Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Swap banners

One of the things you make, swap and collect when you are a Girl Scout is S.W.A.P.S which stands for Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere.  It's a long standing Girl Scout tradition and pretty much always swapped at encampments, jamborees, summer day and sleep over camp and our council's annual cookie camp. In addition they are always given out by hosting troops at our service unit's annual World Thinking Day event in February.
After 2 years of these events Sunshine and her fellow troop mates have amassed a significant quantity of swaps and with this year's World Thinking Day approaching I decided to make each of the 12 girls in my troop a swap banner to have a place to display them.

With a coupon in hand I was able to purchase the yardage of green felt needed relatively inexpensively for this project. I cut the rectangles in 18" x 36" pieces and proceeded in completing them with some quick finish techniques.

First up was the sleeve for the dowel rod.  I folded over and pinned the correct width....
 ....and then some simple straight line stitching to secure it was all that was needed.
 One hanging sleeve completed.  Then there were 11 more to do.
 Next up was trimming the bottom into a banner shape.  I decided on the angle and length that looked good to me with my trusty ruler and....
 .....made the first cut.  A little mark on the other side to get it to meet up with the first side and another cut was done.
 Viola!  A basic banner.  Now it just needed a few more touches to be complete.
I decided that after all the stitching down work it took to make the troop t-shirts and since these wouldn't be worn and therefore wouldn't be getting the same abuse I wasn't going to spend the time to sew down the letters.  Just fusing them to the fleece was all that I planned to do.  I purchased iron on fabric transfer paper and printed the letters out.  Then it was just a matter of cutting them out and ironing them in place.
The addition of a dowel, a couple of round dowel ends and a string to hang it with and this project was complete.

Sunshine and I then had some fun pinning all the swaps she has collected so far onto it.  It hangs in her room were she loves to look at it and remember the fun times she had at the various events where she received them.  
We know more S.W.A.P.S. are in her future.  In fact she's already picked out the idea for the swap she will make to take to camps this summer.  She has a lot of years of Girl Scouting ahead of her and I'm sure there will be another banner needed eventually.  But for now she's happy to work on filling this one up.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cuddle size 100 Good Wishes Quilt for Isabella

I've had this post in draft for way too long but our Girl Scout cookie season, which is thankfully almost over, has kept me super busy and away from all things quilty. Not it's time to get back to normal life.

Kim found me through Facebook when my friend Lisa posted pictures of the 100 Good Wishes Quilt that I made for her daughter Alex and asked me if I could make a quilt for her too. Actually she wanted 2 quilts, a smaller cuddle size quilt and a bigger one too.

This is the cuddle size quilt all completed.
But the story isn't that simple.  While talking to Kim to learn what her vision was for the quilts I learned that someone else actually started making the quilts for her many years ago.  Kim tried to describe what was already done but I just couldn't visualize it so I had her just send me everything so that I can assess the situation better and formulate a plan and a budget for her.

This is what I found when I opened the box.
A load "Agggg" coming from me doesn't fully describe this "quilt" top.  The person who did this cut pieces approximately 2" x 3" from each of the fabrics, obviously not using a ruler to do so, pinned them onto the black background fabric not in straight lines, and then zig zag stitched some of them in place.  Who knows why she didn't finish this but I'm really glad she didn't.  Unfortunately it took Kim a really long time to get everything back from that person and she's just held onto it for years, hoping one day to find someone who could really create the quilts she envisioned.

After unsewing all the pieces that were sewn down I proceeded to recut them using the proper tools.  I cut them as big as I could which turned out to be 1 3/4" x 2 3/4".   I sorted the pieced by color so that I could get a good sense of how to balance them throughout the entire quilt.
Included in the box was also a black tone on tone dragonfly fabric that Kim had used when she sent out squares and wishes to other waiting adoptive parents and there was just barely enough to use for the sashing so that's what I went with.  Here's the quilt in process with the vertical sashing between the pieces and those rows completed.
Once the horizontal sashing rows were added this was the finished top. Can you see the dragonflies on the black fabric?
Kim had included in the box also a package of batting and a piece of pink minky fabric for the backing so it was quick work to spray baste the quilt sandwich together.
After auditioning a bunch of different quilting design ideas that were all either too big a motif or too detailed for the small quilt I tested some basic straight line quilting and immediately knew that it was the right choice.  The simplicity of that suited the tiny piecing well and didn't overpower.
I've heard tons of issues quilters have had using minky on the back, mostly when quilting with it on a frame, but since I was quilting this on my domestic machine Lucy, I had no issues at all.  A couple of embroidered pieces were also included in Kim's box so I centered the one with the name on the back as it would have been too large for the overall feel of the front.  This quilt finished at 29" x 43".
It took a few days of nasty overcast weather before I got a decent window to get outside for the glamor shots and then it was shipped off to Kim who was thrilled with the result.  As expected, she cried, to finally have a quilt that she's dreamed about for the last 10 years.
It has meant a lot to me to be able to turn Kim's dream into a reality.  100 Good Wishes Quilts are more than just fabric and thread.  They encompass so many hopes and dreams of the adoptive parents and kids who they are made for and truly wrap a child in the love and good wishes of all those who's fabrics are included.

The bigger version quilt for Kim is in the works.  I was making good progress on it until CA day = cookie arrival but since that season is almost over, I can finally get back to finishing it and getting it on it's way to it's new home.  Stay tuned for that reveal soon.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Kids lovie blankets, placemat size - a tutorial

In my last post I showed you some pictures of the new lovie blanket I recently made for Jammer to replace his beloved but very worn out Peanuts gang ones from when he was a baby.

I'm sure that many of you want to know how I made it so that you can make some too for the littles in your life.  This is really quick and easy and you will be whipping them up in multiples before you know it.  So here goes.

I started with 2 half yard cuts of no pill fleece fabric.  This will result in 2 identical lovie blankets.  Sunshine wanted some new blankies too so we went to the local fabric store where she picked out this cute pink hedgehog print (she loves, loves, loves hedgehogs) and this adorable pink owl print.  You will also need 1 package of coordinating satin blanket binding.
Start by trimming off the selvage.  Then stack the two fabric pieces together and trim all sides at the same time to create 4 rectangular pieces.  By trimming them together they will be the same size.  Exactly what size doesn't matter as long as they are the same.  You can certainly end up with bigger or smaller blankies by using different size rectangular pieces.
Pair up one fabric each for the top and the back and pin your satin blanket binding in place.  Sorry the color is a bit off in this photo.  I was making this in the evening.
None of this is at all difficult and the hardest part (though it really isn't tough) is getting the corner miter seams pinned just right. 
Take the whole project to your sewing machine and using whatever straight, zigzag or decorative stitch you like, stitch it down....work relatively slowly so you can make sure you are catching both sides of the blanket binding as you go.
This is the stitch I chose to use for this blankie.  After I stitched around the entire blankie I went back and stitched the corners.  My kids prefer them this way instead of hand stitching them closed as I do with quilt bindings. Either method works just as well.
And there you have it.  One new lovie blankie measuring 21" x 17".  All that was needed to be done was to give it a quick wash to make it all soft and snuggly.
As I mentioned in the beginning, 2 half yard cuts of fabric will create 2 identical blankies and here is Sunshine's new matching pair.  If your kiddo is the type to only cherish one lovie, then you might want to get more of the same fabric and make a few extras.
This has become my favorite go-to new baby gift and every one that I've given has been greatly appreciated.  I hope that you've enjoyed this little tutorial and will add this idea to your list of kiddo gifts to make for those littles in your life.

Friday, February 17, 2017

New kiddo lovey blankies

One of the things that inevitably comes with having kiddos is the fact that those kiddos usually have lovie blankets.  Most kids pick one of their crib size blankets as their favorite one to snuggle with. When Jammer first came home I knew that it was only a matter of time before he had one too but I did not love the idea of carting with us everywhere one the size of the typical kiddo blanket. 

At the time I didn't sew really so I asked my BFF Lisa to come to the rescue and she created a lovie blanket that was just perfect.  Over the years I've had many compliments from other moms locally that are the best solution to the problem of those bigger ones they've had to deal with themselves.

Lisa made Jammer not one but two placemat size blankies with a great Peanuts gang fabric that, as you can see, he has loved to death.  This is just one of the pair.  The other one was in worse shape and has already been packed away for safe keeping so as to not damage it further.
The fabric has been completely worn away in many areas and although he originally wanted me to try and fix it, in the end after talking it over as to the possible options to do that, he decided to leave it as is for the memories and pack it way safe and sound too.

Somewhere along the way Lisa also make him this one featuring his other favorite character of the time Curious George.  This one isn't as old and was in better shape plus it was made with fleece fabrics not cotton so it held up better and only needed the binding re-attached.
Jammer just turned 10 and although some will say that he's too old to be still using blankies, he does mostly when he's not feeling well, which thankfully isn't too often.  So that he will have some new ones to snuggle with I took some new Peanuts fabrics that I've been saving just for this occasion to make a few.
The first one was completed quickly and he was thrilled.
Here's a view of the back.
Would you like to know how I make these?  I thought so.  I've made a couple of new ones for Sunshine too and will be posting a little tutorial for them very soon so stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The new Danny ornament - 2016

Back in December 2013 I wrote a post about my family's annual tradition of collecting an ornament to remember my nephew Danny who was killed in a car accident the week before Christmas 2005 and exactly a week after he turned 16 years old.

The post about the ornament that was chosen the following year is here.

This is one of the beautiful ornaments that we chose for 2016.  It is crafted from sea pottery and was created by Sue of Beachwoodstreet on Etsy.
  For the rest of the family I actually chose a variety of pieces.  Some are made from sea pottery but others are made from sea glass.  The one I chose for myself Sue said is rare as it is a piece of a plate that was in some sort of  bonfire that gave it the gray streak pattern.
 I enjoy finding handcrafted ornaments every year to honor Danny and I share his story with the artisans.  We now have a circle of crafters that have helped continue this tradition.

All of the ornaments still hang in my kitchen window every single day of the year and I love looking at them as I gaze out the window into our backyard. 
Although I forgot to post about the ornament chosen for 2015, you can see it in the lower right hand corner.  It is a celtic angel heart ornament made from heavy wire, again by Etsy crafter nicholasandfelice. This is what it looks like up close.
As you can see I only have 1 more empty section of my window.  I guess after that one is filled I will have to figure out how to rearrange them to add more in future years.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Daydream Frenzy quilt

Sometimes I just want to sew and so I look for a quick and easy pattern to use.  This really helps when I've been away from my studio for too long and it helps to start the creative ideas flowing.

I recently came across the Fat Eighth Frenzy quilt pattern by Fat Quarter Shop and decided to whip one up with the fat eighth bundle I have of Kate Spain's Daydream.
Originally the only change I made to the original pattern was I planned to add 2 additional rows to make the quilt just a bit wider and to use up all 40 of the fat eights that were in this bundle.

I made the 1st row, was happy with it and so then proceeded to work on the rest.
In the interest of total disclosure, what happened next was because of of my own mistake.  I joined the square and the 1st rectangle for every row, trimmed them, took them to the ironing board and then realized that I had sewn them all going in the wrong direction.  A couple of not horrid swear words then flew out of my mouth, aimed at myself of course.

I turned the sewing machine off, flicked the switch for the light off and went to bed.  An idea on how to fix this would come another day.

And it did.  First I decided to leave the mistake as it was and take it even further by doing 2 things.....cut the 1st strip down the middle the long way to break up the overall color and pattern some more and on the next row (the one I initially screwed up) I added in some accent triangles, to bring in a lot more visual interest and to make the whole quilt a lot less simplistic.  What I saw when I put them together was definitely more my style.
To say that the thought of this quilt now being quick and simple to piece together totally went out the window at this point and I kept slicing and altering as my mood struck.  After planning out the color and pattern placement for the remaining rows I set to work.  This is section one.
Section 2 was constructed in the same manner, with some of the rows sliced down the middle along the entire length and other rows getting a few pops of color with the little triangles.  This is the completed 2nd section.
Then it was onto section 3.  This one went together exactly as the other two.  The toughest part of the entire project was just planning the placement of each print so as to mix up both the patterns and the colors.  I love the way this is quite a bit different from the original design but that one definitely provided the inspiration for my altered version.
Ta Da!  This is my completed quilt top.  I really like the way it turned out and can't wait to get it on the frame and quilted. 
While trying to take these pictures this morning I gave up trying to get a good photo of it completely flat.  You see....my "assistant" (the one with the fur coat and long tail that has the nasty habit of being my alarm clock at 4am every single day) kept walking and rolling all over it.  He doesn't get to go outside and is always really curious when I open the front door to let in the natural light for the photo shoots so he just had to test out the new quilt design too.
One thing I've learned about myself over the years as I've been quilting is that I like to look at a traditional block or quilt design and find new ways to break it up and change it up into something new.  I'm sure this won't be the last time that I decide to make a design a bit more "my own".

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tumbling Hearts quilt tutorial

In my last post I showed you my recent finish, my Tumbling Hearts wall hanging.  

If you'd like to make your own Tumbling Hearts wall hanging, here is the info you will need.
I started with 2  one yard cuts of Sending My Love by Marie Cole for Henry Glass Fabrics and some White solid.  I did not figure out the total yardage as I was designing this on the go and wasn't sure how many blocks I wanted to make.  You could also use scraps to make your blocks if you'd like.
I cut 2 1/2" strips from each print and then cut 2 1/2" squares.  You will need 3 for each block.  If you duplicate my quilt, you will need a total of 24 in each of your 2 fabrics.
You will also need 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" blocks, 1 for each block you are making, or to duplicate my quilt, 8 in each of your 2 print fabrics.
These were my cut pieces for my Red blocks.
With the White solid fabric for each block, cut (1) 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" block, (3) 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" blocks and (2) 6 1/2"' x 2 1/2" blocks.  For my quilt I used a total of (48) 2 1/2" squares, (16) 4 1/2" blocks and (32) 6 1/2" blocks.
Layout each blocks as shown below.  Then you just sew together the pieces into rows and the rows into a completed block, matching up seams where needed.
While making my blocks I had someone that wanted a little bit of attention and some tummy rubs.  Who was I to deny him that? :)
I pressed all seams toward the print fabric.
This was the perfect little project to work on during some recent snow storms.
These blocks are great for chain piecing and before long all 8 of each color are completed.  Your blocks should be 8 1/2" unfinished.
Here is where my original vision went awry.  The intent was to have the print corners of each block meet up with the corner of the adjacent block but when I laid them all out this was the result.
While not a bad layout at all, it wasn't what I was going for and the fact that the blocks are tilted hearts totally got lost.  

I decided that I needed to separate the blocks in some fashion.  I pulled out the Brown print that I also had of this fabric line that I wasn't intending to use and tried a few settings using horizontal sashing.  These were cut at 2" wide to finish at 1 1/2".  Here is Version 1 that was rejected.
Version 2 was also quickly rejected.
Version 3 wasn't bad but didn't really speak to me.
Version 4 was getting a little closer to something I'd be happy with but I wasn't there yet.
Version 5 also was a possibility but I still wasn't loving it.
Then came Version 6.  No choir of angels were singing to tell me this was "the one".
Any of these layouts would have looked great for the finished quilt but for me, I was searching for a certainly vibe and I just wasn't feeling it with any of these previous versions. I gave up for the night and went to bed to wait for fresh inspiration on another day.

When I was able to get back into my studio, it was as if the light bulb went off when I realized that I didn't need to have the sashing strips going horizontal.  Why not try it vertically? I know that the print is a directional fabric and I already had the strips cut but that really didn't bother me at all since the blocks themselves are off kilter.

Once I set the sashing vertically I knew this was the right choice.  From there all it took was sewing the blocks into the rows, adding the sashing rows and sewing all the rows together to have a finished quilt top. For my sashing I used 5 strips 2" x 32 1/2" long and 2 strips 2" x 40" long.
It was quickly loaded on my frame and I set to work to add some pretty texture and design.
The binding I used was the Red heart print and that took a total of (4) 2 1/2" strips.
I think this quilt would look adorable in all sorts of color ways, even rainbow with each heart a different color.  I'd love to see your versions of my Tumbling Hearts quilt so please send me an email with pictures of your creations.