Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shake Your Pom Poms!

Greetings to all! Today is the second day of the "Shake Your Pom Poms" Blog Hop and it's my turn to display my pom pom creations. But first I want to thank Madame Samm from Sew We Quilt for all the work she must go to (that we don't even know about!) to make these blog hops happen and happen successfully. And I also want to thank Thearica from Pig Tales and Quilts for the GREAT cheerleader she's been. She's done a wonderful job of preparing us for this hop and making sure that everything was good to go!

We all know that you can make your own pompoms or you can buy them in bulk or by the yard in long strings. We also know that they come in quite an array of colors. I knew they came in different sizes, but I didn't realize that they also come in little bitty strings! They're SO cute! I knew I had to use them in some way for this blog hop.

My first idea was to make this large hot pad using regular pompoms. As I began working on it, I thought that it might be nice to make matching coasters, using those cute, tiny pompoms. We don't use a tablecloth or placemats on our wooden dining table, so we're always needing something to put underneath hot beverages or hot mugs of soup--these were the perfect choice to go along with the hot pad.

I used this great ruler to cut out the circles--you place the ruler on the fold of the fabric and then place the rotary blade in the size groove you want to cut. (You do have to use a VERY small rotary cutter--18 mm.) I cut 10-inch circles for the hot pad and 4-inch circles for the coasters. I traced circles onto Insul-Bright to use as the batting and then cut those out too.

Originally I had planned to make these reversible, thinking I would sew around the edges, leaving an opening for turning. It quickly became apparent that I would NEVER be able to turn under that curved edge and have it look halfway decent. So instead I cut the back pieces to overlap, with the outer edge turned under about 1/4-inch.

Then I stitched the outside edge in one complete circle. I pinked the edges so they would turn smoothly and turned the whole thing right side out through the overlapped opening in the back.

I was able to sew the larger pompoms onto the hot pad before sewing it together, using a zipper foot. But for the coasters, I used Liquid Stitch and glued the pompoms around the outside finished edge and then topstitched them. To quilt everything, I just drew concentric circles with a Frixion pen and stitched over the lines.

So here's my pompom-trimmed hot pad and coasters! Our large soup mugs fit on them perfectly!

And they can still be reversed (just don't look for the little seam on the back!)

And now for my next project...

I've always wanted to make some of those Kanzashi flowers, so this was another opportunity to try something new. I only made the one flower, but I'm sure I'll be making plenty more. After assembling the flower, I glued a single pompom in the center, surrounded by a ring of those itty bitty pompoms.

My daughter, Laura prefers headbands to barrettes, but this would have worked with either. I hot glued the flower to the headband.

And here's Laura--modeling her new headband! We'll be making lots more of these!

Now be sure to continue hopping along and visiting all the other blogs with their great projects! Here's the schedule for today:

Get More Done...Today--You are here!

And as always, there's still plenty of time to Get More Done...Today! Have a great one!

Paper Piecing Practice

Kristy at Quiet Play is doing a sewing themed, paper-pieced block of the month. The patterns are free for the month she offers them and after that they're available for purchase in her Craftsy shop. I missed January and February, but was so impressed with the blocks that I went ahead and bought them. Then, of course, I had to get them made...and that's what I've been doing.

I believe I've posted a picture of this block before, but this was the March one and the first that I did.

This is the April block. I'm finding that my biggest challenge with paper piecing is trying to be sure that there's enough contrast between different elements. I either should have used a different background here, or else just done something different with the thread spool. But it's not bad.

This was the January block and the easiest one so far. (Kristy is starting with the easier blocks and getting progressively more challenging. There's a picture of the finished quilt on her blog, so you can see what's coming!) Some people who made this block were able to find tape measure fabric to use for the tape measure--or you had the option to just embroider the lines and numbers after sewing the block. I don't have any fabric that would work and I didn't want to have to wait for fabric to be shipped. So I put my thinking cap on and figured--I'll just PRINT a tape measure onto fabric! So that's what I did. I put a tape measure onto the glass of my printer/copier and then just printed a copy onto an inkjet fabric sheet. Then I followed the instructions for how to treat the fabric. Finally, I very carefully sort of fussy cut the tape measure-printed piece into my project. As you can see, it worked out perfectly!

Here's the February block. That's supposed to be a seam ripper, but again, I didn't use fabrics with enough contrast. I looked at it and looked at it and finally decided that I'd just have to make it again.

I'm so much happier with this second block! It's amazing what a difference the correct amount of contrast makes. That's something I'm going to try and watch out for a little better as I'm paper piecing.

As I've been working on these projects, I've been learning more and more about how to paper piece and have the projects turn out the way they should. Number one, of course, is the contrast between the fabrics. Number two is to make sure your fabric pieces are plenty large--you want to make sure they cover their specific section, but also ALL the seam allowances ALL the way around. I'd rather err on having a piece that's a bit too big rather than a bit too small!

When I first learned paper piecing, I was taught to sew my fabric pieces together and then trim the seam allowances, using an add-a-quarter ruler. Then I read Debby Kratovil's book, Paper Piecing Perfect Points. In there, she suggested you trim to the seam allowance of your initial patch and then just line up the next piece with that seam allowance. It works like a charm and you don't need a light box to make your pattern (which is what I was doing before!)

I've also been trying to get caught up with Lee from Freshly Pieced who is doing a quilt-along with the Bloom Bloom Pow quilt. Normally I'm not that interested in modern quilts, but I fell in love with this design when I saw it and decided to follow along. Here's the pile of all my cut strips.

And here, they're sewn together, ready for cutting. Rather an unpromising looking block, isn't it?!

Here's how each initial block is cut up--60-degree triangles! This is so different from anything I've ever done before--and it's lots of fun!

Finally, these are the stacks of each color of block pieces. Don't they look intriguing...and fun?! Tomorrow Lee will be posting the instructions on how they all go together. I can't wait!

Laura was fascinated by all the colored triangles and had to sort them all out for me!

On a different note...I think I posted a picture of this project in its unfinished state back in January. It's finally DONE!! I wasn't sure what to do with it, since I wasn't going to make it into a pillow. Then somewhere, somehow, someone mentioned stretcher bars. So I made a trip to A.C. Moore and found canvas stretcher bars in the sizes I needed. I had to sew an extra border around this piece so I would have something to "stretch" over the wood.

I put a piece of batting behind the fabric piece and then stretched all of it to the back and secured it by stapling with a staple gun. Now it's ready to hang!

Here's a close-up view of the embroidery. The fabric is actually colored with crayons, ironed to remove the waxy coating and then embroidered. The coloring adds such a nice effect, I think.

Tomorrow will be my day (among others) for the "Shake Your Pompoms" Blog Hop--be sure to come back and see what Laura and I have been up to! Until then, there's still plenty of time to Get More Done...Today

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Life on Hold

My last post was last week for the "April Showers" blog hop and about the time my day was over with, I came down with something! At first I just thought I was having a major allergy attack (never have before) but then whatever it was morphed into a REALLY bad cold--the kind where you can hardly keep your eyes open, they're tearing up so badly. And the unfortunate thing is that my loyal sidekick, Laura, came down with it too. She just seems to be bouncing back quicker than I am! I actually was able to do some sewing earlier in the week, but you know you're sick if you don't even want to visit your quilt studio!

I have high hopes that tomorrow will be a better day and regardless, I intend to "act as if"--I've found that when I'm not feeling good, but when I'm not REALLY sick--I can "act as if" I'm feeling okay and eventually, I'm not feeling too bad. So let's hope it works!

Nowadays it seems as if my quilting activity has been simply planning and working on projects for one blog hop after another. Next week will be the "Shake Your Pom Poms" blog hop and then two weeks after that will be the "For the Birds" blog hop. Like some crazy person, I signed up for both! I've decide that for the next while, I'm not going to actively participate in any of the blog hops, but instead, I'll be working on other projects that I've hoped to accomplish. And there are PLENTY of those to keep me busy!

Last Saturday I decided that I would help Laura put together the "Sonoma Swing Bag" that we had bought the pattern for. It looked relatively simple and I thought it might be something she could do. The first part of it was sewing together 2.5-inch strips and Laura's done plenty of that, so no problems there. I cut the pieces, she sewed them and pressed them and I cut some more.

The first challenge came when it was time to quilt the front and back piece. I had ironed the fleece to that section and then found a walking foot for Laura's sewing machine. In the past she's only sewn 1/4-inch seams, but this seemed to be a good opportunity to learn something different. I used those Frixion markers and drew lines for the quilting and showed Laura how to sew on the lines.

She seemed to do okay until she wanted to adjust something--for some reason she doesn't stop, she just keeps sewing as she moves her hands to a different position or makes other adjustments and then she veers WAY off the drawn line. We're going to have to work a bit more on stopping frequently while you sew! Laura had to do a bit of ripping, but she seemed to be okay with that when she saw how far off the line she was--at least she understands that the stitching is SUPPOSED to be on the line!

The other challenge was that she wanted to make the whole thing by herself! Uh, no! In the picture above she's holding the strap after she'd topstitched it. Again, I drew lines and she sewed on them. I hovered quite a bit while she sewed the strap, since a little veering could take her right off the fabric! But she actually did much better.

There's a pocket on the inside and one on the outside and she topstitched those in place too--again with lots of hovering and guidance from Mom! Fortunately, at that point, my husband was ready to go to the airport to pick up our youngest daughter, on break between semesters at BYU-Idaho. Laura was going with him and happy to leave to be able to see her sister again. And I was happy to be able to finish the bag by myself--especially when it came time to install the zipper! I'm not quite ready for Laura to be tackling THAT kind of a task!

Here's the finished bag--the pocket on the front was supposed to coordinate with the center fabrics, but I didn't catch that when I gave it to Laura to sew together. It turned out really cute and it's just the right size to hold her Kindle. And she's so proud of herself for having made it!

While Laura was quilting her bag, I was quilting the cover for my mixer. I discovered that the background fabric (the yellow) wasn't the same as my coordinating wall-hanging, but it's close enough that it doesn't really matter. I paper pieced another apple and centered it on the front of the fabric before I cut it. Overall, I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

I've been doing some other paper-pieced projects and I plan to blog about those in a few days--I've been learning a LOT about paper-piecing as I've done these projects and I intend to share some of what I've discovered. Hopefully my ideas may be of benefit to someone else.

Meanwhile, I've also been busy working on some projects for the Pompom blog hop, so check back here next Thursday when it will be my day for the Hop.

It's late tonight and I'm heading for bed, but there should be plenty of time to "Get More Done...Tomorrow!"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April Showers Blog Hop

This has already been such a fun blog hop and there have been so many creative and wonderful mug rugs that everyone has shared. I want to express appreciation to Madame Samm and Erin for bringing this blog hop to us and making it such a success (along with all the other many hops that M. Samm brings us!)

My daughter and her family live next door and for Easter the grandkids all got these cute umbrellas. Fortunately for the kids, it rained that day and they were able to try out their new umbrellas while their Mom took this picture of them. When she showed it to me, I got all excited and had her send it to me--I knew it would be perfect for this blog hop and I knew JUST what I would do with it!

I printed that photo onto fabric and made it into a mug rug! I found some bright umbrella fabric that really seemed to complement the photo.

There are 3 of us in our little family here at home and usually what I do for one, I do for all. So that meant that ONE mug rug was not enough. My next idea was to use Sunbonnet Sue:

That still left my husband, so I needed to come up with something a bit more masculine. I was wracking my brain and thought that maybe Sunbonnet Sue could use a companion. I had one those "light bulb" moments when I remembered the Wee Tots that Madame Samm drew for the Stitch Me Up Blog Hop. I thought there was a little boy in that collection and there WAS!

I printed this little boy out to his full page size, then reduced him by half. Finally, I added a rain jacket and some boots and made a little appliqued Wee Tot.

Once I had him made, all I had to do was place him into the appropriate background and then I had my husband's mug rug!

I thought I was done with mug rugs for this hop, until I began thinking (dangerous thing to do!) I enjoy sewing when it rains, but what I REALLY like to do is to curl up with a good book! And I have this chair where I like to sit and read (and enjoy the occasional snack) and it would be wonderful to have a mug rug to use on the table next to my chair.

My mind began whirling with ideas and I remembered that Melissa at Happy Quilting had created this wonderful storybook quilt. I wasn't interested in making a whole quilt using books, but this seemed like the perfect starting point for my reading mug rug.

So now I can sit and read and enjoy a nice cup of herb tea and maybe even a bowl of Ladyfinger popcorn!

The forsythia is so bright and beautiful--I thought it made the perfect backdrop for these mug rugs. Isn't it wonderful to have those April showers bringing us such a lovely display of color?!

Be sure to go and visit the other blogs today to see what they've created:

And don't forget to visit Madame Samm's blog each day to find out what other blogs are also hopping with us--all the way through next week until April 18th!

Have a Happy Spring!

Mom's Birthday and an OLD Quilt

Many of you may have seen this quilt that I made for my mom for her 80th birthday. It's a version of Eleanor Burns' Egg Money quilt.

Mom's birthday was March 24th; however, our family won't be celebrating it until the first weekend in May, when all 9 children will be able to attend. Thinking that Mom ought to have a little bit of a celebration for her actual birthday, Laura and I made the 3 hour trip to Mom's and gave her this quilt. She was just thrilled with it and we put it on her bed before we left.

I think I must have lost some pictures in the computer change, because I also had a picture of the apron I made for Mom. I had previously given her a Christmas apron, but she wanted one for everyday use and that was another gift she got for her birthday.

However, the gift-giving went both ways! Mom and I went through her old cedar chest and among other things, found this quilt that my grandmother had made. I had never seen it before, but Grandmama apparently had cut up old wool coats and used the good pieces as patches to make this quilt. She had four sons, so I guess there were plenty of old coats among them, since there's quite a variety here. I would love to know the history of this quilt, but all we can really do now is guess.

This is a close-up of one of the patches (pardon the wrinkles, but that's how it came to me!) The white "dots" in some of the blocks are these lazy-daisy stitches. And the blocks are simply raw edges butted together and then joined with this embroidery stitching. I'm not familiar with this particular stitch, but if anyone knows what it is, I would love to know.

This is the overall view of the back--not very pretty, is it?! The backing is just a heavy cotton fabric and there's no batting. There's really no need for batting since the quilt is rather heavy as it is.

Here's a close-up of one corner of the back. You can see the back of the embroidery stitches. I thought the whole thing was done by hand, but that bright blue fabric (it's not really that bright) appears to be machine-stitched to the front and then sewn by hand on the back. The other edge is just  fabric from the front turned under and stitched to the back.

This quilt was such a fun surprise and nice to have from a family history standpoint. Charles is going to take it to the cleaners today to try and remove some stains and hopefully it won't be so wrinkled when it comes back.

This week and next the April Showers Blog Hop is happening over at Madame Samm's. My day will be tomorrow when I'll be displaying the mug rugs I've made, so be sure to check back then!

Meanwhile, the day is yet young and there's plenty of time to Get More Done...Today! Have a great one!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Catching Up and Dealing with SCRAPS!

I haven't posted in a while, partly due to taking a bit of a break after working with Laura to complete her quilt, but also partly to try and get some things done here around the house. In the meanwhile, I also had to get a new computer (my guru-son told me my other one had some fatal illness!) and I've been learning to use a different keyboard and operating system.

Laura and I have visited a few quilt shops lately and at one of them I found this really cute pattern for a paper-pieced wall hanging. These are the blocks--I had to embroider the stems onto the cherries.

Here's the finished wall hanging! The colors aren't nearly as bright here as they are in real life. I was able to find some more of that yellow background fabric and I also found some in red. I'm going to use those to make some curtains for my kitchen. I also want to make a cover for my kitchenaid mixer and I'll probably put another one of the paper-pieced fruits on the front of it. I can't wait!

I had this piece that I had hand-appliqued as part of an online class that I took some years ago. I really didn't care much for it, but figured that I might as well do something with it. A pillow seemed like a good choice. Just as I was starting to work on it, I thought that I really ought to quilt it first. So I added batting and a piece of muslin and  did some free-motion quilting, sort of outlining all the pieces. But then it seemed to need something more.

 I've been watching some Craftsy classes on free-motion quilting and decided that I would add some feathers. Since I didn't really care that much about this piece, I went ahead and just winged it! I didn't draw any guidelines or anything, just looked at it and thought about what I should do and did it!

The quilting is far from perfect, but it's not bad. The end result is that now I have a finished pillow that I absolutely love! Who would have guessed?!

Now...about SCRAPS! We all have them and we seem to have sort of a love/hate relationship with them. I know I sure have! Well, I absolutely LOVE being organized and scrap control was my nemesis. Most of you probably know Bonnie Hunter. She has a "Scrap Users' System." When I first heard of her system, I got all excited and just knew this was the direction for me! All that organization; what wasn't there to love?!

So for several years, I would cut my scraps into strips and blocks. But the problem was, I didn't cut them ALL up. After a project was finished, I was ready for a break or to move on to the next project, not having to spend more time cutting up all the leftovers into little bitty pieces. Besides, some of those scraps were big...and what if I needed a BIG scrap? But I also wasn't really using them either.

This year I decided was the year I would finally get all my scraps cut into pieces and get them ORGANIZED. I thought that the best way to do that would be to go along with the colors for each month on ScrapHappy Saturday. I had taken a picture of MY scrap-saving system--a large laundry basket full of all my scraps--but it has disappeared. However, I'm sure you can probably look at your own pile of scraps and get an idea of what I was dealing with!

I think January's ScrapHappy color was pink and I had a drawer of 2.5-inch pink and red strips (this was NOT how it looked--this was AFTER all my cutting and organizing! I don't know where that orange came from!), so I figured I would work on pink and red at the same time. I pulled all the pink and red scraps from my laundry basket and then spent an entire day cutting them into the following sizes:

1.5-inch squares
2-inch squares
2.5-inch squares
2 x 3.5-inch bricks
2-inch strips less than 12 inches
2-inch strips greater than 12 inches
2.5-inch x 4.5-inch bricks
2.5-inch strips less than 12 inches
2.5-inch strips greater than 12 inches

Doesn't it wear you out, just looking at that list?! The bin in the previous picture was just for the 2.5-inch based strips. I had this other container for the 1.5 and 2-inch pieces. February was purple at ScrapHappy Saturday and I had just barely started on those.

Needless to say, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and again, concerned about cutting up all the large scraps I had, that I might someday large pieces, not tiny little scraps.

Then one day it occurred to me--I am NOT Bonnie Hunter (duh!) I don't use my fabrics like she does! Bonnie designs and makes quilts using lots of those pre-cut pieces and she makes most of her quilts very scrappy. I, on the other hand, am a very eclectic quilter, using a variety of techniques and styles. I don't usually go to my bins looking for a particular SIZE of fabric, but instead, I'm usually looking for a specific COLOR. And that's what I realized I should do--sort and store my scraps by COLOR.

I am now a happy quilter--and I have NO leftover scraps lying around, filling a container. This set of drawers contain blue/purple, green and black/gray scraps. On top is a somewhat larger bin for backgound/neutral scraps.

I buy muslin by the bolt and the leftover pieces have their own drawer. Then there's one for yellow/gold/orange/brown and one for reds/pinks.

I still have bins for 2.5-inch strips...but they're going to slowly integrate into my scrap bins.  I have a drawer for mixed colors (where there's no definite color that stands out) and one for 30's and themed fabrics. I also have a large drawer for batiks and one for reproduction fabrics--their scraps go right back in the drawer with the fabrics.

So there you have it--a scrap system that works for ME! Now the challenge is for you to come up with one that works for YOU! Because just as Bonnie Hunter's system didn't work for me, my system might not work for you. Look at the way you use your fabric and then store your scraps accordingly. Or, you can just throw them all in a laundry basket and dig through them whenever you need a specific piece of fabric! Whatever works!

My system is certainly not revolutionary (although it was for me!) and I'm sure many people simply store their scraps by color. But there are all kind of ways/systems for storing scraps. Please share how you store your scraps so we can all learn from each other.

Meanwhile, the day is still young and there's still time to Get More Done...Today!