Monday, December 31, 2012

Gifts for my Nieces

My nieces enjoy baking and going shopping.  I often feel that gift cards are a bit of cop out...but sometimes they are the best gifts.

A gift card needs a holder though.  There are many great tutorials out there for gift card holders.  I chose to follow Valerie's tutorial, but I made it a touch smaller and used a 1/4" seam allowance.  These are fast and easy and don't require much fabric.  I considered making a scrappy back, but then abandoned that idea when it was taking longer than I wanted to spend.  I intended to use interfacing, but forgot that step.  They seem to hold their shape pretty well without it.

The mitt idea I had long ago and actually had the fabric purchased and cut out, but never finished.  I sewed the mitt parts on, then added the thermal batting and with right sides together stitched the front to the back.  I left an opening for turning on one end curve.  After turning, I sewed the curve together with my machine, then flipped that raw seam inside the mitt.  After top stitching, the seam is totally hidden.  Now they are in their new home.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday & Birthday Table Runner

2012 has been a big year for birthdays!  I, along with most of my high school class, have turned 40 this year.  A friend I've known since elementary school was celebrating her 40th today along with husband and it's close to her son's birthday too!  I hadn't realized that they all have birthdays around Christmas and Hanukkah.  Their family celebrates both holidays as well.  

I thought it would be fun to whip up a table runner with symbols of Christmas, Hanukkah and birthdays.  It went together pretty quickly in terms of cutting out the shapes and the idea.  Because I started this project the morning before the afternoon party, I did not complete it.  

The unfinished project went along to the party with me and I explained that I just need to finish it up and would get it to her soon.  All the images were ironed on and I had the border done, I still needed to add batting and a backing.  Details on the shapes and free motion quilting were still to be done also.

It was nice to bring the project back home and have extra time to work on it.  I wasn't certain what details I wanted to add to the table runner, but when I found myself alone in my sewing room, I knew I could tackle swirls again.  They certainly take some time and I haven't yet figured out a way to have comfortable posture and be able to see at the same time.  A quilting only machine has been on my mind for a couple months and I am coming to see the benefits of owning one.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hand Print Wall Hanging

While researching this project, I saw a lot of different things I liked.  I considered doing prints with paint on a canvas.  My concerns with this project was that I'd need all participants to be present at least at some point.  Another concern was that I was using the handprints of young children and I worried that it would be challenging to get a clear print.  Though I was a little encouraged when I worked with my 2.5 year old making the handprint tree, she was very patient and we worked together to get clear prints.

Hand Print Mini QuiltMy vision of a grandparent gift was to include my three children's prints along with my sister's two children's.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought using fabric would be the best medium for me.  In addition, my sister could just trace her kids' hands and send them via email to me.  It was a win, win situation!

Choosing colors for the prints was another part of the project that required careful consideration.  At first I chose grey prints which would match my parents' house.  When I made the hands out of the darker fabrics, the contrast was too much and rather dull.  My family and sister encouraged me to find brighter fabrics.  At JoAnns I was considering different fabrics for each child according to their favorites.  I went back and forth with solids and prints.  Another fabric would be needed for the hearts and borders.  A multicolored print seemed to be the best choice.  When I found this circle print, I fell in love!  Then it became much easier to fulfill the hand print colors and I opted for all solids.

Close up of FMQ spirals
The assembly was pretty straightforward.  I used a heat and bond to adhere each handprint and the hearts, used a interfacing before stitching around hand and heart, added borders and layered my quilt sandwich.  The boring white background was perfect for spiral free motion quilting.  In the hearts, I made some squiggle free motion quilting.

The next step was the binding, though I knew I wanted to add a wall hanging sleeve to it.  Some methods recommended adding it to the binding, while others added it afterwards.  Adding the sleeve to the binding made the most sense to me.  I got a craft board for hanging and regularly put it into the sleeve to check for size and also for where I should stitch the sleeve down.  I'm looking forward to giving it on Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Reindeer Shoe Covers

My daughter dances and is encouraged to dress up for her dance class this week.  We already had a Santa hat, Santa skirt, and red and white striped long socks.  My nieces dance and I saw some of their themed classes.  Some of the girls had made their hair buns into reindeer faces.  Such a creative idea.  I considered this for my daughter, but she will have her hair under a Santa hat.

Reindeer Shoe covers came to mind.  The idea reminded me of the little leather shoes my little ones wore.  We never had any reindeer ones though.  It seemed like a very quick and straight forward project.  

The first step was to cut reindeer shapes out of felt.  Then I found some vinyl scraps for the backside of the felt.  I figured this would keep the felt in place better on the shoe.  Finally, I added a little fluff in between the two layers, stitched them together, and added a thin elastic strap.  

While designing the reindeer cover, I was using the tap shoe as a model.  The elastic fit nicely in the groove underneath the shoe near the metal plate.  My daughter also tried them on her jazz shoes and they work well too!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Snickerdoodles for the Redcoat Cafe

My seventh grader has been studying about the Colonies during the time of the French and Indian War and the Boston Tea Party.  As a end of unit project they are having a Redcoat Cafe.  Originally my son thought that his teacher was supplying food typical of the time period, but then yesterday the teacher said the kids could bring things too.  Of course my son mentioned this at 8:30 at night.

I'm not one to shy away from a potential baking project though.  I looked at some recipes and read about typical food.  Corn and Pumpkin seemed obvious choices, but I didn't have the right ingredients and I wasn't sure if the kids would enjoy a strange new dish.

I found one list of Colonial Day foods that had Snickerdoodles.  After confirming with another website that a similar recipe has been around for some time, I decided to make them.  Even though the recipes on the site show late 1800's, I did find references that this cookie, in some form, was made in the 1700's and even earlier.

After reading through the recipe a few times, I was sure I had everything I needed.  The Cream of Tarter I had only used in playdough before.  I figured it was an ingredient in some foods, I just hadn't come across them yet.  Then I realized I was missing eggs!  I tried a few neighbors before I finally found some.  Thank you, Neighbor!

It was interesting to note that I had never made Snickerdoodles before and my family was not familiar with them either.  My mother has made them before, I'm sure.  Hopefully this simple sweet cookie is a big hit with the kids at school. We may even whip up another batch to have at Christmastime.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sewing Machine Broken!

While sewing my last couple projects, I spent a decent amount of time screwing and unscrewing the sewing machine feet. I've been toggling between regular straight sewing and free motion quilting.  With the free motion quilting, I use a different foot.  The last time I was unscrewing, the top of the screw fell off in my hand!  The last thing I was going to do today was to sew across the little tree ornament in silver.  Instead of waiting for my new screw, I sewed it by hand.  I will be contacting my local Viking store and getting a replacement soon.

Quilted Ornaments

For my next Modern Quilt Guild meeting, it was suggested to do an ornament swap.  I looked around at quilted ornaments and considered some of my own ideas.

I settled on a mini quilt on a sewing machine.  First I sewed together red and green strips in a wonky style.  Then I cut them up for a mini quilt and also a tree design.  Each sewing machine was just cut free hand out of vinyl making each one unique.

After assembling the pieces, I sewed down the machine, then free motion quilted on the mini quilt.  With right sides together I sewed the blue pieces together.  The last step was more free motion quilting in mini spirals around the blue.  My first attempt came out a little big, it is better as a mini wall hanging.  I decided to make another one smaller and keep one for myself.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Modern Quilt Guild Block

I recently joined some lovely ladies for a Modern Quilt Guild meeting.  There are some seriously talented women there!  The December meeting is quickly approaching and it was suggested that we could each bring a 12" block and they would all be assembled as a table cover for our future meetings.

I've been working a bit on floating squares and it's tricky.  I figured working on a smaller scale would be easier and good practice.  It was both!  I used my 12.5" square ruler as my "design wall" and it really made a difference.  With this practice, I see the benefit of having a grid on a design wall.  Redoing my wall will be a new priority.

Because this is a Modern Quilt Guild, I wanted to have a modern block.  Two of squares moved a bit from my original plan after adding the green, but it still works. My hula hoop fabric seemed like an obvious choice to have a block a bit about me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Altered Santa Boxers

My eight year old was hoping for a Santa dress.  One place she wanted to wear it was to dance class for their holiday class.  I looked on-line and saw that my local K'Mart had cute Santa dresses.  When I checked out the store, there were none to be found.  I was told that I could order one, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do that.

As I shopped, I saw some cute Santa items made by Joe Boxer.  There were Santa boxers, long elf shorts, and Santa lounge pants.  Each set had a cute hat.  These were all in the Men's department.  I searched the girls department again and saw no Santa wear.  The Santa boxers were made out of a thin velour type material and had a flowing design.  They might be a bit big, but I could make them work.

My daughter's reaction surprised me.  She would not consider wearing boxers, as they are for boys of course.  After I tried to convince her otherwise, she wondered if I could change it into a skirt.  Why not!

It was pretty easy to remove stitches in the crotch of the boxers.  I did remove the seam through the fly of the boxers also.  Interestingly, this pair of boxers only had seams in the front and the back, not the sides.  After changing the seams, they now became the side seams. The waist band was a bit big for her and I took that in too.

With the transformation complete, my daughter tried the skirt on and was very pleased with it!  Now all the kids have Santa hats.  And clearly when I have my camera out, I should get pictures of my posed girls.

Hand Print Ideas

Google Images is always a source of inspiration for me.  I especially love stumbling upon someone else's blog and reading the story behind the completed project.

I know there are many neat crafts including children's hand prints.  There's just something about their little or even big hands that always melts my heart.  I wanted to try out a hand print tree.  My daughter was more than willing to have me paint her hand, though she questioned me a lot during the process.

We made one on card stock paper and then I found some mini poster board.  The poster board worked much better and was a nicer size too.  I used the non shiny size.  The paint was just whatever kids' paint I had on hand.  The star is cut from yellow card stock and glued on.  I added her name and the year at the bottom.  I love that I have a picture of her with her artwork to preserve the moment.

Another idea I thought of would be a fun way to preserve favorite baby and childhood outfits.  Why not cut out a hand print shape from a favorite outfit or shirt at different points along the way.  I think especially outfits where the child had been photographed.  Then collect the hand print cutouts and eventually put them all together in a memory quilt or wall hanging.  I think this is a great idea for a mom to be so she could have it in mind from the beginning!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Quilted Album for the Sister

I had a feeling that my younger daughter would be excited about her sister's photo album and enjoy looking at the pictures.

Another nice promotion came through and I ordered more prints.

We had an extra boring blue album. Together with my 2.5 year old, we chose fabrics and put them together. Then I quilted again with the spiral free motion quilting. For the other album, I had intended to add ribbon embellishments, but got too far before I remembered. Because I only made straight strips of fabric, it was easy to add some ribbon after the quilting.

The prints should arrive in a couple days. I'm sure the little sister will be thrilled with her very own album.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Another Birthday, Another Bag

Quilted Tote
We had another birthday party to attend and I remembered I had some fabric left over from a baby quilt for the same family. The fabric had been representative of the daughter and now it was her birthday. I had the perfect amount for a tote bag. I was looking forward to trying out spiral free motion quilting. I doodled a little making spirals on paper and then I was off. It actually worked quite well.

FMQ close up of Quilted Bag
The quilting went smoothly and also forming the bag. I had some blue heavier fabric that I wanted to use for the handles and the lining. Even though there was some blue on the white fabric, I thought adding some ribbon would tie it all together better.

I love how the thin batting and the quilting give the bag some extra body.