Wednesday, December 17, 2014

quilting, quilting and more quilting

Last Saturday night I started cutting out a new quilt! I can't remember the last time I made a stash quilt...usually it's "all scraps, all the time" around here. (Which is fun, don't get me wrong!) The original idea was to make it from low volume fabrics (light values only) and call it "Quiet Christmas". I'm sticking with the name, because I love it, but I decided to use medium values as well, so I wouldn't have to go buy a bunch of new fabric. (I'm still on my fabric fast...139 days strong!)
I've got most of it cut out and I love the mix so far. LOTS of polka dots! The squares are cut at 5", which seems HUGE to me. :) I'm finally seeing a dent in my stash, which feels fantastic! I'm not sure if I will get this done before Christmas, but like my daughter says, "it don't matter." :)
I basted my pineapple quilt over the weekend--mostly because I didn't want to have to iron the top again. Hahaha! (I'm actually completely serious.)
The quilting is going well so far, for which I'm thankful! I'm doing simple loop-de-loops and they are disappearing into the scrappy chaos. Perfectly imperfect.
And then, in my down time, I've been hand quilting my "oh my stars" quilt. Actually, my friend Nancy, who taught me how to quilt, is recovering from knee surgery. She is in short stay care, so I've been hand quilting this while I visit her. It feels so "full circle" and it makes my sappy heart so happy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

making things cozy

Last week I made a sweater pillow out of my husband's old sweater. This time around I recycled one of my own, because it only seemed fair. (Ha!) I still love the stripes and the colors of the sweater, but it had seen better days. I wore it a lot!
Turning your sweater into a pillow cover is easy! I was going to do a full-blown tutorial, but I had horrible lighting for photographs (oh, how I miss the sun!) and really, it isn't that complicated. So, I'll just run through the steps quickly, because I need to enable you to do this too! And you better believe, I'm brain storming ideas for using the sleeves. :)
 
Before you get started, try the sweater on the pillow form you are going to use. (If you have kids around, this will be highly entertaining to them!) Be sure that the sweater is long and wide enough to fully cover your pillow. This sweater had a V neck, and it was JUST long enough. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a bit of the V at the very top. I was determined to make it work!
 
1. Find a zipper slightly shorter than your pillow form.
2. Add fabric tabs to each end of the zipper. (I have a tutorial here that covers that step, just be sure that you do not follow the zipper length in the tutorial.) The zipper with tabs should be approximately the length of your pillow form.
3. Trim tabs even with the width of your zipper if you haven't done so already.
4. Turn the sweater inside out and cut off the sleeves.
5. Sew the zipper into the bottom of the sweater as shown in the photo below. The right side of the zipper should be facing the right sides of the sweater. I would recommend keeping the ribbing from the bottom of the sweater in tact if at all possible. It makes things so much easier! (I didn't even use a zipper foot, just my regular piecing foot. )
6. Use a ruler and a chalk marker to mark a square that corresponds to the size of your pillow form. Keep in mind that the sweater will stretch a little bit, so you can err on the small side, but just a bit.
7. Open the zipper at least half way.
8. Sew on the marked lines. Back stitch at the beginning and ending of each seam.
9. Cut off the excess sweater bulk, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance.
10. Try it on the pillow form.
11. Take in the seams a bit if necessary.
Here is the zipper installed. No zipper top stitching necessary. (YAY!)
Using a striped sweater was a bit tricky compared to using a solid colored sweater, but all in all, I think it turned out pretty good! This is a very fun and quick project! No interfacing or extra materials necessary.

Because I'm sure someone will ask about pillow forms....I make my own using the tutorial here.

If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments!

Oh, and I would recommend getting permission from the owner of the sweater before turning it into a pillow. It's good to keep the peace. :)

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, December 12, 2014

plenty of pineapples quilt top

It's Friday! I hope you've had a good week of finishing!
I am thrilled to share my completed pineapple quilt top! It's been in progress since July, if I recall correctly. It was a fun (and intense) journey and I'm so glad that the top is DONE! It turned out remarkably close to the initial vision I had in my head. Hurray for that!
These blocks (tutorial here) are time consuming! I estimated that each one took me about 3 hours, and I'm sure that a few of them took even longer. That means I have a minimum of 60 hours into this quilt already. Oh Mylanta! (Sometimes it's better NOT to do the math, right? :)) That being said, this is a special quilt and it was totally worth it!
The blocks finish at 15.5" square (16" unfinished), so the quilt top measures about 62" x 77.5". It's a lovely lap size.
I wish I could say that I've made a dent in my scrap bins, but that isn't the case at all. Oh, well! Such is the life of a scrap quilter!

Thanks to all of you who joined in the conversation yesterday about gift giving. It was fun to read all your comments!

How about you? Do you have a finish to share? I know it's hard this time of year with all kinds of secret sewing going on, but if you do have a finish you can share, please link up! Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

a question for discussion

So, gift giving season is here. I have gift giving anxiety (add it to the list) and adding the hand made element into the equation multiplies the uncertainty that I feel. When giving hand made, just how much do you tailor the fabric/color choices to the recipient? How much of your own twist do you put on it? What if you dislike the colors/fabric that they love? How do you deal with that? I know that these aren't easy questions to answer, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. I've been mulling this over for the past few months and I haven't come to any solid conclusions. Please weigh in!
I've been busy with my scraps (as usual) and I thought I would give you a little peek at my workspace. It's fairly tidy here, but don't be fooled...the other half of the room that isn't nearly as organized. I really need to clean this place up (completely) and share photos of the whole thing. That's been on the to-do list since this summer. Hopefully mentioning it here gives me motivation to actually do it! :)

edited to add: the scrap baskets tucked under the cutting counter are quilted storage boxes--the pattern is in Sunday Morning Quilts.
Last thing for today.....I'm getting SO close to finishing the last few pineapple blocks. I'm hoping to have a finish to share tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

sweater pillow

I'm sure by now you know how much I love throw pillows. You probably know how much I love to reuse things, as well. This project combines the two! It was a quick project, if you don't count the amount of time I spent thinking about doing it.
My husband was done wearing this sweater, but rather than donate it, I used one of the sleeves to make a pair of mittens. That was a few years ago. The body of the sweater and one sleeve was still in tact, and I figured I would use it somehow, someday. Last night I sewed a zipper into the bottom, sewed up the sides and then chopped it down to size. It makes a FABULOUS pillow cover for the couch.
The zipper was one (of many) from a bag of zippers I bought at the thrift store years ago. (I'm starting to sound like a hoarder, aren't I?) I could tell that someone had ripped it out of something a long time ago, so it's been repurposed as well. It was the right length and the color was close enough! I love the metal teeth, but they are dangerous to sewing machine needles if you aren't careful. (Yikes!!)
I was concerned about the stretchiness of the material, so I sewed it a little smaller than my pillow form...and it wrapped around perfectly. The texture is so wonderful!!! I'm pleased as punch! It measures about 21" square.
 
I do believe that this is the start of a whole "winter" pillow cover series. (Hurray!!!) You can see the summer look here. (Hahaha!) I may need help, but I certainly don't care to change my ways quite yet....

Monday, December 08, 2014

mustard mishap quilt

I finished my mustard mishap quilt last week! I waited to share it because I just HAD to get a photo in front of this fabulous yellow building. Isn't it so perfect with my quilt? I'm thankful to my husband and son for helping me with the photographs.
It is 100% scraps. Linen, denim, chambray, gingham, woven cotton, double gauze and even a little bit of canvas were used in this quilt. Normally I don't mix that many different materials together, but I think it worked well in this piece. I quilted it heavily, so if things shrink it shouldn't pucker too badly...the stitching should hold everything into place.
For the quilting, I used my Janome and made one big concentric square, but at an angle. I was concerned that having the stitching at an angle would be distracting, but I think it adds a lot of movement and depth. I really like how it turned out! You never know until you try. :)
The texture is so, so good. As I worked my way to the outer edges, my quilting lines got a little less straight, but I constantly reminded myself that this is a utilitarian quilt and it's not about perfection. I did my best, though. Sometimes that is a fine line, you know?
The backing is a sheet from Target that I had on hand. (I used the matching flat sheet to back this quilt.) For the binding I used jelly roll strips. It is so nice and quick!
It's been used a lot already! I think it's a new family favorite.
The quilt measures about 56" x 72". It's scrap project # 95/101. (That's SO exciting!!!)

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, December 05, 2014

scrap happy zip pouch

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I've been carrying my original scrap happy purse for over a year and a half. I had washed it a few times, used it almost constantly, and admittedly, it was looking a little bit shabby. I knew it was time to retire it, but I wasn't quite ready to let go. So....last night I chopped it up, discarded the worn bits, and "recycled" the rest of the outer panels by turning it into a zip pouch.
I used a funky old zipper that I bought at the thrift store years ago. I got a big eye brow raise from my husband for that choice, but that's ok, I think it matches perfectly! Besides, this isn't for him! Ha!!
It is lined with ticking and I plan to use it as either a make up bag or perhaps a knitting project bag. (or maybe I should fill it with scraps, since they are threatening to take over my entire sewing area!) It measures 12" wide x 8 1/2" tall x 3 1/2" deep. I just LOVE it!!! Hurray for recycling patchwork!

I DID finish a quilt this week as well...but I have big plans for the photographs, so the full reveal will have to wait. (Sorry if I'm being a stinker!) We shall see if the photos turn out anything like they will in my head. Here's hoping!!!
Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

how to bind tiny things

A few weeks ago I bound a set of 5 coasters. Joining the ends of the binding strips is pretty tricky on pieces that small, but I figured out a way to make it easier! I recently bound this mini tree block, which measures 5.5" x 8". That's pretty little! I took a few photos along the way so I could share a quick tutorial on how to bind tiny things with you. Use this method for coasters, pot holders, mini mats, mug rugs, or teeny tiny quilts...anything small.
Start with a quilted piece.
Trim the edges down to between 1/16" and 1/8" beyond the quilt top.
Cut a strip for binding 1 1/2" wide and a few inches longer than the perimeter of your quilted piece.
Lay out the binding on the quilted piece as sort of a "dry run", if you will. Make sure to miter the corners as you go, laying out the strip as accurately as possible.
Measure an overlap of 1/4". Trim the excess. Normally, when binding and joining the ends with a straight seam, you would measure a 1/2" overlap. But, in my experience using this method, I've found that during the process of stitching the binding down, things stretch just a little bit. The 1/4" overlap was spot on for me, but your sewing machine/walking foot may vary from mine, so your results may vary a bit as well. Use the 1/4" overlap is a starting point. Adjust if necessary. (I'd be curious to hear how it works for you. If you try it, leave me a comment please!) Ok, now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let's proceed!
Take the two ends of the binding strip and sew them together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Make sure that the strip isn't twisted.
Now, you should have a continuous loop of binding. Press the seam open.
Place the seam on the side of the quilted piece (so it doesn't end up in a corner) and start stitching it down. The beautiful part is that you don't need to leave any tails for joining later. That part is already done!
Attach the binding to the quilted piece as you would normally, mitering the corners as usual.
At this point, all but the final corner (top right) has been stitched down.
Take the piece to the iron and press the binding strip flat. Pin in place. See? No pucker in the binding whatsoever. Stitch the remaining part down, overlapping a few stitches where the seams meet.
And here it is, all attached! Isn't that slick?
Press the binding away from the front of the quilt. (it's not easy on a tiny piece!)
 The binding will stand almost straight up.
 Fold the raw edge in, then fold the binding over itself, completely enclosing the raw edges inside.
Hold in place using some handy dandy Clover wonder clips. (I LOVE them!)
Hand stitch the binding down on the back. This part is great, because it goes so quick!
Here it is, all finished!
 
If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments.
 
Go forth and bind ALL the tiny things!

Monday, December 01, 2014

mini trees! quilt

Happy December! I'm happy to share a finish with you today! This is a miniature version of my trees! quilt. I love how it turned out, and as usual, I want to make 100 more!
I always get nervous when quilting smaller pieces like this (how backwards is that?) because I am afraid that the quilting will look big and chunky and that it will ruin the piece. (I can find anything to stress out about, let me tell you!) One night last week when I was unable to sleep, I forced myself to get out of bed and work on something. Anything. This was the closest thing to being finished, so I quilted it and sewed on the binding in the wee hours of the morning while the rest of my household was asleep. Going to sleep at 2am isn't recommended, but it felt good to make some progress. Sometimes that's just how it goes!
Photography is sooo tricky in the winter! I trudged about 1/2 mile through the snow at a local park to get a few photos. That was an adventure in itself! I had to explain myself to the man who was grooming the ski trails. That was fun. Hahaha!
But, it was worth it! Right before my battery died, I snapped this photo. It's one of my favorites! (The background is an old picnic table.) I love the red polka dot binding, too! (Fabric is confetti dots by dear stella.)
The mini quilt finishes at 15" x 22 1/2". If you'd like to make one of your own, I wrote up a pattern and it is available for purchase here.
 
Happy Monday to you!