Numbers are not my strong point

I’ve never liked numbers. Words make me happy. My dislike of numbers was so strong, that when a word problem came up on a test, I would relish in the fact that there were words and a story to solve. More recently I was running payroll and commissions, and we were catching some errors. Well “some” errors were enough to make me go to my safe zone and write a haiku or two. Words are my happy space.

Now, when it comes to my crafts, I find myself presented with numbers more often than words. Since I like my crafts, I don’t mind the numbers. But, when I get numbers wrong in a project, I just want to pick up a piece of fabric and stitch some words.

How bad am I with numbers, well, my current project I’m trying to make 12 quilted pillow cases 12″ x 12″. Easy enough. But, since they are quilted I have to create a row of 6 – 2.5″ squares and then make 4 of those rows for each pillow. Now, I found the cutest fabric pattern that came as an 18 piece 1/2 yd bundle. Great! I wouldn’t have to worry about matching patterns. Bad, I would have to cut all the sqaures since I didn’t have the charm pack cheat. So, courtesy of Pinterest, I found a different cheat so I wouldn’t have to cut each individual square and then sew together each individual square. And another cheat, I bought a quilting ruler that was 2.5″ wide, so no thought required.

I sat at my computer, did my math, and was like “yeah!” I was even going to have extra squares, perfect! Then, today, while sitting at my work area and arranging the rows for the pillows, I realize I’m 2 rows of 6 squares short. TWO ROWS! 12 squares! Are you kidding me?!?!?!? So, I take a breath, take a swig of my Upslope Pale Ale and redo my math. Well, lo and behold, my math was wrong. I didn’t consider the number of rows needed, just the number of squares. Boo. Hiss. {now for those of you who do enjoy numbers, or at least understand them, you will have figured out that there was a major flaw in my original math regardless of row versus square count}

Really? So, the plan was to make 12. I only needed 11 so one could be scarified/messed up/given away. But, in the end there are 10. It is undecided if that additional one will be made or not. I do enjoy the assembly line process of making multiples. Maybe there will be a charm pack calling my name and that will be used to create the 11th and final pillow.

Next up is learning how to press a seam correctly. I always end up with a “speed bump” between fabrics. Could it really be that hard to get the seam “seamless”?


Focus is key

While I may be working on only two projects at a time, they are multidimensional and take a bit of time.

As a way to focus my projects, and not create huge messes around the house, I try to limit myself to just two projects at a time. Currently, I am working on Father’s Day gifts and gifts for my brother’s 5 kids. The Father’s day gifts are all the same – so those are easy for construction. That, and I picked a simple project, so there isn’t as much stress. The cards are a bit basic as well. A little more variety comes with the project for the 5 kids. There are two young girls, one young boy, and two tween girls. So each set of girls is getting a similar project and the boy is getting something completely different. They actually are quite easy.

The ease of projects for Father’s day and Brother’s kids could be because Mother’s Day and Cinco de Mayo gifts I did not take the simple path.

For Mother’s day I made Bow Totes. My inspiration for the tote came from two different websites I found on Pinterest – Easy DIY Bow Tote Tutorial and The Twenty Minute Tote.

Mother’s Day Totes

These were not very easy. They were my first attempt at tote bags. I had to make at least 15. I loose focus on anything more than 12. In the end, I made 18. The part that was the most fun of this project was picking the fabric for the bows. So many pretty patterns.

I knew this project was going to be a big one, so I started in January. I was finished by March. There were various stages I would complete at random times, so I didn’t slave away. Anything more than a 3 hour block I lose concentration.

So, while working on these, I also came up with the bright idea for mini Pinatas for Cinco de Mayo. My family and friends do not celebrate this holiday, but I wanted a reason to make Mini Pinatas – so this year there was a quasi-celebration. The inspiration for these came from Video | How to make a Piñata: Cute Mini rainbow Piñatas for fiestas! and We R Memory Keepers | Mini Pinatas.

These Pinatas I did not take the easy way out. I decided I wanted to make my own shapes. So I had to research and design a heart, circle, and rectangle that was supposed to be a Lego brick. The Lego bricks did not happen. The Donkey (but for reals, it looks like a sheep dog) came premade from We R Memory Keepers and the Triangle came from a pattern that was linked in the video.

To make the fringe tissue I once again decided I wanted to do it myself. I could have bought it pre-fringed and with adhesive, but apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. So bought a fringer and added my own double sided adhesive. It was a bit tedious.

I was surprised by my ability to actually complete both projects in time to send them out! I am usually a procrastinator, so it was a great accomplishment to finish them.

In addition to my projects, I enjoy the packaging. Pretty much all my projects get sent out as family and friends are not all in Colorado. But even my Colorado friends get packages in the mail.

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Outside Packaging – Address would be under name for mailing.
When the box is opened

As you can see, my projects are multidimensional and I do my best to consider how the gifts will be received as much as how pretty the gift is.

The fathers will be getting a bit of the short stick compared to the mother’s gifts, but I will say their cards are more fun! I’m already thinking about next year’s gifts and am working on an idea that will work for both holidays.

I just don’t understand

As I continue to try new projects, and follow the instructors directions; I always balk at the idea of embroidering after creation. What is the enhanced benefit of this process? !? I generally will not follow those directions. I will embroider on the piece prior to creation. This allows me to work with a smaller area, and a one dimensional area. As I create the pattern to be embroidered I take into account the seam allowance and final position, and stitch conservatively to ensure that my presentation is visibly appealing.

But why, o’ why, am I constantly instructed to embroider as a last step? While I can see the benefit of not touching the embroidery piece through the rest of construction, it is a big jumbled mess (when working on a quilt per se) to get the job done.

Anyone’s input into this practice would be much appreciated! Until I’m convinced to the contrary, I will continue to create my embroidery pieces prior to finalized construction.

Apparently straight lines are a thing

Making a purse today I realized that I do need to work on sewing straight lines. That and I need to figure out the tension on my top thread as each time I start it gets jacked up.

Back to straight lines. So, I was making straps. Every inch or so there was a shift as I tried to keep a straight line. My efforts were useless. And then, I realized that I was going have to double stitch. So, not just one straight line, but a total of 16 of them, they didn’t work out very well.

The bag turned out decent, would need some adjustments in the future. But for sure, I have to continue practicing making a straight line. That and understanding the tension on my starting stitch.

Rice Stuffed Items

Today I made a neck and lap warmer for my friend’s birthday. This was my first time making these rice filled warmers. This is the website I was using as a pattern Microwaveable Rice Heating Pads. I had found another pattern awhile back, but I wasn’t able to find it again (lesson learned, Pinterest).

Originally it was supposed to be just a neck warmer at her request, but after finding this site, I figured I’d go all out and build a lap warmer as well. She is my friend, right?!?

Constructing the “large pocket” wasn’t an issue. That is standard work. However, once rice got introduced to the project, all hell broke lose. Filling the rice, easy. Getting the rice to stay in its section, not easy. Sewing a straight line to close the section, complete opposite of easy. My first result was not gift worthy.

Good news is the site listed 1/2 yard of fabric for the lap piece, which, as it turns out, can make three lap pieces. So, realizing I had enough extra to create another one without having to buy more fabric, I ditched the website and created something on my own.

I decided I was tired of turning fabric, so I top stitched 3 of the 4 sides “shut”. Then, I sewed some ric rac down the short length to create four sections prior to filling with rice. Once those were created, I filled with rice. Now, since I ditched the website instructions, I put about 2.5 – 3 cups of rice per section. **Note to self: that is too much rice and creates a very heavy lap pad.** As I filled each section I top stitched the section closed to contain the rice. When I was done, there was a top stitched line at each side creating an enclosed, pocketed, rice lap warmer. I used pinking shears on the exposed edges to help prevent fraying (don’t think it will be that handy if this actually gets used).

This method of creating the sections prior to filling with rice is a much easier, and cleaner, method for creating rice filled pouches.

For the neck warmer, I had already created the “pocket” as instructed by the website, but I knew that is where following the instructions stopped. I didn’t have any ric rac on hand to create the sections, so I just topstitched lines to create the sections. Also, since 3 of the 4 sides were “finished” I had to figure out what to do with the open side. It turns out I had bought some bias tape (on a whim) and realized I could use that to “finish” the final edge that was open to fill.

It worked pretty well!

I also realize that I keep to my colors that I like, and so the random notions and fabrics can be used between projects since they match unintentionally. Not too shabby.