Thursday, December 30, 2010

blossom handbag for my sister

This is my Christmas gift to my sister. We love ourselves some bags! And now she has a new one to sport.

I used Amy Butler's free pattern from her new Style Stiches book which I downloaded from SewMamaSew a few months ago. Man, real bags have a ton more steps than when I just make things up in my head. This bag took me 3 nights! But when you do it properly--line with interfacing, add heavy duty Peltex, and include all the details that make this bag stand out--the time really adds up. But it's worth it.

This was my first venture with magnetic clasps. I had no idea that they were so easy to install. The one I bought for this bag was on clearance and it came with no instructions, but I thought I would need a special tool or hammer or something. But I didn't need anything but muscles to close the prongs.

And I still did it wrong. I didn't realize until the bag was completely assembled and waiting to be wrapped that the little discs that, I thought, had unattached themselves from the back of the clasps because they were cheap and therefore cheaply made were actually planned to unattach so they could fit over the prongs on the other side of the fabric. So the prongs wouldn't tear through the fabric when opening the bag flap over and over. I was really mad about that. No one will notice . . . maybe not even my sister, but it, of course, still bothers me.

Regardless of this mistake, the bag is still really pretty. I like these large prints. To save time (and because I ran out of fabric) I decided not to include the dividers. I think the dividers would help the bag keep its shape better, not to mention add more organization, but it looks good without them, too.

Merry Christmas, Laura!
Helping with the photo shoot . . .
Tired of helping with the photo shoot . . .

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

rooster fabric basket

I loved these baskets so much that I decided to make one for my mother-in-law. But wanted to make it bigger. I also changed the look in a few different ways.

Notice the tab-type handles that I secured with a button instead of the loop-type handles in the other baskets.

I also decided not to roll the lining over the front edge of the baskets this time. I went with the more conventional hole-in-the-lining method so the front and lining fabrics matched up at the top. The only downside to this method, in my opinion, is sewing the lining closed. I prefer to handstitch the lining closed for a much cleaner look, and it's not hard . . . it just takes more time.

This basket measures 12 inches long by 6 inches wide and 8 inches tall. The perfect size to fit another gift: handspun merino wool from Debbie B that I purchased from her Etsy shop. This earth tone is fantastically beautiful! I can't wait to see what it turns into.

I really, really like this rooster print. A little modern country, I think. As usual, I have extra to make myself a little something.

Monday, December 27, 2010

fabric baskets for teachers

I wanted to make Logan's preschool teachers a gift for Christmas. Do non-family members appreciate handmade items? I should probably research that before I continue to make personalized items for people who are not required to like what I make.

Anyway, I decided to make them baskets. I just love baskets! They are versitile and beautiful and they can be carried (note the handles) and placed anywhere. And I think these are just the right size. They came out around 8 inches long by 4 inches wide and 4.5 inches tall.

The best part about the construction of these baskets is that the lining is pulled over the outside of the basket to create the top trim. This means that I don't have to leave a hole in the lining and then handstitch the hole closed later. This pleases me. I just think my way is less complicated and involves fewer steps.

I made 3 bags. Logan, apparently, has only 2 teachers. He insisted he had 3. But of course it all works out because now I have an excuse to keep one!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

fabric basket. or bag.

In my first attempt to make some fabric baskets for the preschool teachers, I came up with this.

Not what I had in mind.  Not bad, just not what I envisioned.

I wanted more of a looks-like-it-needs-to-be-carried-with-two-hands kind of basket . . . long and low.  I haven't made too many bags, so I'm still getting the hang of adding dimensions for boxed corners.  I didn't make the bag width wide enough so I ended up with a small basket-sort-of-bag.

The dimensions for this bag are 7 inches long by 3 inches wide by 7 inches tall.  I was going for something longer and not as tall.

Because this bag is lined with thick polyester batting, it stands by itself.  So it will make a nice little basket bag for some lightweight items.  This would also be really great with a magnetic clasp for a cute makeup bag.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

{harry potter} pj's

No, this isn't another post about the winter hat I made for Logan.  This post is about the pants.

To liven up a solid black pant, I cut out lightning bolts from the black fleece (a leftover thoughtfully donated by my mother-in-law) and sewed orange to the inside.  I think they turned out really great, so Logan's radical response surprised me:

I don't like them.  I'm gonna have bad dreams!

About what, you ask?  I still don't know.  I think about Harry Potter.  Harry is one of my favorite characters and if you frequent abcfamily you know that these movies are on all. the. time.  So he catches parts of them and, regretfully, has seen parts of the dvd's on the rare occasion that I have found the time to watch them.  If you don't know anything about the Potter series, it get darker as the series progresses so what is borderline appropriate for a 4-year-old in the first two movies quickly turns to highly scary, and apparently nightmare-producing, in subsequent films.  So the lightning bolts were initially not a crowd pleaser.

But once he was reminded that disney's Bolt and Lightning McQueen both sport super sweet lightning bolts, he at least smiled and stood still long enough for me to try them on him.

And once he figured out these pajamas were nearly snow proof after falling twice while taking the dog for a walk, he was hooked.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

new winter hats

The boys have one hat each.  Well, I'm sure there are more, but they each only recognize one as their own.  So when either goes missing, we can't leave the house.  I decided to take advantage of a sale at JoAnn's and make them each a cute new hat.

I got the idea and general direction from Made By Rae.  I didn't use her dimensions.  I made my pattern by tracing Logan's only hat because it already has well-placed ear flaps.  But that one is knitted so it has more stretch than the fleece hat.  I didn't take this into account, so Logan's hat is a little snug.  It pulls away from his ears a little, but that is easily remedied by adding a chin strap if necessary.

The only seam is in the back which is different than how Rae made hers.  Either one is good, but cutting on the fold means fewer seems to sew!  I think he loves it.  The hub made a comment about the hat not matching his coat, but JoAnn's has limited older-boy fabric.  I really like this print.  And in my defense, his other hat doesn't match his coat either.

Trenton's hat was made from the same pattern, but I measured his head first for a better fit.  It fits really well.  He was not at all as excited at first as I was, but I think he forgot about the hat after we walked outside.

This was the first real snow since we moved to pa.  It didn't stay long, but the picnic table had enough to play with.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

american retirement quilt

I finished it!  This quilt is a gift for my sister's co-worker who is retiring next week.  My sister wanted to give a patriotic quilt because this co-worker has an entire room dedicated to patriotic and Americana memorabilia.  Pretty neat.  So hopefully this quilt fits right in.  I think that quilts should be worn and used, but I have a feeling this one will be hung.

I used this wonky star tutorial from Silly BooDilly for the stars.  I like these but I think I went wonky overboard on some of them.  I also used wonky stripes in the flag.  I did this because I wanted to add touch of modernism to the quilt design.  I'm not a traditional person, but the recipient might be.  So I tried to keep the design more traditional but still add touches of my own personality.

Again, I had trouble deciding how to quilt it.  To stick with the patriotic theme, I quilted a few stars on the flag.  I cut a star from cardstock and quilted around it.  I then quilted an outline a few times around each star to add more depth.

I decided to quilt around the stars on the flag using an all-over leaf design.  The leaves inside the flag are simple, a smaller and tighter design than outside the flag.

I had an especially hard time deciding on the quilt design for the stars outside the flag, but ultimately I decided to continue the leaf theme.  This leaf design isn't as tight as the design inside the flag, so I was a little worried about how it would turn out.  I like the tighter designs because they look better to me when washed.  But I think this design turned out really well.  I would quilt this leaf and stem design again.

The back is nothing special.  I bought 108 inch beige paisley fabric for the backing, but I used so much on the front that I ran out when it came time to make the back.  So I had to piece some scraps from the front fabrics to make a backing large enough.  But we will pretend it was intentional.

I think this quilt turned out pretty good.  I really hope she likes it.  This is the first quilt I made for someone who wasn't part of my family.  Family has to like what I make...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

retirement quilt basted

I finished the quilt top and basted this quilt last weekend.  This quilt isn't moving along as fast as I wanted it to, but I'm looking forward to getting most of the quilting done this weekend.

For me, though, deciding how to quilt is the most time-consuming part.  I rack my brain for hours searching for the perfect design.  But eventually I realize that I just need to start with something.  All other ideas can be used on future quilts.

I did "just start" last night and it's moving along.  It hasn't quite come together for me yet, but all quilting designs look better once the quilt is completed and washed.  I can't wait for that part.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

new fabric from my pa quilt shop

I arrived in western PA four months ago and have been searching for a live quilt shop ever since.  There are no quilt shops in the area which is strange because it's not like we live in the middle of nowhere. Finally I decided to drive 45 minutes to the closest shop.

I don't know how people can buy fabric online.  I guess if you know that you want the latest Tula Pink or Michael Miller, you could really buy it anywhere, including online.  But if you don't know what you are looking for, how can you be sure that the fabric will look the same in person as it does online or will match the coordinating prints you've chosen?  Maybe if you've played this fabric game for a long time, you're just that good.  But I like to feel the fabrics, hold them against one another, look at them in the light.  I enjoy the process of wandering through the shop and wondering what I would make with nearly every piece.  Needless to say, my trips to the quilt shop are hours-long excursions.  But it's part of my process and I enjoy every minute of it.

 Anyhoo, after about 2 hours, I came out with 2 things (pathetic, I know, but I have to consider the budget).  I got this pack of 8-1/2 inch square precuts for $12.50.  There are 33 of them.  I think that's one heck of deal.  The fabric is Arcadia by Sanae for Moda.  I don't think it's an old print, so that may be why it's so cheap.  And if this quilt shop is in the habit of aggressively marking down old prints, it's my new favorite weekend hang-out.  I have no shame when it comes to fabric deals.

Here is a sample of some of the prints.  For the first time, this fabric will be for me.  I have a quilt in mind for my upcoming birthday!

This fabric is Porcelina by Michele D Amore for Marcus Fabrics.  I really like the colors in this print and the dots and the lines and the dots and the colors and the . . . everything.

This will be for a Christmas gift for someone special.  I have an idea in my head that will work it's way out in December.

There is one other quilt shop that I'd like to visit that is 45 minutes in the opposite direction.  I was hoping that I could find one closer to take some classes and meet some fellow quilters.  But for now I will settle for the occasional holiday to these shops.  And since we will move to a more permanent location next summer, I still have plenty of time to strategically plan out that location.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

retirement quilt :: in progress

My sister asked me to make a quilt for a friend at work who is retiring at the end of this month.  This woman has an entire room in her house dedicated to patriotism, so we thought she would enjoy a patriotic lap quilt as a retirement gift.

I just started this quilt over the weekend, so I only have the flag and 2 of 16 wonky stars completed.  I'm using an old tutorial from SillyBooDilly to make the wonky stars.  It took me an hour and 15 minutes to finish 2 stars last night so imagine the process will be a little slower than I'm used to.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

happy halloween 2010!

From my family to yours . . .

Have a bountiful Halloween!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

crayon & pad folder

Last weekend, Logan said to me those words I have been longing to hear for 4.6 years:

"Mom, I wanna make something."

This is the time when you realize that your passions have made an impression on your little ones. 
He is actually interested in the things that interest you.
He wants to be part of that part of your life.
He has the urge to create!  What a wonderful thing to pass along to a child.

Anyway, when I questioned what he wanted to make, he replied that he didn't know but that he wanted to make it with fabric (to be specific, he said he wanted to make something with "fagric" but I got the point).  So the wheels started turning and we came up with a crayon and paper pad folder.

Last Christmas, my mom let me go through her fabric stash and take whatever I wanted.  She had this Crayola crayon fabric for probably 10 years and she used it once with plenty left over.  So I took it figuring I would find some use for it.

I have always wanted to make a crayon roll-up for the kids, but I never found the time.  I like the idea of all-in-ones, so I chose to make it a folder condusive to storing a pad of paper, too.  I was too lazy to go to the store and get a real pad of paper, so I trimmed up some paper from my ridiculously huge paper stash and stapled a stack to a piece of cardstock for stability.

I gave the folder more substance with a piece of quilt batting.  I might also stablize the main pieces with interfacing next time to make the folder even more substansial.  I topped off the folder with a strap and snap, but I forgot how little hands can't handle snaps very well.  Velcro would have been a better choice.

This little project got rave reviews from the recipients.  We even made a second one for the little brother.  Logan is so proud!  He asked if he could bring his to preschool to show all his teachers.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

ghostly halloween bucket

My two-year-old needed a trick-or-treat bucket for halloween this year.  He wasn't really into halloween last year so there was really no need for a bag.  But this year I think I have convinced him that costumes really are fun . . . especially when you get candy just for wearing them.

It's almost as big as he is, so it should fit lots and lots of candy . . . or chips since that's what the zoo was giving out this year.

My four-year-old has a pumpkin bucket that has been with him for 5 halloweens.  It's still in good shape.  I picked a bucket design that would compliment his pumpkin.  If only my four-year-old would let me be as creative with his costumes as I'm allowed to be with the buckets . . .

This pumpkin bucket was purchase before I discovered my true love for sewing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

a new (oversized) patchwork pillow

I finally got to make this pillow as a wedding gift for the hub's sister.  Her wedding was a couple of weeks ago, but I got tied up with the boys' suits and my dress so the pillow had to wait.

It's an oversized pillow, about 19 inches by 37 inches.  Not a body pillow, persay, but close.  I chopped a little off the long edge of the pillow form so the pillow would appear more stuffed.  I like overstuffed pillows.  I also like the look of subtle quilting on a pillow, so I sandwiched a piece of batting between the patchwork top and the lining and quilted a few simple blue lines.  If you want more inspiration for quilted pillows, SewKatieDid has some amazing photos here.  That's where I found my inspiration.

I really like this fabric that I used for the backing (good thing I kept some for myself).  There's nothing like birds and leaves and whimsical tree branches to shout "wedding day" don't you think?

And finally!!!  An invisible zipper that is actually invisible!  If it weren't for the zipper pull, I would bet that no one would even notice.  I've read tutorials on inserting invisible zippers that say to iron the zipper.  But I didn't realize until this project that I had to iron the teeth toward the front of the zipper to allow the zipper foot to get deathly close to the teeth.  Duh.

I added a little personalization to the pillow via applique.  Hopefully you would assume this is their wedding date.  You would be correct.  A personal touch, but to be honest, I should have gone with smaller buttons.  I think the large buttons, although lovely in their own rite, overshadow the numbers.  But at least all the colors match.

Happy Wedding Day Angela & Mike!  The ceremony was lovely and the reception was a blast.  I wish you a very happy life together.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

quick zipper pouches

After my last few projects (that I absolutely loved making but required a major time investment), I wanted to make something quick.  I have plenty of scraps and remnants laying around (as I'm sure we all do) and they work perfectly for small projects like this.  I only had 6 inch zippers on hand so these pouches measure about 4 inches x 6 inches.

I used my invisible zipper foot for the first pouch (the greyish one).  I guess I've gotten a little too good with that foot because I sewed just a little too close to the teeth.  I didn't sew over the teeth, but the zipper is a little hard to open because it runs over the fabric just a wee bit.  Not too big of a deal, but I decided to use a regular zipper foot for the next pouch (I forgot I had a regular zipper foot).

I don't know what I will use these for, but I know that over the last several months I have thought to myself many, many times "I should make a pouch to carry those."  If that thought crossed my mind that often, I'm sure these will be put to good use.  And if not, I have a jump start on Christmas presents.