Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tasting Table Tuesday - Target Quilt

I hope everyone is safe now that Hurricane Sandy has passed by.  We had lots of rain and wind here, but we're fine.  And our daughter and her family in NJ are fine as well - thankfully!  It was a scary night for all of us, but everyone is ok today.  I sure hope that's not an indication of what our winter weather will be like this year!
Now for today's Tasting Table.  I've started a new quilt!  A few months ago, I was awestruck when I first saw David Butler's Curious Nature quilt and his collection of Parson Gray fabrics.  (If you missed it, here's a link to his site.)  My husband is an avid trap and target shooter, and I thought this would make a perfect Christmas gift for him.  After all, everyone else has quilts I've made for them, but I've never made one for him.  I think it's time :)
I could have just ordered a kit and make the Curious Nature quilt, but then I'd be making the exact same quilt as everyone else, and I've never liked to do that.  I'm often inspired by quilts I see, but I prefer to make mine a little different than everyone elses.  Kits are fine - they're just not for me...
So here's my take on David's quilt - his pattern is on the left, and my interpretation is on the right.  I'm making nine smaller blocks instead of one big one, and I'm using Civil War Reproduction fabrics.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tasting Table Tuesday - Cotton Cellar Tour

My Tasting Table is pretty messy today.  I've been working hard to get some new items to list on Etsy.  Here's the mess I left last night - Essential Wristlets in various stages of completion...
As you can see, the black one and the teal one were finished, and since then I've finished the black and red one on the left.  There are still two more cut out and ready to sew - hopefully tomorrow.
Here's the stack of four that I just listed in my Etsy shop.  All ready for a Holiday Party!  You can see the listings here.

Now for the tour I promised you.  In case you didn't believe me when I said my Tasting Table was pretty messy today, I wasn't lying.  I DID NOT tidy up before I took these pictures.  I know - I should be embarrassed to let you see this mess, but I consider myself fortunate to have a dedicated sewing space - even if it is in the cellar!  I can make a serious mess (and I do!) and still be able to walk away and leave it, without it disrupting anything (or anyone, as the case may be...) else in the house.
Here's what you see as you come down the stairs to my Cotton Cellar...
Just off the right side of the picture is a partition wall.  I share the left side of the basement with the laundry, and my husband gets the right side of the basement (except for my drop-leaf basting table - hehe).

And here's another view of my main work space.  Both tables have machine lifts in them.  You can see my Bernina on one of them.  That's my everyday sewing machine.  My Juki that I use for quilting is in the other table, but I normally use that table for cutting fabric - so when I need to quilt, I just move the mat and raise my Juki up - so that table is dual purpose.

And here's a shot of my pressing station.  I really should have tidied this one up just a bit, but hey - I'm a busy gal - who has time to clean!  This was my parent's first kitchen table (early 1950's era) and I covered it with batting and canvas to make a pressing table that is firm and large enough to iron a full width of 45" fabric - great for quilt backs!  I put risers underneath the legs to raise it up to a more comfortable height, and put some shelves underneath to store my bolts of interfacing.
The ironing press you see to the left is such a time saver!  It works great when fusing interfacing to all those purse pieces!
It seems like I have boxes of fabrics and scraps stacked everywhere.  I dream about sorting all my scraps and organizing all my fabrics, but there never seems to be enough time - there's always something else I have to get done first.   Maybe someday...  In the meantime, I'll keep dreaming of the perfect system.

So there you have it - a peek into my Cotton Cellar.  I don't know about you, but I LOVE looking at other people's studios.  Who's going to post their pictures next???

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pattern Review - new Wristlet

Remember the wristlet pattern I mentioned in yesterday's post?  I just finished making my first one, and I'm really happy with the new zipper technique I learned.  That itty bitty tab on the end makes such a difference!
In fact, I'm happy with the whole thing!  I just love this fabric.  It's from Anna Griffin's Honoka Collection and it's a grayish plum color with ivory flowers and centers the color of goldenrod.  (The colors in the first picture are the most accurate.)

As usual, Erin's pattern is packed full of photos and detailed step-by-step instructions and I had no trouble following along.  Inside the wristlet, I stacked two pockets on top of each other.  The larger one for a passport and cell phone, and a smaller one on top for credit cards or ID.  With an overall size of 7.5" x 5", there's still plenty of room left over for other essentials.  This one will be listed in my Etsy shop shortly, along with a couple more next week, if all goes as planned.
So if you're looking for a good, basic wristlet pattern, this is the one.  Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tasting Table Tuesday - on Wednesday, again...

Seems like this has happened before - I get sidetracked doing other things and suddenly realize it's Wednesday!  Hope you don't mind a late post.

I've spent the better part of the last 2 days catching up on my Etsy listings.  I've listed all the items that the NJ teacher's didn't buy, plus a few more things I've made since then.  Now I'm off to make some of these wristlets with another new pattern I just bought from Dog Under My Desk.
The wristlet isn't significantly different from some other ones I've made, but I'm very interested in her zipper installation instructions.  I really like the way her zippers look and I'm anxious to see how it's done.
I'm planning on putting 2 pockets inside each one - one for a cell phone, and a smaller one for ID/Credit Cards.  The perfect wristlet to grab and go when you're out and about after work this holiday season.
What's on your Tasting Table this Wednesday?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Productive Day!

I got two more things crossed off my list yesterday.  A fabric basket and a bucket hat.  My DIL wanted a new fabric basket and she picked out the fabric.  Gotta love these new chevrons that are showing up everywhere!  I used Pink Penguin's tutorial for the general directions, but changed the size considerably.

The hat is made with a really cute dog print outlined on gray (sorry I don't know the name - it was a fat quarter and the half that I got was the unmarked selvedge - don't you just hate it when that happens!).  The pattern is  from Little Things to Sew by Oliver + S.  My grandson's name is Grayson (nicknamed Gray) so the gray fabric is perfect, and what better print for little boys than puppy dogs :)
Now I'm on my way to the PO to get them mailed.  Hope you're enjoying today's sunshine!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tasting Table Tuesday

I had so much fun babysitting my granddaughter yesterday that I totally forgot to get my camera out!  But this is what we had here to greet us when we got home today - blue sky, not a cloud in sight, and glorious fall colors.  Aren't these yellows and golds just spectacular?
My carload of stuff (laptop sleeves, wristlets, iPad sleeves, iPhone pouches, and key fobs) was a success with the New Jersey teachers.  There's not much left, but I'll post here when I have them listed on Etsy.  In the meantime, I plan on making more - plus work on a few more projects I added to my list in the last couple of days.  No rest for the weary, as they say :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bags are Packed

Bags are packed, I'm ready to go...  but not till Sunday.  After finishing the 15 laptops sleeves for the New Jersey teachers, I forged ahead with some new items for the Christmas shoppers on Etsy.  I've made three more Zip Pocket Pouches (pattern by Michelle's Patterns/KeykaLou).

These make great gifts for travelers, because the medium sized ones (the 2 on the right) hold everything you need when flying, with the convenience of a wristlet.  A passport and cellphone (including the new iPhone5's) fit easily in the slip pocket, and the zippered pocket holds your ID and cash and/or credit card to purchase that on-board snack.
The smaller one (black spirograph fabric on the left) doesn't quite hold the passport, but still works well for cellphones that are no taller than 4 1/2".
I made a test one for my daughter and everyone seemed to think it would function better with a wrist strap, so I've added that feature to these.

I bought another pattern from Michelle's Patterns last week (the day it was released, actually!) for her new Idea Pouch.  It's wonderful!  It holds a composition notebook or an iPad perfectly, and the optional pleated pocket on the front holds other accessories and has several pen and pencil slots.

I also made a plain one without the pleated pocket - just a plain sleeve.  (Don't ya just love my iPad mock-up? - It works if you don't have the real thing!)

I guess I've been on a roll, because next I decided to make some key fobs.  Nice to have on hand for those little gifts for friends and co-workers, and it's good to have something in every price range in my shop.  Everyone seems to be doing the key fobs with the little rectangular clampie thingie on the end, but I prefer to do mine this way.  I make my strap in a continuous loop so there's nothing to break or come loose, so the keys will always stay secure, then add both a D-ring and a split key ring.  The button is a decorative accent and holds the layers together.  There are several layers of fabric and interfacing, so it's firm, but not stiff.  Really feels comfortable on your wrist.

The New Jersey teachers that I'm delivering the laptop sleeves to next week will get a sneak peek at these items, then I'll list them on Etsy when I return.  Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  I haven't, but will have to get started soon!  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tasting Table Tuesday - Pricing & Productivity Tool

Today's Tasting Table features a new Tool!  If you make things to sell, you know how important - and difficult - pricing can be.  We all struggle with putting a price tag on our time.  I used to try and write my hours down on a piece of paper by my sewing machine, but would usually forget to write it down until it was too late.  So I'd end up guessing and not have any idea how accurate my numbers were.

A friend of mine suggested getting a count-up timer.  She uses one and said it works great for her.  So the hunt was on.  Most stores only carry kitchen timers, and the majority of them only count down - not up - or if they do count up it's only for a couple of hours.  I searched high and low, and finally found this one on Amazon.

It's perfect!  It's small and lightweight and comes with a lanyard so I can wear it around my neck.  (I added the adjustable slider so I could draw it up shorter after I put it over my head, since I kept bumping the buttons on my sewing table and messing up the count - if the manufacturer is listening - this would be a great addition to your product!)

It has 3 functions - timer, clock & count-up.  I just push the "count-up" button, then press the yellow "start/stop" button when I start working.  If I stop to take a phone call, check my email, or whatever, I just push the yellow button again to stop it, then another press resumes the count where I left off.  At the end of the day, I write down the total time in my notebook, then press the "clear" button to set the timer back to zero ready for the next day.

I used it while making the 15 laptop sleeves (previous post) and totaled up my time for all 15, then divided to calculate the average time per case.  It's a great tool when pricing my items, as I now know exactly how long it takes to make something.

It's also nice (or depressing) to see exactly how much time I spend working each day.  It's surprising, because many times I feel like I've been working all day, only to find I actually only spent a few hours sewing, once you filter out all the interruptions...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Computer Sleeves are DONE!

Now I can finally come up for air.  I finished all 15 laptop computer sleeves.  I think I can make these in my sleep now!  For the teachers that will be buying these, I'm hand-delivering them to my daughter next weekend and she'll be taking them to work with her on Columbus Day.  Remember - no fighting over the cases when you're making your selection - there's plenty to choose from!
Don't forget - the extras will be listed in my Etsy shop later this month, along with some other goodies!  I'm starting another marathon cutting/fusing/sewing session - various cases and sleeves for iPads & iPhones as well as some key fobs and other small gift items - trying to stock up on gift items for the Christmas shoppers on Etsy.  So check back often for updates if you're looking for gift ideas (or maybe a special treat for yourself!)  Cheers!