Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quick Change: My DIY Sharpie Graphic-T

My sister Holli knew how to rock a blazer.  It was 1992 and her first year at college and she looked uber smart like she was (is) and I wondered how I could get one for myself so I could rock it in the halls of 7th grade small town Minnesota.

It didn't happen then. But it happened last night.

Because I figured out a way to make my blazer less stuffy. More comfortable. More me.

Answer: Sharpie Graphic T-shirt.

You know that Old Nay Vintage Tees are my uniform.  I have more than I should and wear them more than I want to admit.

One was sacrificed for this project.

I read through a good Sharpie Custom shirt tutorial on Instructables and gained confidence in the project.

And decided to use the face of Eleanor Roosevelt for my graphic.  Because she was awesome. 

And courageous. 
And driven. 
And tall like me.

Despite having direct sunlight streaming in, with my shirt taped to the window, it was hard to see the grayed image through the gray shirt unless I was far back.

So, after I had a rough outline I just did the best I could drawing out the image using the print out beside the shirt for reference. 

And I didn't stress. 
And spent 30 minutes. 
Because it is a T-shirt and doesn't matter.

And I turned Eleanor's chain into a Carrie Bradshaw necklace because it felt so right and so wrong so I didn't have a choice.

Rocking a blazer in my way felt amazing and empowering.

Was I using the fearlessness and strength of Eleanor to help me feel comfortable with my quick change decision? Damn right I was.

But let's be honest. I would have used the strength of The Clash if I would have gone with my #2 sharpie shirt choice, Rock the Cash Bar!  Lyric blunder intentional.

But let's keep it real.  I had the strength inside me anyway. I can rock a blazer all on my own. My sister showed me how.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Better After

My credenza is swelling.

With pride.

She was featured yesterday in a post on Better After, a blog showcasing transformations. Go on over and give her some love.

But be careful. Better After is blog crack if you've never been before.  My fellow Phoenician blogger, Lindsey, showcases before and after photos from around the world. Your screen will ooze with ideas.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Caution: Insecure Furniture

Our friends are worried about baby proofing.  Anthony is worried about Heidi proofing.

Seriously. I think its still the ladder on the table to change a light bulb thing from years ago. I've told you about it. He needs to let it go. I haven't hurt myself for weeks now.

However, I guess I can kind of see his passion to secure the armoire to the wall to prevent tipping. 

If that hog tips over, it is going to crash through the floor to the hallway below and likely still have enough momentum to travel through the foundation of our house.  I'm sorry. I take that back. My weight comments only fuel her insecurity. She's big-boned and I love her.

They sell belting devices for securing furniture to the wall, but it seemed expensive and not that strong and not easy to add to the back of a piece that weighs more than most European cars.  

We went with metal pipe hanger tape and screws instead. 

And I said it was OK to attach it to the top since no one will ever see it.

Anthony checked for live wires before he let me drill. Thoughtful.

Now we're safe. Safe from falling armoires with confidence issues anyway.

Friday, July 26, 2013

I ♥ ...

I ♥ Craigslist Connections.

I honestly don't know why I get so immediately invested in certain craigslist purchases.  Why I take it to the lengths of lipstick and crisp pants like I did for Millie's chair. Something draws me in that I can't explain. And nothing will get in my way of driving out of town farther than I should to purchase it.

This small credenza had that pull. Sending some fierce magnetism all the way from Casa Grande.

Yes, I drove to Casa Grande, 45 minutes one-way to get this $35 credenza.

The house for pick-up gave me every warning signal to end the deal and run.  It sat on the edge of the desert at the end of a two mile dirt road. And I call it a road because there were tire tracks to follow, not because there was any physical divide between road, lawn or desert. Just dirt and land and heat and openness.  The eight beat-up cars around the back of the house, I assumed were driven in by those that wanted in on the craigslist gang bang I was about to walk into.

No one around to hear me scream, the perfect location to bury a body and I was clearly out numbered.

My only armor as I approached the back door was my cell phone pre-dialed to Anthony with my thumb on the send button and my car keys poking out between the clenched fist of my other hand.

And I was indeed outnumbered. By a retired couple and their two Shih Tzu puppies and the sweet smell of baking.

Sorry about our mess. We're getting ready to move.

Where are you moving to? I asked.

Oh, back to my hometown. New Ulm, Minnesota the man said with pride.

I was giddy about our Minnesota bond. No kidding! I grew up in Luverne, MN. Do you know where that is?

You bet! My brother's roommate from college was from Luverne. We used to go there all the time.

I was going to live another day. 

They showed me the credenza while sharing the story of how it actually came from his mom's house in New Ulm and they moved it after she died. And his few years in the service and how they met in Chicago, where she is from.  And how they ended up in Arizona because of work. And how they were just up in Scottsdale to go to Portillo's and it was delicious.

And worth the price of gas.
And reminded them of all the fun they used to have in Chicago.
And, I really hate New Ulm the woman threw in from left field.

I cry ever time we visit she added.

What? New Ulm is beautiful. Why do you hate it? I sincerely wanted to know.

Its the people. They don't accept me. Or any outsiders. They are all stuck-ups!

Her husband backed her up. She's right. We'll go out to eat and no one will even say 'hello' to her.

That's horrible. But you're a hometown boy so you should be in! And with an equal part of 'sticking up for his wife' and 'wanting to goad a bit' I asked. Why are you insisting on moving to New Ulm if it makes your wife so unhappy?

The more he spoke, the less locked-in this New Ulm move appeared to be. I told her she should check out Luverne instead, but she really wants to get back to Chicago closer to family. 

I just want you both to be happy. It just came out, but I really think I meant it.

They showed me the other items they had listed online. How much for the bedside table dresser? I asked as I was taking the shelf out of the credenza.

We have it listed for $35.

Would you take $60 for the two pieces instead? I'd earned a deal.

They looked at each other and made a joint decision, something I now hope they'd do before moving. Sure.

You know, its funny, the woman added in we've had 3 people lined up to come see that dresser and they've never shown up.

Yeah, probably because your location looks like the set of an Arizona desert gang assult. Or your neighbors down the road killed them. You choose. I said inside my head.

As the man helped me carry the credenza out to my car we passed the fresh apple pie on a cooling rack that I had smelled when they first opened the door.

How much for the pie? I was only half joking.

Oh, it just came out of the oven so its too hot to send home with you now, but I have a cherry cheesecake in the freezer that I sell at the church for $30?

And I felt it. Deep. I was exactly where I needed to be at that exact moment in time. Why? I'll likely never know. But I loved it.

Another craigslist connection.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

Things that make you go hmmm...

Brown paper bags for flooring.

Its working for me.

Instructions here.

via Dude Craft

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Trend: Quilted

I just need one more day of quilt.

Quilted the trend. To soak it in.

Zara Velvet Decorative Quilt - Lusting. Hard.

Burberry and Chanel have been quilting for years.

Burberry Ribbed Quilt Jacket

Roberto Cavalli's Quilted Stretch-Leather Skirt is hot and slimming.  And is trying to convince you and I to sew a version of it for ourselves. It's working.

Hard, shiny quilted home decor? Yes, please.

Meet quilted. He's tufted's classy grandson.

You can have your quilting and eat it too.

Cake Art by Rabia wedding cake

I think my inner bad-ass could pull off these kicks for about an hour.

But would need to spend the other waking hours in these to make up for it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial - Part 2: Finishing Your Quilt

You completed the steps to making a quilt top. Congrats!

Now let's get it finished.

Your quilt top
Batting (optional) - slightly larger than your quilt top
Backing fabric - 5 1/2 yards if making the 73" x 90"
Quilting thread - About 1000 yards (I bought 4 - 250 yard spools)
Binding fabric - You can use leftover sashing or backing fabric

First, I hope no one told you that quilting is easy. It's not. I now consider quilters to be athletes. But, just like digging, anyone can do it. Give yourself time.

1. Prepare the Quilt Back

Because the quilt width was larger than the width of my backing fabric, I had to sew two panels together. Cut the length of your fabric in half so you have 2 panels that are 95+ inches long. Put the right sides of the fabric together, pin them down on a long side and sew them together. Again, I used a 1/2" seam, but I recommend using a 1/4". Press the seam open when you are finished.

2. Make a Quilt Sandwich

Lay your quilt back face down on the floor. It is a good idea to tape down the edges so it is taut and secure.

Position your batting over the quilt back. I didn't want the quilt back seam right down the middle so I made sure it was over to one side. I used a lightweight batting because the fleece already added some thickness. Because the fleece seam didn't iron down, I rolled the batting over and ran my hand down the seam to keep it open before laying the batting back on top.

Ensure that the seams in your quilt top are pressed open. Position your quilt top on top of the batting to complete the sandwich.  This step is easier if you have a batting that is larger than the quilt top. Smooth it all down by hand, making sure nothing is bunched up.

Here are a few helpful videos to show you the sandwich process:
Quilting For Everyone
PollyAnna Patchwork - hard to hear, but she also covers spray adhesive and a fold layout technique
Gourmet Quilter - shows pin basting

3. Pin 

Pin your layers together with safety pins. The Gourmet Quilter video above shows a great technique. With a big quilt like this, pinning takes a while. To the point where I sort of wanted to poke my eyes out with pins.

4. Trim

I had a lot of excess fleece for the quilt back. I trimmed the edge so that I has about 5" of fleece left around the border.

5. Prep Yourself for Quilting

'Quilting' the actual process of sewing your sandwich together is no joke. There are choices and surprises and practice sessions required. Here are a few links to help you prep yourself.

Deciding the thread color for your quilt - a good visual example
Leah Day - Free Motion Quilting Tutorial Video - great tips, tools and troubleshooting info
Leah Day - Quilting in Rows - this is the technique that I followed

Piece together some small squares and practice. Practice more. Feel comfortable.

I chose to use a teal thread that matched the sashing for my quilting thread.

6. Prep Your Machine to Quilt

I use a basic Brother model sewing machine.  Since my feed dogs don't lower, the machine came with a plate to cover them for free motion quilting. Attach your quilting foot. I purchased this Brother quilting foot even though it didn't list as being compatible with my model. The reviews gave me a lot of good feedback and it worked great.

You'll want a full bobbin loaded and extra thread on hand. It took me 4 spools of 250 yard thread to do the quilting. Some people recommend filling a couple of bobbins so you can easily switch out and keep going. Honestly, by the time I finished one bobbin I needed a break and a cold one before moving on.

7. Quilt

Start in the middle and work your way down and out. I found it way easier to work down by pushing the quilt away from me so I tried to keep that motion going as much as possible. They make quilting gloves, but I was too cheap to try them so I used plastic gloves I stole paid for via insurance from the doctor. Since the quilt was thick and pressed snuggly under the foot, there were several times where I forgot to lower the foot before quilting. Don't do that. It causes a thread nightmare underneath that you get to pick out piece by piece. Time killer.

I quilted over a couple of days.  Freemotion, easy flow quilting and it still took me several hours to finish the entire piece.  Its a legit process so give yourself time.

It also made me hot with increased muscle tension. Don't be alarmed if you are young, but suddenly feel frighteningly premenopausal. My symptoms went away with the quilt.

8. Trim Excess

Trim the excess batting and quilt back to meet your quilt top.  In hindsight I would have left a section of the fleece back and wrapped it around the edge for the binding.

Remember when I mentioned leaving the side seam in a shirt to keep the design?  That quilt square is below. It blends in really well.

9. Attach Binding

I used the extra fleece to make binding strips 2 1/2" wide and followed the tutorial video here:

Heirloom Creations - from Sioux Falls, SD

I stitched the binding down and struggled, because the fleece is thicker and doesn't press for a clean crease like a cotton fabric. I look forward to binding something with a cotton strip so I hopefully feel like less of a tool. The fleece still looked great, I just won't do it again until I have a better feel and more experience.

10. Trim Your Threads

From the quilting, I had thread ends all over. I started on the back with trimming and then went over it with a sticky roller to make sure I didn't leave stragglers.

And the same for the front.

11. Raise a Glass

Congrats! Quilt complete. Champagne for everyone!

Can anyone sew a quilt? Yes.
Can you sew a quilt on a basic sewing machine? Yes.
Do you feel like you just finished a marathon after completing a quilt? Yes, but you could likely run a marathon in less time.  Seriously.

Monday, July 22, 2013

T-Shirt Quilt Tutorial - Part 1: Quilt Top

You've seen the T-shirt quilts, right? Popular gifts for high school graduates, constructed with cut out squares from T-shirts showcasing their various, band, boning Suzy in the dugouts. 

Wait, they don't issue shirts for the last one.

I was approached to make a T-shirt quilt for Eric who wanted to give his sister a Dave Matthews Band T-shirt quilt for her birthday.  They are groupies and he knew she would love it.  So thoughtful. Seriously, what a nice brother.

He purchased extra shirts off of Ebay, we struck a deal and soon I had an extra pile of laundry in my house.

Here's the process I used to assemble the quilt face:

1. Create a Mock-Up

I took pictures of all the shirts and did a quick mock-up in Photoshop for Eric to check out.  We chose the size (73" x 90") and picked the final T-shirt designs and arrangement.  My grandma used to do this on sheet paper with colored pencils, still awesome and effective.

2. Choose Fabric

I wanted to use sashing (the fabric in between the squares) because I feel it ties everything together and gives a more professional look.  Eric requested a fleece fabric for the back of the quilt. To ensure all these fabrics worked together, I took a few of the shirts with me fabric shopping. 

For the 73" x 90" size:
5.5 yards of fleece for the back (It isn't wide enough as is, so you will need to sew 2 sections together)
2.5 yards of the main sashing fabric
1/4 yard of the accent fabric for the little squares in the middle (I bought 1 fat quarter instead) 

See the beautiful diamond pattern fleece? They didn't have enough in Phoenix. Or any online. Or any other fleece options that would look half as good.  After a wicked hunt on the phone and online, I tracked some down in Tucson (the last 6 yards this side of the Mississippi) and drove down to get it.  Because I have trouble compromising when I've found my perfection.

3. Cut up the T-Shirts

Nothing too precise. Up the side seams. Across the shoulder seams. Cut off the arms. There was an instance where the design wrapped around the side of the shirt, so I ct up the front and back instead.

4. Stabilize T-shirts

I used Pellon P44F from JoAnns, but any basic to lightweight fusible interfacing will work.  I smoothed the T-shirt segment face down on the ironing board and pulled a layer of interfacing over it. After giving it a light spritz of water I started ironing in segments, not sliding. I chose not to use a press cloth just so I could see the edges and make sure I wasn't going over.  The interfacing comes with instructions, but here is a good fusible interfacing link to learn more and see instruction on using a press cloth. If this stresses you out, try it on a couple of scrap T-shirt segments - I did.

5. Cut Out the T-shirt Squares

I was planning on making a cardboard template to help size out the 15.5" squares needed, but wanted to be able to see the designs perfectly to center them. I purchased this 15.5" square quilting ruler from AZ Awesomeshop: 3 Dudes Quilting. It made the process much faster.

And the perfectly cut and ironed pile of shirts was so gratifying.

6. Cut the Sashing

After pressing out the wrinkles, cut out the quilt pieces in their required sizes. *For the border pieces, I just cut 4 - 4" sections down the entire 2.5 yards (90") of sashing fabric and left them that size. I'll explain more in Step 10.

7. Sew Quilt Panels

Using your mock-up to make sure you get the designs in the correct order, sew together the horizontal panels for your quilt using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. *(I've since learned that it is easier to quilt with smaller seams so if you don't mind throwing off the measurements then switch to 1/4".)

Shirt - Sashing - Shirt - Sashing - Shirts Sashing - Shirt

Sashing - Square - Sashing - Square - Sashing - Square - Sashing

8. Trim Threads & Iron Seams Open

9. Sew Horizontal Panels Together

Follow your mock-up to make sure you get the correct order and direction.  I start by pinning the pieces together at the sashing squares because it is the section that needs to be lined up most precisely. Match up your tiny square with the sashing and pin down the pressed seams so that they stay open during sewing. Pin all the way across. Sew.

10. Sew Your Border Pieces

To make it easier, I left all the border pieces at 90" in length when cutting.  Start by sewing on the side pieces. Line them up with the bottom edge and pin the sashing all the way to the top. Sew it together. Then, cut off the excess border so it lines up with the edge of the T-shirt. Sew on the top sections by lining up one end with the edge of the side sashing and cutting off the excess after it is sewn to line up with the opposite edge. You're just making a big box around your T-shirt section.

11. Admire

You have a quilt face.
Well done.

And if quilting ended there, then we would have whipped up hundreds of these by now.

But it doesn't. There's sandwiching and pinning and quilting and binding. Oh Lord, the binding!

But that's tomorrow, so just enjoy your fruits for now.