Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chicken placemats ... and a center mat .. and coasters. Oh my!

This past September, Tom and I went for a sojourn through Arizona.  At one of the places we passed through, we stopped at a quilt store.  (Tom has a GPS that lists every single quilt store in the US.  He looks for them to stop at when we go on trips.  :-)  )

The quilt store had printed squares of chickens.  When we go on trips, one of our dear neighbors comes over to care for our "livestock".  She loves it.

As a thank-you, I made wedge-shaped placemats for her round dining table, using those chicken squares as the focus.

To fill up the empty space in the center of the table, I made a circular mat with a Mariner's Compass design. 

These items were given to her shortly after we returned home.  She loved them.  :-)

Here's the warning .... Angie ..and you know who you are ... I don't think you read my blog but JUST IN CASE YOU DO ...

I'm not kidding. Go read something else. :-)

However, it occurred to me that, as a Christmas gift, I could make coordinating coasters!  Fortunately, I still had the fabric that I had used for the placemats.  :-)

I didn't have a small enough box to wrap them in, so I made my own fabric gift bag. :-)

Those pictures are just teasers! For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Chicken Placemats.

Teacups and Desserts

This is another long-time UFO that has languished in my To Do pile since August 2010.

The pattern is "Take 5" by The Teachers Pet and is a VERY easy pattern to do:  5 different fabrics, 1 block,

*I* made it more difficult by choosing 2 fabrics that I wanted to fussy cut to highlight them properly. :-)

In early December 2011, I was between customer quilts and decided that since I was in a longarm quilting mood, I would load up this top and get it quilted.

I'm so glad I did!  It's wonderful to be able to cross a project off the list as "finished"! :-)

The outer border looks to be a bunch of narrow stripes, doesn't it?  Well ... I fooled you good!  It's really a floral border stripe.  The brown inner border really *is* a separate piece of fabric.

The border stripe was stitched so that it appears to be separate pieces of fabric; the brown border was stitched in a rope design that is a continuous line.  For that rope design, I used Deloa Jones' Rope-a-Dope template.  The template made it VERY easy to stitch and it came out looking so wonderful.

I did continuous curves in the "solid" squares and outline stitched the teacups and dessert images.

These photos are just teasers! For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Teacups and Desserts quilt.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Last Minute Gift Adventure

I have a home business.  Among other things, I format and submit health insurance claim forms for my clients.  For the past several years, one of my clients has given me home-made cookies as a Christmas gift.  I wish she wouldn't.  I'm sure she and her daughter believe they are making scrumptious goodies but I just do *not* like their health-conscious stuff.

*Of course*, I graciously accept them; my Mama taught me well.  I even put them out as one of our Christmas dessert selections.  Over and over, I have observed people taking one bite and declining to consume the rest.  That really should say volumes.  I'm not alone in thinking they aren't tasty.

In return, I give her a gift.  This year I was in the mood to make something.  It needed to be from what I had on hand, simply because I do NOT want to venture forth into the crowds and I don't want to spend any more money.  Mainly, it's the crowds ... I find I'm not dealing well with the shaggy hordes.

The Coiled Coaster Catastrophe
One of the quilting blogs I read had a list of quick, easy and cute gifts to make; one of them was coiled coasters.  I downloaded the PDF instructions but darned if I can find that blog now to pass along the link and the PDF doesn't give the URL that it came from.  In any case, all you need to do is to Google for "coiled coasters" and you'll get lots of hits.

Basically, you wrap cable cording (the stuff you make piping with) with a strip of fabric, coil the wrapped cording into a spiral and zig-zag the coils together.  Pretty simple.  I have the cable cording.  I have LOTS of bias binding leftover from my quilting projects.  Wrapping the cording with a fabric strip should be easy to do. 

Apparently, I missed the class and hands-on tutorial.  My attempts were dismal.

My first attempt was pretty messy.

My second attempt was pretty messy
My third attempt was pretty messy. 

Geez, Louise!  For something that is supposed to be easily done, this is taking me FOREVER just to get a single coaster done.  I figured that the wrapping was my downfall; it just was never going to look good enough for me to want to give it away as a gift. 

But then I remembered ... wait!  The whole point here is to create an encased cording ... what if I made spaghetti straps??  Those are just tubes filled with cording! 

I hauled out my Fast Turn tubes, scanned the directions and made my first filled tube.  Well, the finished tube was a bit bigger than the cording that filled it so the final result was less than satisfactory. 

For my second attempt, I made the tube narrower and this resulted in a perfect filled tube!  Hooray!

This is my final coiled coaster.  Looking good! 

But along the way, I decided that these coasters just take too doggone long to create.  While I wasn't logging my time, I know I took A LONG TIME to make 4 unacceptable coasters and 1 good one.  This was not a good use of my time.

Criss-Cross Coasters Coup
Then I remembered the Criss-Cross Coasters.    These are squares (or circles) of interlocking fabric strips that make up very quickly and look cute.  The instructions I used for them were written by Jenny Harris of AllSorts Makery.

As they use 4-1/2" squares, they are the PERFECT project for charm squares!

They can be used in two ways: as a standard coaster. as shown above (or maybe to the left .. I'm never quite sure where Blogger is going to place pictures).

OR ,if you plan your colors carefully (which I did NOT), they can be used as identifiers for stemware, as shown in the picture to the right.

These instructions are VERY clear and VERY easy.  I think I took all of 15 minutes to sew them up.  Now, *that* is my idea of a quick and easy gift!  I made 4 of them for my client. 

Although the directions tell you to make the coasters square, crisp corners are always a problem when you are turning the item inside out.  It's much easier just to round the corners instead .... and that is what I did.  My coasters are a rounded square.  :-)

If you were really, REALLY clever, you could use your embroidery machine to stitch a small motif in one of the fabric strips, which would make each coaster unique and useful as a stemware identifier ... never again would you wonder which glass of wine was yours. :-)

As for the coiled coasters .... my client is never going to see the them; I'm contemplating even if *I* am going to keep them!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Occupy Your Sewing Room! The accomplishments!

Boy, I tell ya, there's nothing like a deadline (even self-imposed) to compel you to get things completed!  Here are the items that I finished, worked on or am still in the processing of finishing:

A Tooth Fairy Pillow.  A young son of friends of mine recently came home to enthusiastically announce that he had a "wiggly tooth!".  I knew I had a machine embroidery design for a tooth fairy pillow and set about to make a Tooth Fairy Pillow for the youngster. 

This was made out of mottled blue fleece, both front and back.  The design came from Sew Teri-fic Designs on the Tooth Fairy Pillow page.  There are several designs to download, so be sure to look for all of is the angel, the verbage (for both woven AND fleece fabrics) and an applique pocket for the tooth/money.

Oh My Stars! Quilt-a-long.  Because I am deranged and have NOTHING ELSE TO DO ::snarf:: but, in reality because the resultant quilt is so doggone cute, I signed up to participate in the quilt-a-long that Sheila (of Thought and Found blog) of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada dreamed up.  Sheila has been posting directions on the quilt requirements, directions for the basic sawtooth block construction and has now added a tutorial on the pinwheel center block. 

I was at a break point on a quilting project and started making the basic Sawtooth Star in the 12" size.  They are very easy to construct and I *just kept making them*.  Eventually, I'll need 15 of the 12" size but there are several variations that Sheila intends to divulge ... I only have the basic and one (lonely) pinwheel block.  I'll make more pinwheel blocks "soon" and even if I don't use all the 12" basic blocks in this quilt, they'll get used someplace.

Teacups and Desserts.   This past August 2011, during our annual camping vacation in the California Sierra Nevadas, I try to make an appearance at Country Cloth Shop, the quilt shop that is within reasonable driving distance from the campground.  I was looking at the patterns they had on their spin racks and nothing really caught my interest.  I wandered into their adjacent classroom and ... wowsers!!  What was THAT quilt on the wall??  It was awesome!   I was told it was the pattern, Take 5, (the original versoin, TP200) and it was on the spin rack. 

Say what?  I just LOOKED at the spin rack and sure did NOT see that quilt!   Going back to the spin rack, it was pointed out to me.  Sure enough, that was indeed the quilt in the classroom.  You won't find the fussy cut version from the classroom on the pattern cover.  It just goes to show you how vital that first impression is.  I still think the quilt on the pattern cover is ... blah.  But on the strength of the classroom version (wowsers!), I bought the novelty teacup fabric and the novelty fancy desserts fabric.  The companion fabrics and the backing came from my stash.

The top was rapidly pieced; this is a VERY EASY quilt to do!  There is only ONE block made from the 5 fabrics; you simply turn the block in different directions to get the haphazard look.  My fussy cut version is more structured.

It wasn't too long after we returned from vacation that the top was constructed.  But then it languished.  I was in more of a piecing mood than quilting mood and so the top was placed on the pile of Tops to be Quilted.

It waited and waited and waited.  It wasn't until I had a break between client quilts this December that I decided to use the downtime to quilt Teacups and Desserts.  I used Superior's King Tut as the quilting thread and their Bottom Line in the bobbin.  What looks like a pieced border is really a striped fabric that I faux stitched in the ditch to give the appearance of a pieced border.  I also outline stitched all the little flowers in the border.  Yeah, really.  :-)  The larger brown border was quilted in a rope design, using Deloa Jones' "Rope a Dope" template.  (Love it!)

The patchwork in the interior had continuous curves in the blender fabrics; each and every single stinkin' teacup and dessert was outline stitched.   Yeah, really.  :-)  But, BY GOLLY, I got the quilting finished!  Woo hoo!

Bias Binding.  Not only that, I also made the bias binding .. got that sewn, cut and pressed.  The perimeter of the quilt was about 240 inches; 15 inches of yardage yielded about 290 inches .. more than enough for the job.   It's ready to be used ... just as soon as I get the embroidered label done.  (that's the item I'm still working on).

I have a tutorial on making continuous bias binding that is easy-easy-easy!  The tutorial not only has directions on how to make continuous bias but charts on how much yardage to use to give you the perimeter inches of binding you need.  You can obviously read the tutorial on the webpage but there is also a PDF version on the page for downloading your very own personal copy. :-)

Pirate quilt labels.  For the quilts that I keep for myself or give away as gifts, I have a "personalized" Pirate label that I print onto fabric.  I was all out of them, so I printed out 4 more small ones.  One of these will get used with Teacups and Desserts.  I use this label to hand write all the journaling for the quilt.  Not only the name of the quilt, who it's for, when it was done and by whom .. but, just as importantly, WHY the quilt was made.  I like to hand write this information out because I think in future years, whoever comes to own my quilts will like to see the hand writing rather than printed documentation.

A fitted blouse.  And the very last project that I was able to FINISH (another woo hoo!) was a fitted blouse for my oldest daughter.  Dear Daughter #1 has ::ahem:: an ample figure.  She has always had trouble finding ready-to-wear garments: if they fit across the bust, they are HUGE everywhere else.  Buying a smaller size simply results in a shirt that won't close.  It's very, very annoying.

I can sew reasonably well, but don't know how to alter patterns to extreme figure types.  Minor fixes I can muddle through but if it comes to several aspects that need to be altered, I haven't a clue where to start.  So, this past November 2011, she paid to have a basic blouse pattern fitted to her by a local seamstress, Jane Foster, who is FANTASTIC.  Jane has forgotten more about sewing than I will ever know. 

In very short order, Jane made a mock-up that FIT.  It really fit!  Everywhere.  Perfectly.  It was awesome.

My job was to then trace that master pattern onto permanent tissue and sew a real test shirt.  I had some pale blue lightweight flannel hanging around, so that became our test shirt.  This shirt has man-tailored features such as a collar with stand, a front placket and long sleeves with a continuous placket.  (Actually, strike that last one .. the pattern did NOT call for a continuous placket but instructed the sewer use a completely bogus technique of simply folding the sleeve over.  Ugh.  I put in the continuous placket).

Since the shirt is designed to be worn outside the trousers, it has side slits for ease of wear.

Departing from a man's shirt, this shirt does not have a back yoke; that will be a variation that I will incorporate into the next version.

With some trepidation, Dear Daughter tried on the shirt for the first time.  Would it fit?  Would it look good?  Would it feel right?  And OH MY GOSH!!!  It fit *perfectly*!  I was *so* relieved!

And .. it looked wonderful!  Well, at least, I thought so.  It turned out that Dear Daughter doesn't care for long sleeves (what??!?!??) and she doesn't care for pale blue (what?!?!??!).  Well, she relented to keeping the long sleeves .. since the shirt was made from flannel, long sleeves might come in cozy when the weather is crisp.   Future shirts, however, will be short sleeved. The pale blue was transformed to the medium blue as seen here, by dyeing it.  :-)

The last thing to be done was to place the buttonholes.  These were marked with pins and then .... the shirt got put in the Pile of Projects To Be Finished.   You see, I needed to buy the buttons.  That involved a trip to Joann's and I have been too lazy to do so.  :-)

BUT, Occupy Your Sewing Room gave me the swift kick I needed to do so and get those buttonholes made and the buttons sewn on.  Ta da!  The blouse is now completely FINISHED and ready to wear!

So, dang!  I've done a LOT this past week .. and that included two non-sewing days ... one for allergies that absolutely laid me low and another day preparing for and celebrating a birthday.  I know doggone well that without the Occupy Your Sewing Room challenge, I never would have finished these projects. 

Thank you, Barbara of Cat Patches, for coming up with this delightful event!  :-)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Moose Knits & Crafts Etsy Store

My middle daughter creates the most lovely, hand-crafted jewelry items.  She has them listed in her Etsy shop, Moose Knits & Crafts   Do check them out for your gift-giving needs!  She has ....

geometric swirl earrings

and rings

and bracelets

and decorative pins and bobby pins for your hair!

and other selections/colors, as well!   All very reasonably priced!  You know you want to go see them. :-)

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Tooth Fairy Pillow

One of my friends has a young son.  The son has just discovered that he has a "wiggly" tooth and is incredibly excited!

I remembered that I had a machine embroidery design for a Tooth Fairy Pillow, so I made it up for the youngster.

The design is from Teri of and can be obtained at 

I used a cutaway stabilizer in the hoop, *pinned* the fleece to the stabilizer and then put thin Solvy as a topper.   Note that the fleece and the Solvy were *not* hooped ... too bulky.  I have pinned many, many, many projects to the hooped stabilizer with much success.  This certainly eliminates any hoop burn.  The hooped cutaway stabilizer worked outstandingly ... plus the design is just fantastically digitized.  All the pieces of the angel butted up against each other so perfectly .. no gaps or distortion.  I was very, very pleased with the outcome.

The appliqued rounded corner pocket that I used came from another design (source unknown).  I used sparkle tulle for the pocket so the Tooth Fairy can see the tooth.  :-)

I used a mottled fleece for the pillow (both front and back).  To make construction easier for me, I simply pinked the edges of the exposed seam allowance.  It's been my experience that a conventional pillow (one that is turned inside out so the seams are in the inside) results in a rather bulky edge because the fleece seam allowances just do NOT play nicely.

It goes off in the mail today.

Occupy Your Sewing Room: Dec 3 - 10, 2012

Occupy Sewing Room

This "Occupy" movement has taken on a life of its own and this time, it's right up my alley!

Barbara, of Cat Patches blog, has initiated an Occupy event that we ALL can participate in: Occupy Your Sewing Room from December 3 through 12, 2012. 

The demand list is simple;

  1. Leave me alone.  I'm sewing.
 To entice participation, she is also going to have a give-away on December 17 to commemorate the event.  Read about Occupy Your Sewing Room on her blog!