Crafting in small spaces

We have a bit of an unusual life, Wadly and I. We live on twelve south-facing acres backed up to forty square miles of Weyerhaeuser on a dead end road off a dead end road mere minutes from the freeway. As locations go, it couldn’t be more perfect. It’s quiet and private here. From the top of our property we can look out over Shoestring Valley and see Mount St. Helens in the distance.

4×6 cutting/crafting table

Once our mortgage was paid off we decided living small was better than bigger fancier accommodations with its accompanying debt. Because our living space is small, engaging in crafts like quilting takes some innovating and good organizational skills. Having a table that will fold up out of the way when not needed is a crafty thing indeed. When it comes to crafting in a small space, it’s all about maximizing use of space!

Unless you have a family whose members require personal space, bedrooms are a waste. They’re one-use rooms not used for most of the day. I’ve always though Murphy beds were a really smart idea. They allow the bedroom to be more than one thing.

Table tilted up out of the way

Our bed is not a Murphy bed. It’s a metal frame that sits up high enough that storage bins can be placed beneath. To further maximize the space, I’ve mounted a 4×6 layout/cutting table on the footboard. The plywood base is covered by an Omnigrid mat I purchased from the factory on a Guild field trip. The mat is held to the table by tiny brass nails to keep it in place when the table is tilted up out of the way.

Let there be stars . . .

Eva's Confetti Stars
Eva’s Confetti Stars, made for Rachel’s glitter girl

I’m flirting with making a confetti stars quilt for my bed.  I have the batiks, I love the two quilts I made (baby and lap) and I’d like one for sleeping under, something with a dark background and bright batiks.  I think I’m going to do a sew-along . . . it’s a really easy pattern but it does require batiks for the stars.  If you want in, ping me.


Finding a home

Tie dyed batik broadcloth
Tie dyed batik broadcloth

I think we’ve all ended up with things too good or nice or unique to get rid of but with no place in which to put or use them.  I have a piece of fabric like that . . . a hand died batik on broadcloth.  I don’t quilt with broadcloth, I don’t wear those colors or that style . . . but 3 yards . . . yeah, couldn’t part with it.

It’s now an out-of-the-sun curtain and it works beautifully to keep light from reflecting onto my monitors.  And I look at it and smile . . . and think of the wonderful woman I inherited it from who also could not find a use for it but thought it was too good to get rid of.  Nice!

Life and aspiration

The edge matches the Maples carving.
The edge matches the carved Maples quilt.

Life’s been a bit chaotic lately.  I managed to sprain my right wrist and ignored it for the first week which of course made it worse.  It’s so hard to be good when I have to be doing something and it’s doubly hard when it’s the right hand that’s out of commission.  I haven’t rowed in two weeks and I’m going nuts.  Yoga.  Must do more yoga.

I ran across a picture of a Fraser Smith piece somewhere this morning.  Something on Facebook led to something that led to something . . . I ate the breadcrumbs as I went so can’t find my way back to the start.

Because Smith’s work fascinates me, I popped into his site again today to look. His work is food for my soul. I noticed his “If I am quiet . . . ?” is carved as if it’s done on the back of “Maples”.  I am going to have to make this quilt.  I don’t do arty stuff, I don’t spend time on stuff that isn’t usable for pretty much every day and I prefer working in batiks to anything else, but this quilt is one I’m going to have to do.  I just can’t help myself.  And I’m going to have to hand quilt it.  This one’s a double whammy.

The six zillion dollar question is . . . how closely do I replicate the work?  The quilting doesn’t go through the applique worked on the back.  Does that mean I have to applique the back after the quilting’s done?  It’s got to be done before the binding . . . Hm.

It took me over a year to work out how to sew the “30” quilt.  I wonder if this one will set a record for active planning time.

New and loving it

301A in a trapezoid table.
The picture my friend sent me.  It’s lovely!


Enough lint for three machines, packed in so tight it took extraordinary measures to get it all out.
Cleaning up.  Enough lint for three machines packed in so tight it took extraordinary measures to get it all out.

A friend, knowing I love Singer 301As and trapezoid cabinets, found one for me.  The cabinet’s a lovely thing, mahogany veneer with just a tiny chip on the right end of the under-table.  The 301 is a black short-bed that’s in really lovely shape, just needing a good cleaning and lube and new wiring.  The cleaned machine is very quiet and smooth and I had the necessary wiring in my stash of parts.

This machine came with three bobbins.  Two of the bobbins had four separate colors/lengths of thread each.  The remaining bobbin had seven different pieces/colors of thread wound on.  There was so much lint, packed in so tightly, I had to disassemble the bobbin carrier to get all the lint out.

If you’re wondering what makes a trapezoid table so special, it’s for two very nice reasons.  The left end of the table is hinged and the swings out to support the table extension when it’s open.  Secondly, because the shape of the table is shorter on the front than the back, the table extension wraps to the front just a bit making it easier to keep things on the table.

I’ve already sewing a bunch of quilt bindings and today I’ll use this lovely machine to put borders on a quilt top.  Color me happy.

The tree and the fog

Tree and fog. I’m lovin’ it!

I’ve got not quite a quarter of the honeycomb blocks done for the background on Lorr’s quilt.  In this picture I have only about half the finished fog on the wall.

It’s gone a bit slowly because I’ve been testing ironing seams this way, that way, pressed open . . . I think I’ve got what I want now.  I’m happy, happy, happy.

The colors, the variety, the textures.  Yup, I’m happy.  If all goes as planned, this will be a stunning quilt.

Now that the picture is up, can you see what’s wrong?  This is why pictures are so important!  In the very center of the picture, see the blue sky showing through the leaves?  Oops.  Can’t see the sky through the trunk.  I’ll have to replace that with a non-sky piece.  It’s the little things . . .

Auditioning fog

Test auditioning the fog fabric.
Drafting the template

Now that the leaf portion of the tree for Lorr’s quilt is done, I’m working on the background fog.  I don’t want it to be all one foggy piece of fabric, I want it to be more in keeping with the rest of the quilt, more random color and texture.

I’d been searching for over a year to find enough foggy batik fabrics for this part of Lorr’s quilt, but they just aren’t out there. Progress was at a halt.

Our Guild had a fabric dying workshop with the fabulous David Christensen.  I dyed 10 yards of batik quality fabric trying for perfect soft shades for the fog.  Some of the pieces are too dark, but not too many.  Overall, the result was a nice collection of soft greens, blues and grays with enough texture to be interesting.

I had originally intended to use one of the Dance template sets for this portion of the quilt, but I’ve since changed my mind.  I’m going with a machine sewn honeycomb block.  Sewing this block by machine isn’t for the faint of heart.  I’ve developed a technique that gives me accurate placement of the pieces.  I’ll try and get a tutorial together showing the technique.

I drafted the 2″x4″ template for the honeycomb block on pallet slip sheet cardboard.  I get this at the local feed store.  It’s a 4’x4′ sheet of thin cardboard that’s waxed or plasticized which makes it a little difficult to write on, but it makes great templates . . . and it’s free!

I used my cutting fabrics using cardboard templates technique so as not to damage my template.  The only adjustment I made was to not move any of the fabric for the second cut as it preps the end of the strip for the next template placement.

I think I’m going to like this block and fabric for the fog.  The sewing’s a bit tedious and nearly every seam is a Y seam, but I think the end result will definitely be worth the effort.

Striking a chord

Fantasy Petals

I get a weekly newsletter from Quilting Books, Patterns and Notions and I occasionally find inspiration therein.  This week the periodical has a lovely and splashy flower wall hanging that’s lovely, full of bright color and made from batiks.  Not only does the color sense suit my style, this would be a perfect pattern for machine pinning.  Perfect!  The pattern is available here.