It’s official!

This morning I got email confirmation that I got into the Women’s Art Festival in December. Wahoo! I got to go last year, at the last minute, and I could see that it was a great event. Tons of women artists, food, coffee, music, a great atmosphere, and lots of fun. And that was on the same day we got 18 inches of snow and the whole city shut down! People literally snow-shoed and skiied to the event. So, barring another snow event, I have a feeling this year, their 19th, will be excellent. I hope to see you there!

Later in the afternoon, the mailman dropped off the mail and in it was a confirmation that I’d also gotten into the Powderhorn Art Fair in August. Wahoo! I love the art work/poster for the fair this year.  This fair is all outdoors and it was pretty hot and humid last year. Given our weather so far this summer, who knows what will happen. It had better not pour rain though! I had a lot of fun last year and I’m looking forward to doing this again.

I’ve been whipping up some new things, including these new potholders.

two new potholders

Last year I had a pair of carrots, apples, cherries, and tomatoes. They all sold and I haven’t made any since. Someone requested the carrots and I got to thinking about making these again. They really are very cute (if I do say so myself!) I’ve changed the style a bit from last year (and from the other potholders I made earlier this year).

I read recently that wool makes a great potholder because it doesn’t catch fire. It chars a bit, but it naturally puts itself out. Sounds like a great reason to have wool potholders! So I mixed mine up a bit. The front, of course, is cotton, and the back is a piece of felted wool from an old sweater. Kind of hard to see in the picture; you’ll have to come by sometime and see them in person!



Fun with recycling, part 2

There is a scene in the movie Never Been Kissed that has always haunted me a bit. Drew Barrymore’s character is having a relaxing evening at home, alone, working on some needlepoint. She is making a cute little pillow. She finishes the pillow and takes it to a bedroom where she sets it on the bed and admires it with love. Then you realize there are a LOT of other cute little pillows! This woman obviously has no life. On the one hand I think, “What a loser!” and on the other hand I think, “Hey, I resemble that!” It wasn’t too many years ago you could find me curled up in my one-room basement apartment, watching endless re-runs of Stargate and quilting till I had no feeling left in my fingers. Talk about nerdy. =) (Hey – I wasn’t always an urban homesteader!)

Anyway, I’ve been making some pillows and I always think of that movie and hope I’m not that bad.

I couldn’t be, because these are cool pillows! I had a bunch of leftover men’s ties from a tie skirt project and – in another flash of inspiration – realized these could make cool pillows. I was looking at the skinny part of the tie and realized here was all this fabric already in perfect 2” strips. So I made some pillows in the Log Cabin Style.

The first step is to pick a few ties. For a traditional Log Cabin you want one value for one side and a different value for the other side – light and dark, or just two distinct colors. And I pick a tie end for the center that is different from the rest of the ties.

I use a zig-zag stitch to topstitch all the ties together. Yep, the whole tie with the stuffing inside and all. It gives it a nice puffy feel at the end.

Each piece is just a little longer than it needs to be (and I cut as I go). This is because silk is shifty and sometimes you’ll find it’s a bit shorter than you remember!

I don’t sew down the tie tip, so when you get this part hold that tip up.

and then…


…keep going!

At some point this might happen – the tie suddenly gets thicker! This is usually where I stop. But you can go ahead and sew it on; the extra bit can be trimmed off later (unless you want a really wacky shape to your pillow, which is fine).


Here are some others I made:

Even after all those, there are still lots of beautiful silk scraps to use, in which case you can try the crazy quilt method.

You just cut out random shapes (often triangular) and sew them down on a square of fabric.




The cool thing about silk is that it can be forced into some curves that are too difficult with cotton.

Done! (The curve in the blue tie in the upper left was a little too extreme and left a couple puckers. Oh well.)

Here’s another one:

I should note that most of these aren’t actually made into pillows yet – they’re just the tops.

All of these will be heading to Kansas City with me (along with the bags) and if there are any left, they’ll be up on Etsy!

Fun with recycling, part 1

I started making reusable shopping bags last winter when I was raising some funds to go on a trip. I kept making them for sale at the farmers market. I’ve had some success with them despite the fact that they aren’t cheap. (I can’t compete with 99-cent bags from Target!) But they are fully lined, have pockets, they’re sturdy, and they’re unique (and you aren’t acting as a walking billboard for some store!).

After making these for several months I started making smaller kid-sized ones. Might as well get kids into using re-usable shopping bags at an early age. And they need those smaller bags. I’ve seen more than a few kids helping with the groceries and dragging bags along the ground because the bags are so big!

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about recycling. Most of these bags have been made with new material and I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this more recycled. I got some great curtain scraps from a friend last year and made a couple bags out of those. A month or so ago another friend gave me a huge pile of old drapes from her house. They are very sturdy, almost like canvas, and the only sign of wearing is that parts of them are faded by the sun. I thought these would make great bags. And then somehow (I don’t know where these flashes come from) I thought it would be fun to line these with shirts!

I had gotten a small collection of men’s and women’s shirts from a bulk thrift store a year or two ago. I reasoned they would be great for fabric since people wouldn’t use them for clothes (due to holes or other problems). I sewed the fronts together, removed the buttons, and sewed the shirt together into the shape I needed for the bags. Sleeves and collars became pockets on the inside and outside.

this was a smaller fitted one, so you can see the fitted part and where the arms would be going out. This is the inside of the bag…

And here’s the outside, with a bit of sleeve for the pocket.

Yes, I would have given this shirt to the thrift store too!

This pocket is part collar and part sleeve

In the end I think they turned out very well. These won’t be turning up on my etsy page just yet. I’m going to an Earth Fair in Kansas City in April. There is a group down there putting together some tables of crafts and things made with recycled materials, etc. So the bags will be there, and if there are any left they’ll be up on etsy soon after.

A new, old ironing board

Maybe that title should be “making something crappy, not crappy.” ‘Cause crappy is the nicest way to describe my ironing board. I’ve had it for years and it shows. The cloth is threadbare and kind of looks burned in some spots. I’ve accidentally cut through it in a number of spots. The batting layer (between the cover and the metal grate of the board) is threadbare itself, even though I’ve put in more layers. Sometimes when I’m ironing that metal grate pattern is transfered to whatever I’m ironing. Argh! And for some reason there is a huge dent in it which means I don’t have much of a flat surface.

So, I drew up my plans.

First step, I had my hubby cut a piece of wood to attach to the frame.


Next, I cut a piece of batting (the 80/20 stuff) to fit over the top.

Then I cut a piece of fabric to go over that and pinned the whole thing together. I think people often use muslin, but I had a nice big piece of white fabric so that’s what I used.

I sewed around the whole thing, just to keep the two layers together. Not a pretty job, but no one is going to see it. Then I made these marks at intervals along both of the long sides.

I sewed zig-zag stitches around these to make button holes.

Then I put the fabric on the ironing board and used some old twine to lace it together. I cinched it tight so the cover won’t be riding around on the board.

And, voila! A new top for my ironing board!

What is really nice about this is that I can actually iron a yard (or more) of fabric. A standard ironing board is pointed at the end (for pants or sleeves) so you really don’t get that much space to iron a big piece of fabric. I hate ironing only one half of a piece of fabric, turning it over and ironing the other half.

Now my board is big enough to have some project laid out AND have the iron AND some pins or scissors or something.

Ah, the simple pleasures in life.

Bike bag

I’ve been biking to work – 6 blocks, not a bad commute – but the transportation of things to and from work was a problem. I don’t have a rack or basket or panniers or even so much as a milk crate for my bike, so everything had to go in the backpack strapped to my back. That gets to be a pain after awhile (at least I thought so).

So what’s homesteader to do? Fall back on my sewing skills of course!

I took my beloved backpack, which I’ve probably had over 10 years, and made some modifications. It was an ideal candidate since both the zippers were broken and half the seams were falling out. (Hey! It was my beloved backpack!)

My beloved backpack – the front pocket has been removed. I took off all the patches and sewed them back on the smaller, new bag.

I cut the seams apart at the front and back, on either side of the zipper, half-way down the bag. I also sewed on these little velcro straps.

I sewed the zipper part closed all the way around the bag – don’t need that broken zipper any more!

Now you can start to see it… the top half of the back of the bag became the flap and the zipper part was sewn together to be a carrying strap.

I think this was a sheet. I used it to make the lining for the bag.

Voila! When I’m riding I stick the strap inside the bag, then I can take the bag off and carry it by the strap. I think I want a better way to attach the bag to the handlebars, but the velcro is fine for now.

This has worked out pretty well … though there are still times I wish I had a nice big milk crate on the back of my bike instead. =)