Friday, October 30, 2009

Flashback Friday -- The "Original" Ugly Quilt

I've written about my ugly quilts before. Well, folks, this is the one that started it all!

I made this one about ten years ago. (Yikes! I can't believe it's been that long!) When I went shopping for fabrics to make this quilt, I had one prerequisite in mind -- they had to be UGLY. I went with mostly golds, greens and browns in the most hideous prints I couild find!

It's a fairly simple pinwheel block, but the instructions I had made it rather complicated with all the cutting. They had me cutting each triangle individually, rather than sewing squares together and cutting. Time-consuming!! Another reason I don't prefer following patterns unless I really know what I am getting into!

This is one of the few quilts I have that my grandmother quilted for me before she passed away. I used to send her a quilt top every month or so, and most of them were given away as gifts. I'm so glad I have a few that she quilted to keep for myself!

I've got a few more ugly quilts in the works -- one is a real TKO that I can't wait to show you -- when it's finally finished! It will leave you reeling......

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where I've been all day....

Well, I've spent most of the day TRYING to work on Halloween costumes. I actually did get a lot done -- just with the million interruptions that come with three littles! Here's what my boys are going to be:

Buzz decided he HAD to be a cowboy. He and my husband watched parts of Silverado a month or so ago, and he's been hooked on the idea of cowboys ever since. (Can you blame him?? That movie is a CLASSIC!) Don't worry, I replaced the very bad hat in the photo with a much better one! Lucky for me all I had to make for Buzz was his pants -- because I spent all the rest of my energy on this:

Mr. S decided he was going to be Zurg, and once he's got a plan it is very hard to deter him! Not that I tried, really. I wanted him to be what he really wanted to be. But it sure was a bit of a doozy to make! Luckily my sister-in-law helped me with the construction of the grey chest-plate-whatever-thingy, because I was lost on that one! It's hard to see in my "fantastic" phone photo here, but his hat is a dollar store knit winter hat. I added vinyl horns and reshaped bike reflectors for eyes. Mr. S is very happy with it, which is doubly great because I had a really hard time getting him to try on all the parts separately as I was making them!

I have been working on JellyBean's costume too, but alas it isn't quite finished yet. I'll post photos when it is!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"I-Spy" .....a Failure?

Well, I've gone and done it. I finally picked a sashing fabric for the 450+ I-Spy squares I've been collecting for years. They are 2 1/2" cut, 2 " finished. I sewed together 100 of them with said fabric before I decided...


What was I thinking?? The sashing looks horrible!! How did I sew 100 together before realizing this??

It doesn't help that I really dislike how static they are in their perfectly lined-up rows....

Sigh. It's so disappointing. I won't be picking it apart, so I guess I'll be making a smaller quilt for -- somebody.

But, I did learn a couple things for the next attempt. I don't want one consistent fabric/color for the sashing/in-between squares. I definitely don't want them lined up in perfect little rows -- at least not like this. And I don't think I can stomach green again for a little while.
I want it SCRAPPY!

Guess I'll try again sometime after I finish the blasted Halloween costumes....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Five-Minute Trick-or-Treat Bag -- TUTORIAL

Today I will show you how to make cute trick-or-treat bags for your little ones (or yourself!) in just five minutes, using simply a dollar store dishtowel and belt. It's easy!

I found two different styles of Halloween-theme tea towels at my local dollar store. I've also been eyeing their girls' belts (found on the accessories aisle) for months, just waiting for my chance to use them in a sewing project. Today's the day!

STEP ONE: Fold your tea towel right sides together and sew the two side seams of your bag.

STEP TWO: Fold open your bag as shown, creating a point at the end of the side seam.

STEP THREE: Sew straight across the point, perpendicular to the side seam you sewed in Step One. You can make this any length; mine was between 3 1/2"-4". Repeat on the other side.

Turn right side out. Here's your bag; it just needs handles!

STEP FOUR: Cut off each end of your belt -- the buckle and the little metal dealy on the other side. Cut the remainder of the belt in half to create two straps.
(If you like, you could use ribbon instead, as I did with the spiderweb bag!)

STEP FIVE: On your bag, mark where you want your straps to be. I put mine 4" in from the side seams.

STEP SIX: Sew on your straps! I sewed mine just below the finished edge of the bag, and also at the top edge. I sewed forward and back five or six times to ensure the straps would hold.

A super easy, basic bag!
You could certainly add other details -- pockets, applique -- whatever you like!

This would be an excellent project for a beginning sewist or a child who wants to learn to sew!

Fall Swap Stuff

A couple weeks ago I participated in a Fall Favorites Swap. I haven't heard from Melonie, but I must assume she's received her package by now. Here is what I sent:

Yep! That's the fleece throw from my tutorial a couple weeks ago!

I made this little fleece "Candy Corn Guy" for her 18-month-old son. His arms and legs are made from a dollar store shoelace. (Don't worry, I stitched them a zillion times to make sure they wouldn't fall out!)

I made this little "Candy Corn Skirt" for her four-year-old daughter. I thought it turned out pretty cute! I hope it fits her.....

And this is what I received from Meka, who swapped to me! The little hat is just ADORABLE on JellyBean, and my boys are loving the candy corn pencil case. And the bows! The CUTEST!!

Thanks, Meka!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fleece Applique Technique

A couple weeks ago I posted this tutorial at UCreate. Time to post it on my blog as well, with a few more details!

Here's what you need to make a "fall leaves" throw:

~ basic fleece throw
~ fleece scraps in fall colors
(you might consider using dollar store
fleece scarves instead of scraps)
~ interestingly-shaped leaves
~ white or light-colored tissue paper
~ safety pins
~ a free-motion foot (sometimes called a darning foot) for your machine

Let me tell you why you need a free-motion foot!

This is a free-motion foot. It is a PRICELESS addition to your sewing arsenal! If you don't have a free-motion foot, consider purchasing one. It will open a WORLD of sewing possibilities! This is the foot you use for machine quilting, free-motion embroidery, cutting corners when you're being lazy (one of my favorite uses!), and -- of course -- my fleece applique technique!

Let's get started on that throw:

STEP ONE: Trace your leaves onto regular paper. These will be your patterns.

STEP TWO: Lay a sheet of tissue paper over your patterns and trace, using a pencil. You will want to leave some space between each traced leaf.

STEP THREE: Cut around one of your tissue paper leaves, leaving enough of an edge for you to place pins in. Place the tissue paper leaf over a scrap piece of fleece on top of your throw, and pin in place.

STEP FOUR: THIS IS THE FUN PART!! Lower the feed dogs on your machine. This will stop the machine from feeding the fabric through, leaving your hands to maneuver the fabric however you like -- even left to right!

It is a little difficult to explain in writing/with pictures how to maneuver around those shapes, so I made a short video showing how to do it.
** Please excuse my laughing children in the background! :oD **

Can you see why I LOVE my free-motion foot??
(You may want to practice this a few times before starting on your actual project.)

Here are a few tips on free-motion sewing:
* Try to match the speed of your hands with the speed of the needle. You determine the stitch length this way.
* It is a good idea to practice! For your trial, use fabric the same thickness as your project. For example, if you are quilting, sandwich a piece of batting between a two pieces of fabric for your test.
* Practice different motions: zig-zags, swirls, straight lines, etc.
* Get really comfortable with free-motion sewing before you jump into a big (or expensive!) project.

Okay, back to the throw!
STEP FIVE: Tear away the tissue paper. Sometimes a little tiny bit of paper will get stuck under a single stitch. You can use a toothpick or the point of some very fine scissors to coax it out.

STEP SIX: Cut away the excess fleece. Fleece will not fray, so you can get right up next to your line of stitching. Be careful not to snip the throw beneath! I use very sharp, fine scissors for this step.

Ta-da! A perfect little leaf!

STEP SEVEN: Continue adding leaves wherever you like on your throw, turning them different directions to make them look like they are falling. I like to attach them all like this, then do all the tearing and trimming while watching a movie with my husband!

STEP EIGHT: If you like, you can go back and add veins to your leaves. Use your free-motion foot for this, too! I start and end at the stem and do each leaf's veins in one continuous line.

I started on the bottom edge, then spaced them further and further apart as I went up to make them look like they were falling. I also washed the throw after I was finished to get rid of wrinkles and "fluff it up."

This fleece applique technique can be used for many other projects, simple or complex. Here are a couple other things I've made:

Complex shapes like snowflakes, although more time-consuming, are not difficult to do.

You can even layer different colors for more intricate detail!

I have also used this technique to add fleece appliques to my kids' clothes. I love adding little flowers to the hems of my daughters' pants!

You can also pair this technique with making quilts. After basting a quilt you can attach your applique at the same time as quilting!

I hope this post will help convince you to try out a free-motion foot. It really does open a whole world of sewing possibilities!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Final I-Spy Swap Fabrics!

Our final contributor had to drop out of the swap. My mom had been kicking herself for not joining, so now -- hooray! -- she is in! Here are the fabrics she contributed:

I'm loving the duckies and those adorable hatching chickies!

So... you know what this means.....

A million bazillion packages, all ready to go to the post office! I just have to wait for JellyBean to wake up from her nap!

Flashback Friday -- Green & Gold Quilt

This little baby-sized quilt is made entirely of 2 1/2" cut squares my uncle mailed to me. They were leftovers from a quilt he made. He's got an eye for color!

It was fun to lay out the design with only the squares I had. I really wanted it to be symmetrical. It was a lot of trial and error, but it was lots of fun to figure out a way to make it work!

I quilted it all over with this swoopy loopy bumpy pattern that ended up looking like...


Hmmm... I forgot about that quilting pattern. I'm going to have to do it again someday!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Swine Flew?

This week two of my sisters contracted... you guessed it.....

In honor of the occasion, I just had to whip up this little guy! The pig pattern was recommended to me by my friend Cathy. You can find it here. I reduced the pattern quite a bit; my pig ended up about 4 1/2" from snout to tail. I made up the wings -- folded some felt, whacked it, and topstitched!

He is 100% handsewn (other than his wings) and made of felt with bead eyes. I put him together last night while (not) watching the new Transformers movie with my husband!

Finger Puppets: The Woodsman -- TUTORIAL

Here's the final character in my Red Riding Hood Finger Puppet series:

The Woodsman!

(Find Red Riding Hood here, Grandma here, and Wolfie here)


~ fleece scrap for his body
~ plaid fabric scrap for his shirt
~ finger of "one size"-type glove for his hat
~ yarn for his beard
~ twig for his ax
~ grey felt scrap for his ax

STEP ONE: Create his basic body by sewing around the person pattern on a piece of doubled fleece. (Basic instruction can be found in step one here.) I made my woodsman's arms a little extra wider, and stuffed them, so he would look a little more manly.

STEP TWO: Print shirt pattern (see end of post) and cut one from your plaid fabric scrap.

STEP THREE: Turn one inner edge a scant 1/8" and topstitch. Continue stitching around the half-circle. Stop before reaching the opposite straight edge.

It should look like this.

STEP FOUR: Sew the underarm/side seams. (I chose not to hem the sleeves, because I wanted to roll them up, but if you do, hem them before doing the side seams.)

STEP FIVE: I really should have done this before sewing the side seams, but forgot. I cut a small square of plaid fabric and pressed all the edges under to create a pocket, then sewed it onto the front of his shirt.

A little bit torturesome, but it's such a cute detail!

STEP SIX: Hand stitch the front of the shirt closed, with the finished side overlapping the unfinished side. Roll the sleeves (if you decided not to hem them) and stitch in place.

At this point he was looking a little, well, like a rap singer. So I gave him a little temporary bling and had him sing a little Eminem before moving on.

STEP SEVEN: Sew a yarn beard as shown. Handstitch his finger-glove hat to his head.

I created his ax using a twig and a scrap of grey felt, then stitched it to his hand.


Red Riding Hood Finger Puppets