Posted in kids activities

Fun Frugal Saturday

On Friday night, I left out a couple of plastic bottles for the kids. A couple weeks ago, there must have been some project at school where they made bugs out of plastic bottles because ever since, my daughter has been digging through recycling and making these paper handprints to “make a bug.” She even hand-wrote “make a bug” on her list of homework assignments for the month. 


So when we woke up at 9(!) on Saturday, the kids had made their own bugs. The mess of paper and glue and googly eyes everywhere was a small price to pay.

My daughter also got a coupon for free froyo from her school Jogathon, so I took the kids to cash in. Then we went to our second favorite library (the “red library” in the next neighborhood over is just a skosh better), the “blue library.” 

I spotted these adorable crochet test tubes in a little science exhibit, and I need to figure out how to make them. I have had a little finger knit loom since I was about 8, used for making the fingers in gloves, I think. I’ll see if I can make them. 


The kids picked out about a dozen videos, then mean mommy made them narrow it down to 4. They colored, they fought over computers, they helped me pick up my hold books. Happiest Place on Earth. 

Posted in Quilts

Little Pink Houses

I finally had an excuse to get my grubby paws on a stack of the entire Les Petites collection from Amy Sinibaldi for Art Gallery fabrics. A family member custom ordered a quilt for her niece’s new baby. She had the dimensions and a photo of the crib and that’s it. But the crib had these little decorative pillows: a little house, a little moon, and a little star. And the colors were so spot on, pink, coral, gray gingham. I knew. I just knew…Plus, I had been waiting for some excuse, ANY excuse, to buy this collection.

So I used this pattern, Neighborhood Charm, from the Moda Bakeshop to make some more little houses, and threw on some extra prints, mostly all Art Gallery, a little Kate Spain and some Cotton + Steel, too. I would definitely use this pattern again. Came together so quickly and is charming indeed. Plus, it called for a charm pack when I had a full fat quarter bundle, so I’ve got loads of fabric left over.


So cute. I love. I backed it with a Cotton and Steel double gauze and used wool batting so this thing is basically an adorable, quaint, vaguely European CLOUD.

I have used wool batting once before, but realized I have never had to baste it before. I spray baste, which requires a little heat setting to make it really stick. The directions on the batting say to not use any high heat so I was a little worried.

mmmmm…like a steaming hot barnyard


It smelled a little bit like a sunburnt sheep in the studio, but it basically worked fine. I’ll have to wait til it’s bound and there’s daylight to show the finished product, but it is just adorable.

Posted in kids activities, Uncategorized

Yarn Wrap Letters

I stopped at my favorite Goodwill store today after dropping off one kid and before picking up the other. This is a period of time that generally lasts about 15 seconds. Today I spent my 15 seconds thrift hunting. 

I found a sweet wooden e with holes for hanging on the wall and the biggest score of all which you’ll have to wait to see: a tshirt with a Starry Night style portrait of Batman. I’m turning it into a decorative pillow for E for his birthday next month. 

When the kids were home, I got out the yarn, washi tapes, and scissors, and we wrapped that letter up good. I love how it turned out. 

Posted in Quilts

My Dedicated Quilt Photographer

 This woman is the best. She rearranged her whole house, stuck her head in the ceiling fan, and took photos of my quilts in every room at every angle for me. 

I am starting a new spinoff business wherein I upcycle clothing into keepsake or memory quilts, and these photos will help my new web store stand out, for sure. 

My samples were all twin sized, so Madame Photographer had to be really creative with angles since all the beds we had to use were doubles. 

I am just so pleased she was willing to do this product photography for me. She does not usually do product photographer per se, but she does take my family’s photos every year and she is just the very best at it. I myself have never once taken a satisfactory photo of my quilts, and I have photographed about 40 of them so far. 

So exciting things are on the horizon for La Bizarra, and I can’t wait to show them to everyone. 

Posted in Tutorials

Binding Tutorial: Step Two

You thought I was going to post step one, and then forget to ever post a step two, didn’t you…Sounds like me. But nope, I got your back. So although step one was (mostly) optional (you still need to trim your quilt if you didn’t serge the edges), you should read step one first.

You will also need to create your binding. I always cut my binding at 2 1/2 inches, and all the measurements I use in this tutorial are based on 2 1/2 inch binding strips. I do this primarily because I can find pre-cut 2.5 inch strips if I want to save time, and I can use the leftover strips or even just 2.5 inch squares that are leftover from the binding for lots of things. Here’s a quick how-to on creating your binding.

  1. Cut your fabric into 2.5 inch strips along WOF (width of fabric…from selvedge to selvedge) –if the need ever arises, you can also cut strips along length of fabric or cut bias binding strips, but that’s not what I typically do because I want to make the most economical use of my fabric in general.

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2. Sew them together end to end, where you’re sewing the ends perpendicular, at a 45 degree angle. This disperses the bulk of those seams along the binding.

3. Trim off the corners of those seams, leaving only a quarter inch seam allowance, and fold the binding lengthwise, pressing mightily with a hot hot iron. I like to wind it around an empty spool as I press it to keep it neat and tidy, and tightly pressed.

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Now that you have your binding, you will start stitching it down to the front of your quilt, with the raw edge about 1/8 inch away from the edge of your quilt. (With my serged quilt edges, I just make sure about 1/2 of the serged up stitches are showing.) Start at a corner, leaving just an inch or two extra off the corner. Remember, I prefer my method of binding primarily because there is so little wasted binding and only two such small tails, the one here, and the one at the end, that will be connected to this one.



So this is what my first stitches look like. I have left just a 1-2 inch long tail, and I’ve started stitching 3/8 inches down from the top quilt edge, and 3/8 inches in from my quilt’s right edge (the 1/8″ of edge that is showing + the 1/4″ of binding that one typically uses as a seam allowance). I measure this 3/8 inch at every corner, so I keep a tiny ruler nearby, and a frixion pen to mark it. I back stitch after my first stitches to secure that corner.
At the next three corners, I mark 3/8″ from the next edge of the quilt, and sew to that point, back stitch, and cut my thread. I then use a little mitered corner clip tool (pictured), but this is just for accuracy. This is the same corner folding method that countless binding tutorials use. I am folding the binding back over on itself, then out along the next edge at a 90 degree angle, leaving a 45 degree fold in the binding right at the corner. Then I start my stitching again right over that fold.

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When I get to the final corner, this is the only place where my binding is a little different then most. I use the no tails binding method (demonstrated with remarkable clarity in this tutorial from Flourishing Palms) on this final corner, leaving me with a stitched up mitered corner (the other three corners are just folded) and no tails to connect or stitch down.

At the final corner, I mark my 3/8″ from the bottom as I approach, then back stitch my final stitches up to that mark.


I trim off my binding, leaving that same tiny tail that I started with, just 1-2 inches. If all your measurements were correct, your first stitch and last stitch should be essentially on top of one another.


Now I fold the corner of my quilt in half (45 degree angle) so that my two binding tails are back to back and all aligned.


I use my little ruler and frixion pen to mark a line from the folded edge of my binding down to my first/final stitch. This line is perpendicular to the stitch line.


Then I use that line I just marked as the bottom of a right triangle that I am about to draw. With my measurements, I line the corner of my little ruler up so that each end of the line is at 5/8″ on the ruler. Then I trace the corner of the ruler to create my right angle.


It sounds so complicated and brainy when I put it this way, but the first line you drew becomes the hypotenuse of your right triangle. Yay geometry!!!

Then you simply stitch along that right angle. Back stitch at the beginning and end, this becomes your stitched mitered corner. Trim off to leave just a little seam allowance.

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Use a sharp, pointy tool (a knitting needle, a chopstick, an actual point turner) to turn that corner you just stitched inside out. Voila!

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Stitched up mitered corner. (Edit: this photo and the way the star print fits make this look like a super jagged line. It is not. It is just yer average 45 degree corner seam) And you are all prepared for Step Three.

Posted in Uncategorized

Belly Flops

I was shopping at the Grocery Outlet (a key to my food budget success) and came across these Jelly Belly rejects. 


This is a ridiculous idea. And of course I bought some. They are all perfect in my eyes. 😂💎

Posted in Quilts, Tutorials

Machine Binding Tutorial: Step One (optional)

Yesterday was a huge binding day for me. This year has been an incredibly productive one for me, as far as quilt making goes, and I think a key to this has been the systematic approach I’ve ironically just stumbled into. I spend a few days just cutting the fabrics for several quilts that I have planned. I spend a few more days just piecing those together. This week, I spent all of Saturday just cutting and adding borders to 3 different quilts. Then I get my machine all set up and foot swapped out for my free motion foot, and spend an entire day (or 2…or 7) just quilting all those quilts.

This has worked out so well because I’m just changing out my thread and bobbin color on quilting days and for each particular quilt. I get so much more piecing done when I can keep the white cotton thread and bobbins going, no changes.

So today was a binding day. And since I don’t know anyone who does their binding the same way I do, I figured this was a good opportunity to post a tutorial. First tutorial!

I exclusively machine bind (I don’t hand bind. I know a lot of quilters have attitude about that, but I simply feel no shame in my game), and I use a combination of the no-tails binding method (see this excellent tutorial by Flourishing Palms for a detailed look) and the more typical folded corners method. The traditional (with tails method) has always bothered me because it requires you to leave an additional 10-15 inches of binding loose before you start stitching, and then you lose most of that when you attach the tails together at the end of your binding. The no-tails method only uses an extra inch or two at each corner, which is better, and easier, IMO. But the way I do it, I only need an extra 2-3 inches of binding. So much less waste. And you get one stitched up mitered corner, and three folded over mitered corners. It’s hard to explain. Like I said, I’ve never met anyone who does their binding the same way that I do. This does NOT mean my way is superior. But I dig it. So I’ll show you.

Today, I’ll show you step one, which is a completely optional step, really. But I’ve started doing it, and I highly recommend it. I serge all the way around the perimeter of my quilt sandwich using my Brother Serger. Not everyone has a serger, and for quilters, they are completely unnecessary. But I happen to have one because it’s fun and easy to make and mend baby hats and tshirts and blankets. It’s also nice to be able to quickly mend all the clothing in my home with no loose edges to get frayed in the laundry. You know I’m not hand washing ANYTHING, right?

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Although completely unnecessary, if you have one, this is yet another fun use for it. Serging the quilt sandwich tightly connects all three layers so that when you stitch your binding on, your backing can’t fold over and get caught up, and your batting can’t wiggle its way out and make you miss your backing in the stitches. Also, if it takes you awhile to bind your quilts, they are protected from fraying while they sit around in the queue, and if there is some sort of emergency (an incident involving cat vomit comes to my mind, but i’m trying to forget) you can wash that quilt before it’s bound, and it will survive.

You will need to trim the edges of your quilt sandwich at some point anyway, so this just does that for me. The serger winds thread around the perimeter of the quilt, sealing in its quilty juices, and cuts off anything to the right of this thread web with its helpful blade. So I simply run each quilt through, one edge at a time, with the metal line of my serger foot (shown at the bottom of the lightning bolt in photo) directly aligned with the edge of my fabric. Where fabric meets batting. If you’re a little off, it doesn’t matter too much, as you’ll see in the next steps. I’m very imperfect at all of my steps.

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I cut off the thread tails at each corner and that’s it!

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Look at that delicious stack of serged quilts! They are ready and waiting for step 2.

Posted in Non Sequitur

My Whole Deal

When I was young, the year 2000 was such a crazy distant future it put visions of hoverboards and laserbeams in our heads. Which was not so far off. In the actual year 2000, I was a sophomore in college, and had a livejournal. This was an early iteration of blogging, or maybe an early iteration of facebook, I am not sure. But I had one. I kept up with it for approximately two weeks. Mostly to keep tabs on the inner workings of a boy I had a crush on, who was super techie and inscrutable, so livejournal was a perfect window into his soul. or whatever emoji best represented his soul.

😐

In the year 2003, I was living in Texas for a couple of years, having followed a boyfriend and the promise of employment there. I absolutely hated it. I kept a blog of restaurant reviews and other musings and rants, and it does not surprise me now that I faithfully maintained that thing through my entire 2 year tenure in Texas. It was my way of reaching out to the non-Texas world.

I returned to my native Southern California in 2005, joined Facebook and its various social networking predecessors, and did not give blogging much thought. I have kept journals to varying degrees of success my entire life, but there is something very different and appealing about blogs.

Nearly two years ago, when my two small children were even tinier, I decided to stop looking for full time employment, and throw myself into a hobby. I had my friend Katy show me how to use the sewing machine I had received the year before for Christmas. And I fell down a crazy rabbit hole from which I have (thankfully) never emerged. I went from working as a solo practice attorney to being a slightly depressed mother of two babies, and then leapt feverishly and headlong into being a full-time quilter and crafter.

Part of me was a little embarrassed by this vocational shift. I was still connected to my teacher and lawyer and other professional friends. I am surrounded by other overeducated people like myself; we followed a treadmill that we were told was the ‘correct’ path for us. If you get the degrees, if you get the granite countertops, if you wear the suits, you are successful. But that equation only works if you define success as having those degrees, counters, and clothes. I can’t clearly define success yet, but it has to be related to the crazy passion that I feel for making things, and teaching my children to be self-sufficient thing-makers, too.

Of course, those teacher and lawyer and other professional friends might also be successful by each of their own definitions, and I really hope they are. I also hope it makes them happy to have an eccentric quilty friend in their contact list, who really wants their old clothes, so that I can cut them up and sew them back together.

However, I do know those friends are probably not going to be enthusiastic if my only forum for sharing quilting and kid art pics and tips is their Instagram feed. They have been supportive thus far, but if they only knew how many quilts I have NOT posted, they’d be blown away. So here’s a place for that.

I started this blog as a way of specifically connecting to the other eccentric quilty and crafty people that I know are out there. People who totally understand and wouldn’t even think to roll their eyes when I talk about my bobbin tension or mitered corners. People who don’t ‘go shopping’ as an activity because nobody wants to hear them say “I could make that” over and over. People who always watch movies with a skein of yarn or a stack of fabric hexies to keep them busy. These are my people, and that’s my whole deal.

XOXO,

Quilt Girl

 

Posted in kids activities

Egg Cartons A-Go-Go

Whether or not you celebrate Easter, there are so many fun egg dying and egg art projects out there for young kids, I hope you partook of some artsy craftsy eggs-perimentation (ha! i’m so clever) anyway. We think of all projects this time of year as celebrations of Spring and abundance.

We eat eggs all year. My son is the world’s biggest fan of quiche (I make mine with potatoes in it, which really increases its kid-friendliness), and I am a fan of frugality, and eggs are a super cost-effective source of protein.

I am not sure if it is my crafty DNA, or my previous career as a teacher, but something in me won’t let me throw away an egg carton, and I know I’m not alone. Luckily, with small children around, I finally have good reason. They come in so handy.

My youngest was on spring break from preschool last week, and in between frequent viewings of Moana, I created a lot of art and craft and experimentation opportunities for him. I was running out of patience and ideas after a few days, but in a surge of desperation-fueled inspiration, I handed him an 18-egg cardboard carton and told him to go check the backyard for rocks that might fit. You should have seen his little face light up! Who knew? His favorite assignment of the week by far.

After he filled his carton, he and his sister had some rock painting time. This was a free-painting process art kind of project, but I am already looking forward to making more directed paintings, like pet rocks or rock monsters.

So here are a few more ideas:

    1. Collections: If you also have a backyard or are near a park, collect rocks, shells, flowers, leaves, etc. If you are inside, collect small toys, crayons, legos. Littler kids love filling each cup and are reinforcing one to one correspondence.
    2. Paint Pallet: Fill each cup with paint and use the top to hold your brushes. If you have styrofoam containers (it happens), you can even put your water in one, for rinsing brushes.
    3. Sorting: Are your kids into pony beads or Perler beads? Sort those babies by color. Legos? size and shape. Do you have a button collection? If you do, it is surely not as intense as mine, but there are countless sorting opportunities in there. Sometimes when I’m stressed, a good button sorting session can really take the edge off. buttons
    4. Snacks! a couple grapes in here, a couple goldfish there. I think you can fill in the rest.
    5. Planters: This works best with the smaller 6 or 12 count cartons, in my experience. 18 is a lot of dirt and seeds.
    6. This pirate ship! This activity is so great because making the sails could be an entirely separate art experience. Stickered, watercolored, stamped, crayon resisted, or even art they’ve already created and you don’t know what to do with it. Cut it up and use it as the sails.
    7. Animals: This is kind of the Old Reliable of egg carton crafts. Clams, penguins, frogs, chicks, just use paint and googly eyes as your basic prompts, and let those kids follow their own drumbeats. Maybe have some pipe cleaners or feathers handy, too.

  1. Someday when the children are both in school, I am going to crack open an egg carton for myself and do one of those gorgeous egg carton flower wreaths. I’ll let you know if those are legit, or merely a Pinterest urban legend.

Have fun.

Posted in Quilts

The Meadow Quilt: a year-long journey

I didn’t actually realize it until I typed this post title JUST NOW, but this meadow quilt was a journey of almost exactly one year. (Yes, i do realize ‘almost exactly’ is an oxymoron. I am super clever.)

But looking through my phone, I found these photos that I took at the Meadow Quilt workshop taught by Lizzy House herself with the San Diego Modern Quilt Guild on March 6, 2016.

Aren’t we all so cute? And it was a year ago, so we are all aglow with youth, too.

Then I scrolled forward to the photos of the nearly finished Meadow Quilt, with its adorable intended recipients. The photo says it was taken March 4, 2017, and I’m inclined to believe it. You’ll notice it wasn’t yet bound (I simply surged up the edges on my serger, a practice I have come to love), and I bound it a day or two later, so it was very probably on March 6!


I ended up binding it with Elizabeth Hartman Starlight in gray, from the Paintbox Basics collection (or maybe Pacific?) to complement the Cotton & Steel sprinkle stardust that I used as a background fabric on the top, and the extra wide backing that I used on the back, which is Elizabeth Hartman wide back, like a swollen and darkened version of that binding fabric. I love this wideback fabric so much, I had to stock up on it, in both the gray and the hot pink color. So you’ll be seeing more soon. I just love how quirky and cartoonish it is. It makes every quilt look more modern and fun.

And in between that first photo and that last photo, what happened during the 364 days in between? Well, sewing, obviously. But also, some meditative time on a long-arm quilting machine. I used the giant Bernina Q24 at Cozy Creative Center to stitch the twinkle lights pattern in the background and used my Juki to stitch a variegated pink thread onto the pink sections. The main contributor to all that delicious texture is for sure the wool batting. I used this Quilters Dream Wool Batting (93” x 72”) Twin, and I just can’t recommend it enough. Especially for a kid’s quilt that will be used year-round. It makes for a very functional comforter in addition to being a beautifully draped word of quilted art.

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This quilt journey was my first exposure to curved piecing, which has created great confidence in my piecing abilities, and was a joy from start to finish. That’s 365 days of joy. And counting.