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My Cat loves my new Jelly Roll Rug

I love fabric, and so does my cat.  She will crawl under, lie on top of, and occupy any surface that has fabric on it.

Whether it’s a pile of quilts…img_2289

A quilt on my sewing room sofa…img_2256-1

My footstool…

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A drawer of fabric that I am trying to find something in… img_5257

A quilt on my sewing frame…IMG_2723

Or just a basket of scraps.img_5260

She pretty much spends her entire day in my sewing room, sleeping on one soft surface or another. This weekend was no exception. She was my constant companion (for good and bad).

Having ended a long week at work, this weekend I really wanted a “mindless” project that didn’t require much thought but would make me feel like I had accomplished something.  A Jelly Roll Rug seemed like the perfect project to work on.  For a nice tutorial on making a rug, see Erica Arndt’s video.  I had never made one before and surprisingly, it was a rather quick project and perfect for my weekend.

I’ve seen Jelly Roll Rugs in the past and have thought that I would like to make one.  In fact, nearly two years ago, I sorted through some of my scrap batik fabrics thinking that they would make a lovely rug for my sewing room.  The fabrics were stacked in my closet, and promptly ignored because of other projects that I wanted to make.

IMG_5244Taking this pile of fabric out of the closet and placing it on my sewing desk was “heaven” to my cat.  She kept wanting to lay down on top of the fabrics. To make the rug, instead of using a Jelly Roll, I sorted my fabrics into a rainbow gradient and cut my own 2.5″ strips.   I used a total of 22 different fabrics.  Rather than doing a standard jelly roll rug pattern, I wanted each fabric to make one complete circle around the quilt.  This meant I needed to complete each round before added the fabric for the next round to the  project.  I also pieced my fabric with straight seams rather than cutting at an angle (I hate to waste fabric).

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Starting with one strip of the first fabric, each round increased in size.  The last round used 3 strips of the darkest fabric.  Thus, I used anywhere from 2.5 inches to a maximum of a quarter yard of fabric.

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For the batting, I cut 2″ strips from scrap batting until all of my leftovers were used up (Yeah – I emptied an entire storage container of odd sized pieces of batting!).  When I ran out of leftover batting, I decided to try using a precut batting spool.  This was an easier and quicker way to work on the rug. To manage the roll, I clamped a wooden rod to my sewing desk.  With the roll on the rod, the batting came off  without twisting. This also kept the roll off the floor where my cat would try to play with it.

IMG_5247I found a handy folding tool that I used to make the project go faster.

All in all, this was a fun project that I was able to complete in one weekend.  If I had used a precut jelly roll and precut batting, I could have easily completed it in a day.

 

I now have a colorful rug on my sewing room floor.IMG_3378

And, my cat seems to enjoy it as well.  Luckily she has no claws!

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The person behind the Mask

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Wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay home and, now, consider wearing a face mask when outside of your own home.  These are the recommendations from federal and state governments during this current pandemic.

While following this advise, we can loose connection to the people around us.  We all need to reach out to our family members – our older parents who have had their ability to interact with their friends severely limited, our children (even adult children) who are home schooling or working from home, our friends whom we can’t see but can certainly talk with over the phone and internet, and our neighbors.

Everyone has a story.  And, while we are wearing our masks, we should consider their story and do what we can to help where needed. 

With the current recommendation for mask wearing, my son asked if I could make a couple masks for his girlfriend who works part-time at Target.  Her story is that she is a high school senior.  Like so many students, she is now separated from her friends and doing on-line classes.  And, she will be missing out on all the fun activities of her senior year – senior prom, senior project presentations, graduation, grad parties, etc.  On top of that, two weeks ago I implemented a quarantine for our family.  So she has not been able to spend time with my son. She is also working very hard at her part-time job.  To help support her, the least I can do is make some masks. 

Using the pattern described at North-Memorial-Health-homemade-healthcare-masks, I made some masks.  My son wanted plain black.  His girlfriend wanted a red one and a yellow one. 

This pattern has an internal pocket to insert a piece of HEPA filter material to  improve the effective filtration.  I also modified the mask slightly to add a nose wire for improved contouring to the face.  After topstitching around the entire mask, I stitched a channel 1/2″ from the top of the mask.  A pipe cleaner folded in half and inserted it into the channel can be molded to the bridge of the nose.  

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Masks made from my fabric stash.

When thinking about making masks, I thought it would be nice to try to make some fun animal faces.  Using my Bernina DesignWorks software, I created a few patterns.

A couple cat faces:

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Black cat, Rabbit, Bear and Dog:

 

I may try some other embroidery ideas soon.

The end of a decade

It’s the last day of 2019 and the busy holiday season is nearly over.  Since I am not someone who normally spends New Year’s Eve at a party, I am relaxing in my craft room and reflecting upon the last year.

The highlights of our year were put together into a short slideshow and interactive crossword puzzle that was sent to family and friends as an electronic Christmas card.

 

As seen in the video, it was a busy year filled with many happy days.  There were, however,  some sad days as well.  As previously mentioned, my father passed away a few weeks ago.  Earlier this year, we also said good-bye to cat, Squigglez, and then a few months later our little yorkie, Duke.  These two pets had been in our home for many, many years.

Reflecting back on the year, I have had some fun family adventures, started a new hobby and completed many projects, some of which I have not written about.

It always seems a bit overwhelming to put into words what I have done. Recently, I mentioned this to a friend.  Her comment was that I should do smaller, daily blogs – briefly writing about what I did each day.  I said I thought this might be a good idea, but I worried about annoying everyone by overloading their inboxes. So, that idea will wait for some future date. 

Looking ahead, this next year is expected to be an eventful year.

My prayer is that your year will be happy and healthy!

International Cat Day!

In honor of the day, I thought I would post some photos of my feline friends.

Our first cat, Squigglez, enjoyed 14 years in our house. This was much longer than we expected to have him. Shortly after adopting him, he was diagnosed with the cat version of Ehlers-danlos syndrome. EDS a connective tissue disorder that is caused by a genetic defect in the production of collagen. This weakens the skin, gastrointestinal system and heart. The average lifespan of a cat with EDS is five years. Even the slightest scratch can damage and tear the skin of affected animals, leading to scarring. Heart failure is the usual cause of death.  Amazingly, his heart remained strong, but sadly his GI system was too fragile and deteriorated with age.  But, we had many more years with him than we expected.

About a year later, we adopted another cat.  Comet was a really young kitten that was abandoned in the ditch near a friends farm.

My second son, Sam, adopted him as his own. Comet was incredibly playful and loved to run around – thus the name!

Comet also got along with everyone, human or pet.  Both Squigglez and Duke (our Yorkie who past away a few months ago) would allow him to eat and sleep near them.  That’s saying a lot because both of them were very independent and did not get along with any of our other pets.

Eleven years ago, Comet got out of the house one night. Now this wasn’t too unusual for him. Comet loved to roam the woods behind our house when it was dark outside. Usually around 5:30 am I would be awakened by him meowing as he walked through the front yard asking me to let him in. Unfortunately, one morning he never returned. We searched the neighborhood and contacted Eagan Animal Control, but he was not to be found.  Every Monday and Friday I would go by the South Metro Humane Society to see if he may have been taken there.  After six weeks, he was not to be found.

img_3203Each time I stopped at the Humane Society, I would spend some time in the cat room playing with the kittens.  After six weeks, I had fallen for one of the kittens that was really affectionate.  I decided I would adopt her.  However, this was early October and I was told that the Humane Society policy was not to adopt out black cats the weeks before Halloween (apparently there are some people that have done evil and cruel things to black cats at that time of the year).  Sadly, I left without her but I would return and visit her several times a week.  My plan was to adopt her after Halloween to take her home.  Luckily about a week before Halloween, the staff decided that I was not going to harm her and allowed me to adopt her earlier than I had anticipated.

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Onyx has since become my constant companion.  She is close by me almost all the time.  In fact, as I write this posting, she is sitting right next to my computer!  Of course, she is sitting on the computer case because it is the softest thing near me.

 

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Hopefully we have several more years to enjoy her companionship!

 

“Childhood Memories” – finished quilt

 

When designing a quilt, I like to plan the quilting at the same time as the piecing.  This allows me to think about adding something unique to each quilt.  My recent project for the two sided tree quilt was no exception.

The quilting of the tree, leaves and background would be fairly straightforward.  Wanting to add something special to the quilt, I thought about what I could add to the tree.  One idea was to place flowers or shrubs at the base of the tree.  Another was to add some animals.

My final idea, and the one I actually used, came while reviewing some photos from my childhood.  These photos brought back memories of things growing up.  I decided to add theses memories to the quilt.

I needed to invoke the idea of a memory without overwhelming the quilt.  To do that, I planned to used only thread to make the images appear very faint.  After stitching, I realized  that the images were there but extremely hard to see.  Having recently purchase some textile medium (InFusion Textile Medium) that was very lightweight (did not stiffen the fabric) and shiny, I decided to use this to enhance the visual effect of the memories.

I am really happy how they turned out.  If you look closely at the images, you will see a boy leaning against the tree reading a book, a girl on a tree swing, and their faithful dog laying on the ground near them.

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Here are the full images of the quilt front and back:

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Custom Footrest For My Craft Room

img_2230Lately, I have been doing a lot of hand stitching – applique, embroidery and quilt binding.  When hand stitching, I like to have a place to rest my your feet higher than the floor in order to make myself more comfortable. Unfortunately this was something that I did not have in my new craft room.

img_2253Wanting to add one, I starting looking around the room to see where I could store the footrest when it was not being used.  The size of a place to stash the footrest would be the limiting factor for the size of the footrest itself.  With the room maximized for storage, I was not finding a good spot to keep one.  So, I put off purchasing one.

 

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This past week  I have been working on binding a quilt.  As a temporary measure, I pulled out one of my storage boxes from under my long arm table and used that to prop my feet on.  It worked out fairly well, just the right size, but a bit too low. So, to get the height right, I  put a folded flannel quilt on top of it.

Unfortunately the quilt I used was a favorite of my cat, Onyx.  Most times, when I went into my room to sew, she was sleeping on the quilt. So, I needed to figure out a more permanent option.  img_2229

A trip to Hobby Lobby to purchase a few items (2″foam, 5/8 yd print canvas fabric and elastic braid) and I was ready to make a slip cover to place on the storage box.  First, I cut the foam to fit on top of the box lid (10.5″ x 14″).  Then, I cut the fabric to 20.5″ x 24″.  A few box seams in the corners, a hem with the elastic into and I was done.

img_2254Now I have  a colorful and comfortable foot rest. When not in use it fits nicely into the original storage spot without taking up any space in my room.

 

 

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I even had enough leftover fabric to make a nice throw pillow for my sofa.

Fused glass Art

There are many forms of glass art. Fused glass is one of them. The basic idea behind fused glass is that art objects are created by melting glass in a kiln.  Unlike stained glass, fused glass has no “lead lines”.  Unlike blown glass, the learning curve is relatively short and projects are easier to make. The precise origins of glass fusing techniques are not known, but there is archaeological evidence that the Egyptians were familiar with these techniques. While other glass techniques enjoyed a revival during the Renaissance, fusing was largely ignored during this period. Fusing began to regain popularity in the U.S. during the 1960s.

A few years ago, I took a class to learn about fused glass techniques.  It was a really fun class that made me want to be able to make more things. Months later, when a glass supply company had their kilns on sale, I decided to invest in getting one.  Fused glass has since become another hobby that I like to pursue. I have enjoyed creating many nice pieces of fused glass art over the past couple of years.  I will, over time, try to post some of these previously made items.

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Recently, I tried a new glass idea.  The birthday of  my sister-in-law, Ruth, gave me an excuse to make something kinda fun.  Ruth likes cats.  But, unfortunately she is allergic to them and can’t have any cats of her own.  So, I decided to make her an allergen-free cat.  I selected blue glass to match the colors in her home.

 

 

This cat turned out so cute, that I decided to make someIMG_2169 more.

I next tried some burgundy colored glass. These almost look like foxes.

 

After that, I decided to try to make some cats that looked like some of our pets.

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After making these, I realized that I wanted to make some more pets.  A little bit of time on-line and I found some clipart images that I want to try.

The kiln will be busy again!

Window on My World – designing a landscape quilt.

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Our home, once filled with the busy-ness of four boys, is considerably quieter with only one son still living at home.  And, this week he is on a field study trip with his school making our house even quieter.

Looking to the future, my husband and I have started thinking about moving in a few years.  When that happens, we will leave behind a house that I have spent considerable time and effort into making a lovely place to live.

My backyard is especially enjoyable to me, with the trees and flowers and many places to sit and relax.  To help remember this space, I decided to make a landscape quilt that shows my yard.  I plan to call this quilt “Window on my World”.  The idea is that the quilt will depict a view of my yard looking out of a window. Since all seasons and all times of the day are enjoyable, I plan to incorporate various times into the quilt.

The window will have four panes in it.  Each pane will depict a different season in my backyard – Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn.  And, each pane will depict different times of day – Midnight, Sunrise, Midday and Sunset.  So, starting from the farthest left pane and going right the landscape quilt will show the my yard:

  • Midnight in Winter
  • Sunrise in Spring
  • Midday in Summer
  • Sunset in Autumn

The first step in creating this quilt was to draw out my ideas on a few pieces of paper. I’m not very good at drawing, but these do show the idea fairly well.Composite.jpg

I now need to plan out the background.  To make the quilt more visually interesting, I am playing around with different piecing ideas for each pane. That will be the topic of my next posting.