Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's preparations...

It's the last day of 2011...time to get ready for the traditional Quilt Studio Clean-Up for the New Year!
This time I decided the "divide & conquer" routine is best, so I will look at the areas in my studio and choose one to work on first. You might think a room this small doesn't have areas, but it definitely does!
A place for everything...?
This is by the door, but actually to the left as you walk (squeeze) in. Really, the ironing has to go...that's a big mental road block in a studio! And how can I open the nice, labelled boxes when small items have used the lids as a landing spot?
Why the door doesn't open completely
Why, yes...this whole mess does collapse under the force of gravity upon occasion! And what you can't see on the floor is a stack (there's a box under it somewhere) for things to get rid may ask why they are still there!
Ah...a new sewing machine!
Here's a bit of a breather...except for the true Neat-Niks, but they've already clicked away to another blog by now, if their hands weren't shaking too much.
But the trash basket is full. At least that's easy to fix.

Really...this is a cutting table!
This is to my back when I'm sewing. It's a very good example of how any horizontal space collects stuff.The plastic box contains a lot of decorative threads, and it has a place to be put away in, too!
I'm sure if you like TV shows such as "American Pickers" and "Storage Wars" you are really enjoying this post...and you're wondering what all is on those shelves in the background.

This is:
The WOW factor
I know the vinyl I need for the Betsy Goldsmith applique class is in here somewhere...down on the lower left is the home of the Infamous Over-flowing Scrap Basket, my lecture prop. 
But the place that really needs clearing out the most has to be here:
Total confusion...or is it?
It's a mess, but I do know what's in there! It's the magnet spot for all UFOs and other things that need to be set aside maybe for 5 years or so!
This is the ideal place to start the clean-up, as these items are beginning to block the way to my sewing machine.
But no matter how cluttered it gets, I will never utter the words "I can't get in there". That is a bad sign, means you are not able to get to your creative work, and that's the beginning of the end!

If you ever reach that point, let me know and I will come over to help you shovel a path to your sewing machine. Do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to be cut off from sewing, gluing or whatever it is you love to do. Even the tiniest bit of creative action keeps your soul alive.

OK, I'm ready now to do battle with my PackRat side. Like battling the Dark Side, it's never-ending...but it is a lot more fun and colorful!


Friday, December 16, 2011

A Fast Gift for Feline Friends

Next to the cardboard box from a package, a cat's favorite gift is a catnip bag.
I wanted to give something to my cat Shayla and to my friends' cats, so here's a way to make a lot of catnip bags really fast. And no turning needed!
Start with a nice batik Fat Quarter (18" x 22") has a good tight weave to stand up to teeth & claws, plus you'll enjoy seeing it as it appears in odd places around the house!
So pretty & bright!

1)  Trim the edges to makes them fairly square/ straight if they aren't already.
2)  With the wrong side up, fold the long edges in to touch in the center. Now you will see the right side of the fabric. 
3)  Start at one end and mark a line 1/2--3/4" inside. Then mark at 2" and then 1/2"  and 2" until you get to the end.You do not need to be fussy about the measurements. I used a chalk marker. You need the 1/2--3/4" at the end on the right, too. Just cut off any extra fabric.
This will make 14 bags that are approx. 2" x 4"
4)  Set your stitch length a bit shorter than usual, and just sew right on top of the lines. Or sew on and off the lines. Nobody is going to notice, and the cat will be too high to care if the lines are "straight".
Don't worry about the open edges yet!
5)   Backstitch at the start and end of each line.
6)   If you have a thread cutter button on your machine, this is a great time to use it! My new Horizon has one, but I sewed half the lines before I remembered to use the automatic cutter....maybe I won't forget it from now on!
7)  Fold the piece of fabric along the center so all the openings are going up.
Home-made is so often better than store-bought.
8)  I made a paper funnel to get the catnip into the bags. You can see the plastic one that did not work! Make the opening about the same size as the bag (2"). I just rolled a piece of scrap paper and taped it.
9)  Start at one end and fill the bags. I stuck my fingers down inside to sort of separate the layers in each bag, giving the catnip a place to go. 2 tablespoons is plenty for each bag...of course, I just eyeballed it!
I ran out of  'nip and have empty bags on the right end!
10) Pin the bags shut if you think they will spill as you're working along the row. In fact, you may want to do the filling over a box lid or tray to catch the extra know I always make a mess!
Closing the bags
11)  Sew along each open edge with a long seam. You could backstitch at each intersection with the bag sides, but if you use a short stitch it's not really necessary.
12)  Now get out those pinking shears and cut all the bags apart!
Do you know where your pinking shears are???
13)  Cut in between the bags, does not matter which way you cut first! 
Too cute!
14)  Yes, that's 3 pinked edges and one fold.
 I ran out of catnip, so those four bags were just cut off the end and can be filled & stitched shut later.
Shayla offers to help "clean up".
So there are 10 catnip bags to make my fur friends feel happy this holiday season, and it took less than an hour including selecting the fabric.

I don't have any doggie friends to make gifts for this year, but if you do, I suggest making a collar cover...just sew a tube that is longer than the collar so it scrunches up when you thread the collar end through. Pick a color that the owner likes...the dog is color-blind and does not care!
My DIL noticed that the napkins at an import store would make really cool bandanas. That would also be a good idea, because many dogs look great wearing one!

Hope your holiday sewing is going well...let me know if you have any good quick & easy ideas to share!