Saturday, May 20, 2017

Lil' Red No.3 and Coral No.2

After shamefacedly admitting how many stuffed toy panels I had lingering in my stash (previous post) I got to worked diligently yesterday on two Stacy Iest Hsu doll panels. I completed a Lil' Red doll with her accessories, my third one of these, for my youngest of three granddaughters; she now will have her own doll to play with next to her older sister. I used white rick-rack trim. I had used pink rick-rack on her sister's Lil' Red.

I also completed my second of three Coral Queen of the Sea doll panels. Now I have only one mermaid doll panel with accessories remaining to complete. The third mermaid will be for my oldest granddaughter. Should I tackle that third one now while I am on a roll? The only thing delaying me is deciding on a color for the rick-rack trim. I'm thinking maybe green like the fish perhaps? I will at least cut it out to get me started. You know what they say ... "Once begun is halfway done".

I cannot overpraise the value of the Clover Hera tool for stuffing those dolls' long limbs. These last two dolls were a whiz with this handy gadget. I had previous struggled. See my post for March 8 2016 to learn what other gizmos I tried that did not work quite as well. Although its intended function is to mark with a crease, the paddle-like profile of the Hera Marker was great for nudging out seams and poking stuffing where I want it to be.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Can You Overbuy "Cute"?

Yes. You can. Really. I have. I confess I buy too much fabric. I get on a kick of some sort and overdo it. This post is an inventory of my not-really-intended-to-be-a-quilt purchases. I am acknowledging publicly this foible of mine and keeping the inventory in front of my nose so I use it up!

I was out of my flannel obsession but it has flared up again. In all fairness, however, it was instigated by the sudden appearance of four babies within the past month. I did a post on 5/9/17 about burp cloth for two of those babies and then bought more flannel for a pair of twin baby girls. I have yet to make these up but intend to do so this week. Twin baby girl flannels are mainly the stack on the right and just a few off the top of the left stack. Of course I also restocked a bit; stash purchases are the four on the bottom of the left stack. I bought a total of seven yards of flannel in ½-yard lengths Monday. That is enough to make 14 burp cloths. Each takes two fat quarters. (FYI, for those readers checking the count in each stack, I got two ½-yard lengths of the top left flannel owls just because they were so darn cute.)

I did an inventory and I have way too many of these, also. I have yet to make the following stuffed toy panels.

Two more little mermaids: I completed my first mermaid by Stacy Iest Hsu last and blogged about it in my 5/12/17 post. I have three granddaughters so of course I bought three panels – two more to go.

One more Lil Red doll: I completed the first two of these Lil Red dolls and blogged about it in my post for 3/8/16. These are also by Stacy Iest Hsu. My youngest granddaughter still needs hers. Again. I'd bought three panels.

Those dolls really did come out cute and by that third doll I became an expert at stuffing those long legs and arms.

Mama and baby animals: These are by Stacy Iest Hsu, also. I really do like the work of this Moda designer. There are four animals so maybe I will take this one panel and share it among three granddaughters and a grandson. Or maybe I will buy a second panel and that way each household can have all four mama and baby choices. My husband, with a bit of an eye roll, advised me to "just make up the one you have first". That is probably very sound advice. But I better make it up soon before it sells out and I cannot get a second one. Just sayin'... Just in case...

Panel with two bunnies: Somehow Easter slipped by me on this one. I bought only one panel. Perhaps sanity is beginning to take hold.

I have way too many of these. Many I have made into books as they were intended. One I made into a graphic novel style quilt. I posted about The Mitten on 11/20/14.  It folds so you can read it in rows graphic novel style. Who says Woof? is on my design wall to be a quilt. I posted about my plan for that on 6/24/15. Yikes! See why I blog about what I do? By looking up the dates of these posts I realized that this potential quilt has been on my design wall for 2 years!

The From the Ground Up is great for my grandson but since he is approaching the age of two, I think I may have missed my window for it as a cloth book. Perhaps it could be another design wall project. Hah – like the previous one, which is two years old and still aging. The graphic novel approach I used on The Mittens book might also work well for the construction fabric panel. This approach has fewer decisions and so I could allow myself to make it up more quickly. Hmmm... I think I have some construction cone fabric somewhere that might go well. I have one-year-old granddaughter, though, whose daddy is a construction manger so she is another option as the recipient. Heaven forbid I should be sexist and assume construction is just for boys. As for the book on the right, the images in Whose Baby Am I are so soft and inviting I do want to see that go to a baby as a book.

I definitely overbought for a Christmas theme. Perhaps when I send off burp cloths I could include a cloth book. I would like to know some kiddo will be enjoying each of these. They really do not take long to sew once I get on a roll.

When I was buying my flannel Monday, I got an inspiration from a display at the Cotton Patch quilt shop in Lafayette. A cat and mouse stuffed toy panel was made up as placemats and coasters. I was strong and refrained from buying that panel; but I am still thinking about it... Two Christmas book panels, that I have in my stash, would lend themselves well to the placemat idea. I just might do that with my Twelve Dogs of Christmas and Twelve Cats of Christmas panels. Each page really does have too many words for a child young enough to like a cloth book. I could repurpose the panel to yield six placemats. That might be a fun use. I would frame each double page and add a backing. That would be good FMQ practice too and use up some batting scraps. If not FMQ, I could instead try out a quilt as you go method. The placemats would make for interesting meal time conversation, also. The pages would not even have to be in order. That way you would find a dinner companion who had the next "day" after yours. Yup. I just decided. That is what I am going to do with these panels. Eventually. Hopefully by this Christmas.

But first, I will link up to Let's Bee Social #177.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Coral Queen of the Sea

I just sent off a mermaid doll to  granddaughter Lillian who just turned one. The doll is not the princess Ariel but rather Coral, Queen of the Sea.

Coral was created from a panel designed by Stacy Hsu for Moda.

I have gotten much better at making these stuffed toys that originate from a fabric panel. A Hera tool by Clover is just right for coaxing out the seams after turning and it is excellent for pushing the bits of polyester stuffing down those long narrow arms and legs. Be sure however to cover up the pointed non-paddle end with the cap to a seam ripper or something similar to avoid poking the palm of your hand.

Using a zipper foot, I stitched across her legs and arms where they join torso so they will be able to bend there.

The doll comes with the options of fins or a skirt, each gathered at the waist with a belt threaded though a casing.  For the fins, after centering the belt so about ¾" of each end protrudes, I sewed across the casing at the side seam, through the belt, to keep the ends from slipping inside the casing out of reach. It was not possible to do the same thing for the skirt. Being fuller, the skirt gathered more and the belt was too short. Instead I fixed each end of the belt to protrude about  ¾", gathered the middle section toward the center and sewed across the casing, through the belt, at two places. The middle section would be permanently gathered but at least the ends would be prevented from retreating into the casing.

Coral is posing here wearing her fins and accompanied by her sidekick friend Mr. Bubbles.

I took this picture of Coral at night. I like to think of her basking in the moonlight, wearing her skirt.

The next morning I photographed a face-on view of her basking in the sun, shining down through our skylight.

Coral, Queen of the Sea is shown here with her wardrobe and swimming buddy, Mr. Bubbles.

Coral also has a blanket and pillow. I quilted the blanket in a swirling water current style.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social #176. Her post is about birds up in the air while mine is set "Under the Sea".

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

More Babies, More Burp Cloths

I slipped into burp cloth production mode again. My daughter's friend who was the matron of honor at her wedding and her husband are having a baby, gender undisclosed. My son-in-law's brother and his wife are having a baby girl. All these flannels I had in my stash. I keep a generous stock of flannel; anytime I see something cute that I just cannot resist I snap it up. I aim to have gender neutral fabric variety on hand. Semper burp-ready.

I like the irony of the next fabric pairing - the fox and the hounds(tooth)

The buttercups and yellow polka dot toadstools on the fox print just called for a bright yellow speckled flannel partner.

Yellow and white geese with orange feet march happily along paired with a sunny colored background dotted with raindrop size orange circles. Splash, splash anyone?

A mint green giraffe skin print... why not? It goes great with the yellow giraffes on a mint background.

I only had one fat quarter of each of these prints so I could not make a complementary pair of burp cloths. But for this one burp cloth, folded over to show the back, I do think those white dots on a green background remind me of the owls' eyes. These nine completed burp cloths could be for either a boy or a girl.

I had 1½ yards of this barnyard print in my flannel drawer. I loved the cheerfulness of the pattern and bought three times the amount I usually do. I claim it was because of the large scale of the print, but, truth be told, I just really liked it – a lot. The way the animals sounds are spelled out and scattered among the cartoon pigs, sheep, ducks, cows, hens, and chicks requires two photos of the back of two burp cloths to capture all the whimsical details. The finished longer dimension of the burp cloth is 20" indicating that each animal vignette is 4"-5" big. The pink, lilac, and turquoise colors, and the sprinkling of flowers throughout, say "little girl" to me. (There went my gender neutral guideline for advance purchase.)

Although I usually gift burp cloths in an assortment of prints I chose to pair an array of solid colors with this one girlish print. I made three pair of complementary burp cloths – pink, lilac, and turquoise.

One of my favorite parts of quilting and sewing is the fabric selections and combinations. Burp cloths are especially fun because gratification from the end project comes quickly and I get to play with a lot of fabric pairings. All that is left now is for me to pre-wash the burp cloths before sending them off. I use Shout® Color Catchers® so if any of these bright colors bleed into the wash water, the dye will be captured before it can settle somewhere else. These burp cloths take two fat quarters each and are triple thickness in the middle section for extra absorbency. Instructions for them are in my June 18, 2014 post

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

And the Winner Is...

My good friend Vickie, although a non-quilter, still came and supported my guild's quilt show the weekend of April 22-23, 2017. She bought a ton of raffle tickets.

"A donation to your guild," Vickie claimed. "I never win anything and besides I do not want to bring more stuff into my house." 
"I hear you," I replied. "There is only one basket here that I would love to win. It has tons of fabric and sewing notions in it."
"Which one?" she asked. "I will put just about all the tickets I bought in that one". I advised her which basket was my favored one. It was labeled 14 and titled Christmas in April.

Well, what do you know? A short while later Vickie comes over to where I was working at the membership table, beaming and carrying a basket just about as wide as her arms could span.

"Guess what? We won number 14!" she exclaimed.

The label with the contents revealed a bountiful haul. We had agreed before hand that "when" we won it (snicker, snicker, very unlikely) that I got all the sewing stuff and she got all the food gift cards. I guess it pays to talk positive. She got $115 in gift cards, all for eating establishments she frequents. I got all the rest. What a deal! I set out to explore my goodies starting with the fabrics – a lot, over 32 yards – in two Christmas design themes.

There was a Christmas fabric by Loralie Harris, which I will show first, and nutcracker themed  fabric which I will show afterward. The focus fabric for the Loralie Design is an 18-frame panel of lady caricatures getting ready for the Christmas holidays, titled Holiday Delight. A few of the panes are holiday symbols so if I get tired of the femme fatales I have five other options. The panel is about ⅔ yard of fabric... just the beginning of the Loralie Design assortment.

There were coordinating fabrics in generous lengths, enough for sashing or backings (7⅝ yards):
     Christmas Party, showcasing ladies bedecked in their finery – 2⅝ yards
     Holiday Fancy,  striped and polka dot holiday icons – 2 yards + 1 yard
     Candy Cane Crowd, bow adorned candy canes on black – 2 yards

I also discovered a ½ yard of a white background fabric titled Holly Scroll that will also go with that ⅔ yard panel of those ladies.

But there were many more cuts of tone-on-tone blender fabrics designed to go with the Loralie fabric line but in reality will prove to be very versatile. From left to right, a total of 6 yards in ½ cuts:
     SCRIBBLE in red – 3 x ½ yard
     SCRIBBLE in green – 1 x ½ yard 
     Confetti in red/black – 2 x ½ yard
     Confetti in green/black – 2 x ½ yard
     LOTSA HOLLY – 2 x ½ yard
     HOLLY DANCE – 1 x ½ yard
     Elegant Scroll – 1 x ½ yard
Underneath these is a 1 yard length of Space Dots.

There were similar yardages from a nutcracker theme, all but one from the Nutcracker Suite line by Marlene Moore for Northcott. First there were three mini-prints with nutcrackers, teddy bears, trains, horns, and drums (pattern #711). They would make great points on an Ohio Star block - not too large scale a print to be erratic as star points when cut, but not too small as to be uninteresting.
     red – 1 yard
     green – 3⅜yards
     blue – 3 yards  + ½ yard

This block fabric (pattern #708) would make great fussy cut star centers. There are 6 styles, each 5" wide x 3¼" tall.

There is a coordinating border print (pattern #710) and classic-looking stripe (pattern #712) to go with the block fabric, just right for outer borders and striped binding. I think a quilt design is forming in my brain.
     border – 1½ yards
     blocks – 2 yards + ⅔ yard
     stripe – 1 yard

There was one last nutcracker themed fabric in the assortment, a print from VIP fabrics. Each nutcracker is approximately 3" high not counting his legs which are hidden since the nutcrackers overlap. This fabric has a more playful feel than the others so I would use it elsewhere - maybe as a crib sheet for my grandson for the holiday season... ? I have 3⅛ yards of this and need just over 2 yards for a crib sheet. Maybe a pillowcase or two with the leftovers?

The rest of the goodies in the basket included a dozen adorable christmas buttons. Those I will try to press into use embellishing clothes for my four grandchildren. Snowmen might be more appropriate for the Oklahoma crew. The Southern California crew love hiking among nature so perhaps the trees and cardinals will go that way. The ice skating bear? TBD.

There were six  patterns. I think my two favorite are the snowday...sewday and the coiled snowflakes, both on the far right in both photos. Some are heavily appliqué so I may be sharing the wealth with others on those. That deer one is awfully cute, though. Give him  red nose instead of a black one and you've got Rudolph. I have never worked with  wool so that JOY and Sled could be a skill builder for me. The stained glass window angel at the far left bottom claims no bias tape and no turned under edges, only contemporary techniques. Now my curiosity is aroused.

There was a set of quilting stencils. These could be a good way for me to get inspiration for extending my FMQ skills. I do not think I will be doing a lot of hand piecing but I am curious about the statement on the package to "Mix+ match for endless geometric patchwork designs."

There were lots of tools and gadgets. I do love wonder clips and the rainbow assortment is bright and cheerful. A long tape measure in PURPLE, not yellow will surely be easier to locate in my often less-than-pristine sewing room. I held those red poppin™ scissors and they have a nice hand to them. The stainless steel blades are longer, teflon coated, with a blunt tip.  It is still to be determined if I fall in love with them as fabric shears or keep them as a visible standout for paper cutting tasks. They sure are sleek and attractive and I love red. I plan to try out using that red pincushion for my machine needles. I saw a tip somewhere to write in each section a needle size such as 90/14 or 80/12. Then when you remove a machine needle you can store it in the appropriated sized section. .

There was a bobbin case and an assortment of Superior threads; three spools of So Fine in neutral tones for the bobbin and red and green Magnifico for topstitching.

There were a couple of books for my reading pleasure. I loved the touch of playfulness the basket creators added by including the third item on the far right. Depending on where I sit to read, I may need to use the Poo-pourri™ spray first. If you have never seen its introductory ad, check it out on YouTube. It is delicately hilarious. (The Amazon ad is funny, too but in a gross, middle-school humor way. I like the classier introductory ad much better.)

Someone contributed a cute felt snowman tote bag, blanket stitched around the edges. Note too how his body sections were printed to look like buttons. There was also a gift certificate to one of my local quilt shops, Wooden Gate Quilts. One of our guild members does beautiful professional longarm quilting. She included a gift certificate for up to $100 worth of her services.

As I cleaned out the base of the basket, having emptied it of its treasures, I found two more  useful items. The red background that I thought was cardboard to support and display the contents was really two glossy red folders with inner pockets, great for project notes and pattern. Some of the smaller items had been corralled in a tapered side cardboard box - just the right size to sit on my sewing room counter and collect those cutting scraps that are too big to throw away and need to mellow in a bin until sorted and trimmed. This raffle basket was put together by the Amador Valley Quilters friendship group, the Quiltinators and man, those ladies who packed this basket thought of everything!

I kept the outer wrapping of the basket: 1 yard of 72" wide white netting, some lengths of red ribbon and of course the spunky bag tag. I did initially throw away the crumpled white tissue that had been used to fill up the few and far between gaps in the contents, but then I had second thoughts. I retrieved the tissue paper from the recycling bin and smoothed out each of the seven sheets. Aside from a few wrinkles it was not torn and was in good shape. I folded it carefully; you never know when you will need white tissue paper.

The gold metal embossed "basket" itself was a thing of beauty. It found a home displayed on top of my china hutch.

As I folded, fondled, photographed, cataloged, and blogged about the winnings I could not but help feel a welling up of gratitude. I hope all the contributors know I really stretched out my enjoyment of the prize. The joy will be ongoing as I relish making the projects from and with all the goodies.
  • Thank you to the Quiltinators for creating such an awesome, thoughtful raffle basket.
  • Thank you to the businesses and guild members who contributed to fill the basket.
  • Thank you to Vickie for coming to the show and buying those raffle tickets.
  • Thank you to whoever drew the winning ticket.
  • Thank you to my husband who refrained from rolling his eyes when that huge volume of stuff entered our front door. He has been enduring its display on our dining room table, in our living room wing chair, and across the upstairs counters for going on two weeks now.
It is time to utter that last sigh of contentment and put it all away - where I can find it. I will also share this tale of good fortune with my online quilt friends at Let's Bee Social #175