Round Robin – Freezer Paper Turned Edge Applique Tutorial!

I confess – I have not been quilting and it’s hard to write a quilting blog when I’m not quilting.  Yes, I did remember my password.  That’s not why I’ve gone AWOL.

But who knew that a whole 2 months would go by?  There was a LOT of snow and a lot of accounting done during that 2 months, but now both of those things are in the past.  Kind of – it snowed yesterday after a 67 degree teaser on Tuesday.  Never count out Indiana weather to be spazzy in the Spring.

But, just like Punxsutawney Phil, I’ve stuck my nose out above the snowdrifts to see if I can still see a shadow from my sewing machine.  Yikes.

And, after my feeble attempt at humor a month ago (DH wanted to know who Mike and Jim are, so the humor may have been a bit lost even though I thought it was HILARIOUS), I need to stick to my strengths and talk about quilts.

Late in January, Meghan (of the Calvin and Carolyn blog) and I exchanged Round Robin projects.  This is Meghan’s project when I received it:

photo 1 (8) She requested that only solids be used and provided a HUGE bag of wonderful options.  Her center appliqued square is the inspiration for the project, and you can see that the other participants added some really interesting elements.

As it hung on my flannel wall for week(s), I kept circling back to the smaller leaf shapes in Meghan’s center block.  I am not hugely into applique and tend to avoid it at all costs, but that leafy shape just stuck with me.

Here is the top after my round:photo 1 (9)I’m telling you, I love it.  The leafy shape seemed to corral all the elements and link them together with color and the zig zaggy layout kind of echoes the French braid chevrons.

So here’s a quickie tutorial on simple applique shapes.  It is not of my creation – tell me that much of any quilting ideas are new anymore? – and it will be fairly picture heavy, not so many words.

(Yeah.  Right.)

You will need freezer paper and lightweight fusible interfacing to applique using this method.

I drew half of a simple leaf shape onto freezer paper, using a pencil and a plate, then folded the freezer paper in half and cut out a leafy shape.  I then ironed it shiny side down onto the wrong side of a scrap of fabric.  I used the same single freezer paper shape for all 32 blocks.photo 3The plastic on the back of the freezer paper will melt slightly and stick to the fabric.

Cut a similar sized piece of fusible interfacing and place it right side up.  The little bumpy nubs are the “right” side of the interfacing.photo 4Sew around the shape sandwich (interfacing, fabric scrap, leaf template) right up against the edge of the freezer paper.photo 5Remove the freezer paper template and set aside.  Trim close to the edges of the stitching.photo 3 (2)Cut away the fabric close to any points and snip curves if necessary.  (I started by clipping all the curves, then realized if I just trimmed the seam allowance close that I didn’t need to clip.  If you have tighter curves you will want to clip them to allow them to lie flat when you turn it inside out.)photo 4 (2)Slit the interfacing ONLY (be careful not to cut the fabric) and trim the interfacing back a bit.photo 2 (3)

photo 3 (3)Now, turn the shape inside out so that the finished stitched edge is nice and smooth.photo 1 (4)Finger press the shape well, pulling all the edges out to the stitching.  Using a Teflon ironing mat or a piece of parchment paper (I use an oven liner that I got from Wally World), press the shape INTERFACING SIDE DOWN so that you have a little pillow.  (If you touch the iron directly to the interfacing nubbies, you’ll want to Google “how to clean my iron.”)photo 2 (4)Press this shape into position on your background.  The edge of fusible interfacing will hold the shape in place for topstitching.photo 3 (4)Topstitch into place.photo 4 (4)Now, flip the block over and CAREFULLY cut away the BACKING ONLY.  The backing should be free from the interfacing since you cut out the middle.  Carefully trim the layers.  Here’s what the back of the block looks like:photo 5 (2)If you’re REALLY a good girl and love to harken back to your fondly remembered 4-H days, you will grade the seams so that there isn’t a ridge where all three fabric edges stack up.  I, however, did not do so.  But I should have.

So there you go.  Basically the only quilting related stuff I’ve done in the past 2 months – but it turned out so pretty that I’m looking forward to starting back up again!

All the best -

Chris

Posted in Freezer Paper Turned Edge Applique, Round Robin Projects!, Scrap Quilts | 1 Comment

Round 3

“This is Mike “The Blade” Bobbin with Jim “Never-enough” Stash here at the Moon Arena, ready to call this next event.”

“Well, Jim, this is something new for us, eh?  But it should be an interesting match up . . .”

“You’re right, Mike.  This should be quite the contest – we’ve got two very strong contenders here.”

“Jim, the interesting part will be if our champion is back in fighting shape after the devastating loss that she took not all that long ago against this same opponent.  I believe she still has scars . . . and, you know she, er, is just not the same as when she was in her prime.”

“But Mike, this is all about the mental game.  Can she focus?  Yes, that is the big question.”

“Looks like they’re getting ready to begin, Jim.  Let’s run down the stats:  in this corner we have Chris “Cutter” Moon.  Older?  Yes.  Wiser?  We shall soon find out.”

“And Mike, the Crossroads quilt is in the other corner – Cutter definitely has the weight advantage, but I think the overall size of Crossy will be the deciding factor.  That is one monster quilt.”

“It’s pretty amazing, Jim, that Cutter insists on wrestling the monster at this stage in her career.  Very gutsy move.  I just don’t know how many more of these she’s going to be able to take on.”

“Good point, Mike.  OK – it looks like they’re about ready to begin!”

“Wow, Jim – look at Cutter go on the offense – and so early in the match!  She has hoisted Crossy on to the work table – OH!  That was had to hurt!”

“Mike, she wasn’t watching, and Crossy just knocked that iron right off the side table.  A little collateral damage, wouldn’t you say?”

“I’ll say, Jim.  Wait, there she goes for the rotary cutter!”

“And Crossy in on the floor!  Nice defensive move by Crossy, Mike.”

“But it didn’t phase Cutter, Jim.  She has Crossy back up on the table, and is starting to pin the next row . . .”

“Uh, oh.  Things aren’t matching up.  That’s not good.  You would have thought Cutter would have planned that better, Mike.”

“That’s going to mean some ripping, Jim.  What a disappointment.”

“Mike, it’s just not the ripping.  Cutter is going to have to re-sew that entire row.”

“And Crossy is on the floor again!  I’m telling you, Jim, this is pretty amazing.”

“Oh and now Crossy drawn blood!  Wow.  That’s tough.  There is nothing worse than an open safety pin, Mike.”

“Except for the incident with the dull blade, Jim, but I know we’d both just rather forget that . . .”

“Gruesome, Mike.  Those replays were hard to watch.”

“Jim, I think Cutter has started to break a sweat.”

“I think that open safety pin took it’s toll, Mike.  Man those hurt.  I remember the spilled straight pin incident from last year . . . no more bare feet in this arena.”

“Wait!  Did you see that move, Jim?  I think Cutter got those blocks to match up, and she’s hauling Crossy over the the machine!”

“The new machine will make a big difference, Mike.  You can just see the advantage Cutter has with the larger field of play.”

“Jim, a couple of inches more in the harp area makes a big difference.”

“Wow.  Cutter seems to be back on her game.  And the needle is down … down…”

“But Crossy isn’t given up, Jim.  That seam is not looking very straight.  Crossy is pulling off to the right… oh and there goes the needle!”

“Snapped in half like a toothpick.  Mike, Cutter is definitely fighting to stay in the game, but man, she should have known better than to let Crossy drop off the side of the table like that.”

“I think I heard a few choice words on that one, Jim.  The frustration is starting to build.”

“Mike, looks like Cutter is taking a break.  Is that an energy drink?”

“An adult drink of some sort, Jim.  That’s not going to help straighten out that line of stitching.  Interesting strategy.”

“Yes, well, hopefully it will get Cutter back into the game with a calmer head, Mike.”

“I sure hope so, Jim.  I’d hate to see a champ like Cutter go down on a match like this.  She’s done so much already . . .”

“And set the bar pretty high for herself.  All that trash talk at the guild about “quilt as you go” is coming back to haunt her now.”

“Yep.  It will be interesting to see if she tackles another quilt this big again, Jim.”

“Looks like that adult beverage means the time out might be extended, Mike.  We’ll pick up again after this break.”

Posted in In Process, Scrap Quilts | Leave a comment

Flowers that Bloom Even at 10 Below

photo 1 (2)A morning last weekend had the blue/gray cast of a snow storm (boy, is that putting it mildly) and I thought it might be fun to create some pretty flowers to brighten up the afternoon weekend week!

photo 4 (2)The center panels on all 6 mini-quilts are painted silk then free motion quilted with black thread into fantasy flower designs.  Each is mounted on a 4″x6″ postcard – they each have an envelope and are ready for mailing.

photo 3 (2)The mini-quilts can be removed from the postcards and put into a frame if desired.  I’ve not yet found a good way to attach the postcard to the mini-quilt except by stitching it to the postcard, which looks a little **meh** on the back.

photo 3This is my favorite way of a) using up odds and ends of pretty fabrics b) using up odds and ends of expensive batting and c) using up small bits and pieces of time when I don’t feel like manhandling a big quilt under the machine.
photo 4I admit that this isn’t a quick and easy project.  When I actually start adding up the time, it is a bit of an investment.  But how pretty, yes?

photo 1On this one, you can see that I used fusible batting by all the little pin-dots on the silk.  I know better now.

photo 2I really like the one above – the silk is painted using Dye-Na-Flo paints.

I also use Derwent Inktense pencils to further color the silk, especially if the silk starts out fairly light colored – it’s really sort of fun and the way the color bleeds is in character with the project.

You can find other posts, including a basic tutorial on fabric greeting cards in the index on the left.

Keep warm everyone!

All the best -

Chris

Posted in Fabric Greeting Cards, Inspiration | 1 Comment

Happy Anniversary to me!

photo(11)Looking back over this year has, like most years, been a series of ups and downs.  When I started the year, I was anxiously anticipating my first, real-live exhibit and trying to find the balance between the quilting that I love and  starting a new job – full-time after years of working part-time in a position that didn’t fully challenge or engage me.

My new job has taken off and I’ve found it wonderfully challenging and frustratingly invasive, especially in my consciousness.

There were losses too – a dear friend’s unexpected passing this past fall, the empty feeling of being at a loss creatively, and the raw wound of recently losing a beloved pet and worst part, not knowing how to handle any of it gracefully.

The “off” switch in my brain that allows me to sleep at night is still a little sticky.

I can keep my mouth shut (usually) and behave myself (most of the time) but the brain gymnastics!  It’s like a hamster has taken up residence between my ears and runs and runs and runs . . .

And dear Lord, the dreams.  Wacky, frenetic, insecure dreams.  Wishing I would dream of being nekkid in front of a classroom rather than the “what the heck was THAT all about?” dreams.

Oh, were we supposed to be talking about quilting?  Sorry -

I’m a little amazed that I accomplished as much quilting and art as I did.  I’d almost forgotten about the baby quilt, and I am very proud of the way the charity quilt top came together.  I LOVE the selvedge tote that I made.  And how about that scrappy trip along?  I have some inked silk projects to take up and the perennial crossroads quilt to finish by spring.

My wish is for you to forgive my rambling, hug your loved ones twice, and pet the kitty one more time.  And be kind to yourself -

All the best -

Chris

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A New Stocking for Our Mantel!

photo 4 (2)One of the big events of 2013 is the news that DS#2 will get married in 2014 in a lovely, autumn wedding to his long-time girlfriend!  So many fun things to plan for such a terrific couple!

Now that Avery has said “yes” to becoming a bona fide, card-carrying member of our family, it was time to finally hang her own stocking by the fireplace.  I originally thought something more modern quilt-y would be appropriate, but with Christmas bearing down on me (of course I waited until the week of Christmas) I chose to dig into my 2 1/2″ square stash and pull out all the pinks that I could – with a simple diagonal cross-hatch quilting, it was guaranteed to be a fairly quick and satisfying project.

Oh, and the fact that her stocking has HER NAME on it is noteworthy.  It sort of frosts DH that only DS#1 and now Avery have names on their Christmas stockings.  Why?  Well, Ms. Santa – the one who could actually FIX the name issue – got completely overwhelmed after DS#1 was born.  (DS#1 won the stocking-name-lottery because, well, he was DS#1.)

Ms. Santa was tired, cranky, and a little stubborn, insisting that we didn’t NEED names on the other stockings – for crying out loud, how difficult can it be to put the gifts in 4 stockings?

Except Ms. Santa is the one who regularly puts the wrong stuff in the wrong stocking.

And to illustrate that she will indeed get along just fine in her extended family, Miss A has tossed out the idea that obviously she and DS#1 were Ms. Santa’s favorites since they got stockings with names.

(Oh yes, she’ll do just fine.)

Since having a name on a stocking is something very desirable (who knew it was an issue?) let’s take a closer look at it, shall we?photo 2I decided to go with a messy, free-form lettering style.  I think it looks kind of cute – although it really needs to be even more “messy” and here’s why:  the “Chris Moon #1 Rule of Design” states that elements such as lettering is either P.E.R.F.E.C.T. or it is so imperfect that it looks intentional.

Intentional is the key.  If it’s a little “off” or a little scribbly, nope.  Straight on, embroidery perfect, or jaunty and messy enough to look sort of hip.

So, the jubilant feeling of completion has subsided and now what?

There are some projects that are on the table – mostly having to do with making more greeting cards, since I’m completely out.  January is promising to be a very busy month with the Job That Pays Real Money (JTPRM), so smaller, more contained projects are looking waaaay more appealing.

Oh, one more thing – I’d like to share some happy snow people that my dear friend, Debbie, made for me a few years ago.  They’re way cuter in person than in the picture.photo 4 (3)They’re festive, they’re adorable – and she did NOT off her Christmas stocking projects until the week of Christmas!

All the best -

Chris

Posted in Done!, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Yes, I actually DO quilt . . .

It was two months ago yesterday that I last posted with big dreams of getting back onto my once-a-week soapbox to write about a lot of stuff, some of which has to do with quilting, and most of which has to do with all the other minutia rattling about in my head.

It has, however, been the most unsettling two months of my recent memory.  Difficult emotions, heavy loads that weigh figuratively on my shoulders.  Never at a loss for words, the past two months have sort of left me, well, paralyzed at the keyboard.

Other bloggers have written about going through high times of emotional turmoil – and how difficult it was to step back and write again.  I now know of whence they speak.

So, let’s see how far I get this time . . .photo 1 (3)Yes, there is a quilt underneath that sweet old man-cat, Beau.  Beauzy is in the process of proving the vet wrong AGAIN with the premature announcement of his imminent death, but he does sleep a lot, and for a long while the scrappy trip along quilt was his nest of choice.

That is, until I sent it to my lovely sister for her birthday.  Then,BoscoBosco took up the vigil of quilt watching.

Explain to me exactly what the attraction is, would you?  I swear, right now, both Beau and Flo have nested on their napping spots and yes, both are on quilts.  It’s either that or black pants, and I guess quilts are OK by me.

Oh, would you like to see what it looks like all laid out?  Without the adorable fuzzballs?photo 2 (2)I read another blogger refer to this type of quilt as “scrap vomit.”

Yes, well, I happen to like it a lot.  So there.  Neener neener.

The backing that I chose is a Kaffe Fassett print called “Bekah” – such an over-the-top unapologetic FLORAL that it warms the cockles of my scrappy heart.photo 3I debated about going with such a blue blue print.  It crossed my mind that it might be a bit . . .much . . . but I think it’s just as outspoken s as the prints on the front, so why not?

My goal of using up some of my old uglies was thwarted in the end – I had it up on the wall, the top all sewn together, and looked.  And looked.  And in the end I pulled out three blocks that were duskier than the rest and replaced them.  I’m glad that I did.

All the best -

Chris

Posted in Done!, Scrap Quilts, Scrappy Trip-A-Long | 4 Comments

Proof That This Is Not a Travel Blog

DH and I returned from a lovely week in Bar Harbor (and the vicinity) Maine.  Having time away from the Job That Pays Real Money (JTPRM) always seems to encourage introspection – not so sure that any of this will make real sense, but here goes:

  • It is easy to imagine that millions of people have take this exact same shot on an equally clear day at a point where the sun is in the same place, but its so much different when I do it myself:photo
  • Autumn is the best time to go on vacation almost anywhere.
  • We’ve gone on vacation where we were the oldest couple by 20 years (Cancun, 25th wedding anniversary) and definitely one of the youngest (Bar Harbor, Autumn, 2013.)  It’s way nicer to be on the younger side of the average age curve.  (Especially if bathing suits are involved.)
  • Our very first hike this trip was described in the trail guide as “the most moderate of the strenuous hikes” at Acadia National Park.  It took us 2 hours to hike 2.2 miles up the North Ridge of Cadillac Mountain.  Just in case you thought that was because we are slow hikers, it took us 2 hours to hike DOWN the North Ridge of Cadillac Mountain.  In Indiana, there isn’t that much “up” anywhere.
  • I’m constantly amazed at how little bitty plants basically spit in the eye of Mother Nature and grow wherever they dern well please.  Even on rocks.photo 3
  • I didn’t know that moss and lichen could be such lovely shades of green.photo 2
  • I love having breakfast cooked for me.  Especially when it involves blueberry stuffed waffles and homemade granola.  Oh, and stuffed gingered poached pears.  And french toast made out of fancy bread.  And little egg cups with soft herbed cheese.  (Sorry, no pictures.)  (In a side note:  DH’s family has tons of pictures of holiday meals -  just the food – and they all seem to have this uncanny ability to date a photograph by what is being served.  It is the most amazing thing -  “oh – that was ’76 – remember we had sweet potatoes instead of mashed that year.”  It is a gift.  An odd one, but a gift nonetheless.)
  • I love having a knowledgeable innkeeper who can tell me what trails to stay off of.  (Too bad we didn’t talk with her the first day.)
  • If I ever buy white walking shoes, you have my permission to dope-slap me.
  • Don’t worry – DH will never own a pair either.
  • I knew I could find shells in Maine, but sand dollars?  I have never found an intact sand dollar ANYWHERE before.photo 5 (2)
  • I wish I could physically grab the sensation of sitting on a seawall on a lovely autumn day with the blue sea in front of me and fir trees all around me and hold it tight to my chest.  I hate that it is already slipping away.  Pictures don’t do it justice.
  • I really really really miss creating stuff.  Really really really.  I was in a shop looking at lovely little hand-painted greeting cards and this sadness and longing welled up in my heart.  I wanted to run away, but I just couldn’t – I stood there and felt all that heaviness of loss.  This vacation told me, in no uncertain terms, that my balance is out of wack.
  • My little handwork project that I’ve been procrastinating on is way more important that whatever it might turn out to be.  I don’t really know what it’s supposed to be, it’s an odd size, it’s an odd arrangement, but I’ve decided that I’ve put off just “doing” for too long.photo 1 (2)
  • Sometimes just “doing” is what needs to be done.
  • Sometimes vacations are really part of what needs to be done.

All the best -

Chris

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Starting back up – Resurrecting the Scrappy Trip-A-Long

The final piece to the puzzle that is my new sewing set-up arrived last week and it is magnificent.

The bad part is that it is difficult to photograph, so here goes:photo 2photo 3This is a plexiglas extension table that butts up against the sewing surface of my sewing machine base, extending the work space by (in this instance) 2 feet to the left and back and about 1 foot to the front.

Here’s what it looks like when I’m sewing on it:photo 5Oh yeah baby.  Now that’s what I’m talking about.

No pulling.  No sagging, and (presumably) straighter seams.

I’m not sure how anyone sews, let alone quilts, without having some sort of extended surface to work on, especially for machine quilting.  The extension of the work surface is essential to a successful project with minimal angst.

Either drop the machine into a specifically adapted sewing table so that the surface is flat or use a gizmo like this.  Seriously, one of the big secrets to successful machine quilting success is a large flat workspace.

The secondary benefit to me and my larger-than-the-average-bear physique is that, by setting my machine UP on top of a standard table, my back and neck are much happier since I’m not curling over my work quite so much.  Considering that I already spend a LOT of time on the computer at the Job That Pays Real Money (JTPRM), having the machine in a higher, better position was essential.

This week I thought the smartest thing to do to acquaint myself to the new-to-me machine and extension table is to pull out a project with which I don’t have a huge emotional attachment and give it a go.

Enter:  the Scrappy Trip-A-Long .

What, did you forget?  It’s only been since February that I last posted about it and it has sat on the corner of my worktable (or under it, or on a shelf, or on the floor – you get the idea) for all this time.

No huge emotional attachment there, obviously.  It isn’t one of those project that gets the ol’ juices flowing – it’s pretty traditional looking with all those prints.  What better way to test out the tension and the feel of my Pfaff?

So here we go.  When we last met Scrappy, she was being jealously guarded by a vicious fire-breathing dragon:photo 3-001Um.  Well, she can be cranky and has a mean set of claws.

(On a side note:  the above is a picture was taken last time I was working on ol’ Scrappy, but look what happened as I laid out the blocks for this post:photo 1 (3)A calico quilt?)

I digress.  Chase Miss Flo away and here is what I’ve got completed so far:

photo 2 (3)Some of those old florals still aren’t playing nice, but I think moving them to the outside will help.

Or if they still bug me, I’ll pull the block and remake it.  No big deal.

Once I get the blocks set into a top, I’ll experiment with the quilting.  And my extension table will be a huge help!

All the best -

Chris

 

Posted in Basics, In Process, Scrap Quilts, Workspace and Tools | Leave a comment

Me and “E”

It started so innocently.

A winning bid on a 2 piece business suit – for $50!!photo 5Then maybe a blouse.  Or two.  But you know, the buy-it-now price was too good to pass up:photo 4A win on necklace from a company that’s juuuuust a little outside my budget:photo 3Or two:photo 2Then there’s the selling – what if I sell a couple of things?  What ever possessed me to buy a pair of jeans with sparkly beading on the tuckus that brings attention to the ass I’m trying to camouflage?  On the block they go . . .photo 1And that classic but unflattering sweater – out out out!photo 2-001Back and forth – fighting off snipers, the agony of not winning the perfect pair of dress pants (I just KNOW they would have been perfect) . . . can I get something for this jacket that’s too tight?  Buy a bit, sell a bit . . .

Until there she was:photo 1-001 

Won for a price at about half of what I would pay for her new, this pretty girl has now taken up residence here in Indianapolis – sent up from finer digs in sunny Florida, she has an extended harp, a dozen different feet, and an instruction manual.

A Pfaff 3.0 Expressions to keep my lonely Bernina company . . .
She’s in beautiful condition, moved on from her previous owner who wanted to focus on embroidery and wanted to get a nicer machine to do it.

Oh, and did I mention she has an extended harp?  Woo hoo!  I can hardly wait to start on another a quilt.

So far, I’ve done just a little practice sewing and the only fussiness that we’re fighting is her uncontrollable urge to race ahead too fast.  It might be an operator error, but I’m sure we’ll come to a good understanding.

Of course, she needed a plexiglas extension table – which I ordered from the same auction service and which should be here any day.

Of course.

Now, excuse me – that bid on that pair of shoes should be just about over . . .

All the best -

Chris

Posted in Basics, Workspace and Tools | 5 Comments

Crafting Sidenote: Necklace Keeper

Dressing for a Job That Pays Real Money (JTPRM) is turning out to be an continuously nagging chore.

As an accountant, and especially as a consultant, (and more so a middle-aged accounting consultant), conservative seems to be the M.O.  But being a bit of a creative type, I want to be interesting.

(That is, the good type of “interesting,” not the kind that is usually said with one raised eyebrow.)

Ugh.  So much thinking.

Through my borderline-obsessive following of certain fashion blogs, I’ve developed a few coping mechanisms that satisfy both my creative-bent and my desire to remain competent-looking.

Accessories seem to be the easiest way to make that happen.

Thus my dilemma:photo 2Yikes.

I searched out alternatives to organize this mess of cheap beaded necklaces, I ended up at my local big-box crafting store and found the most wonderful contraption:  a memory box with a hinged glass cover.  Half-price.

I dug out some unfinished wood knobs (I think I bought them when my kids were in middle school for a project involving refurbishing the teachers lounge)  (oh, did I mention that we tried to repaint the walls in the lounge only to find that they had been coated with anti-graffiti paint so that all of our lovely paint job peeled off if you rubbed it with your hand? anyway -) and mounted them in the case.

Here’s the finished product:photo 4Cool, huh? The case already had the natural colored linen background – all I did was drill holes for the knob bolts, and there we go.

And the best part is that I can close it and keep the necklaces from becoming cat toys:photo 1I only wish that the rest of my wardrobe were so easy to manage!

Do you have any tips for organizing your “jewels?”  I’d love to hear them!

(I’m also taking suggestions for other ways to make work clothes more interesting . . )

All the best -

Chris

 

 

Posted in Other Scrappy Projects, Projects | 2 Comments