first "real" home improvement

We've been in our new home since March this year.  We both loved it at first sight and said there was nothing that really needed to be done to move in.  Of course, not even out of the rental one day and I found a screw driver to remove the styrofoam insulation the previous owners used to cover the beautiful plantation shutters between the living room and master.

This was done while James went with the movers for one last trip of boxes.  My mom and I debated on if he'd notice.  He did, one of the million of reasons I love him.

I guess he had it out for one of the evergreens in the front yard.  So he took it out one day in May while I was working on a Saturday.  Moments after he finished the neighbor informed us of the history of this little plant.  Way back in the day, his (now ex) wife forgot to put the parking brake on and the minivan rolled down their driveway and would have plowed right through our house if not for this little evergreen.  It stopped that minivan right in it's tracks.  Hmmm... since she no longer lives there I guess we are in the clear?

See the large green thing to the right of the walkway?  That's now gone.

The next phase was supposed to be some new low growing plants to replace the large bush.  This was to provide more visibility while backing out.

James had other ideas.  I'm not against these, just wasn't really ready for it.  He started pulling out the railroad ties that created the flower bed.  Then the pavers, but only 1/3 of them.  And then a jackhammer was rented!  Oh no.  He removed the walkway from the street to the pavers/front porch.  There was no going back now.  The rest of the pavers were removed as well as all of the supporting brick/concrete.  The two young neighbor boys were paid to shovel out the gravel/sand from where the pavers once stood so we could replace it all with a beautiful wood deck.

Daddy's helper, she's all into the demolition.  

So now we have a large pit in front of our house.  I'm thrilled.  Or not.  I know it'll look amazing when it's done.  I just don't like having a half done project out front for the whole world to see.

Hopefully our Contractor (aka my brother) can get the framing done pretty soon.  I know it's still summer in most of the country but in Oregon you never know if the rain is going to start early or late in the fall.

t-shirt quilt

Ok, confession, I've been planning this project for at least 10 years.  Sad, I know.  First I had to save all my t-shirts from college (and some pre-college) and then buy a sewing machine.  Somewhere in there I married a wonderful guy and then had to explain why I couldn't just toss out all these old shirts taking up room in the garage/under bed/in closet.  We had a beautiful baby girl and all planning of crafts when out the window.  I've finally gotten my work/life/craft balance back and I am determined to check this decade old project off the list!

I started with a vague idea that I would sew all the shirts/sweatshirts together into a quilt.  I was naive  and didn't really think much past that.  Then with the invention of Pinterest I hit the jackpot with the perfect t-shirt quilt idea (for me, others may find something that better suites their tastes) over at Cinnaberry Suite.  I loved that it's more casual than a finished quilt/blanket.

We moved 4 times within 14 months and I just didn't feel I could really start a big project in any of the rentals.  Now that we are moved into our dream home and life is settling into a routine I jumped in feet first.  (Having shingles and going stir crazy at home was a nice motivator too).

My first step was to unpack all the shirts and lay them out (semi-folded) on the floor in our spare room. It helped me visualize how big it would be and how large the squares should be cut.  I also got some great advice from one of my friends on Facebook.  Her quilt used 12" squares.  So I worked off of that and cut out 13" squares, 1/2" seam allowance would give me 12" squares.  I tried using a cardboard square to make the cutting easier but it just made it more complicated.  I used my rotary blade and straight edge.  The cutting mat lines were used for lining them up square.

As you can see in the photo I had some smaller/fitted shirts with small graphics on them.  I decided to make only half squares with those.  All told I had a 6' wide by 7' tall quilt.

Cinaberry Suite's tut goes into detail but the basics are...  cut front AND back of shirt so you end up with two squares for each shirt, cut out a flannel square to go between the two shirt squares.  Make a BUNCH of shirt-flannel-shirt sandwiches.  Sew big X's on each one then sew the squares together (back sides together so the seam is on the top).

Estate sales have become a regular Saturday morning ritual for us lately.  We don't always buy something but you never know.  I'll post some of our finds later on.  For this post I found a large fitted king sheet (UGLY print that I hated) that only cost $1.50!  Half price on items under $35 on the last day is the best deal ever!  I couldn't buy the fabric needed for this quilt for even close to that price at the fabric store.  After a few mistakes I still had enough for all the t-shirt squares.  I did not use any between the sweatshirts.  The reason for the flannel is it provides some stability to the stretchy cotton t-shirts.

I ran into a few hiccups in the process.  One, some of shirts had really sticky graphics on them.  It seems to be something related to how thick the "ink" is.  This caused the top where the graphic is to stick to the presser foot.  Not pretty and at least a few seams had to be ripped out.  Two, running out of bobbin thread half way through a seam or X.  And last, little LC kept waking up from naps in the middle of everything.  I wasn't really bothered by her waking up just worried about all the sharp objects she could grab.

Finally I got all the squares together into one large quilt.

Now how to finish this bad boy?  Cinaberry Suite suggested just leaving it unfinished so you could continue adding squares.  Great if you still have a growing kid but I'm pretty much done with college life at this point and have a plenty big quilt.  The next option was to add binding.  I Googled a bit but didn't find a simple solution.  I've always folded the backing over the front for binding all my previous quilts.  Then I remembered Prudent Baby (now Pretty Prudent) had a tutorial a while back on a simple quilt binding.  And it was beyond simple.  Easy and straight forward directions.  Great pictures too!  I found some adorable purple/teal cotton fabric with little owls on it at our local quilt shop, Quiltwork Patches, for the binding.  I love the choice!

Woodlands Owls Juniper Purple

made by Hoffman Fabrics

designed by Hoffman Designer Cotton Print Fabric

collection: Woodlands

(image from

Tip, cut all the edges with the rotary blade and straight edge before attaching the binding.  It'll give you a much cleaner edge to work with.

Then the last bit was to cut all the exposed seams, just like a rag quilt.  I took the advice on the tutorial and splurged on the spring-action scissors.  Our store carries Fiskars.  So easy!

After a quick wash and dry, the quilt is finished!  I love it.  My husband is a little concerned it's going on the bed.  That is not my plan.  It strictly a picnic, camping, laying around the house type of quilt.  It only cost $10.50 if you consider all the shirts had already been purchased and I used left over thread from a previous project.  The biggest cost was the binding, it was from the fat quarter bin so I had to buy more than I needed.  I probably could have used scraps for the binding but I really wanted some owls on it.  And I don't count equipment in the cost of a project.  I'll be able to use the scissors on many more projects.

I hope this inspires you to pull out that box of shirts and start cutting!

Morning Running Buddies

I've decided that I need to get in shape, which also lets me feel less guilty about the dark beers I enjoy so much.  And the best way to do that is with the C25K app on my iPhone.  I just finished day three of week one.  As much as a loathe getting up in the morning, I have some great running buddies in our neighborhood.  Well, they don't really run, more like watch me SLOWLY jog by them.

You can't see both in the picture but there are 2 spotted fawns with their momma.  And then earlier this week I saw the large buck with a rack that made even me pause!  Not to mention all the other does and young bucks with little nubs that I pass during my workout.

Have a wonderful rest of your day!