Friday, December 19, 2014

Goldilocks and the 3 Box Bags

I think it's so special to give handmade gifts for the holidays.  A lot of people will advise you to pick your holiday gift for the year and then churn them out assembly line style.  I know from past experience that I'll lose my mind if I have to make too many of the same thing (14 napkins, what was I thinking!?!) so this year I came up with a couple of different ideas.  First up I wanted to make knitting bags for the Elementary and Jr. High librarians I volunteer with.  I decided to go with box bags.

There are a ton of tutorials for making box bags out there but these are a mash up of the awesome tutorials by Kelby Sews and Pink Stitches.  For my first one I used some Anna Maria Horner Innocent Crush with Sky Grunge for the lining.  I lined both the exterior and lining fabrics with Shape-Flex SF101 and added a layer of duck in the middle.  This one was way too soft and the handle was too short.

For the next one I tried some helpful tips from The Plaid Scottie for adding zipper tabs and stitching the ends together before finishing.  The exterior and lining are Cotton + Steel.  This time I lengthened the handle to 8 1/2" but now it was too long;-(  I lined the exterior with Decor Bond (Pellon 809) and the lining with Shape-Flex.  The texture of this one is better but still too soft.

For the final one I used this adorable Knitty Sheep print with Tula Pink Acacia Pixel Dot for the lining.  This time I tried Fusible Fleece on the exterior and Shape-Flex on the lining.  I like the look of this best but it still would probably be better with some duck inside.  I did add Shape-Flex to the handle and it was just right.


I have so much respect for my friend Caro who makes and sells these as Splityarn.  I never did find the perfect combination of interfacings to give it the body I wanted and overall I found these rather fiddly and annoying to make.  If I get inspired again I'll try making one using Oh, Fransson!'s quilt as you go panels but next year I'll be thinking outside the box;-)  Are you making hand made holiday gifts this year?

Linking up to the fabulous Finish it Up Friday by Crazy Mom Quilts.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Holiday Decorating

I know I shared my foyer with my latest Oh, Deer pillow but I realized some of my holiday decorations predate my blog.  Also in the foyer is this Figgy Pudding card holder.  I love watching it fill with holiday cards from all our friends and family!

For the mantle I always hang my Holiday Stars Garland along with the stockings (which are from Pottery Barn, the shame).

And when you have a table runner you love but no longer need for your dining room table you obviously turn it in to a bench cover.

But my absolute favorite decoration is this Welcome to the North Pole quilt by Piece o Cake.  This is entirely hand appliqued though I did machine quilt it.

I love all the tiny details and embellishments I added.  Santa has a real belt buckle and fur cuffs.

I changed the Elves Workroom into a Starbucks because obviously Santa can't get it all done without caffeine...

and realized this building really should be Chinese takeout!

This isn't something I would ever make now but I love to see it hanging for the holidays!  What is your most treasured holiday decoration?


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Operation Cookie Time

One of my favorite holiday traditions is our annual holiday cookie party.  Usually that just involves making lots of cookies but when I was folding all my fabrics I found this fabulous Christmas cookie fabric I bought years ago to make a tablecloth and decided this was the year.

The stumbling block in all this and the real reason this fabric has been sitting so long is that my dining room table is a massive 60" x 92" so with the drop my tablecloth needs to measure at least 80" x 112".  Trying to accurately cut those long lengths and get the border print straight was going to be a major pain on my small table.  So what do you do when you embark on a project so huge it doesn't fit in your studio?  Head to your LQS of course:-)   Luckily the gang at Quilter's Way was happy to have me crash in their space for a few hours.  Their ginormous cutting tables are AWESOME!!!
And how amazing is that mitered seam?  I used this fabulous tutorial, Adding Borders the Jinny Beyer Way.  She makes it so easy!!!

I may have gone a bit overboard making cookies this year...

but now I have the perfect backdrop for all my holiday baking:-)

What's your favorite holiday tradition?

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Quilting it up with this week's W.i.P. Wednesday:-)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Follow Me!

It all started with a lighthearted conversation with a friend where I jokingly said I needed to make a quilt that says "Read My Blog!".  I'd been brainstorming ideas for a quilt to enter in the Quiltcon Quilt Show and this seemed like an obvious choice.

I used one of the free QR Code Generator's I found on Google to generate a QR Code for my blog and then used Gimp to overlay a grid over the image.

Rather than sewing together 625 1" squares I started by making the 3 nested squares for the corners and then pieced each row using 1 1/2" wide strips cut to the needed length.  You can't imagine the feeling of relief when having painstakingly pieced together all those rows I scanned the QR code and it went right to my blog!!!

For the quilting I decided to keep in simple.  I did stitch in the ditch around the white blocks to help the pink pop.

I debated quilting my blog name in to the border because I was worried it would disqualify me but in the end I couldn't find any rules prohibiting it and I thought it made it more obvious what the quilt was about (and for those who don't have a QR reader handy).  I printed the text on freezer paper and ironed it on to my quilt and then used FMQ to quilt around the paper.    From there I played with some ideas for more FMQ but in the end just echoed the square out to the edge.

There were more than 1500 quilts entered so the competition is stiff but it will be an amazing showcase of what's happening in modern quilting.  Now that I've finished it's time for some holiday making...  there's nothing like a handmade gift:-)

Linking up to the fabulous Finish it Up Friday by Crazy Mom Quilts.

Quilt Stats:
Finished quilt is 35" x 35"
Fabrics: Bella Solids Azalea, White.
Batting: 80/20 Cotton/Poly blend.
Thread: 50 wt. Aurifil in Ivory (2021) and Fuchsia (4020).

Friday, November 28, 2014

Oh, Deer!

I'm at least the 5 millionth person to knock off this Anthropologie Blooming Reindeer but it's so cute I was willing to be unoriginal for the sake of being stylish:-)  This year I'm trying to dial my holiday decorating back a notch so it doesn't look like Rudolph puked up Christmas everywhere.

The construction was pretty straightforward...  if I hadn't needed to make 3 trips to Quilter's Way for things I kept forgetting I could have had this done in under 2 hours.  First, I Googled deer silhouettes and then picked the one I liked best.  I'm pretty lazy when it comes to the whole tracing and cutting thing so to streamline the process I put Steam a Seam 2 on the back of my Liberty fabric and then printed the silhouette on a full sheet label (I prefer the clear so you can fussy cut your image) which I then stuck to the right side of my Liberty fabric.  I carefully cut out the deer head, removed the label, and the ironed it on to my background.  There's a printable double sided fusible product called Print N Fuse that I'm going to try if I decide to make a bunch of these.  Even though Steam a Seam comes in sheets it does NOT go through the printer well...  trust me, I've tried!

At that point you don't actually have to sew it but I went with a button hole stitch around the applique.  I'm still in love with the 12wt. Aurifil and saw this as another perfect excuse to buy some more.  I used coordinating 50 wt. and fussed around a bit with the tension to get it perfect.  I love the extra dimension it adds!!!

I decided to get fancy and used this awesome zipper closure tutorial by S.O.T.A.K Handmade.  Since I was using an 18" pillow form I just sized everything up and then trimmed the back down to fit the front when I was finished.

Linking up to the fabulous Finish it Up Friday by Crazy Mom Quilts.

Pillow Stats:
Finished quilt is 18" x 18"
Fabrics: June's Meadow by Liberty of London.  Steel Yarn Dyed Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman.
Thread: Aurifil in Red (2250) 12wt for top thread, 50wt in bobbin.

Friday, November 21, 2014

That's What Friends Are For

I still can't believe this Friendship Star quilt is really done!  This quilt was hand pieced by a friend and I've spent the last 6 years hand quilting it.  

The back really shows the quilting detail.  Each piece of the stars is outline stitched and then the solid squares have a grid quilted with a triple row of stitches.  The texture is amazing!!!

I thought about doing something intricate like feathers or flowers in the borders but finally decided just to extend the grid work out from the blocks.

After all its travels it seemed appropriate to finish binding this while relaxing at the lake:-)

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching I'm counting my blessings: good friends and time to quilt!

Linking up to the fabulous Finish it Up Friday by Crazy Mom Quilts.

Quilt Stats:
Finished quilt is 53" x 70"
Fabrics: 30s Repros.
Thread: Hand quilted with Mettler White (2) 40wt.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Perfect Storm!

Halloween may be over but I had to share this one before I put it away for next year.  This quilt is the convergence of my current obsessions...  pineapple blocks, circular quilting, and the Ghastlies.

It started with this awesome Pineapple Variation by my insanely creative friend Alexis and suddenly everywhere I looked there were pineapples.  Psych!  I used this amazing pineapple block tutorial by Crazy Mom Quilts to make my blocks and then played with the layout until I came up with this.

I probably would have tucked the finished top away to quilt next year if Alexis hadn't come to the rescue again.  This was the perfect thing to work on during our quilt camp weekend at her fabulous beach house in Scituate.  A Nor'easter raged outside but we rode out the storm in style stitching away with snacks, wine and lots of laughter.

I may have gotten carried away with the pictures but we had a perfect fall day for a photo shoot.  I had a blast driving around Concord with the top down looking for spooky locations...

I promised myself no more trips to the graveyard but how could I resist;-)

Linking up to the fabulous Finish it Up Friday by Crazy Mom Quilts.

Quilt Stats:
Finished quilt is 36" x 36"
Pattern: Variation of a traditional Pineapple Quilt.  Blocks made using this amazing pineapple block tutorial by Crazy Mom Quilts.
Fabrics: from the Ghastlies collections by Alexander Henry, Onyx Grunge by basic grey, stash.  Binding Blush Grunge by basic grey.
Batting: Quilter's Dream Orient Bamboo
Thread: King Tut Rosetta Stone (978).