Thursday, December 30, 2010

Teacher Gifts

Kati, over at from the blue chair, made the most wonderful Christmas Tree pillow.  And then she so kindly gave all the dimensions so that others could make one, too.  

I thought it was fabulous, and had three teacher gifts to it was a tree factory here for a weekend before school let out.

It was great fun chopping up a bunch of greens and red from my stash.  I just made big piles of each.  

I think only one or two would officially be called Christmas fabrics. 

 When it was time to quilt the tops, I stitched just an 1/8th inside each green shape. 

Same for the wonky, golden stars on top.  

The white was stippled.  

I wanted to try out the little, loopy swirls that Kati used - I thought it looked like swirling snow - but I haven't done it before and didn't want to take the time to practice.  Due to poor time management on my part, it was about 10pm, the night before gifting, that I sat to stipple and bind. 

Luckily, I had already made the zippered backs for all three earlier in the weekend.  I followed this tutorial again.  

I named them "A Hobson Tree" after the preschool that Becket attends.  The ciriculum is play based and fabulous.  If you're a parent of small people and haven't seen a play based preschool yet, GO-RUN look for one in your area.  One part of Hobson is the crafts, available to the children each day.  They may choose to do it or not, and it is ALWAYS open ended.  They may have construction gingerbread men out to make....the brown cookie shape is cut and a whole slew of things to glue on and decroate with are avaialable.  Then they just go at it.  The best way to encourage their creativity, in my opinion.  What fun is there in a long row of identically pasted button crafts?  So, since I had fun just making the trees however I wanted each time, they had to be called "Hobson Trees".

One final note - IKEA has the most fabulous feather pillow inserts.  Available at 20" square and only $6.99 each.  They made wonderfully fluffy pillows!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I've been working on a couple of gifts lately - birthday, not Christmas.  This is the first of two birthday gifts that I really wanted to keep for myself!

Made for a teacher at Becket's preschool - their mascot is an owl - I had to feature my favorite owl.  I recently finished a quilt top with this style block and a pieced edge, so I just shrank it down and added some lovely linen.  Gifted with some hot chocolate mix and a few candy cane JoJos. 

LOVE making a little 9X6 MugRug.  Instant gratification!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

{Filled} : a finished quilt

My mom has been waiting - semi patiently - for me to post these pictures.

I finished my Women's Advent Tea quilt, for their raffel, just a few days before it was needed and about 12 hours before I started the stomach flu.

I chose to name the quilt {Filled} as that is how you feel when you're with such a great group of women.

 I used my Moda Figgy Pudding that I love.

And tried to go for a design that was fun, modern, and would also appeal to the more traditional women as well.

I saw somebody's "Jelly Filled" quilt online (pattern by Camille) and thought it would be a great solution.  Especially since I had a few Figgy Pudding Jelly rolls left that had been used as table decorations last year.

My favorite, cute winter Munki prints show up as little surpises.

The chocolate brown print was the perfect binding to frame the whole thing.

I had math fun with the back - I did fibonacci stripes.  Fibonacci really does give a nicely balanced/proportioned sequence of stripes.

At 58" x 58" it turned out to be a great lap quilt.  I hope it's enjoyed all winter long by the woman who won it at the raffle.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ringed Double Circle Block : tutorial

 We're still recovering a bit, so Thanksgiving has been postponed until tomorrow.  That gives me a bit of time to post my circle block tutorial.

When I received the drawing of this block to make for a swap, I had no idea how I was going to make it.  Nor had I even pieced a curved seam before.  So it was quite the challenge - but fun.  To make sure I remembered how to do it later, I photographed all my steps.  So glad I did, as it worked wonderfully!

This is long and has a ton of pictures.  Please let me know if anything is confusing.

 Here's the drawing I received - with a note to make it into a 12" block.  It wasn't to scale, nor did it have the individual pieces with seam allowances. 

So I went searching for my compass kit.

Then I grabbed a file folder to make my pattern pieces.

Draw a corner, then mirror it with your 1/4" seam allowance.

I did some math and figured out how much to enlarge one section of the pattern on my photocopier.   To just make up your own, decide what the finished block size should be, and halve it (12" block = start with a 6" square)  Then make your ring - this one is about 1" wide.
See those two circles I added on the right?  We need to make marks for the seam allowance on each side of them.

 Grab your ruler and make pencil marks 1/4" to either side of both lines.  I have arrows pointing to all four marks I made.

 Now we're going to transfer these marks to the file folder, creating pattern pieces that include seam allowances.  I'm going to make the inner wedge first.

Remember how to use a compass?  Don't stab yourself.

Put the paper on your cutting mat, then poke the pointy part through the corner of the block.  Turn that little wheel in the middle until the pencil part of the compass lines up with the mark just outside of the inner wedge. 

Lift your compass, but don't touch the wheel!  Then stab your compass into the corner you drew on the manila folder.

See how I stabbed it into the inside corner, not the outside one?  If you're confused about that here's why: the pattern is a corner of the finished block.  We want the circle to look like a round circle when we're done, and if you don't add the seam allowances or make your circle ON the edge of the seam allowance, when you sew them together you're losing a half inch of your shape on each edge.  You'll end up with a rumply, non-round circle which I suppose you could FORCE into a flat circle,  but I'm going with the nice, mathy geometry so that it works out the first time.

 Keeping the point in your mat, swing the pencil part back and forth to cross your outer seam allowance.

Don't hold it by the wheel!  That will change the circle size.

 On this same piece of folder, you can make the outside wedge as well.  (You can't make the thin ring, it overlaps)

Here I labeled each of the three pieces, along with the mark that you use to draw each pattern piece.  So we used #3 to draw the inner circle, now set your compass up on #2 to make the outer wedge.  (You'll use #1 and #4 to make the thin ring)

 Poke and draw. 

I also squared off the outside corner.  I want a finished 12" square and I'm big on cut-extra-square-up-later.  So the outside edge is 7.25" out instead of just 6.5" 

That worked out really well!  I highly suggest it.

 Grab another bit of folder, make your starting corner again, and use marks #1 and #4 to create the thin ring.

Carefully cut them all out with you non-fabric scissors along the outside seam edges. You can see in this photo that I marked the 45deg diagonal on each to find the middle of the pieces.  I ended up not using that at all.

 VERY carefully, cut out all you pattern pieces.

Here's what I did.  I held down the folder bits really tightly, then rotary cut double layers of fabric.  Ended up with a deep slice in the edge of my thumb.  I didn't bleed on any fabric, so that was good.  Not sure how else to get perfectly smooth edges....keep your fingers out of the way!

 So, you have a big pile of pieces now and have to join them together.

Finger press the center in each part, then lay them just like this.  It looks like a smile up, under a frown down.  Don't try to start with the curves going the same way.  It doesn't work like that.

Place a thin ring that curves in - right side up, and an inner circle that bumps out, right side down - match up those two center points - and pin.

 Since I was only making two of these blocks, I decided to go that lots-of-pins route.  Didn't want to experiment with other methods and use up my cut fabric, especially after taking that chunk out of my thumb.

I pinned the middle, then the ends, then worked in the edges in between.  It doesn't seem like it will fit, but it does.  You know, geometry and all.  Here are a couple all pinned and ready to go.

 I stitched with the convex (bump OUT) piece on top. Slowly keeping my 1/4" seam, and pulling pins as I went.

Pull it off the machine, flip the edge, and HOLY COW!  It lays perfectly flat.  I pressed all seams toward the print.  This helped a lot when it came to final block construction.

Smile, dance, and show all your family - explaining how totally cool it is, as they won't understand.

 Make your way through all four quadrants.

Now it's time to line up that inside ring perfectly.

You want the inside wedge to be exactly square and the same size for all four parts.  Take your ruler, and place the same mark on top of each side of the ring's edge.  You can see for my block, that I placed both sides right on the 3.5" mark.

Hold firmly, and rotary trim just those two edges on every square.  Don't worry about the other two edges right now, we'll square them up at the end.

Join up your four blocks with the 1/4" seams.  I pressed them open .

Happy - Happy - The rings all line up!  Square up the outside to your final block size.  If you made the outside wedge tad larger as I did, you'll have just a bit to trim on all four sides to end with a perfect square.

Iron and dance some more!  I did! 
A bit of a project - but a wonderfully, satisfying challenge.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mom! It was Taco Day Today!

NOT what one wants to hear as you're sitting with a bowl and the stomach flu.

As one child began the whole thing, and knowing the doom was coming for me, a marathon of basting - quilting - binding got my Advent Tea raffle quilt done at 11:00 the night before I was hit.

One more kid to go, and he's holding strong.  Let's hope it's over and I can stop cleaning and washing - I have quilt photos to edit and post!

Thursday, November 04, 2010


edit:  Here's the best tutorial for the fabric balls I have below: Knitty Gritty Thoughts 
I would love to have a basket full like her!

Things have been crazy with lacrosse team travel plans.  

I've been making stuff, but haven't bothered to take pictures of most of it in the past month. 

A Spoooooky Pumpkin

But I do see that I have a fun collection of three holidays on the camera right now.

These fabric covered balls were fun to make, and used a good amount of stash for each :)  Nearly a half yard for the larger one.

Thanksgiving Table decoration

But I should have used a thimble.  After a billion pushed in pins, it hurts!
Christmas Ornament

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bee Horror : part II

For this horror, you find yourself waving your hand in the air - me! me! I want to join - and then realize you have no idea how to do what you volunteered for.
I never made a block with a curved seam.  

But I LOVE to learn new stuff, and how hard could it be?!

I was given a block design.  I had to make the correctly sized pattern pieces.  This involved lots of sharp tools.  

I did not stab myself with the compass.  

I did nearly bleed on my block as I took a huge rotary slice into my thumb while cutting out all the pieces.  Good thing I have lots of butterfly bandages because there is NO TIME for an ER visit.

This story ends happily with a seam-matching, square, correctly sized block - on my first try!  It looks a tad rumply from pressing in some guides for pinning, but it's flat and pucker-free.  I made a second and it worked as well.


I am beyond excited that I did it.  I took pictures as I went along and will share them one I get them cropped.   One more reason why bees and swaps are great.  They can really push you to expand your skills.

I've done some of this, too.   Finally, a happy swap block,  for the potholder pass swap. 

I really enjoy just cutting fabric up, then sewing it together as I go along.  No seam-matching, curved edge pressure here!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Bee Horror Story

{or Quilty Math gone wrong}
Halloween nears and, just in time, I have a horror story for you.

This fear lurks in the minds of all quilters participating in Bees.

A lovely, large stack of Modern Meadow fat eighths arrived from Liz for One Block Over.  She wants a quilt for her bed with non-wonky square in square blocks.  We were free to do the squares as we wished - final size 12.5"

I sat with the stacks and came up with a couple fun block plans then spent an enjoyable afternoon of preschool time creating.  One done - onto the next.

For the second block I choose to go with a big, thick square of the happy orange and aqua field.  It was best framed with a golden fabric.  I pre-cut (the music just turned to a minor key) the golden strips just a tad large.  I like to construct blocks 1/4" or so large and then trim square to the perfect size whenever possible.  

I make the large orange portion, then at the last minute decided that it needed to be trimmed down just a tad - the scale seemed kind of off relative to the solid center.   Just a half inch all around.  (are you screaming, no no DON'T go into the basement alone!)

I join the first two sides of the golden outer ring, iron, and then check the length the final two strips before adding them.  I  measure the near-complete block, expecting something around 13" for the last strips - and to my horror it's only 12"!  
I measured a couple more times as I just didn't believe the number.  Then I look over at the last two strips, that I ALREADY CUT, as well as the very small uncut piece, and realize...

I cut up somebody's fabric and I did it wrong!  
That tiny, last minute trim took off my missing 1".  I don't have enough left to fix the problem and I don't have any in my stash. 
Can you hear the horror music and screams?  Because I sure did!

I considered the pieces I had not yet used that Liz sent, but I was married to the block.  I stared at the wrong sized block and thought over options for quite a while.  But it just wasn't going to look right with anything else added in.  Since it is my second block for her, I decided to sew the final two pieces on, and square it up at 12".  The ideal would have been to unpick the first two, recut four new edges just a bit larger.  I'll let Liz decide how she prefers to fix the block size.

I may be a tad shaky when I next need to trim fabric sent to me.  And will certainly NOT chop it all up ahead of construction.   

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You know you're a blogger....

When you see weeds in your yard - half frozen, half dew covered in the morning  - and run to grab the camera.

And you take pictures of happy mail.

(Which seriously cut into my quilting time this past week as I actually READ a couple books.  It's been a long time.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm movin' out

I just know that there's a room waiting for me in this home.  Amanda will adopt me, right?

(If for some reason you don't follow Amanda - go visit their amazing new farmhouse that she's been sharing the last few weeks.)

Oh to be a child - and create in this most wonderful library

Friday, October 08, 2010

Gen X Quilter

Head on over to AnneMarie's blog.
I'm featured today!