December 31, 2014

library love: Quilt Me!

I have been striking gold at the library lately. First Design Bloggers at Home (read my review here) and now Quilt Me!: Using Inspirational Fabrics to Create Over 20 Beautiful Quilts by Jane Brocket.

Just after I settled my mind on the rule that quilts should be made out of cotton and that is that Jane liberates me and shows me how she's made quilts out of a wide range of unexpected fabrics and even vintage treasures like embroidered tablecloths and needlepoint pieces. She feels it is better to cut into those items (oh horror!) and give them new life rather than have them rot away forgotten in a cupboard. Good point!

She goes quite in depth explaining how different fabrics behave and what to be aware of if you are quilting with, say, velvet. In a lovely conversational tone she chats about her design decisions, her sewing and quilting methods and how each quilt came to be. Other than the step-be-step directions, I read this thing cover to cover. I found it to be very inspiring and I have fresh eyes and motivation for investigating the stacks of antique linens you always see in shops.

Full disclosure: This post contains an Amazon Affiliate link.

December 29, 2014

Quilt is on the machine!

I feel like I am wrestling a bear folding it, rolling it, hugging it, and helping it move forward through the machine but I am very happy to be at this stage of the process.

The blog tells no lies. I started thinking about this quilt in February. Pretty good progress compared to the last one though. We'll see when the final finish turns out to be! Less than a year?

In case you were wondering, fabric draped over chair is for this quilt top (a gift way back in 2012). And read about that sweet piece of poppy printed fabric here. And credit for the lovely vintage aprons goes to my dear great-grandmother, a sewing ancestor.

December 22, 2014

a bounty of burp cloths!

So I will say even though I haven't been progressing in the quilt world as fast I would like, I have managed to put together two different gifts of flannel burp cloths for lovely ladies I go to church with, each having their first babies this winter.

The ones above are jungle animal themed to match the nursery. I had fun pairing the animal prints (zebra! giraffe!) with fabric featuring the critters themselves. Most of them look soft and cuddly as you would expect. But I couldn't help myself and had to throw in some Hipster Zebras!

The nursery of this recipient is neutrally decorated in gray and white so I had my fun with the monster fabric. I thought it was quite funny. I've got the burp cloths neatly arranged in our baby bathtub since little dude has outgrown it. I quite love it when I come up with some useful packaging that becomes part of the gift itself.

estate sale enchantment

Last week I happened to notice an ad in the newspaper for an estate sale right in my neighborhood. Oh, how I dearly love an estate sale! Such a treasure hunt. Since the drive wasn't far I decided to go for it despite the fact I would have a 3-year-old and a baby in tow.

Laugh at my ambition if you will, but my 3-year-old actually has some estate sale experience and knows well my rule "no touching, only look with your eyes." The poor babe just got hauled around in his carrier! Luckily, it was a small house and I managed to be a quick shopper.

So the pieces above are either dresser scarves or kitchen towels. That seems to be the size of them. I kind of think they are too pretty to be towels. Anyway, they each have their own design but they do all feature the color red. Can we say quilt inspiration?!

This one was actually a small curtain. I love the fabric design. The best thing about these vintage pieces is the unique feel they will add to any future project. A bit of old is a good thing in my mind.

And of course I still have visions of making a quilt from vintage sheets (check out this one in simple squares and this one in a more complex design for inspiration!) so I snatch them up when the occasion arises. Especially when they are prices at 50¢ each.

 And last but not least, a pretty pink pillowcase.

December 17, 2014

frugal festive food gift

The past few years my husband, our household chef, has whipped up multiple batches of a delicious chai tea mix. We give it as thank you gifts to various service people: the mail lady, the newspaper delivery people, our family hair stylist, the staff at our branch library, our pastors, our dentist, our pediatrician, and so on. I think my favorite was the time we gave jars to the women who were preparing our Christmas morning breakfast at the hotel we were staying at over the holidays. They were so pleased to have a gift. No matter how many jars he makes I find more people to gift them too!

I was getting them ready to go when I realized how very fabulously frugal this gift was. Since I just entered November budget data I can confidently say that the jars cost about a dollar each in grocery costs. And the packaging costs me next to nothing.

The glass jars with cheery red lids are from my favorite peanut butter of which I consume quite a bit. Some people start their day with coffee; I start mine with peanut butter toast.

The tags are punched out from old greeting cards. The punch was a gift to me and I am quite pleased to have it. I imagine I will get years of use out of it.

And, I will confess, I even bought the curling ribbon at a thrift store years ago. Hee.

December 15, 2014

adorable acorn people (you can make them too!)

I have gained a reputation as the craft queen on the years we do Thanksgiving with my husband's family (see: ornamental balls, felt Christmas tree ornaments). This year we made little tiny acorn people with wood bead heads. I did the hot gluing of cap, bead head, and acorn bodies for the kiddos. Then we decorated with fine tip sharpies and yarn for scarves. Credit due to none other than Martha Stewart herself.

December 12, 2014

fabric find

I don't have any beautiful nature photos to share so today you get to see a piece of fabric I treated myself to the other day. I bought it without a purpose but I am quite sure I will find one. Someday.

December 10, 2014

it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

In the past I have piled tree-buying, tree-decorating, and house-decorating into one mega day-long event. This year I spaced it out and dragged up a box at a time and found the whole process to be much more pleasurable. So no more 10-hour decorating marathons for me. A bit at a time is the way to go!

My mantel is super simple and very different from what I have done in Christmases past. Well, the garlands (green and pinecone) and the white lights are standard. But the other pieces, not so much.

I left the narrow white window up from my autumn mantel. I painted it with a fresh coat of white intending to use it as a photo frame in the basement. But the narrow size makes it such a great supporting partner on the mantel (unlike the more square one which works better as the centerpiece – see it here with a wreath) that I might just keep it around as a flexible pieces.

The rusty star and the hunk of driftwood I dragged in from outdoors. The star usually goes on my garden gate and the driftwood spent the summer propped up underneath the pergola. I actually have a vision for the piece of driftwood as inspired by this blog post. Now, will I get to it before Christmas rolls around? Maybe… maybe not!

The photo above shows the top of the shelf in our main floor bathroom. It is a fun and unexpected spot to add some decorations. The little Santa bells are a "new" vintage treasure passed on to me by my always-cleaning grandmother.

And in this photo you can see the vase of driftwood that was featured in this autumn mantel design. I added one of the oak leaf branches from the mantel along with a sprig of fake red berries and it was instantly repurposed. And I must say, my jars of beads and buttons sorted by color prove to be perennially useful in decorating.

Happy holiday decorating to you!

December 8, 2014

shelf analysis & self analysis

Hello, dear readers. Apparently the month of November escaped me. I am so sorry about that! But let's talk art before we talk about me.

The above photo depicts my living room shelves where I play when the decorating mood strikes me. Some of what comes naturally to me does not for others so I thought I would take a moment to look at what I did and tell you why it works.

The key to any lovely arrangement is to make sure there is some repetition. Repeated elements visually send the message "we belong together." And that is always pleasing to the eye!

On the shelf above you will see repetition in:

color (reds and blues are highlighted but I also repeated browns)

shape (circles)

texture (glossy, shiny glass)

I also recommend completely clearing off your shelves and wiping them down before a design re-do. I had not done this in a long time and found it freshened my perspective. I redid several shelves that had been exactly the same for several years when I forced myself to clean house so to speak.

Now, onto the promised self-analysis! As the name of this blog – Make Time, Make Art – indicates I am attempting to document my progress on that very goal. When I don't have anything to write about then I know I am letting one of the most important areas of my life slip in importance. So how am I attempting to remedy it this go round? Well, I am dropping one of my weekly commitments completely. Several others are done for now and won't pick up until January. More time actually physically at home should lead to more art time. The other thing I am attempting to commit to despite crazy baby's (non) sleep schedule is get up before my kiddos and get some art time in the early morning. You will know how I am doing by whether you see posts up here!