Category Archives: My Projects

DIY Beaded Suncatcher

Beaded Suncatcher

This DIY suncatcher was simple to make with a thrifted Goodwill wire basket.  I see those baskets from time to time and I’m glad I grabbed it.  Look for some type of object that has plenty of places to hang the beaded strands from.  I also put another thing in the middle of it.  Don’t know what it is.  Some kind of plastic flower looking thing.  GW had a gang of them so I grabbed them, too.

I hung my suncatcher on the back patio so it can catch the morning light on the east side of the house.  I also made two more for Mother’s Day for my daughters.

beaded suncatcher


What You’ll Need:

  • .45mm Tiger tail nylon coated beading wire
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Round nose pliers or looping pliers
  • Flush cutters
  • Jump rings
  • Lobster claw clasps
  • Crimp tubes
  • Head pins
  • Eye pins
  • Lots and lots of colorful glass beads
  • Some type of object to hang the beaded strands from. Rustic sticks or cactus wood works nicely, too. Keep an open mind. Half the fun of this project is turning ordinary junk into something beautiful.
  • I get my beads at Joann’s, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby.  Use coupons or buy on sale.  If you have a smartphone, download each store’s app.  They’ll scan the coupon at the register.

    When selecting your beads you’ll want beads that the sun will shine through or reflect off of.  You’re going for color and sparkle.  I also used a few wire doo-dads and centered beads inside of them. Mix sizes and textures. I also threw in a few metal dragonfly beads, wire mesh spacers, and glass seed beads.

    Have fun!
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    Knitting Cardigans For a Change

    shapely boyfriend cardigan

    I haven’t touched my sewing machine(s) in months.  Then Christmas came and I had to make room for the tree, so I put it all away.  My “sewing station” has been up for about four years in the middle of my living/dining room.  I go through phases that last several years at a time.

    My new phase is knitting.  I love to wear cardigan sweaters at work and thought I’d try my hand at making one.  I am now on my sixth or seventh sweater.  I’ve completely ripped out all of them, except one.  The hardest part is finding patterns that I can understand.  It’s not that I can’t do the stitches, it’s that some are so poorly written that I have absolutely no idea what to do.  As I sharpen my skills and gain more confidence, I’ll go back and re-write them in a way that makes sense to me.

    My photography skills suck, but here is one I wear a lot.  It’s made with Red Heart Black Fleck worsted yarn.  The pattern I used is called the Shapely Boyfriend cardigan.  I also added pockets.  I’m doing another one in Red Heart’s Aran Fleck, but without the hip shaping.

    Red Heart Super Saver Economy Yarn, Black

    shapely boyfriend cardigan

    I learned to knit about 45 years ago when I was a teenager.  Back then it was on straight needles.  My mom had a set of Mary Maxim Canadian needles.  My personal stash of needles wasn’t complete.  Short ones, long ones, aluminum, plastic, bamboo in all kinds of hit and miss sizes.  Every sweater pattern I wanted to do needed some size I didn’t have, so I broke down and bought a set of Knitter’s Pride Dreamz Deluxe Interchangeable Needle Set.  I just LOVE them.  BTW, they also work with needles and cables from Knit Picks.  I picked up some extra Knit Picks cables and they fit my KPD needles just fine.


    Mug Rug Leaves

    Mug Rug Leaf

    I made these mug rug leaves for Christmas presents. I’ve been working on them off and on for about a month. Today after our team meeting, I am going to present them to my other 11 co-workers. I had a gang of batik scraps and they were perfect for this project. The rectangular one is for my boss. She’s a prolific note taker so the Type typewriters fabric by Julia Rothman for Windham Fabrics was spot on.

    The images are a tad yellowish because I didn’t have the flash on. I so suck at taking pictures.

    Traditional Blocks Made Simple Quilting Class

    My Anita's Arrowhead Block

    This past Monday, I signed up for Anita Grossman Solomon’s Craftsy class Traditional Blocks Made Simple. What drew me to this class was the word “simple”. I’m all about learning new shortcuts for making blocks that I would NEVER attempt using traditional methods like cutting from templates or paper piecing. And that pineapple block? Even though I’ve always admired the tweakiness of them, there’s no way I’d ever attempt it… until now. Yes I will and I won’t be scared! Here’s Anita’s Half Drop Pineapple quilt.

    Half-Drop Pineapple Quilt by Anita Grossman Solomon

    This class was a total blast. Anita’s an excellent instructor. She not only covers how to do it, but also has great “heads up/just in case” tips on how to recover from mistakes and deal with those little puckers when you’re sewing blocks together.

    Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

    • Back-stitching bird’s nest – When you sew from the edge of the fabric and do a back-stitch, do you ever end up with a tangled bird’s nest of threads on the underside of the fabric, or have the fabric sucked into the throat plate? I HATE that. Anita will show you how to avoid that.
    • Starching fabric – I have never starched fabric for quilting, but if I had, I would have done it wrong. As a kid when I had to iron my dad’s shirts, the spray starch would flake up on the fabric. Using Anita’s trick, that doesn’t happen.
    • Left-handed cutting – This has always been a pet peeve of mine. I can’t rotary cut with my left hand for the life of me. If you don’t have one of those fancy pants rotating cutting mats like I do, in lesson 3 she’ll show you how to cut those left-handed cuts with your right hand without walking around the table or turning the mat.

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    • Pinning blocks – Depending upon the size of the block or how many seams there are, I always pin before I sew, especially the larger blocks. This lady can do it with no pins!
    • Post-It Notes – Will now be my new best friend. I never in a million years would have thought of using this trick.
    • Selecting fabric – I love her tip for selecting the right fabric for your project. It’s not just about color. Scale plays a very important part in your blocks. Find out how a trip to your local office supply store or print shop simplifies the process.
    • Marking the rulers – I’ve never marked my rulers before with permanent marker. You’ll learn how to mark up a 9-1/2″ square ruler for 8″ blocks and get perfect blocks every time. Oh, and how to remove those marker marks without damaging the ruler. The first time I tried cutting my block without the permanent marker lines and I really screwed it up. After I marked the ruler, squaring up each block was a cinch!
    • Arranging blocks – Anita shows different ways to arrange blocks on the design wall. Just by twisting and turning and grouping them by color, you can create a beautiful color wash effect. I’ve always admired quilts like that and wondered if that was planned. Some are, but Anita’s method was sort of a happy little accident that had big impact. Very visually dynamic.

    First Attempt

    I watched the first 6 lessons for making Anita’s Arrowhead block. It’s called Anita’s because of her mad rotary cutting skills. Beats me how she came up with new ways for such old school blocks. The 7th lesson is the pineapple block and I didn’t want to start that until I played around with making the arrowhead, first.

    I already had a gang of 10″ dark and light floral blocks from a previous project, so I didn’t have to do any prep work.

    After I made only TWO simple seams on the 10″ blocks, it was time to cut. Smarty pants me tried doing it from memory. I made 4 cuts instead of 3 and that REALLY screwed up the entire thing. It gave me segments too short that weren’t even sewn together. That block went into the scrap pile. The only thing that turned out was the 4-patch in the middle and the two horizonal sections.

    Quilting block cutting accident

    See those two vertical sections radiating from the center 4-patch? They’re supposed to be the same size as the horizontal ones. And those four angled pieces in the lower left and right? They’re not supposed to be there at all and neither was the additional 4-patch in the upper left. Needless to say, all those extra pieces made the triangles in the upper right too small. Good Lord, I really screwed the pooch on that one!

    As if that wasn’t bad enough… this is just too embarrassing, but here it is. I had all the pieces laid out on my cutting mat. I placed them right sides together, exactly as they needed to be, but in the short 10″ from the cutting board to the machine, I twisted the entire piece and sewed the triangle on the top of the section instead of the side. I ripped it out and fixed it. Then when I sewed the next triangle onto the other side, I DID IT AGAIN! The third picture is how they are supposed to look (left edge of picture got chopped off).

    I think I was having a difficult time pacing the quilting wine.

    Once I got the hang of it, I had a blast and quickly cut out nine blocks for a little baby quilt. I sewed four of them last night and will do the other five today.

    Later that day…

    I got the 9 blocks finished, but I didn’t want to stop, so I made 12. Some of the colors didn’t really work well in such a small area. I wasn’t pleased with the purples and blues so I grouped them together to make a color wash, but it’s just not big enough for the grand effect.

    Here are two different views of what I have so far. The blocks are not yet sewn together so I’ll prolly end up moving them around again… after I sew some more. LOL In the picture on the right, 2nd row, last block on the right, way too mooshy. The dark fabric had a few light areas in it. Not suitable for this project.

    Next up will be the pineapple blocks. I don’t know if I have enough solids in my stash to make an entire quilt. Maybe a very small practice quilt. I know I have lime green and black. It will be a Green Lantern quilt. LOL

    Click here to sign up for Traditional Blocks Made Simple.


    Scrappy String Quilt Project

    Scrapy String Baby Quilt

    Sometimes I have a need to sew, but I don’t know what to make so I just make UFO’s. The other day I saw this gorgeous scrappy stripped-piece purse (shown below) and fell in love with the scrapiness. AmandaJean strips beautifully, wouldn’t you say? Stuff a dollar in that lady’s purse!  I tend to use florals when stripping, but I wanted something bright and bold for a change. I also like her vertical quilting. That’s how I quilt the tote bags I make, but I do wavy lines so I don’t need to be anal about straight lines.

    Scrapy string purse

    I decided to use AJ’s purse for inspiration. I already had my scraps out for making hexies… another one of my gotta-sew-but-don’t-know-what-to-make projects. I started making strip sets about 14″ long. It’s easier to handle in short lengths. It also doesn’t commit me to any specific block size. My cut strip pieces are nothing shorter than 5″ long and I try to keep them between 1″ and nothing more that 1-1/2″ wide. Anything wider and it looks less strippy and more blocky.

    Last night I laid them out on the floor and I was really surprised that it looked pretty decent. I was worried I’d have too much repetition in the fabrics because this is truly a scrap project. I didn’t go out and buy anything new.

    Scrap strip set layout

    This is going to be a baby quilt. I’m going to add an 8th row and trim each set to 4-1/2″ wide. That will make a finished 32″ wide piece. Oh, but wait…

    Instead of sewing all the strip sets together, I’m going to put a bright red 1″ (finished) sashing between each vertical row and add a 1″ border. That will make it 41″ wide and that’s perfect for a full WOF backing.

    Here’s someone else that used red sashing on their string quilt. It frames all those colors perfectly.

    String quilt with red sashing

    UPDATE: January 29, 2013

    I finished the quilt this weekend, then washed it. Turned out nice. Very colorful. I get stuck staring at it.

    For Sale

    This quilt is now up for sale on eBay. Click here to view the listing:

    Scrapy String Baby Quilt

    Additional Resources:

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    Dresden Plate Projects

    EZ Dresden ruler template

    Dresden Plate Ideas

    I received my EZ Quilting 882700 Easy Dresden Quilt Tool Set this past Saturday. (Hint: Take an emery board or fine sandpaper and smooth out all the edges of the bamboo tool. This will prevent slivers in the fingers. Ouch!)

    I’ve never sewn dresdens before, but I have so many ideas floating around in my head. One of them is to create a candle mat adapted from this Christmas table runner. I also want to do some tote bags with 1/4 circles (dresden fans).

    Dresden Plate Inspiration

    Here are a few good tutorials I’d like to share with you.

    • Missouri Star Quilting Co. video – Jenny cuts them from charm pack (5″ x 5″) squares. If you do a full 5″, you can get 2 blades from each charm.
    • BloomAndBlossom – This is a slick way of getting 3 blades from a charm. Just cut them 3-3/4″ instead of the full 5″.
    • StitcheryDickoryDoc – Amy Gibson,  a Craftsy instructor, has an great free tutorial on 5″ blades. By the way, have you signed up for Amy’s 2012 block of the month class? It’s free.
    • Lurline – I love Lurline’s strip-pieced version with Kaffe Fassett fabrics.
    • MamaLovesQuilts – Alternate the direction of the blades to stack them vertically for sort of a tumbling block/string quilt effect.
    • Sew Sew Go – Here’s another runner version with sashing between the blades. I like this one, too.
    • Geta’s Quilting Studio – Geta’s modern version is my favorite. Check out her entire blog. This lady is incredibly talented.
    • The Way I Sew It – Here’s another string version, but with varying fabric widths for a really scrappy look. It’s a table mat. Could also be used for a candle mat, flower pot or vase mat. Sew cute!
    • Annabel’s Orchard – Very creative 1/2 plate dresdan. Butterflies are the perfect inspiration for layout ideas. I really like this. You can also do a version with 4 to 5 blades on each side with an appliqued butterfly body in the middle.

    Geta's Dresden Plate

    If I find more inspiration, I’ll post links. If you know of any more or you’ve made a cool dresden project, leave a comment and share your inspiration.