Today’s Featured Item – Linen and Cotton Tea Towels

The “Featured Item of the Day” is back!  I enjoy these posts because they are simple and all I have to do is share about a product that already exists instead of lately, which has been like trying to read a crystal ball to predict what I should make DSC_0766next, a process that often involves seeing something and imagining it before it’s real. That’s fun and all, don’t get me wrong, but the talking about the featured item of the day is kinda like a vacation from that.  These are super simple as the task itself.  Made from a linen/cotton blend, these tea towels are generously sized at roughly 18″ x 26″ and feature my own fabric designs.  They feel a little like canvas at first, but get softer with each washing.  My Mom discovered a little life hack the other day, that if you pull these out of the washing machine and just smooth them out to air dry, they don’t need ironing.  Bam!  Save electricity by not using the dryer and time by not using the iron. DSC_0758 These make lovely hostess gifts, simple Christmas gifts, and can even be made into coordinating dinner napkins as well.  If you read the blog post yesterday, you would know that we are offering FREE shipping this week on all orders from Folks Linen and Kari Goodwin Quilts, so stop by and do some shopping.  The shipping is on us! Coupon code is FREESHIPPING and if you enter it during checkout, the shipping is $0.

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Scrap Projects – Pennant Banners

IMG_8578 Sometimes, cutting into that fresh yardage of fabric is so rewarding, but at the same time, almost wistfully sad because you know that before long, that print will be gone forever, especially if it is a one of a kind vintage piece.  Exciting because of all the possibilities of what it could become, sad because who knows when you will IMG_8721be able to find something so spectacular again?  For fabric cuts that aren’t vintage, it simply means that you must now buy more to make more, and so on and so forth.  Sometimes it isn’t the fresh cuts of fabric that pull your attention, but the smallest off cuts, the rejects, the leftovers.  Sometimes, I relish in the leftover projects.  How many things can I make without cutting ANY new fabric?!  Answering that question has been my focus this week.  This stash busting session has been a little different because this time, the scraps are my own designs and that adds its own special flavor to the projects.  So what do you do when you only have small randomly shaped bits, fabric test swatches, off cuts from bedding, and other various leftovers?  Flag buntings are such a cute way to dress up a blank wall, and are an affordable gift for a person who may already have everything and need nothing.  Not to mention, they are hot photo props, IMG_8579party decorations, and can be reused over and over unlike their paper counterparts.  I make a flag roughly 5-6 inches across the top, and 6-8 inches down, depending on the size scraps I have.  The best fabric to use for banners like this are fabrics that do not have a direction, because you can use both the triangles, verses a directional print (that is meant to be seen from one way or another), which will have half of your cuts being upside down.  In the case of my rhino prints, I saved the upside down flag shaped triangles as scraps for a different project, such as a scrappy mountain quilt that will need lots of triangles of different shapes and sizes.  I was able to get roughly 15 banners from a stack of off cut fabrics, each banner having 11 pennants.  Instead of investing a lot of time into a project that was meant to be a quick use of scraps, and making my own binding to hang the flags from, I bought binding from the store for about $2 each.  IMG_8583They come in dozens of colors, and measure about 3 yards long, which is a perfect length for a good banner.  I got the “Extra Wide Double Fold” bias tape, which is not really all that wide.  Only about 1/2 inch actually, but none-the-less, that is the name.  It can be found in most fabric or craft stores.  I serged my banner flags to a solid backing of organic cotton sateen fabric because it was what I had available and on hand, but you could use anything for the backing fabric (the cheaper the better!  You won’t really see it IMG_8740anyway!).  Having two layers for the banner will give them a nice weight so they will hanging nicely.  If you don’t have a serger, which most folks probably don’t, no worries!  You can simply stitch around the outside of the two layers (the front and
back) and then cut the edges with pinking shears so that they don’t fray excessively.  If you want to be really fancy, you can stitch the two layers with right sides together, and then turn them inside out for a very finished and durable style.  My goal was to make as many as I could, in the shortest amount of time possible, so I chose the serging technique.  Plus, I just really love the way serged stitches look.  It gives a sort of raw yet refined look to any project.  So there you go.  Not really a tutorial, just a reminder that scraps can be fun too, and to get creative when you see that discarded pile, and see what you can create with them!  Tomorrow, I will share some quilt tops I made from scraps too. IMG_8753

A Simple Rhino Tale

It started as a simple craft done at the kitchen table.  The kids had been given this gingerbread man cutout that was laminated so they could bring it home and trace it, play with it, make more gingerbread men…You get the idea.  But this made them want to make other shapes that they then traced and colored, like the gingerbread man.  There came from this simple day of play, a collection of rhinos.  Large and small, bright and bold, with fierce horns, and bowed heads.  Some even had two heads…one on each side!  (Just to represent the monstrous side of things!!)  They were so precious.  The kids cut them out, colored them, and turned them into puppets with popsicle sticks.  Like many things born in this way, they were all too soon forgotten, having fallen under the table, or stuck behind a chair, and they were no longer interested in playing with them.  That is when my inspiration struck!  IMG_5970

You see, I had been experimenting with fabric design, and playing around with my own doodles for a couple of weeks, trying to get the hang of the graphic nature of online fabric design.  In a moment of brilliance, I saw these sweet, disregarded rhinos for what they were…Complete and total inspiration!   My kids might have been finished with them, but I was only getting started.  I deconstructed the popsicle stick version, and layed them out on a white surface to photograph, and the rest is history.  I now have a collection of ten or so fabric designs, all featuring the rhino stick puppet cut outs.  I love them.  When I look at them, I am instantly happy, rejuvenated, and transported back to that magical day.  I know it was a magical day because I have tried over and over to recreate the experience with no luck whatsoever.  They can tell I am onto them now, and like the tap-dancing, singing frog, they just sit there and ribbit at me when I suggest in my most cheerful voice, “Who wants to make some stick puppets with a new animal today!?”  I IMG_3911know it will come back around one day, but for now, I am utterly smitten and happy with our little rhino collection.
Each time an item sells with the fabric they helped design, I tell them about it, and give them a little cash for their piggy banks.  It has become a source of pride and joy for them to see their drawings made into something lasting and tangible.

Then one day a few months ago, I receive this letter through Etsy:

“Hey there,
I am a Zookeeper with the Toronto Zoo and I am organizing a fundraiser through our AAZK committee to help raise money for Rhino Conservation! Last year we were able to raise over $17,000!
We are currently looking for any Rhino related items that companies/ organizations would be willing to donate as auction items for our event! All funds go directly towards the facilities that support Rhino Conservation!
If you would consider donating a Rhino blanket I also have an official letter I could send you along with more information need be!
We REALLY appreciate every little donation and will definitely advertise what companies donated items for our auction in hopes that it would also help you get more business!
I hope to hear from you soon and am happy to answer any questions you may have!
Thank you!”IMG_9886

I thought that was so awesome.  Awesome in so many ways…the conservation of rhinos?  CHECK!  The pleasure of meaningful donations? CHECK!  Getting our family business all the way out to Toronto? CHECK!  And my favorite one of all…Talking to my daughter about the significance of this project?  Check.  I let her read the letter and asked her what she thought.  She does have a sense of ownership over these blankets and quilts with her drawings on them, and if I was to give one away, I wanted to know how she felt about that.  It meant I wouldn’t get paid for it, which would mean she wouldn’t get any dollars for her piggy bank either.  Did she even hesitate for one, single second?!  Of course she didn’t.  She thought it was amazing and awesome too.  We looked into the organization together and IMG_1513did some rhino research, and we became even more aware of the issue than we already were.  When I shipped the blanket off to Toronto, I made sure she knew it was on the way, and we celebrated the moment together.

I guess the moral of the story here is this…You never know where an idea will take you.  You never know what small thing will one day become a very big and important thing.  You never know when a laminated gingerbread man made from blue construction paper and sent home in your child’s school folder will change the way you do business.  You just never know, and isn’t that amazing!  Now I see rhinos everywhere.  Mostly they are sad stories about poaching, or declining populations, but I hear them.  I am aware of them, and I donate to the cause as I am able because it feels like the right thing to do…and the kids think so too!

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A Discovery of Grandmother’s Treasures

Today I will share with you an afternoon I spent unboxing some things I was given from my Grandmother’s house.  She recently moved from her home, just because it was so much work for a 90 year old lady to take care of on her own, and I have inherited a wonderful collection of things from our beloved family gathering place.  Included, but not limiting to: my Grandaddy’s hat collection and hat rack, a handmade stool, my grandmother’s bread-making pans (which, yes! I use to make bread every week), two very cool LED lanterns I gave to the kids for reading in their beds at night, a vintage lamp, and a hundred other little treasures that I can’t remember off the top of my head. IMG_8178 But today, I share with you the unveiling of her fabric and linen collection.  To a lot of folks, I am sure this stuff would just look like scraps, or too old to want to keep, or too delicate to want in a house full of (very) messy kids.  But to me, these things are treasures, in every sense of the word.  Each box I opened was a new discovery.  Stacks of jersey knits she used to make clothes from.  When my son was little and would stay with her, he would often come home with a new outfit on because he would go over there and ask her “What are you going to make for me today, Grandmomma?!”  In one box lace.  Tons of lace.  Vintage, beautiful, delicate lace, that I have never used before, but is so pretty I want to just make a curtain out of it.  In one box linens.  The nicest, softest, linens that look like they have never IMG_8210been used, but surely have been.  They were just cared for so carefully that they still look like new in the original box.  One set still had the stickers on it that said “Made in Belgium”, but when I asked her where these might have come from, she couldn’t quite recall.  Not to mention my pictures I showed her when I asked didn’t nearly do them justice.  And the list goes on and on.  I have said before, that I have a hard time using the fabric I get from her because I want it to go towards something really special.  I hope one day to honor her by making something wonderful out of all these treasured fabrics!  The vintage viewfinder rivaled all of the other fabric treasures too!  I felt like I had struck gold when I pulled those from the box!  (I have the original beige viewfinder too!)

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