Monday, April 30, 2018

Camper Remodel

Here is another installment of our ongoing project to remodel our travel trailer.
My last post showed the built out bed boxes we created to replace the queen-size bed. Last week, we took an hour after dinner to install the hinges, and covers for each mattress. We opened up one of the mattresses (this is the cheapest foam mattress available from IKEA) to make sure my calculations were close enough. Overall, I'm really pleased with this part of the project. 
Last weekend we moved on to fixing this section of ceiling. The ceiling had been patched in response to water damage prior to us purchasing the camper. My other half pulled out all the damaged ceiling bits to find almost no insulation remaining after that repair. 
We picked up some foam board panels from the home improvement warehouse and cut and pieced them to fit. 
This part wasn't difficult, but it did take almost all the duct tape in the house (both Duck and Scotch brands) piecing and sealing the gaps. I don't know how this compares with the original insulation, but compared to the non-existent insulation after that previous repair job it is a definite improvement.
After that, we attempted to wrestle the 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of ceiling into place. That caused some cursing and tired people but not a finished ceiling. We pulled it back down and took it out. We cut that piece into two pieces and then installation was a breeze, at least when compared to our first attempt. We'll need another piece of trim to cover that join, but it will be worth the extra $5 or so it is going to cost.

Tools for this project:
  • Hitachi staple gun and air compressor
  • Black & Decker Jigsaw, and cordless drill
  • Simple hand tools one might need (such as needle-nose pliers to pull out old staples or nails, a hammer to pound in staples that can't be pulled out, a Sharpie for marking, a carpenter's square for marking and cutting straight).

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Charity Quilting

This was supposed to post yesterday but it seems I forgot to write the post on Thursday.
This is another kit from Annapolis Quilts for Kids. Sometimes I just need a quick and easy project to get some sewing in without having to put too much thought into it. These kits are perfect for that.
I loaded it up on Thursday and got it quilted, too. The meander isn't fancy, but it does create a lovely texture.

2018 Charity Quilt Count: 27

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Knitting Update

I'm still working on my ugly sweater. I figure I'm about to the waist now. So plenty more to go. I've incorporated double decreases at a point below the sleeves to slow the growing number of stitches along the bottom edge. I expect the piece to have dramatic points when I get to the bind off. Pattern: Just the Right Angle, free on Ravelry. Yarn: various wool yarns
This is a tiny Wingspan made with two strands of worsted yarn. Because sometimes you want something that knits up somewhat quickly. Yarn: Bernat Stripes
Sometimes I want to try something new. This was my latest crochet project. The pattern started out as a Tournament of Stitches Mystery Crochet Along but the last few rows are totally my own as I was having some issues with the pattern as written. Yarn: Red Heart Stripes
I finished the Brioche Basic Beanie (pattern is free on Ravelry). It isn't perfect, but it will keep a head warm. That's a win. I think I'm ready for a more challenging brioche project. Yarn is Knit Picks, Swish Worsted.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Camper Remodel

We've had our travel trailer for a few years. One of the many things we've learned is that we don't particularly care to share a bed while camping. The queen size mattress is short (this is a trailer thing that makes little sense to me), and we seem to roll into the middle of the darn thing and it isn't a very good mattress. We decided to pull out the cabinets, the bed, and make remake the space for two twin mattresses. To call the plan a plan is to use language a little too strong. But, we did have a plan.
Here is what the bedroom looked like on one of our trips. What these manufacturers think is attractive in a window treatment doesn't really sit with our tastes. After Darling Husband did all the demolition, it was time to get down to building a replacement for that bed.
Here is my rough plan, taped onto the floor. It doesn't make much sense, but I did warn you that 'plan' was a strong word. This section was covered in questionable carpet. The manufacturer didn't see fit to cover the entire floor with vinyl. I do think they save about two trailer's worth of vinyl in ten by not filling in this space with vinyl. That meant I had to fill in that gap.
We built a box around the forward section where there is outside access. This is where we store the camp chairs, chock blocks, leveling bricks and the like.
I trimmed the vinyl floor and pulled up the truckload of staples the manufacturer used to hold it down. A good sweep and a vacuum and we were ready for tiles. 
I laid down the tile and realized I was short by five tiles. General work stoppage so we could head back to the home improvement warehouse. We live about 3 miles from one, so it wasn't a terrible thing. We always come up with about three things we forgot, or learned we needed. 
A metal threshold to cover up that seam, the heater vent reinstalled, and the first layer of paneling to enclose the forward pass-through. For the record, we found the pneumatic staple gun (we went with the Hitachi) to be well worth the investment. 
The next step was to build out the boxes for each bed. We used small lumber to keep the weight down. We almost manged to finish both of them before we ran out of lumber. 
On the second day, we picked up a couple more pieces of lumber to finish building out the starboard side box. Then we finished the sides with more paneling.
The last step this weekend was to put in the section along the wall for the hinges. I think our floor space will be comparable and the storage space as well, even though it is now split into three distinct sections instead of one big T-shaped space.

Next week we'll pick up the last piece of plywood and the hinges for the beds. We still have finishing details, but the bulk of the work is done. Of course, then I will have to make new quilts since the last quilt I made for the travel trailer was a queen size.

Tools we invested in for this project:
Hitachi pneumatic staple gun
Skil circular saw (with a freaking laser)

We already own a Black & Decker Jigsaw, a staple guncordless drill, and all the simple hand tools one might need.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Charity Quilting

A couple of the charity quilts I finished this week were constructed, quilted, and bound by me. This doesn't happen often, so I wanted to crow about it a little. This is my binding attached to the back and pulled to the front for a quick machine finish. Curious how I machine finish my binding? Check out my Binding Tips and Tricks page.
Once that binding was done, I attached the label. I love these little labels from Quilts for Kids.
I'm going to need another bag to carry all these to the Annapolis Quilts for Kids meeting on Saturday. If you're in the area, you should check them out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Beauty and the Beast

I've been working on a bag pattern off and on for years.
It uses minimal hardware. The cutting is straightforward. (This means there are no pattern pieces, all the cutting is done with a rotary cutter and ruler.)
Construction is not complicated and easily accomplished in an orderly fashion. The bottom is covered in vinyl to protect those bottom corners. 
It has a zippered pocket on the back of the bag to hold you wallet for quick access. 
It has a top zipper that opens all the way. Inside it has three pockets to help you stay organized. Each of those pockets can hold my mobile phone. 
The strap is adjustable so it can be worn like a should bag or a cross-body bag. In short, it has all the features I like in an everyday bag. It is also a great way to showcase fun prints. You can see another in this post from earlier this month.

How close to a finished pattern is it? Well... right now it is a list of materials and cutting instructions. So, not very close. I will admit that I haven't made any changes to the construction or design in a couple iterations, so I guess the design phase is done.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Improv Piecing

More progress on my Improv Piecing Project. I finished piecing and trimming all the blocks. Then I spent a bunch of time rearranging the blocks until I came up with a setting I liked.
When that was done, I sewed up the rows and added a border. The border ended up being a little scrappier than I planned, but that seems to fit the overall design. Next step: quilting. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Spring has Arrived

I haven't been up to much this past week.
I did win the block lottery during the last guild meeting. I shared my blocks last month. Now I just need to decide what to do with them all. Check out the free tutorial by Samelia's Mum to make your own applique tulips.
I think spring has finally arrived in Virginia. The daffodils are in full bloom.
The deer are out and about.
The squirrels are still chasing each other about. 
Even the trees are in bloom. I took these photos on my afternoon walks this week. I can't resist a pretty flower.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Improv Piecing

I've been making some more progress on my Improv Piecing Project.
I pulled out my blocks and sewed some more into bigger blocks.
I pulled out a stack of black fabric to try to frame in some of the arcs. I really liked the black, but the pieces were becoming terribly large and more difficult to sew together.
I grabbed the biggest square ruler I have. I have the Omnigrid 15 inch by 15 inch square. It seemed the perfect size to cut out some blocks to build in some structure and still have some great, big blocks. I starched, and pressed and trimmed.
I cut and pieced. I think I'll stop at 25 blocks. That should give me a nice throw size quilt. I have two more to make before I can start arranging them. I don't have a plan right now, but I'm sure when I'm done I'll have a quilt.

Monday, April 9, 2018


This quilt was a result of one of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild bee I participated in last year.
I was the queen bee for the month of April, so I guess it is fitting I finished it in April of this year.
I used the same backing for another quilt and liked it. I thought it would be perfect for this quilt. I quilted swirls as an all-over quilting design. The thread is a very light gray, the same light gray I piece with most of the time.
I think the quilting really adds a dimension to the quilt.
Scrappy binding, again. I really like how this one turned out. Look! I even remembered to label the backing before I loaded it onto the frame.

Free foundation paper-piecing pattern I designed for the bee can be found in this blog post. More about my process and how this one came together is in this post from January.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Knitting Update

It seems I am at a loss for what to share with you this fine Friday. So, I will share progress on my three knitting projects.
I finished the sleeves on my ugly sweater. They are a little long, but the fit is snug so length shouldn't be an issue. The pattern is Just the Right Angle (free on Ravelry). 
I picked up some inexpensive acrylic yarn because I can't afford all the self-striping yarn I want to buy. I'm using the Wingspan pattern (paid pattern on Ravelry) to knit up this quick and thick project. I'm holding two strands of worsted together to make a bulky yarn. The garter is so squishy!
Finally, my easily portable project, the Brioche Basic Beanie (free pattern on Ravelry). Sometimes I want a very portable project and hats are perfect for that. 
It wouldn't be April without a a wonderful photo of my orchid in bloom. I'm not sure why it picks April, but this is two years in a row it has bloomed in April. I'm mostly amazed I haven't managed to kill it yet.

What are you knitting?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Charity Quilting

I pieced a couple string block quilts and finally got around to quilting them.
I really like being able to use such small pieces of fabric to make a quilt. So little waste when making string blocks, alternating them with solid blocks helps stabilize the center of the quilt. Once finished, these quilts are headed to the Annapolis Quilts for Kids.

Want to make your own string blocks? Check out Bonnie Hunter's great String Quilting Primer.

2018 Charity Quilt Count: 26

Monday, April 2, 2018

Geeky Bag

While writing this post, I realized I made my last handbag in July 2016. It was time for a new one.
I've had this computer/electronics themed fabric hanging around for a while. I had intended on making a couple geeky knitting project bags, but decided a new purse would be way better. I grabbed my (somewhat questionable) notes on the last bag I made and got busy.
This is my own pattern, designed around the features I like in a bag and more than a few tricks I've learn along the way. I prefer a cross-body bag, with a zippered top and a zippered back pocket. It also has three interior pockets perfectly sized to hold my cellphone, a pack of tissues, and the coffee cozy I carry because the cardboard ones just aren't that great. The adjustable strap is new in this version.
This one isn't as deep as my last one, which I think is an improvement. The strap is slightly wider, as well. The vinyl bottom really makes a difference in the wear the bag can handle.

This bag is on my list to write a pattern for, but pattern writing is so much more work than bag making. Until I can make it without scribbling a dozen more notes, it isn't ready for prime-time anyway. Maybe I just need to make a few more times.