Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Finished...under the wire!

Once again, loving the whole Lovely Year of Finishes challenge. And possibly cursing the fact that February only has 28 days. But it's still February as I write this, and my snowman quilt is D.O.N.E.!
And the only part I had to do today was hand stitch the binding to the back side. The pattern is called "Jingles" from The Cotton Shop. I bought it at least five years ago, and then purchased fabric four years ago while pregnant with my oldest son. Finally started sewing it this year!

It's been a while since I've made a flannel quilt. It's a glorious thing to have in winter; I'm currently snuggled up under it while I type. Oh, and one of my kids already spilled milk on it, so it's feeling quite loved at the moment.

Here's a close-up of the center panel. I created the faces using varying widths of zigzag stitches. The center panel is quilted in a wavy, meandering all-over type of pattern, around the snowmen and trees. The rest is straight line quilted. I can't wait to wash it to help hide my imperfect quilting stitches get that wonderful crinkled look.

Second only to the outer border fabric (a Woolies flannel from Maywood that looks like a blue tweed sweater), I love this backing stripe! It reminds me of a pair of pajamas my dad had when I was a kid.
 If it looks like there's not much quilting on the back, there isn't. I used a quilt-as-you-go method just through the batting. Then I layered the quilt top/batting with the backing and did minimal stitching.

I think this little bird is so cute too!

I've got my March project in mind--a wedding gift 6 months overdue! Watch for a post on it (and hopefully progress as well) shortly, because I recently found out that they'll be needing a baby quilt at the end of summer. I'd better get the wedding gift done before then! What's the latest you've ever given a handmade quilt?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Projects in Print

Have you seen a new(er) magazine called

I'm excited to say that I have two projects in the April/May issue. The first you may have seen already; it's the design I nicknamed my nautical flag quilt that I pieced last summer. The magazine photographed it as a baby quilt, which I hadn't though of but love!

The second is a kitchen trio of small sewing projects: a drying mat, a dish towel, and a plastic bag holder. I love the lime green with the black and cream!

There's nothing like the thrill of opening a magazine and seeing your work in it. :)
Tonight I'm busy finishing up my February goal for the Lovely Year of Finishes. It would have been nice if this were a leap year; I could use the extra day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Winner and Catching Up

First, let's start with a winner from my Kiss, Kiss Love post! (Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment!) Random number generator chose:
 which is MoeWest, who said:

My sewing focus has been a bit all over the place since I finished the triple zip pouch over the weekend! 

Here's what I've been working on: 

1. Working on the straight line quilting and adding the borders on my snowman quilt (before the 28th...this is my February Lovely Year of Finishes project!) And yes, there's still snow on the ground here (or instead of "still," I should say "again," so the quilt continues to be relevant this year).

 (evening picture taking = dark pic! but I do love how the snowman scarves all look like they're flying away in this photo)

2. I finished the 15 blocks for my guild's Home of the Brave project, and handed them in. Done. The actual quilt will have the blocks set on point with sashing.

3. My almost 4-year-old son asked if we could make another quilt. (see the first here) Can't say no to that! He lifts and lowers the presser foot, presses the needle up/down button, and chooses the fabric. I chose the wonky log cabin--no measuring, no perfect piecing needed. He also currently has a whole list of people he wants to make quilts for. 

4. I'd mentioned a while back that I was going to be helping a friend make quilts for her two young children. The situation has changed a bit, and my mom and I are making the quilts, and making them quickly. Here are 12 blocks I finished today for the boy's quilt; 18 more to go! They do sew up quickly, and I love the fabrics.

5. Victoria over at 15 Minutes Play is hosting a tea towel challenge. She first mentioned it about a month ago, and I dragged my feet on it. The first two tea towels I'd admired on Etsy disappeared, but then I found this one. My husband has some Irish blood, so it seemed like a perfect choice. After I finish #1 and #4 on this list, I'm planning to play a little with my tea towel and some made fabric. 

p.s. It was a great mail week--I received the Irish Blessing tea towel that I'd ordered, and I also received my selection from the gift certificate I won to the Quilting Lodge (through Lovely Year of Finishes). It's a jelly roll of Cuzco! Two things I think are especially neat about this: 1) I've actually been to Cuzco. 2) Before this arrived, I was a jelly roll virgin. I'd never used one. I can't wait to decide what to do with this! Pre-cut strips...heaven! Thanks, Quilting Lodge!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Triple Zip!

I've been admiring the Triple Zipper pouches from A Quilter's Table tutorial that have popped up on various blogs in the last few weeks and really wanting to join in. I just wasn't sure it was going to happen, time-wise. The contest portion of the Zipalong ended at midnight Friday. Not that I really *need* any of the prizes, but if you're going to join a sew-along, you might as well throw your name in the hat, right?!

I bought zippers on Monday. At 9:30 Friday night, I pulled out my zippers and fabric and got started. Less than two hours later, I'm happy to say I was done!

I was having serious fabric envy looking at everyone else's, and just couldn't decide on what to use. I ultimately decided to make the pouch for my older son, who turns 4 next weekend. He loves tools (hence the fabric choices) and he really loves stashing "treasures." Well, now he'll have another treasure pouch. I think he'll be thrilled! The other benefit of making one for him first is that I got to practice on it. I will likely make another (or another few!) and I think each one will only improve. Plus, I'd like to make it larger, and have more of the top two fabrics showing.

Here you can sort of see my three different lining fabrics.

Blue for the largest pocket

Lime for the middle pocket

Red for the smallest pocket

I love having 3 different color zippers! 
Does anyone else do "too good" of a job sewing their zippers on? I ran into that a bit on this project and have a slightly difficult job closing the zippers because the lining fabric is stitched too close.

Even though the contest is over, if you haven't tried this tutorial yet, you should! There's also an alternate finishing technique here, which is helpful.
And make sure to check out all the beautiful versions over on Flickr.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Kiss, Kiss, Love

I'm posting this from the midst of a slight chocolate hangover...February 15 should probably be an all-salad-all-the-time kind of day! Especially if in addition to too much chocolate, you also had homemade cannellonis filled with sausage, butternut squash, spinach and ricotta, and topped with a sage cream sauce. Yum! 

So on to the Hugs and Kisses Blog Hop, with thanks to Madame Samm of Sew We Quilt and Jane from Jane's Fabric and Quilts, our cheerleader. 

I designed my project with Valentine's Day in mind, but even with bright pink rick rack and prints like I chose, you can use it well beyond cupid's holiday.

It's a Tic Tac Toe (or if you like, Kiss, Kiss, Love) board.

I originally made the board with Xs and Os, but then decided to try out heart shapes instead of the Os, just for fun.

Do you want to be hearts or Xs? First one to get three in a row wins! :)

I included a double pocket on the back to store the game pieces.

If you'd like to make your own tic tac toe board, you can find the tutorial here on my blog.

Thanks so much for stopping by today! 
Be sure to check out the creative projects from the rest of today's bloggers! It's one last day of Valentine-y goodness!

p.s. I have to throw another two hugs-and-kisses themed photos in here of older projects.
First, my version of Tula Pink's LOVE quilt. Read more about it here.

Second, a small "lovey" made for my guild's charity project, which uses X and O blocks.  Read more about it here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Just playing around

The last couple days I've been sewing some blocks for one of my guild's charity projects. 

It's called Home of the Brave, and it's a movement dedicated to honoring fallen heroes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by making and presenting Civil War era inspired homemade quilts to their families. Our guild's focus is Michigan, since that's where we are located. I took home the pre-cut package to make 15 blocks back in mid September, and here it is February. Oops! I'm determined to hand back the stitched blocks at our meeting next week.

I've got 7 X blocks completely done and the other 8 at various stages of completion. Ultimately, the blocks will be pieced together with sashing rows and a border. 

While I am all for the cause, I'll be honest that neither the fabrics or the pattern are really my style. So while I was sewing, I was brainstorming ways to try a more modern spin on the design later for myself.

Though I have to say that I do love the contemporary spin of this block on the January-February 2013 Love of Quilting cover!

Last Friday night, I was home alone (Thank you, concert that my husband wanted to go to and I didn't!) So I started experimenting.

First I went down a complicated route. I wanted the triangles to be pieces, so I cut solid gray squares and adding snowball corners in two different sizes/colors. 

This created an interesting sort of repeating pinwheel that I kind of liked.

With two problems.
 First, because of the nature of the cutting, half the pinwheels are mirror images. Short of making two quilts spinning in opposite directions, I couldn't think of a good way to use all the pieces. 
Second, I didn't consider how small the pieces would start getting as I cut and pieced. The assembled pinwheel block below measures about 8". Those center gold "blades" are t.i.n.y. Too tiny. (And not consistent in size, but that's just a quality issue on my part.)
There is ALOT going on in this block, but I do kind of like it, so I'm thinking of redoing it slightly larger and making a pillow. Not sure if some straight line quilting would minimize the distracting seams in the solid gray sections or not...

Talk about over thinking some "play" time! 
I went back to the proverbial drawing board, simplified things, and came up with these blocks. I like 'em.

I'm still working on a final layout idea and surveying my stash to choose actual colors, but as I cut triangles, this is the type of look I'm going for. Each "solid square" you see below will actually be comprised of two different print triangles, for a scrappy look. Definitely a project I'll be laying on the design wall before sewing! 
What about you? Have you ever sat down just to play? 
And then done a complete about-face? 

Linking up with W.I.P. Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced and hoping to get my charity blocks finished before next Tuesday! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Look what came in the mail!

I had so much fun opening my mailbox to see this! 
My mom followed my tutorial, available here and also as a handy pdf on Pellon's site here, and sent me a valentine. Isn't that sweet?!

My boys also received a box from Grammy, filled with (lots of) bubble wrap and these:

I'd say all in all it's a happy house here today!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tutorial: Tic Tac Toe

I've had a bit of rick rack envy. I've seen other people using it and hadn't yet found a way I loved to incorporate it into one of my projects. Then this tic tac toe board concept popped into my head. Bingo!
While I made this project with Valentine's Day in mind (you know, XOXO = hugs and kisses), in reality, you could use it all year round.
I also added a pocket on the back to store the game pieces (in a house with two young kids, storage is constantly top of mind!)

You'll Need:
1/2 yard of a gray print
1 fat quarter each of 2 bright prints
1/4 yard (or fat quarter) of a bright print for binding
1/4 yard heavyweight sew-in stabilizer
14" square of batting
1 spool of fuchsia large rick rack
Fabric marking pen
Coordinating and contrasting thread

Making the Game Board:
1. From the gray print cut one 13" square, one 12-1/2" square, and one 12-1/2" x 16" piece.

2. Layer the 13" square right side up on the batting square.  Pin to secure for quilting and then use a ruler and fabric marking pen to draw a straight line across the square, near the center.

3. Use this marked line as a guide for your first line of straight line quilting. I sewed with my walking foot and then lined the walking foot edge up to the stitched line to space the next line. Here's the finished result:

4. Trim the quilted fabric to measure 12-1/2" square. Measure in 4-1/4" from one edge and draw a line with a fabric marking pen for placing the rick rack. Measure in 4-1/4" from the opposite edge and draw another line. Turn the square 90 degrees and repeat. Cut two 13" lengths of rick rack and pin in place on marked lines. Stitch down the middle of each to secure.

5. Cut, position and sew two more pieces of rick rack. Now your game board top is complete.

6. Fold the 12-1/2" x 15" gray piece in half so it measures 12-1/2" x 7-1/2". Lay it on the 12-1/2" gray square (with square facing right side up), matching raw edges. This will be the backing and the pocket to hold the Xs and Os. Use a ruler to find the middle of pocket (6-1/4" from edge) and mark a line down the pocket. Stitch on this line through all layers to divide the pocket in half.

7. Layer this pocket/backing with the pocket side down and then add the quilted top, rick rack side up, to complete your quilt sandwich. Pin all edges to secure, making sure pocket fabric lays flat. (You could also sew a basting stitch to secure the pocket to the backing before making the sandwich, but I liked the idea of killing two birds with one stone and simply catching these well-pinned edges in while I added the binding.)

8. Make 60" of binding from your binding fabric. Position it on the top of the quilt sandwich and stitch in place like you would any binding. Trim excess rick rack if needed. Hand sew (or stitch by machine...your choice) the binding to the back side. Your game board is done!

Making the Xs and Os:
1. Click here to download the pdf with the X and O template pieces. Cut out each template piece. 

2. From each of the bright prints, cut two 4" x 15" pieces. From the heavyweight stabilizer, cut two 3-3/4" x 14-1/2" pieces. 

3. Sandwich a stabilizer piece between two matching bright pieces and spray baste the fabrics to the stabilizer. (Fabric should be right sides out.)

4. Trace the X shape onto the fused sandwich five times. Cut out each shape carefully.

6. Set your machine's zigzag stitch to a shorter, very dense stitch size. I chose to use a contrasting thread color just for fun. Zigzag stitch around the entire outer edge of the X. Repeat with all five X shapes. 

7. Repeat steps 3-5 to make the five O shapes. 

To cut the center out of the O shape, gently fold the circle in half and cut a slit.

Insert the scissors in the slit and cut on the drawn line.

You're done! Store the X and O pieces in the two pockets on the game board back when not in use.

Wishing you a Valentine's Day filled with Xs and Os! (hugs and kisses!)