Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sit Upon Project

Marine Vinyl Sit Upon 13"x18.5"
While I don't really remember making sit upons as a child, I know we did because they are still around! They must be at least thirty years old and they are still great.

My daughter is in second grade and Brownie Girl Scout. I wanted to make them with her this year. I had looked around on-line at different sit upon projects and while there are many, none looked like the design my parents had made years ago. So I enlisted the help of my parents and another parent and we prepared sit upons for the girls today.

We used marine vinyl and carpet padding for the inside. My mom was able to stop by a carpet store and ask for scraps, they were destined for the garbage free for us!

The vinyl was cut to 27" by 20" and the padding cut to 13" by 17". That seemed to work well. Then the vinyl pieces were folded with the edges meeting in the center and overlapping slightly. We used masking tape to help keep everything together instead of pins to minimize holes in the vinyl.

It was certainly tricky making the flat fell seam. So tricky, I might not even recommend doing it this way. With my regular sewing machine with a large size 16 needle, the sewing wasn't the problem, it was the machine getting in the way! I ended up sewing down to about the half way point and then starting from the other end and meeting where I left off. Then I made a second line of stitching.  Not catching the bottom layer of fabric is part of the trickiness too.
Trimming the upper edge

Folding up the bottom edge
After sewing, the sleeve went to the next station. Part of the ends were trimmed to allow the bottom edge to fold over the cut top edge. Carpet padding was inserted into the sleeve and the ends were folded up and held with more masking tape.

Another tiring part of this project was the hole punching. We used leather punches and punched through the end layers for finishing. This will allow the kids to lace boondoogle through the holes.

We estimate it may take the kids twenty to thirty minutes to lace the ends. Keeping the holes lined up is a bit tricky.

This design is great for keeping water and dampness out. And they should last at least thirty years!

After completing our three hour sew, cut, punch marathon, I wondered if there would be a better way to sew the center seam. I made a doll sized sit upon to try out a different method. While it might not be quite as waterproof, I think with careful use, it would be a fine alternative.

Place right sizes together and make a narrow seam. Turn right sides out and if desired, topstitch close to the seam sewing through the "finger pressed" edges. This topstitching is still using the hard to reach sewing method as done above, but it is only one line of stitching and it is securely stitched, not taped together.

With a team of parent volunteers, this project would be a very nice gift for a group of girl scouts.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A very productive Sunday

New quilting ideas keep coming to me through searching and just trying things.

Crazy Mug Rug
The day started out with a blue and yellow mug rug in a crazy quilt pattern. It is for my daughter's teacher as she loves blue and yellow. It's interesting to me that all the blues lined up in the middle. I will have to take note of that in the future.

Next I wanted to try a wonky log cabin pattern. I had fabric leftover from my quilted baby carrier that I wanted to use. I found this tutorial at Tallgrass Prairie Studio and thought it was neat.

Wonky Pink & Brown Quilt Blocks 

I used a 4" square, then 1.5" strip, then 2.5" strip, 2" strip, and finally 3" strip. For two of the blocks, I mixed it up a little and changed the order of the different sized strips, but didn't change the sizes. Once the block was made, I squared it up to 16.5".

My husband says maybe I need to go wonkier. Maybe starting with a rectangle would help too. I may try this pattern for a queen sized quilt for us at some point.

I picked up some white fabric today for wide sashing. I think sashing will really make the blocks stand out nicely and maybe make the wonky pattern more visible.

Rainbow Wonky Stripes

I wanted to play around with the wonky quilting idea further. It's such a neat concept to just start cutting and sewing strips of fabric together. I thought I'd put a rainbow together. I only made one block, but with the magic of my Photo Wall app, I could see a possible quilt taking shape.

It was a very productive and fun day in the sewing room.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Quilt Labels

When I first learned about finishing quilts, I found some great tutorials about sandwiching the layers, quilting with a sewing machine and binding. The final step was to make a quilt label. I hadn't thought of it before, but do see it as an important step. I have generally added labels to clothing and baby carriers I have made, of course I should add something to a quilt I spent hours completing.

Labels can be as simple as using a permanent fabric marker or more involved with some sort of embroidery. My first label I made for Sydney's bed quilt. It was done using the built in alphabet on my sewing machine.  It's functional and good for small applications.

I found this great tutorial for framing a quilt label and am excited to try it. But I have reservations about using my printer for a gift and not knowing if it will hold up or even ruin the quilt.

Every couple years, especially around the time that I am making birthday shirts, I long for an embroidery machine. I think it will make my life easier and be fun to try new things.

This year I started looking at embroidery machines again and thought they would be a great way to make some personalized quilt labels.

Learning about all the features and trying to decide if it's worth it or not is tricky. Fortunately I was able to borrow my friend's embroidery machine and get an idea of how one might work for me. I also spent a good amount of time at the Viking store this week and tried out one machine.

I was able to embroider some nice text with my friend's machine, framed it with coordinating fabric and then sewed a back on, sewing right sides together. Using the tip from the label tutorial, I cut a small slit in the back fabric for turning. I turned, pressed and hand sewed the label on. I made one for the little Bento Box quilt too. For the moment, this was a nice solution to making a quilt label.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Quilting with my daughter

When I made my then five year old daughter a bed sized quilt, I understandably spent some extra time in my sewing room. In addition, I spent time choosing fabrics and planning the quilt.
Sydney's very first quilt

While in the fabric store she would often want to pick out fat quarters to buy. Finally I let her and it was with her purchase that she quilted for the first time.

Since then she has made a couple more. They were all made between the ages of five and six.

The method we used was that I cut four inch squares and she laid them out in a pattern. I pinned squares together and set up the machine for her. She sewed very slowly and carefully. I then pressed the seams and got the next row ready for her. She got to do what she wanted which was sew on the machine.

Later we wanted to make a bigger quilt for a doll and chose fat quarters with the purpose of make a quilt. She seemed to have a great sense of color and what would go well together. Because there were more squares, it could be bigger. I really like how she planned it out too.

After making her bigger quilt, she made a couple others as gifts for her friends' birthdays.

For each of these quilts we sewed the back to the front, right sides together and then turned and topstitched. Some my daughter used decorative stitching on top, others we just stitched in the ditch. For the big quilt I did free motion quilting for her.

For the most part we used fleece as the backing with no batting. The bigger quilt was the exception. I did use thin batting and a cotton print on the back.

Quilt for a boy doll, pieced fleece backing
Finding all the little quilts again was fun and I was happy to see I did make a label for her first quilt with her name and the year for the back.

After completing the little mug rugs, I could see making them with my almost eight year old. It would also provide a good lesson in bindings too.

Quilting with a young child is really neat and I look forward to doing it again with my next little girl.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Decorating with Fondant

Ever since seeing maybe my third episode of Cake Boss, I've wanted to try out fondant. They make it look so easy.

I had heard that the marshmallow fondant tastes pretty good. I found a recipe and tried it. It went together well and later rolled out easily. Adding the color worked well too. I just used gel colors and a toothpick then kneaded the color in. My almost eight year old did all of the rolling. We went with hearts as it is Valentine's Day.

I tried a new recipe for cake and frosting and substituted plain Greek yogurt for the sour cream. The frosting was ok, the cake wasn't anything special and wasn't very chocolatey. The fondant was great though! Everyone thought it tasted very good.

It was fun to try out working with fondant and I like the look of it. It makes for easy decorating for kids as well. Even the almost two year old placed a heart on.
Fondant Hearts

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mug Rug and a Snack Mat

After completing the small Bento Box quilt last night, I still had quilting on the mind this morning.

I wanted to do some more free motion quilting. It is fun to make all those little squiggles. But whatever I did needed to be small and get done quickly.

A while back when I was thinking about what kind of baby quilt to make, I came across some mini quilts called Mug Rugs. I had never heard of them, but after I actually searched for them, I saw them everywhere! Some quilters like to try out a new quilt pattern on these little mug rugs and I thought I'd do the same.

Back in the summer I had looked at what people like to do with old baby clothes. I found some done as crazy quilts. I read about the concept, but wasn't sure how it would really work out.

Today, without rereading any tutorials, I started sewing random pieces together. The first one went together so well, I thought I'd quickly make another.

Crazy Mug Rugs
The second one I had more trouble with. After I finished both, I wondered why the second was harder. I vaguely remembered at that time that starting with a four sided shape works really well. The second one must have started with a more triangular shape.

I sandwiched both and enjoyed some more free motion quilting. Finally, I added bindings and hand sewed the binding down on the wrong side.

A mug rug for me and a snack mat for the little girl.

I see the draw of making these tiny quilts. You get to try out a quilting pattern and actually complete all the steps of quilting in a very short amount of time.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bento Box Quilt Fun

While looking at Google images one day, I saw this beautiful quilt made by Nicole at the Patchwork Duck. I loved the colors and wondered about the construction.

It was constructed using the Bento Box Pattern. I had never heard of it, though I don't know too many quilt patterns as I typically find an image I like and figure out something similar.

The Bento Box quilt pattern reminds me a lot of the Disappearing Nine Square. First a quilt block is constructed and then quartered and sewn back together. Though for most Bento Box quilts I have seen, the quartered pieces are relocated among many other blocks.

I thought I would just play around with the concept. I started with a ladybug print and looked for some other prints that would complement it. But to really see how this pattern works, I'd need to make a few other blocks. I found lots of neat prints in my stash.

Bento Boxes Before Quartering
Starting with a 5" square, I then added 1.5" sashing, 2.5" sashing, and finally 2" sashing. It was a lot of fun to choose fabrics, cut and sew right along. I didn't have it all planned out or even have much of a vision.

I wonder if it would be easier or harder to start at the fabric store and choose fabrics. It was great to remember fabrics or just find them while looking.

After quartering my four blocks, I toyed with making more blocks. There aren't too many variations for putting everything back together. I decided I would just make it work with the four. This is just a practice quilt.

Back of the mini quilt
My toddler really seemed to like the one print with bears I had a fair amount left. I thought I could use it for the backing. When I finally measured everything, it was not quite enough. I'd just spend a bit of Sunday morning looking at a few modern quilting blogs and many of them make interesting pieced backings. I'd never tried that before. I decided on 6"x4.5" squares. Another inch would have made the final construction so much easier, but now I know. I cut the bear fabric lengthwise with more on one side than the other. Putting the squares together went very quickly and I love the result.

Because the quilt is pretty small, only about 26" square, the sandwiching and pinning went very quickly. Also because it is small I decided to do some free motion stippling on the whole quilt. I like doing it and like the way it looks, it is usually too much to do on a larger quilt.
Close up of free motion quilting

Because I made the backing barely big enough, I needed to trim some of the quilt. It's really too bad, but it's still a fun quilt, just noticeably narrower on the outside edges.

This was certainly a fun construction and a quick little quilt. I'd love to try it again, maybe with nine squares next time.
Finished Happy Bento Box Quilt

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Spy Disappearing 9 Square Baby Quilt

I love when one idea leads to the next. I was planning out a baby quilt with an I Spy motif. My first thought was to just have alternating squares of I Spy fun fabric with one consistent print or solid. Then I looked around at I Spy quilts on Google images and found one quilt by "Dancing Needle" that was a disappearing nine square. It looked great!

I wasn't sure how big to make it. For inspiration, I looked at more images of disappearing nine square quilts. I found a little baby quilt at Connect the Dots Crafts that was only 30" square made up of four disappearing nine square blocks. That seemed like it would be the perfect size.

At one point I stumbled upon the Indian Hatchet quilting pattern. It seemed like a neat way to incorporate two fabrics into one square. I decided to just add the different fabric to one corner instead of two. I think it has a neat effect. Here's one tutorial about it at badskirt.

I decided to make 5.5" squares and 3.5" squares for the little corners. I found a great orange for the opposite squares and a black print with circles for the center square. Perhaps not a true I spy quilt as I have two of each print for matching too.

Nine Square Blocks Before Quartering
At one point I had the nine square blocks sewn together and the next step would be to quarter them. My little one needed me to stop sewing for a bit. I quickly took some pictures of each block. Then using one of my favorite apps, Photo Wall, I virtually cut each block and rotated the ones to be rotated and could get a glimpse into how my quilt would look. Almost instant gratification and I could snuggle my girl at the same time. This collage became my pattern for piecing the quartered blocks back together. It made it much easier than trying to figure it out while I was sewing.

After putting it together, I realized I cut the black print with circles the wrong way and didn't have enough for a big border. I cut a 2" border and then used more of the rainbow stripe for a second 4" border I hadn't planned on using it at all. It was just in my fabric stash. I liked the stripes so much, I decided to change my back to the stripes and fortunately had enough!

For quilting, there are always so many options. Going with simple outlining of the orange seemed to be the way to go here.

I struggled a bit with what fabric to use for the binding too. Because I used stripes for the 4" border and made them all go the same way, having stripes for a binding and then have them not go all the same way seemed like not a good idea. I didn't have enough of the orange or the black. I went back and forth about trying to find a blue that might go well with the stripes or just get more black with circles. Either way, it's a trip back to the store.

Because I don't make quilts all that regularly, I often need to look at instructions for sewing on the binding. The printed instructions I've been using are missing at the moment. I searched for a good tutorial and found a couple. Heather Baily has a great one for continuous binding. My other instructions were more like these at Sew Inspired with the end tucked into the beginning.

What I loved especially about making this quilt is that instead of just finding fun prints to use, I found prints that are symbolic and meaningful to the recipients' family. I hope they love it too!

I can see me making more of these. I love the I spy quilt I made for my third baby. I found all kinds of fabric scraps I had used over the years and made sure to have squares representative of my other children. While her quilt is nice too, using the disappearing nine square is fun and has such nice results.
I Spy Matching Disappearing Nine Square Quilt

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Extreme Hula Hoop Fort

I posted a while back about the minimalist hula hoop fort. Well this must be the extreme one. I saw an image of one and knew I'd have to try my own.

It was a sunny, snowless, winter day with just enough wind to make it extra tricky, but I was determined.

I assembled all my hoops together and surprisingly I could have made yet a fourth tier. But the wind was threatening to knock it down yet again. Quickly I got them stacked and snapped some pics. I even got a high five and a yay from the little one.

The colors of my image were not popping enough, so I used the app ColorSplash to color just the hoops.

Extreme Hula Hoop Castle