Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 by the numbers...

22 quilts finished

152 books read
109 cups of Starbucks coffee
1 Incredible Weekend at the BMQG Retreat in Kennebunk Maine

3 Amazing Days at Quilt Market in Houston

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Last minute gifts...

The clock is ticking but I wanted to get a few more gifts made, after all I couldn't just give someone a naked gift card; )  Since I could use a card holder for the business cards I got for market I decided to make one for myself as a prototype.  I dug in to my Anne Kelle Remix Zig Zags which goes perfectly with Deb Strain's new Always & Forever dots.  Have you noticed I have a thing for zig zags?  Of course then I needed a matching tissue cozy to go with it.  Merry Christmas to me!

These work up really quickly so I was able to get a couple sets made and even threw in a cup cozie.  I seem to be crushing on Anna Maria Horner this week.  More Innocent Crush mixed with Nicey Jane and a Riley Blake stripe that goes with everything...  all from stash!  I'll pick up a couple gift cards with my Grande Nonfat Cappuccino at Starbucks today and my holiday shopping will be done: )

Friday, December 16, 2011

Occupy Your Sewing Room!

Last week Barbara from Cat Patches hosted this event.  I was too busy making cookies but this week I was able move in and get some serious sewing time.  Better late than never!

First up I made some more cup cozies to give as teacher gifts.  I love making these, they're so quick and easy.  I made my own pattern using a paper Starbucks sleeve but Erin at House on Hill Road has this fabulous tutorial if you need more directions.

Then I got to work finishing up this Bento Box table runner.  This was yet another prototype for my BMQG kitchen swap gift.  I was laughing because someone else had posted about their "Joy of Quilting" moments, which perfectly sums up how I felt when I was basting this and realized I had sewn the blocks together in the wrong order.  Being me I had to unbaste, unsew, and fix it. 

The runner was made with leftover basic grey Figgy Pudding scraps from this holiday card holder and mixed up with some Fruitcake.  Now I have to get motivated to baste it again: )

I also finally basted my Pips zig-zag so it's ready for quilting.  My goal for January is to finish up some of my lingering WIPs so I've been trying to get them organized and ready to move.  I expect I'll have plenty of cold, snowy days where I don't want to leave the house so this will be perfect for some mindless straight-line quilting with a good movie!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

BMQG Kitchen Swap

I can finally show you my Kitchen swap table square!  I spent a lot of time staring at these fabrics I received from my swap partner and made several prototypes before I landed on this design.  Jen is really in to paper piecing but I checked her flickr pool and it didn't look like she'd tried this design yet. 

I used this template by Beth Maddocks at Piece by Number for the center and just modified individual squares for the border.  I started making this with a white background by Jen had given me the black & white fabric so I decided to use some Alexander Henry Heath instead.  I think it makes the colors pop and gives it a more modern feel.  I love this fabric, it's been going in everything lately! 

The quilting is very subtle, I used a variegated gray thread to outline stitched the geese and then randomly quilted a wavy path of geese in the border.  If I did it again I might do the quilting with an aqua thread to make it really pop against the black and white but I like the subtle texture it has now.  There was a collective "oooh" when it was revealed at the swap so I think people liked it and Jen seems happy with it also: ) 

In return my fabulous swap partner Laurie at Dodging the Butterfly made me this darling Dresden plate table runner.  You can read all about it on her blog so I'll just say how much I love it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cookie Time!

This week instead of quilting I've been baking cookies... lots and lots of cookies!  When my daughter was little we started having a holiday cookie decorating party where I would bake cookies and all her friends would come decorate them.  Nine years later it's an annual tradition and this year we welcomed over 100 of our friends to come decorate with us. 

Everyone always asks how many cookies I make.  I don't count but here's all the dough we made this year: 7 batches of sugar cookies, 6 batches of assorted gingerbread/spice cookies, a batch of chai cookies that didn't turn out at all, and these yummy brownie roll-out cookies from smitten kitchen.  I like to experiment with different flavors so there's an assortment of vanilla, citrus, and cardamon sugar cookies and ginger/spice cookies of varying intensities. 

Everyone also asks how I get my cookies so perfect... practice (and I have an ugly cookie bin for the rejects!)  Also, lots of flour!  I know that may result in a tough cookie but I need something kids can decorate and pile with frosting so a nice crumble isn't my highest priority.

It takes me all week but my elves also help.

When it's time to decorate we use cans of spray frosting and I have a huge collection of colored sugar and decorating sprinkles. 

To help contain the mess I have the kids decorate their cookies on a 9" paper plate.  Once the frosting is dry you can slide the plate into a gallon ziplock bag to transport their cookies home.

Hope your holiday is totally sweet!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday Stars Garland Tutorial

As I was decorating the house this year I decided I needed a little something for the mantle.  I pulled out my bag of Christmas scraps and made this star garland.  It's super easy and quick so I thought I'd share.  In fact, it's so easy that after the first star I used my available child labor to create the remaining 12 stars.  Fun for the whole family: )

You will need:

Assorted holiday fabrics ~ 8" square
Sashiko thread or ribbon for hanging
This template or draw your own star
Optional: Quilter's Freezer Paper Sheets

You can use any method you choose to copy the stars to your fabric but I was feeling lazy so I printed my template directly on to Quilter's Freezer Paper sheets.  To make the smaller stars I reduced the print size by 10%.  Roughly cut out your freezer paper template so you can see the fabric underneath.  Layer your fabrics right-sides together and iron the template to the wrong-side of the front fabric.

Reduce your stitch length to 1.5 and sew on the line around your star leaving a hole for turning. 

Trim roughly 1/4" from sewn line and remove the freezer paper.  Clip the valleys of the star.

Turn using a chopstick to push out the points.  Stuff using your favorite fiberfill.

Whip stitch the opening closed with matching thread.  Keep making stars until you have enough to decorate your space. 

String stars together by sewing through one of the points.  I only tied knots at the ends so I could slide the stars around and adjust the spacing.  Hang your garland or use it to decorate your tree.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sew Thankful

I got to spend some time sewing this weekend.  I still didn't quilt that Rouenneries table runner but I did get this one finished up.  I designed this top last week as a prototype but decided the design didn't work for what I had intended.  Also, it was a lot harder to piece than I expected.  If I make it again I think I'll add white around the two end squares to make it float more. 

I really didn't want another table runner on my TBQ pile (there are at least 3 there already) so I forced myself to sit down and quilt this.  After playing around a while I came up with this loopy meander.

I used a silver metallic thread which was a bit of a pain to work with.  Even using a metallic needle it seemed to break fairly often.  I really like the result, it gives it a little more shine!

I also made some progress on my BMQG Kitchen Swap project.  Here are the fabrics I received from the fabulously funky Jen at A Quilting Jewel.  I've got the top together and just have to get it basted and quilted.  At least with this one I have a deadline so it can't linger in the TBQ pile: )

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nick of time?

Maybe you remember last Thanksgiving when I made this incomplete set of Rouenneries napkins.  Yesterday, when I started setting my holiday table, I realized I still hadn't made the final 4.  I'd cut the linen squares and made the binding but never got around to sewing it on.  Two episodes of Revenge later and I have a full set.  They're still just as annoying to make but they do look pretty.

Unfortunately, quilting the matching table square is probably going to have to wait another year: )

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Patchwork iPad Cover Tutorial

When you go around calling yourself a domestic artist, suddenly everyone expects handmade gifts: )  With the holidays coming I was trying to think of something I could make for everyone on my list.  Hmmm, what does everyone I know have?  An iPad!  In my world every electronic device needs it's own cozy and it's good to share so here you go, my quilted iPad cover tutorial.

I know there are already a lot of tutorials out there on making these but I didn't spot many that were patchwork and I specifically made mine using one of those little 2 1/2" square mini charm packs. They were giving these away like candy at Quilt Market and I was so excited to snag one (OK, two) of Betz White's new fabric line, Stitch. 

Cut the following:

(30) 2 1/2" squares or use a mini charm pack for the patchwork front
(1) 10 1/2" x 12 1/2" rectangle for back
(2) 12" x 14" batting scraps
(2) 10 1/2" x 12" inside lining pieces
(2) 10 1/2" x 12" fusible fleece
(2) 4" x 6" for flap
(1) 4" x 6" fusible fleece for flap
(1) 2 1/2" piece of velcro

Seam allowance 1/4"

Begin by assembling your patchwork front.  Layout your 2 1/2" squares in a pleasing arrangement of 6 rows with 5 squares per row. 

I chain pieced the rows and then joined those rows in to pairs and finally assembled my 3 pairs into a finished front.  Alternate the direction you press each row so they will nest together when you assemble the rows.

Layer your front with a piece of batting and quilt as desired.  For my front I used a zig-zag pattern.  It's easier to see on the back but I just used masking tape to sew diagonally across each square.  Remember to adjust for your seam allowance on the outside squares. 

Layer your backing fabric with a piece of batting and quilt as desired.  I quilted mine with a plaid pattern.

Apply fusible fleece to wrong side of inside lining pieces according to the manufacturer's directions.  Place lining pieces right sides together and sew around 3 sides leaving a short side open.  Clip the corners but do not turn your lining pouch.

Make the flap with your 4"x6" pieces.  I wanted mine to be arrow shaped to emphasize the zig-zag pattern.  To make the point, fold the outside flap piece in half lengthwise.  Layer it with the inside flap and fusible fleece then cut each side at a 45 angle from the center fold line.

Attach the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the inside flap piece. Stitch around one side of the velcro to secure it to inside flap.

Layer the outside and inside flap pieces right sides together and stitch around edges leaving the top open. 
 Clip the point of the triangle and turn.  Topstitch 1/4" from edges. 
Guesstimate where your velcro belongs on the front of your case and stitch down.  Trim batting so piece measures 10 1/2" x 12 1/2".

Trim batting on back piece to 10 1/2" x 12 1/2".  Baste flap to center of top side with outer side of flap towards backing fabric.

Place outside front and back right sides together and sew around 3 sides leaving top open.  Clip corners.

Turn outside pouch and stuff inside lining pouch so that right sides are together. 

Match side seams and make sure flap is between outside and inside pouches.  Sew around top leaving a 3" hole for turning.  I left mine where the flap was. 

Turn through hole and topstitch around top edge to close opening.

Stick your iPad inside and head to Starbucks to show off  your latest creation; )  Happy quilting!