Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Waste Gift Bags

I really do not like giftwrap which gets thrown out. So I, like many of you, reuse every gift bag I receive, along with the tissue paper.

But sometimes the paper gets mucked up, or you need something that can be shipped without spilling all from the inside. So I make little drawstring bags, envelopes and other packets to wrap my gifts in.

This week's Thrifty Gift is a selection of drawstring bags.

The simplest is just a folded piece of fabric with a small channel along the top edge for a drawstring, something like this perhaps.

Another is a circular fabric with holes for lacing a string through, as shown here.

There are a number of variations to this idea available on the internet, including this one for an Apple Bag, a free design by the Leisure Arts company.

More complex patterns include reversible drawstring bags, cone shaped, animal shaped, zippered, compartmentalized- just about anything you can imagine. If I find anything special, I will be sure to post it. But please post any links you find in the Comments section here and I will try my hand at them.

This is the Week 14 (or 15) Project for Thrifty Gift Maker hour, a live online chat held at #QuiltChat- all are welcome to join in the fun! (I have lost track a bit, lost count of the time LOL)I host Gift Maker Chat on Sundays @ 7 pm & Mondays @ 10 am EST, but there are usually folks in around the clock.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fabric Fortune Cookies

Everyone loves to crack into a fortune cookie.

And a cookie made of fabric would be really cute. How about as ornaments on a tree. Maybe a tiny tree, covered in just these as a table topper that no one would realize was a gift for each person attending a party?

What you need to start
* Two fabrics in at least 5 inch squares
* Fusible interfacing
* Fabric glue (something that dries quick is the important bit)
* Fabric stiffener (I like spray starch)
* Fortunes on slips of paper
* Chopsticks or pencils

Start by writing out your Fortunes on slips of paper less than 3 inches long. (Of course, you can always fold the paper if longer.)
Need help writing the fortunes? Try this online Fortune Generator. (Or try this one for funnier results.)

Then it is pretty simple-

fuse the fabrics back-to-back, cut out the circles, fold and stick in the fortune, add a dab of glue, shape and starch, allow to dry and Voila!

Olfa (the cutting mat & ruler maker) has great instructions here.

An alternate way to shape the cookies:
Fold the circles into thirds, the fold lengthwise and tack together at the center of the legs.

Do you want a really cute way to pack these?

How about a take-out box! You can even make one with all the things you have on hand. And here is a pattern that is a perfect size for one cookie apiece, or enlarge it and use it for multiples.

And if you want to try your hand at making some real Fortune Cookies, they are fast & easy to whip up.
Just don't overcook them.

This is Week 13 or 14 Project for Thrifty Gift Maker hour, a live online chat held at #QuiltChat- all are welcome to join in the fun! (I have lost track a bit, lost count of the time LOL)
I host Gift Maker Chat on Sundays @ 7 pm & Mondays @ 10 am EST, but there are usually folks in around the clock.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Recovering from Retreat

Ohhh- Home at Last!

Retreat is one of those vacations that you need a rest from after it is done. A bit of manual labor really. (So why isn't it better exercise??)

Retreat started last Friday, and it was such a blast! I am so glad to have met such wonderful friends who have welcomed me into their circle and invited me back to join them at such a gorgeous location.

We had a great time at Camp Luther, which is located on Lake Hatzic, east of Vancouver BC. Below is the view west, from the deck just off the workspace we all played in.

My space- not nearly as organized and tidy as "some". The 25 retreat-ors were set up on these great tables and we had a nice couple of pressing centers and a large cutting out/ laying out area for all to use.

Here is my bed- and I did get to sleep under my quilt top- I added the binding the first night of Retreat. As you can imagine, the 'beds' were super comfy, and there were two per room, plus a full bed. (The trick to getting any sleep on the bunk is to steal the mattress off the top bunk.) (And wearing earplugs.)(And to go to bed really, really tired.)
This is a quilt top which I finished while there- it started as a great little Mystery Quilt trio. But I couldn't leave well enough alone and combined and changed and combined a bit. It is shown here draped over my loom.
These are some mini quilts I started, and almost completed- they were 1 1/4 inch squares when cut from the scrap bin.

And... some Stash Enhancing. I couldn't resist. It was a Quilt weekend, right???

And I have already paid my deposit for next year!

I should start counting down the days...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Casserole Carrier & Insulator

Fall & Winter are the perfect time to think about inviting friends & family for a nice homecooked meal, full of fresh baked pies and things covered in gravy.


Don't forget your sister-in-law's famous bean casserole!
But isn't it annoying how she brings it half cold, because it takes her 45 minutes to drive to your house? And then the kids drop it on your new white carpet!

Alack & Alas!
What to DO? How can you bring back the joy? How can you help?

Make her a Casserole Carrier that Insulates!

Directions are Here.
Pattern is Here.

It can also double as a Fabulous couture hat, for the more festive outings- especially if you leave the edges raw, like the kids like.

This is Week 12 Project for Thrifty Gift Maker hour, a live online chat held at #QuiltChat- all are welcome to join in the fun!
I host Gift Maker Chat on Sundays @ 7 pm & Mondays @ 10 am EST, but there are usually folks in around the clock.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Soft Journal

This Soft Journal, which I found at the Marcus Fabrics website, would make a very thoughtful handmade gift for someone who enjoys sketching or drawing, and with a bit of adaptation it would even work as an hand-embroidery practice book.

You will need some fusible interfacing and light colored fabrics to make the pages, and I chose to use some orphan blocks and muslin to make the cover. This is a fast gift to make, an incredibly versatile. It can be as complex as you choose. And just about any size and dimension too!
(The Marcus Fabrics site has additional direction available for more complex journals, as well as dozens of other projects and quilt patterns.)
This is the project for Week 11 of Thrifty Gift Maker chat hour, at #QuiltChat, hosted by myself on Sunday @ 7 pm & Monday @ 10 am EST. All are welcome to join the chat.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

An orphan's fate

I found a bin of orphans.
I am not proud of it. But there it was, in the back corner of my closet.
A box. And in the box, separately in plastic ziploc bags, in grocery totes, crammed together and layered dozens deep...
Half embroidered blocks, half a project completed, patterns with the pieces cut but never assembled, threads everywhere, things missing instructions.
A history of my sewing this last decade.
I can’t believe I left these half done LOL
I think they have been there since I moved here 4 years ago.
So here is my shame- exposed for the whole world to see.

One entire grocery sack was filled with unmade bocks from shop-hop 2006. I will admit that I am not sure where the unmade blocks for the 2007 hop are, now that I am being honest.

I seem to have an aversion to completing embroidery. The mole that was layered and basted together and cut, but then left. The Sunbonnet Sures, that need just a tiny bit more.

I think I can blame some of this on my old sewing machine. It was horrible. It would simply stop working for no reason.
It was a learning experience.

Also, two starts on small Lone Stars-
the blue is in diamonds, the other an early try at strip piecing perhaps?

A number of projects to be sewn by hand. And a bag of scraps from a top that must be stashed elsewhere, because I know I haven't quilted it yet.

It brought me back to the days before I understood how foundation paper piecing actually works- note the raccoon. I will have to assemble those pieces. I remember the frustration well.

I love to design, and have here a triptych of winter scenes, a Puss In Boots, a rose wreath, a basket missing its flowers and those Seasonal Sunbonnet Sues needing just a bit more stitching.

I do think I will try to finish these.
Because I know I have more to discover in the deep recesses somewhere. Because they reminded me of other half-finished blocks. Things not yet glimpsed.
Tops that are layered and basted but not quilted.
Guilt in cotton.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Another Quiz... sheesh

What color is your soul painted?


Your soul is painted the color brown, which embodies the characteristics of calmness, depth, nature, stability, tradition, poverty, roughness, down-to-earth, uncertainty, and neutrality. Brown is the color of the element Earth, and represents soil and, to a lesser degree, fertility of the Earth.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz

Quizzes and Personality Tests

Thank you to Random Blethers for introducing me to a whole new website full of time waster quizzes.
"Hi, my name is Sarah, and I am a quizaholic"

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day laborings

In the USA, today has been Labor Day. A day off for many. And a bit of an Unofficial End of Summer three-say weekend. It is often a say spent at backyard cook-outs, or cleaning up after that last camping trip. (And often a traffic jam that takes 4 hours to get through. Just to convince you not to do this type of thing again.)

My Labor Day weekend was nothing like that-
Yes, there were some similarities to a campsite: lack of basic hygiene, eating cold leftovers for my meals (plus BBQ Lays & Diet Coke), and a dog at my side the whole day. But I have been inside my house All Weekend.

I sewed!

I finally got all the blocks for my Starbright quilt completed. These blocks started as 2.5" squares, and are now (supposedly) 6.5" blocks.
I did a lot of sewing today, and spent about 15% of the time un-sewing. Not a bad ratio in my book!

My goal is to have this top completed and quilted in time to take it to Quilt Retreat on September 14. I don't want to drag a sleeping bag with me this year.
Even if I have to add binding the night I arrive at Retreat, I will feel like I accomplished my goal. But I am going for the Finish.
This will be first quilt I have completed that is larger than lap size. After 15 years of mucking about with the dog quilts & fluffy things, I have finally made something large enough to use myself.
I will tell you which I prefer after I quilt-wrestle it through my travel sized sewing machine LOL
...I may just rent out the Long-arm machine at the local shop.

A Dog's Life

Loyalty is a dog.

I don't know who said it, but they sure got it right.
My little pug munchkin prefers to be close to me-
At dinner, in case some food drops...
While visiting with friends, in case of walkies...
During TV time, in case of a need to bark of TV critters...
And while I sew, in case I want to do anything more interesting!

Pugs Gone Wild

So what do you get when you introduce a bag a fluff to an environment already inhabited by a pug dog?

Lilly thinks you get a party!
She grabs a big huge mouthful and prances around in front of me, enticing me to chase her and take it away.
When that game pales, she takes a rest, puts her foot on it, and drags it through her teeth.
Then when she is done with that, she leaves it there.
A slobbery mess for me to clean up.
But it is a party, much like a new ball of yarn.
And it isn't as if she is entirely wrong.
And she doesn't eat it.
So it gets into the cute things category.

Even if said bag is now rather ragged and holey now.

The little owls are put up.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Everyone loves a flock of Wowls!
So we are making some for Thrifty Gift Maker Week 10.
Moonstitches blog has a fabulous How-To that will have you making swarms of these little cuties. Take a look at hers spelling out things at the end!

Just go to this Tutowlrial for the step-by-step photo how-to.
There are no templates or measurements or anything to download. But this is an easy one to just eyeball. (Once you try, you will understand how that works.)

Can't you just see them with a little elfin hat and a scarf...
Maybe a bunch of them all nestled together in a decorated egg carton, ready to swoop down onto some lucky friend's mantle. Or with little clips on their feet, ready to roost in a Christmas tree!

So please email me with pics of your flock, because I think these are just a Hoot!

Don't forget...
Thrifty Gift Maker chat hour is Sunday @ 7 pm & Monday at 10 am EST, via
Bring your ideas to share!