Saturday, August 17, 2013

Summer Quilts

I've spent a fair amount of time working to improve my sewing/quilting skills this summer.  As I've I mentioned, I definitely do not have a natural aptitude for sewing....but I am happy to say that with practice, I am improving!  Here are a few shots of finished quilts that I've completed since my quilting obsession commenced this spring:
 This is a baby quilt, for a very dear friend of mine who will be giving birth any minute now to her first baby!  I used a combination of new fabric and recycled pillowcases for the patterned strips. 
My little Buzz Lightyear requested a Toy Story quilt, so of course he got one.  I decided to be brave and do half-square triangles, using Jeni Baker's technique, which works great.   The back of this one is plain blue flannel and I didn't use any batting in this quilt because my little man is very warm-blooded.  I quilted this on my "new" vintage 1958 Singer machine that was my birthday present to myself. 

And last but not least, here's a shot of the first quilt I set out to make.  I started and finished it back in May.  It's far from perfect, but it's been getting used daily and it's holding together so I'm considering that quilting success!
This one is bigger than the other two, and I quilted it on my little Mini-Ultra.  It's backed with an vintage mint-green sheet that belonged to my grandparents, so it is super-soft and snuggly.  I used a random assortment of fabrics, some that I had on hand, some other cheap fabrics, and one Old Navy dress from 2005(it's the white flower on aqua background).  Despite the imperfections, I felt proud of myself for achieving a goal I'd set for myself and doing it all by myself!  Quilting is hard work, but it's fun, fun, fun!

And for those who might wonder: no, I didn't use patterns for these quilts.  I just made them up and sewed them.  Is that designing?

I have two more quilts + backs neatly folded, just waiting to be quilted and bound someday.  I've found sewing to be quite addictive and sometimes I have to force myself to quit quilting and go back to work making books and collages.  My only complaint is that I have lots of fabric I'm dying to play with and not nearly enough time. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Nancy found a home.

Back in June, I posted about my Nancy Drew quilt:

I loved making this quilt and I was really happy with how it turned out.  Definitely not total perfection, but for someone who does NOT have knack for sewing and is new to quilting, I was proud of it.  I made it the quilt for fun and thought I would use it as part of my table display at shows.  This past Saturday at the Des Moines Farmers' Market, I had several customers interested in buying it, and so "my" Nancy has found a home.  But not just any home; she is going to be displayed in a middle-school classroom in Cedar Falls.  I really couldn't be happier about that.  The nice lady who bought the quilt is a reading teacher and she is going to hang the quilt behind her desk.  She thinks it will be a great way to get students interested in reading Nancy Drew and more. 

This is the best part of making stuff.  This  is why I love what I do.  Books and reading have always been so important to me, ever since I can remember.  The idea of my quilt in a classroom, introducing kids to Nancy Drew,  makes me happy.  When this sweet teacher decided to buy it, she said she was getting it because it made her happy.  So, everybody's happy!  What could be better? 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Music & Memories: my life soundtrack.

My friend Tim is a maker of music lists.  He's been doing this for about 25 years; I think it started that fateful New Year's Eve he spent at home being grounded.  And even now that he's a famous actor, he still makes his lists.  Which inspired me to make one of my own.  It's not a list of the 10 best rock songs or vocalists or guitarists, but rather, the songs that have stayed with me, because I love them.  Because I associate them with a memory, perhaps.  Or because they were on the radio incessantly and therefore I couldn't forget them if I tried.  As I celebrated my thirty-ninth birthday the other day, I was thinking that my tastes in music haven't changed too much over the years.  So here goes, in totally random order:

You Give Love a Bad Name, Bon Jovi: When I was in seventh grade, I discovered Bon Jovi because of this song.  Oh man, did I love this song.  I used to listen to it on my headphones when I went to bed at night; a local radio station did a "Top 10 at 10" countdown.  Bon Jovi was the first concert I ever attended, on April 11, 1989.  And I just saw them again this past April.  They're still pretty awesome.  Jon is aging well.

What it Takes, Aerosmith: I love Aerosmith.  I've seen them four times.  They are awesome.  This song is not necessarily my all-time favorite of theirs, but it is the one I listened to over and over and over during what I imagined to be my first real romantic heartbreak many, many years ago, back in the era of cassette tapes, which meant I was forever rewinding to play this again and again.  And again. 

Sweet Child O' Mine, Guns & Roses.   Needs no explanation, really.  You can't get tired of that classic intro.  Over 25 years later, it's still awesome and it always will be. 

The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Charlie Daniels Band.  I was just listening to this today.  Obviously, another classic that never goes out of style.  Personally, it always makes me think of the movie  Urban Cowboy, since it's featured in the movie and of course the soundtrack (which is a pretty good soundtrack).  And who doesn't love John Travolta movies?  Come on!

Gold Dust Woman, Fleetwood Mac. One of my favorite songs to sing at karaoke.  And it was pretty awesome hearing it live last week. 

Don't Come Home A'Drinkin,  Loretta Lynn.  Another karaoke favorite.  Yes, I'm a karaoke nerd.

Sin Wagon, Dixie Chicks.   My dear friend Katie and I used to get requests for this every Thursday and Saturday night at karaoke at the Gondola Lounge, circa 2000.  Those were the days!

Blame it on Your Heart,  Patty Loveless.  Again, a Daph & Katie karaoke duet.  This song takes a lot of wind but it sure is fun to sing. 

Like A Virgin,  Madonna.     I grew up in the 80s and I was a serious Madonna fan at age 11.  Thank goodness there aren't too many photos of me dressed up in what I thought were really neat Madonna-inspired getups.  My mother was embarrassed to take me out in public. 

Friends in Low Places,  Garth Brooks.  Twenty years ago, my friends and I liked to drink a lot of beer and sing country songs together in Dale's basement.  We spent many nights doing this. 

Linger, The Cranberries.  This song is beautiful and full of angst, great for post-breakup listening.  I did a lot of that back in the 90s. 

Crazy, Patsy Cline.  The perfect companion for crying over lost love.  And just one of the most beautiful songs ever. 

Love is Strong,  Rolling Stones.  In the summer of 1994, I lived on my own for the very first time, in a summer sublet in Iowa City (with 2 roommates that I rarely ever saw, the best kind of roommates, I think!) and worked 3 part-time jobs, took 2 summer classes, and rocked out to the awesome car stereo I had installed in my 1983 Chevy Celebrity (such a grandma car).  I played the hell out of the Voodoo Lounge CD in anticipation of seeing the Stones in concert that fall at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, which was one of the best concerts I've ever seen (no surprise there!).  In general, I like the Stones' older stuff (60s & 70s), but this song is pretty darn good. 

My Sharona,  The Knack.   This song was released in 1979 (I think), but it came into my life via the movie Reality Bites.  My friend Kate and I used to play the movie soundtrack and sing this at the top of our lungs in our dorm rooms and in the car and her mom's minivan on our roadtrip across Iowa in 1994. 

And last but not least....Johnny Cash.  I can't single out just one song.  Anyone who knows me knows I love Cash.  It is a deep regret of mine that I never had the chance to see him in concert.  His voice reminds me of my grandfather's.  Nobody compares to Cash. 

So there you have it. 

Friday, July 5, 2013


As I mentioned in my last post, I had so much fun making my Nancy Drew quilt that of course I had to play with the leftover fabric.  I had just as much fun experimenting with the leftovers as I did making the quilt and I like the results.  Here's what I came up with.
Both of these pieces are 11 x 14, fabric on canvas.  The "Secret of Shadow Ranch" piece has mostly all fabric from the Get a Clue with Nancy Drew line by Moda Fabrics, such as I used in my quilt.  "Ghost of Blackwood Hall" features the book cover panel by Moda, and then various other random fabrics that I had on hand.  I also made one smaller panel using mostly the Moda fabrics:
This book cover art featured on this piece is actually a post card from a collection by Chronicle Books that I've had for a few years.  Sometimes I like something so much that I almost hate to use it,  but then I remind myself that there's absolutely no point in that.  So I adhered that "Secret in the Old Attic" postcard and framed it with a laser-cut wooden frame (from Michael's) that I painted.  This piece is 12 x 12 on canvas. 

I haven't been limiting myself to fabric, as much as I love it.  I also picked up two old windows at a sale last week.  I bought them for no real reason other than I thought they were neat and they were cheap.  Here's what I did with the first one:
"Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry."  --Jack Kerouac. 
I love this quote and it worked with the window: one word per pane.  Easy peasy.  The messy part of this project was cleaning up the window: the glass was covered in white paint but I managed to remove it without too much trouble.  Someone has also apparently tried to paint the wood purple on one side but I got the awful purple paint off too, to reveal layers of pretty pale seafoam green and white paint.  I like the shabby chic look of the window and I didn't want it to look all shiny and new, but rather to show some of the layers that had been added through the years.  I don't know how old the window is, but my guess is: pretty old. 

So, that's what I've been up to lately, in addition to making books, of course.  I've got a bunch of new journals that I'll be bringing with me to the Downtown Farmers' Market next Saturday (July 13).  Des Moines' has one of the best farmers' markets anywhere around, and if you're in the area, you should check it out.  7 a.m. to noon in the Historic Court District, downtown.  My booth is on 4th Street, north of Court Avenue. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Whole New Nancy!

I've been playing with fabric a lot these days.  Especially Nancy Drew fabric, once I discovered there was such a thing.  You can imagine my excitement. 

A couple of months ago I decided I was going to teach myself to quilt.  The problem with this is that quilting is, of course, in essence, sewing--which has never been a talent of mine.  But I was determined.  I love quilts.  Love them.  And for a very long time, I have wanted to make them. 

I started small, with a little table-topper about the size of a large placemat.  I sewed the whole thing by hand.  It turned out pretty good, as long as you just look at the front.  Then I started making blocks for a nine-patch.  Really BIG nine patch blocks.  I quickly realized that piecing them by hand would take me the rest of my life.  I am not that patient.  Luckily, I bought an adorable used sewing machine from a friend.  A pale blue Kenmore Mini Ultra.  Which is surely not intended for sewing big quilts, but I've been using it for just that purpose.  The Nancy quilt was fairly easy to quilt, since it is a much more manageable size(31 inches wide by 39 inches long). 

I suspected that fabric was probably just as addictive, if not more so, than paper, and it turns out I was right about this.  I admit that I get overwhelmed by all the choices available.  The Nancy quilt was easier to design because I used the charm pack (by Moda Fabrics) to design it so it saved me lots of time and effort as far as rotary cutting.  It was rather like putting a puzzle together.  I would also like to mention that I bought my Nancy fabric from Fat Quarter Shop and was totally impressed with the quick shipping: I ordered it on a Tuesday afternoon and it arrived in my mailbox Thursday morning.  I will definitely order from them again!  You can check out their sweet selection of fabric at:

I have some Nancy fabric left over and I'm already having fun playing with those leftovers.  If my experiments turn out as I hope, I'll share.  If not, I'll just order more fabric! 

The Nancy quilt will get put to use as part of my show display, so if you're a craft-show shopper in Des Moines, you can come visit Nancy and I in person, if you like.  We'd love to see you. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Handmade Shopping Showcase

You're Invited:
Craft Show
Sunday, May 5
The Randleman House
245 Pennsylvania, Carlisle
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Free Admission
Handmade items by area artists & crafters:
jewelry, original art, journals, accessories, & more. 
Presented by Papercake Creations & Groovy Planet Fair Trade.
This Sunday is "my" craft show.  I've been toying with the idea of putting on a small indie show for a while now.  And then I just thought, WHY NOT?  Heck, everybody else is doing why not me? 
My friend Staci of Groovy Planet Fair Trade is helping me with this and we have assembled an awesome group of  makers/vendors who will bring their beautiful handmade items to my hometown of Carlisle, Iowa this Sunday.  We are setting up shop at a truly unique and wonderful venue: The Randleman House, which is owned & operated by the Carlisle Area Historical Society, who has done the most amazing job of restoring this house.  The house itself is something to see.  The house with awesome handmade stuff for sale inside?  What more could you ask for?  I mean, really? 
We would love to see you there.  We like to show people the stuff we make.  We like to talk about what we do and how we do it.  We like it when people buy our stuff, of course.  It helps us buy groceries and more craft supplies and stuff.  That's what this shopping local thing is all about.  It helps everybody, really.   
So, come on out this Sunday.  We would love to see you!  It is also a great chance to find a neat Mother's Day or graduation gift, of course.  Something the recipient will actually like. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bright April

Holy moly, I think spring has finally arrived!! 

I just finished this journal up this morning.  I love the bright colors inside and the beautiful illustration on the cover.  It's a discarded vintage book I've never seen before, but serendipity put it in my hands in a timely manner. 

We've gone a week without snow.  That's a record!  I am getting excited for spring flowers, craft shows, and playing outside.  Finally. 

What are you looking forward to this spring? 

Here are a few more spring-ish journals I've finished lately and will share:
This is an upcycled 1966 book about Iowa and it makes an adorable journal or scrapbook (I think.).  The whole book is included, so you can learn a little bit of Iowa history while you're filling the blank pages. 

I'm thinking about planting some flowers and also about garden journals; they're one of my favorite type of books to make.  Old agriculture textbooks make great garden journals too, as well as old garden books.  Here are a few:

The paper you see on the inside cover here is oil paper, and it is awesome.  I think it looks like a cross between a Monet painting and tye-die.  Love it.  Will definitely be getting some more. 

Big things are in the works here in Papercake world: May is going to be a fun and super-busy month.  I can't wait.  When I know all the details, I will share.  Lots to look forward to! 

Happy April and happy SPRING!

Friday, February 22, 2013

around here...

...we waited for a big snow storm.  It wasn't as big as the weatherman said.

...shipped out custom orders this week.  I have customers who have great ideas. 

...worked to get ready for my first show of the year.  I realize that I feel a little bit adrift without a craft show in my near future.  Although I enjoyed some relaxing weekends in January, I am glad to get back in the groove of having shows to look forward to. a really good book: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (I've probably spelled her last name wrong.)

...kept the kitchen pretty darn clean for nearly a whole week.  For me, this is actually quite an accomplishment!  (it's the little things!)

...applied for two spring/summer events that I've never done before and really hoping I will get accepted. This is what constitutes excitement in my craft-obsessed life. 

...have been in bed by nine o'clock nearly every night.  Unlike a certain four-year-old, this tired mama looks forward to sleep.  This means I've been getting up pretty early, but I love my quiet mornings all to myself.  I think I get more accomplished before seven in the morning than I do the whole rest of the day. 

This is what we've been up to.  Today will be very busy setting up for this weekend's show over at the Fairgrounds (if you're in Des Moines and don't mind driving in a bit of snow, come and see me!).  Hopefully, we won't get too much more snow that people don't come out and shop.  If you do want to check out the show, it's at the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, tonight from 5 to 9, tomorrow 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday 10 to 4.

Stay warm!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Some Are Small: mini album for my little man.

Yesterday was a special day, because Jacob was Student of the Week at preschool.  He'd been waiting for this day: a while back he'd expressed his worry that he would not get to be Student of the Week.  So we chose a couple of his favorite things to take to school to show the class (his Curious George storybook and his favorite board game, Candyland) and we were also supposed to send a few photos for him to share.  I decided he shouldn't just take photos to school, but rather a photo book. 

I had a stack of his paintings that I hadn't used on scrapbook layouts or calendar pages yet, but of course I couldn't just toss his masterpieces in the recycling bin.  So I used his paintings as the pages for his book.  For the album covers I used a 1950s reader called Some Are Small.  Perfect for a book about a 4-year-old. 

Here's a look inside:
This book is very simple.  I may go back and add some more journaling, but mostly it's just photos and his paintings.  I organized it by season with some leftover file tabs from folders.  I folded his paintings in half, secured them with double-stick tape, trimmed them to fit, and bound it.  Quick and easy.  Jacob really likes it.  He enjoyed sharing it with his class.  Nothing fancy, but something we will continue to enjoy. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New for 2013.

Despite the lack of blogging going on around here, I have been getting some work done playing with all the ideas that chase each other through my head.  Here's a few things I've been working on lately:
8 x 10 collage on board: $35; available on my etsy shop.

handmade ribbon-tie journal, $24; available on my etsy shop

 Despite a leaky hot water heater that soaked the floor of my studio (luckily not much damage was sustained) a couple of days ago, I have more stuff in progress that I am excited about and having a lot of fun with.  More books, more collages, and more ideas.  One of the best feelings for me is to have ideas dancing around in my brain, just ready to be brought to life.  For me, January is a perfect time for creative experimentation.  I do some of my best work in the dark, cold month of January.  And believe me, this January is particularly dark and cold!  What better way to spend it than creating?

I am gearing up for another fun-filled year of craft shows, of course.  I've been wanting to try some new shows a little farther from home for quite a while, and this year I am determined to pursue that, even if it means taking the family with me.  I am happy to say that on March 9, I'll be in St. Louis for Green With Indie; it's an independent show with a focus on re-purposed, upcycled/recycled handmade goods.  Sounded like a perfect show for me so I got the hubby to agree that a little family trip to St. Louis would be oh-so-fun.  This will be Jacob's first really long car trip so it should be interesting.  Notice I didn't predict the car ride being fun, just interesting; trying to be realistic!

Best wishes for your creative endeavors in 2013.