Making a Gabion

When we were in Europe I saw these cool rock filled dividers all over. They were mostly walls that separated pedestrians from car and bicycle traffic but some were decorative. All I know is that I wanted to make one of my own once I returned. And now that my landscaping projects are close to the finish line, I thought I would take an afternoon to make one. They are called gabions.

All that I needed was some wire mesh fencing of some sort and rocks. Lots of rocks. Those were two things easy to come by. First of all, I have lots of wire fencing in various sizes that get used in my vegetable garden. Years of trying to keep bunnies out have left me with a bunch of the stuff.

Then the rocks; when we removed our deck to prep for the new cement patio, we had lots of nice round river rock under the deck. It was holding down a plastic weed barrier we installed 30 years ago when we built the deck. It was amazing to see how little was left of the plastic. I spent the better part of an afternoon picking up each and every rock. I wanted only the smooth, rounded ones, not the pointy ones so that was the best way of doing it.  It was very therapeutic. 

Once I knew where I wanted to put the gabion, I got right to work. It is something that would be difficult to move so I had to make sure I knew where I wanted it. I cut the wire fencing leaving a nice long wire where I made the cut. That way I could fold the wire over to where it would meet the other size of the fencing. It made a nice cylinder and I'm pretty sure it won't come apart. I pinched each piece down as hard as I could. 

When I finished, I thought about using stacked coffee cans inside of the cylinder, like I do in large planters so I don't have to use a lot of soil. After looking at the rest of the wire fencing, it occurred to me to just make another smaller cylinder to place inside the bigger one. Then just fill the space between the two with the rocks - genius! It took a lot of wire wrapping but it was worth it. 

I placed my cylinders in the spot where I wanted it and started filling it with rocks. It was so easy. Once I had it filled all I needed was something to put on top. I thought I had a very large pretty plant saucer somewhere but I just can't find it. I really wanted to make this into a birdbath. But for now, it will be a plant stand. That is, until I get to an art fair to find something cool to make into a birdbath!


What's on the design board?

I'm in-between quilt projects right now. It's generally part of my summer ritual as I go from staying indoors to outdoor projects like gardening and my patio project.  So I've turned to my donation bin for inspiration. There are so many fat quarters in there that I needed to find a fat quarter friendly pattern and along comes the Perfect Ten pattern. It uses a little yardage and 10 fat quarters.

I pulled out 10 prints in bright primary colors. I numbered them from 1 through 10 and followed the sample layout found in the pattern. In an evening I had the blocks sewn together in three sections. All that's left is to sew the sections together. Considering the magnitude of my outdoor projects, that might take a while. 


Kevin Burgey Benefit Quilt

Our friend, Kevin was injured in a motorcycle accident on May 3rd. The back tire on his bike blew out while he was riding down the highway somewhere near La Crosse.  He was taken by Flight for Life to the nearest trauma center where he was in dire condition. Of course the medical bills are mounting and his family decided to throw a fundraiser party to help alleviate some of that.

I was approached by a close friend of Kevin's to help out with a quilt to auction at the fundraiser. Naturally, I made a Harley t-shirt quilt for the auction. I was happy to help.


The quilt measured 70' x 100" - a good size for a nice event.

I quilted it with a simple meander and used wool batting for a nice drapey feel.

After the event was over I got a nice text thanking me for my contribution along with this photo.  The family on the left won the quilt with a winning bid of $350 and the two people on the right are Kevin's kids. The winning bidders donated the quilt to Kevin as a keepsake of the event. What a wonderful family!

By the way, Kevin is doing great. He was released from the hospital two days before the event so he got to attend for a little while. What great news.


June Client Quilts

This month I quilted a quilt for my daughter. She made a dinosaur quilt for my granddaughter and I used a dinosaur pantograph to quilt it.

I also quilted two quilts for the quilt shop. One is for Halloween and the other for Christmas. I can't believe I'm quilting these now - it wasn't even the first day of summer yet - ha!


Animal Print Quilt

I had a bunch of animal prints in my donated fabric bin. I decided to get rid of it all by incorporating it into one quilt. There was one large piece of fabric and quite a few smaller ones.

I chose a pattern that would suit the large piece of fabric but I was sure I would have to do some creative piecing to incorporate the rest of the fabrics. I used solids to border the prints and all the leftover fabrics from the borders were used up on the back. This is definitely a no waste project.

It turned out better than I had expected even though I do think the whole thing is a bit much. I guess that's why I don't work with animal prints - haha!

This quilt will go to church to be given away at their discretion.


My June Project

My big June project happens to be going on in the back yard. I designed a new patio and hired a contractor to get the work done. 

I wanted the new patio to have a much larger footprint than our deck. And I wanted it to have curves. It was lots of cement.

I also wanted to add a brick seat wall to make a nice separation from the patio to the yard. Along with the seat wall, I asked for a custom step from the sliding door to the patio. We agreed on a brick and cement step that complemented the brick in the seat wall. 

We are not done yet. We are also adding a pergola. Unfortunately the 6x6 cedar posts are on backorder so that won't be completed for a while.


What's on the design board?

 I used my hex n' more tool to make a few hexies out of some fat quarters that were in my 'donated fabric' bin.  The fat quarters must have been in a bundle because they matched so very well.

The only problem was that there were 8 fat quarters - certainly not enough to make an entire quilt. So on one of my work days at the quilt shop I found two fabrics that paired nicely. I bought 1 yard of each.

Now I have to trim the edges and add borders. I am so happy to start working my way through my donated fabrics. Sometimes I let them weight heavy on my mind. I guess I really want to do something positive with the stuff.

I have a 3 yard quilt kit to make in such cheery fabrics and I can't to get started on it. I'm hoping the pattern is quick and easy where I can use it again on some more donated fabrics. We shall see.


May Client Quilts

This month I quilted 4 projects for others.

This was a piece of fabric quilted and bound for a friend of a friend.

This is a Minion quilt I quilted for a friend. She has two Minion quilt kits and she finished the top for one of them so I imagine I will see another one of these sometime soon.

This quilt is for a client's granddaughter who is graduation from UW-LaCrosse. These are the school colors.

This is for the quilt shop. It's a table runner using the Wisconsin Shop Hop fabric which will be available in quilt shops this June.

This is a panel that can be a pillow cover or a table topper. I quilted the panels before cutting them apart. This is also for the quilt shop where I work.

It's Garden Time

Over the course of the last week we made cedar raised bed garden boxes with the boards we salvaged from the removal of our deck. These boards are over 30 years old. Just look at how great they look.

We made a total of 5 boxes of varying sizes. It totally depended on the length of the usable boards, but in the end we made it work efficiently where we got the most real estate from what we had.

There's a box for beans and peas, one for peppers, one for tomatoes, one for cucumbers and pickles, and the last one has carrots and lettuce planted in it.

My garden has everything necessary for success - a rain barrel is in one corner and a compost bin in the other. And lastly, there's a section with a rock border that is holding back the ever-creeping strawberries. I am so happy with how it turned out. I just hope I can make things grow.

I stacked up the empty containers that held the baby plants from the nursery.  There's plenty of empties!

Once the garden was done, I started on some small projects, like re-painting the star that hangs over the shed doors. It was so faded you couldn't tell it was red. Well you sure can tell now. Ha!

We have some decisions to make regarding the space where the new patio is going. First of all we have to decide where to put the pergola posts. So I've taken my free-standing posts and moved them around to get a visual representation. I only have 3 posts so we will have to get creative to mark where the fourth post would go. I guess a rock will do.

Once that decision is made, my husband will have to run an electrical cable underground to the spot where the post will go before the cement can be poured. It's a serious decision that we don't take lightly so it's stressing us out.

Now that the plants are in, I can see my next project; I have to paint my garden fence. It's so chipped and faded it is very overdue. These fun outdoor projects are taking up my sewing time but I don't mind. I love the warm weather and the gardening as much as I love sewing.


Quick Four Patch Quilt

I finished quilting and binding the quick four patch quilt today. I used a flower pantograph and there's a pretty purple polka dot fabric on the back.

It looks so soft and comforting, I just love the pretty colors.

It seems that quilting only happens on rainy days, so I'm happy when they occur. Gardening is fun, but it's such hard work that a rainy day feels like a day of rest. And there's nothing like resting in my sewing room!


Morning Star Quilt

I love this little 500 Quilt Blocks book. It contains examples of the blocks completed in modern, fresh fabrics which adds to its appeal for me. Another benefit of the book is that each block has instructions in two different sizes. That helps solve any math-sizing dilemmas.

I used the Morning Star block a while back to make a quilt for the daughter of a friend. I liked the result and found that it was a great block for showing off a specific print. I had a piece of cute fabric left over from a Quilts for Kids quilt I made and it could be easily incorporated into a quilt from that same block. So I dug deep into my scrap bins to find enough coordinating fabrics to go with the kitty print. I was determined to use up my charity fabrics so there are 3 different yellows in the star points of the blocks I made. I still struggled to get the 5 yellow blocks but I did it!

I had more purple solid though so making the purple blocks was pretty easy. I arranged them in a way to make them look like it was planned but it wasn't - there just wasn't enough yellows - ha! I did have to come up with a different purple for the outside border - again, all from my charity fabric bin. I also ran out of the background fabric so I found some very similar and you can't really tell from a distance.

I used a large piece of yellow flannel for the back and finished it up with a light yellow binding. It's labeled and ready to go to the Quilts for Kids local charity.


DIY Hand Sanitizer

I made this homemade hand sanitizer about a month ago and I'm sharing it today after using it for a while. I didn't want to talk about how I made it until I tried it out. And I really like it. It smells very clean from the alcohol yet it has a nice fresh scent from the oils. The aloe vera gel does settle to the bottom of the bottles when it sits but after shaking it up, it's just fine. The gel adds a nice softness on the skin after spraying the sanitizer. I really like it. I spray it on my hands, on shopping carts, on my face mask, on my car steering wheel and door handles. I spray it everywhere!

Normally I would share the link to the recipe I used but I actually combined more than one set of instructions. One recipe I liked because it had aloe vera gel in it. I thought that would help counter the harshness of the alcohol but it didn't have any peroxide in it. I thought peroxide had some value so I found another recipe that had peroxide in it but it was missing the essential oils and the aloe. I figured out a formula to keep the ratios from each recipe the same and I came up with this version:

150 ml Isopropyl alcohol 99%
20 ml Witch hazel
30 ml Aloe vera gel
20 ml peroxide
10 drops sweet orange essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops tea tree oil

kitchen scale
small spray bottles

Measure all ingredients using a kitchen scale.
Mix ingredients together and stir well.
Add more oils to adjust scent as you like.


Whole Cloth? Project

I understand whole cloth quilting as a way to do intricate detailed quilting on a single piece of fabric. I did not do that with this quilt.

What I did to is take a single piece of fabric that was pretty large. It measures 50" x 50". I don't know where it came from and how the owner ended up buying fabric where the WOF wasn't 44'-45" wide. All I know is that I was asked to quilt it for a friend.

Now the back was tricky because the purple solid had the standard WOF.  So in order to make the backing the same size as the top fabric I had to cut a piece 56" long and turn it sideways to fit across. The I had to take the rest of what was given to me and cut it into thirds then sew the thirds together to get another piece that was 56" long. I sewed those 2 pieces together to make the backing fit. It was perfect. Good thing...math.

I quilted pretty butterflies on the quilt using variegated pinks/purples/white thread on the top and a solid light purple thread in the bobbin. I like the results. The lesson I learned is that I can easily make charity quilts just by sandwiching batting between two pieces of fabric and get an amazing result. 


Our (Once Upon a Time) Beautiful Deck

I have always loved my backyard in the summer. Especially my deck. It was a place of solace on warm summer evenings and a fun place to hang out with friends and family. Now it has become old and worn out, just like its owners. Haha.

We hired a contractor to make us a new patio. Although it will be beautiful I will still miss the nice feel of the deck under my feet. So today we have to start to tear it out. We were going to take this on last year but we had so many other plans (lots of travel) that we couldn't squeeze this project in. It was in desperate need of staining last year and we let that go and this year I actually fell through at a rotten spot. That's when you know it's time to say good-bye.

So here we are tearing it out. We still have quite a way to go but we're getting there. We are taking the cedar pieces that are still in good shape and saving them to make raised bed garden boxes. Nothing will go to waste.

Once the new patio is in, we will be putting in a pergola - a project that will take the two of us . I can't wait!


What's on the design board?

I've had some fabric samples that were used by fabric distributors to sell fabric to shops. They come in a grouping with a large swatch of each print available in a fabric collection. I wish I would have taken a photo of this collection. It seemed like a very small amount of fabric. Some of the pieces were a little smaller than a fat quarter and a few of them were a little larger. I think there were 9 different prints in this collection.

So I took the pieces and laid them out. Then I got inspiration from the quilt tutorial found here. I realized that I really liked this tutorial, sadly, not so much for the content but because it was not full of ads! I understand that people make money with their blogs by linking to ads but I absolutely hate having to scroll through the ads to read a blog post. And frankly, I refuse to click on any of them. Not even to remove them. I think that counts as a click that gets the blogger paid and I won't do it-that's how I boycott the ads, lol. As if anyone cares. Haha!

After doing some math to get a common width of the fabrics in my little collection, chose to cut the pieces into 3" strips. That minimized waste. I sewed up the little 4-patches in less than 2 hours. It was so fun. And I can't believe how many I got. The funny thing about these is that I put them on the design board in a random pattern. I just plopped them up there and I don't think I will rearrange a single block. 

I will add white sashing and a large white border and it will be ready to quilt. What a fast and fun project.

Here are all the blocks I made:


Read With Me Quilt

Making this quilt has been on my to-do list for a very long time. It's from a free tutorial found at the Moda Bake Shop. If you want the tutorial, here is the link.

I finally decided to make it for a teacher at my granddaughters' school. We just love her and Teacher Appreciation Day just so happens to fall in April so it seemed like a good time to make it.

I used mostly scraps left over from other projects with a few new fabrics mixed in for color balance.

I didn't want the 'books' to be too bright and cheery. After all, books in a bookcase usually aren't very bright, especially if they are loved and used.

Making the letter applique was way easier than I thought it would be. I don't usually do this much applique on anything so I wasn't so sure what I was in for. And wouldn't you know it - easy peasy.

I used a totally different fabric not found in the quilt for the backing but I think it goes together pretty well.  I quilted it with a rainbow variegated thread so the colors would show up on the white background.

The quilt should have been gifted earlier this month but because of the pandemic, I don't know how or when we will get it delivered. Because of the quarantine, I took time off from finishing this to make masks. I'm happy that I still finished it before the month ended.


April Longarm Projects

I quilted 2 quilts for work this month. They will be used as samples that will hang in the shop. One is a beautiful Quilts of Valor quilt and the other is a king-sized quilt.

I also quilted 3 Easter wall hangings and a Frozen-themed quilt during the first week of April. I also sent along 2 face masks when returning the projects to their owner.

There were 2 other quilt projects I quilted. One was a beautiful floral and the other was a sock monkey quilt. 

As always, I enjoy helping others complete their projects and I hope they like the final results.