Friday, August 1, 2014

Hybrid Journal

I'm definitely a creature of habit, and sometimes that's a good thing.  I have a method for making journals that I usually stick with--because it works.  But it's always good to try new things and experiment, especially when it comes to making things.  I've been busy making new journals for Market Day tomorrow, but I did try something a bit different with one journal I was putting together yesterday:
This journal is made from a 1927 book, The Art of Dressmaking. The back cover also has the title printed on it and is identical to the front cover, which is rather unusual.  I chose one of my favorite papers for the inside covers:
I had a few pretty iridescent pearl envelopes left in my envelope stash so I decided to use those for pockets.  I had three of them so I thought I'd use all three: one in the front, one in the middle, and one in the back.  I included a few pages from the original book at the front of the journal.  The pages were yellowing, but still in good shape despite their age. 
I put blank white paper in almost all the journals I make to sell at shows.  Once in a while I do get orders for lined pages.  Lined paper is great, for sure--but it's not readily available here in Des Moines and it is considerably more expensive than the blank white artist paper that I use in my journals.  Also, it comes in much smaller sizes, and so it just won't work with every size of book cover that I get my hands on, as I trim the paper to fit the book cover.  But as I was getting ready to cut the pages for this particular journal it occurred to me that the lined paper would work for this cover and that I had just enough lined paper on hand to use for this particular journal.  Then I thought, why not include some blank white pages as well?  So I did.  I used white drawing paper instead of artist's paper because it's not quite so thick, which would allow me to include more pages in this journal than I usually do.  The result is a combination journal and sketchbook with three envelope pockets:  lined paper for lists and journaling,  blank pages for sketches & more.  The best of both worlds. 

Thanks for looking!  If you're out & about in Des Moines tomorrow, please stop downtown and visit Market Day at the Kirkwood (4th & Walnut) from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.  You'll find me in the lobby and I guarantee you'll find a whole bunch of awesome handmade & vintage goodness there.  We'd love to see you! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sewing Nostalgia

A few months ago I got this awesome fabric:

I bought it simply because I loved it, without a specific project in mind. When it arrived, I lovingly admired it, then added it to my stash.  A few days ago I decided it was time to actually use it, so I made a pillow cover.  Nothing fancy, no piecing or quilting.  I thought this print should be showcased, so to speak, and pillow covers are perfect for that. And perfect for using up fabric that you buy for no specific reason! (FYI: This fabric is Sew Retro by The Henley Studio, makower UK.  I purchased mine from Stash Modern Fabric on etsy, one of my favorite sources for irresistible fabrics--great selection and quick shipping.)    

Looking at this print led me to looking through some of the vintage patterns in my collection and then I found a wooden box that had been sitting in the big cupboard in the corner of my studio, just waiting to be used.  I grabbed some Mod Podge and prettied up that box:

Boxes are one of my very favorite things.  Don't ask me why, I've just always liked them.  Especially small ones.  So useful for organizing various random things--and I have a lot of those!  Obviously this box was meant to organize sewing things.  Here's a look inside after I filled it up:
I couldn't resist adding the vintage sewing machine image on the top lid.  (That's a clear stamp by Stampabilities, available at Hobby Lobby; it is part of a small set of stamps of sewing-related images).  Then I filled the box with all my Aurifil thread spools (the small spools are from the Tula Pink collection) and a few other odds and ends.  A fun and easy way to organize, and I like it when things are both pretty and useful.   

Happy crafting!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Projects

It's been nearly two whole months since I've shared anything!  Summer seems to have a way of getting away from me.  I always think of summer as a relaxing time of year, but every year my summers seem to get busier and go by faster.  Between Farmers' Market and t-ball games and visits from faraway friends and swimming lessons, the time just gets away from me.  Here are a couple of projects I've finished up this month:
This is definitely the pinkest quilt I've made!  Very girly, very flowery!  As you can probably tell, it's a handkerchief quilt.  I have quite a few vintage hankies that belonged to my grandmother & great-grandmother; I've had them stowed away for years.  I'm not a really a hanky-user myself.  But these are so pretty that I thought it was a shame to keep them hidden away and so using them in a quilt seemed like the perfect solution.  I stitched the hankies to some voile to stabilize them (my first time ever sewing with voile) and then just made a simple quilt using some of the pink floral yardage that I got last summer at an estate sale.  I added the border with the pink fabric (from Jo-Ann's) and then the floral again for the binding.  The back of the quilt is also the floral print.  So you definitely have to like pink to like this quilt!  It measures 42 inches wide by 66 inches long, a nice-sized throw for me.  Here's a closer look so you can see the prints:
This was pieced and quilted (wavy lines) with white Aurifil.  Oddly enough, this is the first time I've ever used just plain white Aurifil thread....I love all the different color choices Aurifil has, but the prints here are plenty busy, so I figured white was the only way to go for the quilting. 

I spent most of yesterday afternoon working on a large piece to put in my booth at the Downtown Farmers' Market this weekend.  It's got a bit of pink in it as well:
It's hard to see in the picture, but the window frame is a very pale gray--it was originally white, but I gave it a coat of Annie Sloan Chalk paint in Paris Grey.  I've been having a lot of fun with salvaged windows this summer.  To glue on the papers, I've found that I like Martha Stewart's decoupage glue the best.  It spreads easily and dries quickly.  Mod Podge works too.  You'll find this in my booth at the Market this weekend, I'll be on 2nd Avenue just north of Court. 

And NEXT weekend (Aug. 2), I won't have to worry about the weather, because I'll be inside at Market Day!  Looking forward to seeing my Market Day friends and customers again.  It's inside at the Kirkwood, at 4th & Walnut downtown, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.  You can follow Market Day Iowa on facebook or get more info at

If you want to know where to find me, you can just follow Papercake Creations on facebook.  I'll be at the Downtown Farmers' Market through mid-October. 

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Black & White & Type All Over

I started summer break with a quilt finish. 
A few months ago I decided to challenge myself by making a black and white quilt.  No colors, just black and white.  The only other stipulation I set for myself was no floral prints.  It was a bit of a challenge to find a good variety of prints that weren't florals, but I kept scouting for fabric until I had enough of what I wanted.  I guess you could call this quilt a sampler--each block is different; I just created them as I went along (who needs patterns?).  Here's a closer look:
Notice the typewriters.  That fabric is by Robert Kaufman.  I just couldn't resist.  (Yes, this is the third quilt I've made featuring typewriters.  Weird, I know.  That's me!) Here's a closer look at the typewriters, which are so very vintage charming:
The back of the quilt was pieced using large pieces of leftover fabric from the quilt top:
Originally I'd thought I would send this quilt out to be long-armed, but then I changed my mind and decided to quilt it myself.  So the quilting is very basic, just wonky horizontal lines.  I used Aurifil thread in Graphite, variegated gray and black.  This quilt measures 56" by 75"--just perfect for snuggling up on the couch with a good book. 

I made this quilt before I put together the rainbow solids quilt for Jacob--after all this black and white, I was ready for colors again.  I liked having a set framework to work within; there were plenty of wonderful B & W prints to choose from that I didn't feel limited. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I love spring: photo edition.

Spring tends to get very busy.  Here's what's been going on around here in recent weeks:
A small quilt for a small boy. 
Small boy with a shirt full of small pockets for "pockets" day at preschool (you can't see them all in the picture but I managed to get 24 little pockets on this little shirt--and for some reason that made me very proud of myself!)
A furniture painting project in progress.  This Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is just awesome.
Someday this will get quilted.  Someday. 
It finally got warm enough so that our hostas could make an appearance. 
This year I am attempting veggies: peppers and one tomato plant.  We'll see what happens.  Gardening is a bit like gambling for me--I have no guarantee of good results.  If I can get one decent tomato and one pepper I will be pleased. 
And of course, one important thing I do each May is decorate at the cemetery.  I enjoy doing this.  My grandparents are in a small country cemetery in Grundy County, near where they farmed, and I always find it to be a peaceful place. 
And of course, spring also means I am busy making stuff for the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market!  I'm so pleased that I am part of this event.  It's a great Des Moines tradition and if you've never been, you should.  There's so much there to see, so much good stuff to eat, and such a diverse group of people.  I'll be there for the next three weeks in a row if you'd like to say hi.  I'll have lots of new journals as well as a few other things.  Such as this:
In case you're keeping track, this is Nancy Drew quilt #4. 
Happy spring to you.  Enjoy the sunshine. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Retro Rotary: quilt #12

This might just be my new favorite quilt:
Excuse the blue painter's tape in the photo, please....I've been waiting for a nice spring day so I could photograph this quilt outside but....the days that were "nice" were also extremely windy, which is not so good for quilt photo shoots.  And today is definitely not nice, so I gave up and stuck the quilt to the wall and snapped a few pictures.  My pictures don't quite do the quilt justice--the fabric is just so awesome and my photography is not.  The telephones are another Melody Miller design and I had fun seeking out just the right fabrics to go with it, and I found just what I needed during a visit to Winterset a couple of weeks ago: the orange print came from the local Ben Franklin store and the purple came from Fons & Porter's quilt shop, both conveniently located on the square.  (I'm thinking I really just need to move to Winterset; I mean, two fabric shops on one block, and a yarn shop across the street?  Obviously this is the town for me!) You can see a glimpse of olive green in the scrappy binding and there's a bit more on the back of the quilt, which is very simple:
I love the combination of the orange, purple, and olive.  And if it weren't for that adorable telephone fabric I probably wouldn't have thought of using those 3 colors together.  Purple isn't one of my favorite colors, but in this quilt, I'm loving it.  The purple fabric has a very subtle print and just enough hint of sparkle to do the telephone fabric justice. 

And to pat myself on the back just a bit, I will mention that this is definitely my best job thus far of quilting and binding.  I'm a hands-on learner and I can see the improvement with each quilt I make.  It's ever-so-satisfying. 

This one is quilted with Aurifil, one of the spools that came in the Tula Pink sampler pack I got for Valentine's Day.  (Yes, I asked for thread for Valentine's Day!)  The pink/purple spool was perfect for this quilt.  The colors of thread in this collection are wonderful and I am looking forward to using another one very soon.  The quilting is very basic, because you can't get too fancy on a home sewing machine, but with the help of some painter's tape I did manage to do a decent job of making my lines fairly straight.  Oh, the wonder of a walking foot!  Such a help. 

After I finished this quilt, I had to tear myself away from my sewing machine and get back to my paper trimmer to get some journals made for upcoming shows.  If you're in or near Iowa City, I'll be at Craft Your Environment, coming up on April 19 at the East Side Recycling Center.  This is a brand new show and one I am really looking forward to as it focuses on handmade items that use recycled/repurposed materials.  Stop by and say hello if you're in the area! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Experiments with fabric.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to be brave and upload one of my old collage designs to Spoonflower.  Knowing absolutely nothing about designing fabric or graphic design or anything like that, it was kind of a gamble for me, waiting to see how my collage would translate on to fabric. 

Guess what?  I liked the result!  So after tearing open that package, I immediately cut into my fabric and started making a little wall quilt:

Not a lot of planning involved here: I used some fabric pieces & scraps that were handy: the black and white pieces are left over from my current work-in-progress and the striped piece at the bottom is a repurposed pillowcase scrap.  The chevron ribbon was a recent purchase from Stitch here in Des Moines.  I had just enough double-fold binding left from my red & black Nancy Drew quilt to bind this little quilt. 

Spoonflower is great place to try your hand at designing and you can also buy other independent artists' designs--as fabric or wallpaper.  How cool is that?  I'm so glad I decided to give it a try and I'm sure I will be doing more Spoonflower-ing in the future.  The cost is reasonable (I got a fat quarter of my fabric with shipping included, for just under eleven dollars) and their turnaround time is pretty quick (my fabric arrived sooner than was promised).  Definitely worth the gamble. 

During the time that I was waiting for my Spoonflower fabric to arrive, I had a bit of fun playing around with the idea of fabric as art--by putting it in a frame:

Yes, typewriter fabric again, and a few charm squares and scraps that were handy.  The frame was a Goodwill find.  The matte was included, I just turned it over and painted it.

It always makes me happy when my experiments yield good results.  Even when they don't, I always learn something in the process and that in itself is valuable. 

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Quilts of All Sizes.

I love working on a big quilt top, but sometimes I need a break in the middle of a long-term project.  A couple of weeks ago I needed a break from making quilt blocks--so I made a couple of mini-quilts.  (Makes no sense, now does it?)  I've been waiting and waiting to make something with this pink typewriter fabric (from Melody Miller's Ruby Star line, 2012), which is of course so very different from the aqua typewriter fabric I've used I whipped up this mini quilt.

You might be asking yourself "what's so fun about a mini-quilt?"  In fact, a very good friend of mine, who is quite the crafty gal herself, told me that she thought a little quilt to hang on the wall was about the silliest thing she'd ever heard of.  (And she hadn't heard of it before I explained to her what it is I was making during our in-depth discussion of sewing, quilting, crafting, etc.) 

So here's the answer to that burning question--what's so fun about a mini-quilt?
1.  They are quick to make.  Almost-instant gratification.
2.  Things that are small tend to be cute. 
3.  Great way to try new fabric without a long-term commitment.  I admit, I have struggled with commitment in the past. 
4. Perfect for experimenting with design & technique. 
5. A great way to use up scraps. quilts are also a good excuse to cut into fabric that you buy for absolutely no other reason than you simply could not resist it.  Case in point:

I really, really, really loved this sewing-machine print fabric. (I found it at Stash Modern Fabric on etsy; she has an awesome selection!)  And I was dying to sew with it.  True story: my 5-year-old son was even excited when he saw the fabric and immediately said, "We gotta make a quilt out of that!"  Yep, that's my boy!  He's learned to like fabric the way I've learned to like Disney Jr. 

I had some fun experimenting with colors I don't normally use (hello mint green and purple!) and continuing my pursuit of that ever-elusive scant quarter-inch seam allowance (a piecing foot for my machine sure helps!). 

There are getting to be quite a few quilts around the house, so these two minis are listed on my etsy shop.  Another one will be going out the door this weekend: to my mother for her birthday.  She always tells me not to spend any money on her, but one year I actually did that and got her nothing for her birthday and believe me, I won't do that again.  So, she is a getting a scrappy improve quilt made up of mostly leftovers from the very first quilt I made, last spring.  It looks like this:
She likes green so this will work for her.  And I will claim that I didn't buy any new fabric for the quilt so she won't suffer from motherly guilt.  Everybody's happy.  And I have room for another quilt in the house, which is good. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Black and White....and Yellow!

Yellow has never been one of my favorite colors.  I don't wear a lot of yellow and I don't have a lot of yellow stuff in my house.  But over the last several months, I've noticed that I'm increasingly drawn to it.  And I do recall reading somewhere that yellow is the color that makes people feel the happiest, so that alone is a good reason to bring a little more yellow into my world. 

I think my attraction to yellow started last year when I got my hands on this paper:

It was love at first sight!  I absolutely love this paper.  It's bright, cheerful, sweet--it makes me happy just looking at it.  In case you're wondering, it is a lotka paper (made from the Daphne plant!) and you can find it at Paper Source.

When I make a journal from an old book, I let the book's cover art take the lead when it comes to choosing the papers for the inside covers; I like for them to match, or at least coordinate with, the cover art.  Some covers give me some leeway as to what colors I can use inside, while other books don't leave much choice (in my opinion, which is, of course, the right one!).  Take for instance, this cover, from the 1974 edition of Better Homes & Gardens "Creative Decorating on a Budget":

There was no question whatsoever about what paper to put inside this cover.  And I really like it when the book cover makes my decision-making/design process simple and easy.  (Isn't the living room featured on this cover totally awesome?  I wish my living room looked like this and I am not kidding!)  Of course, I could have used a black and white paper inside this journal and it would have worked.  I did consider this paper:

I love chevrons, but it was clear that the daisies were the right match.  Instead, I put the black & white chevron paper inside this journal:

Because daisies are too girly for this macho Handyman's Book journal anyway. (Both journals are available in my shop, by the way.)

Making these journals made me think about the whole black/white/yellow combination.  I realize I see it everywhere--and by everywhere, I mean craft stores and in magazines.  I thought about this pillow cover that I made a few weeks ago:

Wouldn't this throw pillow look perfect in that 1974 living room?  And yet those fabrics are new; I just bought them last summer and I finally got around to using them in February! 

All this thinking about yellow also reminded me of my favorite scarf that I've been wearing nearly every day this winter:
I knit this way-long infinity scarf in October & November, just in time for the onslaught of arctic weather we've been having; the yarn is Loops & Threads Cozy Wool from Michael's and I love it.  It's light and cozy and warm and knits up nicely.  It's a 50/50 wool acrylic blend.  I had never entertained the idea of knitting anything yellow until I saw this yarn and fell in love with it.  The color itself is so warm and it goes great with all my gray and black shirts.  My winter wardrobe tends to be very monochromatic and boring so I need some colorful scarves to mix it up a little. 

So there you have it: my love affair with yellow.  I think it's permanent.  I feel pretty happy, too. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunbonnet Babies

Around 1950 or so, my mother received this adorable quilt as a gift from her grandmother (my grandma's mother, Edna ).  It is so sweet that I think it's worth sharing here:

This is probably my favorite out of all the quilts we have.  The colors are wonderful--still so bright even though this quilt is 64 years old!  The workmanship is beautiful; I can only assume this, but I would guess that my great-grandmother did much of the sewing by hand.  Here's a closer look at the stitching:
I love how she did the applique in black thread to outline the figures.  And just look at the quilting...all I can say is Wow!  My hand-sewing skills are barely adequate at best and I can't imagine having the patience to do something like this. 

This quilt is sized for a child at about three feet wide by five feet long.  It's been well-cared-for and I'm so glad that we have it.  I imagine that my great-grandmother took great joy in making this for her only granddaughter. 

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pillow preview!

I should be loading up my vehicle with all my inventory and gear for the craft show tomorrow--but if you live in or near Des Moines, you know why I'm not!  Yes, another lovely winter storm.  So, I thought I would use this time to share just a couple pictures of some of the pillows I will have for sale this weekend at the show being held over at the state fairgrounds' Varied Industries building.  Because the show must, and will, go on!  Here's a peak at a few pillows:
These are two of my favorites, because the fabrics I used for these covers are both old and new; the floral panels featured on each pillow cover is from a set of linen/cotton dinner napkins or table runners--I'm not sure which--that may have been a wedding gift to my parents back in 1973.  They've never been used; I've had them for quite a few years.  I must have come across them at some point and snatched them up because I thought they were pretty.  Good thing I did.  I love how they work with these modern fabrics. 
And, of course I have a few Nancy Drew pillows:
You can probably tell that in this picture they're displayed in a nice old suitcase, which I found at Goodwill just the other day; it is lined in vinyl so I could clean it, and now it's a perfect piece for my show display.  Very handy. 

I'll have plenty of journals and some collages in my booth as well, and would love to see you if you're in the mood to brave a little bit of snow.  Thanks for looking! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Warm thoughts on a Winter's Day

Once again, it's a winter wonderland here in good old Des Moines.  Which means it's a great day to stay inside and sew and cut paper and maybe paint something!  Which is exactly what I'll be doing. 

When you live in a super-cold climate, quilting is a perfectly practical hobby.  That's doubtless one of the reasons that quilters have created quilts for hundreds of years.  They're beautiful AND useful, which in my mind equals perfection. 

In addition to snuggling up under a warm quilt to keep warm, I use quilts to warm up the house in a few different ways, literally and figuratively:

I decided to switch up the d├ęcor in our teeny-tiny dining room (aka the room where I store extra craft projects and miscellaneous stuff) from black & white to more colorful.  And because our dining room table is ugly, I really wanted to cover it up.  I also thought it would be a great way to show off this beautiful quilt I got last summer at a tag sale.  I love all the colors and prints here.  And since we don't eat in here, I don't have to worry about food stains.  Of course if we did decide to actually sit down at the dining room table for a meal, I'd remove the quilt first. 
Our bedroom is like an icebox in the winter, so I simply draped a quilt on top of the sheer curtains in hopes of keeping the cold air out and the warm air in.  I love being able to look at this gorgeous vintage quilt several times a day and before I go to sleep each night.  This is one from our family's collection, possibly made by my great-grandmother Hannah; it's backed with flannel, there's no batting, and as you can see, it's tied rather than quilted.  I've been looking through various quilt books trying to discover the name of this block--if you happen to know what it's called, please let me know!  I love the fabrics she used (from her own dresses and aprons?) and the colors are so bright and really, so modern. 
And of course, I have a few quilts on a quilt rack (a $7 thrift-store score).  I have a couple vintage ones that are "just to look at" and then the gray one I made that we actually use.  They go so nicely with my son's playmat, don't you think? 

For those of you in the area who don't mind braving a bit of cold, please stop by and say hello to me this weekend at the State Fairgrounds--I'll be at the craft show held in the Varied Industries building on Friday evening (5 to 9), all day Saturday (9 to 5) and most of Sunday (10 to 4).  I'll have lots of new journals and a bunch of pillows--this is their official debut!  And a quilt or two as well.

Stay warm!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mid-Century Margins modern quilt

Last week I finished a quilt that I made this past fall, right before the craziness of the holiday show season started:
The typewriter you see here is my mom's, which I grew up wanting to play with and eventually she let me use it a little.  I've always thought it was so beautiful.  Last year when I stumbled across the "Type" fabric line, I immediately ordered some and then got some more when I stumbled across it during a visit to Quilter's Cupboard in Ankeny.  Then I waited patiently until I was sure exactly what I wanted to do with it.  It's hard for me to be patient, especially when it comes to super-awesome fabric but the flip side of that is I didn't want to mess it up.  Especially when said super-awesome fabric is no longer in production.   My design plan was to keep it simple and focus on the prints in a modern, uncluttered way.  Nothing too fussy.  Also, I admit that I do get bored sometimes making the same quilt block over and over.  Here's a closer view of those adorable prints:
The gray fabric (also from Quilter's Cupboard) was the perfect solid (even though it's actually a subtle print) to go with the Type fabrics.  I definitely have a thing for gray fabric!  This quilt was pieced and quilted (my typical wonky lines) with gray Aurifil.  I haven't washed it yet--once it crinkles up it will be even better. 

If you'd like to check this quilt out in person, I will have it with me in 2 weeks at my first show of 2014, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds Varied Industries building on Feb. 21, 22, 23.  The show opens Friday evening (5 to 9 p.m.), and is open all day Saturday (9 to 5) and Sunday (10 to 4).  Come out and say hello!  (Yes, the concession stand will be open so you can buy a bucket of chocolate chip cookies.) 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nancy gets a new look.

So, I made another Nancy Drew quilt.  Imagine that!  This is number 3, but quite different than the other two.
The Nancy and magnifying glass squares are from the Moda charm pack; I haven't used the red and black ones in my other quilts because they just didn't go with the blue & yellow color scheme.  But obviously I couldn't let those little charms go to waste.  Here's a closer look at a block:
Every quilt presents its own challenge; in this case, it was trying to line up the sashing.
I managed to get it done though and I am proud of this one.  The back looks like this:
I was going to do the back totally in the funky floral print but--I was a little bit short.  What can I say, my system of measuring (guesstimating) doesn't always quite work out.  But I kind of like to do something a little quirky with the back of my quilts anyway, so I'm totally okay with this.  The finished quilt measures 46.5 inches wide by 51 inches long; big enough for a lap quilt or throw, but small enough to hang on a wall for display.  I tried a new batting this time, a bamboo & organic cotton blend.  Super-duper soft!  And it was the kind that isn't supposed to require any basting, but as I do not have a very trusting nature, I confess I did baste just a little before I quilted it (with red Aurifil--love that thread!). 

This is my tenth finished quilt.  I'm really glad I got over my fear of sewing machines.