Wednesday, September 30, 2009

waste not, want not

I've been saving selvages for months now and with the donations of my quilting group, I finally had enough to get to work on this:
The pattern is from Quilting on the Selvage Edge by Karen Griska, though I scaled the pattern down to make it more of a wall hanging size. I think my finished dimensions are around 30X30. The interior blocks are 4" finished and the black inner border is 1" finished.
I auditioned fabric after fabric for the back and wasn't happy with any of them. It finally occured to me that I could use the longer selvages for that and enjoy that part as much as the front. (I do confess to needing more than I had on hand which led to grabbing fabric out of the stash that still had selvages intact. They aren't intact anymore.)

I was going to use black for a hanging sleeve before I decided to just go for it and use selvages everywhere I could.
The sleeve-

And even for the label -
(Thanks to Karen for help protecting my privacy.)

The top was a blast to piece. A few notes if you're interested in making one:
I used muslin squares as a foundation for the blocks as explained in the book along with my edgestitching foot and moving the needle over to lay down one selvage after another. Next time, I'll keep my needle as close to center as possible because I had problems with the foot catching the tiny edges when I was free motion quilting. A woman in my quilting group also suggested a small zigzag which is something to consider for future selvage projects.
Make sure you overlap the strips well. I had a few pull loose and had to hand applique them back down after the quilt was assembled. Not the end of the world, but a bit of a pain.
The blocks do get thick. Just press the best you can when you join them.
Because the blocks were thick, I didn't use a foundation when joining the strips for the backing, but I did choose to use a regular cotton batting rather than flannel for the interior of the quilt.
I also ripped most of the selvages off the fabric. (Yes, I'm a ripper, stop gasping. It's from my days of working at Laura Ashley when we'd rip the fabric to the lengths people wanted to buy.) And yes, it does distort the fabric a little. It all goes back into place with the iron. That didn't cause me any trouble.
My muslin was not washed ahead of time which I think helped it all get very crinkly after laundering. I love that look.
I usually quilt with a 70sharp needle. The next selvage quilt will be done with an 80sharp. I didn't break it, but I did have skipped stitches while free motion quilting and it always seemed to happen when I hit an area thick with many layers and seams. I think a larger needle would have helped. Slowing down in those areas helped as well.
Long story short - my machine quilting on this one is not my best work, but I'm so happy with how it turned out in the end that I don't really care. Plus, I know how to make the next one go more smoothly.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 25, 2009

3 little mittens

The kids' Christmas ornaments are done.
I didn't look carefully at the sizes when I decided to make these as ornaments and very quickly figured out they'd be larger than I would want for the tree. I rethought the plan and instead of doing them in the traditional cross stitch size, used the pattern for petit point on linen going over one thread. The quarter will give you a better idea of size. (Done as recommended in the pattern, they would finish up around 3" by 4 1/2".) These are probably the last thing I will ever do in petit point. My eyes can't take it anymore.
This one is Trixie's. I picked the pattern with words to commemorate her learning to read this year.
Ellie's was chosen for the script since she'll learn cursive in 2nd grade.

Glenn's was the most masculine of the lot.

There's a darling fourth pattern that I might make up in a larger size to display framed.
They're all backed with this scrap from my stash. I crocheted a chain with a strand of embroidery floss for the hanging loops. When backing them with fabric, I used a tiny stitch length to be sure all the linen threads were caught. The tops were left open for turning and then hand stitched closed after folding in the raw edges.

If my kittens lose these mittens, having no pie will be the least of their worries.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

library tote

I'm still working away on projects even though it's been quiet around the blog. For some reason, I've lost my routine here and can't seem to figure out a good time to catch up and post.
I'm trying to work through projects that have sat half finished or are just piles of fabric pulled for a reason, but never started. The pajama top pillow seemed to give me a little momentum.
This one was next:
Nothing exciting, just a basic, very large tote. There are actually two of them. I needed some large bags for trips to the library that will fit oversized picture books and the puzzles that Trixie likes to check out. They also needed to be very smooshable so I could cram them into my purse or keep one inside the other when we don't need to use both. For that reason, they aren't structured with any interfacing, but they are lined with some pockets inside for the paper receipts the library gives at checkout. Those usually wind up lost or wadded into a ball at the bottom of whatever other bag I was using and then I miss due dates too easily.
The fabric was bought at a garage sale in the neighborhood. In fact, the sale was put on by the people selling Jan's new home. The lining is out of the stash and the webbing was from the quilter's garage sale. (It seems I've made the straps too long. They're perfect for slinging the bags over my shoulder even with large items poking out of the top, but the bags drag on the ground if I just hold them in my hand. I'll probably be grateful for them in the winter when I have to get them over the bulk of my coat.)
I do have some fabric left with the following letters intact:
scrap 1- x,y
scrap 2- e,f,g,j,k,l,o,p,q
scrap 3- same as scrap 2
scrap 4- x,y,z, x,y,z, a,b,c, a,b,c,e,f,g,h,d,e,f,g,h,d,e,f,g(i-m are on this scrap, but there is very little seam allowance below them.)
I loved this fabric when I saw it and hate to see any of it go to waste. If you want any of the scraps, I'm happy to mail them off. Just email me with what pieces interest you and your address. One other note about the fabric - I'm not sure what the actual fiber content is, but I know for sure it isn't 100% cotton.
Edited to add: The scraps have been claimed :)
Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 18, 2009

hand me down pillow

In a former life, this was a little pajama top of mine 40 some years ago. Ellie wore it not long after we brought her home. I stored it away carefully for Trixie, but when I pulled it out, the matching pants and the back of the top were horribly stained. No amount of soaking took it out(where on earth do those mystery stains come from?). It sat in my sewing room for a few years until I came up with a solution that didn't detract from all the beautiful work in the shirt.
I carefully removed the stitching that attached the front and back shirt panels (cutting through the sleeve at the top) and then appliqued the front to a matching piece of kona cotton in pink. (Edgestitching worked just fine for that.) The bottom of the sleeve was folded in on itself to give a nicer line at the side - I didn't want the sleeve to jut out too much from the body of the pillow.
Once that was done, I cut out around the top with a large seam allowance. That piece was put face down on another piece of pink cotton. Using the edgestitching from the applique as a guide (so the backing cotton was on the bottom as I sewed), I stitched around the entire piece leaving an opening on the bottom for turning and stuffing. Once stuffed, I just slipstiched the opening and was done.

I know this idea's been used for teeshirt pillows for ages, but it seems like a cute way to enjoy a favorite baby shirt if you aren't brave enough to cut it into pieces for a quilt or if it has great details like this one.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 17, 2009

thrifty thursday

Phew, it's still Thursday in my time zone. Lost track of time today.
Just a quick picture of a vintage chenille bedspread I found last weekend. It's on Ellie's bed (made up by her too - note the large sheet wrinkle that's killing me now, though not enough to have retaken the picture).
It's a double or queen size which is why it goes to the floor on her twin, but it's in such great condition and has the perfect colors for her room. Her duvet gets too hot in the summer, so she'll enjoy this for a few more weeks before the weather turns. Next spring we'll have an alternative to her heavy bedding.
$20 seemed like a steal to me.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

happy birthday ellie!

She turned 8 today and (FINALLY - in her words) got a DS. The day has been properly celebrated with a playdate, Hawaiian pizza, and ice cream cake. The cake included an oreo crust, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, whippped cream, m&m's, mini chocolate chips, and a small chocolate chip cookie on top. The only thing that might have made it more to her liking would be if someone sprinkled colored sugar on top.
In even more exciting news and serving as definitive proof to me that she's getting older -
Ellie made her first quilt over the weekend!

She chose the fabrics in her favorite colors - blue and pink. All of them feature kittens in the print. I cut them to size for her (I'm fine with her using my machine, but the rotary cutter in her hands scares the daylights out of me). She did all the piecing and made the decisions about fabric placement. I also layered the "quilt sandwich" for her, but she machine quilted it. She sewed the binding as well, with help from me turning the corners. This is the first craft project that she's actually completed. I'm crossing my fingers that this lengthened attention span continues.
On Tuesday, my quilting group day, I picked her up at lunch and brought her to our group so she could show it off. I have never seen her so proud of herself and those lovely ladies showered her with praise. She ate it up.

It's properly labeled as well.
"My First Quilt, Eleanor _______, September 2009"
Sorry for the extended absence. Life just gets in the way of blogging sometimes. ; )
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 5, 2009

happy labor day weekend

I'm taking the long weekend (and maybe another day or two) off.
Enjoy this cool link.
(Thanks, Susie Sunshine!)

Friday, September 4, 2009

round two

It's begun - Round Two of Common Threads!
This block is headed to Amber in Hawaii. No rotary cutters were harmed (or used) in the making of this block. (Unless you count when I squared it up at the end.) It's not a surprise to anyone that I tend to be a planner. That's one of the reasons I've loved this quilting bee. It's forced me to put together fabrics I don't have the bravery to choose myself and I've had to try things I've never done on my own.
The first block I made in round one was to be "wonky". I was so nervous that I actually drew it out and then cut the design into templates to make it. This time I put away the paper and pencil, only used scissors to cut freehand and just started to sew. I wasn't able to just grab fabric and whatever I had in hand is what got sewn on, but you know, baby steps.
When that bottom row wasn't as long as I needed, I added to it with blue and my world didn't shatter ; )
I played with the stripe making a basket weave strip, but it looked awful when I held it up to the block and I abandoned it. Thank you, Amber, for strips long enough that I could play like that and still have enough to keep going without worrying that I'd run out of fabric.
It should be in your mailbox anyday now.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 3, 2009

trixie's party - goodie bags

Each girl headed home with one of these:

The Beatrix Potter fabric is new and was purchased with this in mind. It's a very basic, lined tote pattern (sew up all the sides, then box the corners). I lined it because the quilting fabric isn't terribly sturdy on its own for a tote. A basic(cheap) muslin was used for that. The cotton webbing is from the garage sale. I have oodles of it in my stash. The tag is from the Peter Rabbit Party Book and was supposed to be a placecard. (I label all the gift bags so any prizes won during the party can be collected in them. No lost treats or tears that way.)

Inside each bag was a Peter Rabbit coloring or activity book. I bought 12 of these on clearance when I was still teaching. I could never bring myself to use them. They're so old the pages have yellowed a bit. Hopefully, the girls didn't notice or care. (Trish, my hoarding/collecting paid off on this one.) School supply sales gave me an inexpensive way to include a set of colored pencils, a sharpener and a box of crayons with the books. We used little bags of Jelly Bellys (from Costco) for game prizes and those were collected in their bags as the party was going on.

It was a great afternoon for both Trixie and me. I've got this one out of my system, now it's time to start planning Ellie's bash (her birthday is in two weeks). She's made it clear that she doesn't want a home party. I'll let it pass. Last year I got to do a fun Halloween party for her.
*I know today is usually "Thrifty Thursday". When I figured up the cost of this party, it turned out to be one of the cheapest parties we've ever had because we used so much of what I had on hand, so I think this post qualifies. Of course, if I were to include the cost of the Beatrix Potter collection I've amassed over the years, well, not so thrifty then.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

trixie's party - more games

After some running around outside, the party moved indoors.
Tom Kitten's Button Hunt was next. This game was also adapted from the Peter Rabbit Party Book. I hid enough buttons in the living room for each child to find 2 or 3. Once found, they came to me for a ribbon to make a necklace. I used shank buttons for this because they were easiest to string on the ribbon quickly. Buttons with very large holes would also work.
Next up was a version of "Who Am I?" using the masks from the book instead of a card with a name held to your forehead. I put a mask on a guest while their eyes were closed. The other girls then gave clues as to what kind of animal she was. (Not even my kids would have known the actual names of each character. Peter Rabbit - yes. Johnny Town Mouse - doubtful.)

We had two other games ready to go, but ran out of time. Animal Noises would have the guests start by making the sound or using a word associated with their animal. The first child would say their sound, the next child says their sound and repeats the one before them, etc.
The other was a version of musical chairs. Instead of chairs, I had planned to put the play veggies on the ground (one less veggie than number of guests) and have the kids pick one up when the music stopped. (I'm a little relieved we didn't need this one. This game always seems to turn into a free-for-all or someone ends up crying.)

A little peek at the memory match game the girls played before everyone had arrived.
Tomorrow - goodie bags. And then I swear I'm done.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

trixie's party - the games

How to keep the girls busy for two hours?
First, you need a brother who's game for dressing up as Mr. MacGregor. Then you can play what we called Peter's Veggie Chase. I hid play veggies all over the garden. The girls were the bunnies and had to find them and bring them to a basket in Trixie's tent without Mr. MacGregor catching them. (He was instructed to make sure they all got away so we wouldn't have tears over the big boy scaring them.) Glenn just ran in circles yelling for the "wee beasties" to get out of his garden. The girls screamed and ran willy nilly until all the veggies had been found.
This one was adapted from the Peter Rabbit birthday book. Jeremy Fisher's fishing game is basically a relay race. We drew paths of lily pads in chalk leading to a fishbowl with cut outs of 18 fish inside (double the number of guests we had). The teams had to hop on the lillies to the bowl, grab a fish and hop back before the next team member took a turn. Each girl went twice (to make the game last a little longer). The first team finished won the race. We actually played this one a few times mixing up the teams in between.

The old stand by, Pin the Tail, got used too. You can guarantee whatever theme my kid picks, the main character is going to be drawn on a poster missing a body part so the kids can slap it back on while blindfolded. (We've played pin the # on Thomas the Tank Engine, Pin the tail on the Black Cat for a Halloween party - you get the idea.) I discovered I was out of cotton balls for the tails late the night before the party. Only in a crafter's house do you have a choice of 4 different kinds of batting/stuffing to use instead. I went with polyfil. It was the cheapest, whitest, and looked the fluffiest. It's glued on an oval of cardstock so it could be taped on easily.

Here's a round of Jemima Puddleduck's Chase, otherwise known as Duck, Duck, Goose. A few girls sat this one out and chose to play in the sandbox.

I'll finish up with the games tomorrow.
Posted by Picasa