Chalk Paint Chairs

After moving to South Carolina, our brown upholstered dining room chairs seemed heavy and out-of-place. Though I wanted to re-upholster them, the cost of the fabric and labor was way too high and they weren’t particularly special chairs. There is a chalk paint store in the area, and after I took an introductory class with them, I decided to paint unfinished chairs. The instructor told us about an Amish furniture store which was full of choices for straight-backed chairs. After spending a good amount of time dithering about which chairs to buy, I decided on six different styles! Somewhere I had seen an old farmhouse kitchen where mismatched chairs sat around a big table. Though there are many antique stores nearby, new chairs seemed a better option. This was all about a year ago and the unfinished chairs with cloth seats, sat in the diningroom looking forlorn.

Sometimes I make quick decisions about fabrics and colors, but not this time. Finally I found an ikat fabric that I liked – with watery, soft colors.

And then the paint color debate started in my head. For a long while I thought I would be clever and paint each chair a different color and collected paint samples. I came to my senses a few weeks ago and decided that one color would suffice. I went back to the chalk paint store which sells Annie Sloan’s brand. They have a large selection of colors, but nothing appealed to me. I didn’t feel like mixing their paint either, so I started to Google. It turns out that chalk paint is very easy to make and Lowe‘s had a recipe and all sorts of good information. It’s Plaster of Paris and water and plain paint and that meant that I could simply choose a color I liked and make it myself. (And it was lots less expensive.)Why chalk paint? It is very thick and goes on easily. There are far fewer drips and these are easy to spot. Years ago when I painted furniture for our apartment, I could not find a finish that I liked; it was always too shiny and then when I sanded it, it looked – well – sanded. Chalk paint has a dull finish and then when the finishing wax is applied, it can be rubbed to make it shine a bit. There are all sorts of amazing techniques one can do, but I just did plain painting. And I’m very pleased with the result.

Next I am debating painting a red leather recliner…. Have any of you tried chalk painting on leather?

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Orphan Block Quilt – – – Finally Finished

I certainly do not win awards for finishing projects in a timely fashion! After starting to quilt The Orphan Block Mash Up quilt, I quickly lost interest and it sat under my Sweet Sixteen machine for months. Languishing… it was started over a year ago. Fast forward to the present : I have a growing stack of quilt tops waiting to be quilted, so I have spent the last two weeks getting it done.

I am not thrilled with it. My quilting is not great so I will not be showing you a close-up. But as I have told students in the past, you can quilt samples or practise on “the real thing” and I chose to do the latter. Most people viewing the quilt in my hallway are not quilters, so they will not scrutinize my work. And if I can keep my tongue in my head and not say “Gee, the quilting is not very good”, I am sure they will admire it. (Sorry for the poor photo – I have no walls big enough to hang a quilt and get away from it to photograph, so it was on the floor and I was on a ladder!)

I must say that I am always amazed when I wash a quilt. It looks so much better and you really have to look closely to see the quilting at all; there’s just a nice texture.

Now that it is done, I can get on with the next project and learn some more.

Next Steps on Rock Around the Block – Jack’s Chain Quilt

Now that December has come and gone, I am trying to spend more time in the studio – and it’s back to the Jack’s Chain quilt. Knowing that I did not have enough of the background blue hand dyed fabric, I had to fiddle around with a final layout for the top. I finally decided that a center 3 square by 5 square strip, with a strip on either side using the new fabric would work for me.  I shopped around a few quilt stores and found a darker, but similar hand dyed blue.The center strip of the quilt top is completed and I am working on the rows with the new fabric. This pattern is not as circular as the original, more difficult pattern; it is more wavy.

Working on strips

A new addition is little hexies that I have hand appliqued in the middle of every other block. {Looking at the photograph, I am now wondering if I should make one for every middle, but will wait until I have finished with all the blocks…}

Hexie middles

It has been hard to find time to work on it, but I am back to making one square a day.

The 21 Year Old Rug Is Completed!!!

Perhaps if you have worked at a project on and off for many years, you will understand my surprise when after clipping and clipping and filling in skipped spots, I realized that The 21 Year Old Rug was finally done! How could that have happened?

I did a little happy dance and then started the finishing process. First I laid a piece of plastic and then a towel on the wooden floor. The rug went next and then I laid a sheet on the top. I filled the iron with lots of water and steamed over the sheet/rug many times. This is called blocking and if you work with any sort of fiber, you know what an incredible process this is. I took some photos, but you really can’t see the difference. I hook quite evenly, but even so, it becomes so smooth as the wool blooms. It certainly “could” be finished as is, but I think the braid will really make it special.

I googled adding a braid to a hooked rug and my blog came up! And not much else. Though I do remember how to do it, I did not want to do it the way my instructor showed the class. She lines, or covers, the whole underneath of the piece with flannel and then adds the braid. I asked her if she did this for floor rugs as well and she replied that she did. For many reasons, I don’t want to do this but the main one is that the flannel will be covered with cat fuzz the minute it lands on the floor! And how would I get the cat fuzz off of the flannel on the rug back? It’s tricky enough to vacuum the front of a hooked piece.

I did a lot of measuring and trimmed the burlap. I serged the raw edge and then carefully folded the edge using many pins, so there was a thin edge to lace the braid on. Then I hand sewed twill tape on the back. This would have been a lot simpler if the backing were not burlap, which is fragile and reacts badly to wet and heat. But you remember, this is a 21-year-old rug and I think I probably bought the pattern 25 years ago…

Almost done!

 

The braid is a bit tricky to begin, as you need to make blunt ends for butting at the end. Because of the way the corners are handled, I braid and lace and braid and lace and then do the special corner braid. Here is my little frame, which holds the wool strips firmly so that I get a tight braid. I can hear some of you saying “ahhhhh…” and it is fun to do!

Braiding frame

 

The ending – butting both ends of the braid – is SO not fun! I spent more than an hour trimming the wool pieces on the right and then sewing the ends and then trimming again and sewing. I was so anxious about cutting them too short. Not the end of the world, but it would have been nasty to repair. I was able to get a “perfect butt” {don’t laugh!} meaning the colors matched, but I am not happy about where the seams are butted and sewn. I may go back and sew them some more.

Butting the braid

So here it is! It will sit by Peter’s side of the bed as he always said he wanted it and kept encouraghing me to finish it. O happy day!

21 year old rug completed

 

Weaving Inspiration: Plaids & Stripes

I have decided to join the many weavers who are weaving dish towels…. It’s about time I gave rag runners a rest and got into some fabric making!

Designing an interesting plaid or stripe fabric isn’t as easy as it might seem.I like to look around me for inspiration. When a fabric catches my eye, I check out the width of the stripes, whether a plaid is balanced or unbalanced, and unusual color combinations. I even have a stripe page on Pinterest. But my favorite place to look is men’s shirts! Men are so lucky! For some reason, their designers come up with luscious color stories. When I am in a store with both men’s and women’s clothing, I find myself on their side…

One of the many reasons I love living in the South are the colors of the clothing. Here is a selection of juicy (men’s) shirts. Whether or not they are the colors I want to use, these plaids give me inspiration.

Men's plaid shirts

In the end, I didn’t warp anything of great interest. For my humble dish towels I chose a simple unbalanced stripe, which can be woven in a stripe or in checks.

Dishtowel start

I haven’t woven anything so fine in forever and thought I should start out simply. It’s slow going, (I’m using 8/2 cotton) but the rhythm and the process of making cloth is wonderful.

Weaving towels

 

An Exciting Friday Finish!!!

It has been excessively hot and humid here; we’ve had days and days of over 90 degree heat. The gardens are growing away and though it’s time to re-plant some veggies, they don’t need my attention. And of course the weeds are growing too, but oh well. So I’ve been indoors more, working on the Double Nine Patch quilt top. Sewing the squares together on the diagonal means that they get quite large and unwieldy and do not fit on the design board anymore.

Double nine patch sewing

This middle strip is 104″ long and if you are good at geometry, you get that!

Too big for design wall!

Those of you who follow my blog know that I don’t often finish projects, so this is A Red Letter Day. The Double Nine Patch top is nearly done! In looking through my blog posts, I found that I started it last July, so this isn’t a bad finish for me…

Triple Nines!

To complete the top, I need to decide how long the border strips will be, so that the quilt will tuck under our thick new mattress. The color inspiration was the scrap of fabric on the headboard. Though the windows have shutters and don’t need curtains, I plan to make some to break up all the wall space. {And re-paint the walls…}

Triple Nines color inspiration

I actually finished on Thursday and was all set to photograph the quilt on our bed – but – His Nibs was napping and I didn’t want to bother him. ;-D

Gizmo's nap

I’m doing a little happy dance now…

Fiddling with Color

I promised myself that when I started making the extra 5 wheels for the enlarged quilt design, that I wouldn’t be too fussy. As I said in the last post about this – my plan was to quickly pick colors and sew them. Ha! With the wheels done, I thought I should assemble everything on the design wall and give it a look. Ha again!

Double Nine Patch mock-up

The wheel in the bottom row, middle, bothers me. Even Peter noticed it when he eyed my progress the other day. It’s not that I need them to match or I would have used the same fabrics for each wheel. But that one sticks out! Why? I finally decided that it was the yellow that offended me and made the wheel way colder than the others. Truth be told, most of the wheels are not in my “color comfort zone”. I have been purposely trying to make them cool and not as ferociously bright as I usually make my quilts.

Wrong colors...

One of these oranges looks like it will help that wheel be friendlier with the others…

Better color...

The topic of being too fussy and re-doing projects is often kicked around by those of us who make things. I have learned over the years, that if it bothers me, it bothers me and it had better come out! The last thing Peter wants to hear before we get into bed is “Why didn’t I change that wheel? I do not like the colors!”.

Once I sew this wheel, I am going to stop being overly critical of the others and get the double nine patches done.

What are you ripping out today???

Blue & White Quilts

O my! I was digging through a box yesterday and came across three quilt tops. I dragged everything out and took them downstairs to the great room, where we have a new (blue) rug. Of course I knew they would look good with it – blue and white is a no-brainer. The question is – how many blue & white quilts does one woman need???

This pattern is called Delectable Stars and is from QNM January/February 2000 and was designed by Brenda Henning. I began these two quilts when we were living in an apartment in Chicago as I house hunted. That was 2005. I sewed on our little diningroom table during the day and cleared everything away before Peter got home. I called them “Chicago Blues”, after the jazz scene, not the way I was feeling. This is the baby version and the squares are 11.5″ . I just love the woven feel of this setting. The little rows of triangles are paper pieced and I do remember drafting them and then asking Peter to print out the papers for me at work.

Tiny Delectable Stars

What I do not recall is why I felt the need to make two sizes of them… The big squares are 18″. Perhaps if I continue to piece both sizes, I will do a different layout for each one. (Several other ideas for settings are shown in the article and they are all interesting.) We’ll see. It’s not as though I don’t have a million WIP’s!

Blue & white quilts

The spinning stars is a later UFO and in searching my blog, I see I started it in 2011. I was making another colorway of this design and I lost it – probably left in the trunk of a rental car. Here is a template you can buy from Pat Yamin. I just ordered another as the original must have been with the lost quilt.

Spinning stars

It is clear need to catalog my WIPs and decide which of them I may actually want to complete… I downloaded this quilt organizer from Stately Type – it might help. (They also have some very fun t-shirts for us creative types.) So little time, so many interesting things to do and so much yard work! ;-D

The Last Runner/Mat…

… was annoying to weave! I carefully calculated the length of the warp allowing plenty of room to make three mats. I decided to knot the fringe after weaving, which was where things went wrong. I feel as though I allowed too much space for the fringe and ate up too much of the warp. By the time I got to the third runner, I knew it was not going to be long enough for the kitchen table. It is not fun to keep weaving, and advancing the warp, and weaving and wondering how long the &%^%^# thing is going to be!

Here you can see the cardboard I put between the mats and how much space is left for knotting. {It was too much!} I should have done hemstitching on the loom, which I much prefer to do, or perhaps I should have hemmed them, as Karen at Warped for Good did.

Fringe for the mats

It is barely long enough to be usable on the diningroom table, but it does work.

Navy rag runner/mats

Ah well. On to the next project!

More About the Woven Runner/mats

When I first wove rag runners many, many years ago, I would sit at the sewing machine and sew the strips together on the diagonal, as I would for a quilt binding. When I had a fat ball, I’d wind it on a shuttle and weave. At some point I realized though it wasn’t as tidy-looking, it was much faster to cut and overlap the fabric pieces as I go. It’s also more fun to weave because I can place the colors where I want them.

Splicing rag strips

Look at that fat roll of runners on the beam! And look at the floor around the loom! I usually don’t tidy up until the project is finished.

Woven runners, scraps

This second runner wasn’t as much fun to weave as the first one. I loved these sunny Summer colors when I picked them out of my fabric bags, but the weaving of it was boring. Luckily it looks happy on the table. This is the kitchen table and Peter and I sit across from each other the long way. With the shrinkage, this one is just long enough so the fringe hangs down…

Kitchen table runner/may

The strips are cut 2″ wide which is what I use on the floor as well. It’s a good thickness for sturdy runner/mats, but I really like to use 1″ strips for a more “elegant” feel. A good width to make these mats is 17″ – 18″ wide so that the plate and napkin and silverware are on the mat. And the fringe should hang over the edge but not be so long that it sits in your lap and you pull the runner off when you stand up. ;-D