365 Days Handmade

Making life a better place, one day at a time

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Day 202/365: Quilted Placemat #1

Lately I’ve been on a sewing kick.  I’ve set aside the knitting for now and am working on making a few quilted placemats out of the nine-patch squares that I sewed over the weekend.




Day 161/365: Quilt Top of 28-Year-Old Blocks, Done!

As you know from my last few posts, my mom has been visiting from out of town, and I’ve been putting together for her a project that she started back in 1987.

I bought a yard and a half of the yellow cotton.  I was able to cut enough rectangular strips, but then I didn’t have quite enough for the squares.  The bummer is that I would have had exactly enough fabric if only I’d been a lot more careful with my measuring before slicing away with the rotary cutter.


Arranging the placement of blocks on the sunroom floor.

Luckily, I had remnants from another yellow cotton print and was able to use that fabric to fill in for the squares.


I sewed each horizontal row into a long strip and then sewed the strips to each other.  I tried my best to match up the corners.  (When my mom started this project 28 years ago, she used scissors and not a rotary cutter to cut each blue square, so they weren’t all exactly the same size.)


You can see where I used a different yellow fabric for the squares, but I think it turned out looking nicer that way.

I finished sewing together the strips and– Ta-da!  Completed quilt top.



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Day 160/365: The 28-Year-Old Project, Continued

Yesterday I shared a couple of photos of my new project in which I am piecing together 10″ x 10″ blocks of appliquéd motifs that my mom hand-stitched starting in 1987. 6.9.2015A Originally, she just wanted me to sew the blocks together side by side, but I wanted the motifs to stand out a little more.  I went to the local independent fabric shop and selected a yellow cotton print that I thought would go well with the blocks.  I did some measuring and cutting, and the quilt top started to take shape. 6.9.2015B

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Day 159/365: New (28-Year-Old) Project!

Back in 1987, my mom started this project of blanket-stitched appliquéd motifs on 10″ x 10″ blocks.


I guess the figures are like those time-out kids that were sold at craft fairs and country stores, except these are supposed to be Asian.

Anyway, she only stuck with the project for about a year before abandoning it.  Many, many, many years later (like, last year), she came across her pile of old materials and tackled the project with renewed enthusiasm.  Especially after I told her that I would sew the blocks together for her.

Now that she’s here for her annual visit, I am being true to my word.  Initially, she just wanted me to sew the blocks side by side, but they looked too boring that way.  I told her I had another idea.  So I have been cutting fabric and sewing and piecing, and I think the completed project will look really nice.


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Day 23/365: A Moment in A Day in the Life


I don’t have any photos of a handmade project today, because by the time I remembered to take a picture, the sun was setting.  So instead I am sharing a photo that I took earlier this week, on Monday, my regular day off.  You can click the image to enlarge, and you can see a few things that I’ve written about already.  There’s the fish hat that I knitted, and the jars of iced tea instead of soda, and my first quilted placemat, and the people’s favorite, the Mexican wrestling masks placemat.  There’s a pile of fabric waiting to be made into something, maybe another patchwork block table runner.  And of course, there’s Sean, who didn’t know I took this photo, because otherwise he would have made a goofy face at the camera.  I like this photo because it captures a lot about the way we spend our time inside the house– relaxing, hanging out, engaged in leisure activity– and definitely not cleaning up.


Day 10/365: Stitched


The sock model called last night for evening check-in.  He was three hours ahead in Florida.  He said, “What are you doing?”

“Sewing.  I’m taking a break from knitting.  What are you doing?”

“Oh, not much.  We just got home a while ago.  We went out for oysters.”

“Oysters!  Damn it!  I want oysters.”  I could picture them in my mind, a platter of a dozen raw fat oysters on the half shell, served chilled on a bed of ice.  “How were they?”

“Yeah…”  By the tone of his voice, Sean didn’t sound too thrilled about his experience with these oysters.  Sometimes, you just get a bad batch.  Not bad like food-poisoning bad, but just bad like bottom-of-the-barrel, end-of-the-season, so-sad-no-more-good-oysters-until-next-year kind of bad.  He said, “Remember when sometimes we’d get them, and they’d be all small, and kinda stringy and not so good?”

“Yeah, I remember.”

“Remember when they’d be really good.  Like that really fresh, fat kind of oyster.”

“Yeah…”  I remembered.  I waited to hear him tell me that these most recent oysters weren’t as good as the ones we used to have.  “And… ?”

“Oh, no, that’s all.  These were that really fresh, fat kind.”  Then he started laughing.  “They were really good.”

“Ha, ha,” I said.  “I’m going back to sewing.”

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Day 9/365: Putting the Pieces Together


Remember earlier this week when I told you about the missing key? It showed up.

So today that same woman was telling a third co-worker about the incident.  She said, “Usually, when I’m not using the key, I put it in here.”  She opened her desk drawer to show where she usually kept the key (which, again, tells you just how much common sense she has about working in a prison).  Well, lo and behold. There was the key.  Whoever took it the first time had brought it back.

I’d doubted before that any inmate stole the key, and now I was definitely sure that the culprit hadn’t been one of the inmates.  I was sitting at my desk when this all played out, and she turned to me with her mouth open.

“You know what happened,” I told her.  “Someone was teaching you a lesson.”  I’d heard of this sort of thing happening before.  People would leave their keys or alarms just laying around on a desk unattended, and then someone else would notice and take it or hide it, just to make a point.

“The inmates were strip searched for that,” I said.

By this time she’d recovered from her surprise and was already pushing the desk drawer closed.  “Oh well.”  She shrugged.  “At least now I don’t have to write that memo reporting a missing key.”


Day 8/365: On a Happier Note



I’d just started reading through the morning’s collection of emails when my office phone rang.  It was one of my colleagues, a social worker who had some information to pass on.

“Your patient Mr. X spoke with his attorney yesterday and found out he’s been resentenced by the court.  Looks like he’ll be going home in about five days.  Just wanted to give you a heads up.”

I knew that Mr. X was a third-strike lifer who qualified for resentencing after California passed Prop 36 a couple years ago.  I couldn’t remember the circumstances of his case, though.  I pulled up his file and refreshed my memory.  According to reports, the officers on patrol saw him sitting on a curb with his head slumped down, so they stopped to “check on his welfare” and found .08 net grams of cocaine and a glass pipe in his possession.  It was July of 1997.  He was arrested, hauled off to county jail, and charged with possession of a controlled substance.  He’d had a long history of theft-related offenses and already served five previous terms.  Apparently, he was deemed a danger to society after this last arrest.  The court sentenced him to 27 years to life.  I am not exaggerating.  That is a fact.  He started the state prison term in April of 1998, and today is January 8, 2015.  Keep in mind, too, that he’d been locked up since July of 1997, when he first went to county jail.

I picked up the phone and called Mr. X’s tier officer, who knew me and had no problem with my request that he locate Mr. X, write him a special pass, and send him over to Psych Services to see me.

Mr. X showed up within minutes.  We went over some paperwork and I had him sign some forms, including a release of information authorizing the state to provide his health care information to county mental health for continuity of care after his release into the community.  When we were done, I sat back and said, “Eighteen years is a long time to be in prison for getting caught slumped over on a curb with drugs in your pocket.”

“Aw, that’s not what really happened,” he said.  “That’s what they put in the report.”

“So what really happened?” I said.  “How’d you get arrested in the first place?”

“I was jaywalking,” he said.  “And then when I saw them, I tried to backtrack, but it was too late.  They got me.”


Day 4/365: Mexican Wrestling Mask Quilted Placemat

What's this?  They made a fabric with pictures of my family on it?

What’s this? They made a fabric with pictures of my family on it?

When Sean and I ran the Ventura Half Marathon back in September, we saw a guy running in bare feet and a Mexican wrestling mask.  We had about half a mile left in the race, and I was tired.  Seeing this guy effortlessly skim by in bare feet and wrestling mask, I was impressed.  And inspired.  We’d been running for two hours and thirty-five minutes at that point, and it was the half marathon.  This guy’s race bib indicated that he was finishing up the marathon.  That’s 26.2 miles, people.  In bare feet and a Mexican wrestling mask.  Finishing in under two hours and forty minutes.  Sean and I looked at each other, and we were like, There goes a badass motherfucker.  And then we started sprinting like crazy.

For part of my Christmas gift, Sean surprised me by choosing assorted yards of fabric from one of my favorite local independent shops.  This Mexican wrestling mask print is one of those fabrics.  I knew I had to make something that we’d use and see all the time.  A dining table placemat made sense.  Doesn’t everybody want to eat a meal with a badass motherfucker?

The easy part:  You sew your blocks together and quilt them the fast and lazy way.

The easy part: You sew your blocks together and quilt them the fast and lazy way.

The harder part:  Preparing the binding and then sewing it on.

The harder part: Preparing the binding and then sewing it on.

Ta-da!  Finished quilted placemat.

Ta-da! Finished quilted placemat.

This guy says, "I like it."

This guy says, “I like it.”


Day 1/365, One Day Later: Quilted Patchwork Placemat

This is a cheat entry.  I finished this project yesterday, but I didn’t start the blog until today.  Oh well.  Anyway, this is a quilted patchwork placemat that I made out of leftover blocks from earlier quilts.  These colors and prints make me happy.  I think it’s a sweet little placemat to make eating a meal that much more nicer.