Friday, December 20, 2013

A Quilt by GranddaughterStitches

While GranddaughterStitches was here for Thanksgiving, she told me that she wanted to do some more sewing.  She had seen one of my smaller scrap piles!

She picked out some fabrics that she liked, and said that this time she wanted to sew them side-by-side together, instead of one on top of the other, as we did the last time we sewed together.  Above you can see the finished product of her work.  She chose four small squares that she wanted to sew in a "patt-er-un" and a fifth piece to sew onto the top of them.  GranddaughterStitches particularly liked the piece of fabric with the numbered circles on the edge, so we made sure that edge showed.


I explained how we would sew two pieces together, then two more pieces together, then sew them together and finally sew on the longer piece.  GranddaughterStitches called the pincushion a "pin pillow."  I think that's a pretty good name, especially for the pin pillow (shown above) that SisterStitches made for me.

Here you can see GranddaughterStitches concentrating very hard on her stitching.  There was a little bit of the perfectionist at work in her, so she got a little frustrated with some of the sewing.  But we made it all work out in the end.

And GranddaughterStitches is very pleased with her final result.  Which she gave to her mother.  She was suitably proud of her work. 

That evening, when she went to bed, GranddaughterStitches told her mom that she when she grows up she wants to  be a teacher (like her mom), a gymnast (like one of her aunts), and also a quilter.  That really  made my day!

I think we may start to work on the machine soon.  We'll see. . .

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More Crocheting

Here is another baby afghan I just finished crocheting.  They go so fast that I'm afraid I've probably forgotten to show you a few!

This one was destined to go home with DaughterStitches after Thanksgiving.  She's going to give it to a friend who is having a baby.

The thing that is a little different about this afghan is that it is very heavy yarn.  (I ordered it on-line and was surprised when I opened the box.  Had no idea the yarn was like this!)  It is called "Baby Blanket" by Bernat and is actually quite soft and cuddly.

Here is a close-up of the afghan.  Since the yarn is so fluffy, it really fills in and feels almost like minky fabric when it is crocheted.  I like the yarn.  It is a little harder to crochet, though, as it's a heavier yarn to pull with the hook.

GranddaughterStitches was on hand, so I had her model the afghan for me.  It's a big-size baby afghan.

Another close-up of the yarn next to a regular pen.  See how big and thick it is!  It all makes for a nice comfy afghan.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Scrap Block Quilt Number Two

Way back here I showed you a quilt that I made from some fabric squares I had been given.  And I sewed it up really fast.  There were still squares left from that project, so I thought I'd better make another quilt.

And here it is!

(I was having some trouble with the wind outside, making it a little bit difficult to photograph this quilt!)
It turned out to be exactly 10 squares by 10 squares.  I had no idea there was such a perfect number of squares left, as I had never counted them.

I decided to make Quilt Number Two a little bit bigger, so I added on a green inner border and a larger, outer border from purple grape fabric.  (A friend of mine said she thought the grape fabric would make it sell well.  I can only hope!)  BTW, I'm not receiving any money for this quilt; the money will go to my guild and Gualala Arts Center.

Here is the pieced back I made for the quilt, using some more of that same grape fabric, and a little bit of a light blue print, from my friend Harmony of Harmony Arts.  The rest of it was a light green.

 I tried out a few free motion quilting motifs when it came to quilting this quilt.  Above you can see some swirly designs.  I took a lot of photos of the quilting, but none of the designs showed up very well against the very randomly-colored quilt top.

So I took some photos of the back of the quilt.  Please be kind, as I consider myself a 
"constantly improving free motion quilter."  That is my optimism speaking!

In the first, smaller border I did a little vine-y or leafy pattern.  I kind of liked doing it.  Gave me some good practice with travel stitching.

In the larger border I quilted these over-lapping circles.  My inspiration for this was that SisterStitches used this design on a quilt that she quilted for me.  This design was actually easier than I thought it would be, and a lot of fun to do.  I'll definitely be using this design again!

I used some more of my scrappy, leftover binding pieces to finish it off.  Sometimes quilts are just so darn easy to make, aren't they!?!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Butterfly Shirt for GranddaughterStitches

We were excited to go visit GranddaughterStitches (and her parents) over Halloween.  It was fun to spend Halloween in her kindergarten classroom with her, seeing all the kids in their cute costumes, and to witness the excitement in the whole school.  It was also great to be able to assist in DaughterStitches's 2nd grade classroom.  The whole school was decked out in costumes!

Anticipating our visit there, I embroidered a little pink t-shirt for GranddaughterStitches.  I found a pattern on the internet (can't recall where I found it) for a redwork butterfly embroidery.  So I used that pattern, but added my own colors to the butterfly.

Here is a close-up of the butterfly.  I used blue, light green, and light blue for the colors.  Everything was sewn with backstitch except for the dots, for which I used satin stitch.  I backed the embroidery area with a nice soft fusible web to stabilize the embroidery.

It actually went quite fast, and I soon finished the embroidery.  Then I thought, "That was too easy.  I need to do something more."  

So I moved on to the bottom of the t-shirt and proceeded to make little embroidered flower and leaf motifs.  I added some colors to my palette for the flowers!

And here is GranddaughterStitches wearing her new pink butterfly shirt.  
I think it suits her just fine.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Quilt of Valor 2013

Here is another Quilt of Valor I made this year.  Some of my quilting buddies and I found a Mystery Quilt pattern in a quilting magazine, and we all decided we'd make the quilt in reds, whites, and blues to be valor quilts.  I don't make pieced quilts from patterns very often, and this was interesting for me to do.  Especially interesting because I had no idea what the final quilt would look like!

And when I did finish it, I was really surprised at the secondary designs which appeared.  In the photo above, try to look at it as a series of independent rows.  For example, the striped blocks were simply large blocks with corners added to them.  But when the other rows are added to it, a more star-like pattern emerges.  

Then the quilting started.  I chose to do different free motion designs in different areas of the quilt.  In the blue borders I did really big spirals, all down the row.

And each of the small squares received a leaf design,with a curving "vine" connecting all of them.

In the large striped blocks I did a large starburst(?).  Not quite sure what to call it.  It was actually quite easy and fun to do.  I marked the center of the square.  Then I started at the outside edge and made a curvy line into that center spot.  After that I simply swirled back out to the edge, more or less following the same curve as the first line, travelled a little bit in the seam, and made another curvy line back to the center.

I really like how it looks.  This was a design I found in one of Leah Day's books.

And when I got to the very end of the quilting, I had exactly this much thread left on the bobbin!  Good timing, don't you think?

I found a nice piece of patriotic fabric on sale (whoopee!!) and pieced it with some red pieces for the back.

As part of the piecing process, I was left with a lot of half-square triangles, which had been trimmed off one of the blocks.  We quilters do like to save things, don't we!  And after all, these were perfectly good HST's, all cut and sewn and ready to be used.

So I sewed twelve of them together into a strip like this.

And I used them to embellish the pillow case which goes along with each quilt as a presentation bag.  
Now, I still have quite a few of those pieces left, and no, I haven't thrown them away yet!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Scary Ghost Story

Booo!  Here is a scary ghost that I made yesterday.  It was very easy, and I'm going to tell you how to do it, if you don't already know.

The key ingredients are 

1.  cheesecloth

2. Stiffy fabric stiffener

3.  a form around which to fashion a ghost (I used a water bottle)

4.  plastic wrap

Thanks to Marva at my local quilt shop, I made this simple ghost.  She gave me my directions. I used a water bottle for the basic form.  I then made a "ball" out of tin foil for the head, but you can use anything round-ish.  I started with a small sea urchin shell, but it kept falling off the water bottle!

Cut an approximate square out of the cheesecloth.  It should be big enough to fall over the bottle/form and drape nicely around at the base.  I tried my best to keep the tin foil ball from falling off the  bottle top.  Marva told me that I should cover the whole thing (underneath the gauze/cheesecloth) with plastic kitchen wrap to keep the fabric from sticking to the base/form.  Following the bottle directions,  get all of the cheesecloth wet with the Stiffy fabric stiffener.  (I bought my Stiffy at a fabric store.  It cost me $8.99 for 8 ounces several years ago.  I still have a little over half of the bottle left.)

Here is the fun part.  Drape the damp cheesecloth over the form.  Make sure that the bottom "skirt-like" part is draped around nicely.  I did this on top of my washing machine.  I suppose any counter  top would work fine.  Get all the folds evenly spread out at the base of the ghost.  

Now you are going to have to spend some time doing something else fun while this dries.  Go sew on another project.  Take a walk.  Clean out a drawer.  (No, that's not what I did!)  Have a glass of wine.  (Closer to what I did. . .)  It will take an hour or more. 

When it is all dry and stiff, carefully peel the bottom part off the counter top, then gently pull the base (water bottle) plus the plastic wrap away from the cheesecloth.  You will be left with a graceful, draping shape.

Now all you have to do is add eyes.  I simply cut two small circles from black felt.  Googly eyes would work well, too, I think, and I'm sure there are other possibilities.

Now you have a nice ghost shape.  Here you can see it sitting atop a cute Halloween table-topper that SisterStitches made for me.

Happy Halloween!
(and may all your leftover Halloween candy be your favorite kind!)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Maybe My Fastest Quilt Ever?!

I think this might just be the fastest quilt I've ever made!


On a Friday I was given a bag full of pre-cut squares.  They were about 4 1/2" square.  And I was told to make a quilt to sell at our annual Festival of the Trees at Gualala Arts Center.  Every year our quilt guild has a booth there and raises a lot of money for the Art Center and for us.

So I separated lights and darks into two stacks.  Then I proceeded to make them into 9-patches.  I always put the dark patches on the outside, as that pile was higher than the pile of light patches.

All of the nine-patches got sewn together, then basted with batting and backing.

I used a large-ish overall stippling to quilt this, and now I think I can really, honestly say that stippling is one of my least favorite designs to quilt.  I used to think that was just my opinion because I couldn't do it very well.  But this one came out pretty good.  I just--plain and simple--don't like sewing this type of design!

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  The nine-patches don't show up a lot, but they are there, and give it just a slight bit of order.

For the backing I chose a light pink/green/blue stripe.  This quilt turned out to be just a tiny bit wider than 44", and this particular piece of fabric was a little wider, too.  So no piecing!

I even had one 9-patch left over so I used it as the label on the back.

And I couldn't possibly do anything but a scrappy binding on this scrap quilt!  We quilters are often hoarders, aren't we.  I have a collection of leftover bits of binding.  Whenever I had a piece left over after binding a quilt, I would throw it in a bag.  So I sewed several of them together to bind this quilt.  I knew I was saving them for a reason!

So after receiving the blocks on Friday, this nice lap-size quilt was finished the following Wednesday.  I'm sure that's a record for me!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quilting Inspiration

I recently returned from a Mediterranean cruise with some of my family.  We had a great time and saw a lot of wonderful things.  As I'm sure happens with some of you, I tend to see quilt designs in everyday objects.  On this cruise I really saw a lot of them!  Europe has the most beautiful tiled floors.  So I'm going to show you some of the "quilts" that I saw.

We started the cruise in Barcelona, and spent some time walking around the city before we boarded the ship.  It turns out that Barcelona has some very creative sidewalks.  Like this one below, where the hexagons measured about 6" across the wide part.  

Barcelona, Spain

Or this sidewalk, where my toes show you relative size.  Isn't it pretty!?!

Barcelona, Spain

This nice design was on the floor of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.  Beautiful!

Rome, Italy

Here's another area of the floor in St. Peter's.

Rome, Italy

I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't remember where I saw this floor design!  But it's one of my favorites.

When we got to Naples, Italy, MisterStitches and I took a tour of Herculaneum.  Herculaneum is another city which, like Pompeii, was destroyed during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.  The difference between the two cities is that Pompeii was buried in ash, while Herculaneum (on the other side of the mountain) was buried in hot gas, ash, and rock, which makes it better preserved than Pompeii.


There were quite a few beautiful quilt patterns at Herculanum.




Even clamshells!


A nice pieced border below.



Then we got to Venice, and saw some beautiful tiled designs in the Doge's Palace.

Venice, Italy

Even three-dimensional, which I especially love!

Venice, Italy

And a nice crazy quilt rendition seen in Malta.


At the elevator landings on our ship there were these beautiful mariner's compass designs.  And that little mariner would be GranddaughterStitches! *love you*

Lest you think that all I did was look down at the ground, I'll leave you with this beautiful view of  St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.