Embarking on a journey

Next week I’ll be embarking on an exploratory mission trip to the island of Roatan, Honduras with a group of families from our church. It amazes me how quickly the time has approached and I feel completely unprepared in every way – but I am so excited. To kick the trip off, we’ll be traveling through the Austin Airport and I’m very giddy to see both of Stephanie and my quilts on display! If you’re new to the blog, Stephanie and I both were selected to display quilts at the Austin Bergstrom International airport. You can check out the link to mine here —-> American Outlaw Willie Nelson Quilt and Stephanie’s quilt here —–> Laundry Day Mini Quilt. It will be nice to show some of my non-quilty friends what the modern quilting fuss is all about and hopefully press a few non-sewers to the dark side.  Aside from traveling through the airport,  I have little idea what’s in store for us on this special journey.

The few things I do know is that we’ll be visiting the locals and experiencing life through their eyes.  Now don’t get me wrong, Roatan is known for it’s world class diving and beautiful beaches (and that definitely doesn’t suck) but my heart is more drawn to the locals and those who are on the “have-not” side of the spectrum. There is a huge gap between the tourists and locals and the goal for our trip is to explore ways that we can help empower some impoverished communities to become more economically independent.

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One big part of the trip is bringing supplies to a local orphanage where my good friend Gina Wargo and her family have been visiting for a number of years. Another part of the trip is to visit a local school that our other friends have built, to bring school supplies and assist in any way needed.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to meeting the artisans who created these bags. There is a community of women who take plastic garbage bags, cut them into strips, and weave them into beautiful beach bags for sale to the tourists. The men hand carve the crochet hooks and buttons out of wood for these bags (side-note: if you’re into knitting or crochet hooks I hear the women like the hand made wood ones because they are a lot softer on their hands then the store bought metal ones. I might see if I can buy those as well as some hand carved buttons along with a few beach bags. Let me know if you are interested as well! ).

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Seriously….plastic garbage bags?!?! How incredibly resourceful.

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Stephanie and I often joke that we are the same person. We have so much in common it’s freaky and our desire to help others is no different. You may know Stephanie as an awesome quilter but I also have the pleasure of knowing Stephanie as my personal psychologist. Yep, that’s right…..Dr Palmer is in the house! Before raising a small soccer team she worked as a professor of psychology and in the pediatrics oncology department at a major hospital.

I don’t think my half mission trip/half vacation can even come close to the work she has done helping families in their darkest hours and I’m truly honored to call her my bestie and sewing soul mate.

We’ve all heard the term “makers gonna make” and I believe it to be true. It’s just what us crafters do – we create. But we do so much more than create beautiful things. We create beautiful moments and share our love through creating and giving our treasures away. Whether it’s a quilt we’ve made for charity, time we spent with sick ones in the hospital, making a meal for your neighbor who just had twins or even showing support by purchasing an item from fair trade….never underestimate the power of giving and helping others. It starts with one small ripple and can spread worldwide.

I hope you’ve gotten to know us a little better and we’ve been able to show you our hearts. I am so excited to document this trip and share it with you the first week of May. Stephanie has so many insights into parenting with her psychology background she’s equally excited to share more of those juicy nuggets of wisdom as well. Please take a moment to subscribe and we look forward to getting to know you as well through your comments and emails!

Michelle

DIY Drop-In Sewing Table Hack- Yes, you can!

Welcome to another week of Tips and Tutorials Tuesdays!

If you have an idea or tutorial of your own to link up, scroll to the bottom and click to add yours.

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I found this table at a flee market and I just loved how quirky it was. Its crooked legs, banged up and dented top, with paint splatters and cracks from the screws. I think that’s why I was so drawn to it –  it has a workshop feel. I could do anything with/to this table and I wouldn’t feel like I ruined it. I’ve been using it as my sewing table for about a year now (since we’ve moved into the new house) and I really needed to improve it to do bigger quilts on my Bernina 380 domestic machine like I want to. Even the baby quilts I’ve done get caught up under the ledge of the sewing machine table. It was time…..

The table had to get hacked

Buwahahaha! (<—- mad scientist laugh)

Here’s how I did it: but I must warn you – I am not a wood worker. I only recently picked up the power tools and put on the safety goggles, so bear with me. I will tell you this though – If I can do it with the little help of my 3.5 year old daughter ….anyone can do it! I hope this inspires you to look at power tools a different way. Like Rosie the Riveter would say, “We can do it!”

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Supplies:

  • sewing table (preferably not an antique heirloom piece)
  • sewing machine or the measurements of the base of the machine
  • marking pen
  • jigsaw and blade. I used an all purpose semi fine blade
  • sander and 50 or 80 grit sandpaper – or just sand paper as you can easily do this part by hand
  • drill and drill bit
  • wood screws – the length I used was 3 inches but this is unique to each job
  • wood glue
  • a 2″ x 4″ piece of wood that is the length of your machine plus 6 inches or more. This will be the base that your machine sits on.

Step 1: Know what you’re working with. Check underneath the table and see what obstacles you might face. You may need to adjust your sewing machine placement accordingly.

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Step 2: Mark your shape. Remove your machine’s sewing table if you have one and with your marking pen trace 1/4″  around the base of your machine.

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Step 3: Cutting. Drill a hole into the table using your drill and drill bit – the largest drill bit in your tool box should do the trick. Make sure the hole is big enough for the blade of your jigsaw to fit through.

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Step 4: Check the size of your cut. Make sure your machine fits through the opening with enough room for cords that might need to be plugged into the sides. I left an extra inch of room.

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Step 5: Sand your edges. You can do this part by hand if you don’t have access to a hand sander. Sand until there are no sharp edges.

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Step 6: Assess the bottom. First go to your machine and measure the depth from the sewing surface to the bottom of the machine. If you have a sewing table that came with your machine  measure from the bottom of the sewing table to the bottom of the machine. This is the depth that you will want to drop your machine into your opening. Cut wood to give you this depth. Example: my depth was 3 inches. The table top itself as 1 inch thick so I needed to add on 2 inches to the bottom of the table to give me the depth I needed.

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Step 7: Glue and screw. Stack your wood pieces and secure with glue in between each layer. Ideally it would be just one piece of wood the size you need but in this case I’m working with what I have on hand. I wouldn’t suggest stacking more then 2 pieces of wood. Stack and glue your base 2×4 across this gap and secure with wood screws. Make sure the screws are long enough to go through each layer of wood without going through the top layer. I used 3 inch wood screws.

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Step 8: Check the fitting. Make sure the machine sits inside the opening and that sewing surface is at the desired height.

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Step 9: Revel in your masterpiece!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Tip and Tutorials Tuesday’s and will give this DIY sewing table a try! Be sure to check out these other great tips and tutorials by clicking on the images below:

See you soon and until then, happy sewing ya’ll!



Tips and tutorials

Welcome to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday!

Guess what…

Did you know that your 6.5″ by 24.5″ ruler is a great tool for smoothing and pressing your fabric when basting quilt layers?

I’m a spray baste kind of girl.  I love how quick and easy it is.  I make a quilt sandwich and then peel back the top layer, spray the batting with adhesive, and gently press the ruler evenly on the fabric sandwich. Works like a charm.

Spray Baste 1

This smooths it over, keeping the tension somewhat tight on the top layer to avoid wrinkles, but not so tight as to stretch the fabric.

Spray baste 2

 

PSA of the week: Do not rotary cut with your long hair down! As you can see I learned this the hard way.

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Well, that’s all I have today. Be sure to check out other great tips, tricks and tutorials on the links below and visit again soon!



Finish it Up Friday – American Outlaw: Willie Nelson

My husband loves Willie Nelson. Since we moved to Austin a few years ago, he’s grown even more fond of the country legend.

Willie is kind of a big deal here in his hometown, with a street named after him, statues around town and his famous July 4th picnic and music festival. You cannot have Willie without thinking of Austin and you certainly can’t think of Austin (famous for its live music and outlaw country) without thinking of Willie.

So when Dan asked me if I’d like to head to the Austin Rodeo and see Willie Nelson and his family perform afterwards, it was a no-brainer. Aside from quilting and teaching pole fitness, I also really enjoy live music and anything with horses.

While we were at the rodeo I got an email from the Austin Modern Quilt Guild that they would be taking submissions for a display at the Austin airport.

Hmmm, maybe I can quilt Willie and combine a few of my favorite things? And so the idea was born.

Willie on sewing machine

It wasn’t without difficulty though. It seemed like everything went wrong on this quilt. My sewing machine mysteriously started acting up, and I ended up breaking and entering Stephanie’s house to borrow her spare machine while she was at the hospital with her daughter Sophie (she broke her arm but is doing great now).

I kept a local quilt store open late because I ran out of the perfect shade of Aurifil thread right at closing time the night that the quilt pictures were due.

aurifil for Willie

Aurifil 50 wt 2460 and 2410

 

It was a race to finish before the sun went down to allow for good pictures. All in all, it was the must difficult quilt I’ve made, but it was well worth it.

Willie

There were some amazing quilts that were submitted to our guild for the exhibit, and I feel truly honored that my quilt was selected to be in the art display at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport.

Willie up close

One of the best parts is that Stephanie’s Laundry Day mini quilt she wrote about last Friday was also selected! It made for a very exciting week for us.

I’m linking up to Finish it up Friday so be sure to check out these other awesome quilts and the stories behind them. Thank you for reading and until next time!

Happy sewing ya’ll!

Tips and Tutorials Tuesday – My Quilt Labels

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Welcome to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday! I hope you’ll link up your own tutorials at the bottom of this post, and spend some time perusing the great ideas the bloggers in our community have this week (see below for their links)!

Today I thought I’d share with you a quick tutorial for my method for making my quilt labels.

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I love looking at the backs of other people’s quilts so I can see their labels.  They’re so personal and unique, and they say so much about the person who made them.  It feels so sneaky. Like peeking into someone’s purse… (not that I ever do that).

Do they like to neatly print theirs on a computer (OCD)? Are they quickly patched (ADHD) or painstakingly pieced and carefully embellished (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)?  Do they scribble a few lines directly onto the quilt back (Psychotic)? Do they leave a detailed note for the intended recipient, chronicling their desire to please them with the quilt (Attachment Disorder)? Or maybe they forget to make a label altogether (Dementia)…

I could go on and on with the possibilities.

It’s like a personality test!  Hey– maybe I can start analyzing people based their quilt labels! It could be something between a psychic reading and a psychological evaluation.

Anyway, to get to the point of this post….my design was influenced by quilt labels made by Eric Wolfmeyer and Amy Sinibaldi.  After being inspired by their labels, I came up with my own twist on a label that feels handcrafted, vintage, and a part of me.

Here’s my method:

1) I started with these paper gift tags I bought at Michaels.  You may have some like them hidden away in your craft room.  They are approximately 6″ x 4″.  I grabbed some extra pieces of quilter’s linen I had set aside from an earlier project (I think this one is by RJR fabrics), and I traced around the paper tag, leaving 1/2″ extra room for the seam allowance.

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2) I trim on the line I’ve drawn.
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3) Then I use the paper tag to help me fold over the seam allowance. I fold over somewhere between 1/4″ to 1/2″ and press with the iron — fold over whatever amount you like. No one will see it! Then I pull out the paper tag.
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4) Then I top-stitch approximately 1/8″ away from the edge of  the label, around all 4 sides.

2015-01-24 17.42.54-15) I then rough cut a piece of freezer paper (*affiliate link :) ) If you don’t have any freezer paper in your sewing room, I highly recommend it!  It’s got many wonderful uses.  Iron the freezer paper to the back-side of your label (shiny side of the freezer paper to the wrong side of the fabric). This stabilizes the fabric so you can write on it a little more easily with your pen of choice.

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6) At this point, you are free to decorate your little label in any way that you like!  I bought these cute little handmade buttons from Etsy that have my blog name on them. They were totally an unnecessary purchases, but ohhhhh, do they make me happy. I also like to embroider a little decorative stitch around the edges, using my rule of thumb for helping me maintain somewhat even stitches (I have no idea why this continues to be a challenge for me. I must be missing a particular neural connection in my brain for distance between hand-stitches)

A note about pens.  I usually use a Micron pen, like many of you probably do.  One time recently, after I wrote on my label with my Micron, I decided it looked a little wrinkly, so I hit it with some Best Press starch and pressed it.  And holy *&^%!  Look what happened! I snapped this sad picture to send to my quilting confidant, Kitty, from Night Quilter. She said she always uses fabric markers these days for this very reason.  Good to know. I have a pack of Tulip brand fine tip permanent fabric markers that I’ve used with good results on other project; I’ll have to dig those out for my next labels.  I suspect that if I had adequately let the Micron writing dry and heat-set it with a dry iron before wetting it, it would not have run.  But I’ll test that theory later and let you know.

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7) I know, my hand-writing is messy.  But I’m ok with that.  I want my kids to know my messy handwriting someday.  Maybe they’ll love it.  I hope they love it.

 

Up close Quilt Label

8) Finally, peel off the freezer paper, save it for later to use the same one again, and attach the label with a blind applique stitch.  I don’t have pics of that one tonight, but ooooooo, I think I feel another tutorial coming!  Good thing I committed to doing this Tip and Tutorial thing once a week.

I look forward to seeing your links!



Sunday Stash – Violette, Amy Butler

Let me tell you a little bit about my favorite quilt store….

Now, just like any other proper fabric addict, I’ve been to my share of quilting stores. But Valli and Kim’s has me by a stronghold. I am in absolute heaven every time I step through those magical doors. Stephanie and I are thrilled that the store, run by a sweet husband and wife team in a rustic, tiny Texas town, chose to sponsor our blog.

Amy, Tula, Carolyn, Anna Marie, Bonnie and Camille – All my favorite designers in one place? Surely I must be dreaming. (quickly followed by the thought – crap…this is dangerous!)

I simply cannot walk in there without 3-4 yards of fabric I did not plan on getting. This past Sunday was no different. I went in for 4 solids and left with 4 solids + these Amy Butler gems. I mean C’mon….they were literally glowing and calling my name. They really needed to come home with me. Right. That. Second.

Amy Butler stash 1

Amy Butler, Violette

 

My favorite part? Meeting another longarmer in the area named Laura. She had a pint sized princess with her and my little girl Danielle, couldn’t help but want to make friends with her little girl. Since Danielle was such a good girl letting Mommy browse through each magical isle (as if I’ve never been there and walked that same isle hundreds of times before) she earned herself a little treat.

Valli and Kim’s is right next door to a place called Crepe Crazy.  So it was only fitting to head there and enjoy a Nutella and ice cream crepe afterwards. Laura and her little one had the same idea so we sat together and let the girls be girls. All in all – it was a perfect day. New fabric, new friends and ice cream – it doesn’t get any better than that.

 

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Amy butler:  Spring Beauty (Cherry Blossom Trees), Garden Fete (Mostly green florals), Tea Rose (mostly pink), Lark (bright green circles).

 

 

Amy Butler stash 2

Until next time – Happy sewing Ya’ll!

Linking up to Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash

 

 

A Friday Finish: Laundry Day Mini Quilt

Thanks for all the kind wishes for my daughter’s recovery from her arm-break and surgery.  It’s been a long week, but each day is better than the last.

While we were in the hospital this past week, while Sophie slept, I did a little hand-work to finish up appliqueing and embroidering the mini quilt I’ve been working on.  I had finished most of it before the big emergency; I asked my husband to pack it up and bring it to me at the hospital.

Here is the quilted piece that serves as the background for the quilt. I finished quilting it on the longarm last week (I posted it on Instagram because I liked it so much, I almost left it like it was without adding any embellishments).

Swirly wind with watermark

 

I used a quilting design made famous by Angela Walters from her Shape by Shape quilting book.  My friend Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl used the same beautiful design a couple of weeks ago too in her Out of the Woods quilt. There’s no better way to quilt a windy scene.

Meanwhile, before the big injury, my daughter and I had been having fun practicing origami, with little squares of paper over the past few weeks. She folded all of these paper dresses by herself.  I wondered if I could accomplish the same look, but with some of my favorite fabrics.

paper dresses

I gave it a try, using some of my favorite Cotton & Steel prints in beachy, dreamy colors. And I love the results! It finishes at 20.5″ x 17″.

laundry day on grass with watermark

I am having fun imagining all the possibilities for future projects.  If anyone is interested, I could post a tutorial for the method in the next couple of weeks.

Here’s a closer picture, where you can see the dresses a little more clearly.  I also used the rope stitch to embroider the laundry line using Aurifil’s Aurifloss in Natural White (2021), and I made the little bird with Aurifloss black (2692), and a tiny turquoise beak (2810).

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The Austin Modern Quilt Guild was invited to exhibit a selection of quilts at our local airport where they have an awesome Fiber Arts display.  I submitted this mini quilt for consideration.  The guild will vote on entries this week. We’ll see – there are so many beautiful entries! Wait til you see Michelle’s entry – it is so cool.  She knocked it out of the park. We’ll post it next Friday.

Happy weekend, everyone.  I’m linking up with My Quilt InfatuationConfessions of a Fabric Addict, Fort Worth Fabric Studio, Link A Finish Friday, Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, and Show off Saturday.

 

Tips and Tutorials Tuesday: My Rule of Thumb

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It was a wild weekend here.

My 7 year old daughter fell from the monkey bars on Saturday and broke her arm. To get her out to the ambulance, we had to carry her 50 yards, through one of those winding, 5 story indoor-play mazes, on our knees, while being hit in the head with swinging foam obstacles. It was brutal, to say the least.

But we’re home today; she’s recovering from surgery, and we’re trying to get our lives back to normal.

A part of getting back to normal means putting up a blog post for Tips and Tutorials Tuesday!  It’s amazing how good normal feels.

For this week’s tip, I want to share with you the simple method I use to place my applique, binding and embroidery stitches exactly where I want them.

For the longest time, I had difficulty determining where to place my stitches as I sewed on a binding or around a piece of embroidery. I often want them to be exactly 1/4″ or 1/8″ apart, for a consistent look to my hand work. But I’d fail over and over, which left my embroidery looking as though it was stitched by my 4 year old (no offense to my 4 year old.)

Then I started using this simple little method:
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I just measure and draw a few marks on my thumb that correspond to the distance I want between my stitches. The ones above are drawn 1/4″ apart, perfect for the running stitch I embroidered around my quilt label.2015-03-19 17.15.58

Do you have a tip or tutorial to share this week?  If you do, please link up below and show us what you’ve got!

 



Tips and Tutorials Tuesday

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Thanks to everyone who entered the Blue Line Eraser Giveaway last week.  If you plan to use the 20% off coupon, today is the last day to do that (enter “LateNight” at checkout).

The winner of the giveaway for the $25 All In Blue Line Eraser package is… Laura at Merry Organic.  Laura – I’ll send you an email to let you know.

We had such wonderful tips and tutorials last week.  Thank you all again for linking up.

I want to highlight a couple of my favorite links from last week.  So if you didn’t have a chance to look at them yet, pin them, bookmark them, put them under your pillow for later.

Did you see Karin’s post about her Flowering Snowball mini quilt?  She made a downloadable template for you and everything!

mini snowball leigh laurel studios

And how about Kitty’s post about how to organize your embroidery floss? It’s a really helpful tutorial; and as usual, her pictures are fantastic.

kittys embroidery floss

I think both these ladies deserve a little prize for their efforts, don’t you?

Hope you have some more tips and tutorials to link up today.  Keep ‘em coming!
Signature Both

 

Friday Finish – Mikey likes it

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By: Michelle Alderman

This week’s finish is a simple, 40″ x 40″ star block quilt made out of Cloud 9 Organic cotton fabric from the Lotus Pond line.  I used this free pattern for the Big Star Baby Quilt from Fave Quilts

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I quilted it on my Bernina with some fun swirls. I wanted to keep it soft, so I did a minimal amount of quilting in the star and the borders. I loved the way the quilting played across the vertical stripes of fabric on the back.

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I just adore this fabric. Whimsical but still somewhat masculine; the perfect choice for Baby Mikey, my friend Brianne’s baby who was born a few weeks ago.  I joked with Stephanie that I just can’t get myself to use white on a baby quilt because I hope it will be drooled on, dragged around, and used often.  So a gray seems like the perfect choice to me.

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I have to take a minute to say that Brianne is one hell of a mom. Four kids and (probably) counting. There is no way I could do what she does (or Stephanie for that matter) and stay somewhat sane. My hat’s off to them. I’m just happy to have so many babies to quilt for. It feeds my addiction soul.

Happy sewing ya’ll!

P.S. – Have you heard…  creativebug has temporarily dropped their price to $5 a month for unlimited access to a million beautifully filmed, unique classes, and Craftsy is having a special on up to 50% off it’s classes, with a money-back guarantee.

Stephanie is a video tutorial addict, and I know she loves watching every kind of crafting video under the sun during her quiet moments with a cup of coffee before the kids are awake.

If you haven’t tried either video tutorial site yet, this is definitely the weekend to do it! These sales won’t last long.

Also, if you missed Stephanie’s in depth review of her favorite new quilting tool, Blue Line Eraser, we hope you’ll check it out.  We love supporting great new businesses that make our quilting lives better, so we’re thrilled that they provided a coupon for our readers to try their product at 20% off til Tuesday of next week (coupon code “LateNight”).

*The Craftsy and Creativebug links in this post are affiliate links.  If you’re thinking of trying either, we greatly appreciate you using our links.  If you do, we receive a small commission, and there is no price increase at all for you.  Thanks for helping us support our blog!