Project: Spool Storage

Project Spool Storage | A Life Of Projects

So I’ve been meaning to get around to this project for awhile. At first I delegated the majority of the task to the husband but…alas…6 months later and somehow he still hadn’t gotten around to it.

Here’s the patient:

I found this old bottle crate in the in-laws attic and carted it home with me, not yet sure of it’s purpose, sometime last September. It was in need of a great amount of cleaning and had several super-safe rusty nails in it that needed to be removed.

If you don’t have an outdoor space or basement/garage to work on thrift store or flea market finds, I highly recommend the “Old towel method” which is what I used along with some of my favorite tools.

Reformed Perfectionist Tip: A lady should never be without her well-equipped tool box and a ridiculous amount of elbow grease.

Let me tell you, that thing was dirty. I’ll spare you the pictures of the grimy rags.

But finally, it was as clean as I could get it.

Ta da!!

So I decided to solve a problem with this lovely new antique treasure. The problem of the runaway spools.

Some in the drawer…

Some hanging out in tackle boxes…(PS, tackle boxes make great spool storage)

And some just wandered in to bags and other assorted places. I never knew what colors I had, how much I had left, so I always ended up at Jo-Ann’s buying new thread at random. (If I ever buy black thread again, smack me. I’ve got like 7 spools)

But now, with my newly cleaned crate…

Problem solved!!! This hangs just above and beside my sewing table. Easy access and now I can see what I’ve got and what I need to buy. Next goal: Find a magnetic organizer for the bobbins!

What do you think? How do you organize your spools?? I love looking at all the possibilities for storage and display!

A Life of Projects


Project: Don’t ever try and hand-quilt a t-shirt quilt

Also known as “Make an easier quilt”.

Project: Don't Hand Quilt a T-shirt Quilt | A Life Of Projects

Yeah. So I had this wonderful idea sometime last year. Like…last summer probably. Or maybe before. Quite frankly I’m too scared to check the timestamp on the photo because I think I started this project over a year ago. Maybe a year and a half.

But it was a really good idea. I swear.

I wanted to make a quilt.

But not just any quilt. I want a quilt that is hand quilted by myself, my grandmother, and my mom.

And sure, there are several quilts floating around that have each of our work in them. But nothing that is just the three of us. And quite frankly nothing that has a significant amount of work on my part in any of them. Lezbehonest…I was a kid and getting me to do anything actually helpful was almost impossible.

So…I’ve realized that a quilt with all of our work in it….is something I want. Something that would be very special and meaningful to me.

Quilting has been a large part of our family. I’ve seen quilts my great-grandmother hand pieced and hand quilted, quilts embroidered by my mom and aunts, and as a child I spent many hours playing underneath that huge living-room-sized quilt frame. My grandfather had my grandmother make a quilt especially for me to remember him by. So quilts hold a lot of meaning for me, but it’s not something I’ve ever had a very active part in assisting with.

So it’s time to step up, right??

And at the time…having only really quilted for random spurts in my teens….I thought HEY I CAN TOTALLY DO THIS WITHOUT THINKING IT THROUGH. And then I thought “I’m poor”. And then I thought “I have a t-shirt hoarding problem”.

And the t-shirt quilt project was born.

Let that sink in.

I decided. To hand-quilt. A t-shirt quilt. WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS. (Or basting, or interfacing…)


So grandma and mom and I cut my beloved running shirts apart, picked fabrics, and without looking up how to sew jersey knit to rigid quilt cotton…pieced this sucker together.

Project: Don't Hand Quilt a T-shirt Quilt | A Life Of Projects

Look at that concentration…”I’m so totally ready to tackle this” I thought to myself…

And it’s sat in a corner in my house for longer than I care to admit.

However, I’ve found a solution. It’s a 2-part’er.

  • Part 1: Beg someone with a long-arm to just put some lines in this beast and call it done.
  • Part 2: Start new quilt that is smaller, well thought through, and not t-shirt.

Thankfully, I’ve found a friend who is just getting in to quilting on her mid-arm…and is willing to do it for a nice barter-style deal…and I’ve managed to piece together a new quilt top to a much smaller quilt.

However I’ve learned a lot from this….year long experience. I’ve learned that I really do want something made by all of us. I’ve learned a lot about quilting and I know it’s something I want to continue doing, in a way to keep the heritage going. I know that hand-quilting is a big challenge and I have so much respect for all the people I watched do it as I was growing up. I’ve learned that interfacing is super-important (haha). I’ve learned that some quilts are just too big for your first time out of the gate. And I’ve learned that it’s ok to change direction in a project and admit (somewhat) defeat.

I will hand quilt! I will have a quilt with my mom and grandma! And I will never, ever, ever try to hand quilt a t-shirt quilt again.

Project: Don't Hand Quilt a T-shirt Quilt | A Life Of Projects


Former Perfectionist Tip: If the going gets tough – Long arm it and start something less horrible.

A Life of Projects

What projects have you had to let go of or re-route? Have you made a t-shirt quilt? Have you hand-quilted a whole quilt? Share your stories down below!

Project Fluffy: Part Two!

Well it only took me a week and a half to get back to the tulle skirt (Part 1 available here). Part of that was probably the intimidation of sewing it in my precious machine. Not gonna lie. It’s my baby. I was scared. BUT…with some research I did manage to gather some tips that made it seem less terrifying. I thought I might share these with you all.
Tulle Tips | A Life of Projects

The first thing I did was to grab my handy multitool and switch out my needle for a thinner one. (I had to google needle sizes so I knew which was the smallest. Ha!) Then I threaded my needle and brought up the lower thread. I reduced the tension down to a 3 on my machine.

Next I taped off my dogs. (Did you know that’s what those little grippy teeth things are?? I did not know that until recently. But then again, this is my first REAL sewing machine…so yeah) I taped each side, just barely and then did a piece of tape across the front two. Do this with your lower thread already coming up, so you don’t accidentally tape the hole off and then stab your needle through the tape! It’s really hard to take a picture of tape…by the way.

Then I made sure my stitch was straight and long, which is different on every machine, I know. Even if your machine doesn’t have adjustable stitch lengths, I think you’ll be fine with your regular straight stitch. Once all this was done….time to test it out!!!

From enough trial and error (and stupidity) in my short sewing history I knew I should test a swatch first. So I grabbed some scrap and just folded it over itself twice and sewed a line….


So now to sew the whole, big, fluffy, cantankerous mess. I looked over at my clothespinning and quickly realized that wasn’t going to cut it. I went through and pinned it about every 2 inches. It was NOT perfect, it was NOT in neat lines, it was NOT even and it was NOT pretty. But it worked.

I managed to sew all the way around with the thread only breaking once!! Ha. Another key tip is to not forget to move it with your HANDS. The dogs are taped off…they are still semi-functional, but where the tulle was extra thick from ruffles or folds…it did NOT move easily.

Once it was sewn the whole way around, I was honestly scared to try it on…I was worried it wouldn’t fit over my hips since I had sized most of them to my waist. So without really checking, I sewed it on to the elastic and lining piece I’d made before.

I had to go back and re-check how best to sew it on. It took some more flipping and twisting but I finally got it. Your elastic should have the lining sewn to it with the wrong sides out. I sewed my lining to the elastic about 1/4 the way up from the bottom, to help with the flipping portion later. So with your wrong sides facing out, put the tulle on in the same direction as the lining, with the lining inside the tulle. (REMEMBER TO UN-TAPE YOUR DOGS…you can leave the needle, or at least I did…) Sew the tulle on with a zig-zag stitch, stretching the elastic as you go. I followed the line sewn in the tulle, and stitched that to the line that I had used to sew the lining to the elastic.

Next, I flipped it inside out, with the lining now on the outside, with the seams on the inside. I sewed the lining down to the elastic band, sandwiching the small tulle (itchy) edge between the layers of lining and elastic, so that only the lining would be touching my skin.

Then, you flip the tulle back to the outside, and flip the BAND ONLY so that elastic faces out, and the lining is inside, with the seams facing the tulle (counter-intuitive and maybe I did it wrong, but that’s how it worked out for me).

Throw on a ribbon….red accessories for the holidays…and BAM!!!


And you know what? It REALLY wasn’t that hard.

Former Perfectionist Tip: It doesn’t go perfectly. But it’s really not that hard. When sewing the tulle and the lining, I kind of half laid my arm and left half on the mass of fluff to control it. The tape comes off the dogs a little. No big deal. Your thread will break. No big deal. You will NOT sew in any straight line…just get over that now.

So I really love it. I’m going to make some more, for sure. And some overlays so I can have a multitude of fluffy holiday skirts.

Bonus FPT: Adult females that are roughly 5’3” can fit youth size 14/16 tights….because when 3 separate stores don’t have white tights in adult human size…you get desperate.


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Project Fluffy: Part 1

I admit it. I was bored.

I got on pinterest. I’m Hashtag: Sorrynotsorry.

I searched for cute holiday outfits.

Found this. (On a link that doesn’t actually work so I went to google image)

So now I have to make a fluffy tulle skirt, right?!?! Because $80 for one on Etsy? Ummm. I love you and all, Ets, but…I’ve got a sewing machine. I got this. There has to be a tutorial, right? Of course.

*10 hour break of pinterest searching distraction*

So I found the following 2 tutorials that didn’t seem impossible at first glance. (That phrase “at first glance” will be key later…)

Ok, well one of those takes math. And…no. I mean I do stats for my real-time job…love some stats…but you want me to use pi? Radius? What? Ok fine, I’ll do it, just to make my 9th grade math teacher proud. (WHAT UP MR. L?!?! You’re still my favorite.)

So after some math, I determined I needed to cut folded pieces of tulle in to 52in sections….because you guys know I’d already gone to Jo-Ann’s for tulle and supplies BEFORE actually figuring out what I needed, right!?!? Right!! AND I went on a Sunday. AND it took way longer than it should have. And I came home with…more than just the materials for this project but more on that in later posts.

Ok. So we are home. With 10 yards of tulle. And some other project things…and a cat who thinks it’s all his

Ok so maybe I bought enough stuff for like 5 projects…whatevs.

Yeah. So now I do some math….had a friend write things down as I measured myself. Looked over the tutorials again to see which one would make me the least insane…and got down to cutting.

Here’s a little tip: In these tutorials, they make it seem so nice and easy, and maybe it is! For…people who sew more than 3 times a year or something. So here are the things they don’t tell you:

  • Tulle? That’s a wrinkly piece of work. It does NOT want to be nice, neat stacks/folds/sheets.
  • So then you google how to iron it without melting it all.
  • And you try that and give up in about 10 seconds because putting the iron on the lowest setting on top of a towel…results in basically a low setting heating pad. That’s not getting wrinkles out of anything. If it did, my abdomen would be TIGHT, y’all.
  • So, lesson learned: Tulle = Impossible to get flat. Just give up on that dream now. (UNLESS YOU KNOW THE SECRET, IN WHICH CASE, TELL ME NOW!!)
  • My arms aren’t long enough. I’m a short girl. I can’t hold the measuring tape at the center AND swivel it around.
  • Um…no one defines “Gather” the tulle. I’m still not sure I’m doing this part right…but that’s ok.
  • Gathering tulle to the size of your waist…THEN getting it over your hips…um…yeah ok. Anyone want to guess how many times I broke the thread?

Ok, so the stacks are all cut. Now…I need the world’s largest compass (Yo, Mr. L….do you have any compasses that can do 2 feet radi…radius…radusi? What’s the plural of radius??? Hashtag: Notanenglishormathmajor) which turned in to me trying for about 30 seconds to do it myself

Then I went to fetch the hubs and made him hold at the center while I crawled around with sharp objects.

Semi-circles. YES.

Weeelll….now this gathering thing. The tutorials didn’t really add instructions for that…so I tried it by hand. I’m honestly scared of putting this stuff in my sewing machine…and she didn’t say if she did it via machine or hand so let’s just sit, watch Sex & the City and make a Carrie-ish skirt.

Once that’s done I had to put these lovely circles in skirt-like layers. With the gathers. All together. And of COURSE none of them are gathered to the same size, and then some have threads that have broken trying to get them over my hips…so that’s nearly impossible. I used clothespins to try and stabilize it a bit but it still wasn’t perfect. Tulle is hateful. I had a friend tell me that she used to make tutu’s all the time and this was so easy. I’m going to have to punch her later…

No really…lining this up was insane.

Then the elastic band, easy enough as I’ve made skirts in the past. But wait…my elastic bands are usually INSIDE the skirt so it doesn’t matter how shoddily I stitch them together. I did mine like this

I just kind of sewed it, one layer on top of the other…then maybe fabric glued a little. But you’ll never tell, right!?!

Former Perfectionist Tip:

I wish I had sewn it more like 2 pieces of fabric, with a seam on the inside…but that may have proven itchy/annoying so I’m going with it.

For the lining I had some decent cotton from the garment section of the fabric store. I cut that to fit my waist, then angled it down to make a fuller skirt to match the tulle.  Then once I had sewn it in to a skirt-like object and hemmed it to a length that would hopefully hide under the tulle, I tried to figure out how she attached it to the elastic. Something about wrong-to-wrong then flipping then the tulle then more flipping and sewing?

Former Perfectionist Tip:

This portion involved a lot of curses and yelling “WHAT?!?” at the computer. Finally, I grabbed the lining, some pins, and a tissue (it was clean. I think). I pinned the lining on how I thought she was doing it, then pretended the tissue was the tulle, and after several bouts of flipping, pinning, cursing, and questioning I managed to figure out something close to how she had done it.

So at this point…I gave up. I’m not quite brave enough to sew the tulle yet (just because I’m a former perfectionist doesn’t mean I’m just throwing caution and my new sewing machine to the wind, ok people?) without reading up on it some. I’m going to practice on scraps…then do the real deal. Then I’m going to make a hand-dandy pinable of tips on tulle sewing for you guys!

So stay tuned!!

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