Posts Tagged ‘Sewing projects’

I thought I’d fill you all in on what I’ve been doing, since I haven’t been posting all that often anymore. So here it is, a little glimpse into my hobby of making mini quilts.

In Flight, 13 x 19 inches

Snowflake, 13″ x 13″

Harbor Light, 13″ x 9″

Birch Trees, 14″ x 9″ (adorned with real birch leaves, dipped in copper and gold plated)

A Walk in Capitol Square, 17″ x 14.5″

“Tin Goose over South Bass Island” 12 x 12

And a few unfinished works in progress:

Dancer, 11″ x 10″

Violet, 10″ x 14″

Maddie even let me take 2 whole pictures before jumping into the frame!


Read Full Post »

I have (well, used to have) lots of t-shirts that I don’t wear anymore, but didn’t want to get rid of because of their memories. Shirts from college, high school, family vacations, shirts I loved when I was a kid, you know what I mean. Everyone has shirts like that they don’t want to get rid of. Well, it came to the point where I was running out of space to store them all. So…..I cut them up and made patchwork quilts out of all the logos from the front.

As far as putting the quilt itself together, there really aren’t any rules and no right or wrong way to do it. But I do have a few helpful tips.

  • Measure, measure, measure. Draw a diagram of the layout and make a plan. Don’t forget about leaving allowances for seams. Using 1/2-inch seams makes the math easy, so you only need to add one inch to the size you want your blocks. For example, if you want to use 15×15 blocks, cut them 16×16.
  • Precise cutting of t-shirt fabric is just about impossible. Not to mention machine sewing it without having it get all bunchy. I find it much easier to iron fusible innerfacing onto the back and then cut it. This will keep the fabric from stretching, curling up, and moving around while you’re trying to cut and sew it.
  • Don’t scrimp on the batting: if you don’t use batting, your blanket will seem empty, even if you back it with the quilted stuff with the batting built in.
  • You can back it with just about anything. I’ve used old sheets, other throw blankets I had lying around, fleece, and other shirts to make a reversible t-shirt quilt (not recommended, as the logos on the inside feel cold when you try to cuddle up with it, and it makes for twice as much work to only be able to enjoy one side at a time. Didn’t really think that one through all the way….). I suppose you could just back it with the backs of the shirts, but that would be a whole lot of extra work and take lots more innerfacing. Anyway, just about anything goes for the backing.

Here are pictures of some of the ones I’ve done:

The only downside is that after about 1-2 quilts or so, you’ll start running out of things to do with all the backs and sleeves of the shirts. At first, it’s great to have lots of extra rags, but now that I’ve got enough rags, the scraps are really starting to pile up.

Enter: great idea from Mom.

She took all the backs of all the shirts leftover from a quilt I made my sister, cut them into strips, and used them to crochet a rug.

I can’t offer any advice on how she did it, as the only thing I know about crocheting is that I suck at it. But for something this cool, I will definitely have to try my hand (again) at crocheting. I’m pretty sure I have enough scraps to carpet my whole apartment if I wanted to, and the rugs we have in the kitchen are really old, stained, and just really in need of replacing.

Pretty cool, huh? Now you all know where I get it from!

Read Full Post »

Games are really expensive. But they can sometimes be easy to make. I just made one that came out really cool, and since I’m pretty sure my little nephews and niece don’t read this, I can share with you their Christmas gift. When my sisters and I were kids, digging around at grandmas house, we came across an old game called Chaos. I’ve searched for it lots of times, and I’m pretty sure it’s not available or not made anymore. It was a lot of fun, though, and since it was a pretty simple gameboard with simple pieces, I decided to try to make a version of it.

The idea of the game is to be the first one to get all of your pieces from one side of the board to the other. BUT, all the pieces look the same on one side, and you’re not allowed to flip any pieces over to make sure they’re yours until you’ve reached the other side of the board, your “home.” So, it’s sort of a memory game, as well as a strategy -type game.

We buy a lot of Juicy Juice here, and so we started saving the caps, because, since they’re all identical, they would make great game pieces.  Colored permanent markers worked well to mark the inside for each player’s set.

Then, I got to work making a checker-type board, but with all the squares the same color. I used old scraps of orange and yellow, with some 1/4 inch batting for the middle. For the yellow squares, I used double-sided iron-on inner facing (the kind with the paper that peels off the back) and then top stitched them all on.

Here’s what the game board looks like set up for four players, and with one piece turned over to show the colored mark inside:

With four players, the game can get pretty crazy!

And here is what it looks like when all the pieces make it home. I just used colored Sharpies, but stickers or paint might work too. Red, yellow, green, and blue, one set for each player.

I also made a pouch to keep the directions in, the pieces, and the game board. Here’s a close-up of the bag.

And the full directions I typed up and laminated for the bag, if you’re interested:

Chaos Directions

General Rules: Chaos is a unique game of mental skill that calls upon its players to recall previous moves and positions of playing pieces that all look identical. The skill of the game lies in remembering which piece belongs to whom as you attempt to move your entire set from one side of the board to the other.

Equipment: The equipment consists of one playing board and 24 playing pieces. The playing pieces, when placed face down, are identical, but when turned over (face up) reveal color.

Preparation: Each player takes 6 playing pieces of the same color and shows the other players. These pieces become the player’s set. The set is The set is placed face down on the first row of the board nearest that player. The player who has the green set moves first with play rotating to the left thereafter.

Object: The object of Chaos is to be the first player to move your entire set across the board to the opposite side.

Moves: During a turn, a player can move a piece in either one or two ways, but always forward, sideways, or diagonally. The player can move it along the board one circle per turn, or jump any piece directly next to it, as long as there is an empty circle to land on after the jump. Player 1 can continue to jump as long as there is a piece directly next to theirs and a circle to land on. Before any player can move any playing piece across the center of the board (which is indicated by a black line) their entire set must be moved out of their original positions, either forward or diagonally.


  • When a player reaches the opposite side of the playing board, the piece is turned over (face up) to reveal its color. If the color is correct, the piece remains there and may not be moved for the remainder of the game. If, however, the color belongs to another player, the playing piece is turned back over and the player to whom the piece belonged must move it from that position in the following turn. The game then continues with the next player’s turn.
  • If player 1 suspects that player 2 is moving a piece that is not hers, player 1 may challenge player 2 as soon as the piece is moved. The piece is then turned over revealing its color. If the challenged player has moved the wrong piece, the piece must be moved back to where it was before the turn, and the player forfeits that turn. If the move was correct and the challenger was wrong, the challenger forfeits his next turn.

Winner: The first player to get their entire set on the last row of the opposite side of the board wins the game.


Two-Player Game: Beginner’s Game:
To make a two-player game more interesting, each player should play 2 colors (12 playing pieces each). The playing board should be placed kitty-corner on the table, each player using two adjoining sides as his base rows. Each player makes 2 consecutive moves, moving one playing piece of each of the two colors.  All other rules for a four-player game apply. Play according to the above rules, but with each player using only 3 pieces. As skill increases, add more pieces until you are able to keep track of all 6.



And there you have it. A new game for free! Hopefully my nephews and niece will enjoy it.

Read Full Post »

Whenever anyone talks about “going greener” one of the first things mentioned is giving up the plastic grocery bags for reusable bags. But, in my opinion, it’s lame to buy another bag, even if it is reusable, when I can make some unique, personalized ones out of stuff I already have or stuff that would get thrown out. Why buy any when I can make them for free, right? I have moderate sewing experience, a flair for breaking conventional rules of sewing, and a general enjoyment of the creative process of designing stuff, which turns out to be a pretty good combination. Anyway, here are some of the ways I have managed to eliminate (almost…) my plastic bag usage.

Reusing old umbrella fabric

After every wind/rain storm around here, there’s always lots of broken, discarded umbrellas either hanging out of trash cans or blowing around sidewalks and streets. Husband and I make a point of rescuing them from the landfill so I can give the fabric tops new life as bags, dismantle the folding arms, and separate out the recyclable pieces. What I like best about these is the lightweight fabric rolls up into a tiny little ball that fits easily in my purse. I always have one on hand, and therefore never have an excuse for bringing one of those hideous plastic bags home. Though, I’ll admit I used a plastic bag as a PATTERN for this one. They are designed really well, actually. They have sturdy, double-layered handles, they expand width-wise, and are just the right size. Except they’re made of plastic, meant for one-time use, and produce a lot of trash and litter, which makes mine way better 🙂

Here are some pictures of one I made, what it looks like open and rolled up:

During the last rain storm in Boston, we collected 13 umbrellas, which now have new life instead of going into a landfill. Check it out:


Old T-shirt bag

This is a great way to keep and use that old favorite t-shirt that no longer fits. And this one’s easy to do in under 5 minutes, with minimal sewing skills, again borrowing ideas from the design of our old friend, the one-time-use plastic bag. Just take an old t-shirt, cut the sleeves off just inside the seams, cut the neck hole a little bigger (this will be the top opening of your bag, sew the bottom shut, and enjoy!


General canvas bag

A little extra canvas and some old fabric scraps make for a fun way to customize what would be an ordinary bag. And, I can make it just the size I want, with just the right length of straps. The remnant place I shop at often has good deals on fabric remnants, and I never know what kinds of crazy stuff I’ll find there. I’ve even been known to find an occasional old ship’s sail. Fun times.


Those ugly recyclable plastic/cloth bags

Somehow, I don’t believe these allegedly #5 recyclable bags can actually be recycled into anything else, I’m pretty convinced they’re toxic to make, and they usually have some hideous logo for something-or-other on them. I only have a few of them because they were given as freebies at work, and I offered to take the extras that no one wanted so they wouldn’t get tossed out. Now, after covering the logos, they’re a little less ugly, and not in a landfill.

So there you have it, 4 reasons to never need a plastic bag again.

What other creative ways have you found to replace plastic bags?

Read Full Post »