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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Crystal Jewelry, Quilt Update and Future Project

My latest Etsy sale was this crystal necklace.

Crystal Confetti Necklace
A while back, I decided to accept money orders as payment in my shop, but not checks. I was not aware that at checkout time, it appears to the buyer that if you accept money orders, you also accept checks. I sent her an email to make sure she realized I only accepted money orders, but she had already put a check in the mail to me. I think I have decided to accept both checks and money orders. She gave me some good feedback on the checkout process and buying online. To make up for the confusion at checkout and to thank her for her feedback, I made a pair of earrings to go with the necklace and sent them along with her order. I hope she likes them! I also made a couple other similar pairs that I will be listing in my shop soon.

Crystal earrings

And an update on my tee shirt quilt...Today I planned my border, backing and binding. I went to JoAnn's and bought a denim for the backing and some gold and green small prints for the border and binding. I like to pre-wash my quilt fabrics, so I still need to do that. But then I will be all ready to move on!

And while at JoAnn's, I managed to purchase materials for a future project...a skirt. I love to sew but I don't do it very often any more. All this sewing on my quilt has reminded me how much I enjoy it. And since I haven't seen many skirts I like in the stores lately, every time I walk into JoAnn's, I always notice the display right by the door of some lovely floral sheer prints. They always make me think of a pretty lined skirt. And ever since I made this bracelet, I've been thinking I need something to wear with the bracelet. The display had many purply-mauvey colored prints. So I broke down and bought a skirt pattern (boy, have pattern prices gone up!), my favorite of the floral prints (30% off!) and a lining fabric. I won't let myself start this until the quilt is all the way done. I wish I didn't do this to myself...I have a long enough project list as it is without adding another thing to it. But I'm looking forward to having a skirt out of this pretty fabric!

My new skirt fabric

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tee Shirt Quilt

Yaayyy!!! I've finished my baseball tee shirt quilt top!! Well, almost. The only things I have left to do to the top is attach a couple little MLB logos that I got from some jerseys. And in one of the brown filler spaces, I'm going to use some of the trim from jerseys to spell JOE. (Joe approves of this addition). Tomorrow my goal is to go to JoAnn's to look for backing fabric (probably denim), fabric for binding (I want green and gold, but didn't see any last time I was at JoAnn's) and batting. The hard part is done. Now I just need to finish the quilt. I like it and more importantly, Joe says he likes it! (17-year-old boys don't give their approval to just anything, so I'm happy about this!) Stay tuned for later pictures of "the quilt"!

Baseball tee shirt quilt top

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Update on Tee Shirt Quilt

I spent quite a bit of time in the last week redrawing all my quilt pieces to cut down on the overall size of the quilt. I started over arranging all my little quilt pieces on graph paper, not leaving so much space between blocks this time. I finally got all the pieces rearranged so that I reduced the length by about a foot (previously it was over 7 feet long) and the width by a few inches. Here is my new arrangement of blocks. I first redid the "A" in the center and fit in all the pieces around it again.
New quilt layout
Once I had all my pieces nicely arranged on graph paper and knew exactly how big each quilt block had to be, I cut each block to its exact size, adding an inch to each dimension for seam allowances. (I had cut the blocks out very roughly after I had applied the interfacing.) Quilt square
Here's a picture with all the blocks cut to their exact size.
All blocks cut to size
This evening, I got to start the fun part...actually sewing the blocks togther. I sewed them with a half inch seam allowance, then trimmed to a quarter inch. I don't know why, it just seems a little easier to sew the half inch seam. I've done the easy sewing - the blocks that adjoin each other that are exactly the same size. Now it's kind of like doing a puzzle - trying to figure out what order to sew my pieces together to allow for the fact that I don't just have a bunch of squares lined up. But I'll get back to that tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baseball Tee Shirt Quilt

About a week ago, I mentioned my tee shirt quilt. It’s my biggest project I have underway right now. I’ve been saving my son’s tee shirts for a very long time with the intention of making quilts out of them someday. When I was in Omaha this summer, a couple other moms and I were in a laundromat washing baseball uniforms. Both of them started talking about how they want to make or have made a quilt from their son’s baseball tee shirts. They wanted to have this done before the boys go off to college in a year. I realized that my “someday” quilt project should start soon.

Not long after we got home from Omaha, I got out all my old tee shirts. (I have all of them in a spare closet . I had already sorted them by subject – baseball, soccer and other themes.) I even went through my son’s closet to see what other baseball tee shirts I could find. I found one or two more that he hadn’t worn in a while and were from before high school. I rounded up all the shirts from when he played on his team, the A’s, up through 8th grade – uniforms and tee shirts from tournaments.

Baseball tee shirts
I looked for pictures of tee shirt quilts online and found quite a few. Although I’ve seen some nice ones, I didn’t want to make a quilt that had 12 or 15 tee shirt panels, all the same size, with sashing between each panel. I wanted my quilt to have all different sizes of blocks, depending on the size of the design on the shirt. So first I measured and recorded the size of the design portion on every shirt. Next I cut out each design piece to scale using quarter inch graph paper. I let each square equal one inch of tee shirt. I wrote a description on each cut out piece so I would know which shirt it came from.

Since I had many white tee shirts, some gray ones, and also green and gold uniforms, I wanted to spread the colors out throughout the quilt, so I then colored each graph paper piece with colored pencils to match the color of the shirt. I taped four pieces of graph paper together into a large rectangle and started playing around with ways to arrange my blocks on it. My first goal was to get all the different sized pieces to fit together somehow without a lot of extra space between blocks. Then I would move pieces around to distribute the colors evenly if I needed to.

My first quilt layout
When I found an arrangement that fit the pieces together fairly well, I noticed something that gave me an idea. A lot of my smaller blocks, many of which contained the player number from uniforms and were colored blocks, ended up stacked above each other. This arrangement was sort of a diagonal line. It reminded me of the leg of a capital A, so I wondered if I could put all those colored blocks together in an A shape (for Joe’s team, the A’s) and fill in the rest with the white and gray pieces.

Since I kind of liked the layout I had, I took a picture of how I had the graph paper blocks arranged in case I wanted to go back to it. Then, after all that work, I took all the pieces off and started over by making my A with the colored pieces. I filled in around the A with white pieces and ended up putting all my gray pieces along the top and bottom edges of the quilt. There were a few more gaps between pieces since I had to work around the jagged leg of the A, but I thought I could fill in those places with other fabric or maybe even some sort of pieced blocks.
A shape layout
A shape layout with lines crawn
I had extra space around each block, so I drew lines around the blocks on the big graph paper to start determining where the seams would go and how big I would need to cut the blocks. I wrote the finished dimension of each block on the large graph paper. I also numbered the back of each cut out block piece and wrote the number in the appropriate spot on the large graph paper so I would know which block went where.

My next task was to start cutting. I added one inch to each dimension when cutting to allow for half inch seams. For each block, I cut a piece of interfacing slightly larger than my cut size, fused it to the wrong side of the tee shirt and cut out the piece. I figured I would go back and square up each block to the exact size later. And since I had allowed some extra fabric in each block initially, after I laid them all out I could make small adjustments here and there after I laid all my blocks out if I wanted. So exact size blocks was not my goal yet. After I cut out a block, I taped its little cut out block to my large graph paper so I could keep track of which blocks had been cut out and which I had left to do.

Some of the uniforms were made of mesh. I did not want white interfacing to show through the little holes, so I bought matching solid fabric and attached it to the wrong side of the mesh using Stitch Witchery. I liked the way those blocks turned out.

Tonight I finished cutting out my blocks (except for the last one that will be from a baseball towel that could use one more washing. ) Since I had my paper quilt blocks taped to my large graph paper, I could easily carry it around. I laid all my blocks out on the floor to see how they looked together. Here’s what they look like. Blocks laid out on floor
Remember, they have not been cut to their final size yet and were cut very roughly and a little larger than needed. I like the way they look, but I’m going to see if I can cut down the overall size a bit. Currently, my design is 5’8” wide and 7’2” long, which fits the size of a larger twin quilt or smaller full size quilt. Since I have quite a bit of extra space around the design of every block, I want to see if I can cut out some of that space and reduce the overall quilt size. That will be my next task.

I’m happy to have all the interfacing and cutting out done. I’ve been working on that for over a week in my spare time. Stay tuned for my next report on my quilt progress. Now that I’m home more and that I’ve made this my top priority project at home, I intend to keep making good progress on it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Beaded Belt

I ran into a friend and former co-worker at the grocery store a few weeks ago. She told me her son was getting married later in August and it would be a less formal outdoor wedding. The color scheme is red, white and blue. My friend had an outfit to wear but she wanted a beaded belt to match. She described some belts she had seen that also included lengths of chain. She hadn’t found a belt yet so I told her I would look into making her one.

I looked at beaded belts online to get some ideas and found a wide variety of them. I did see quite a few that were made of beads and chain and it looked like they would be simple to make. After the baseball tournaments came to an end, I headed off to Michael’s to see what kind of beads and chain I could find. I bought a couple kinds of chain and two types of beads and was ready to play. Here’s the belt I came up with. I showed it to my friend this evening and she liked it. I need to make a minor adjustment to the size, but she showed me her outfit (a pretty navy tiered skirt, either a red or a white nice tee shirt and a white short sleeved jacket) and I thought the belt went nicely with the outfit, especially the red tee shirt.

Red, white and blue beaded belt
I liked the way this turned out. I have an outfit that I’ve decided would be perfect with a beaded belt. I need to shop for beads for my own future belt now. And I’ll make at least one more using the other set of beads and chain I bought and see if beaded belt buyers shop on Etsy! This was a fun project to do and I don't think I would have thought about making a beaded belt if I hadn't stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work that one evening!

Friday, August 7, 2009

My New Bracelet

It’s kind of nice to be getting back on my old schedule again, i.e. baseball travelling is over! If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you may know that I work a 9X80 schedule (80 hours in 9 days) and get every other Friday off. Today was my first Friday off that I have been in town in a couple months. I try to spend my Fridays off doing what I want and not housework or laundry or anything like that. I’ve worked on a couple projects today - the big T-shirt quilt project I started some time ago and making my bracelet using the beads I bought in Wichita.

I bought these beads when I had some free time between baseball games in Wichita. Last night I looked through my spacers for some silver that would work with the beads and I strung everything on a piece of wire to see how it would look. I liked it just the way it was, so today all I had to do was find a clasp and put it all together.

I've been seeing more and more jewelry that uses a variety of beads or spacers and doesn't have everything match. I had a couple types of spacers of which I only had two left, so I decided to try using three types of silver beads. It was a great way to use up small quantities of beads and I liked the way it looked.

Here are a couple photos of my finished product. It’s really hard to get all the pretty colors in these beads to show up in a picture, but hopefully you can see just how pretty and colorful these beads are.
Bracelet with lampwork beads
Bracelet with lampwork beads
Coming soon, pictures of the beaded belt I made and an update on my T-shirt quilt.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I'm in an Etsy Treasury!

My Blue Moon Earrings are featured in an Etsy treasury! Click here to see the pretty treasury created by Abbas Girl which features sun, moon and star items. But hurry…the treasury expires on August 4 at 8:35 AM. The link will no longer exist after that. Thank you very much to Abbas Girl for including my earrings!

Etsy Treasury - click to enlarge