Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Washington T-shirt for BabyStitches

Here is a little t-shirt I made for BabyStitches for Christmas. I saw the idea on someone's art/craft blog, and thought I'd try it. It's an outline of Baby's state, with a heart button marking the spot where she lives.
The original idea was to make a template from freezer paper, iron it on to the shirt, and use fabric paint to paint the state onto the shirt. At first I was going to do that. But then I thought, I'm really more of a sewing person than a painting person, so why don't I sew it instead?

First I found an outline of Washington state on the internet. (Easy) Then I figured out what size I needed it to be, and reduced it to fit my little shirt. (Also easy)

Then it was simple to trace the pattern (backwards) onto fusible, fuse it to the fabric and cut out the shape, and iron it to the shirt. I used my machine blanket stitch to go around the outside of the state. I experimented a little bit on knits, and decided to put some muslin on the inside of the shirt, just to give it a little more "substance" when doing the blanket stitch.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Because of the muslin on the back, though, it is just a little bit stiff. I'll have to ask BabyStitches if she minds this.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Barn Quilts in Iowa

While I was in Iowa (and Minnesota) visiting family last week, my parents and I drove from northwest Iowa, where they live, to Ames, home of Iowa State University. That is where my NephewStitches received his diploma. We had a good day for the drive: clear roads and sunny skies.

Eventually we came to Sac County, and were greeted by this sign.
Barn Quilts!! Awesome!!! It being winter, with the trees bare of leaves, and all the white countryside, it was easy to spot the barn quilts.
It was almost like a game to us.
We'd see who could catch sight of the next barn quilt.
It was such a treat to see them. Little random spots of unexpected beauty. They are so pretty.
It made the drive more interesting. I previously posted about BrotherStitches's barn quilt here.

All of the above quilts were taken from the website http://www.barnquilts.com/

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's Cold Outside!

Dear Bloggie Friends,

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted anything. (I think it's a record for me for longest time between posts!) I have been busy working on things, but either they are secrets, or I haven't had any good photos to show you.
I spent most of last week in Iowa and Minnesota. Man, was it ever cold! Yes, I grew up there, but now I've lived more than half my life in California, and I'm just not used to cold weather and walking/driving on ice. I was able to sneak in between snow storms, though, and had good roads for driving. I went to see my NephewStitches graduate from Iowa State University. We're all so proud of him. His degree is actually a double major in environmental science and agronomy. I think he feels a big relief now that all the tests are over. We had a good time celebrating with him.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's Only Been a Year!

Way back in November of 2009, I showed you this photo of blocks I had cut to make a quilt. (Blog entry here) I got them all arranged on my design wall and sewn together into the quilt shown in the next photo.

Yes, I am embarrassed that it has been so long since I started it. The top itself actually went together quite quickly, but for some reason I just didn't get around to finishing it. From the photo above it looks like it is a lot of crosses or x's sewn together, but it's really much simpler than that.

From the photo above you can see that I sewed two rectangles together, made four sets of those, then joined the four together. It's a very simple process; it just takes a bit of planning and laying out of rectangles.

I didn't have a pattern, but followed a photo I had seen on someone's blog, and now I can't even remember which blog it was! But rest assured that I didn't come up with the design. And thank you to whomever posted this quilt on her blog!

I had to take a little care not to stretch the quilt top, as all of the edges were on the bias. Gentle handling seemed to do the trick. I pre-measured the borders, and made them fit the quilt.

I had chosen fabric for the borders and binding quite a while ago, and this week set about to finish it. The blue border strips can be seen above. Unfortunately, they were not long enough for the sides, so I had to piece them. Because the pieced blocks were placed en pointe, I decided to use diagonal seams to join the strips, hoping that the joins might be less noticeable. The photo below shows a close-up of the diagonal seam.

And here it is again, all finished. Now on to the quilting part of the project. I may just use straight-line quilting along the diagonal lines.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crazy Quilt

I have finally finished my crazy quilt! I have to admit that I'm embarrassed because I started on it in 2008. That was the first time I went to Empty Spools Seminars in Asilomar, California. I took a crazy quilting class that year from Judith Baker Montano. She is an awesome crazy quilter, and a lot of fun as a teacher; check out her website and see some of her beautiful work.

Here are some close-ups of some of the stitching and trims I added to the surface. It was a lot of fun deciding what stitch or piece of lace I would add where.

Making a crazy quilt is almost like sewing two quilts. First you piece all of the background together, which is in itself a big project of deciding which fabrics to use and how to arrange them.

When that is all done, comes the work of going all over the surface of the quilt again, adding embroidery, lace, trims, beads, buttons, etc.
The above photo shows the "'08" that I embroidered at the beginning of this quilt.

And in this photo you see where I had to add "2009" because I wasn't finished yet. Little did I know...

The tough thing about a crazy quilt is knowing when to stop! Traditionally, each seam is covered with stitching or trim. But you don't have to stop there. There are so many possibilities. At some point you just have to say, "That's enough."

What really made me get my rear in gear was when I realized I would need to add a "2010" to the quilt. And I sure didn't want to add a "2011!"

In the above photo you can see the small "TEN" stitched where I hoped it wouldn't be very noticeable. And I can say it's done.

I finished it by adding some black fabric triangles to the sides so I would have an en pointe square. I fused some interfacing to the black fabric, so it would be closer in "hand" to the actual sewn part of the quilt. Then I added some very thin batting, and a backing fabric. I sewed the front to the back with nymo beading thread on the back with a few small invisible stitches.

It really was a pleasure to work on this quilt. And I can't wait to start on some more "fancy work." It is a lot of fun.

Monday, November 15, 2010

New York, New York

I went to New York last week! It was a wonderful trip, a theatre tour sponsored by Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There were about 40 of us, and we had a wonderful time, going to restaurants, seeing some NY sights, and of course, going to theatre.

Now, I would not call myself a Project Runway expert, but I do enjoy watching the shows and seeing the cool designs that the students make. So you can imagine my glee when I looked up Mood Fabrics and found the store is not
very far from where we stayed. I easily walked there one afternoon, and along my way I passed Parsons The New School for Design, where Project Runway takes place.

So there I was, right in the middle of the garment district. What fun!

Mood was actually a little hard to find, as the address I had turned out to be a service elevator loading sort of place. After some incorrect directions, I finally found it. There was no sign; I had to go into a small lobby and take the elevator up to the store.

Mood is just packed to the gills with fabric. All kinds, all colors.
I've sometimes wondered, while watching the Runway show, how in the earth do the "students" manage to find just the fabric they want?
There are three different floors, and as you can see, fabric is stacked everywhere!
It sure was fun to stroll around and look at
all the cool fabrics. They had some quilting fabric, but not much, and it was hard to look at because it was all on rolls, not bolts, and stacked on racks.
I hadn't exactly come to New York to buy fabric. I can get plenty of that at home!
But I did come home with one little swatch of fabric. And that made me happy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finished with Fabric Shopping Bags

I finished sewing the fabric shopping bags, which I posted about here. And now you see them all lined up in the photo above. These bags will go in the Project Santa boxes that are delivered to people in our community. Thanks to the great idea of Harmony, and the consultation with Teresa of The Green Bag Lady, they all went together quite easily.
I actually had quite a lot of fun sewing these. They go together quite easily, and I'm sure I'll be making more of my own now.
I think I was channeling the Green Bag Lady while I was sewing! I used her pattern, which can be found on her website, with just a little bit of tweaking for my purposes. It's a very simple, straightforward pattern. You should definitely check it out.

It feels great to have a big project like this (26 bags sewn) all completed and delivered.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bling for Your Knitting

My great blogging friend Gail, over at Quilt, Knit, Run, Sew, did a lot of work to make stitch markers, which knitters to use for marking their rows. While I am only a fledgling knitter, and don't really do much with it, I really admire Gail for doing this project.
Gail made all these nice little markers and donated the proceeds of their sale to Run For The Cure. Aren't they pretty?
Some of the markers had pink beads, and some had pearls. I just had to ask her to send me a couple sets, so I can give them to some of my knitting friends.

And it's all for such a good cause. Thank you, Gail, for doing this.
May we find a cure.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fabric Shopping Bags

I have begun a new project. (What a surprise!)

My friend Harmony, of Harmony Art Design, had the idea of putting a fabric shopping bag in with every box of goods delivered to our community this Christmas by Project Santa. Project Santa delivers food and gifts to families in need.

We talked (well, talked electronically) about doing this, and thought we might need the help of The Green Bag Lady. Teresa is a great friend, who just happens to make thousands of fabric shopping bags and Gives Them Away!

Anyway, we talked about how many we needed, and decided that the number we needed was small enough that I could take care of it myself. We need 25 bags. I think I've sewn about 20 so far. I have a pretty good system going. I get all the bags cut out first, and that's easy, because it's just a 36" by 18" piece of fabric, plus handles. Then when I get down to sewing them, it only takes me 15 minutes per bag.

KittyStitches had to come check out the bags!

So far I have used these three fabrics. The one in front and in the upper left are some, shall we say, *Extremely Economical* fabrics. Which worked to make great bags. The fabric on the right was donated by Harmony Art. The red and green print works very well for Christmas bags, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


This is a photo from a blog post I made last December, where I gave instructions for making this small Christmas tree out of wine corks.

Amanda, over at CrafTown contacted me and asked if she could use some of my tutorials on her website. After debating with myself for about 5 seconds, I said, "Of course!!"

Here's a link to the site where this wine cork tree appeared.

They have some nice crafts over at CrafTown, so go check them out! More of my crafts and quilts will be shown on the website from time to time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Miniature Landscape Class

I took a miniature landscape class last week from Diana Roberts (of Santa Rosa). Diana is a very nice person and a great teacher. She is a master of landscapes, having done a lot of miniature landscapes and circular landscapes (that's another class!).

Diana had a set of patterns that we were free to choose from. I chose the simple landscape below.
We traced the pattern onto tissue paper, numbering the pieces from farthest to nearest. We also traced the pattern onto an acetate sheet. From the acetate sheet we cut out the "puzzle pieces" and then ironed our fabric over the acetate to get it in the right shape.

First step was to lay down our sky fabric.
Then, starting with the pattern piece farthest away, we pinned the fabrics to a muslin background. The tissue paper had actually been sewn to the muslin to keep it in place.

The tissue paper overlay helped us keep the pattern pieces in the right position.
Now I'm going to hand-stitch down these pieces. I'll continue the saga when I get this step finished.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I've Conquered the World!

I finished my "World" puzzle last week.
(I had previously blogged about it here and here.) It was a lot of fun to put together, and it really did enhance my geographical knowledge.

Now I can't wait to put it together again!

Sorry this photo is a little blurry, but it shows a close-up of part of the puzzle.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Slash Your Stash Quilt Tutorial

Remember the fabrics I showed you in the last post? I am now going to sew them into a "slash your stash" quilt, and show you how I'm doing it as I go along. Below you see the one I made a couple weeks ago.
To make a quilt like this you will need
- twelve different squares of fabric (15" by 15"). They should be
fabrics that play well together.
- You will also need one small safety pin,
- a ruler longer than 15" ,
- a rotary cutter (with the sharpest blade you have),
- a 12 1/2" square ruler for square up the blocks, and of course,
- your sewing machine.

Above you can see the fabrics I chose to make this sample quilt. Now, I have to explain that I'm making a much smaller quilt for this demonstration. (Should have taken my camera with me when I made the larger one--rookie mistake!) I am making only six total squares. But the procedure is the same.

When you have the pieces all cut out, lay them, edges aligning, in a stack. Lay The Ruler on top of the stack, and Make A Cut anywhere, dividing the stack into two stacks. The only caveat is that you shouldn't be closer than about 2 inches from any corner, just to make it simpler. Twelve pieces of fabric is a lot to cut through. If you can't physically do it, separate your stack into two stacks of six squares and cut them separately. Just make sure that the two cutting lines are exactly the same.

Now is when you need to Put A Safety Pin in the upper-right-hand corner of only the topmost fabric square. This will help you to keep track of where you are as you go along. The safety pin should Always be in that upper-right-hand corner of (in my case) the blue polka dot fabric. I know that it sounds unnecessary to do this. That it shouldn't be too hard to keep track of this stack of fabrics. Just trust me on this one--you will undoubtedly be glad in the end that you have a pin there. I know I was.

Now, Take That Top Cut Piece of Fabric on the Left Side and Place it at the Bottom of the Left-Hand Stack.

Now your stacks look like this. Above you see the light blue piece on the left has gone underneath all those other fabrics. Now we're going to Sew Together each two-piece layer of our fabrics.
With me so far?

This photo shows how I have laid the right-hand fabric over onto the left-hand fabric, then I'll just sew it down the right-hand side with a 1/4" seam. Don't worry if the edges don't come out exactly even. We're going to even them all up at the end.

Here are the next two fabrics to be sewn together. It Is Essential* that you keep track of which square you sewed together first, second, etc. to make the pattern work right.

This is definitely a good time for chain-piecing (not breaking the threads between seams). It is practical, and a good way to keep your squares in the right order.

When you have your long chain of twelve squares sewn back together, take them (in one long string) to the ironing board and Press The Seams To One Side. If you prefer, you may press them open, it doesn't really matter.

1. Iron seam flat on first square.
2. Cut it off from the second square.
3. Place the first piece up-side-down on your table.
4. Repeat 1. through 3. till everything is pressed.

This is my new stack of squares. I'm lifting up the layers to show them to you.

Now it's time for the second cut! (Don't get too excited!!)
Lay the ruler down again on top of the stack and Make Another Cut in Another Direction.

Now we're going to Take The Top Two Layers (on the left-hand side) and Put Them On The Bottom Of The Stack. See how I'm demonstrating this in the above photo?!!

Again, Re-Sew the Squares Together with the new combination, chain piecing them. Then Press as before (the steps 1. through 4. above).

Then you'll make the Third Cut. Lay the ruler so it bisects at least one of the previous two seams, and "Whack" again!

This time you'll be Moving The Top Three Layers (from the left side) To The Bottom Of The Stack.

It's easy to remember.
First cut -- move one layer.
Second cut -- move two layers.
Third cut -- move three layers.

And again, Sew Them Back Together. Almost done!

Last step is to take your 12 1/2" square ruler and Square Up All Those Edges.

This shows all six of my squares laid out together. (Remember, I made a "mini-version." You will have twelve squares.)

They look a little like a crazy quilt, don't they!? The blocks have the appearance of having been pieced with lots of smaller, irregular pieces. But you and I know better than that, don't we!

Now you can play with them on your design wall and decide how you want to put them together. Personally, I like to just sew the squares together. But you can add sashing if you want. The photo below gives a hint of what it would look like if I used yellow fabric for the sashing. OK, maybe that's a little too much yellow, but you see what I am getting at!

Now, how about if I added some of the lavender for a border? This just gives you an idea of what you can do with your squares.

Adding sashing and border(s) alters the size of your quilt, obviously. If you add no other fabric, it will measure 36" wide by 48."

Now you have all the instructions. I would love to see it if you make a quilt of your own. I will show you when this one is all finished, too.

*Remember when I said it was essential to keep your fabrics in the right order to make the pattern work? If for some reason your squares didn't turn out exactly as they should, if something went together wrong, for heaven's sake, don't worry about it! This block is supposed to look very random and mixed-up. If you made a mistake when you were moving the layers, or sewing them together, or if they got out of order, it will all look fine in the end.
I promise it.