Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

It’s taken some time but finally in the final stages of completing this quilt.  In fact I’m sewing the last of the binding as I’m typing this.  I will admit this quilt was fun to make and a bit of a puzzle challenge. Every piece use to be skirts or dress’s.  A lady had given me some of her mother’s clothing she had precut into squares and asked me to make her something of a keepsake from it without losing fabric.  I tried my best to use the various size squares to form something I hoped would do justice, I think overall it turned out pretty well.  As you can see, it passed the kitty test, Smoke is notorious for having to be the first one to test any quilt or blanket I make, in fact the spoiled cat has a quilt of his own.

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Looks like something from a crime scene doesn’t it? Trust me it isn’t.  One of my white shirts had a very bad stain on it, as it no longer fit me but the material was still good I figured I would dye it to use the cloth to make another project.  As I was canning beets at the time and had plenty of left over beet parts and juice remaining I figured it would be as good a dye as any for the occasion.

There are so many items nature provides us with to dye cloth, yarn and wool into amazing colors.  With very little work, one can gain wonderful results, though granted they are not as broad ranging as synthetic dyes.

To use natures dyes for dying your cloth or yarn you will need to take a few steps to assure the colors stay.  Salt and Vinegar are your best friends for this.  For berries you will need 1/2 cup of salt per 8 cups of water….for plants its 4 parts of water to 1 part of vinegar.  Add fabric to these fixatives and simmer for an hour. Rinse materials and squeeze out excess water.  The fabric then is ready for the dye process.  Place the wet fabric in your dye bath and simmer until you get the desired color you wish.  The color of the fabric will naturally be lighter once it’s dry.

Shades of Orange: Alder Bark, Sassafras leaves, Onion skin, Carrots, Lilac (twigs), Giant Coreopsis, Tumeric, Pomagrante, Butternut (Seeds).

Shades of Brown: Oak Bark, Sumac (leaves), Dandelion (roots), Walnut (hulls), Tea bags, White birch (inner bark), Juniper berries, Fennel (leaves and flowers), Coffee grinds, Acorns (boiled), Hollyhock (petals), Colorado fir (bark), Pine Tree (Bark), White Maple (bark), Birch (bark), Coneflower (flowers), Goldenrod (shoots).

Shades of Pink:  Strawberries, Cherries, Raspberries, Roses, Lavender, Lichens.

Shades of Blue:  Dogwood (bark), Red cabbage, Mulberries, Elderberries, Grapes, Blueberries, Cornflower (petals), Cherry (roots), Blackberry (fruits), Hyacinth (flowers), Red Cedar (roots), raspberries, Red Maple Tree (inner bark), Dogwood (fruit), Sweetgum (bark), Queen Anne’s Lace, Purple Iris.

Shades of Red:  Elderberries, Sumac (Fruit), Sycamore (bark), Dandelion (roots), Beets, Bamboo, Crab Apple (bark), Rose (hips), Chokecherries, Hibiscus flowers (dried), Canadian Hemlock (bark), Japanese yew (heartwood), Wild Ripe Blackberries.

Shades of Grey-Black:  Iris (roots), Sumac (leaves), Sawthorn Oak (seed cups), Walnut (hull).

Shades of Red-Purple:  Daylilies (old blooms), Safflower (flowers, soaked in alcohol), Huckleberry, Basil.

Shades of Green:  Artichokes, Spinach, Sorrel (roots), Foxglove (flowers), Lilac (flowers), Snapdragon (flowers), Black-eyed Susan’s, Grass, Red Pine (needles), Lily-of-the-valley, red onion (skin), Yarrow (flowers), Peach (leaves), Peppermint (leaves), Hydrangea (flowers), Chamomile (leaves).

Shades of Peach/Salmon:  Virginia Creeper (all parts), Plum Tree (roots), Weeping Willow (wood and bark).

Shades of Yellow:  Bay leaves, barberry (bark), Crocus, Safflower (flowers), Sassafras (bark), Red clover (blossoms, leaves, stem), Yellow Corn Flower, Onion (skins), Alfalfa (seeds), Marigold (blossoms), Willow (leaves), Celery (leaves), Golden Rod (Flowers), Dandelion (flowers), Daffodil (flowers), Hickory (leaves), Paprika, Peach (leaves), Tumeric (Spice), Sunflowers (flower), Tansy (tops),

Enjoy the colors of fall leaves? Any of the fall leaves will yield a color similar to their fall colors.

I know we all are accustom to the colors we see in stores, but sometimes it is pleasant to step outside the synthetic color wheel and enjoy what is right outside our doors.

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“Harvest Welcome” Quilt.

After the long, incredibly hot and dry summer we had, I am more then ready for fall.  This quilt has quite the tale to it. It’s ventured with me to evacuation shelters, animal shelters, fire station, it’s traveled a lot of miles.  Being it was a “travel with me” quilt in making, I opted to hand sew it completely from start to finish, this probably was a wise choice…each of those little stitches offered a form of calm and relief from the stress of the moments. It seemed the more stressed situations became, the faster I sewed.

I still have border yet to stitch around the outside and some decorative stitching to piece it all together…but I think it turned out pretty nice all considered.

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September is Childhood Cancer Month, and Conkerr Cancer is hosting “Miles for Pillowcase Smiles”.  Their goal is to stitch 44,000+ pillowcases, this is one for each child who is battling cancer.  To help them with this goal, the children and I have been cutting out and sewing up pillow cases for the cause.

To make pillow cases to help them out, or just for your own personal family use, you will need:

3/4 yard fabric for pillowcase

1/4 yard fabric for trim on pillowcase

Cut the body of the pillowcase to 26 1/2″ by 40 1/2″ .

Cut the border to 10 1/2″ by 40 1/2″.

Fold border in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.

Place right side of border to right side of pillowcase fabric and stitch together using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Place right sides of pillowcase together and stitch down side and along bottom.  Turn to right side and press.

Finish seams to avoid fraying.

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A Fish Tale.

These are the ones that didn’t get away. These two fish are body pillows about 3 ft long.  There is one more set of them exactly like these yet to be done for lesser prizes for a local kids fishing tournament and a couple smaller fish sewing crafts yet to finish.  With the hot weather keeping me from being able to enjoy the shore line this summer, at least I’m getting to enjoy the catch, even if it is stuffed.

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A Box Of Many Colors.

This was not my intended post for the day but I just couldn’t resist showing of something of such beauty, well beauty to me anyway.

I stopped at the local Goodwill today in my current hunt for more Pyrex and vintage baking dishes for my kitchen. While there I also had planned to see if they had a flat sheet I could use to finish a quilt back, I didn’t find the sheet, but I did find something to me far better.  Tucked under the rack was a box, and in the box was thousands of squares of flannel material already cut and ready to be patched together into quilts. There is enough material in this box to make scores of baby quilts. I snatched it right then and there.  A little ways down I spotted another box, and peering inside I seen it was filled to brim with yards of uncut fabric of some of the same materials these squares were cut out of.  Yep, I snatched that one too.  Neither box had a price listed on them, and honestly I expected to pay far more then I budget for such trips.  I was honestly shocked and thrilled when the lady stated me the price of $6.00 for the whole lot.

I sorted out the various designs to give you an idea of how many beautifully amazing fabrics were in those boxes.  This is not near how many squares and yards I scored but it is sampling and my table can only hold so many. I was already standing on the counter to get this shot.  Pretty sure my children think their mother is more nuts then they thought I was before for that.

Part of me wonders why the hands that took the time to so diligently cut all the pieces never put them together into the final project, but now my hands will see they are pieced together and placed into other hands that will appreciate them.

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It’s Barefoot Day!!

June 1st is officially or non officially, Barefoot day!  I love this day, I think going barefoot should be mandatory honestly.  In my world it is the preferred foot attire and as soon as I can kick off the shoes I do.  When schools out and summer begins, the shoes go in boxes and are only drug out when we need to run somewhere. Oh sure, it’s not without its risks, like stepping on sandburs or prickly gum balls.  Planting your foot on a fire ant bed is never pleasurable, but the connection with the earth below, grass blades, warm sun beams and gentle winds caressing toes make it so worth the rare discomforts.

So? what is one to do on barefoot day? Why, create a mount of mud in your yard with garden hose, gather the children and splash, stomp and wiggle your toes in the cool, squishy substance to your hearts content. Then of course you will need to get a pedicure, or in this case have your 4 year old daughter paint your nails with bright orange and sparkles.

Once the full heat of the sun kicks in (which is over 100 currently down here), it’s inside for some more fancy “foot” work.  We made foam sandals and “Barefoot Day” journals where the children could record all their adventures and thoughts, or in my daughters case draw lots of pictures for Mr. Sun to see.

The journal’s were a lot of fun for the kids, and something they can look back on during the colder days of winter and remember romping barefoot in the yard.  To make them I had my children trace the outline of each others feet.  Then using construction paper (for filling) and foam pieces (for cover and back), cut out the shapes they drew.  Then we put them together into a “sandwich”, punched a hole in the heel and tied it together.  They then got to choose some summery stick on foam shapes to decorate their project.

We then made some “flip flops”, this truly was the simplest project that requires only pre-cut foam circles, stickers, scissors and a little glue.  Once more using the foam foot cut out as the base (without the toes this time), you cut a circle in half, this will make the top of the sandal.  Snip a slit in both sides of the sandal about 1/4 way down from toes.  Side the edges of your semi circle into these slits and push down until they sit suitable to the top of the child’s foot. Glue in place and when dried, cut off any remaining foam from bottom of the sandal.  Now it’s time to let the children loose with stickers, bows, markers, beads or whatever you will to decorate them.

These are amazingly sturdy sandals and work well at the pool during summer.

I’m not sure how we will finish off Barefoot Day, but it sure has been off to a fun start.  Oh, and don’t you just love my daughters nail job? I think she got more on her feet then she did on her nails.  But it was all fun.


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With my son’s prompting I have decided to begin a new section to this blog. For a couple of years now we have celebrated various “bizarre and unusual” holidays as well as lesser known monthly events in this family.  It makes things fun for the children, my son’s whole reason for his prompting, as well as is a good educational tool for them and I’ll admit, also for me.

June is “Adopt A Shelter Cat Month”.  Anyone that knows me knows animals are very near and dear to my heart, especially those needing aid.  The two kittens in this picture are not shelter animals, but they would have been shelter bound if I did not take them in from the woods they were found in.  While it would be wonderful if you could find it in your heart to rescue and give a forever home to a shelter cat, I understand this is not always feasible.  Yet, there are other ways you can use your talents to make the stay for shelter cats far more comfortable and less frightening of an experience.

Local shelters often have no bedding or minimal bedding and no toys for the unwanted pets they take in, which often are numerous.  This leaves cats and kittens to sleep on wire cages, or worse, in their own liter pans.  Many welcome donations of bedding and toys for animals who have no one to care for them. Don’t fret if you are not the perfect seamstress, no animal has complained yet about uneven stitches or off kilter seams.   One only need browse the internet to find many sources, but I’ll offer you a few that I have used in past, and/or making presently for our local shelters this month. By the way, did you know that not only do homemade items help shelter animals relax but also have been found to increase their rate of adoption? For a few stitches and bit of fabric I’m more then happy to give them all the fighting chance I can give.

Remember in making the cat toys to add some cat nip to the stuffing to make it more appealing.  Also don’t fret about polyfil,  plastic grocery bags make a nice crinkle sound cats love to play with when used as stuffing material, also a good way to recycle them.

Fish Cat Toy

Catnip Mouse Cat Toy

Fleece & Cotton Cat Quilt

Small Pet Bed

Panda Stuffy

Bunny Stuffy

Teddy Bear

Bunny 2

Bunny 3


Stuffed Mouse

Now, lets get crafting.




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Since my children have been I have never parted with a single article of their clothing. I have found I can use almost every element in another way.  As they have grown so have the options for ways to use them.  One of my favorites is old school shirts and this is the process I use to break them down.

Lay out your shirt on a big surface, be it a table or the floor doesn’t matter.  Take a good look at it and see where and what you can salvage while offering you the largest pieces of material available for other sewing use.

The first thing I remove is the collar, this stretchy band makes a excellent ankle and wrist cuff for winter pajamas.  As it is always a solid color, it can be used for both boys and girls.

Second to go is the thin band that wraps around the base of that collar, this along with the same style band often lining the shirts edges makes for wonderful stitching together and use for making rag rugs once you have a large enough scrap bundle.

I tackle the sleeves as my third step, cutting them right at the seam.  These semi circle pieces can be used to make new sleeves for younger children, sewn into newborn hats (wonderful for charities), as fabric to make slippers and booties (also wonderful for charities or for younger children), liners for winter mittens,  making garden gloves for small children, sewn into a cup shape for dusting, stitched into small bags with drawstring attached for gift giving or party favors, or you can just use the fabric to make smaller quilt pieces or quilted hot pads, placemats, etc.

My next step is usually to remove the main large panel from the neck line.  Begin by cutting up the sides, using care to not cut across the seams, you will be keeping the seams to use in that rag rug making I mentioned earlier.

Now picking a point right under the button holes I cut straight across, I do the same straight across cut in back right under the semi-circle with the size and care information at back of the neck.  This gives me two decent size pieces of scrap fabric.  This can be used for making new clothing for smaller children, doll clothing, quilt squares,  throw pillows, just think outside the box and you can come up with plenty of projects.

This just leaves me with the neck/chest region remaining.  Here is where I actually do throw away a bit of fabric.  I cut panels on either side of the V button holes and throw the button holes away.  I also cut the sections around the label area in the back of neck, throwing away the label section.  I imagine I could go through ripping the seams on the back area to separate the fabric layers, I don’t bother.   This leaves you a couple more small pieces that can be used in your mini quilt/quilts, or for making pockets, doll clothing,  toss-a-cross rice squares, etc.

That’s it,  the final step is a couple large Ziploc baggies to hold your rag scraps, elastics and a rubber maid bin to hold your material scraps.  I have set a goal for myself to use them.  Once the bin is full  I open it and remove the pieces. From this I cut out a quilt pattern and sew it together, each quilt representing another passing of time and growth.  Same with the seam bag, when filled I sew them together end to end and begin working on a rag rug or rag placemats.

There is one more trick I wish to pass along to you.  If you have a shirt you really do not like pattern of, style of material, or that is badly stained and not salvageable for reuse as fabric.  Beginning at bottom, cut 2 to 3 inch strips all the way up to the top of shirt.  You want them to come off as circles, cut the circle to give you a flat strip of fabric, sew these together into a long rope and use that to braid or sew yourself a new rag rug.  The stains, pattern, or material won’t matter.

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This really was a quick dress, it took all of a hour plus a coffee break from start to finish.   My daughter loves to wear dresses, I wanted something simple that she could wear outside.  Finding the fabric on sale for under a dollar a yard, I couldn’t resist and this is the end result.   I think I will whip up a couple more this week to give her a variety to choose from.  When I do that I will try to post the pattern as well.

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