Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WIP: Hanging Out with My Sister

My sister just left yesterday to return to North Carolina after her ten day visit here. This week's post is a random documentation of my activities with her and my daughter that are crafty related.

When my daughter had been here over Fathers' Day weekend we'd gone to my local quilt guild's presentation by Alex Anderson on quilt studio design where she showcased the work area of Libby Lehman (extremely organized) and Ricky Tims (not very organized so he hired Libby), among others. Alex showed her own studio as well with the admission that it was organized periodically for photographs. We left with quite a few inspiring ideas. My daughter had to leave to return to work but my sister and I followed up the next week with a visit to the Container Store and enjoyed looking at all the clever ways to manage a fabric stash and all the accessories that go with a fabric-centric life style. Alex Anderson uses a mesh basket storage system and this elfa® one at the container store looked promising. There is a rather neat online closet design tool at the Container Store website that is fun to play with.

I also got input from my sister and daughter on what pattern to quilt onto my Grinch Quilt. I rented time this Friday on a Handi-Quilter longarm to do it and I admit I am a bit nervous. I will need to be decisive on the spot, whereas at home, I ponder a bit and dawdle between sections and decisions.  I decided to outline the Grinch cartoon image in each section and to quilt curly waves that change in size to frame each wonkily-set image. I tentatively plan to do lazy-L loops in the vertical sashings and the word grinch written in cursive in the horizontal sashings. Writing out the word grinch was my daughter's idea and I think it will be both fun to do and fun to enjoy when finished. I am not quite sure how to dot those i's on grinch or what to do when the horizontal sashings and vertical sashings intersect. I still have today and tomorrow to work out the details. Here is my sketch made with whiteboard marker on plastic page protectors. The backing will be green so I think the thread color will be green or perhaps a multi-color if there is a red/green/yellow combination available.

My daughter browsed through a few of my quilt magazines and found there were a lot of ideas and patterns she wanted to copy out of this one. As she sat down to scan them all I told her it was so much, not to bother, just take the magazine and I would get myself another. After the weekend, when I went with my sister to my local quilt shop where I'd bought it originally, they told me they were sold out. Oh, no! I appeared so dismayed they looked around again much closer in some back drawers and found me one! Yay! Ever notice how you want something more when you think you cannot have it? I love the shop hop issues but it appears they are a special interest publication, available in stores but not by subscription. So if you see one of these and think you want it, grab it up while you can. Hmm... did I just shoot myself in the foot? You can get back issues on e-bay and Amazon but they are pricey there. I love the quilt on the cover especially, both the color combination and the pattern. It reminds me of topiary trees.

My sister poured through my pattern boxes to borrow back patterns we had used for our kids and re-use them for our grandkids. While she was busy with that, I sewed the buck-a-block for this month for my quilt guild. It is the Star Flowers pattern from the Fons and Porter March/April 201 4 issue of Love of Quilting. Our guild is doing it in a patriotic colorway.

And of course with an assortment of kids clothes patterns, you need snazzy buttons. We had fun shopping at Hobby Lobby for buttons suitable for grandkids. Maxine has four granddaughters and a grandson; with two granddaughters, I have some catching up to do. My sister bought an eclectic assortment that had owls, butterflies, ballerinas, frogs, and monkeys. We also stocked up just a bit on flannel for more burp cloths.

I had a great time with my sister, so that completed project was a huge success! My only new project for this week was my star buck-a-block for my guild, which I am counting as a completion, too. I'm counting the decision on a quilting pattern for the Grinch as progress. It looks like I am feeling generous with myself today as I settle back into a post company routine. I never did get to placing hexagons in my mask quilt with my daughter and sister, but with a house full of company and little ones, that really was an ambitious goal. I moved it up in my priority list to after the Grinch, though. It's pretty embarrassing that it has been hanging around since 2011.

Completed projects (2):
  1. Buck-a-block star
  2. Hanging out with my sister
Ongoing projects (5):
  1. Grinch quilt (May 22, 2013 post) - pattern selected, scheduled to longarm
  2. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons,  did not happen this week
  3. Chicken quilt - spray basted, awaiting embellishment (April 24, 2014 post)
  4. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post) - need to back, quilt, and bind
  5. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
New projects (1):
  1. Buck-a-block star 

Now I will check out this week's Freshly Pieced's Works in Progress Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WIP: Burp Cloths and Instructions

While here visiting, my daughter-in-law asked if I could make more burp cloths. It seems my two-month-old granddaughter is quite prolific in recycling the milk she has swallowed. Occasionally her mom needs to do laundry just because she runs out of clean burp cloths. I was thrilled to have a project; I went into factory assembly line mode. I'd made a slew of these for my now twenty-month-old daughter. Her mom, my daughter is also visiting. She is the quilter and asked for directions for the way I make these so I have included the assembly instructions at the end of this post.

Here are the ten I made for the two-month-old to take them home with her. It was so much fun pairing up the prints. All flannel fabric was from my stash. The first six were made in pairs from 1/2 yard each of two prints. I like making them complements of each other although I could make two identical. In the photos they are shown folded in half. The back of each is the same as its outer edges.

These next four were made from an assortment of seven fat quarters and one 1/4 yard cut (the butterflies). You can use a 1/4 yard cut instead of a fat quarter if you are willing to designate it for use as the central double thickness panel.

These make great quick baby shower gifts. These are so easily made from two fat quarters of flannel, call them U and F for Unfolded and Folded. The folded one will be the double thickness center panel, which gives more absorbency. In these pictures the unfolded one is the jungle print and the folded one is the argyle print. The burp cloths are sewn with 1/2 " seam allowances throughout.
  1. Trim each fat quarter into a piece 17-1/2" tall by 21" wide.
  2. Place fat quarter U right side up on work surface.
  3. Fold fat quarter F in half lengthwise right sides out. When folded it will measure 8-3/4" tall x 21" wide.
  4. Place folded fat quarter F on top of unfolded fat quarter U lining up raw edges along one long edge.
  5. Sew through three thickness along long edge 1/2" from raw edges.
  6. Align folded edge of fat quarter F with the other long raw edge of unfolded fat quarter U on its right side.
  7. Sew through three thicknesses 1/2" from edge. You now have a tube, most of which is single thickness but part of which is double thickness. Leave the tube inside out with wrong side of fat quarter U to the outside.
  8. Near each of the two open ends of the tube, press the long seams of the fat quarter U flannel away from the center. The tube being inside out is not a problem because at this stage you only need to press about an inch or so in from each open short edge.
  9. Find the center of each flannel section by aligning the long seams and making a snip at the center of the single thickness section and a snip at the center of the double thickness section at both open edges. You can also just eyeball estimate the center of each section.

  10. Flatten the tube so that double thickness fat quarter F is centered on fat quarter U by aligning the snips or by eyeballing.
  11. Sew down one short edge with 1/2" seam allowance.
  12. At other short edge, sew about one-third the way down from each corner with 1/2" seam allowance, leaving center one-third open for turning.
  13. Turn right side out, working out corners. Turn in opening edges 1/2" to match stitched sections. Press short edges.
  14. Press main body with long seams facing away from center panel.
  15. Top stitch about 1/8" from outer edge all around, closing opening.

  16. Top stitch along the two long inner seams on fat quarter U through all four thicknesses.
  17. The back showcases the same fabric as the front long edges.
  18. If you have a quarter yard instead of a fat quarter you can still use it for the center panel. Call this quarter yard cut of flannel Q. Trim Q to be 8-3/4" tall and have the fold be on the short edge instead of the long edge. Trim the folded piece to 21" wide. You will still need a fat quarter though, for the wrap-around unfolded piece U, but you can follow the same instructions.
Here is the condensed four step version, if 18 steps seems too much.
  1. TRIM: Trim two fat quarters to 17-1/2" x 21". Fold one lengthwise wrong sides in.
  2. SEW LONG: Sew together along long edges with 1/2" seams, making tube.
  3. CENTER & SEW SHORT: Center tube, sew short edges, leave opening to turn.
  4. TURN & TOPSTITCH: Turn. Press. Top stitch. Voila!
When I make these, the only thing I have to look up is the dimension to cut. In reality the 17-1/2" just allows you to square up the 1/2 yard length of the fat quarter. The 21" is just about right to accommodate half the width of most flannels. Occasionally you will get a flannel that runs a little narrower or a bit  wider. That 21" is not sacred. Just make the long dimension of both pieces of flannel the same.

My number of new and completed projects this week equaled ten - all burp cloths. My list of unfinished projects will just need to wait. The younger generation have returned to their homes and jobs and only my sister is here visiting now. My main work in progress is pouring over quilting and knitting books and magazines with her. I think we will check out this week's Freshly Pieced's Works in Progress Wednesday together. Should be fun! Here is my sister with my son and daughter and their respective daughters. Spouses are missing from photo. They were running around packing!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WIP: Pillowcases and Books

I have been very busy this week getting ready for a visit from my 20 month old granddaughter and her parents and from my 2 month old granddaughter and her parents. What with cleaning and decluttering and prepping bedrooms for their visit, I knew intense quilting was not to be this week. But I did do some sewing projects. Several months ago I'd made the older granddaughter a cloth book titled Thor and the Days of Yore. The picture on the instructions was too cute to toss, so I made it into a pillowcase for a small 12 x 16 pillow. (See my post for February 11, 2014.) She sleeps with it at night so my daughter requested a replacement pillowcase to trade off so she can wash the Thor one. 

I made this one to coordinate with her Little Witch Girl quilt. (See post for October 24, 2012.) I folded over 1/2" on each edge of the Count Dracula block and sewed it on the squiggle yarn fabric instead of piecing it. That way the pillowcase did not have raw seams on the inside. The small ridges on the outsides of the Dracula square are far enough out from the center of the pillow that I do not think they will  rub on my little granddaughter's face. I expect no Princess and the Pea predicament. 

The Count Dracula block on each side of the pillowcase are two blocks I did not use since I only used the pumpkins, kitties, and witch blocks. The squiggle yarn fabric is the same as the borders on the quilt. 

I also made three other pillowcases. This one coordinates with the Owl and the Pussycat Quilt last week's post for June 4, 2014.

The contrasting band is the same as the backing fabric, the body is like the quilt border, and the pink accent band is the same fabric as the binding.

This next pillowcase coordinates with the Paisley Pearl Quilt. See post for February 8, 2014.

The body of the pillowcase is the same as the backing of the quilt with giraffes, rhinos, elephants, and butterflies. The pink accent band and the woodgrain contrast band are fabrics from my stash. That accent band is from my jelly roll of Riley Blake chevrons. I just liked the quirky woodgrain.

This cow fabric was too cute to pass up and it has been sitting in my stash for perhaps a little girl's dress. I had one yard and most dresses require 1.25 yards. Yes, I could have added a contrast bodice or hem but in the meantime I used some of it for a fun pillowcase. Milk is supposed to be good at bedtime so why not a whole herd of cows? A pillowcase will probably get used more than a dress that is worn only occasionally. Plus I used only what was in my stash.

After being side-tracked by these four pillowcases, I managed to make two books of Calendar Babies. The art work is by Joy Allen and I think the illustrations are precious.

Joy Allen did another cloth book that I also made two of, one for each granddaughter. It was called My Baby's Day and you can see it in my post for December 27, 2012.

My statistics for this week are all new projects – two books and four pillowcases. I keep repeating the ongoing projects lest I forget them. I do not see how I can. Except for the mask hexagon quilt, everything is hanging up in clear view in my sewing room. But you know how that is. Sometimes you just stop seeing what is right in front of your face.

Completed projects (6):
  1. Count Dracula pillowcase
  2. Sea stripes pillowcase
  3. Pale pink animals pillowcase
  4. Cow pillowcase
  5. Calendar Babies cloth book (times 2)
Ongoing projects:
  1. Chicken quilt - spray basted, awaiting embellishment (April 24, 2014 post)
  2. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post) - need to back, quilt, and bind
  3. Grinch quilt (May 22, 2013 post) - scheduled to longarm quilt this one June 27th. 
  4. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  5. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons
New projects (6):
  1. Count Dracula pillowcase
  2. Sea stripes pillowcase
  3. Pale pink animals pillowcase
  4. Cow pillowcase
  5. Calendar Babies cloth book (times 2)
It's time to link up to this week's Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

WIP: Owl and Pussycat Completion

This week I quilted the Owl and the Pussycat and was ready to attach the binding. Last week, I'd already cut, joined, folded and pressed my binding out of the solid blue material that came with the kit. The blue was just enough different from the inner border blue however, and seemed a bit overpowering around the outside that I deliberated substituting different binding. I leaned toward echoing the chevron pink insert I'd added and so I went to my stash for a pink that would go. Had I had more of the chevron I would have used that but I found a pink with small and big dots in alternating rows that I had in a fat quarter bundle I'd bought. But a fat quarter would not be enough for the binding. But wait! I had the same fabric in a different fat quarter bundle! I did check out other alternatives before committing to the two size dot pink. Here were other candidates. Clockwise from the top, pink pin dot (too little white with the pink and the pink was not the same as the chevrons), solid blue with kit (too dark and not the same blue as the inner border), uneven dot size blue (a strong possibility) and the two-size dot pink. I went with the two-size dot pink.

Before cutting the strips for the binding, I debated the width and whether I should fussy cut it along the rows of dots. Based on the pattern repeat I could have had skinny binding cut to 2" strips (finished binding would be less than 3/8"), or wider binding cut to 3" strips (1/2" finished seemed too much), or 3" strips trimmed down to 2.25" my preferred width for 3/8" binding (a lot of waste). I made an intentional decision not to fussy cut and not to stick with a width that was a multiple of the fabric repeat. The fabric was not printed 100% in alignment with the grain so fussy cutting would have been challenging. If I did not join strips in the correct orientation, one section would have stood out as different.  Since I was working with fat quarters, my binding section were only about 20" long, not a full fabric width. Having each section be a bit different would look random and not look like there was one error in a planned scheme. The chevron print drifted a bit so I decided to go with a "let the dots fall where they may" philosophy. I prepared and attached the binding last night and hand stitched it this morning. The dots do fluctuate around the outside but I kind of like it that way.

I outlined the animals and the text and had fun adding some swirls in the ship's sail and in the bow of the boat

I straight machine stitched along the edges of the dark blue, printed green, and light blue borders of the fabric panel. I free motion quilted along wavy lines in the stripe-y dotted border and around the shooting stars and their trails.

The backing fabric is waves and the wavy border stitching shows up better there. All of the stitching is in a pale blue. I did not go crazy changing colors like I did on past quilts.

I will initial and date it later today. Its finished size is 34.5" x42". It was sized to fit the available backing material. Basically this week I finished one project but did not start any others. My ongoing projects do seem to be pretty stagnant. I guess they just do not inspire me right now. But I did actually make an appointment to rent time on a longarm machine June 27th to finish off the Grinch quilt (May 22, 2013 post) so that is a bit of progress. And my daughter who also quilts (see Robin Loves Quilting) is coming to visit so I will get her input on assembling the hexagons of the Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post). Stay tuned.

Completed projects:
  1. Owl and Pussycat quilt (started May 28, 21014 post)
Ongoing projects:
  1. Chicken quilt - spray basted, awaiting embellishment (April 24, 2014 post)
  2. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post) - need to back, quilt, and bind
  3. Grinch quilt (May 22, 2013 post) - all borders added, need to back, quilt, and bind. 
  4. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  5. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons
New projects:
  1. None
It's time to link up to this week's Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday.