Hooray for prototypes

Prototypes (aka “guinea pigs”) are often a necessary step in the design process. Personally, I find them to be extremely beneficial. Since I’m stubborn in wanting my denim pieces to be “all mine”, I avoid Googling for help or for patterns. I ponder matters, like edging a quilt or lining a reusable shopping bag, until I think I have a good idea. And then I go from there.

Sometimes I have success from start to finish, sometimes I get stuck and stay that way for ages. But I always learn what to do, or not to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional. I’m well aware I’m not inventing something amazingly new and unique. Quilts, shopping bags, place mats, etc., already exist. I just like knowing I didn’t follow another designer’s steps.

Late last year, I began what was supposed to be a tote bag/purse of sorts, to be worn over one shoulder and rested on the opposite hip. My current purse is like that and I prefer such a style because it feels safer when I’m in the grocery store or walking through the mall. It would be more difficult for a thief to grab!

However, the design I had didn’t work out so well. My sewing machine wasn’t strong enough to go through the multiple layers of denim, batting and cotton. Until recently, the half completed bag sat on the sidelines. But now it’s done! And it’s a reusable shopping bag instead. With short handles. And wonky stitching up each side 🙂

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Looks can be deceiving! This bag holds plenty of books, so it will do fine for groceries. I wouldn’t have chosen white lining though, for a shopping bag. It will be dirty in no time!

The value in what I learned will aid me in future projects. So even though this bag has it’s flaws, it served a great purpose as a prototype. Handles – check. Lining – check. Band around the top – check. Inside seams – do them differently next time!

I’m in need of a new purse, the zipper on mine is broken. With my constantly growing aversion to buying brand new items, I’m designing a purse in my mind. I can make one! Over the shoulder, snaps or flap? Pocket on the outside? Or inside. Plain denim? Or fabric sporting Winnie the Pooh?

SO many ideas. . . . . and only 2 hands and 24 hours in each day!

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Pictures are important

Having at least decent pictures of a product is very important. Of course, awesome would be the aim but I’ll never reach that level with an old, cheap camera. And that’s okay. I can STILL take pictures!

My other biggest challenge is WHERE to take my pictures. A quilt can be a difficult item to show. Fortunately for me, my brother bought a new home last year and I’ve discovered how wonderful a king size bed and huge, comfy couch are. For picture taking 🙂

Recently, I folded up some of my quilts and hauled them into town for a photo shoot. I can’t say I’m fond of his stark white, BORING walls. Oh, how I wish he’d let me paint. I have an eye for that. As for photography though, I definitely need to learn about daylight, shadows and all the stuff that can interfere with a positive end result.

One day, way down the road, I’ll invest in a better camera. For now, I’m satisfied with a place I can take “better” pictures. And rather than updating the various pages I have on here, I’ll just include new photos in this post. Easier for you and me!

It seems fitting I begin with the Montreal Canadiens quilt I’m making for my brother. I presented it to him for Christmas, UNFINISHED. He’s tall and I needed to know how much larger to make it. It’s on my very soon, to-do list!

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It’s meant to be long and narrow, to fit well on a couch, because I’d like for it to be out and used, not folded away in a closet. My brother is 43 and a dedicated lifetime fan of the Montreal Canadiens. It wasn’t easy finding Montreal Canadiens t-shirts and this quilt will always be one-of-a-kind.

This next quilt was started with my ex-mother-in-law in mind. It has an old pajama top of her granddaughter’s incorporated into it. The butterflies glow in the dark and the saying “Dream a Little Dream” couldn’t be more perfect!

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Quilt number three was one I began for my mom. Only, it got too big and I had nowhere to lay it out flat! So I abandoned it. I have plans for building a custom sewing table this year and will finally be able to finish it. I was happy at least to lay it over a king size bed for pictures, the quilt itself is only meant to be queen size.

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Fourth in line is my Polar Bear quilt, named so for obvious reasons. It’s on the small side and might just stay there. I’d like to make child size items as well.

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And here we have what I call my Placemat Quilt. The four, small rectangles in the center were once headed toward being the backs of reversible placemats. And then I decided I didn’t like them. Not wanting to waste (I HATE waste!) the denim however, I opted for making a quilt. I can’t say I’m crazy about the pattern but it’s growing on me AND it’s an actual completed quilt! I’m going to use it and launder it (repeatedly) to see how it holds up.

One of my largest concerns is a quilt falling apart after it’s left my home. I don’t want that to happen, ever. I double stitch when I can 🙂

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I also made a small, dog quilt recently. It was purely experimental and was always intended for Charlotte, my Boston Terrier mix who simply must be under a blanket when she’s snoozing. I needed to remind myself why I dislike stretch denim. I wanted to try a different edge. AND I finished it! I really can get things done!

Keep in mind, this was experimental and for a dog, so it’s nothing special. I did learn the size would also be appropriate for a baby or as a lap quilt for someone in a wheelchair. It was a win, win, win situation.

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I have other quilts (Tigger, Frog, Cow, Cat) I won’t show again until they’re done and I can take decent pictures.

Today’s task is to complete the second, experimental dog quilt I began after doing the first one.

Sunday Sewing (No, it’s Monday. Long weekend)

It’s raining steadily. I can’t go outside. I’m too bored for Netflix. I have no plans for cooking or baking. I settled on sewing even though the daylight is rather dim.

And I REALLY am working on my Tigger quilt! 010See! I have proof.

It’s definitely turned out bigger than a baby quilt. It’s not exactly adult sized either.

I might keep it for myself.

I’m also being slightly sidetracked by this little piece of denim I have with 3 dragonflies on it. 007

It’s been hanging around for a long time without any specific destination. Until recently when I decided to make a table runner. And once the notion planted itself. . . . .well, I can’t get rid of it.

I almost got out of bed at 2 this morning to work on it!

The problem I’m having with it, and I might be the only person to even notice!, is the way the grain of the denim is running. I had to cut it at an angle to get a piece with straight edges.

I neglected to realize it would look “wrong” next to additional pieces with the grain running up and down. Now I have to cut all future pieces at an angle. Sounds easy but I already screwed up the first one and I just can’t figure out why! 🙂

So, back to Tigger momentarily. And then another Tigger. Or placemats made with some super, cool, navy blue camoflauge denim. What a perfect gift for a guy!

Or I could finish all the other quilts I have on the go. . . . . there’s five. Six. Maybe seven if I include Charlotte’s blankie, which she was covered by (it’s done except for binding) until the blanket on my love seat apparently became more appealing to her. 014

She IS under there. Snoozing. Lucky dog.

Boring Bedroom Blues

My 18 year old niece is currently in Greece for a 2 week graduation gift from her maternal grandmother. But I was able to snag my 13 year old niece on Tuesday for an afternoon visit. I’m supposed to be painting, and decorating, her bedroom in the new place her dad (my brother) just purchased. We went out and grabbed some paint cards (4! wow!) and also took a stroll through a fabric store where she bypassed, I don’t know, 1,000 different fabrics, with nothing more than an occasional, careless, “Nope, not that one”.

Of course, the main reason I brought her to my home was to view my denim, my flannel, my quilts in progress and everything else. Sadly, any true enthusiasm was all mine as well.

Perhaps it’s just a teenager thing and looking at material is simply too boring (her phone is a definite, annoying addiction) or my niece just isn’t capable of vision. Either way, she didn’t do any sketches of quilt designs. She got hooked on beige and gray for paint colors! Can you say BLAH? And she nixed pretty much every suggestion (I explained repeatedly I was ONLY showing her to demonstrate how there ARE possibilities) except for Winnie the Pooh which earned a lilting “Ohhhhh”.

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I’m surprised actually because when I painted her bedroom 2 summers ago, she’d chosen 2 fabulous shades of purple. Her room was transformed from lifeless white to vibrant color. She picked an adorable, little chandelier and those decals that everyone was into.

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I was even allowed to make cube shelves for her.

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Her mom bought specific bedding to match the room. (no pic) It was a project I was happy to partake in (although I was directed on what I could and couldn’t do) and I was pleased with the outcome. This second bedroom at her dad’s? I’m having trouble getting excited about it. I realize now that my ex-sister-in-law was very likely very instrumental in what my niece “chose” because now that it’s entirely up to her, she has virtually no clue and she won’t let me guide her 😦 What do you do with someone who’s favorite word is no?

She doesn’t understand I HAVE VISION. I wish she would just say, “Do what you want, Auntie” and I guarantee she’d love it! I ain’t no dummy. I wouldn’t do cheap, tacky or childish. She’s 13, she needs fun and sophisticated.

I forgot, she did express interest in having a Montreal Canadiens quilt like the one I’m making for her dad010. . . . . . . .but that would have nothing to do with the design of her bedroom!

She has a trip to Home Depot and Michael’s on her mind. I guess I’ll indulge her and drive all the way to the other side of town the next time I snag her 🙂 Hopefully, matters will improve.

Happy Canada Day!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day whether with friends and family or staying at home for some rest and relaxation. It’s sunny and blue sky here and promising to be 26 degrees. I’m not a heat lover but I’m glad it will be nice for those that are.

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An old photo of Leroy 🙂 When he was a puppy (and sometimes even now) he was always stealing stuff from inside and running outside with it. If it resulted in a game of chase, he was happy! I usually grabbed my camera and would then indulge his wishes.

And thinking of Canada reminds me of the various t-shirts I have. My plan has been to make reusable, denim shopping bags but now I’m also considering a quilt. . . . . . decisions, decisions.

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Awwww, I just realized I should have made a cheesecake for today!! Strawberries on top. . . . red and white. . . .it would have been perfect for Canada Day. Why do some things only occur to us when it’s too late??

Back to the bags

For me, a vital part of caring about the environment is recycling, reducing and reusing as much as possible. Making reusable, denim shopping bags was a natural path to venture down.

And I did, once I realized how difficult it was to deal with large quilts.

Shopping bags are obviously smaller, and therefore, should be simpler. Not so! Not yet anyway. I ran into issues with them as well. But I’m learning from my mistakes!

In the meantime, I still have this bag . . . . . . .

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You’ll notice it’s missing something! Yep, handles!

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I have two handles (only one of which I could find for picture taking purposes). This bag is fashioned from an old t-shirt my dad bought for me when I was a teenager. I’m now in my (cough, cough) mid-40’s and my dad is no longer here, so this bag has sentimental value for me. I’d like to finish it.

When I decided to make it, I hadn’t actually made a reusable shopping bag before. . . . no. . . .no, hang on. . . . I suffer from a notoriously-horrible-memory and this was a while ago.

I’m having a vague recollection now that I’d made 2 bags in early 2014,

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I did so entirely from my head (no pattern searching on the internet) and have struggled with the handles as a result. My first attempts, I didn’t like, not strong enough.

I truly love the new and improved style of the Big Bad John’s handles. They’re super sturdy and you need that in a shopping bag. Don’t you?

It’s hard on my sewing machine though. At least it was when I attempted the same handle style on another bag (another failure valuable teaching experience)

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Because these handles are 4 layers of denim and the band around the top of the bag is an additional 4-6 layers. . . . . my sewing machine failed me. It’s why I have a handleless bag and bagless handles. I’m currently left to ponder the problem. I need to figure out how to lessen the layers while keeping the strength I’m looking for.

I take great pride in what I do and I want my bags to last a very long time. Otherwise, a person might as well go buy a cheap, made-in-China, piece of crap bag from a dollar store.

I’ll be back one day with photos of a finished product, or two I should say, because the owl bag needs completion as well. I think I have to disassemble the band and handles. . . . sigh. . . . . removing blue-on-blue stitching isn’t something I’m hurrying to do! I’ll have to sit outside with the mosquitoes because indoor lighting is never adequate enough for a job like that!

Sun-ny-day

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon. I had a late lunch with my mom, sister and niece who just turned 18. Prior to her birthday, I’d considered making her a quilt but decided against it when I figured she wouldn’t appreciate it. However, I changed my mind. I’m going to involve her in the designing of it. I hate how everyone requests money or gift cards these days. I want my niece to have something full of love and effort, something special, not just cash spent on makeup or the latest fashion. She’ll have this quilt for years to come and she’ll remember having a hand in its creation.

After lunch, I showed her a “frog” quilt (and matching pillow) I’ve almost completed.

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I told her if she had old jeans or t-shirts she wanted to donate, I could incorporate them into her quilt in order to make it unique to her. There was plenty of nodding and several ‘uh huh’s but I’m not sure she really understands, or is all that excited about, the concept. My next move will be to invite her to my home so she can explore the myriad of fabrics and denims I have. She can also see the Montreal Canadiens quilt I’m working on for her dad.

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Sometimes it helps a person have vision, and can spark an interest, if they can physically look at, and touch, the raw materials used. Plus, it will be a chance to visit with one another 🙂

I’m really looking forward to this particular sewing project.

Good plan

The mosquitoes are much less active almost nonexistent early in the morning. I was out at 6 a.m. to see if I could achieve more than yesterday’s 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there. At one point I counted over a dozen mosquitoes on one forearm alone! Never mind the ones buzzing around, and landing on, my head and every other exposed inch of skin. It was maddening.

However, my plan to be out as soon as I woke up today worked. I was able to putter away for an entire 45 minutes bothered by perhaps a half dozen mosquitoes total. What a difference! Then it was time to wash the dog’s feet (dewy grass + dirt = filthy paws) and come in for breakfast. I’m a big believer in the first meal of the day. Are you? You should be 🙂

On the sewing front, I’m still finishing up the organization of all my denim. I need another clothing rack. Four years ago, when I developed this grand idea of making quilts, I bought 3 metal racks from Canadian Tire. They’re functional but will bow if I burden them too much. I realized I can build a better, stronger (very weird, I wanted italics but it made the word disappear unless I used bold also) rack out of 2 x 4’s! If only I’d thought of it 4 years ago! I would have saved over a hundred dollars! Ah, well, at least I will save now. I have all the supplies necessary except maybe for some screws. I have to place this project at the very top of my to-do list! Er, okay, right after completing the garden. . . . . 🙂 It’s so easy for me to get distracted. Haven’t I said it before? Focus, Jodie, focus.

And I have company arriving in 2 days. Yikes. Maybe I should write that to-do list on actual paper rather than having it in my head. I tend to forget what really needs to be done when I’d much prefer doing things I enjoy. Being a major procrastinator doesn’t help matters!

Alright, I’ll make that list as soon as I publish this post. Have a happy Tuesday everyone! Come back tomorrow for my very first product review. I know. I know. You can barely wait. It will be so riveting (ha ha).

May 25th. . . . 7 months to Christmas!

Good morning! I’m going to make this post a quick one! Often I sit here for half an hour or more when I’m composing what I’d like to write. But I have too many things to get going on and little time for this today.

We had a couple thunderstorms over Saturday and Sunday, the second one quite harsh and it would’ve demolished my tender seedlings in the garden had I not been able to cover them all with various clear containers. It reminded me of a hail storm we had years ago. I came home from work and found my garden literally in shreds. It was very upsetting. Everything bounced back though!

I still have several piles of denim all over my sewing room but the resulting organization of placing dozens of pairs of jeans in the proper spot feels good. I’ll begin sewing again once I’m totally done. I’ve decided to finish the Montreal Canadiens denim quilt I’m making for my brother. As long as my sewing machines cooperate!

This is what I have so far, it’s roughly 3 feet by 4 feet. My brother is tall so I have a fair amount of work yet to do. I’m looking forward to his reaction when he gets it.

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Yesterday I had this wonderful idea to review different organic food products I use. I cook and bake frequently (always from scratch) so I have an extensive pantry. It occurred to me that I actually have some knowledge worth sharing! 🙂 Keep posted for my first review later this week.

For now, I’m signing off. I managed NO computer only until 3 p.m. yesterday. . . . pretty good but not perfect. It’s difficult because I also watch “tv” on my computer (Netflix). When I’m sitting at my sewing table cutting up jeans (or working on a quilt), I like to have my current favorite tv show on, Damages with Glenn Close. I’m missing Downton Abbey and look forward to the arrival of season 5. Come on Netflix! Get it!

Okay, seriously, good bye now 🙂 Have a fantastic day everyone!

Denim Disaster

It’s already 18 degrees this morning (10:30 right now, it will be later by the time I post this). The thundershowers we keep expecting just never happen and that’s fine by me. Lightning accompanies thunder and that’s disastrous for the forest fire situation. Obviously I have concern for the people and properties affected by fire and my best wishes for safety are always with them. Being the “odd” person I am, I also think about those poor critters unable to escape: baby birds that can’t fly, toads that just can’t hop fast enough, bumble bee nests, all of it. And I’m bothered again writing about it! Subject change.

My living room is a disaster area. What began as a simple task of cutting up jeans turned into a mission to go through every bin I have (of jeans) to organize them once and for all. I’ve actually made some progress but the scene will get uglier before I’m done. I literally have hundreds of pairs of jeans. I found the cutest Winnie the Pooh pair and now have to make a shopping bag using them! I have Winnie the Pooh flannel too! It’s perfect. And you can see how easily I get off track. . . . check out the snap on that pocket!

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Okay, I’ll dial down my excitement a touch 🙂 I managed to put 12 of 25 pea shoots into the garden. I ditched the planter idea. I’ll get to the remaining shoots today. I’ll carry on with the denimolition too. I also need to rearrange furniture and pack more stuff in my “Kijiji” room. Yes, I have a small, spare bedroom I actually call my Kijiji Room. You guessed it. It’s FULL of things to get rid of. I admit I am a pack rat. The craft supplies alone boggles my mind.

But I won’t get started on that topic. I’ll leave it for another post. Yipee. Bet you can’t wait! Have a fabulous Friday everyone!