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Flashback Friday: Bag it up

We have been back in Costa Rica for 2 weeks now and our schedule has been getting back to normal.  It’s been almost 3 weeks since our AZ Wedding ceremony and I am way overdue for a post on how the bean bags turned out!

Laying out all the pieces I realized it was basically like sewing a baby size quilt in just a week’s time (a record for me).

Quilted halves ready to be sewn together

Quilted halves ready to be sewn together

As previously mentioned, I tried my hand at free-motion quilting with little success.

FMQ Attempt at swirls

FMQ Attempt at swirls

FMQ attempt at pebbles or a flower or something...

FMQ attempt at pebbles or a flower or something…

So for the rest I reverted to the trusty walking foot.

Simple geometric quilting- what I am most comfortable with

Simple geometric quilting- what I am most comfortable with

After quilting the side pieces were trimmed down to 7.5″square.

Ready to be sewn together

Ready to be sewn together

32 halves for 16 bags total

32 halves for 16 bags total

I managed to finish sewing all the bag together (except for a hole to fill them in AZ) just a few days before we left.  This was done while the husband was in class on Friday night.

Double seams on the inside to keep from splitting

Double seams on the inside to keep from splitting

Turned out and ready to be packed!

Turned out and ready to be packed!

My husband’s Aunt helped fill and his mother sew the bags together as part of our pre-wedding prep. Not having read the proper weight for the bags (8oz), I instructed them to be filled as much as possible.

Tia filling with beans

Tia filling with beans

Mother-in-Law sewing them up outside and enjoying the nice weather

Mother-in-Law sewing them up outside and enjoying the nice weather

The cornhole set itself had been given an initial coat of bargain bin green paint. It was further decorated by Brian, the Marine husband of my friend Tiffany.

Laying out the design

Laying out the design

Hoping it's obvious where the bean bag is supposed to go.

Hoping it’s obvious where the bean bag is supposed to go.

Everyone had  great time!

AZ Wedding

AZ Wedding

Husband's unorthodox throwing technique

Husband’s unorthodox throwing technique

It works

It works

I also made a scrappy bunting cake topper for our delicious Tres Leches wedding cake.

The Colorful Rainbow Explosion of cake and flowers

The Colorful Rainbow Explosion of cake and flowers

Despite my reinforced double seams inside, many bags did not survive the afternoon.

At the end of the day

At the end of the day

Busted overstuffed bags

Busted overstuffed bags

The night before heading back to Costa Rica, I was again sewing the bean bags frantically. This time at their proper weight and again reinforcing the side seams.

Lighter and hopefully more durable

Lighter and hopefully more durable

Hopefully they will last longer at their soon-to-be new home in Tucson with Tiffany and Brian!

Overall the day was a great success and I feel so blessed we were able to celebrate our marriage with our friends and my family in Arizona.

AZ Wedding

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict’s “Can I get a Whoop Whoop” Friday

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In Vino Veritas

The first item on my 2015 “To Do” list was to finish VINO wine cork wall-art project I had started in October.  While I finished this in January, moving and getting settled into our new home has kept me from posting until now.

This started with a collection of wine corks (leftover from the previous tenant of the apartment and added to by Victor and myself).  I estimate there were about 50 wine corks total and this turned out to be nowhere near enough.

Initial wine cork collection

I steamed the wine corks before cutting them, taking out only about 5 at a time to keep them from drying out.  Being nervous cutting a small rolling item, I cut them about 1/4-1/2 inch thick and got 4 to 5 slices from each cork.

Steaming the corks

Steaming the corks

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Utility knife to cut the corks

 

Cork slices

Cork slices

To cut the letters, I used a cardboard box our tetra pak milk comes in. The four even sides worked perfectly to draw and cut out the needed V-I-N-O.

Milk box from PriceSmart aka CostCo

Milk box from PriceSmart aka CostCo

Drawing out the letters

Drawing out the letters

Close-up of letter N

Close-up of letter N

Quilting tools doing double duty

Quilting tools doing double duty

Letters prepped and ready to go

Letters prepped and ready to go

After the letters were cut, it came time to glue.  Wanting something similar to the industrial strength Gorilla Glue in the US, I bought RinoGlue.  In my mind, both Gorillas and Rinos come from the same continent, so they must be similar types of glue. I must also confess I have never actually used Gorilla Glue before, nor the RinoGlue.

1.5 bottles needed for the whole project

1.5 bottles needed for the whole project

The glue went on clear but when it started to dry, I was surprised to find out it expanded and turned a light yellow-white color.  So during the drying process, I had to press down the now puffed up glue and corks to keep them flat on the cardboard letters.

Going on clear

Going on clear

Starting to puff up as it dries

Starting to puff up as it dries

As I mentioned earlier, the initial amount of wine corks was not enough and left the N and part of the O empty.  My in-laws came to the rescue and donated some of their wine cork collection to the cause.

Ran out of corks

Ran out of corks

In the second round of cork cutting and gluing, I may have been a bit heavier handed with the glue (even knowing it would puff up) and you can tell a bit on those letters as more of the glue seeped through the corks.

First set of glued letters

First set of glued letters

Second time gluing. Used a bit too much this time

Second time gluing. Used a bit too much this time

Another lesson learned for future similar projects is to cover the counter or work on a surface that can be messed up.

While the VINO wall-art was finished while still at the apartment, it was in the new house that it was finally hung on the wall diving the dining area from the kitchen.  While Victor feels there is not enough distinction between the wall color and the letters, I personally love how they give a subtle texture to the wall.

Finished while at the apartment

Finished while at the apartment

Check one off the list!

Check one off the list!

First project on the list and of 2015 done, onto the next one!

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Spot On

It has been awhile since I’ve worked on any quilting. Ironic since this blog is supposed to be about quilting.

Yet another project has been completed, this time a crochet baby blanket.  Back in August when I was visiting AZ, I was anxious to have another crochet project. After telling this to my friend Lindsey, she gave me the perfect project.  Her cousin, had a bit of a rough summer and lost her mother to cancer; but not before finding out that she was pregnant.

Since it was still early in her cousin’s pregnancy, we decided on a gender-neutral color palette. I also wanted to purchase the yarn in AZ where yarn is much less expensive.

Cotton Yarn Selection at Joann's

Cotton Yarn Selection at Joann’s

Design inspiration came from here and here; yet you will see that the final product turned out very different.  This again is due to the fact that I tend to get the basic idea and ignore details (like counting stitches or measuring).

Circles in progress

Circles in progress

Improvisation was the name of the game throughout the creation of this blanket.

Deciding on a layout

Deciding on a layout

While it turned out nothing like I expected it to be, I can’t wait to send this baby blanket to his mom. That’s right. Turn’s out she’s having a BOY!!

Finished Blanket

Finished Blanket

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All that remains

All that remains

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Shirt off my back

A few weeks ago I talked about one of the “UFO” projects I was trying to finish before leaving my parent’s house in Arizona.

Sadly I was not able to finish my brother’s t-shirt quilt.  Fortunately it was much easier to pack into my suitcase than a wood subway art sign or headboard.

I have since finished the quilt for my brother that was started almost 10 years ago.

Full-size bed quilt, slightly small for a Queen size bed

Full-size bed quilt, slightly small for a Queen size bed

Finished T-Shirt Quilt

Finished T-Shirt Quilt

Back side of quilt

Back side of quilt

When it came to the actual quilting, I wanted something that was a bit more masculine and modern to balance the sentimental feel of a t-shirt quilt.

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IMG_1608I decided to do a tight zig-zag stitch along the sections where the different directions of quilting met up.  This was to reinforce the start point of the lines and to cover the not-so-straight beginnings.

Front center detail

Front center detail

Zig-zag stitching on "joints"

Zig-zag stitching on “joints”

Zig-zag stitching on "joints"

Zig-zag stitching on “joints”

Zig-zag stitching on "joints"

Zig-zag stitching on “joints”

Detail close-up of back quilting

Detail close-up of back quilting

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Khaki colored thread to blend and give great texture effect

When it came to binding the quilt, I opted for the quick and dirty method.  I made a bias tape with the remaining khaki fabric used for the front sashing and backing. I then proceeded to machine sew it to the front and back side.

Since this is a quilt for my younger brother and will most likely be used as a couch quilt or “guest bed” (aka futon) blanket, I figured I could get away with an easier binding method.  I am not the best at this technique, but I wanted to get the quilt done and off my “UFO” list.

Machine sewn binding

Machine sewn binding

Overall I’m pretty happy with how it came out.

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There is a college t-shirt quilt that is a work-in-progress (WIP) for myself.  I will make sure to post more on the construction part of it in the upcoming weeks.

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Bending the Law

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a few “UFO’s” or un-finished objects I wanted to complete while visiting my parents. Overall I was able to complete 2.75 of the 4 projects I had planned.  One of the fully completed projects was a Subway Art wood transfer project I had planned as a gift for my father.

My parents own some land in Western New Mexico.  Last November, my dad and I undertook the task of tearing down a shoddy deck that wrapped around their “bunkhouse”.  During this process we discovered a trap door/access panel that neither of us had noticed before.

Weathered deck trap door from New Mexico

Weathered deck trap door from New Mexico

Backside of the trap door

Backside of the trap door

Later that evening, we relaxed by watching one our traditional ranch movies; the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma! Towards the end of the movie, there is a line delivered by the spunky Aunt Eller that struck a chord with me and seemed to be the perfect embodiment of the attitude in our particular part of New Mexico.

Thus the idea for a Subway Art project was born.

The first thing I did was begin to research different ways to transfer images or words to wood on Pinterest.  I was unsure of what method I would end up using, but figured having a variety of methods would not hurt.

I then went about creating the layout for my subway art quote from Oklahoma! I tried using a few online word and subway art generators, but none worked since they mainly grouped the words either A- out of order or B- clustered them based on frequency.

Not having any real graphic design software, I then decided to use Microsoft Word to bring the layout in my mind to life.  Each word was created as a separate text box, allowing me to change the font, size, weight, and direction to suit my tastes.  I thought I could fit it all on an 8.5 x 11 sheet to transfer to the board.  In the end, the layout occupied two sheets of 11 x 17 ledger paper.

Final Subway Art layout

Final Subway Art layout

Sanded board ready to go

Sanded board ready to go

After the layout was finalized, it was time to prep the board.  I decided to use the weathered top side since to give the final product more character.  I sanded the board down with some 200 grit sandpaper using my mom’s handheld power sander. Since only the front side was going to be seen, it and the sides were the only part to get sanded down.

Remember the pinterest board from before? It was time to start trying out the various methods.  At this point, my father was actually involved in helping me with the project.  We decided the first method to try was printing on wax paper and then rubbing it onto the board.  The printer became angry very quickly with the wax paper and the idea was quickly nixed.

Gel Medium, Foam brush and Mirror Image printed layout

Gel Medium, Foam brush and Mirror Image printed layout

After doing a bit more reading online, I decided the method using a Gel Medium was the best option, given I was on a limited timetable to complete the project.  Not knowing how much of the gel medium I would need, I purchased two tubes of it from Michael’s Craft Store (approx. $2.75 after using a 40% off coupon).

For any of the wood transfer methods involving text, the image must be printed using the “mirror print” option. Not wanting a whole lot of paper “border”, I trimmed it all pretty close to the printed text.

I then applied the gel medium directly to the wood board.  Because it was so weathered, a bit of the gel medium soaked in, but I had plenty to give it all a pretty good coat overall and saturate the wood.  The paper was then placed face down on top of the gel medium and left to “bake” overnight in my parent’s hot Arizona garage for almost 24 hours.

Cleaning up the edges of the dried gel medium

Cleaning up the edges of the dried gel medium

The next evening, the gel medium had turned from a white liquid to a clear gel substance.  I used the power sander again to remove the excess gel from the outside area of the printed text.

The next step was to remove the top layer paper to reveal the text underneath. I used a regular paint brush and room temperature water to lightly saturate the surface.

As I wet the paper, I discovered that parts of the gel medium seemed to adhere better in some parts than others. This I suspect is from using an old, porus, weathered board that was made of 2×4’s instead of a nice solid piece of wood. 

Lightly wetting the paper.  Notice the uneven spots.

Lightly wetting the paper. Notice the uneven spots.

Removing the top layer of paper

Removing the top layer of paper

I worked in two sections, top and bottom to remove the paper. On the top, I simply used my fingers to rub off the paper.  Some of it came off in big sections, others in small little bits.  I had to be careful to not rub too hard or it would pull up the entire layer of paper and remove the printed text.  In the end I think this gave it somewhat of a nice vintage feel.

 

 

Like scraping ice off a car window, the gift card made a nice impromptu tool that did the job well

Like scraping ice off a car window, the gift card made a nice impromptu tool that did the job well

One of my personal motto’s is “Work Smarter, Not Harder”. After tediously removing the upper part of the wood transfer, I decided to try using an old gift card to remove the lower half of the transfer.  Still being careful to not scrape too hard and remove the entire sheet of paper, I was amazed at how well this method worked. Not only was this quicker, it removed the paper more evenly and gave it a polished look.

After removing all the paper, I once again took to the power sander to CAREFULLY remove even more of the paper/gel medium combo.  I was worried the paper would not stain well and contrast too much against the (eventual) stained wood.  I wanted as little excess as possible.

For staining the board, I used an old opened leftover can of Minwax stain my mom had stored in the garage. I am not the stainer in our family.  I sand, my mom stains.  That being said, I do not follow the typical rules of staining.  I did one (somewhat thick) coat of stain across the top and sides of the board.  It was left to dry overnight and be evaluated for a second coat in the morning.

One coat of stain, left to dry overnight

One coat of stain, left to dry overnight

In the end, I only put one coat of stain on the board.  I thought it was a nice enough color and achieved the task of making the paper blend.  Since this project was finishing up on the day my parents were heading back to New Mexico (the eventual home of this project), I decided not to put on any type of top coat to seal it. Because it was going to be hung inside the house and should look vintage, I figured it would be ok and age well.

The final task was figuring out how this monster could be hung on the wall.  Since there was buffer space at the top and bottom, I decided a rustic looking twine would be a nice, practical finish that would literally hold it all together.  In my mind, I had ideas of grandeur and fancy decorative knots on the front.  In the end, I had multiple splinters and simple square knots.  To be honest, I think it looks just as good.

Finished Subway Art Wood Transfer

Finished Subway Art Wood Transfer

Backside hanging deail

Backside hanging deail

Sadly, the former trap door has not yet made it onto the wall; although it is back at its home in New Mexico.

The final product is almost exactly what I had envisioned last November and makes the perfect addition the the Wild West ranch life of my parent’s property.

View of the Bunkhouse and Main house from the hill

View of the Bunkhouse and Main house from the hill

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Cloud 9 Curtains

Yes this blog is to share my quilting projects. No this first post is not about a quilt.

When Victor (the boyfriend) and I moved into our apartment, the curtain situation was a disaster. The previous owner and subsequent tenant seemed to be content with having screws & nails barely set in the concrete block walls with various “poles” (aka half of a shower curtain rod or wooden dowel) set on top.

Bad Curtain Rods

Gross “Curtain” rod hardware when we moved in

I was not pleased with the set-up. Imagine my surprise and glee at finding actual curtain hardware tucked in one of the closets. The first weekend after moving in involved installing these curtain rods and modifying the existing curtains in the apartment to use with the “new” hardware. Not wanting to invest personal funds in the curtain project, the guest room curtains were given a temporary fix until I was able to figure out exactly what to do.

Temporary Fix

Hanging the real hardware we found and temporary curtains

The curtain hardware that came with our apartment is reminiscent of the 1990’s or a hotel room. Continuing the deep clean of the apartment, I found three sheer curtain panels hiding in the guest room closet.

Curtain Hardware

Supplies to get started

It took a fair amount of meditation & pinterest searching to finally realize that a lightweight ruffled curtain was exactly what the room needed.

There are a variety of techniques to making ruffles. Since I envisioned a shabby chic style curtain, I did not need anything too precise.  I ended up using the last technique shown here.  Since I knew there would be 14 attachment points on the top of the curtain, I cut 14 strips out of the sheer panel  that had been hanging 4″ wide and 14 strips out of the off-white sheer panel I found 2″ wide.  Laid on top of each other, a stitch length of 5″ and a tension of 7 on the Brother sewing machine gave the perfect amount of ruffle without making the length too short.

Ruffle Construction

Making the individual ruffles

I did do some measuring and calculations in figuring out how far apart to place each of the ruffle strips and getting the finished length of the curtain to the appropriate width. I was raised on the phrase “measure twice cut once” but honestly, measuring is not my favorite thing, so this part I winged a bit and crossed my fingers it would work.  Thankfully it did.

Measuring

Rough measurements and calculations

Once all 28 ruffle stips were sewn and the panels were marked, I simply sewed the strips on top.  The tricky part came into play when figuring out how to “shorten” up the curtain. I ended up folding the fat seam at the top over and then gathering the two points together to make a “pocket” on the back where the hook could be inserted.

Top of the Curtain

How to attach at the top

Finally up, I was surprised how much shorter the finished curtains were, but realized it was a blessing in disguise since the guest bed sits right along the wall next to the window.  I am so happy with the finished product. It gives a good amount of privacy while still letting in lots of natural light during the day.

Finished Curtain

Finished Ruffle Curtains!