Our Craft Room

Welcome to our Craft Palace! This is definitely our happy place.

Although I wish I could say this space was designed and pre-planned, it really has been a cobbled-together, ever changing and expanding project.  There are so many things we need to update and upgrade still so keep that in mind as you take a closer look at our work space.

I’ll start off with the work table.  This was a really cool curb-side find.  I had noticed this drop-leaf table on the curb in our neighborhood and just had to have it as a project piece.  With a lot of sanding first then a few minor repairs and cleaning, it proved to be a very sturdy piece that was perfect for the craft palace. 

I wanted to countersink the sewing machine we use for free motion quilting so I used white contact paper and traced the bottom of the sewing machine to make a template.  Using the white contact paper made it easy to place (and adjust) where I wanted to cut the hole and was easy to remove when I was finished.

After tracing the template onto the table, I used a jigsaw to cut the hole and put L brackets underneath to secure a board I cut to make a shelf for the sewing machine to sit on.

To finish it up, I used some wood patterned contact paper to cover it thinking it might be easier to re-do in the future if need be because sometimes these surfaces take on some pretty rough treatment.

I love this table for the versatility!  Since both sides can be lowered, it’s easy to move around and open back up for much appreciated space to work.

To make the most of the space in the room, I ordered four small dressers from IKEA and spaced them out to accommodate a kneehole space and put a board on top to make a desktop for the computer and keyboard and some of our smaller accessories.

I purchased the board at Home Depot and had them cut two feet off so that the makeshift desk would be 8ft x 17in.  I put a light stain and acrylic sealant on the board.  The dressers make a great base for the desk and have lots of storage.

I can’t seem to get into the right position to take a picture of the small dressers with the board but if you look at the first picture posted, they are directly behind Papa Tom.

At the end of the desktop is my Galaga Arcade game.  What can I say…it was my favorite game to play back in the day and it’s so much fun to play when I take a break.

We used some basic bookcases for our fabric.  Fabric is wrapped onto comic book backing that was ordered from Amazon.  One idea that definitely didn’t turn out to be all that great is using fabric panels and Velcro patches as covers.  Just one of many things to put on the list to update (a list that grows fast)!

On top of the bookcases are some metal tubs I found at the At Home store. These make storing my habit of buying remnants from the fabric store really nice.

 Above the bookcases, I installed curtain rods to drape quilt tops on that were in the works.

The window treatment is comprised of scraps of fabric and assorted tulle tied in a square knot on a curtain rod.  I had seen this idea on Pinterest and loved it.  Makes it interesting to come up with the colors you like and blend them the way you want.

I absolutely love the IKEA cube storage unit!  This thing holds a lot of our fabric scraps, button stash, beads and baubles and on and on. 

On top of the cube storage, I used stackable milk crates zip-tied together with an aluminum rod running through them to make a closet for 18” doll clothes.  There was a time when I was sewing doll clothes for our granddaughter’s American Girl Doll for Christmas and this made for easy storage of the finished outfits while sewing continued.

Oh and then there’s the design wall.  I admit, not much to look at but it sure makes laying quilt blocks out so easy!  It’s simply felt hung over the wallspace. We will definitely be upgrading this in the near future.

The TV tray ironing set-up has to be one of my favorite additions to the Craft Palace.  It’s so easy and convenient to move around to where we’re sewing or to put away and store.  I bought an old wooden TV tray from a thrift store, cleaned it up, covered the top with Insul Bright then covered that with fabric by stapling the fabric underneath the edges of the tray.

I use a condiment bottle to keep water in so that I can refill the iron and of course some handy dandy Quilter’s Starch.

We also have a really neat wool pressing mat and small iron that makes ironing seams as I go a breeze.

The button hooks on the wall were a great find at Dollar General.  I painted them to coordinate with everything and used command gripper strips to mount them.  I mainly use them to hold my binding when we’re working on a quilt.

I found four (4) really sturdy chairs on our local on-line garage sale site.  The chairs were orange and the seats and backs were covered with Texas Longhorn fabric.  I was really excited to pick these up for $20 and get to do a project to boot.  I painted them a really nice blue and used some peacock fabric to cover the seats and backs.  Sure makes it easier not having to move a chair around plus I can have friends over and work on projects comfortably.

Another really neat project piece we found at a thrift store was this old CD tower/case.  I had some wooden dowels so I cut them to the size that would hold cone thread spools.  I drilled holes in the tower and glued the dowels in then spray painted it all black to finish it up.  Now it holds our quilting cone thread and bobbins.

Some people have a “junk drawer” somewhere in their homes.  After our youngest left the nest, we have a room that could probably be featured on the show Hoarders, ha ha ha!  So we bought a No Trespassing sign and hung it on the door.  If we have company, I hope they keep this door closed!

So many more ideas, updates and projects on our list to improve our ever-growing and evolving Craft Palace, I think it may always be a work in progress.

The Story Behind the Quilt for Beau

This is the story behind the blue and yellow quilt for our grandson, Beau.

Of course we were thrilled to find out our second grandchild was on the way (even if it was such a short time after the first one).  We thought there’d be plenty of time to make our new addition to the family their very own quilt so we weren’t in a big hurry.  As per usual, time just flew by.   Pretty soon, almost two years had passed, so we decided we better get busy getting his quilt underway.

The pattern is “Under the Stars” and was a free pattern found in the early 1990’s on Quilter’s Cache website.  The pattern had been printed out and ended up getting filed away in our folder of “quilts we like and hope to do some day” for a long time.  This was a great place to start looking when picking out a pattern for the quilt.

We’ve since gone back to the site to see if we could find it and haven’t had any luck.  The good news is, there are still so many free block patterns to browse that the biggest problem will be spending all of your time looking at the beautiful patterns!  Here’s the link to Quilter’s Cache in case you want to enjoy looking around

And on a final note, our daughter sure has a sense of humor and a great sense of timing.  As the quilt piecing got underway, she called to tell us they just found out baby #3 was on the way! 

The Story Behind Hannah’s Quilt

As mentioned in an earlier post, every quilt has a story.  This is the story behind the purple nine-patch quilt for our granddaughter, Hannah.

We were both thrilled when we became grandparents for the first time.  Our little Hannah (whose nickname started out Hannah-Bee and then transformed into Honey-Bee) was just such a precious little girl!

Our son-in-law is active duty military and he and our daughter had been moving all over the country.  Time was flying by so quickly, in the blink of an eye Honey-Bee was growing up so fast!  My wife, Elaine, wanted to carry on the family tradition of making a quilt for our granddaughter before time got away from us.  Honey-Bee said she wanted a purple quilt, so purple it is!

Elaine decided on an old and familiar pattern that was one of her grandmother’s favorites, the nine patch block.  She worked on that quilt almost non-stop.  Once she got started, it was difficult to tell when she might stop.  Now that I’ve been quilting, I understand the obsession and can appreciate the investment of time it takes to get a quilt finished.

Elaine was relieved she was able to finish it and get it to Honey-Bee and enjoy a nice visit with the children and grand.  During our wonderful visit, our daughter had an announcement to make…yep, they were expecting another baby on the way!  Alright, it was time to design another quilt.

The Story Behind the Quilt

Every quilt has a story.  Even though making a quilt can be broken down technically of sewing (or piecing) a fabric top and then quilting the batting, backing and top together then binding it to make the finished quilt, it’s really much more than that to a quilter.  It’s finding the perfect fabric, harmonious colors that work in concert with the pattern you choose. 

Choosing the pattern is another whole task in and of itself.  A lot of thought goes into who the quilt is for.  To give a little perspective on the thought process, have you ever been shopping and looked at an article of clothing and said “this looks like my sister” (or mom, etc.)?  So coming up with just the right pattern makes the project more personal.

The story behind the quilt I’ll be posting about today is the one we use as our header image on our website which was made for my mother, Lorie, whose favorite color is purple.  She lives in Chicago and it gets really cold there in the winter.  I knew the quilt would come in handy, but I wanted it to be special.

We set about looking for a pattern that would work well with purple (tougher than I thought it would be!).  When we came across the YouTube tutorial for Country Chic, we both immediately thought that’s the one!  (Here’s the link for the tutorial I followed https://youtu.be/kWrmh2pxkf8 .  This lady is pretty awesome!)

Because the circular pattern is created with the placement of darks and lights, being able to lay out all of the pieces before sewing it together is a must to make sure the pattern develops correctly.  (I’ll post a picture of how we began laying it out so you can see what I’m talking about).  I think this pattern would be a good “scrap buster” too.  That just may be another project down the line.

Mom loved her quilt.  She’s mentioned that she’s gone into her bedroom a few times just to take a look at it.  That just warms our hearts.

The Common Threads of Quilting

I’ve read articles indicating that quilting could date as far back as 3000 BCE borne from a necessity to provide personal protection and insulation.  I’d like to think that the people quilting even back then found a way to put a little fancy twist in their finished product to show a little creativity.

Quilting came to America with immigrants from England, Wales and Holland who brought their needlework skills with them as well as a knowledge base of how to produce cloth.  Not only did quilting fill the need for warmth and comfort in making bed coverings, but it also allowed for artistic expression. 

With the industrial revolution and vast changes in the shipping/transportation industry, it wasn’t long before a very diverse offering of fabric could be made available to the average everyday household.  This created an added bonus of having the ability to be economic by saving all of your scraps from one project to use on another.  The birth of our fabric “stash”!  Making blocks to quilt from “piecing” scraps became very popular and is still one of the most recognizable American quilting styles.

Did you pick up on any common threads?  We still need warmth and comfort.  With all of the quality colors and textures of fabric available, having an artistic outlet is readily available.  Being able to save scraps for a future project in order to be economic justifies our building and keeping our STASH!

Teaching is Tradition

The time honored tradition of teaching the techniques and skill of quilting has been passed down through the ages from generation to generation.  The teaching in and of itself is valuable, but you know what’s even more valuable?  Creating special memories within your family that will produce life-long loving memories through the produced quilted treasures is truly invaluable.

Everyone that quilts has their own special story behind how and when they learned their skill.  My wife’s story for instance is kind of funny.  Apparently, her grandmother Lillie’s home was a place for the ladies to gather and quilt.  When my wife was a little girl playing over at her grandmother’s house, the rule was that anyone misbehaving would have to sit and quilt for 10 minutes.  My wife sheepishly grins when she declares she had to quilt so often that that’s how she perfected her skills!

Fast forward to her turn to teach her granddaughter, Hannah.  I was downstairs listening to all of the giggles and “oohs and ahhs” of picking out a pattern for her first project and then on to picking the colors and matching up thread.  I thought to myself “wow, they’ve been at it for a long time but they seem to be enjoying themselves”.

Now that I understand more about quilting, I consider myself pretty lucky to be included in this particular family tradition and my heart-felt admiration goes out to all those wonderful quilters that continue to pass on the tradition.

Stop the Presser Foot!

I had originally planned on opening an Etsy shop when my wife and I returned home from vacation.  I was thinking maybe the end of February or beginning of March would be a good time to kick start a business.  Well, then the world changed.

We found ourselves instead preparing for self-isolation (because let’s face it, we’re both in the high-risk category).  We both also realized the drastic shortage and need for face masks and began looking online for the best patterns and how-to tutorials.  We set to work making masks for friends, family, healthcare providers, neighbors and folks in the essential worker categories (i.e. postal workers, garbage collectors, delivery drivers, etc). The first pattern we used was posted by the Deaconess Health System https://www.deaconess.com/How-to-make-a-Face-Mask This was very informative and easy to follow instructions with pattern.

Then, we came across a slightly different pattern using a serger that made making the masks a lot faster.  We found a tutorial on YouTube https://youtu.be/0dAQk-bQpvg.

We’ve had so many requests for masks that I don’t know if we’ll ever catch up.

We hope that the need for masks will be short lived and that our prayers will be answered that this global pandemic comes to an end.  Stay safe and healthy and know you are included in our prayers.