lipstick on a pig

As part of Pink Castle's Blue Moon Scrap Challenge (hosted at Stitched in Color), I won a little bundle of fabric - a gorgeous collection of blues, minty aquas and a punch of red. Only catch - use it or lose it! I had to make something with these 9" x 11" pieces pretty quickly.

In our new house, the laundry room has cabinets and space to be jealous of, but it's gray (oh the gray in this house is overwhelming...). Which really compliments the exciting white appliances and cabinetry, gray counters and the framed view of the A/C units.  So, when I saw this bundle of fabrics, it screamed "Make me your laundry room curtain!" You know, so I could get some color going on in there.

So I set about figuring out how to streeeetch that fabric to the max. I really wanted to do a chevron design. Initially, I laid them out as more of a repetitive Charlie Brown type chevron. It was ok, but knowing I would only get two rows seemed kind of sad looking...not very exciting and not using up nearly enough surface area.

scrap challenge
So instead, I went for a more wonky chevron design and eventually settled on using the boldest, darkest color to help tie them together at their points. I thought it helped with the movement across the curtain.

Not to waste any fabric, I put a few baby chevrons at the bottom with a few of the scrap pieces.

For the life of me, I couldn't get the stripe to really play nicely on the front. So I placed a sliver of it on the liner. Now when I'm outside, I can see a little peak of pretty through the window. I know, here I sort of cheated. We were only supposed to use one other fabric outside of the bundle (I used Robert Kaufman's Essex Linen in Flax), but I really needed to line this with something and, living in the hot desert, it made sense to put the lightest surface possible on the side facing out (for fading and heat reflective purposes).

scrap challenge

Later, after it was hung in it's rightful place, husband came up with a great idea (funny how he does that sometimes...). Going back to that stripe fabric, he asked why not make a little tie back for it, so that we can let some light into the room sometimes. So, I stitched up another sliver of the stripe and backed it with some essex linen. I didn't have a long enough length for a full tie back, so I created a button with some of the leftover teal quilter's linen from the bundle. Now it's a little cuff to contain the drape! That man is a genius sometimes.


Here's it is in our laundry room. Putting a fun, bright curtain in our laundry room, it's sort of like putting lipstick on a pig. But at least it makes me smile as I'm sorting and washing and drying and folding....(you know I need all the motivation I can for this most dreaded chore!)

Also, interior pictures in a tiny, dark-ish room as quite hard to take! Don't mind the bad photo, but I wanted you to get a peak of it in it's true home.

Thanks so much to Rachel of Stitched in Color for hosting such a fun challenge and to Pink Castle Fabrics for the lovely stack of fabric!

how to: ticker tape place mat

It all starts with a pile of scraps.

scrap pile
Before I started my place mat, I sorted my scraps by color and then into two piles. The first pile should be larger scraps that are rectangular or square-ish. We'll get to those later. The second pile should be for all those little scraps - odd shapes, small sizes, triangles. I went ahead and ironed my scraps. Because for reals, mine were a mess.

I also had leftover off white fabric. From what, I'm not sure. But I had it, so I cut it into 17.5" x 13" pieces for the front of the place mat. 

tracing the shape
To begin making the place mat, I found a picture online in the relative shape that I wanted. I printed that on regular paper (sized to be around 7" x 9"), but then traced it on tracing paper. I suppose you could also use transfer paper here, but I think it helped later on to have the tracing paper. Once traced, I flipped it over, placed it on my fabric and went over the lines again. This transferred the pencil markings from the trace paper to the fabric. DIY transfer paper, basically. They come out fairly light at first, but I went over them again with plain old pencil. If you wanna get all fancy, you can use fabric pencils or pens.

To create the shape, I started with the center of the leaf and worked my way outwards. This is just sort of like a puzzle. Take a little scrap and see where it looks like it might be a good fit. It takes some imagination because they won't all really be perfect, but I started out more general and trimmed later. I added some of the vein lines to the interior of my leaf to help with placement of those pieces. I think it helps to define the leaf shape.

ticker tape placemat
Once I had a general leaf-y shape, I began to trim. I drew lines on the fabric to indicate where I should trim each piece as I went, one by one. I did end up with a few gaps after trimming, but I just filled them in as I went.

The tracing paper came in handy here because I was able to lay it over the shape and re-trace the shape onto the fabrics so I could use it as a guide for trimming. I tried to be restrained in following the outline precisely. Since it is more improvisational and abstract, I didn't want to have every curve and point perfect.

glue the pieces
Next, I glued the individual pieces down onto the fabric with a washable glue stick. I would never use glue if I wasn't planning on washing these, but they are place mats which will get dirty and see plenty of washing machine time. The glue will come out in the wash so I was a-okay to use it here. I started with the largest center piece and worked the center first, to establish spacing. I tried to leave enough equal space in between each piece so that I could stitch later and it would still have a visible gap.

(And now, like those cooking shows where they take out a fully cooked roast 15 minutes after they put it in the oven, we switch to a fully quilted leaf, because I was running out of daylight for pictures, and everyone knows photos taken at night, under artificial lighting are gross and not blog worthy.)

zig zag
Once glued, I basted my fabric to some batting and began using a zig zag stitch on the edge of each shape in a coordinating thread color. I also free-formed some sketchy veins in there.

placemat backing

Flipping the mat over, I started to lay out my backing pieces. This is where all those larger pieces I sorted out at the beginning come into play. The pieced strips were actually leftovers from my orange quilt, with a couple extra blocks of fabrics thrown in there. This one turned out pretty square and orderly, but it can be crazy. Just depends on the scraps you're working with. (I know, you could totally do a solid backing in a coordinating fabric, but this was my I want all my scraps made into something so they don't smother me project, so I pieced the back.)

Then, I added a binding (made from 2.5" scraps) and ta-da! One festive fall place mat.

ticker tape placemat
And just for kicks, here are some of the other leaf shapes I've laid out in other fall colors:

other possibilities

blue moon...

...I knew just what you were there for.

blue moon

Well, I knew what I would make with you at least.

I thought that these colors would be perfect for my laundry room curtain. I mean, laundry rooms are a bit drab and this palette, with it's bold blues, vibrant red and soft aquas just make me happy. So maybe I'll enjoy doing laundry? It's doubtful, but at least maybe the space will be more inviting.

So, that's the challenge. Now that I won these babies over at Stitched in Color, I have just over a week to bust out a fabulous looking curtain to dazzle and amaze (and increase the happiness factor of the new laundry room). I'm thinking some stripe/chevron-ness will do the trick. If you just love this bundle too, head on over the Pink Chalk Fabrics to pick one up for yourself.

a ::little:: stashing

I'm so excited to be showing you what the postman brought crammed in my mailbox the other day. Some fabulously fall colored prints that are just dying to be sewn into something!

some amh and art gallery stashing

Some Anna Maria Field Study prints and a few Art Gallery blenders. I just love that feather print.

indie by pat bravo

Indie by Pat Bravo! I've had my eye on this collection for a while now, but with all the hustle and bustle of summer it never made it to my shopping cart. Thank goodness that little oversight was remedied. I honestly would have selected very few of these fabrics on their own, but I just love the line as a whole.

I really want to combine maybe a little of this (Field Study) and a little of that (Indie) to make a throw quilt. I'm still deciding between Anna Maria's feather pattern, a simple flying geese, or a friendship braid. Any thoughts? I think they all would be beautiful and very fitting for the warmth of these fabrics.

sarah jane - out to sea

I also threw in some of Sarah Jane's Out to Sea. I love her fabrics so it was hard not to buy the whole line but my pocketbook (and my husband) draws the line at a certain point of fabric insanity.

Side note: Have any of you seen the show American Pickers on History? Well, my hubs loves it and they have a phrase they use when they just start to get stupid and buy everything they see - "junk drunk." I swear this also applies to fabric. Just one more thing turns into .... ack! 

I bought some of these at my LQS, but most of them I ordered online at Hawthorne Threads. Their shipping was pretty amazing and their pricing was awesome (comparable to!).

for natalie

Our little Love group at do.Good Stitches had a swap recently. I ended up with Natalie as my super secret swap partner. She asked for a sewing machine cover or a wall hanging/mini quilt.

sewing cover for natalie
I went with the machine cover in blues and greens (one of the color combos she mentioned liking, if you couldn't tell by a quick visit to her blog!) After checking out her Flickr favorites, I noticed an overwhelming number of HSTs and spiderweb blocks. So, HSTs it was. I had really wanted to try them for a while now and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

sewing cover for natalie - the binding
I picked out some solids and wanted to spice it up with one bold print. This herringbone pattern seemed like her style (geometric, not too floral) and it's dark, rich color complimented the other solids nicely.

I added a linen border to break up all those triangles and provide a place for your eyes to rest. The herringbone pattern made for some fabulous binding (I actually originally bought this print because I thought it would make for a lovely binding).

I really hope she loves it!

sneak peak: ticker tape turkey day placemats

I dare you to say that three times fast.

On thing I have noticed as I re-organized my sewing things into their new (and much improved) space is that I have developed a serious scrap problem. I've only been sewing for a year so it had me quite nervous about what would happen if I continued to collect (but ignore) them.

Now, big scraps (my term for anything over about 4" square, just shy of a charm square) I have no issue with. I actually raid my larger scraps quite often for little projects and my monthly do Good Stitches blocks. But using the larger scraps creates smaller scraps. And that is where we have a problem, folks.

I had been searching for a use for those itty bitty scraps. The ones too big to be termed "trash" - especially if it was a particularly pretty fabric - but still a little bit small to seem useful for any real project. Oh, and triangles. HST trimmings, bias binding scraps, on point square leftovers. There are tons of ways to end up with triangles, but not really any good use for them.

placemat 2
So far, this is what I have. I plan to work on more to complete a set of six in time for Turkey day. Which happens to be my favorite day of the year. ;-)

I'm making quite a dent, but I'm sure will still be left with a few remaining scraps. What do you make with yours?