Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Transforming Bedsheets to Curtains

My train of thought (short train) got derailed again today. I was packing some things away and came across two cream colored, twin, flat sheets. I had recently taken down a very pricey pair of prairie swags ($70 pr) from my windows in the dining room. Though they were a very pretty fabric, the lining was not sewn in properly (too large for the curtain) and they did not hang smoothly. I have had them hanging for about a year, but honestly, they really bugged me so I finally took them down. I can't believe I paid so much for something that was made so poorly!

I left empty windows for over a month and thought hanging some cream colored, floor length curtains might look nice and also give us some privacy.

I ripped open enough of the wide hem at the top of the sheet so that I could slip a curtain rod through just to see how it looked on one of the windows. Well, I loved the way it looked and it let just enough light in and still gave us the privacy we have never had in the diningroom.

So off  I headed to Walmart to buy two more. I have no idea why, but I grabbed four sheets (at $4.97 each) and when I got home I realized that the sheets were a slightly different shade of cream than the original pair. Luckily, I bought 4 so I had enough sheets to make 4 panels for 2 windows.

Twin Flat Sheets--2 per window.  WASH and DRY first.

One Ugly Window

Sew a 1 1/2" pocket to accomodate the curtain rod in the bottom of wide hem (top of sheet) which will
give a nice ruffle at the top of the curtain

Hang on curtain rod and determine the length--I want floor length--then begin pinning your hemline. Mine are not hemmed yet.

Less than $10.00 per window thus far--I am going to embellish them. But will still be considerably less than the $140 for the 2 pair that I didn't like! Still need to hem both pairs!

Adds a simplified look to the room--sorry a bit blurry;
Still need to determine how to trim them--narrow gold border???? Tiebacks????
I will post a photo when they are done.

"It was still quite light out of doors, but inside with the curtains drawn and the smouldering fire sending out a dim, uncertain glow, the room was full of deep shadows"
Kate Chopin

Linking this post to: 

 Creative Cain Cabin's Budget Decorating Party-- click here to check out the talent

The Everyday Home 's Home (work) Wednesday #3 Party-- Head on over to this party too!

Family Home and Life's  Wow Us Wednesday. Click HERE to visit and please feel free to leave comments as you visit each entry.

Oh What a Beautiful Morning!

Yup, it's the small things--Life is Good!

Well, we did not get the thunderstorm I was hoping for yesterday,  but the humidity has lifted and it is a cool 55 degrees outside. I was up early and sat by an open, sunny window with my first cup of coffee (it's actually a 2 cup mug!) and felt energized. Even Willie, my dog, has a bounce in his step this morning and he could not wait to go outside and sleep in the cool grass! Such contentment!

I hope to get much accomplished today. Yesterday, I tore my hutch apart in the dining room so that my husband could repair the shelves. A couple of years ago, while we were eating dinner, the top shelf collapsed in my hutch, the doors came flying open and some of my favorite dishes were smashed to bits. With the shelves not working properly since, I decided yesterday (for some reason) I needed the storage space and tore into it! My husband added some wooden supports beneath the shelves and once again, I have usable, storage space--something this small house seriously lacks!

So today, I will finish cleaning the dining room and hopefully move on to a project or two; maybe I will even complete a few blocks for my quilt! At any rate, it is a beautiful, cool day without humidity--perfect for catching up on housework, some bookkeeping and eventually some sewing. What a difference a day makes! Hope you are enjoying a break in the heat and humidity wherever you may be!

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and the lawn mower is broken."
James Dent

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Close Friends Call Me a "Bag Lady"

Some of my friends call me "A Bag Lady"  and they assure me it is all good and  just in fun. They are laughing with me and not at me!!! What a relief! 

It's OK, I laugh right along with them and I am not the least bit offended! 

"Sew" many bags!!!!! For tutorial link, please see at bottom of post.....or list of tutorials at left.

Split curved pocket in the front--tie closure

I completed this bag today. I started it yesterday and this one had a little more detail in it so I was not able to finish it yesterday as planned. It is very cute--I knew the fabric was would be interesting and make up nicely. I did not like a tab closure on this bag because it seemed to  take away from the fabric design above the pocket. Since the front pocket already covers quite a bit of the main fabric, I decided to add a tie closure instead so more of the main fabric shows.

Later today, I will head to the bead dept at Joanne's and see if I can find an interesting bead or bauble to add to the the tie closure.

For TUTORIAL of this bag's basic design, please visit my earlier post available at this link:

Close up of front

2 shoulder straps rather than one

I love it!

I am not sure what personality this bag depicts--my daughter says it reminds her of a turkey! She suggested I buy some "cooler" fabric! I suspect there is not enough pink, sequins or other bling to satisfy her fashion sense! Teenagers!

I don't know how much more sewing I will do today. It is very hot and humid and it seems to be sucking the life right out of me! I hope once thunderstorms roll through, (and I do love a thunderstorm!) we will get a little relief from the humidity. I might consider sewing another three quilt blocks later tonight if it cools down some. Hope you are staying cool wherever you are! I know many places are much hotter than this little southwestern corner of  NH!

"I get my best ideas in a thunderstorm. I have the power and majesty of nature on my side."
Ralph Steadman

Linking up with:
The Tablescaper--Seasonal Sundays. CLICK HERE. So many ideas linked up at this party....

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Last night I was supposed to sew two additional blocks for my quilt but I never got around to it. I got sidetracked! While cleaning up my work space I found a pile of neatly cut 4" squares out of two coordinating fabrics and got totally distracted by them.  I decided to whip up a basic 9 patch quilted trivet. (notice I did not call it a potholder) I did a basic machine quilt X through each square and sewed it up. Just need to follow up with a whipstitch to the opening I used to turn it right side out.

Then I found some fat quarters and instantly knew they would make a great bag! So I cut out all the pieces for my next bag. I will not have time to sew it together today but hopefully tomorrow!

Experimenting with a different shaped pocket and a tab closure

Closeup of fabric--I cut out some of the little round flowers to applique on the brown pocket
Won't this fabric make the cutest bag? I will post the completed bag in a day or two.....

It was already 11:00 pm by the time I stopped cutting out the fabric pieces above,  so I was not about to start sewing my quilt blocks. When I am tired, it is always wise to put all sewing projects to rest. I did. This morning I completed the two blocks that I committed myself to yesterday and here is my progress....they are not sewn--just blocks lying next to each other all over the floor in random order:

So far it is 30" x 40"

I am not sure what the final size will be. The pattern I originally referred to was 50" x 70". If I have enough
of all the fabrics I will make it that large.  My pledge was to complete a quilt larger than a potholder and to have it finished by summer's end. So I am happy with my progress thus far and feel confident I can complete this in the next couple of weeks.

Note to self:
"The best gift we can have, is living in the present moment and really enjoying it for what it is;  and not being in our heads and getting sidetracked."
Amy Smart

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tote of the Day

Front View--brown divided pocket

Today I should have worked on my quilt but I enjoyed making the last small tote bag so much, that I decided to make another small tote out of a similar fabric. I planned to trim this tote a little differently because I prefer to create one of a kind bags. Individuality really is the beauty of making your own bags--no mass produced looking bags here!

I once walked into a country store in Vermont and there were two other women with the exact same handbag as mine. (same style, same fabric) I became highly motivated at that point to sew my own bags! I like to be different!

The inside of the bag is fully lined and has a small pocket sewn into the lining.

Inside lining--pocket accommodates cell phone or keys

I like the way this bag came out. I used a slightly heavier weight batting (using up remnants) This is definitely one of my favorites to date. BUT I have lots of fabric and plan to make many more.

I allowed some of the lining to extend over the top of the bag and it looks like piping. It really looks nice and it ties the fabrics together beautifully.

Back View

Two of my favorites for sure! I love the colors!

This evening, I plan to work on my quilt. I would like to complete at least two more blocks. I have ten completed thus far. While I do enjoy sewing the quilt strips together, and I cannot wait to see the quilt completed, the tote bags work up quickly and allow a bit more creativity. 

"Instant gratification is not soon enough."
Meryl Streep

"Instant gratification takes too long."
Carrie Fisher

Linking up with:

The Farmhouse Porch's Tuesdays the Scoop, Check out the party by clicking HERE! 

More Lilies!

My parents showed up at my house last night and surprised me with more lilies! My last bouquet has been slowly fading and I have been picking off the wilting blossoms each day. I was thinking that it was starting to look a little sad--then my doorbell rang last night.

My dad had cut two stems of enormous lilies for me--the blossoms are huge! The stem itself was nearly 3/4" around and it was loaded with lilies. The blossoms are all larger than my open, stretched hand--we are talking 8 and 9" or more. Look at this lovely shade of yellow!!!

I think I may have found my latest obsession! I wish that we could enjoy these beauties year-round. It would sure make the New England winters much easier to bear. A bright spot for sure!

"What, I sometimes wonder, would it be like if I lived in a country where winter is a matter of a few chilly days and a few weeks' rain; where the sun is never far away, and the flowers bloom all year long?"
Anna Neagle

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Antique Shop Discovery--Ties to Plymouth, MA

Pilgrims Going to Church by George Henry Boughton 1833-1905

We have vacationed in Plymouth, MA almost every summer since I have been married. We have stayed in a couple of hotels, and even camped twice, but our favorite place to stay is Pilgrim Sands Motel.  My kids are as emotionally tied to Plymouth, MA as I am and many wonderful family memories have been made in the Plymouth, MA and Cape Cod area.

 My husband likes Plymouth, MA as well but there is really nothing new for us to do in Plymouth:  we have done it all over and over again! We have seen Plimoth Plantation several times and been museum members, gone on many whale watches, been aboard the MayFlower II and accused of blasphemy by the young girl portraying Priscilla Mullen/Alden.  My oldest daughter tried to point out  to her that she was related to my husband's family. Yikes! Won't make that mistake again! We have cruised the Cape Cod Canal so many times we can recite the tour guides speech. Favorite restaurants have come and gone.....Condos were built where the wax museum used to be which is really a shame. My kids were infuriated. Touring the museum, just the three of them, had become their little tradition. The only tour we have not done multiple times in Plymouth is the lantern lit ghost tour! Once you see and hear a ghost running down the cobblestone walkway--well, once was enough for some members of our family!

So, my husband could easily be moved to explore new horizons--go where no man has ever gone before. Unfortunately for him, he has four women in the family who are creatures of habit and we steer him in the right direction! We are his compass if you will....

The view from the balcony of Pilgrim Sands Motel

We will be heading there again very soon and staying at Pilgrim Sands. I am fairly certain that I will have to swear to my dearly beloved that I will not make him go on another whale watch! I love being on the water and am in awe of those seemingly gentle, giant mammals of the sea, so yes, I have dragged him on a few whale watches....... maybe seven or eight. Is that excessive? I can't help it, I can watch  whale tail breeches for hours. However my husband claims that having seen it once, he is completely satisfied to commit that whale tail breech to memory--never ever having to physically experience it again. Can you believe it?

My husband's family has connections to the Mayflower and descends from Priscilla Mullen who arrived here in 1620 with her family. She later married John Alden. It was my husband who brought me to this place before we had children. He was totally fascinated in the history of his family (all history for that matter).

There isn't a monument, stone or marker by the side of the road that we have not stopped to explore or read. In an area so seeped in history, and very well marked, it can get a little irritating stopping by the side of the road every 15 feet or so. Even more irritating, is that this habit of reading every historical marker by the side of the road, is not unique to Plymouth. So it is always best to stay away from cities or towns defined by their historical roots. I can only ride in a car for so long.

I have always wondered why I feel such a deep connection to the area. Year after year I have returned to this place that feels like home. The absolute moment I am out of the car and out on the hotel deck, the sounds of waves, seagulls, the salty air and the enormous boulders that I have sat on for years upon years with one child, then two and of course the third, remind me that I am where I am supposed to be. But why?

Then fairly recently, while my father was researching our family geneology, it was discovered that we (my family--dad's side) are also descendants of those arriving here on the Mayflower. So, for my children, a double-whammy dose of Pilgrim genes must drive their obsession to return here year-after year- after year. Of all the vacation destinations spots,  this is where they choose to be. My youngest daughter celebrated her 16th birthday in Plymouth last year and we will be celebrating her 17th birthday this summer on the deck of Pilgrim Sands Motel!

I found this old picture in an area antique shop about 4 months ago. It kept calling my name. The other day, my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I knew it had to be the picture. She asked me to pick it up for her and I did just that today! Isn't it great? I have admired it for months....Thanks Mom and Dad!

"We are all pilgrims on the same journey--but some pilgrims have better road maps."
Nelson DeMille

Tote Bags With Multiple Personalities

The large floral print was not a favorite fat quarter in my stash, but now that I have seen it made up in this bag--I love it!
There are two pockets on the front, the back is completely floral print. I used the green contrasting print on the outside of the strap. I tried the straps both ways but I liked the green print better--that is the fun in making these. There are no rules--I make the rules up as I go along!

I was thinking of including a little tab closure on this bag with a funky button but realized my stash of buttons is getting low and I wanted to get this bag done. I will save that idea for the next bag......

Bag front view

Bag back view

Bag stands up nicely even when empty.

Inside lining

Same pattern--3 completely different "personalities"!

I want to experiment with tab closures, zippers, zippered pockets, beads, beaded fringe and buttons. There are so many neat novelty trims and buttons available. Looking forward to making the next tote bag as well as some larger totes. In the meantime I will continue to work on my quilt--I have (10) 10" squares completed already. Stay tuned.........

"I definitely want to go out there and experience different personalities and different people."
Katherine Heigl

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Something Old--Something New: TOTE BAG

If you have followed me from the beginning, you may remember that I constructed a small tote bag from the cut off portion of my daughter's jeans. I then recycled another pair of jeans and had used most of the fabric from the pants but I did have a remaining pocket and some strips left and thought I would put them to good use. I also have many remnants of cloth leftover from other projects so this turquoise fabric was just large enough for this bag.

I said earlier in that post that I would make a few more bags using the same basic pattern. With this bag, I cut a larger square at the bottom which makes the bag wider at the base and not as tall as the original bag. (See post: Recycling Cut-off Jeans) I really like the way it came out!

The bag I came up with began with some pieces as pictured:

I cut some of the circle motifs from the outside fabric and after applying the fusible batting to the outside front and back pieces of the bag, I appliqued the circles on the back of the bag. I thought it was a shame to waste the circles, they are so pretty and it added a cute quilted look to the back of the bag.

Back of bag: random appliqued circles give a little interest and dimension to the backside of the bag.

A look at the front of the bag...

Close up of scrappy jeans pocket with appliqued circle motif.

Each time the bag is constructed from a different fabric, it looks completely different. These bags are wonderful gifts and can be personalized to fit the style of just about anyone! The next bag will be made from from the following pieces of fabric. 

The piece on the left is a fat quarter that did not seem to match some pieces that came in a fat quarter bundle that I purchased some time ago. If you use fat quarters, you need two to complete this project. (one fat quarter for the outside of the bag and a contrasting fat quarter for the lining. If you add pockets you will need an additional fat quarter)

Even using the same basic pattern, it will make up as a totally different look and personality!!! These are so fun to make and take less than a couple of hours to complete. Try it! Remember: if I can sew it, sew can you!

"One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in the same pattern, but in  different colors."
Robert Graves

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quilt Update

This quilt goes together quickly. I have 7 squares completed though none are sewn together. I believe this is the type of quilt that could be completed in a weekend if I was able to work on it nonstop. I hope to get at least another 2 or 3 blocks completed today.

I think quilting could get rather addictive....I can't wait to see this quilt finished! In the meantime, it is a relaxing process as the sewing is easy and all simple straight stitching which allows my mind to wander. It's an enjoyable process to say the least!

"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it."
Greg Anderson

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Visit with my Folks

I stopped by my parents' house for a bit today, I hadn't seen them in a week or so and we live in the same town. It is amazing how busy we can all be and how time can get away from us.

When I got there, my dad was sitting in a chair out in the backyard, watching his flower garden grow.
Sitting beside him was Annie, their English Setter. She does not let my dad get too far out of her sight.

Getting out of the car, I was just amazed at the beautiful lilies along the side of the driveway, and the aroma was heavenly! Many were on stocks taller than I!  In the backyard are hundreds more, of many colors and varieties and it wasn't likely that I was going to leave without a bunch of them. Here are the 3 stems that my dad cut for me to bring home!

The colors are beautiful and my living room smells like a florist shop!

Look at these blossoms!

So pretty!

I wish that I had a green thumb. By rights I should. My grandmother was an avid gardener and her flower gardens were gorgeous! My dad has had a very large vegetable garden for many years but is now mostly flowers! He sticks roots in the ground that appear dead and they grow. Flowers grow in his garden that he didn't even plant.

That doesn't happen for me. I bought two rosemary plants about a month ago and they are almost dead. They were fine until I broke a piece off each plant to use as seasoning on pork tenderloins that I was grilling. Since then, my little rosemary plants turn a little browner each day despite water, sun and a little tlc.

"I wish I were the lily's leaf, to fade upon that bosom warm, content to wither, pale and brief, the trophy of thy paler form." Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Friday, July 13, 2012

Square One!

I pulled out a large pile of quilting magazines and various learn to quilt books last night to try and come up with a very easy quilt pattern that would utilize my chosen fabrics as well as my very limited skill in the art of quilting.

I love Fon's & Porter's Easy Quilts magazines. It is probably my favorite. There are many quilting magazines out there and I have a bookcase full of them. I love that they label each quilt "easy", " beginner", "advanced", etc but the more I looked through the pile of magazines, the more I realized that their idea of "easy" was not my idea of easy. Fon's & Porter devotes an entire magazine to "easy quilts" so I am drawn to them for that reason.

I was pouring through their Easy Quilts, Fall 2009 Edition and found a pattern by Christine Herman called Autumn Log Cabin. It consists of a beautiful array of fall colors (I love fall colors!!) so it caught my attention immediately. It is described as easy to complete "in no time". Now that's my kind of quilt because that's about how much time I have to spend on this quilt.

I read through all directions and realized that the smallest square in the block would not work for my fabrics. One of my fabrics is made up of individual, small 3" squares (see fabric below--5th one down) that I was hoping to use as the smallest block. The measurements given in the magazine were for a 3 1/2" square.

Fabric is Heart of the Garden by Kim Schaeffer for Andover Fabrics, Inc.

After giving this much thought, I decided to use my 3" squares and just alter the measurements for the remaining pieces. So I am following the magazine pattern in theory, but using my own dimensions. Next time I will pick a pattern and then purchase the fabric.

I cut out several squares last night--they are cute as can be. There are so many different ones and I like that almost every block will be slightly different.

I then set out to cut each 2" strip individually so I will know the exact measurements I will need to cut out
all of the remaining 2" strips. I cut out just enough strips to form one block and I stitched them up this morning.

This is how the first block turned out:

That wasn't so hard! Now I will sit down and record all the measurements and cut all of the strips at once which will make this "easy" quilting project go much faster!

"The grace to being a beginner is always the best prayer for an artist. The beginner's humility and openness lead to exploration. Exploration lead to accomplishment. All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step."
Julia Cameron


3 blocks finished