting to be filled with paintings is now hung on the high wall over the door rather that stacked in a pile in front of the closet door.  

I spent some time re-organizing the shelves above my desk as well.  While I strive towards minimalism, I never will really be a minimalist.  I have too much instinct to "save" things and somehow I also become the keeper of the family history, so I have boxes and boxes of extended family history/genealogy in storage and somehow, more bits to add to it continues to come my way.  All those boxes on the upper shelf contain bits for that plus the necessary office stuff like pads of paper, and other useful items.  Then there are things like the basket of notecards to send out, envelopes, stamps, and notepads.  In my ideal world, I'd find a way to get rid of most of this!  But I'm not there yet! 

I re-did the bulletin boards and filled them with postcards of some of the favorite art pieces that I've had the opportunity to see in the past couple of years.  Lots of Monet!  Also some Van Gogh, Berthe Morrisot, Cezanne, Andrew Wyeth, and Jamie Wyeth as well a couple of things painted by friends that I love.  Sprinkled about here and there are Bible verses I find inspiring and other bits that I enjoy seeing.  

Behind the door, there is space enough for a vintage cubby hole cabinet.  The little shelves are just the perfect size for storing my favorite fat quarters of fabric!  These are mostly batik and some Japanese Taupe fabrics that I've gathered over the years.  (I'm not showing you the 8 drawers of additional fabric I have stored in the closet! ). Above the shelf I have hooks to hang the rings of pearl cotton embroidery threads and also the ribbon trims I use.  There are also a two items here done by my Mom; a crewel work embroidery she did in the late 1960's and the plaque with my name that she painted for me when I was a little girl.  It used to grace the front of my toy shelf and I had a little painted table to match, now long gone.  The bunny print is by Tasha Tudor, one of my favorite illustrators.  

So, that is my newly re-furbished studio/office space!  I love how open and light it feels, and I find myself spending most of the day in here working on projects!   


Thread Organizing - From Tangled to Orderly

The latest episode is up on my YouTube Channel!  I'm getting ready for a new year filled with beautiful stitching!