The 4th after 4 years

29 06 2016

Since the first day of summer I’ve felt too bad to do anything creative. For me that’s bad. Today I finally felt good enough to get up for a while. I looked around at the house thinking Spring decorations need to come down and summer go up (if they finally do this year), and I remembered a project I’d intended to do four years ago!

I had seen this pillow in Pottery Barn’s Catalog. While I liked the pillow, I thought I could come up with something I liked even better. I’ve had all the materials and a plan since that time, but every year the 4th of July rolls around and I realize I’ve missed the window again.  Today was the day!

Finished Flag Pillows

My pillows are not intended to be indoor/outdoor, and they have a plain back, They are also made from three different fabrics rather than one printed fabric.  If you’d like to see the process, read on. If not thanks for looking at my show and tell.

My pillow forms are 20″.  The star fabric is 19″ wide bunting from a Minnick & Simpson line a few years ago. I started by determining the best place to cut the bunting to keep the most stars intact.  It turned out about an 8″ finished strip was what worked for me. If I were using other star fabric, that number could change. I could have used solid blue fabric and appliqued, stenciled or stamped the stars. Because I wanted to do flat felled seams on my pillows I used 5/8″ seam allowances throughout. (They looked huge after probably years of working with a 1/4″ seam allowance). So adding the 5/8″ seam allowance to both edges meant I needed to cut a strip 9-1/4″ wide. Once the I knew 8″ was taken up with the star strip I divided the remaining 12″ of the pillow form by four stripes to arrive at 3″ finished stripes or 4-1/4″ cut strips. Because I was making two pillows I chose to piece one big section the width of the solid fabric.


To condense the cutting directions:

  • Cut one 9-1/4″ x 42″ strip of star fabric
  • Cut two 4-1/4″ x 42″ strips of white/cream
  • Cut two 4-1/4″ x 42″ strips of red


Because I wanted the double line of stitching on the front of the pillow, I sewed the strips together with the wrong sides of the fabric together. The thread color will show on the right side.  I opted to use navy thread through out, but you could match thread to the color of fabric that will be on the top of the seam.


Next trim one side of each seam allowance to at least half the seam allowance width, I did about a quarter-inch. The side you trim will be the side you will enclose, so you can decide now what color will be on the top.

Flag press seam

The remaining side of the seam allowance that was untrimmed, now needs to be pressed under so the raw edge meets the previous stitching line.


To finish the flat felled seam, stitch close to the folded edge of the seam allowance. I used an edge stitching foot to keep it even. There are flat felled feet available for most sewing machines. I didn’t have the energy to get to the machine that had one. Press the whole piece well at this point.


Cut the large strip into two pieces approximately 21-1/4″ square.

I used the envelope back method I’ve shown here before. Just a slight change — width of fabric isn’t wide enough for the back on a 20″ pillow.  I cut two rectangles 21-1/4″ x 30″ for the back of each pillow.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a flat felled seam this was a good refresher. I’ve been creative, so now I can go back to bed.


Where Do All the Samples Go?

24 10 2015

Have you ever wondered what happens to all the samples at your favorite quilt shop?  At Ruth’s Stitchery if we make it, it is ours when it has run its course.  After working and teaching there for over four years I’m starting to have a fair collection of samples that have come home.

My house is finally decorated for Fall and a large number of samples have found a spot this year.


The table runner draped over the top of the ladder was a sample for the wool felt class I taught for 3 years.  (The pattern can be found at Nutmeg Hare.)  The quilts rolled in the egg basket in back weren’t samples, but were class projects at some point in time.


Another table runner from Nutmeg Hare found its way to the top of the buffet.


Here’s a better photo.


A table mat from Brandywine Design made it home, and onto the top of a can turned end table.


The turkey (pattern from The Wooden Bear) was just something to keep me busy while I went to watch my boys in a soccer tournament.  The penny rug below it coordinates perfectly, and that was a sample (the pattern is from Annelle’s Originals).


This Harvest Moon Penny Rug (pattern from Penny Lane Primitives) is sitting on my Martha Washington sewing cabinet.


This wall hanging found a home on the wall in the stairwell.  (Pattern from Wooden Spool Designs)


This pumpkin table runner which I used at one point in time to teach fused applique now resides on the kitchen table. (Pattern from Bloomin Minds)


Finally just a shot of the fireplace mantle.  No samples here, just playing around.  You’ve heard of time in a bottle, how about kids in a jar.  OK, I doubt they’d appreciate it, but they are away at college so I can do what I want.

Now you know where some samples go.

Livable Again

22 01 2010

We have taken on a major project at our house, and the main level is finally getting livable again.

 These pictures were taken on October 18 of our living room.  Sometime  shortly thereafter, Guy and I started scrapping the acoustic/popcorn texture off the ceiling.  Not just in this room, but also in the dining room, family room and a hallway.

By the 23rd of November the ceiling in the living room and dining room looked like this.  The drywall contractor said it was the best removal job he had ever seen (perhaps I have an alternate career — NOT)

We still had the family room ceiling to go at this point, but this was the last of the vaulted ceilings.  We had originally planned to texture the ceiling ourselves, but after spending hours on the ladders scrapping the texture off we decided to hire someone to put the new up.

Thanksgiving week-end saw us ripping the formally white (now closer to gray) carpet out of the main level of the house.  After ripping out the carpet, tack strips and what seemed like thousands of staples, Guy and Jesse are putting screws into any squeaky sub-floor.

We had planned to texture the ceiling and paint before we put in the new hardwood, but it wasn’t meant to be.  My parents came out the week of Christmas and my dad with Guy’s help layed an oak floor.  (My dad was a hardwood flooring contractor prior to retirement.)  This saved a huge amount of money on this project.  My parents got here on the evening of December 21 and dad put a few rows of flooring in that night.  This is the shot just moments before they started.

Nolan made a time-lapse video of the floor going into this portion of the house.  We put it in the living room, dining room, family room, hall and two closets.  Here is Nolan’s video.

The week after Christmas the drywall contractor came and did the ceiling in the living room and dining room.  He didn’t finish with the family room until Jan. 13.  I’m not sure you can see the huge difference between the original texture and the new in this picture.  We opted to go with knock down on the ceiling since that is what was on the walls and we weren’t changing that.

Once the texture was on the ceiling it was back onto the ladders to prime the ceiling then paint it and the walls.  At this point we had a hardwood company scheduled to finish the floors starting on the 18th and we were in an all out race to get all the painting done before that.  It is extremely difficult to paint after the sun has gone down even with extra lights.  It’s impossible to see if everything is covered.  Everybody helped out at some point although Guy and I did most of it.  I believe I went through 11 sample cans before settling on just two colors. The ceiling and most of the walls are a color called Cream in My Coffee and then there are some accent walls with the green shown in this picture.

I have plans to put built-ins on both sides of the fireplace and change the look of the fireplace, but that is a project for another day.

Monday at 8am we moved into a hotel for 3 days while the floors were finished.  Yesterday, after school we came home and finally moved furniture back into the house. (We had moved it from room to room, but when the drywall contractor came we just moved it into the garage for the duration.)  We have to wait 2 weeks before we can put throw rugs down.  This is how it looks today.  By this evening the smell is also getting tolerable.  (Last night we closed the bedroom doors and opened the windows to sleep even though it was cold enough to snow a little today.)

We still have to replace the baseboard, but that will come a little at a time.  Obviously, we also still need to re-hang curtains.  We are thrilled with the change.  Eventually we will take care of the ceilings, paint and recarpet upstairs.  We will also be replacing the tile in the kitchen, but I think we are going to take a bit of a rest first.

He May be Right, I May be Crazy

23 11 2009

I keep bouncing from project to project, but the biggie at the moment is this —

Yep, that would be a popcorn texture ceiling.  To put it mildly, I don’t care for it.  It reminds me of cottage cheese and I just don’t want food on the ceiling.  It also remind me of the 60s and 70s.  I know a lot of people are into retro, but I already lived through that era once and don’t plan to go back.

We are taking the carpet out very soon and I figured if I was ever going to remove that texture now was the time.  Poor Guy thinks I’m nuts.  He says it is like being in the Army and being told to dig a hole and then fill it in again.  Obviously the popcorn texture is not a big deal to him.

These are my tools along with ladders — A garden sprayer and taping or putty knife.  A dust mask would be a good idea, but I have been known to pass out while wearing a mask and that doesn’t seem like the thing to do on a ladder.  The dust is limited if everything is very damp.

I soak the texture well (however, I don’t want it so wet it ruins the sheet rock below).  After allowing the section of ceiling to soak I use the knife.   The texture will come off in sheets.   When I was finished the ceiling looked like this.

There is still quite a bit of residue.  So I’m in the process of going over the ceiling again and after the second time over it looks like this.

Much cleaner, but I will still need to go over it with a damp sponge to remove the last of the dust.  The whole house has this texture and I plan to take it all down.  However, Guy asked me to start and finish one area before I move on to another.  Does he know me or what?  This is the living and dining room and has a vaulted ceiling that goes to about 18 feet.  Guy helped me with the highest 3 or 4 feet.  Poor man gets sucked into my projects.

Just a warning here — if your house is old enough to have asbestos in the ceiling, you won’t want to do this yourself.  Our house isn’t that old.  So now you see what I will be doing over Thanksgiving vacation.

It’s the Simple Things

4 09 2009

I’ve been snatching a couple minutes here and a couple minutes there to try to better organize various parts of my house.  The kitchen pantry has been a gradual project.  The shelves are now labelled so there is a specific place for each item.  However,  I was trying to figure out what to do with some canned goods.  I buy some meat alternatives by the case for a couple of reasons.  They are less expensive that way and also because they are not readily available at any local stores.  I’ve had boxes stacked in the bottom of the pantry and I thought there must be a better storage method.

  I went on line and started looking for can racks.  I found some so then I checked local stores, but no one had them.  Shipping was around $15 and for the ones I saw on Amazon and I just wasn’t willing to pay that.  I finally checked Walmart’s web site and there they were.  I checked for availability in local stores. There weren’t any within the hundred mile radius it checked.  So I tried out the Site to Store option.  They will ship free to your local Walmart.  I was able to pick up my rack today and both of the employees that saw it thought it was really cool and were going to check into one themselves.

I brought it home and loaded it up and I’m very pleased.  I can see what I have,  and the cans are on a slant so when the front one is removed the next one rolls forward.  Apparently, I’m easily pleased.


Like the idea?  Here is the link to the rack on the  Walmart website.  I have a little more work to do on the pantry, depending on how it goes I might just want one more.

Where There’s a Will…

26 06 2009

This was today’s project.  The shelves need to be accessorized, but I broke a weld trying to level the bottom shelf.  So next week I’ll take it to a friend to get it spot welded.


I picked up the shelf from Hobby Lobby on Tuesday.  It was from the garden section and was marked down 66%.  The pictures are from last year’s calendar. 

I had been saving the calendar, because I just loved the pictures.  The problem — they were really too big for framing and hanging where I wanted them.  My solution scan the pictures and print them in a smaller size.  However, the calendar was even too big for my scan bed.  So I scanned each picture at 300 dpi in two parts.(Now I can get rid of the calendar)  There is a little program that came with one of my Canon cameras called PhotoStitch.  I found that it can be downloaded from here .  This program will merge pictures together.  It works beautifully for panorama landscape pictures or anything you can’t get in one shot or one scan.  Anyway, I merged the two parts together.  Then I opened the picture in Photoshop and cropped it to 5×7.  The original pictures weren’t the same ratio so I did loose part of the picture.  I put two pictures on a 8-1/2 x11 page and then printed at the best print quality on photo paper.   It worked perfectly.

 Frames were 50% off at Hobby Lobby this week so I went to get four frames.  Of course there were only three of the ones I liked.  I bought them anyway and since we have three Hobby Lobbys in town found the last frame at another location.

A Betty Boop salt and pepper shaker has made it on the shelf.  After I get it fixed, I’m going to have some fun putting other small items up there.

Looong Week-end of Imperfections

4 12 2008

Guy and I had agreed we would tile the upstairs bathroom over Thanksgiving Vacation.  We had “all” the supplies purchased and I wasn’t planning on cooking much of anything for Thanksgiving. 

On Tuesday last week we had a Thanksgiving potluck at school.  While I am sitting there eating with Jesse, he informed me he didn’t really want me to cook much for Thanksgiving — just Special K Loaf (we are vegetarians and this is a favorite with Jesse) and I didn’t have to do both mashed potatoes and potato boats.  I could do just potato boats (aka twice baked potatoes).  OK, well I needed some food on hand anyway for vacation so we stopped at the grocery store.  While we are collecting ingredients, Nolan informed me he really likes stuffing as well.  Add that to the list.  Meanwhile, I’m miserably sick.  I slept all of three hours Tuesday night because I couldn’t stop coughing my lungs out.

Wednesday we had a half day of school and I had planned to rip the carpet out before Guy came home from work.  The best laid plans…  Due to lack of sleep Tuesday night, I collapsed into bed as soon as we walked in the door Wednesday afternoon.  By the time I woke up Guy was home and had removed the carpet.  I had intended to have a before picture, however I was a little late.  Guy had already painted the walls a couple weeks earlier.  While this picture is not the bathroom, it is what was on the floor and walls before we started.


White carpet is not my idea of the ideal floor covering for a bathroom.  (It is impossible to get Sonic Blue Coconut Slush stains out of the carpet when it has been vomited up there.) The whole house (excluding the kitchen) was carpeted with this when we bought it.  It was nice carpet, but not meant for children and animals.  My brother-in-law helped us redo the floor in the downstairs bathroom two Thanksgivings ago and that was my first experience with tiling.  Guy was convinced I was now an expert.

I was not quite as convinced, I had the basic idea, but wasn’t overly confident.    When we purchased the supplies, I found a book called Tiling Complete  published by The Taunton Press.  It was an extremely helpful book and I highly recommend it.

Also on Wednesday night Guy cut all the backer board to fit the floor.  If you choose to tile do not skip this step.  The people that built our house did skip the step in our kitchen.  The grout cracks out and the tiles break easily because there is too much flex in the plywood.  (The kitchen will be a job for another vacation.)  So part way through Wednesday night the bathroom looked like this.


That was enough for the evening and we had grandiose plans for Thanksgiving Day.  Bright and early I mixed the Thinset to adhere the backer board to the plywood.  That was pretty straight forward.  Unfortunately, while buying supplies I hadn’t noticed we used most of a 50 pound bag of Thinset on the last bathroom which was much smaller.  We only bought a 25 pound bag this time.  That was enough to get the backer board down, but not enough to start laying tile.  Which meant we got a half day off in the middle of the job.

This meant I had plenty of time to cook for Nolan and Jesse and I managed to mark a small whole cloth quilt.

Friday morning Guy went and bought 50 more pounds of Thinset and the tiling commenced.  It was a full day job.  Talk about sore knees and shoulders.  I laid all the tile, but Guy did all the cutting.  We managed to use the boys as runners part of the time.  I’d mark what I needed cut and the boys would run down to the garage with the tile and come back with a cut piece.  I did manage to get all 198 tiles down on Friday.  The Thinset now needed to sit for at least 24 hours.  This is a shot of the tile at that point.


At this point Guy was definitely seeing the imperfections.  Hard as I tried, the rows of tile did not stay perfectly straight.  I also ended up with the decorative tiles one row closer together than I had planned.  You need to understand Guy is a perfectionist when it comes to jobs around the house.  It really bugs him when things aren’t  just right.  It is a good thing he wants to continue to live with me, because I didn’t hear as much about it as I would have if someone else had done the job.

What a relief Sabbath was, I didn’t need to worry about the tile again until after sundown.  About 5:50 I went to mix the grout and decided the buckets we owned were to grungy.  I raced over to Ace and grabbed a new bucket with 3 minutes to spare until closing time.  Grouting goes much faster.  Here is a picture of a portion of that process.


Yes, that is me in the corner with my really grungy clothes, blistered dried out hands.  I was working as fast as I could because you have to go back and wipe off the excess before the grout gets too dry.  I think I waited a little longer than I should have so it was harder than it needed to be.  Once a fair amount of the excess was cleaned up, I gave up for the night.  By now, I was pretty stiff.

Guy finished the clean up on Sunday.  He did an outstanding job.  There are dips in the tiles and he worked at cleaning any grout out of all those plus the excess on the grout lines.  That grout hid a multitude of imperfections.  The tile job looked much better once it was in place


While he was cleaning the tile, I disappeared to the basement and the longarm to quilt my whole cloth.  It is a gift for Lynn in my Quilter’s Annonymous group.  Lynn is in Arizona so I could have taken a little extra time, but I wanted it done.  Our group met this Wednesday to exchange gifts and I put the last stitch in that morning.  I still need to block the quilt.  Merry Christmas Lynn.  To go along with the title of this post, I admit this quilt is also imperfect, however when looked at as a whole it isn’t too bad.


Once Guy had cleaned the grout, the tile job for all intents and purposes was finished.  However there was still some finish work.  The trim needed to go on the back wall before the toilet could go in.  (This is also a replacement toilet.  The original was 3/4 size and my children aren’t that small anymore.  Guy had already put the new toilet in when he got tired of waiting for me to get around to the tiling.  This meant he had to pull it for this job.)  By Tuesday night that part of the trim was finished and the toilet was back in place.  Guy finished putting the trim in last night on his birthday.  There are still some nail holes to fill, but most of the work is finished and here are a couple shots.



I need to figure out what I want for a shower curtain and pick up a few accessories.  The hard part is done.  Guy says it was more work than he expected, that maybe because he didn’t hang around the whole time we worked on the other bathroom.  It was a lot of work (no more than I expected), but I think it was worth it!  Is it perfect?  No, but Guy and I need to remember nothing is perfect, but God.  We just need to do the best we can with what we have here on earth.