Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another throw pillow: crazy patchwork

Spoiler alert:  Rene:  you said you don't read this blog at this time.  Continue to not read it, please.    To Rene's siblings and friends:  this project is for Rene.  She hasn't seen it yet.  Please let her revel in her ignorance of its existence.  :-)  (If I don't post about this project now, I'll forget all about it, being a card-carrying member of the Short Attention Span Theater Group).

Yep, another throw pillow!  I was smart enough not to make the same mistakes as I did on the knitted lace applique pillow.  Instead, I made a DIFFERENT mistake!  (didn't make the bias tape for the piping wide enough so that I needed to sew an extension to the piping seam allowance where the zipper was sewn.  Without the extension, there wouldn't have been enough fabric to sew the zipper *to*).  Heaven knows how I made the bias the correct size for the previous pillow but thoroughly miscalculated for this one.  ::shrug::

At least, I'm making progress in the mistake department.  :-)

I saw a small accent pillow featured on Hoffman Fabrics free project page.  I didn't like their fabric choices, but I *did* like the layout and the distribution of fabrics.

For my pillow, I needed to reduce the size of all the pattern pieces, as my pillow insert was smaller than theirs.  As this pillow is for my youngest Dear Daughter, I chose "her" colors (red) and novelty fabrics that reflect her interests (shoes, jewelry, baking, candy, desserts & coffee).

Additionally, I did some *VERY* simple crazy quilt embroidery for seam embellishments.  They are *really* simple because I really don't know how to combine stitches as the real crazy quilt embroiderers do.   That piece of knowledge has escaped me. :-)

The pictures below are just teasers! For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Crazy Patchwork throw pillow.

Here are two teaser photos of the crazy quilting embroidery ....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The 29th anniversary of my 30th birthday

Today is my birthday.  [looking at the computer day & time. Yup, it's still July 25th].  I had a very lovely time.

All three of our daughters called to wish me a Happy Birthday and to chat about what was going on in their lives.  [They already know what's going on in my: I sew.]

Mr. Pirate, as usual, pulled out all the stops to celebrate my special day.  He spared no expense on my behalf.

1. He took me to Orchard Supply Hardware, where they were having a Customer Appreciation Day with free hot dogs and sodas.

2.  Then we went to Costco to return an item AND to treat me with the free samples.  We also got some translucent crates to help organize my fabric stash.

3.  Finally, we went to Trader Joe's where we had some free coffee and their sampling of Mandarin Orange Chicken over rice.

My man really looks out for me.  :-)

Back on the ol' homestead, Mr. Pirate oven-baked some chicken for dinner ... wonderful stuff.

A friend from around the corner came over to visit.  We had champagne and the homemade orange-flavored cupcakes with orange buttercream frosting that she and one of her sons made just for my birthday.

It was simply a lovely day.  :-)

A throw pillow with knitted lace applique

The knitted lace on this throw pillow was created by my favorite middle daughter.

(Don't get your panties in a twist; I'm not slighting my other two daughters .... my knitting daughter is my ONLY middle daughter.  When you have three girls, one gets to be the Oldest, one gets to be the Youngest and one gets to be the Middle.  By default, they are ALL favorites of that particular birth order. :-)  )

Middle Dear Daughter is just the most talented knitter I've ever seen.  There isn't a pattern or project that she can't do.  And other than some very basic instruction from her older sister, she is entirely self-taught.  I find this talent simply amazing.

I don't knit.  I personally believe fairies come at night, when everyone is asleep, to create these magical items.  Mere mortals couldn't possibly do them.  And yet, I have actually witnessed middle Dear Daughter knitting!   I'm just not sure how she pulls it off. :-)

But knit this square she did.  I finally mounted it on a pillow cover by appliqueing it to the top.

Making the pillow cover was ANOTHER epic adventure all by itself, due entirely to utter stupidity on my part.

To see more detailed pictures of the exquisite knitted lace and read how the pillow nearly did me in, you can read all about it on the webpage for it, Throw Pillow with Knit Lace Applique.

That picture is just a teaser! For all the gory details and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Throw Pillow with Knit Lace

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Forever Project: hand work done!

Recently the Pirate family went on vacation.  Whenever I am away from home .. vacation, long car rides, doctor appointments, etc .. I always take my current Forever Project with me.

What, you might ask, is a Forever Project?  For me, it is a hand-work project, whether it be counted cross-stitching, piecing, quilting, applique.  I have a grab-n-go container that holds all the supplies I need to work on that specific project.  The project has no deadline, hence the "forever" aspect.  It gets finished when it gets finished.

I have been working on a needleturn applique Forever Project for a long time.  Gosh, it feels like ... well, forever. :-)   This pattern is "Grapes" from Pacific Rim Quilting Company and is designed by Nancy Lee Chong.   I *LOVE* Nancy Lee Chong's 2 Fabric Applique designs!  Using her method, I learned to love needleturn applique; previously, it was a technique that I admired but would never do. (And yes, I have tried *all* *those* *other* methods.)

Grapes, while not difficult, does have, as you can see, a LOT of curves.  I wouldn't call Grapes a beginner project and you should pay attention to the smoothness of the curves that you are stitching.

When finished, Grapes should be about 24" x 36" ... a very nice size for a wall-hanging.

I figured that I'd have a pretty good chance of finishing it.  It would be AWFUL if I didn't have something else to work on!  So, I prepped another 2 Fabric Applique in anticipation of finishing Grapes.

 The other project I brought along to do, should Grapes get finished, is called "Peace".  Normally I don't make a pattern more than once, mainly because there are so MANY patterns that I want to do that I don't want to take the time for a repeat.  But, I was sorta pressed for time getting stuff ready for our vacation and wanted something that would be easy to prep.

I had stitched Peace once before, in August 2007.  I love the simplicity and elegance of the Asian design.  It so happened that my dearest Oldest Daughter thought the same.  Being the gracious and loving Mom that I am (and I am, right?), I gave her the finished wall-hanging.

But that meant that *I* still didn't have one for myself.  It was this design that I prepped for the second project to be worked on.  Fortunately, I had two fabrics on-hand that would work nicely with each other.

It was about the 3rd day into our vacation that I finished up Grapes.  I was very pleased with how it turned out.  I then picked up Peace and started working on it. 

I was surprised at just how EASY this design is to stitch!  There are inches and inches of perfectly straight lines to needleturn and even the curves are nicely gentle!  The only tricky part ... and after Grapes, it wasn't too tricky at all ... was the character for "peace".  This design is definitely a good beginner piece!  You can get your feet wet with the long straight lines before you start messing with the smaller, curved areas.

It took me exactly two days to finish Peace.

Now, I was REALLY in a pickle because I had NO needlework to do.  I really hadn't anticipated just *how* easy Peace would be after Grapes!  I did make a journey to the two local quilt stores (about 45 minutes away) but neither of them had a hand-piecing project kit available.

I realized that what I was looking for wasn't in high demand so the chances of me finding something like it was very slim.

That meant for the duration of our vacation (another 2 days), I read books.  I absolutely, positively adore reading books and brought several with me.  It was just that I wasn't quite in the mood for book reading; I wanted to be stitching!  

In any case, I managed to FINISH all 3 of my books, too.  Luckily, by then, it was time to pack up and return home.  :-)

After we arrived home, I was poking around my sewing room, looking for "something" when I ran across (which translates as "I rediscovered where I put it") another applique pattern that would be just *perfect* for Nancy Lee Chong's method!

This pattern is called "Manzanita" by Random Threadz.  It has some very interesting variations that I am also intrigued with.

ah, choices, choices. :-)

Note: the pattern is designed for raw-edge applique so don't think that you HAVE to do this as a needleturn project.

Isn't it amazing how different all four patterns look?  Fabric choices really make a difference!

Different versions of this pattern are:
"Branching Out"
"Spanish Sunset"
"Mediterranean Morning"