Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trim the Tree Handmade Ornament Swap

Here's a look at the three ornaments I sent out for this year's Trim the Tree swap.  One is still on it's way--it has a long way to go--but the other two are happily in their new homes!  Each is based upon that partner's favorites in Flickr and their inspiration collage, so each is very different from the others.  I like that, keeps it interesting.

Made with homespun, quilter's cotton, some vintage ivory satin piping, three vintage buttons and some simple applique, this little house ornament is my own design.  You can make one easily too.  Just cut two rectangles for the house, two triangles for the roof, one rectangle with fusible for the window and one for the door (I rounded the top of my door and fussy cut so the flower works for a doorknob.).  Fuse the window and door to one of the house rectangles and applique with a straight stitch for outlining.  Next sew one roof to one house and then repeat for the other (if you're adding a trim, simply sandwich it in the layers and sew).  Now attach a ribbon or, like I did, a sewn muslin loop, to the top of one roof for the ornament to hang from.  Next, sew the two layers together, being careful to tuck the loop inside and not catch it in the sewing, leaving a few inches on the side for turning and stuffing.  Turn, stuff to desired fullness, and stitch the side closed (I used a ladder stitch, but any non-visible type closure stitch would work fine.)  Done!  For this one, I made a small loop and included one of those metal ornament hooks, but you could make a larger loop to go over the branch of the tree.  Easy peasy.

For this partner, I decided to make a bird--specifically a dove.  So I used two different tone-on-tone white fabrics for the body and some white satin ribbon for a long loop.  I also cut a simple leaf from some green felt which I sewed to the beak at the end.  The ribbon is also handsewn to the top.  For a pattern I used this fabulous one from Spool Sewing.  The pattern is very simple with very pleasing results.  Definitely one to try!

This final ornament is made entirely of felt.  I was going for a retro handmade ornament look and the red, lime (I know, I know, the photo shows a different shade of green--the camera lies!) and white is the combo for retro Christmas.  The white and green layers are attached using embroidery floss in a blanket stitch.  I used this fun reindeer pattern, added to the Hoop Love Vintage Transfer Flickr group by Doe-c-Doe, to create the siloheutte seen--warning, all those curves on the antlers involves a lot of handstitching, not hard, just a lot.  I then cut the green and red pieces to outline the reindeer in a larger less detailed shape.  I also added a 1/4 inch seam allowance to the red as I machine sewed the red layers.  I used some white satin ribbon for the loop.  This one is not hard, but does involve some handstitching.

I hope you make at least one handmade ornament this year--and have lots of fun!
Trim the Tree Handmade Ornament SwapSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today is our day to reflect upon all that has been given to us--all the good things in our lives.  It's true, we often get caught up in the things going wrong with our lives, the economy, jobs and such.  Today, though, is different.  Sure we hide the holiday behind piles of mashed potatoes and slices of pumpkin pie, scoreboards and parades, but there is more to it--and we all know it!  We surround ourselves with friends and family (at least as many as we can stand for the day) and we do something many Americans have become woefully slack in doing--we talk to each other.  We're actually face to face talking, not tweeting, not texting, not IMing.  For those who live far away, we pick up the phone and use our voices to reach across the distance.  We interact with each other in person, whether it's in the kitchen, playing football (or watching it), or any other number of terrific traditions. 

To me, Thanksgiving is the most appropriate beginning to the holiday season.  We pause before the hectic shopping, the parties, the stress of finding gifts.  Here is our moment to review our lives, our year, and find the good.  Then will begin a season of giving, hopefully with the spirit of love and generousity.  Hopefully, not so much materialism, but rather giving that truly makes a difference in the life of another.  And after a month of trying to put some of that good into the lives of others, we face the new year where we evaluate ourselves and make goals to change.  Thanksgiving is the beginning to a season where we try to be better individuals in this world.  Sure, tomorrow will be crowds and insanity as we try to save some money, but today--today is good.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Squared Away Quilt Tutorial Part 1

I thought I'd share my method for making my Squared Away quilt.  Perhaps you remember the little doll quilt I made for Aurora? 

I call the pattern Squared Away.  There are many variations on this design out there, but this is my easy, no-pattern-necessary way.  You can make the blocks any size you want and if you want a larger quilt, just add another row or column.  The quilt pictured above begins with 5.5 inch squares, but if you don't want a larger quilt to take forever with lots of little squares, simply increase the starting size to 10 or even 12 inch squares. (Really, any size will work.)  If you don't like doing a lot of math, I recommend picking a size that is easy to divide by 2 and 3--such as 6 inches or 12 inches.  I didn't do this and it led to some really funky measurements, so just make it easy on yourself!

Tools you will need: 
rotary cutter
cutting mat
quilting ruler (I have 3 rulers I use for all my quilting:  4x14, 6.5x24, 15x15)
sewing machine (well, you could hand sew if you really wanted to)

For fabrics, choose a variety of coordinating prints that are at least as big as your intended square size and at least one coordinating solid fabric for the alternating squares.  (I chose white as that went with the particular prints I was using, but feel free to bring in another color.  I tend to like contrast, but you could certainly go for something more subtle.)  The greater the variety of prints, the more scrappy your quilt will look.  You could also have a variety of solids for a really scrappy quilt!

Fabric Prep:  I prefer to prewash my fabrics to remove the factory sizing and to make sure there is no unexpected shrinkage or bleeding.  This is really more of a concern if you work with vintage fabrics than with modern good quality fabrics which don't tend to bleed dyes.  I also press all fabric to be used.  It really will make a difference in the accuracy of your cutting and the squared-ness of your blocks.  Wrinkled or unpressed fabric can lead to squares that aren't, well, square.

Next, carefully cut your starter squares.  You will need one solid square for each print square.  The doll quilt shown above uses 18 print and 18 solid squares.

Now to begin the cutting.  Take one print and one solid and layer them, right sides up, one on top of the other.  (I like to put all my pairs together at the beginning--the more you make the process like an assembly line, the faster it goes!)  Your first cut will be to cut vertically straight up the middle of the blocks. (Measure the width, or across the square from left to right, divide by 2.  Whatever you get after dividing, use as the measurement to measure from the left towards the center and cut.)  You should have two equal sections like this:

Slide the left half to the side so that you don't have it in the way.  Next, take the right half and make two cuts so that you have three equal pieces.   To do this, measure the length (from top to bottom) and divide by three.  Cut each piece horizontally using this measurement.  You should have three pieces on the right like this:

There is one final cut to make.  Take the middle section from the right column and cut vertically once.  Whatever the length is, use for the width--you are cutting a square!  Your block should now look like this:

Now separate your layer of print from your layer of solid.  You should have two block sets that look like this:

Now, take the center square from the print and the center square from the solid and swap them!  Easy peasy!

Cut all your sets this way.  Part 2 will cover sewing the blocks.  Have fun and feel free to ask any questions!
Squared Away Quilt Tutorial Part 1SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bee White Black October & November

I'm catching up quick with blog posts and bee blocks.  Here's a look at the Bee White Black projects for October and November.

For October, we were requested to make a block with hearts or flowers using the colored fabric and the black and white fabrics for the rest.  I went through like a bajillion ideas (anyone else that way?) before I settled on this block which I love.

Isn't it pretty?  I love that the hearts make a flower.  I first saw this pattern at the Heart Circle Quilter's Retreat webpage.  Do go look and see their stunning quilt using this block.  All I can say is "WOW!"  The pattern comes from a book called The Signature Quilt: Traditions, Techniques and The Signature Block Collection by Pepper Cory & Susan McKelvey.  Something for the Christmas wishlist perhaps?

I did a simple nine-patch piecing for the back with the center square being a square on point.  You can't really see that the center has different corners than its middle, which was fine.  I really did that because there wasn't a piece quite big enough for that last center block.  But, hey, that's what being a quilter is about, right?  Creativity and making do with what you have on hand!  The hearts and leaves are appliqued using some Steam-A-Seam Lite and a zig-zag stitch (sadly, no fancy blanket stitch on my machine).  I really like how this one turned out--and so did the recipient who told me it was one of her favorites!  (Doesn't that just make you feel good when someone says that?!)

November's bee member didn't want a block, she wanted lots of little blocks.  She's making a quilt for her daughter (lucky kid) involving a Sawtooth pattern--which means LOTS of half-square triangle sets.  Wisely, she decided to preserve her sanity by splitting up the job amongst her helpful bee group.  Each of us only needed to make 36 blocks. 

She gave great instructions too.  Take two 3-inch squares, one light and one dark.  Put them right sides together.  On the lighter one, draw a line with pencil diagonally from corner to corner.  Sew a scant 1/4 inch seam on each side of the line.  Cut on the line.  Press open.  (She also opted for the seams to be pressed open as well.)  Trim to 2.5 inches.  Doing this 18 times gives you the 36 squares.

You're probably wondering why my pile of squares looks bigger than 36, that's because there are more.  I was filling in for one of our sweet members who's recovering from surgery this month, so I did enough for two.  Plus, there was enough extra for 12 more sets, so I did them as well.  (In my mind I was just thinking, "oh, its only 12 more", in reality, that makes 24 more squares, oops!  I'm blaming my math on the Benadryl that I had taken for my cold.  LOL  I really didn't mind though.)  In all, I made 96 squares, which I'm sure she will be happy to have.  If you chain piece, and assembly line the tasks of cutting and pressing, it's not so bad, but I definitely think she was smart to divide it up--a whole quilt might be a little much all at once!  I can't wait to see the whole thing put together though!
Bee White Black October & NovemberSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hoop Up! Project 1

The first of my three swap projects for the Hoop Up!  Stitch & Send Swap was sent off to its new home a few days ago.  This one goes to Lydia who request a mandala type design and sent along a particular green to be used somehow in the design.  This was a fun design request as it allowed for lots of color options and embroidery stitches.

Here's my design still in the hoop:

The design comes from Eye Pop Art.  I chose one that had an organic feel to what is otherwise a very symmetrical geometric style.  Kind of reminded me of flowers.  The blog has quite few lovely designs to try out, I'll probably do a few more.  I think a white worked one would be lovely!

Here's a closer (although not very good) shot of the stitch work.

You can see the satin stitching in the green floss.  I also used a backstitch for the pink and the orange points.  There are lavendar circles of palestrina knots and the dots were made like cross stitch.  The majority of stitching, such as the blue stitching and the "floral" parts, is the stem stitch--my personal favorite for outlining.

For those who could use some stitch options, try Sarah's Hand Embroidery Tutorials.  I find her work to be well photographed and easy to follow. 
Hoop Up! Project 1SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, November 8, 2010

October Fun Remembered

I never posted a photo of the October block I made for Sabrina in our Moody Blues Bee.  She requested wonky stars out of her fabric.  I think it turned out quite lovely--she had such good choices of fabric.  I used the Silly BooDilly tutorial for any of you who haven't made one of these popular blocks.

While I was being sick in October, one of my sisters made some spooky cookies--yum!  They are a peanut butter cookie with candy decor and so adorable that I just had to show them off.

Some creepy spiders.

Some frightening ghouls.

They tasted good too!  Who knew I'd like eating spiders?!  ;)
October Fun RememberedSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Marvin the Elephant

I've been sick lately, hence the lack of blogging.  But, I didn't want you to miss what I've been up to, so the next few entries will be for catching up on projects and swaps from October and November.  I also have some new block patterns and a blanket tutorial coming up for you to enjoy.

I recently purchased a new toy pattern, Simplicity 2613, to try out.  I loved it.  It was so quick and easy--perfect for last minute gifts!  JoAnn's was having their typical pattern sale for $1 and this was one of the ones I picked up, so worth it.  I'd recommend everyone have this one in their stash.  My full review is over on Pattern Review, but here are just a couple of quick photos of the elephant I made using some vintage cheater cloth fabric sent to me by a friend.

He's been named Marvin and has black plastic safety eyes (very easy to install), vintage fabric body and a navy blue grosgrain ribbon.  Marvin is the perfect size for hugging and carrying around.  My sister loves him, so Marvin ended up with her as part of her birthday present (hey, you're never too old for an adorable lovie).

I plan on trying the giraffe from the pattern next with some more vintage fabric from my stash.  The cost of Marvin was 1.50 because I was given the fabric, stuffing and ribbon, so I only purchased the eyes (.99 for two sets) and pattern (.99 on sale).  He's only around 13-14 inches tall, so this softie really doesn't take much for stuffing and fabric supplies, most of you could probably make him out of your stash.  Marvin would also be super cuddly made from a minky fabric.
Marvin the ElephantSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Free Pattern & Tutorial Guidelines

Okay, I've had a few questions concerning my free patterns and tutorials, so here is the answer for everyone.  If I get any additional questions, I'll try and update this post so any future inquiries can find the info in the categories link.  I hope to provide many, many tutorials and patterns for others to enjoy, so this is important to keep it fun and fair!

I am excited to provide free patterns and tutorials to home sewers everywhere. I know how much I enjoy when others share with me.  I hope that you'll enjoy using these, after all, I spent sewing time working up the instructions, step-by-step shots and patterns just for you!

Please keep in mind that I reserve all rights on my photos, patterns, tutorials and blog posts, all of which were created by me, Shayla M. Sharp. These materials may not be republished or distributed without my express written permission.   Tutorials and patterns found through links to other sites that I provide are copyright protected by those individuals and cannot be used without their permission. Sorry, I can't give it for them either.

Please DO any of the following:

Sew! Use the patterns to make loads of projects for yourself, your family and friends. Post photos of your work online.  Tell others about them.  Link to my blog posts.

Please DO NOT do any of the following:

Do not republish material from my blog on other sites. Do not distribute hard copies of patterns or tutorials to others. Do not distribute electronic copies of patterns or tutorials via e-mail. Do not resell my patterns or tutorials (including as part of a kit). Do not use my patterns or tutorials to mass-produce items for sale on Etsy, Artfire, at craft fairs/bazaars, or in any other commercial venue.

Instructors & Shops:
•Instructors and shops do not have permission to sell or distribute my patterns or tutorials.  Instead, please include my blog address in your kits and class information, along with instructions telling your customers/students where they can download the free pattern
•Apart from a supplies list, materials from my patterns and/or blog may not be used to promote your class or kits. This includes photos, pattern excerpts, and blog posts.

Quilting Bees:

 A few things to keep in mind:
•Please don't hesitate to link to my blog or my Flickr photos, but please don't copy/republish them anywhere.
•Please refer your bee members to my blog, rather than e-mailing them copies of a pattern.

Thanks for being willing to respect my work!
Free Pattern & Tutorial GuidelinesSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Hidden Diamond Mug Rug

For the Scrappy Mug Rug Swap, my partner was Laura.  She is a mom who lives in Canada and loves all things scrappy, pink and chocolate.  So, I designed a mug rug just for her.  It was as scrappy and pink as I could make it.  In fact, I used a bit of every pink in my stash!

I designed the pattern (yes, there is a pattern for you to use) with tiny one inch squares and half squares--tricky little buggers to work with too!  I used a foundation pattern to help with keeping everything in the right place.  I chose not to put a binding on this one.  Instead, I sewed the layers pillowcase style, turned, stitched closed the opening and then topstitched along the interior border line to create a faux binding effect.  (Don't know how to make a faux binding--here's a great tutorial already created by my quilting friend Andrea!)

The gray used to offset the pink is Kona charcoal.  For the backing, I used some more pink fabric from my stash which had a fun kind of stitched look to the design.  The batting was just some cotton Warm & Natural batting.  I quilted around the diamonds and inner side of the pink border with some Sulky premium 40 wt. rayon thread in Light Silver that had a nice sheen to it.

This mug rug made a fun scrappy gift that has endless coloring possibilities.  I've named the mug rug pattern Hidden Diamond because of the center design.  Below are three PDF files.  A color sheet and the foundation patterns, in case you'd like to make your own scrappy Hidden Diamond mug rug.  (Please remember that this pattern is for personal use only.)  When printing, individual squares should measure one inch on the sewing lines.  You may have to scale your printing depending on your individual printer's settings.

Hidden Diamond Mug Rug Color Sheet

Hidden Diamond Mug Rug Foundation Pattern A

Hidden Diamond Mug Rug Foundation Pattern B


To sew this little mug rug, first, precut your little squares and half squares triangles.  When I'm working with such small pieces in foundation quilting (also known as paper piecing), I'm more generous with my cutting.  So, give yourself a bit more than the typical quarter inch seam allowance, especially on the half square triangles.  If you want, print out the color sheet and color in your design plan so that you know how many of each fabric you need and where to place them.

After printing out both foundation pattern sheets, cut out the individual strips (the cutting line is the lighter outer line, the sewing line is the darker inner lines).  Strips are easy to foundation piece.  Just start at one end and work towards the other.  (Here's a great tutorial for those not familiar with foundation piecing.)  Use a shorter than normal stitch length for easier removal of the paper later.  Press as you go.  Once each strip is done, trim along the cutting line.  Then sew the strips together.  Press as you go.  When everything is together, carefully remove the paper backing. 

Cut out backing and batting a bit larger than desired final size.  If you plan to put a regular binding on, then quilt the layers first, trim square and bind.  If you are using the faux binding method, follow the tutorial link listed earlier.  You're done!  Make a few and give them to friends for holiday gifts, they'll love you!
Hidden Diamond Mug RugSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, October 18, 2010

Strings, Gnomes and Birds

Here's a peek at the last of September's bee blocks (I know, posting way late).

First, a string or strip block for neshamamama in the Moody Blues quilting bee.  Check out those lovely batiks she sent to use.  All strips were sent pre-cut, we just had to pick where they went and sew them in.  A couple of my center strips were not quite the full 2-inches which caused them to end up not quite as wide as the others, so not lining up as nicely.  But, I think once the block is in with the others it won't be super noticable.  Careful cutting gives best results, but in the end, quilting isn't about perfection, its about art and creation of something loved.

The last two blocks for September both went to Kendra in the Bee Scrappy quilting bee group.  Kendra is making a quilt for her 9-year old son and requested scenic blocks with white backgrounds and images of houses, gnomes, birds, woodland and whimsical.  She made this inspiration mosaic for us as a guide. 

My first block is a forest with a gnome based on one of the quilts she had in the mosaic (she actually had it twice, so I figured she really liked it).  The pattern is my own version, created with the use of Electric Quilt 6, and it is a paper-pieced one.  It was actually really easy to do.  I like how it turned out.

For the second block, I created a whimisical bird block.  This one is my own design, also made in EQ6, and paper-pieced.  It needed lots of tweaking, even made me feel a little bit crazy, but I think in the end, it works. 

I'll be putting both block patterns on the blog for everyone to try later.  I want to make another one of the bird ones with all my adjustments to make sure it turns out perfectly.  (Don't you just hate spending time on a block only to find out part way through that something doesn't work out like you were hoping?)  So, keep an eye out for them--then you can start your own whimsical woodland quilt!
Strings, Gnomes and BirdsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More Flying Geese Blocks

Another request for flying geese quilt blocks--this time with some color!  In my Sew Buzzy quilting group, Melinda (quirky granola girl) asked us to make her flying geese blocks--our choice--using her gray fabric as the background and the various colors for the geese.  She sent a lovely assortment of blues, greens, yellows and oranges.  Because one of our group members went MIA on us, I decided to make her two, so she wouldn't lose a block to someone else's failure.  (Don't worry, we found a great replacement--although we are still waiting for the MIA member to return 3 months worth of blocks/fabric.  Not cool!)

My first block is from the pattern Tradewinds found on Quilter's Cache (an excellent source of free block patterns, BTW).  I actually drew it in EQ6 (Electric Quilt 6) so that I could play with colorings as all of the pieces sent were smaller, so I needed to plan out where I put each fabric in the block.  (You could do the same basic thing with graph paper if you didn't have the software.)

The second block I chose was the Starshine pattern, also from Quilter's Cache.  I did add some fabric, the yellow, from my own stash simply because at this point I didn't have enough of one color for all the needed parts (Melinda was only expecting one block after all).  I chose a yellow that had tones coordinating with the other yellows she had sent.  I also ended up adding a thin gray border because the block printed out to only 11.5 inches instead of the 12.5 inches, despite setting the print choice to 100%--sometimes printers are just obnoxious.  This one didn't have a 1 inch square on it to check measurements, so I didn't know this until it was finished, grr. 

I really liked these colors together, and I admit, the gray trend is slowly growing on me.  Both blocks ended up looking pretty good, although, I would not recommend them for beginning paper-piecers, particularly the Starshine block.
More Flying Geese BlocksSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pincushion Swap

The Scrappy Pincushion Swap just finished up with a deadline of October 1 and I got mine sent off on time!  My little pincushion has quite a ways to travel, not to mention traversing the dangers of customs officials, so it won't arrive to its new home for a bit. 

I used the Wendy the Bird pattern I found from LollyChops for the main body and altered the wings.  The blue fabric is a Robert Kaufmann fabric that I thought had a feather sort of look to it.  Eyes are made with silver sequins and small black beads.  The wings have blue hand stitching and rows of sequins for a little extra sparkle.  They are made from felt, with the backs of each wing having wool felt.  Perfect for holding needles! 

I filled this one with poly-fil stuffing to avoid any possible conflicts with customs over things like walnut shells or shavings.  This had the added benefit of being much lighter--always a plus for international shipping.  I used a small stone inside on the bottom to help weight the bird down so it doesn't tip forward.  The bird is big enough to fill my hand, so not too tiny of a pincushion.

I also sent three pin toppers created by Marla Sharp.  They are on 1.5 inch sewing pins--so very tiny!  I love the cute little birds and the delicate petals of the flower--oh my!

A fun little pincushion for my partner to enjoy--I hope she likes it!

Pincushion SwapSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Halloween Fabric Postcards

I was invited to join a fabric postcard swap awhile back--and, having never heard of making fabric postcards, I just had to check it out--and then, of course, I just had to sign up for a round of the swap!  (It's like that book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.)  I was intrigued over the idea and with the theme of Fall or Halloween, I thought it'd be a perfect chance to use some of those cute Halloween ideas I've seen, but never really gotten around to.  I know back East, Halloween is a pretty big deal, but around here, not so much--guess we're just not that into trick-or-treating in the rain!  LOL

The swap was three postcards, each one to a different partner.  All three of my partners said either Fall or Halloween as a preference, so I went with Halloween for all three.  I had a lot of fun trying out some ideas on these.  Each one has a different front, but the backs are all simple muslin with a quick message to my partner and their address (which is why I won't be showing the backs).  I would have loved to use some of my Halloween fabric on the back, but we were supposed to write on them, so prints were out.

All three have a border of varigated quilting thread and an interior of a very stiff heavy Pellon interfacing--no one wants a floppy postcard.  I used adhesive photo spray instead of an iron-on as that was what I had on hand.  It actually worked quite nicely and I definitely would use it again.  I knew I'd be mailing them in an envelope rather than straight through the mail (wanted to keep them clean), so I had some fun with a couple of simple embellishments.

The first one I made was the pumpkin face.  I found a goofy pumpkin in one of my mom's tole painting books by Gaye Shoell that was just to funny to pass up.  His eyes, nose and tooth are appliqued. I sewed shell beads for the center of each eye.  The rest of his face is hand embroidered.  I did add a bit of blush to his cheeks with a colored pencil and a few black lines with a pen.  Makes you smile, doesn't he?

The second postcard I created was the ghost.  I used a patterned fabric for the background and appliqued the ghost body (another Gaye Shoell design) down with a bit of batting underneath so he's a little puffy.  His eyes are French knots and the cheeks are colored with colored pencil and a few small embroidery stitches.  The star and square are raw edge appliqued--the black square says "Boo!".  I also sewed an pale orange mother-of-pearl button on for added dimension.  He's a sweet little ghost.

For the last postcard, the little witch, I wanted to do something a little more detailed.  She is from a vintage embroidery pattern.  I raw-edge appliqued her hat and dress with a fun fabric that had holographic stars on it.  The main coloring is with coloring pencil (ironed) and a black pen.  Her broom straw, eyes and hat band are hand embroidered.  I gave her red hair like me (okay, mine is not literally red like that).  Who could be afraid of a cute little witch like this?

So, there you have it--probably, the only Halloween crafts I'll get to this year.  I definitely had fun making these postcards.  They are quick to make and I'm sure I'll make more in the future!
Halloween Fabric PostcardsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, September 24, 2010

Monkeys, Elephants, and Babies--oh my!

So how do you decide what to give for a baby shower gift?  Well, for me, I have a division of two main categories--bought and handmade.  There are a lot of baby shower invites constantly coming through, but some people get lazy and cheap about it and just send out a mass email or mention it to you in the grocery store.  Really?  A new baby and that's it, a two line email sent to everyone in your address book?  Hmm, I always think babies are more special than that.  So for the lazy, I give lazy--I go buy something.  Oh, don't worry, its something nice--never jip a new baby.  But for those who actually bother to mail out an invitation to me, I make something.  Quilts, toys, booties, who knows, but I make it.  Sure it takes more time (and money), but obviously these moms are really into having a baby--so I put the effort in.  I usually like to make a snugly blanket with flannel and minky.  Mmm...

This time, for a baby boy, I decided to do something different--toys!  I've been hearing all about how wonderful those crinkle toys are, so I just had to make some.  I made two.  First, a softie toy monkey.  I used the Millie the Monkey pattern from Bit of Whimsy Dolls but added some crinkle to its body.  I figure this toy will grow with the baby until he's much older.

Bright and cheery isn't he?  (He's been renamed Charlie because I didn't think he looked like a Millie, BTW.)  I used luscious flannels for this monkey so he's soft and cuddly.  His face is hand embroidered (no buttons for babies!) and inside this monkey's tummy is some extra crinkle material (McDonald's coffee packet wrappers in this case) so that when Charlie is squeezed he sounds fun and crackling.

I used orange minky-type fabric for the backs of his ears for a little fun texture.  I also embroidered a little heart on his bum!
I also made a flat crinkle toy; something that could be taken with the baby easily.  To go with the monkey softie, I had some great jungle flannel and some fun orange plaid flannel.  (I know, how perfect is that--and I didn't even preplan it!)  I decided an elephant would be best, so after searching for a great shape for an elephant, I came across this adorable quiltie pal made by Kim Burley (quiltinkimmie).  She, being a completely awesome person, let me use the shape for my elephant. 

I lined the inside with cleaned wrappers from protein bars (my border collie loves the sound, so it must be good) and a cough drop bag.  (I've also heard of moms using the wrappers from diaper wipes, but not being a mom, I didn't have a spare one on hand.)  I also used a grosgrain orange polka dot ribbon for the tail which will also act as a loop for the plastic accessory ring so mom can attach it to the baby car seat or a pacifier or whatever.

You can see where I stitched the shape of an ear and top stitched around the edge of the elephant--this not only adds to the finished look, but also helps hold the inside wrappers in place.  (His name is Peanuts.)

Now all these cool toys need is a baby to scrunch them--but that's someone else's part!  :)  Enjoy your new home Charlie and Peanuts!

Monkeys, Elephants, and Babies--oh my!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Landscape Received

Before I get all distracted with showing you some stuff I made for a baby shower gift, I absolutely must show off the landscape quilt I received in the last swap round for S.T.U.D. (Swap Til You Drop).  My partner was quiltedoma (Andrea) and she made me this little lovely:

Pretty gorgeous, I know.  She used an assortment of lovely batiks which not only gives some landscape-ish design but also a watercolor sort of feel to the whole quilt.  Oh, and she hand appliqued it all down too!  There's also some small beads sewn on for embellishments and a touch of hand embroidery for added texture.  Plus (as if that wasn't enough work), she hand quilted this with teeny tiny stitches!  Here's a closer look at some of that hand work and embellishment.

Makes you want to run out and buy batiks, doesn't it?  The little beads add just a glint here and there when the light hits it just so.  The quilt is so much lovelier in person than what the photos can show.  The scene kind of reminds me of parts of Eastern Oregon that I traveled through on my way back and forth to college so many years ago (we won't discuss the number).

Andrea also sent along a bunch of goodies for me to enjoy.  (I know, I'm totally spoiled!)  Included in the box was some black and white fabrics (she's in my Bee White Black group, so she knows how I love bw), some fun rainbow rickrack for embellishing, lovely blue floral magnetic bookmarks with Oriental designs (love blue, love flowers, love Asian design--bingo), embroidery floss (she found out I like to hand embroider), and some European chocolate (enough said).  Even the tissue paper wrapping it all looked pretty cool--and inspired a quilt design!

Okay, so the chocolate didn't last long (although, in all fairness, I did share...some), but I will be enjoying the other goodies, and most especially, the lovely miniature quilt for quite a long time to come!  Thanks Quiltedoma, I love it all!
Landscape ReceivedSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sunset Quilt

I just realized that I never posted about my sunset quilt!  Oops! 

I chose to do the landscape theme in the last swap for S.T.U.D. (Swap Til You Drop).  This was my first landscape quilt--and the only applique I'd done was the basket on the Wizard of Oz Toto quilt.  I did practice a little machine applique first making four pink bunny blocks, just to build up my comfort level first.  At the suggestion of some of the Flickr members, I quilted at the same time as I did the machine applique so that the shapes showed on the back like a drawing.  I'm still not 100% sure I like that look, but it is an interesting effect and I'm glad I tried it.

Here's a look at the back:

I used decorative stitching for the machine applique for a little added texture to the piece (and way more fun then just plain zigzag stitching).   For the label, I made a little house shape and instead of putting the label in a corner, I put the "house" into the scene.  The purple border is the actual binding.  I know, you're wondering what the binding is doing on the back--its called a knife-edge binding.  This is a sneaky way of putting a binding on without it showing on the front at all--think of a gallery wrap canvas print.  Perfect for art quilts.

Here's the goodies I sent with the quilt:

My partner, Andrea (quiltedoma), is a cat person (no one's perfect), so I included a cat pattern called Nana's Pretties and a piece of cat Laurel Burch fabric.  I literally had one little piece of cat fabric in my entire stash--maybe I should have sent some dog fabric instead for a little chaos in her sewing room, lol!  I also sent some fabric with dots for her dot fabric drawer.  (This woman has a fabric stash that makes me drool--think small fabric store!)  I also included some goofy lighthouse/seashore fabric, because, afterall, it is a landscape theme.  There's also a bag of tiny beads for use in quilt embellishments, some vintage rose piping, a cooling neck wrap (New York was having really hot weather at the time) and one of my reproduction hankie dolls.  There's also a bag of herbal tea which is my own blend of lavendar mint.  I also included a print out of the paper pieced pattern for a block I made in the Bee White Black group that Andrea loved so much--now she can make one too!

Alright, enough stalling!  The front of my sunset quilt:

I wanted something vibrant and just a little artsy.  I think I accomplished it.  I did not have a pattern, just an idea in my head and I cut it out as I went.  The quilt is pretty close to what I was envisioning, so I'm quite happy with the results.  I love that there is no binding showing so it is more like an art canvas.  This is made entirely with fabrics from my stash and scrap bin, so I also followed my "no buying" rule (self-imposed until I finish all signed up swaps through November).  It was fun to try something new--and everyone here who saw this little quilt fell in love, so I may have to make another one sometime!
Sunset QuiltSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Bee Blocks

Just a couple of quick and easy bee blocks for September to share.

First, for Bee White Black, Crystal (LemondropDezigns) asked for asterick blocks with her fabrics.  She sent enough for two just in case we messed up on something, but I didn't, and they were easy (I think I finished both in just a couple of hours--and that was with interruptions from Stars), so I went ahead and made up two for her--because who couldn't use an extra block, right!

Simple, yet effective.  Want to make this block yourself?  Here's a great tutorial from the Selvage Blog on how to make an asterick block.  The only thing I did differently was to make this block 10.5 inches as requested.

The next set of blocks were created for Sara (chickentracksetc) in the Scrap Happy Bee.  Sara requested cheerful fabrics in a four patch pattern made with 5 inch blocks.  (This is a great beginner block, btw.)  Super simple to make, these buggers whip up in no time.  Later, Sara will be sewing all her blocks together with a solid color sashing.

There is an easy way to get that center corner to match up.  Sew your squares into sets of two.  Press the seams to one side and make sure that when your blocks are open and laying flat, one set has the seam pressed left and the other set is pressed right.  Then when you lay the sets together to sew the center seam, they'll butt up together at the seam fold thus creating that perfect line up!  Try it, it really works!

And, of course, I had to use some yellow--it is the cheery color!

Ever wonder how to pick fabrics that work well together?  Well, you could go buy an entire fabric line.  But, what if you're working on a scrappy quilt like Sara is?  Here's my tip:  pick a print that you like with a few colors in it, then pick other fabrics that have the same colors.  From there you can pick out other prints that coordinate much easier by just continuing to match colors.  The first block has that cheerful donut circle pattern--the other fabrics each feature a color that was somewhere on the print (might have even been a color from some of the shading).  You could also find prints with white, yellow, turquoise, or that reddish pink from the stripes on the pink block or even some different greens from the dashed lines on the green block.  The second block, I picked that fab yellow with purple tulips fabric and coordinated another slightly different yellow, the green from the stems and a purple from the flowers.  I could have also pulled in some white or a pinkish violet to match with the other parts on the flowers.  I could also pick a different shade of any of those colors and prints with those colors.  Then, use a neutral color for the solid such as white or gray to tie it all together without competing with the prints. The possibilities are really endless with fabrics, so go ahead and try your own scrappy quilt!
Bee BlocksSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, September 10, 2010

Doll Quilt Swap 9--Finished! (Big Sigh)

After all the planning, the fusing, the cutting, the placing, the applique, the fussing and stressing---it's finished!  The lovely quilt I created for my secret partner for the Doll Quilt Swap 9 has been carefully packaged in its Priority Mail tube and shipped off to its new home (wipes tear from eye) along with some extra goodness.  What did I include in the package?  Well, hopefully it's all stuff my partner will like (otherwise I'll feel bad that I spent the extra on postage instead of eating the vanilla Goldfish crackers like I was tempted to do).  I included some metal embellishments (one says "cherish" and the other "love"), a pin cushion, pin toppers, a mug rug and before mentioned vanilla Goldfish crackers, which, btw, if you haven't tried you absolutely must.  Really, I mean it.  Go, right now and get some--then come back and finish view the world's most awesome quiltie.  (Don't worry, I'll wait.)

Well you don't really need a closer look at the Goldfish crackers, just try some (and get the chocolate ones too while you're at it).  But here's the little pincushion I made.  One point didn't line up right, argh!  Otherwise, a perfectly cute little 4 inch pincushion made with some Hoffman Meadow Dance fabric (my partner loves green) and some Kona Coal, another partner fav.  I found the most perfect matching button in my vintage button collection--doesn't it look like Kona Ash and Coal!  And while I am often loathe to part with my buttons (it's an obsession really), it was just too perfectly coordinated with the pincushion and quilt to not use it.

Here's the pretty back--some of the Westminster Fibers fabric that I used on the quilt back.  (Won from Bearpaw in a blog giveaway!  That fabric has been from New York to the UK to Oregon and now back to the East coast.  The fabric is more traveled than I am!)  Another vintage button--the photo really doesn't show the color right it's actually closer to the fabric pink in color.  I'll tell you, sewing those buttons on so that the center indented was a big pain in the neck, but the results are worth it.

My partner, without knowing that she was my partner, mentioned that she was so busy that she'd regrettably had to turn down being in the Scrappy Mug Rug Swap.  (Horrors!)  We can't have a sad little mug with no rug (hmm, that sounds a bit Dr. Seuss-ish).  So, of course, being the completely sneaky partner I am--I made her one.  And, of course, I matched it to her quilt.  I did use different fabrics for the birds just so it wasn't totally the same.  I did a little free-motion drawing with the thread to make branches and leaves (some got cut off when the binding was added, but I like the effect.

Here's the back.  You can see how the applique stitching and thread drawing create the picture on the back. 

I needed to come up with something else that was fun to add to the goodie pile and then I saw pin toppers.  Adorable customized sewing pins with cute things at the top--like the old hat pin toppers, only much, much smaller.  I traded one of my sisters some seamstress work for her to create me some to give to my partner.  Sure, I could  make these, but why--she's already a genius talent with fimo clay (she makes miniature dragons and such), so why not let the expert do it.  Of course, she could not find her little tools, packed away somewhere, but being the artist that she is she adapted with a straight edge razor and a bamboo skewer.  (What can I say, the girl's got skills.)  My sis took a look at the quilt and then made these three pin toppers--how cool is that?!  These are made using glass head sewing pins that are only 1.5 inches long--we're talkin' uber tiny toppers!  Note the pearlescent nature of the toppers, so fabulous!

And now, what you've all been waiting for...drumroll please...  may I present... Leafy Treetops, my Doll Quilt Swap 9 creation!  (And the crowd goes wild!  Okay, so there's no crowd.  If there was a crowd though, it would be going wild right now.)

Just for a quick recap on fabric:  the background is Kona Ash, tree is Kona Coal and binding is Kona Black.   Sorry, I have no idea what the fabrics for the birds and house are, the selvedge is long gone.  I appliqued the edge and echo quilted the entire thing (took forever, but with these results, I can say it was definitely worth it) using Sulky premium 40 wt. rayon thread in Light Silver (number 1236) for the top and a Mettler thread (color 623) on the back which blended perfectly with the Kona Coal.  The rayon added a little sheen which glints here and there as the light hits it which I love.  This combo also quilted beautifully without any problems.

Where'd I get the name?  From a children's song that I learned as a small child (luckily, you don't have to hear me sing it)  that goes "In the leafy treetops, the birds sing good morning.  They're first to see the sun.  They must tell everyone!  In the leafy treetops, the birds sing good morning."

Some of you have asked if I drew the design.  Sadly, no.  My drawing skills are fairly limited unless you're talking drafting or perspective or a garden landscape plan.  It would take me far to long to draw this tree.  I used three different vector images which I combined and altered to get what I wanted.  You can find these kinds of images by going to websites that sell royalty free stock images (such as istockphotos or fotolia or shutterstock) or you might find some by Google searches.  Just be sure and get permission if its from a private source and follow all copyright laws.

Check out that quilting!  This was not done free-motion despite the appearance.  (I so wish my free-motion quilting was that good.  Nope, I'm at the same skill level as kindergarteners doing division.  So sad.)  I used my applique foot and meticulously (and slowly) went around and around and around.  So, see!  You don't have to have advanced quilting skills to get great results on a project.  Just be willing to put the necessary time in and you can have something wonderful!  Then, keep working on those skills.

My younger sister thought the lines reminded her of those Japanese sand gardens with the rocks--you know that have the lines rippling outward from each rock.  Yeah, now you're feelin' the Zen.  Okay, last quilting shot.

And finally, the back of the back of this quilt.  I love the texture the quilting created on the back.  It reminds me of those antique whole cloth quilts--except those where completely hand stitched which is a completely other level of skill that still amazes me.  Guess I'd be more accomplished if I'd turn off the tv and stay off Flickr...not happening.

I know you've all been wondering who got this little work of insane art.   The big reveal:  Dolores Goodson, also known as DeeRoo G!  Yep, this little quiltie has traveled completely across the country to Lovetsville, Virginia.  I thought the little snails were cute--and fitting as I took so long to make this.  They're from a vintage embroidery pattern that I colored in with colored pencils and then outlined with a Pima pen.


One last look at the quilt before I move on to the next project.  Sigh.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  Enjoy your new home Leafy Treetops!

Update (I thought you all would enjoy reading my partner's emailed response too):

I'm feeling faint.....I mean....I have no words! Hold on...some are coming to me....OH MY FREAKING GOSH!!! Shayla...I am tearing up here while I type this....wait...let me get a tissue. Sniff.

Ok...I'm composed. I really,really don't know how to express how much this means to me. This is definitely going into the livingroom WHEREVER I live!! You lady are a truely talented person....Counting the ways....

1. Colors, perfection
2. Stitching, amazing
3. Subject, spot on
4. Continution of the theme...mug rug, mini pins...brilliant
5. green and too favorite colors...guess I'm an open book that you read perfectly!!;)
6. I LOVE goldfish!
7. The label, another mini piece of art
8. The back, splendiferous
9. Fabrics, Now that's what I'm talking about!
10. Bragging got them and I'm going to continue them!!!

Yep....time to get another my husband seriously has to get our house finished so I can put this in a place of honor....ALWAYS!

Thank you sooooo much Shayla....I'm even keeping the card!

xoxoxo dolores
ps...I'm going to blog about this and use my 10 ways of loving this package!;)
Doll Quilt Swap 9--Finished! (Big Sigh)SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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