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Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

Whew! “Thing” number nineteen was, by far, the longest and messiest project I’ve taken on during this challenge. Following Tatertots and Jello blog’s burlap wreath tutorial, I cut out hundreds of burlap and fabric circles and glued them to a wreath form. I’ve never worked with burlap before, but I quickly learned it frays easily and creates quite a lot of dust. I have burlap particles from one end of my condo to the other. Hehe. For the fabric, I used leftovers from my not-yet-finished quilt. I also got to use hemp leftover from my days making hemp necklaces as well as some mini clothespins I purchased back in elementary school. Seriously. I’ve kept them that long. Yay for projects that use stuff I already have (though I did need to purchase new brads and some pretty Martha Stewart twill-tape ribbon.)

Wow. A rare moment of decent photo-taking from my camera there. Nice. I love the versatility of this wreath. Practically any color theme would work well for the fabric circles, and the lettering can be changed anytime. I originally used “JOY,” but with so many reds and greens in the fabric, it looked Christmasy. The burlap can be frayed a whole lot more, too, for a more rustic look.

I’m realizing as a comb through creative blogs each day (go, go Google Reader!) that I have very distinct interests. I go ga-ga for flowers, buttons, and wreaths. (You’ll be seeing a yarn wreath before the Thing A Day Challenge is over.) It’s something to ponder as I continually refine my own artistic style. I’d like to someday home in on a line of handmade stuff, but what will it look like? Exciting times ahead. Until then, I leave you with adorable Pepper, who quite enjoyed sitting inside the wreath form—that is until the hot-glue gun came out and I had to put an end to her fun.

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For my first “thing,” I knew exactly what I wanted to tackle.  It’s been written on my to-do list for almost four months: “Complete Paul’s anniversary gift.”  You see, when our first anniversary came around on November 8, 2009, we decided to celebrate by taking a week-long vacation.  We agreed to exchange gifts at some point upon our return, given that they were under $15 (we blew everything else on the vacation!) and went along with the first-anniversary theme of “paper.”  Well, of course, life happened, and we never did end up exchanging gifts!

Over the past few months, I’d gathered the supplies to create a message in a bottle.  So tonight, I wrote out a love letter—in cursive, no less—in brown, archival ink on handmade paper I found at a stationary store called Pleasant Thoughts. Then, I filled an unusually shaped cork-stopped bottle (from The Container Store) with some sand-colored pebbles originally meant for one of those elementary school California Mission projects (from Michael’s).  Hehehe, well, I figured real sand would be way too messy!  For a romantic touch, I tied on a charm with an embossed key and the word “love” with some pretty red ribbon (also Michael’s).  It’s a fairly sentimental gift for Paul, but that’s what I was going for, since his wedding gift (an iPhone) was decidedly unsentimental.  I presented the message in a bottle to him this evening, and he loved it!  Now, where’s my anniversary gift?  ;o)

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My only previous sewing experience was making garters for my junior prom and senior ball dates.  So, when my in laws announced they would be hosting a quilting class this weekend, I wasn’t sure I’d be up for it.  After all, quilts are big and beautiful and must require some level of skill on a sewing machine.  But, I knew my mom and sister Erin would love to go with me, as they had recently begun their first quilting projects, and learning a totally new craft is usually a lot of fun.  So, I went for it.

A couple weeks before the class, Mom, Erin, and I hit up In Between Stitches in Livermore.  Knowing nothing about fabric, I relied on my painting/graphic design experience to select coordinating colors and patterns.  I was pretty happy with what I picked out—some paisleys and dots in muted reds, greens, and browns.  I wasn’t happy about the price, however—a whopping $113!!!  (I found out later that I purchased the “Lamborghini” of fabric, and too much of it, to boot.  But, apparently, my quilt will hold up well for years and years, so I guess that’s cool.)

Powered by Hot Tamales and chocolate-chip cookies, and listening to ’80s tunes, the eight of us got to work cutting our quilt squares for the basic “Take Five” pattern (uses five fabrics, takes five hours).  The rotary cutters and rulers were pretty easy to use, though I did start making mistakes and wasting fabric as my hands got tired.  We cut a total of 25 large squares, 25 rectangles, and 75 small squares.  By the time I finished cutting fabric, the five hours had already passed.  Hehehe.

We pieced the squares together by assigning each fabric pattern a number, and then rotating everything clockwise one position with each block.  I assembled all of my block arrangements into stacks ahead of any sewing, so that I could keep track of it all—too much math to keep in my head!  Erin and I made sure to take notes, too, just in case we had to redo anything.

Before sewing, Erin explained to me how to create a bobbin on her brand-new Singer, which gave me mush brain from information overload.  Thankfully, I never needed to replace the bobbin she set up, and the sewing itself was surprisingly easy.  After the first couple stitches, I was on a roll—sew, cut, iron, sew, cut, iron…  As the day went on, people started leaving for other commitments, but Mom and I stayed until 5:00, long enough for her to complete ALL of her blocks (wow) and for me to complete 10 (of 25).  We grabbed some Thai food for dinner, then went to her house, so I could complete my blocks.  My last block arrangement included a large square of striped fabric, and I decided at the last minute to make those stripes vertical, to contrast with the horizontal stripes of the rectangles and small squares.

So, after 10 hours (take that, Take Five), I have a stack of 25 quilt blocks!  Yay!  I’m far from done—I need to sew them together, bind it all, and have it quilted—but I’m really liking how it is turning out.  And, although it took a lot of time, it wasn’t terribly difficult.  I’m already looking forward to trying a more challenging pattern at the next class!

I’ll be sure to post a follow-up pic when the quilt is totally finished.  Stay tuned.

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