Just in time

I’ve been working away the past few months preparing for the Powderhorn Art Fair, which is THIS weekend!  Just in time, I finally finished that scrappy rainbow quilt I’d been working on. I like how it turned out, though I kind of wish now I’d had a friend machine quilt it. The hand-quilting is fine, it does make for a more pillowy finish – but it takes forever!

I also got these chubby little chick quilt hangings done. I don’t think I’d even mentioned I’d been working on them. My mom sent me the chubby chicks pattern and I’ve been working on them on and off for probably a year. I have another half dozen chicks in process somewhere. But at some point I decided to make two small wall hangings instead of a bigger quilt and I like how it turned out.

Oh, and for those of you who were interested, I’ll have a pair of my mouse hot pads up for grabs, in a giveaway, in a couple weeks. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how you can enter to win!

All you local folks, I hope you can drop by and see me at the Art Fair this weekend! It’s in Powderhorn Park and I’m on the lake, space #17. If you don’t want to drive, you can take the bus for free!


Scrap taming

I mentioned a few months ago my growing scrap pile. Well you can imagine how big it must be now with all the preparation sewing I’ve been doing recently. It is overflowing yet again. My local quilt shop (and I’m sure many other quilt shops) offer “scrap tamers” or “scrap busters” events where people try to get that scrap pile under control by making quilts and other things. That was the idea behind this quilt (which is still in process) and this one (which I apparently never blogged about?).

I looked at my giant scrap pile and decided something must be done. I took out pattern pieces for the three smallest items I have and went through every last bit a lot of the fabric cutting out lots of pieces. Here is what I ended up with:

a bunch of cup cozies…

My machine has a number of fancy stitches, but I’m afraid most of them are just weird. The few I do like are pretty cool.  I like matching the fabric, thread color, and fancy stitch.

A bunch of sunglasses cases…

and a bunch of mice hot pads.

I ended up with some good ones in this batch. Hard to pick my favorite.

Speaking of these mice, a pair of them will be in an upcoming giveaway! Stay tuned for the details, but I can tell you the contest will be open from August 19 to September 1. I’m not sure if any of these mice will be available – but there will be more and they will be just as cute.

Alright, back to sewing!

Chickens galore

I’ve been sewing a lot in the last month or so – building up for the 21st annual Powderhorn Art Fair. I’m pretty excited about the fair. It’s a great weekend with tons of people in a beautiful setting and lots of great artists. Hope you will be there!

Anyway, I made a bunch of chicken toaster covers last week. (This isn’t even half of them!) I kind of want them all to sell… but then again it would be nice if I didn’t have to make any more till next year. It’s a dilemma.  =)

we’re excited to protect your toaster!

Which gets me to thinking about chickens… At some point recently I was thinking I should have called my business The Ubiquitous Chicken… instead of From the Homestead. I mean, neither one is particularly descriptive of anything so that doesn’t matter. And The Ubiquitous Chicken is kind of fun. But how many people can pronounce (or want to try pronouncing) “ubiquitous”?  And spelling it? Ugh. It’s still there in the back of my mind though, partly since I make so many chicken-y things. There are the toaster covers, tea cozies, occasional tote bags and other items with chicken prints, etc.  Hmm, and now it seems I’m sort of branding my blog and Etsy shop with one of those (ubiquitous) chickens. I can’t help it! He’s just so cute!

We are surrounded by real chickens as well. Last weekend we had a birthday party for Jeremy. A bunch of us, family, friends and neighbors, were sitting and standing around in the kitchen (where ALL party-goers end up) and the conversation quickly fell to chicken talk. How did the chickens handle the heat; what do they eat; who has new chicks; who has a rooster; etc. Suddenly Jeremy interrupted the conversation and asked people in the room who had chickens to raise their hands. All but 2 people raised their hands! It was hysterical. Then one of our non-chicken neighbors started singing that ditty about “which of these things just doesn’t belong…”  (We’ll convince her to get chickens one of these days…)

So, chickens abound. But… I just don’t know. The Ubiquitous Chicken? What do you think?

Things I Also Make – tie bags

These have to be some of the coolest things I make – in my opinion. It’s a little shoulder bag made with two men’s ties. Just two ties. Yes, men’s ties. Not cut up or anything, just sewn together. They seem amazingly complicated, even when you hold them in your hands and look at them, but they are pretty simple to make.

Confession: I ran across these on someone else’s Etsy shop… from Finland or Switzerland or something. I was fascinated and immediately went to find two ties to experiment with. Actually, I think the hardest part about this bag is finding two ties that I think go together well. That’s probably why I’ve made so few of these.

They are super fun and I hope to make more this summer.

Things I Also Make – tote/bag with many lives

This particular item has gone through three transformations.

First it was a “wine tote.” I saw these all made up, with empty bottles, displayed at my local quilt shop. I loved them! I thought it was such a great idea and really dressed up a gift bottle of wine. I whipped up a bunch of them.

But the idea didn’t seem to catch on at sales. People seemed to think it would be weird to give a reusable bag as a gift. What would the recipient do with the wine tote? Would they re-gift it? Or would it get tossed in a corner?

So I changed tactics and started calling them “gift bags.” This happened after a friend told me about packing the tote full of little gifts for Christmas. Of course! This reusable bag could be used as a gift bag for anything that would fit in it: wine, fancy pasta, socks, whatever.

They’re all decorated with a cool button.

But… the idea of resuable gift wrapping still hasn’t caught on with many people.  (Or maybe it’s because I only ever had about 10 of these around… not enough options??)

The most recent incarnation is my favorite, and I think it will stick. It happened like this: My husband and I often go out for walks and it gets pretty warm around here in the summer. So we like to carry some water with us. This gets to be a pain because often I found myself carrying the water. The thought of the ever-unpopular “wine tote / gift bag” and the need to more easily carry water on walks clashed together in my mind one fateful day. I grabbed a long strip of fabric and safety-pinned it to the gift bags. Voila! The “water bottle totes” were born.

I converted several of the totes to water bottle totes and then adjusted the pattern for new ones. These have done much better and frankly, they make a lot more sense. More people are carrying around drink bottles than are gifting bottles of wine. =)

But still, I wouldn’t be surprised if some other adjustment, addition, or change is made to this item down the road.

Things I Also Make – sweater pins

Sweater pins.  I wish there was a better name for these! But that’s the best I’ve come up with.

I learned this fun little craft at an earth fair festival last year. It uses felted sweaters and bottle caps; that’s it!

It’s hard to say whether it has been more fun finding sweaters or finding bottle caps. Actually, once the word spread that I was making these – people started giving me lots of bottle caps so I haven’t had to save many myself. I even brought some cool ones back from my recent trip to Kenya.

People seem to have fun digging through my little basket of them, pointing out drinks they like, or drinks their grandma or dad or friend likes. When people start to look really seriously, I know they’re looking for a particular one. Can you guess which one that is 9 times out of 10?

It’s Guinness, that’s what. And I’ve only ever found or been given two Guinness caps! So those ones are definitely in high demand.

Things I Also Make – cup cozies

About two years ago I was at one of the worst art/craft sales I’ve ever been at. The only redeeming bit was meeting a couple of fellow artists that I’ve stayed in touch with. One of them had a tub with a few cup cozies. Now I realize these are practically a dime a dozen and everyone makes them – but I hadn’t seen them before at that point. I thought they were really cool. The artist herself hadn’t made them; a relative had. She gave me one and said I should make them myself, since her relative was doing them in a different state.

So I’ve made a few. It has been fun to experiment with different types of fabric and embellishments (“bling” some might call it), and to experiment with some of the fun stitches on my sewing machine.

The thing about these is they are one size fits all. I’ve seen a lot of cup cozies that have straps and velcro and button closures. I guess those are helpful if you want to wrap the cozy around a mug with a handle. But frankly I think for a coffee shop paper cup, you don’t need all that.

I’ve seen this cozy fit on every size of cup – even the ceramic ones that are made to look like the paper cups! For smaller cups the cozy snugs up to the top, and for larger cups the cozy fits lower down.

Anyway, no matter what style you like or use, I think these are very handy to have around. I always need something like this when I get a paper cup since they are so hot, and it’s a shame to use up more paper with the paper “cozies” that are provided. Oh, another benefit I think, is telling the difference between drinks. I’ve seen my sister and brother-in-law get coffee drinks and then accidentally take a sip of the wrong one (face of disgust!). With your own personal cup cozy, you’ll never drink someone else’s drink again! =)

This has to be one of my favorite – recycled corduroy pants and the hemmed off sleeve of a shirt. Recycled!


Disclaimer! Okay, this particular item has been on Etsy before, but not for awhile. I guess I’d given up on the smaller items like this. But maybe I’ll try that again…