Thursday, December 31, 2020

Crafty bits wraps up 2020

This week Mom and I have been spending lots of good time in the crafty room. She’s been finishing up a bunch of cross stitching that’s been hanging around for a while and I’ve been sitting at the sewing machine trying out some quick small projects.

This first one was seriously easy. I’ve got a cute little lumbar pillow on my fabulous chair in there and it was crying out for a holiday dress. I had this jelly roll of festive fabric that made the cutting for this oh so easy. In the end, if I wanted to leave this for after the holidays the prints are really more farmhouse than holiday even with those trees in the back of the red truck. I just roughly measured the cover that was already on the pillow to get the sizes needed and did the same simple envelope back on it. The quilting was so simple, just straight lines either side of the seams. It turned out very nicely. 

For my next project I broke into the rather large stash of zippers I ordered myself and picked out some fun coordinating prints. I’ve been craving some zippered bag construction, hence the zipper stock up. I used some batting scraps from previous quilts and did just simple straight lines to quilt the fabric together. I’m enjoying the combination of this large scale flower with the ric-rac stripe. 

This pattern was a bit different than others I’ve done because it was done in one long piece and the inner side seams were closed using a French seaming technique. It was a little bit fiddly but turned out looking really nice. Mom’s knitting loom and yarn fit in this one perfectly. I’d like to do more bag projects in 2021, so this was a great warm up. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

hip cabin blanket for Dave

This was kind of a fun and simple blanket to make. I found several similar types, mostly with sherpa fleece backs, on Pinterest and I was struck by the simplicity of having just one piece of fabric lined with fleece rather than piecing something together. It’s a good way to find a home for some of these gorgeous large scale prints we all covet from time to time. 

What got me started on this was finding the fleece in the remnants bin at Joann’s. It was pretty cute, too cute to pass up one might say, and just about the right size to make something lap-sized. The tree fabric was something I’d seen in the fall and liked but put back because I literally had no inkling of plans for using it. But when it’s 60% off and it matches a fleece remnant you don’t need but must have? You must buy. I think maybe this would look more impressive with a larger scale print but it’s still a nice woodsy hipster cabin blanket. 

All I had to do was trim selvages before stacking the two together and folding up the edges of the fleece to pin. I pinned and sewed the two short edges first and then went back and did the same for the longer edges. All the sewing needed was a topstitch type of seam on the inner folded edge of the fleece on all four edges and voila! 

It turned out looking good and Dave has claimed it for his pajama room (aka loft) time already. My general thoughts? It’s a little strange to my hands having one side be fluffy fleece and the other a relatively thin cotton. If I were to do this again I would think a linen or linen-like fabric would be a good option or something heavy like a tweed. Another option is to not fold the fleece over the way I did and instead try to have the quilting cotton go all the way to the edge? At any rate, worth a try again with some modification. It was fun and the blanket looks great. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

eve eve ornaments

We got up to more ornament making mischief, this time with a no-sew quilted ornament mom found on Pinterest. I just love the way these look.

Mom went festive red and green with hers and I dug through my scrap squares to find some coordinating prints. This one is for Da Bears. 

And here is one of the Christmas color balls. The pattern has each round have the same color all the way around, but we experimented a little bit with alternating prints on the middle round to add a bit more interest. 

This was the first one I did, and the colors kind of remind me of the aquarium in Monterey. Boy we miss going there! 

It takes a styrofoam ball, 200 pins (plus some for the ribbon), and a little bit of ribbon to go with a stack of fabric squares to make these. They are quite addictive to make, and you can definitely make them while watching football and not mess up. We finished our final touches today, Christmas Eve eve and they’re ready to go on the tree. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

omg it’s under the tree

Approximately one million nine hundred and seventy two stitches later, it’s done! Last time I left this, it was August and I had plenty of time until we put the trees up. Ha! The stack of hexies definitely hung around in my “to do” basket until at least early December. 

The issue I was having was this: I was feeling much too lazy to hand stitch them all together, but I didn’t think that zigzagging along all the seams would look very good, even if I used gray thread. Soooo. They sat. And sat. And sat some more. I think the fact that we actually had the trees up and last year’s (perfectly fine) tree skirt was under the little tree upstairs was what got me going. So the next many evenings and afternoons were spent whip stitching these all together. I finished one afternoon when Mom and I were in the studio and she snapped this picture.

As I went along, I had to refer to a photo of the whole thing put together because I decided to go with the completely mixed up version, and that’s much harder to remember what goes where. I used hand quilting thread and a quilting between to stitch and used a simple whip stitch, just as if I were doing English paper piecing. The cream thread is visible on the back, but not on the front and that’s where it matters most. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. To be honest, when I finished it (under the wire) I thought it looked too small and was pretty bummed. But it’s a perfect fit under our little tree that we put on the blanket chest. And it’s kitten approved! It took him a few days to want to sit on it though, I think all the prints kind of blew his mind. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Holiday quilt

Of course one of the first places Mom and I capered off to when she got here was the fabric store. Despite being the middle of fall, there was already lots of holiday fabric out on the shelves. They had a super good deal on the flannel prints, so I couldn’t resist grabbing a yard or two (or three...). 

I’ve been admiring some blankets I’ve seen that are buffalo plaid using related prints. This blanket is an homage to those I’ve seen. The front worked up very quickly, as you’d imagine. It took me some time to want to sit down and sort out a back for it. I do like what I came up with though! I used up the rest of the flannel prints, a few more pieced square panels I had left over, and then raided the cabinet for some red and neutral fabrics to finish off the size I needed. I especially like that bit of corduroy in the corner. 

It’s a holiday blanket, but I wanted to keep it red with neutrals rather than including the green. The plain squares are the linen blend I just love using in all my work, and I used some red and black jelly roll strips from a holiday roll I picked up at some point this season to bind. It never dawned on me just how EASY using jelly rolls as binding is. Save that little nugget of wisdom for later! The quilting was simple grids outlining the seams. Every time I sit down to quilt now I feel like I should be practicing more free motion, but honestly that is going to have to wait a while until I’m willing to use it on a bigger piece like this. 

The front only took a yard of the black/red camping print, a yard of the linen, and two yards of that adorable woodland creatures print. The flannel was quite easy to work with. I wonder why we don’t think of using it for quilting more often? There are so many cute prints. (I may find out when this is washed....) So, next time there’s a silly good sale on flannel prints at the fabric store I have a great excuse to pick up a yard or so of some irresistible ones. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

2020 ornament diy

It’s becoming an annual tradition. Last year, we made sparkly unicorns with flower crowns (see that turquoise one in the picture?). This year, Mom found a pattern for these totally cool fabric pinwheel ornaments. We raided my stash of “precut” 5-inch squares for these, and it was a super fun project that came together pretty quick. And a bonus? Cat proof. They won’t break if your enterprising cats decide they must take it off the tree to look closer. 

While the most difficult part was sewing on the points, it was only because pushing a needle through that many layers of fabric quickly became a job for pliers. Once we figured that out, the difficult part was picking buttons and ribbon to finish them off. The pinwheel is made up of prairie points folded from 5-inch squares. So once the ironing is done, everything comes together fast. I liked the fact that we could just sit down with my stack of 5-inch squares that I’d already cut from scraps earlier this year. Big pat on the back to me for spending all the time to do that. It makes me more motivated to do the same to the next bag we’ve accumulated from when we cleaned up post-painting. 

I will admit, I was skeptical at first but they are awesome. And they’re pretty big, too! Each is a bit larger than would fit in the palm of my hand. The possibilities for color play are endless here. I could see a rainbow, a gradient, alternating complementary colors.... so many choices. I’m also curious what would happen if I tried using a gradient of sized squares to get something looking like a nautilus shell. Do that in marine-colored batiks? Could be pretty cool. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

pods, people

I think I’m going to call these plant pods. It seems like a satisfying moniker given that this photo makes it look like aliens have landed on my couch, hatched, and run amok.

In fact, these are a new addiction of mine. All it takes is an L hook and one ball of cotton yarn. This was based on a free pattern from Bernat using one of their chunkier yarns, but I found that holding the Lily’s cotton yarn double worked just as well. I’ve also got some small ones I made before these using just one strand. They’re pretty cute, too. 

I modified the pattern to be a little bit deeper in order to accommodate the pots I used to transplant some jade cuttings I had been rooting in water to give to our neighbors as holiday gifts. Of course, once I started I couldn’t stop! All the yarn had to turn into plant pods. So, I had a few extra made up so we can keep one, Mom gets one, and I gave one to my friend Andrea since she’s a fellow plant enthusiast. 

They are meant to hang on the wall. I think a hip hook would make this jade plant look rather nice, no? I really enjoyed working these up. Not only were they fast, but they are a great excuse to buy the pretty balls of cotton at the store when you don’t need anymore washcloths in the kitchen. And they satisfyingly used up most of the ball of yarn. I made some more reusable cotton rounds with the (small amount of) leftovers. They’ll end up in Mom’s stocking. Now I’ll just hope the jade cuttings establish themselves well enough before Christmas week so these can get delivered to doorsteps in fine form. 

Pattern: Hanging Planter Pods (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: various Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton balls 
Hook: L (8.0 mm)

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Mom’s getting crafty

I haven’t been the only one busy in the craft studio this fall. Mom has definitely had her share of creative time. Which, if you ask me, is well deserved after she helped me reorganize everything after painting. 

She brought this fabric all the way from Chicago with her to make me a sewing machine cover. She measured everything and figured out her own pattern as she went along and I think it turned out looking great! We added a couple of prints from my stash and some fun notions we found in the big reorg. 

This pretty feather print went really well with the gray and pink Paris print. The second side has a pocket that could fit a pattern, a pair of scissors, some measuring tape, or whatever else it is I’m using at the time. I love the print pairing of that pink floral and the green abstract. 

We perused through buttons and chose a few to add to the front along with the pom pom trim to add some bling. A couple crowns got some sparkles, a moon got a star, and some crossed keys were adorned as well. 

Last but not least, the inside! This fabric is a nice loud orange and pink bohemian print. It absolutely reminds me of the rainbow sherbet flavor I loved as a kid. You know the one with the bright pink, bright orange, and white? It’s a fun addition to the cover and I’m sure some days I might just flip the whole thing inside out and have it on the outside for a while. 

We had a fun time getting this one done, and I think Mom is as pleased as I am. Honestly, she did most of it, I just entered an opinion here and there. :) 


Saturday, November 21, 2020

it’s julekuler season again

It’s just after my birthday, so you know what that means - julekuler season is upon us! I got this book for my birthday a few years ago and have enjoyed making a few baubles a year since then. This year is no different. These two I started in August when I just couldn’t resist the siren call of this book on the shelf. Now that the tree is up, it’s REALLY time!

I’m still working off the same yarn I’ve used before; I keep it in it’s own little project bag so I’m ready to go whenever the fancy strikes. This year I had a rocking horse to make for a friend who is moving (who also happens to have a black horse... not a coincidence), and I decided to make patterns that I’ve enjoyed previously.

These knit up pretty quick, in a few hours, but I find that the quickest and most fun ones to make don’t have long color runs requiring a lot of twisting. The horse is an exception because well it’s a horse. But other than that I really enjoy the patterns with a lot of... pattern? Whatever the right word is, here’s a few that are done already.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Halloween catch up

Ha! Well predictably since my folks got here I have been spending much less time on the computer. That doesn't mean that I haven't been making things - in fact we've done lots of crafty things (including some festive Halloween masks!) in the last couple months. I'm going to round up the Halloween bits in this one post and then the rest of the things are wips that I can write about as the holidays approach. 

First things first, I finally finished my set of spooky pillows. These were really fun to make and they were good opportunities for playing with some more complex quilting. First the large ones. The one on the left got a geometric square spiral treatment across the whole pillow while the one on the right got some nested diamonds in the big arms of the X's. It definitely takes a lot longer than just straight line quilting but it looks really cool when all is said and done. 

I backed those pillows with this very appropriate print from Ruby Star Society. I'm not sure it was meant to be a Halloween print but it certainly plays the part well. It also works really well with the dusty blue zippers I used. An unexpected color given the holiday, yes, but that bluish purple moon pulls it all together and makes it look like it belongs. I've got just a little bit more of this print and I can already say it's going to be a precious commodity.

The set of smaller pillows look a little more "fall" and a little less "Halloween". They got a lot of different free motion quilting treatments on them. Unfortunately I was lazy and didn't put a back on the quilt sandwich when I did it (i.e. just the block on batting, no third piece of fabric) and I think the texture suffered. Instead of pulling the fabric down from the front, the threads just sunk into the batting from the back to relieve the tension. 

Kind of a bummer, but again fun to practice different shapes and swirls - and to realize how difficult it is!! I had a bear of a time getting my curves to look nice. Somehow I thought doing all those fun wavy lines and circles would be easy. Psh. Once I survived the quilting, these got a heavy gray canvas backing and some bright orange zippers. 

Possibly my favorite Halloween project was this wreath. Mom and I were out at Joann's and couldn't resist the pretty fall picks they had on sale. Well, we picked up a handful of those and a grapevine wreath and had some fun. It didn't take long at all to get this together and I looooove it. It was a nice addition to the decor upstairs

Along with our pack of pillows, our house had Halloween covered.

Monday, September 14, 2020

week twenty six

I really got on a roll last week with the Halloween decor. We have plenty of festive decor already but I LOVE fall, so what’s the harm in a few more pillow covers? In the same vein as the piece I already completed, I took some more inspiration from quilting magazines for many of these blocks. It was really fun to try out some new to me blocks. I especially enjoyed making the pinwheel in the bottom row. 

Four of these blocks were intended to make just one more large pillow cover: the leaf, the pinwheel, the churn dash, and one of the blocks with the orange corner stones that is in the large gray four patch. I wanted it to be scrappy looking but when I put all of them together it just didn’t look right. So I pulled out the two “less Halloween” looking patches and made another couple of blocks - the two with the crow and skull fabrics. Turned out the gray spider ones didn’t look as good with the black bordered ones, so I played around with just some big scraps and the rest of my gray spider fabric to end up with the improvised blocks in the big gray four patch. It was fun! And look how these things multiply! I’ve decided to make the pinwheel and churn dash into covers for smaller pillows I’ve got lying around - they’ll be good throughout fall I think and not just Halloween. 

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the other two blocks. I thought about pillows, but I might just keep them around to think on a bit longer. The black frame was a nice way to showcase that big crow and skull print, but I just love this leaf block. Originally I was going to use the purple background as the leaf but I’m glad I changed my mind and used the cats instead. So cute. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

week twenty five

It has been unbearably hot. Like I’m crabby about it hot. It was so hot today (and the air wasn’t all that great either) we just stayed inside. I’m bummed for Dave that a three day weekend couldn’t be spent out doing fun things, but that’s just California right now. Hot and smoky.

To pass some of the time I pulled out my Halloween fabrics and started playing around. I have a ton of quilts and things saved on Pinterest as inspiration, but this time I pulled out some of the quilting magazines I have on the shelf and started browsing. This pattern came from a quilt in peaches and aquas that I thought would look pretty fun in these festive colors instead. And I didn’t have at all enough to make a whole quilt, so I decided to just try a few blocks. This combination has turned out the perfect size for a pillow cover for one of the gigantic pillows I covered for Independence Day. Serendipity! 

Monday, August 31, 2020

week twenty four

This afternoon I started on some improvisational fabric play. I pulled out my bag of “precuts” that I made out of my scrap jars and went to town. I mostly made a mess at first until I landed on a set of 2.5” squares that I liked together. These are some of my favorite colors all pulled together into that Amy Butler floral print. It pairs very nicely with polka dots and penguins!

I saw a block online a few weeks back that I really liked. I decided to try to recreate what I saw using the pieces I had, no final size in mind. It turns out that you can definitely make a square in a square block using a 2.5” center piece as well as 2.5” squares cut in half for the edges. I read around a bit to see what different tutorials suggested and most had very specific, different sizes to use for the center vs the edge pieces. But I’m lazy. In the end just tried it out to see what would happen. All I had to do was trim a little bit when they were finished. It worked great. They were just a little over 3.25” and when everything was sewn together the block ended up being just shy of 9 inches square. The seams are crisp, the points match up, and it looks fantastic. I’m not sure this would work as well with bigger squares, there might be way more waste. I potentially landed on just the right size starting squares to make it work out ok. Dunno. 

I really liked how the first block turned out, so I decided more were in order. As I worked on my penguins and florals I noticed that the colors were slant rhyme complementary (red/green) and so I decided I would do a couple more blocks in the other complementary pairs. This block below is also from all 2.5” squares and is fashioned after a picture of a pillow I had saved in my Pinterest inspiration boards. I don’t like it as much as I like the first one, but for now I’m going to keep it around. I think I want less of the lighter colors if I’m going to use them together. Between the white and the peach print it feels a bit washed out when sitting with my first block. It is about a half inch smaller in dimension, too, so will be more difficult to put together into the same piece. Still, I stuck with my initial plan of not worrying about finished size to keep the freedom of playing intact. 

This last one turned out super cool. I actually was on the phone with a friend as I played around with squares and colors and layout for this one. I even sewed it while we talked. I started with some simple four patches from 2.5” squares and then from there made the other two blocks starting with large HSTs made from some 5” squares. I wanted more interest, so I started snowballing corners and using waste HSTs from that to do the same to the other side and ended up with two awesome looking blocks. They look hard, but totally weren’t - remember I was on the phone and randomly making decisions while doing this! When I sewed the four together I trimmed up the four patches to match the size of my improvised diagonals and that makes them look less symmetrical. I totally lucked out that the magenta triangles match up well with the two inner squares to make a cohesive shape. And I love it. It surprisingly turned out 9 inches square, the same as my first block. I think I may be making a different orange and blue one... 

What to do with the fruits of my labor? Well, the photo for the first block was part of a tutorial on how to connect blocks that have already been layered and quilted. I think I’d like to that with these blocks, too. They will be fun small pieces for me to work on my quilting skills. I want to play with some shapes other than straight lines and see how I can use different shapes to enhance the block designs rather than just using an all over design like I have before. Then I’ll join them together. I think a 3 block strip for a wall hanging might look pretty nice in my studio. Then it can serve as a reminder that a little bit of unplanned sewing can be satisfying, too.