Places to Party

Monday, December 15, 2014

Oh My Stars!

Shhhhh!  If they ask you, you know nothing. Remember, loose lips sink ships!

You saw nothing. You know nothing. I will categorically deny knowing anything about this...

((Looking around fugitively))... Ok now....

I'm going to share this a bit early on the expectation my nieces won't see this post (my mother already has hers). They've already been shipped out and received on the other end for this year's holiday back home.

This year I accomplished something I've always wanted to do but thought that I'd never do. I made quilts for three  of my family members.

Mom & Dad's Quilt Front


Mom & Dad's Quilt Backer



Close up of the beautiful quilting done by Merrilee

For probably five, maybe more, years I've been promising my mother that I would make her a Star of Bethlehem quilt.... and I tried. The first heartbreaking time, I got all the legs constructed and then tried to piece it together... and not one leg would match. I apparently cannot cut a 45 degree angle to save my life.

Kind of like a magic eye thing, you can see the star if
you squint.  ::SIGH::

So, I took another approach and decided I would make the log cabin quilt star... and when I finished, you had to squint to see the star because of the fabrics I choose. ::Sigh::  At this point, I took a bit of hiatus. Lets face it, I needed it.


Then I got this lovely tool for the 45 degree cutter impaired. And it changed my life. It's called a bias cutter and I bought it on sale about a year ago. To date, it is the most expensive ruler I've ever bought but after accomplishing something I've tried for five years or more unsuccessfully, worth every penny.*

Of course, the first quilt I ever made wasn't a simple four patch or even a row of squares. No, I had to do a Star of Bethlehem quilt. I love the star pattern and the beauty of all the diamonds matching up. I took a class at a country store. I bought the fabric at said country store to make the quilt. I hated that fabric and never finished the quilt. There is something to be said for picking colors you like. I'm not even sure where this quilt top is, probably in my mother's linen cabinet, never to be finished.
My mother's fabrics were mauve and teal. She redid her bedroom years ago in this color scheme and it's beautiful but trying to find a quilt to match it was near impossible. Teal quilts or comforters were very hard to find. So I said I'd make one. At first, teal fabric was really hard to find. Then, what color of teal? Have you ever said I'll make you a x color item? Suddenly you realize how many values there are in that color. Do I go a greenish teal or a bluish teal and when does it cease being teal and go to blue or green?

In the end I think I was able to incorporate the color into the quilt fairly well. She loves it and I love her and dad so it works out fine.
Then I decided, if I'm making her quilt, why not make a quilt for by nieces? (Because I'm apparently a glutton for punishment.) I asked each girl, what is your favorite color, not telling them why I was asking (at this point, they don't ask, they are used to getting something homemade or crafted for them by their crazy aunt each year). Shay likes purple and green. That's in my wheelhouse, I can make a quilt out of those colors any day of the week. Here is Shay's quilt:

Jena on the other hand liked pink and teal. This presented more of a challenge.  How do you match those colors up? I had initially thought to do rose and green for her as her middle name is Rose, but I wanted each girl to have the colors they like best. I went for softer colors for Jena's quilt and I think I blended this well so it doesn't look odd with those two colors. Jena's quilt was truly a holiday miracle in that I had just enough of the teal colors to make the quilt-no more. The one fabric was a Morris art nouveau print that I ordered off of Ebay and had only 5/8" of a yard. In the end it all worked out fine. I'm so happy to be able to give these handmade gifts this holiday season.

I ran out of time so my brother's quilt will not be done until the beginning of the year. So I made him a rug.

Then I can begin making quilts for us....

It's a bad addiction. Seriously bad addiction.

And of course there was remnants. Remnants become fodder for rugs. Here is a rug made from what was left from everyone's quilt. Make do or do without you know....

Sheesh.. have to always mop the floor for these pictures!


Monday, December 8, 2014

A Glistening Moravian Star

Oh, I'm excited to bring you this one, been waiting a long time. I think you'll really like it.

It's the holiday gift giving season and you want to give a memorable gift but maybe either you don't have a lot of time or a lot of money. You don't want to do a gift in a jar because, lets face it, everyone does that and when the jar is empty, what have you gifted? A jar.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to give a gift that everyone would be amazed at? Something that they pull out every year to put on their mantle or maybe even keep out year long. Something that they could brag on and say, "Isn't that amazing, my friend XYZ made that for me last Christmas, I just love it?"

In about an hour and a half you can do just that and make something you'd be thrilled to have yourself or give as a gift. It looks so impressive and only you and I have to know how easy it is to make.

Don't let the stained glass aspect scare you. Stained glass is like any new craft, it just takes practice to learn how to do it. I've seen a few of these tools at craft shops like Hobby Lobby (although I no longer shop there due to their health policies towards women) or Radio Shack.

Easy & Beautiful Moravian Stars for the Holidays

You'll need:

  • 1 sheet of stained glass of your choice.
  • Industrial carpet swatch to protect your surface
  • Flat edged pliers
  • 1 glass cutter
  • Copper foil
  • 60/40 soldier
  • A soldiering gun
  • Flux
  • Safety glasses
  • A piece of paper to make a template.

The first step to making the star is to determine what you want the end result to be. Do you want a spiky star? Elongate the triangle to make it more spiky. Fat like mine? Make it more like an equilateral triangle. You determine what you want the end result to look like by what type of triangle you draw.

Once you have a triangle shape, with a sharpie marker, draw a line of these triangles, you'll need about 12. The easiest way to do this is to make a line of triangles so that you have a straight edge. I turned mine up and down to do this. Glass doesn't have a grainline so you really don't have to worry about which way you cut it. Once I have one cut I often use that as a template for the rest.

Now, taking your glass cutter, this is a pistol grip cutter which I think is easier on your hands, score along the lines you have just drawn. You don't have to put a lot of pressure on the glass, just a consistent pressure is enough to score it. Remember we aren't trying to break the glass at this point, just create a stress line for the break to occur.

Now comes the point where we snap the glass. This used to scare me silly but after a while you really have no fear of it. First put on your safety glasses. Taking the glass against the edge of the table and push down on the cut edge or snap it like a cracker in your hands. You have to do this six more times at least so by the end of it, you'll be a pro.

Once you have your pile of triangles, we have to foil them. Nothing really sticks to glass but adhesive, so we have to put something on the glass so that the lead has something to grab onto to put the pieces together. This is copper foil tape. Just tape the edges of the piece, overlapping a bit on the end.

Center the tape on the cut end.

Wrap around.

Use the cap of your sharpie to burnish or flatten the foil to your glass.
Make as smooth as possible. Doesn't really take much.


 Now you have to use this mysterious thing called Flux. (I get a lot of my supplies at Flux helps to chemically bind the solider to the copper tape. Without Flux it wouldn't attached. Just a little bit pained on all the copper will do it. You don't have to drown it. Flux lasts a long time.

Just enough to lightly cover the copper.

Now heat up your soldiering gun, and grab your soldier, here comes the fun part!

You're going to start by tacking all the corners together. When we have the loose parts, I also like to tin the edges of the parts. "Tinning" is taking a small bit of soldier and going over all the copper tape so it appears uniform. It's a lot easier to do this before all the pieces are together.

Once you have these fused together, take two of  your loose pieces and putting them together at right angles, fuse one corner together. Do this three more times.

Take this conjoined piece and flux the corners of that. Now in your square that is formed by the original four pieces, tack the corners of this piece so it "stands up".

Do this on the remaining sides with your other pieces so it stands. 

Now, with the remaining pieces, we are going to fill in the space that appears open here, on the horizontal plane.

We have to clean this up at this point,  you are essentially done. What you need to do is clean off all the excess flux and anything that is still stuck on the glass. Making sure your glass is cool, wash it off in sudsy water.

Dry it off. Polish it up. Clean your tools. You have just created a family heirloom or a beautiful gift in less than 2 hours. It looks highly impressive doesn't it? You and I only have to know how simple it was!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Christmas Greeting from the Past

I had planned on getting the house cleaned and the Christmas tree set up this weekend.

Unfortunately my washer machine repair did not go as planned and I spent the coveted day off arguing with a major appliance seller to have a repair guy come to my house to fix the mess the previous guy left. I wasn't successful (even though I have a service warranty) and ended up spending three hours at the laundry mat.

Needless to say, not the way I intended to spend the coveted day off!

But I did get a really pleasant surprise with the little bit I got done.

In setting up my window display, I happened to turn over the base of the ceramic tree my grandmother had made for me all those years ago and this is what I found!

"To Our New Baby 1969"

Grandma and Grandpa 1944

With the trouble I was having, it made my day. My grandmother passed away about four years ago. She was the kind of person that everybody loved and would make everyone feel included and like they belonged. She was a fun, wonderful person. I miss her. I've had this tree for, well, life, and never knew this was there. I was like she was reaching out to me to say, "Hey, I'm watching over you and this is nothing, it'll all work out". It was a wonderful surprise.

Anyway, I got part of the window set up and the lights up. I think it came out really nice.

And we broke out the Lego Advent calendar my son looks forward to each year.

Of course there had to be cookies. We have to decorate them yet but we got them made last night!

Yeah, you read that right. Ninjabread cookies. Perfect for a 14 year old boy eh? Saw these at Aldi's and just had to get these. Too funny! Made me laugh as we made them.

I made them with sugar cookie dough though. I'll make the gingerbread for the office party. None of us like it so we'll pass that on.


Love a good verbal pun!

Happy Holidays!