Places to Party

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

This. That. & a Little Bit Patchwork

Man has it been cold.

Like bitter.

March is always so cold. We always get our surprise snowstorms in March.

I've probably worked from home more this year than ever.

                                    Which is always interesting to all involved.

What'cha doing mom?

So news...

My son turned 18 this year. When did this happen? My baby is a young man.

And today, got his braces off! Bonus.

4 years of braces. He looks so handsome now.

My husband ended up in the hospital the beginning of the year which was VERY scary. He decided to have his gallbladder removed after 8 days of being in the hospital with pancreatitis. He's feeling much better now.

We adopted a new family member in February. I'll probably never get over the loss of my beautiful Mr. Mittens (he was only five years old), but it was time to open our home to another tuxedo cat. We've never not had one and Veronica aka Ronny Two Toes joined us. She's still got a lot of trust issues and sometimes growls which has also earned her the name "Growly Girl" but with time I think she'll come around.

I've been doing a lot of patchwork. We are getting ready to visit my parents soon and I'm making a quilt with all my family's signatures on one side, and the other side will be all my husband's family. I'm using my best fabrics as this is the quilt I know will get passed down. It always feels funny knowing that you are making something with the idea that it will outlast you. Just started the blocks. Which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Lovely Little Christmas Trees

Never did I think that I would love to work with jelly rolls, charm packs etc. but recently I have changed my ways!

Jelly rolls, charm packs, etc. are such timesavers. Because the fabric is supposed to be so good, there is no need to wash, dry, iron and then cut like you do with traditional yardage. Instead, you simply open up the package, cut the precut standard size (squares or strips) if your pattern requires it, and wa la! you are ready to sew. You can get a quilt done in record time and with several fabrics that are designed to correspond with each other so your quilt looks fabulous when you are finished.

Needless to say, I'm a convert.

I have been wanting to create Eleanor Burn's Pine Tree quilt for many years but did not relish the idea of cutting all those strips out, after all, there are at least six different sizes for each block and at least 16 blocks for a small quilt! So as soon as I saw my new fav Missouri Quilt Company, having their Christmas clearance/sale last year on these 2 1/2" strips, I thought I would try my hand on them. It was a game changer.

I simply picked out several strips I liked and cut them to the size indicated for each strip and it's corresponding background strips.

The background strips and laid perpendicular to the printed fabric, right sides together. Stitch from the center outward on each strip and don't cut until you've verified it's a triangle shape on the front. It it looks like it is, cut the corner off and press. I suggest assembly line sewing all one side then the next to speed up the process. To do this just lay down all your fabric matches and keep sewing straight!

When you have done it for each layer, I recommend safety pinning them together. Many of these layers are very close in size so its very easy to mix them out. I created one tree that had six layers instead of five!

I did not include the stump although it is part of the pattern. I think it looks more "modern" without it... (and I actually forgot to put it in). I also did not add the star that is an option for this block.

I had some lovely sashing material and debated whether to add sashing between each block but when I finished them all I preferred the trees to be "floating". I added the sashing around the entire center block and then a Christmas red around the sashing. When cutting sashing out of a printed block, remember to cut 1/4" away from the printed border on each side as you will lose this to the seaming when you join this to quilt. If you cut right on the border line, it will cut into your border. I did have some that was not quite perfect as you may see in this close up but overall I'm happy with the effect.

I'm thrilled with the way this turned out. This is going to be a great surprise gift for someone in my family and this year I actually get to see them open it!  Happy Holidays All!

Update: Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I decided to make everyone in my family tree skirts/table toppers for Christmas. They turned out cute I think:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Laundry Issues: The Basket Build

I'm going to make a confession here.  Mine is a marriage divided by laundry. I wish I could place the blame on my husband the blame falls squarely on my shoulders. 

I have never met a cat that did not LOVE my basket reed!
You see, I have had sinuous/breathing issues all my life. Either I'm congested or my nose is constantly running.. one extreme to the other. Naturally, because of this issue, I am never found without tissues jabbed into my pockets... and lets just say, for argument's sake, I don't always clear out my pockets prior to laundering them. Hence, you guessed it, the entire laundry comes out in tissue lint. 

One too many times and my husband decided he was doing his own laundry. 

(Kind of a win/win actually)....

Anyway, we also both work so clothes do not always get folded the same day they get washed/dried. This lead to my poor husband finally buying a basket of his own for his own clothes. Needless to say, his basket did not last very long and after a short three weeks it looked like this:

As I am, after all, the reason he bought this cheap thing (off of Amazon too!) I felt the least I could do was create a better laundry basket. 

The great thing about basketweaving is that when you need something to hold/carry/corral objects, you can simply go to your reed and make something that fits your exact need. I created this basket with a square bottom and rounded it at the top so that it has a sturdy base to sit on yet is easily accessible to pick up like a rounded basket.


10 (11 in my case) 60" 5/8" flat/flat reed, marked in center
8   30" scrap flat/flat reed 1/2" to 5/8"
     1/4: flat/flat or flat/oval can be dyed 
      (optional: can add some cane)   
     #3 round/round reed 
     1/2" flat oval reed (for rim)
#6 or greater round reed for handle (2 pieces)
Random leftover pieces of round reed for filler
5 gal bucket filled half way with warm water for soaking reed.

Cut out your 10 60" pieces of 5/8 flat and mark the centers. Soak all your reed.
Lay these vertically in front of you holding them down with the raw side up and weigh them down with heavy object.  (large book, etc).
Lay out your four scrap pieces, centering them as well. (I realized I probably should have added another scrap piece for a total of five on each side as you can see I have two of the 60" pieces right next to each other.

Starting in the center, add one of your 60" pieces making sure the center mark in center of your basket, on the fifth weaver. You will start with an under piece. Measure your basket bottom to approximately 9 1/2".

Using clamp style clothespins, clamp down on each corner to keep your sizing correct.

With a long piece of your 3" round reed (soaked) bend it off center. We never want to bend a twining piece directly in the center as we don't want the reed to end each time in the same place creating a bulge on one side of our basket. Going off center ensures we won't end in the same place.

Start twining on the third (under) base piece. When you come to the corner gently pull the bottom round reed to the left and gently go around the next reed. Do not pull it tightly or you'll begin noticing that the round reed starts to pile up on itself.

Gently pull the bottom reed to the left and go under the next base piece with the top round reed.

Twine three rolls. If you run out of reed at some point (you must have at least one full run of reed across), gently bend your round reed and insert it in the row of weaving below it. Start your next reed butted up against the original one and continue weaving. 

One you have gotten all the way around, simply clip both the ends of your twining. At this point your base should be an inch larger. 

At this point supervision came into the room to inspect the work. I believe I passed.

Flip your work over and now take all those "scrap pieces and bend them over on the back. Measure to one of your over weaving and cut and tuck it underneath a weaver to hide. You should now have five on both sides (or six if you did what I did accidentally). Flip this over and we are going to start  some "start and stop weaving for three rows).

Making sure your basket is thoroughly soaked (plunge in your bucket or rinse it off in a shower, gently begin bending your reed up. The reed has to be throughly wetted (not sopping wet mind you) or the reed will break at this point. (If this happens, cut a new piece and simply remove the old one and weave the replacement in it's place.)

Starting on an over piece, begin weaving, over and under all around your basket. You'll use a lot of clips to hold the reed down. Bend around the corner pieces and clamp down with a clothes pin. You may also want to clip the two corner pieces as well. As you come to your original piece, go over at least two weavers, clipping and tucking behind a base piece.

I wove in some random cane I had left over.

At this point I want to do some continuous weaving to make this process go faster. Cutting one weaver in half gives me an odd number so I can just continue weaving. I intended to twill this but then did over under instead.

Now we have two separate pieces that we can begin a continuous weave.

As you start to continuously weave begin to loosen up the corners so your corners become rounded. Loosen the weaving actually starting to pull the reed towards you as you weave. Use LOTS of clothes pins.

Continue weaving until you get to a point where you are happy with the height.

Once you want to finish the basket, taper the reed about 5-6 inches and finish in the same are that you started. 

Your eyes aren't deceiving you, it is night. Life happens.
Had to stop and make dinner!

At this time, we need to hold down all of our weaving and also create a base for our rim. Taking two pieces of #3 twine, place them behind any two weavers and twine three rows of round reed. When you reach the beginning part after three turns, simply clip behind the original weaver.

Now let's make this start to look more like a finished basket. Time to cut and tuck! Woo hoo...well, not really but this is a necessary step. Unfortunately my camera card got full and I did not capture these images but the steps can be found on the wastepaper basket here. Making sure your reed is still wet (rewet in the shower if it has dried out), gently bend the reed over the twining and measure to a weaver that you can hide it behind. Cut and tuck through all the weavers tucking the end underneath so it can't be seen.

To Rim: Take your 1/2 flat oval and measure one piece inside. Once you have your measurement, add 5" more and cut. Do the same for the outside. Where you reed overlaps, take a paring knife and start to carve down the oval so that the reed lays flat.
Using LOTS of clothespins, hold your rim down. Work your 1/4 flat/flat or flat/oval up and under at least twice to secure your weaver (again, camera died here, here is another reference). You want this to be a long piece. Come up from the front and working to the side of each upright reed, come up from the bottom and over to the next one all the way around. If you have enough reed, once you reach the first set of weavings, you can backtrack and "X" cross them.
As you weave this around, add pieces of round reed. When you get back to the beginning of your weaving, feed the flat reed back up through the weaving just as we started. Again, do this about twice to make sure that the rim is secure. If the rim feels loose at any point, use a flathead screw driver and working from your starting point, pull tightly on the weaving to secure until you come to starting point. Make sure your reed is very wet before you do this to prevent breakage!

To add handles: Soak your #6 for a long time. The heavier the reed, the longer it takes to become pliable. Measure out about 4 upright spokes and insert the reed on either side, ghosting the uprights as much as possible.

Place your basket in front of you and check to make sure your handles appear to be of an equal height. When you are satisfied, we can begin wrapping your handles.

Begin your wrap by taking your #3 reed and going into the bottom layer of twining, wrap it around the #6 reed. You do not have to wrap it all the way, just enough to hold it. Ideally we should be able to catch this in the weving but if not we can always put a bit of wood glue on it once it's completely woven. 

Miss Itty Bitty Kitty is not impressed.

Start your round reed by wrapping it around your spoke and then up following the line started by your initial wrap. When we reach the other side, come around the spoke and bring your reed to the back or front whichever is the opposite of what you started and follow the preceeding twist as so:

Continue until your handle is completely wrapped. To finish, we are going to feed it into the weaving, down and back inside twice, just like our rim twining.

Feed it up, inside, down the outside and again.
Clip off the remainder on the inside of the basket.

Your basket is now complete. Soak it, take a candle, lighter, etc. and burn all the stray "reed hairs" that are poking up randomly. Clean off any soot marks and let dry. Once completely dry, cut off any inside weaver ends. Then stain with a wood stain (not polyurethane, it makes baskets brittle). Natural is clear, golden oak is also nice. Sign the bottom of your basket so you and others will know just who and when it was made. Then put this thing to work! There is always laundry to be done!